The Art of Being Remmy


Product Details

$12.99  $12.08
Cabin Studio Books
Publish Date
5.83 X 0.55 X 8.27 inches | 0.71 pounds
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About the Author

Mary Zisk is a graphic designer (mostly of magazines) and an artist with a passion for capturing foreign destinations in watercolor. She is the author and illustrator of the picture book, The Best Single Mom in the World: How I Was Adopted. She blogs about her many eclectic collections at Mary lives in New Jersey with her daughter and four white fluffy rescue mutts. The Art of Being Remmy is her debut middle grade novel. For more information, visit



Remmy's amusing voice, decency, and ambition make her an appealing character... A highly entertaining and thoughtful tale.

In Mary Zisk's middle-grade novel, The Art Of Being Remmy, a 12-year-old New Jersey girl in 1965 defies sexist stereotypes--and her father--to take art lessons.

Four years ago, back in third grade, Rosella Maria Rinaldi's art teacher dubbed her "a regular little Rembrandt," and kids have called her "Remmy" ever since. The teacher recommended that Remmy keep "the spark of an artist" alive, so the tween resolves that her upcoming year in seventh grade will be "The Year of My Spark." Dampening her fire, though, is her father, who insists that "No daughter of mine will ever become an artist," ...Nevertheless, she finds work to pay for secret art lessons.

In the months leading up to an art contest that Remmy hopes to win, her personal relationships have ups and downs. Her best friend...starts hanging out with another girl in the French club, often leaving Remmy (who doesn't speak French) out of their conversations...Bill, a former childhood friend, has sexist notions ("You know, all great artists are men"), but he also suffers because of gendered expectations, as he'd rather make art than play sports. This revelation brings him and Remmy closer together. She also learns more about her father's past and what it was that's made him so dead-set against art as a career. Remmy's artistic efforts bring mixed results, but she sticks to her resolution.

... Zisk illustrates the story with Remmy's lively, expressive line drawings, which show that Remmy does have some skill; at the same time, they are believably the work of a talented 12-year-old. Remmy expresses delight in color and pays attention to visuals throughout the narrative, which helps to establish her as a budding artist...Remmy's painting classes, too, provide readers with an authentic sense of what the education of a young painter is like: "composition, proportion, mixing colors (or tones of gray, in my case), brush strokes, shadows, highlights."

Also authentic, and perhaps surprising to many young readers today, is the depiction of the struggle of women artists to gain recognition. H.W. Janson's History of Art is a real book, and Zisk correctly notes that it didn't include any women until the 1987 edition.

BOOKLIST PRIZE--The "coming-of-age" theme and junior high setting of this tale will be familiar to middle grade readers. With its briskly paced plot and strong voice, the story will hold readers' attention well until the last page.

The Art of Being Remmy really is a fun and original novel, enhanced by quirky graphic illustrations. The story of Remmy's drive to be an artist, while handling the drama of junior high, is a real page turner. I even teared up a bit at the end! Teachers may find it fits well with STEAM curriculum. --Roxie Munro, author/illustrator of Masterpiece Mix