Monday, October 29, 2007

The Big Book of Pop Culture by Hal Niedzviecki

And while we’re on the topic of Hal Niedzviecki’s Big Book of Pop Culture (Were we? Kinda.) the book, which was published by Annick Press earlier this year, is amazing. In some ways, it’s quite beyond the scope of anything I’ve seen done for kids before, by someone who knows this topic about as well as it can be known. From the book:
Creativity is often confused with originality. But when you create, the challenge isn't to think of something that no one has done before; it's to figure out what you want to say and why you want to say it.
Which reminds me of something either Henri Matisse or the designer Paul Rand said. Matisse supposedly told his students “Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you it will come out.” Celebrated graphic designer Paul Rand said, “Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.” Either way, the point is clear and not so very far, I think, from what Niedzviecki is saying here.

Niedzviecki’s book is very good and could be an important one for kids at that delicate age of understanding. At worst The Big Book of Pop Culture will offer a few interesting hours of entertainment, as it explores the development of pop culture and our place in it. At best, the book will provide a key of empowerment for young people poised on the threshold of creativity. I’m betting most parents would be at least fine with either outcome.

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