Cover image for Action Jackson
Action Jackson
Greenberg, Jan, 1942-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Brookfield, Conn. : Roaring Brook Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
32 pages ; 28 cm
Imagines Jackson Pollock at work during the creation of one of his paint-swirled and splattered canvasses.
Reading Level:
650 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.2 0.5 65164.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 3.7 2 Quiz: 31901 Guided reading level: P.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ND237.P73 G74 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area-Biography
ND237.P73 G74 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
ND237.P73 G74 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
ND237.P73 G74 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



One late spring morning the American artist Jackson Pollock began work on the canvas that would ultimately come to be known as Number 1, 1950 ( Lavender Mist ).

Award-winning authors Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan use this moment as the departure point for a unique picture book about a great painter and the way in which he worked. Their lyrical text, drawn from Pollock's own comments and those made by members of his immediate circle, is perfectly complemented by vibrant watercolors by Robert Andrew Parker that honor his spirit of the artist without imitating his paintings.

A photographic reproduction of the finished painting, a short biography, a bibliography, and a detailed list of notes and sources that are fascinating reading in their own right make this an authoritative as well as beautiful book for readers of all ages.

Author Notes

Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan are the authors of several distinctive books about art including Chuck Close: Up Close (A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor book for Non-Fiction and winner of the Norman O. Sugarman award for Biography); and Frank O. Gehry: Outside In . All are either ALA Notable Books for Young Adults or Best Books for Young Adults. Their most recent collaboration, Vincent Van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist , was named a 2002 Sibert Award Honor Book. Ms. Greenberg, whose poetry anthology Heart to Heart was named a 2002 Printz Award Honor Book, lives in St. Louis. Ms. Jordan, whose photographic picture book Frog Hunt was published by Roaring Book Press, lives in New York City.

Robert Andrew Parker who knew Jackson Pollock as a young man, is a fine artist and printmaker whose work often appears in publications such as The New Yorker . The illustrator of the Modern Library's edition of Stendhal's The Charterhouse of Parma , his numerous children's books include Grandfather Tang's Story , Sleds on Boston Common , and Cold Feet , winner of the 2002 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2^-5. "Action Jackson" was Jackson Pollock's nickname, and this slim, picture-book biography describes how this "athlete with a paintbrush" made one of his most famous works: the "drip painting" titled Lavender Mist. Using spare, lyrical words, the authors layer the exciting story with deep observations about what art is and how it is made. Descriptions of the thrilling creative process dance between long periods where Pollock "sits, staring at the blank canvas" and motion: "dripping, pouring, flinging." Throughout, the authors describe how Pollack's technique differed from that of other artists, using plenty of sensory descriptions. Parker's scribbly pen-and-watercolor illustrations get the mood just right; the loose lines have an improvised, energetic quality that echoes Pollock's painting. As in their previous collaborations, such as Frank Gehry (2000), the authors explore what an artist does in remarkably clear language that will encourage children to approach art, learn about it, and trust their own reactions. Pollocks' darker struggles--alcoholism, depression--are mentioned in an excellent, appended profile for older readers, which includes some thumbnail reproductions of Jackson's work. An authors' note addressing fictionalization, source notes, and a bibliography are included. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nicknamed "Action Jackson" for his kinetic style, abstract artist Jackson Pollack takes the spotlight in this outstanding picture book biography. Collaborators Greenberg and Jordan (Chuck Close: Up Close) frame their account around a significant period in Pollack's life in 1950, when he created Number 1, 1950 (also called Lavender Mist), one of his most famous paintings. Readers follow Pollack into his barn studio, watch over his shoulder as he lays the canvas on the floor and begins to work all the while learning about his early life and influences ("Like the Native American sand painters he saw as a boy out West, he moves around the canvas coaxing the paint into loops and curves"). Weaving in quotes from Pollack himself and such child-friendly details as the artist's pets (including a tame crow named Caw Caw), the authors craft an imaginative account grounded in solid research and enlivened with lyrical prose ("He swoops and leaps like a dancer, paint trailing from a brush that doesn't touch the canvas"). Parker (To Fly, reviewed below) suggests the artist's graceful motion with the barest of penstrokes; in one spread, Pollock's body curves across both pages as he paints. Whether capturing the intensity of the creative process and the artist's unique choreography or the spare vistas of sea and sky near the artist's Long Island home, Parker's impressionistic pen-and-watercolor illustrations pay homage to the painter's sweep of line and color ("energy and motion made visible," to quote Pollack). An extensive afterword offers notes and sources, as well as photos of Pollack at work and quotes from his friends and colleagues. Ages 6-10. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-8-Greenberg and Jordan offer another remarkable book as they capture a two-month period during which Jackson Pollock created Number 1, 1950, (Lavender Mist). Though only focusing on this one painting, the authors manage to include interesting and revealing details about Pollock's childhood influences, his pets, his studio, and his environment. The active tense of the text lends immediacy and liveliness to the subject, "an athlete with a paintbrush" who "swoops and leaps like a dancer." Quotes from Pollock himself reveal his distinctive artistic process. The thoughtfulness and care that went into his painting should effectively put to rest any of the "I could do that" skepticism his art sometimes evokes. The authors remark on the widely varying responses to Pollock's work, and make note of his seminal place in 20th-century American art. Parker's watercolor illustrations capture the spirit of the text: dynamic as Pollock dances/paints, more introspective as he sits on the beach, watching the gulls. This is an exemplary picture-book biography, with lyrical prose and appealing illustrations that capture the moods of its subject, plus fascinating biographical details, photographs, and source notes. The text is accessible enough for younger readers to appreciate if read aloud and lively enough to appeal to older readers, who just might be inspired to learn more about the artist.-Robin L. Gibson, Perry County District Library, New Lexington, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.