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There's A Book

artsyfartsyArtsy-Fartsy by Karla Oceanak Illustrated by Kendra Spanjer

Published by Bailiwick Press

Pages: 162

Ages: 8-12

Publishers Summary: Aldo Zelnick is the star of a new comic novel series for children by author Karla Oceanak and illustrator Kendra Spanjer. Ten-year-old Aldo lives with his family in Colorado. He’s not athletic like his older brother, he’s not a rock hound like his best friend, but he does like bacon. And when his artist grandmother, Goosy, gives him a sketchbook to “record all his artsy-fartsy ideas” during summer vacation, it turns out Aldo is a pretty good cartoonist.


“So…recently my little Turkeybird is absolutely addicted to online games, kids games mind you, but still. When I read Artsy-Fartsy I thought, I cannot wait until he’s just a bit older and can really appreciate this! Not only did it inspire me to offer the book up to him in future years, but it also gave me a few ideas to try out. Artsy-Fartsy by Karla Oceanak and Kendra Spanjer is a book that as an adult, you will dive right into and be laughing all the way to the finish, but for a 10 year old…they’ll will love the relatability, the mystery and most of all, Aldo’s discovery. It’s a book for all ages with some wonderful “Artsy-Fartsy” lessons to be learned.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Artsy-Fartsy does show a similar feel to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. But, to be honest, I haven’t read them yet, so I couldn’t tell you how similar or not they truly are. What do you think? Do they look similar to those of you who have read the Wimpy Kid series? Well, let me tell you a bit about Aldo and his fabulous book before you make the call, because it’s one you don’t want to miss!

“Aldo is your typical 10 year old boy, addicted to junk food, video games and TV. It takes just about everything in his own grandmother’s power to convince him to hop on his bike and go for a ride, even with the reward of an ice cream shop half way through. But, in all fairness to Aldo, he loves to go swimming on a hot day, he does take up his parents advice to join a local baseball team and he goes hiking with his mom. Throughout the book, given to him by his grandmother (a painter), he soon discovers he has a bit of an “artsy-fartsy” side and maybe that everyone else does as well.

“Almost every page is covered in hilarious illustrations and written with some amazing, true to character journaling. Including one of the best parts, the ‘Gallery’ for his newly discovered ‘A’ lettered words. In a clever way Oceanak and Spanjer have discovered a new way to teach and share with kids how fun learning new words can truly be. To be completely honest, I even found myself looking up a few of those asterisked words and was pleasantly surprised to find a brilliant new way to look at a sometimes awkward word.

Artsy-Fartsy is a wonderful journey of a young boy just beginning to discover his own inner artsy-fartsy-ness. It’s a definite must read for that tough ‘transitional’ age (8-12), but also perfect for anyone who wants to learn more, be entertained and most of all discover their own inner artsy-fartsy-ness.

“And yes, The Turkeybird may just be getting his own ‘sketchbook’ in a few years.”

The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 8-12, but it’s a clean intelligent read that will attract younger and older readers with ease. Love it and share it!

Make sure to check back tomorrow when the author and illustrator of Artsy-Fartsy stop by for a little conversation!


Artsy-Fartsy is currently available, but also make sure to check out the second installment to Aldo’s adventures, Bogus, coming out in the Spring of 2010. I am definitely looking forward to reading this next chapter in Aldo’s life.

Other reviews you may want to check out:

She Is Too Fond of Books

This book was provided for review by the author.
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17 Responses to Artsy-Fartsy by Karla Oceanak and Kendra Spanjer

  1. This sounds like a great book to share with my 2d grader. Your descriptions about how interactive the book is sold me! We are off to BN tomorrow to buy a birthday gift for a friend and I’ll have to find both Artsy Fartsy and Bogus.

    • I’m so happy to hear it! I’m pretty sure Bogus won’t be out for about a month, but Artsy-Fartsy is definitely worth picking up even for a second grader. They will love it! (And so will you!)

  2. Christie says:

    I think my son would love this one. I’ll have to have him check it out. He’s addicted to the Wimpy Kid series. I’m alway on the lookout for new books I think he’ll enjoy.
    .-= Christie´s last blog ..Inside Out by Maria V Snyder =-.

  3. Love it! Sounds like a fun read!
    .-= Sheila (Bookjourney)´s last blog ..Morning Meanderings… =-.

  4. I’m putting it on my TBR list right now! I think my students would love it. Thanks!

  5. Oh, yes, ARTSY-FARTSY is a hit at our house, for all the reasons you mention.

    Yesterday my 7-yr-old asked me what “to make a beeline” meant. After we talked about the phrase, her eyes lit up and she said, “hey! Maybe beeline will be in the next ARTSY-FARTSY book!”

    I thought it was a great connection 🙂

    Thanks for linking to my review of the book.
    .-= Dawn – She is Too Fond of Books´s last blog ..Book review: *Clara’s Kitchen* by Clara Cannucciari =-.

    • I LOVE that with your daughter! How cute! It’s always fun to really see when books have that kind of impact and connection.

      You are quite welcome for the link, I always think it’s nice to have a couple of opinions to check out!

  6. […] The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams by Rhonda Hayter (ARC provided via Traveling ARC Tours) Artsy-Fartsy by Karla Oceanak Illustrated by Kendra Spanjer (Review Copy provided by Bailiwick Press) Green […]

  7. Jennifer G. says:

    This does sound like a lot of fun! Maybe I’ll get it for one of my little cousins’ birthdays.

    I have an award for you here.
    .-= Jennifer G.´s last blog ..More Awards! =-.

  8. […] in March I had the wonderful opportunity of reviewing Artsy-Fartsy, the first in the Aldo Zelnick series, as well as feature both Karla Oceanak and Kendra Spanjer in […]

  9. […] attract younger and older readers with ease. Love it and share it!” – Danielle Smith, There’s a Book children’s lit […]

  10. […] and Dork Diaries series have become increasingly popular. In fact, there’s a series titled Artsy-Fartsy in this same vein that I adore. I’m excited for this trend and happy to see so many more […]

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