Cover image for Hokusai : the man who painted a mountain
Hokusai : the man who painted a mountain
Ray, Deborah Kogan, 1940-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Frances Foster Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 x 26 cm
Reading Level:
880 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NE1325.K3 R39 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
NE1325.K3 R39 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
NE1325.K3 R39 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
NE1325.K3 R39 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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A tribute to an artist unafraid to break with tradition.

In her own glowing paintings and lucid text, Deborah Kogan Ray tells the fascinating life story of the Japanese artist Hokusai (1760-1849). He rose from poverty, taught himself to draw, became the promising pupil of a great master, and then defied tradition to become one of the most important and influential artists in the world.

Ray's paintings are rich with period and biographical detail. The endpapers show drawings from Hokusai's sketchbooks. Also included is one of his famous Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.

Author Notes

Born in 1940 in Philadelphia, PA, author and illustrator Deborah Kogan Ray studied painting and printmaking at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

She is the author of eight books and the illustrator of more than 60 books for children.

Among her many awards are the Drexel Citation for Career Distinction in the Field of Books for Children and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant Award for Painting.

Her paintings and prints of landscape and nature subjects have been shown in 42 one-person and hundreds of group exhibitions in museums and galleries. They are in private and public collections throughout the world.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2-4. The life of the iconoclastic Japanese artist who produced more than thirty thousand works of art finds a new telling in this picture book for older readers. The spare but substantive text follows the artist from his birth through numerous apprenticeships, to the notoriety he enjoyed during his long adult career. Along the way, Ray includes anecdotes that humanize Hokusai, showing his startling ambition and talent while providing enough cultural background to place him within some historical context. A few transitions between "chapters" are awkward, and some children will get bogged down by the detailed descriptions of the artistic processes. But Ray's striking illustrations, with bold charcoal lines, fine compositions, and vivid scenes of eighteenth-century Japan, will captivate children and draw them back into the text. A beautifully illustrated introduction to an individual rarely covered in books for youth. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

The spirit of Hokusai, the Japanese artist best-known for his Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, moves through the pages of Ray's (The Barn Owl) study with indefatigable energy. Born in 1760 and a rare peasant to rise to prominence during an era when Japan remained closed to the outside world, Hokusai outshone his masters and defied convention until his death at age 89. The painter, who never knew his father and whose mother died when he was just six years old, developed a quiet confidence and portrayed the peasantry from whence he came: " `I must paint the way my heart tells me,' he told wealthy patrons when they refused to buy his pictures of laboring artisans and humble farmers toiling in the fields." Ray's wash and colored-pencil illustrations depict Kabuki stages and fish markets that echo Hokusai's own sketches of everyday life (reproduced on the book's endpapers) yet her style remains her own. Instead of emulating the empty spaces and delicate brushwork characteristic of Japanese artwork, she drafts her figures with tangible weight and mass and clothes them in heavily shaded robes in deep blue, red and aqua. The text supplies plenty of historical background without undue complexity. Older children will be drawn to Hokusai's lively world, and adults will find inspiration in the man who wrote as he lay dying, "Even as a ghost/ I'll gaily tread/ the summer moors." Ages 7-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Born into poverty and orphaned at six years old, Hokusai longed for an environment that would allow him the opportunity to read and draw. Although faced with dire challenges, his determination and talent carried him through childhood until he could set his course on a road that led to greatness. Hokusai produced 30,000 works of art, including the famous Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. This picture-book biography tells of the life of a man who influenced Western Impressionists as well as Eastern talents. The text and evocative artwork provide details and scenes of everyday Japanese life in the 19th century. The illustrations include accomplished soft watercolor and colored-pencil paintings, labeled Chinese characters, drawings from the artist's sketchbooks, and a reproduction of Hokusai's "The Great Wave off Kanagawa." Julia Altmann's One Day in Japan with Hokusai (Prestel, 2001) is a semi-fictionalized account of the man illustrated with his woodblock prints. Ray's delightful offering will be enjoyed by budding artists and biography fans, and will be a useful adjunct to studies on art, artists, or Japan and its culture.-Ilene Abramson, Los Angeles Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.