Select one of the keywords
The Secret World of Walter Anderson    by Hester Bass & E. B. Lewis order for
Secret World of Walter Anderson
by Hester Bass
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2014 (2009)
Hardcover, Softcover
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

When you open the pages of this wonderful book you'll enter the fascinating world of reclusive nature lover Walter Anderson, an artist few people have heard of outside the Gulf region.

Anderson often rowed his boat to a small island off Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where he'd camp and paint for days on end. The 12 mile journey in his small skiff was dangerous, but Horn Island provided a place where Anderson could write in his journal and sketch, while communing with nature in his isolated paradise.

When he died at age 62, Anderson's family discovered a number of wonderful murals, block prints and pottery locked away in a room of his cottage. Hidden away during his lifetime, this wonderful art work was collected for display in a small museum in Ocean Springs.

Although some of his work, his cottage and workroom were heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the museum collection fortunately survived. In an attempt to raise the public's awareness of this unheralded artist, this children's book looks at Walter Anderson's life.

In addition to her version of the artist's story, Hester Bass includes a nine page biography accompanied by examples of the man's work at the end of the book.

This is a book that both older children and adult art lovers alike will enjoy reading, The Secret World of Walter Anderson is a treasure that will be prized for years to come.

2nd review by Jessica Maguire:

Walter Anderson has aptly been called 'the most famous American artist you've never heard of.' Living on the coast of Mississippi, Walter preferred the solitude of Horn Island where he risked life and limb to study nature and paint.

Why is Walter Anderson's art unknown to many people, you wonder? During his life he was a rather reclusive naturalist and kept most of work hidden from the world. He even had a room at home that was completely off limits to everyone, even his wife.

Despite being ill and escaping from hospitals, Walter continued to paint wonderful watercolors. Regardless of his health and people not liking a mural he did in town, Walter kept painting. Snakebites and hurricanes never kept him from doing what he loved.

It was in 1965, upon the death of Walter Anderson that the scale of his work was recognized. His wife finally went into the secret room and found it covered in a mural of the flora and fauna of the Gulf Coast. It was in this room that Walter's never before seen watercolors of Horn Island were discovered.

Sadly, Hurricane Katrina destroyed a good portion of Anderson's art. However, some survives in museums, some is being restored, and the remaining works are part of his family's private collection.

I enjoyed reading this chapter book and being introduced to the biography of an artist with whom I was unfamiliar. The color illustrations by E.B. Lewis are themselves works of art. I also enjoyed the examples of Anderson's work as well as the extensive author's note about the artist.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Kids books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews