Cover image for The class artist
The class artist
Karas, G. Brian.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Greenwillow Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 25 cm
Despite the trouble he has at first working on art projects at school, Fred develops into the class artist.
Reading Level:
AD 200 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.6 0.5 53215.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.5 2 Quiz: 26071 Guided reading level: L.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Fred has big plans for his art project. Wonderful plans. Secret plans. And a whole week to paint and draw and cut and glue until everything is just right.

But as the week goes by, Fred's big plans turn into Fred's big disaster. Sometimes, as Fred discovers, seeing something in your mind and putting it down on paper are not the same.

All those who have ever been bewildered by creatiyity--and rescued by inspiration--will recognize themselves in Fred ... the class artist who could only have come from the inspired and creative G. Brian Karas.

Author Notes

Children's author and illustrator, G. Brian Karas was born in Milford, Connecticut in 1957. After graduating from Paier School of Art, he worked as a greeting card artist and a commercial illustrator. Home on the Bayou, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, was his first illustrated book. Since then, he has illustrated over seventy books for children. Titles authored and/or illustrated by Karas have won numerous other awards. Saving Sweetness written by Diane Stanley was a Capitol Choices Noteworthy Book for Children in 1996, received a Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon in 1996, and was a School Library Journal Best Book of 1996. Like Butter on Pancakes by Jonathan London was a School Library Journal Best Book of 1995. The Class Artist, written and illustrated by Karas, was a Smithsonian Magazine's Notable Book for Children in 2001 and received the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio 2002 Best Book Gold Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5-8. "It was sharing time, and Fred had nothing to share." He wishes he could draw, and dreams of making an elaborate tipi with paintings on the walls, but he's too scared to start. Karas' childlike gouache pictures show humiliated Fred in a blushing-red cocoon in the black-and-gray classroom. When his teacher suggests that he draw his feelings, he's suddenly inspired, finds his subject and his style, and wows the class. With very simple lines and restrained color, Karas makes his characters both individual and universal, including Fred's sneering nemesis, Frances, who finally gives Fred some respect. The jacket flap notes that Karas' personal experience with a difficult art project in elementary school served as his inspiration here, and his story about being true to oneself is an encouraging model, even if most kids will identify as much with the failure as with the triumph. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

According to the flap copy, Karas's (Home on the Bayou: A Cowboy's Story) own elementary-school experience with a difficult art project inspired this tale, which portrays a classroom episode that many readers will recognize. From the start, the narrative has a real-life ring. The story opens after his first day of school, as a frustrated Fred tells his older sister, Martha, "Everyone says I can't even draw a straight line." When she asks, "Who's everyone?" Fred replies, "Frances," referring to the class noodge. Though Martha gives her sibling a quick drawing lesson that boosts his confidence, his teacher then assigns an art project that stymies him. Fred repeatedly bungles the ambitious project he tackles to create a life-size tipi and has nothing to show the class on the day the assignment is due. "I give up being an artist," announces the discouraged lad; the accompanying illustration shows him enveloped by darkness, a black cloud over his head. When his teacher suggests that he draw a picture of how he feels, the boy draws the black cloud over his tipi, which spurs a series of pictures that form a pastoral mural. His masterpiece impresses all of his peers (even Frances) and earns him the label specified in the book's title. Stylized, cartoon-like art and some creative arrangement of type keep the mood light. With understatement and subtle humor, Karas neatly delivers a lesson on perseverance and the importance of believing in one's abilities. Ages 5-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-3-Fred likes to draw pilgrims. In fact, he only draws pilgrims. Lots of them. However, when his teacher gives the students an entire week to create anything they want, the boy decides to make a tipi, one that he can sit in, with real drawings on the walls. Wanting to keep his project a secret, he asks for no assistance and struggles, bewildered as to how to proceed. When it's time for the children to share their projects, Fred sneaks off into a corner and cuts a small, one-dimensional tipi out of some plain white paper. After his teacher criticizes his weeklong effort, he sulks at his desk. He decides to give up on being an artist-until his teacher urges him to "draw a picture of how you feel." Since Fred feels miserable, he draws a large black cloud, which looks like smoke, so he glues his tipi under it. Looking as if it is now on fire, his tipi suddenly flames his creativity, and when circle time is over, the students discover that their classmate has been busy creating a colorful mural. The story offers a positive lesson in determination and creativity. Karas's mixed-media (gouache, watercolors, acrylics, and pencil) illustrations convey the boy's emotions, although they hover at times between looking either unfinished or too cluttered. Fred's personality, however, is aptly depicted, and frustrated artists everywhere will find a friend in him.-Lisa Gangemi Krapp, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.