The Noisy Paint Box

Author:  Barb Rosenstock
Illustrator:  Mary Grandpre

978-0307978486_sYoung Vasya Kandinsky’s parents provided him with a proper Russian upbringing.  He studied bookfuls of all the right subjects, practiced endlessly on his piano scales, and sat through stiff and formal family dinners.   You could say his world was rather routine, perhaps even boring, until one day when his aunt gave him a small wooden paint box.

All of us have mixed red with yellow; then mixed blue with red.  We have all delighted to see the colors change.  But with Vasya it became magical-he listened as his brush stirred and swished.

“What’s that sound?” asked Vasya.  The swirling colors trilled like an orchestra tuning up for a magical symphony.

But Vasya’s family didn’t understand that Vasya was painting what he “heard” in the colors and insisted that he learn to draw like everyone else.  He finished school, became a lawyer, but although he tried, Vasya couldn’t ignore the sounds of the colors singing to him in the streets of Moscow as he grew to adulthood.


One evening, Vasya attended an opera.  That night he heard the colors singing. He saw the music dancing.  And Vasya was never quite as proper again.  That little noisy paint box that had first revealed itself to him as a child was now open and free forever.  Vasya Kandinsky created something entirely new- abstract art.

Squares-with-Concentric-Circles-300x222 Mary Kline

1.  What happened to Vasya when he first mixed his paints?

2.  Do you agree that Vasya should have been sent to art classes? Why?

3.  What do you “hear” when you look at Kandinsky’s art at the back of the book?

Share your thoughts...