The Art of Being Remmy is now on sale at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
(Teachers, librarians, and bookstores: Hardcover and paperback books are available through Ingram)
A blast from the past with hopes for the future.
My illustrated, funny, coming-of-age novel, The Art of Being Remmy, takes place in 1965, right in the middle of Beatlemania. 12-year-old Remmy Rinaldi is determined to be an artist—in spite of her father’s objections, competition with a knucklehead boy, and the possibility of losing her best friend to a rat fink.
Remmy questions what isn’t fair for girls in the mid-1960s, and challenges the rules that restrict her. She discovers what friendship really means, and helps others find their true callings while following her own Spark of an Artist.
The Art of Being Remmy is a middle grade novel for ages 8 to 12. It has 242 pages with 70 illustrations and 10 photographs. The book includes:
- Author's historical note with photos
- Comments on the modern women's movement and timeline of women's landmark achievements from the 1960s to 1980s
- Artists appendix with brief bios of the 23 artists in history that are mentioned in the novel
Take a look at the Slideshow below:
FROM KIRKUS REVIEWS:
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, a 12-year-old New Jersey girl in 1965 defies sexist stereotypes—and her father—to take art lessons…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…--Kirkus Reviews
[Read full review here.]
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
I LOVED Remmy! I think the book will definitely inspire artists and girls to do what they dream of doing! You inspired me when Remmy tried out for the baseball team and wore pants to school. —Haley, middle grade reader
I just turned the final pages and closed the back cover of The Art of Being Remmy with a smile on my face. I have been transported back to the early 1960’s through this narrative. The book is filled with allusions to the time. The story deals with a girl who won’t come to grips with the limitations placed on girls during this time period. For those of us who lived it, the emotions ring true. For today’s young women, it is important to be introduced to or reminded of a past in which yesterday’s restrictions were part of life. Being limited in choosing a profession; seeing very few women in history, art and other books; being unable to play most team sports; and not being allowed to wear slacks or jeans to school were parts of our lives.
Nonfiction books are currently an important part of the ELA curriculum. This writer has deftly integrated nonfiction learning into the novel format. From the names of paint colors and how to employ complimentary colors, to many specific references to painters and their artworks, to the layout and names of pavilions at the 1964 NY World’s Fair, there is much information to be gleaned. The end of the book includes biographical information as well as teen pictures of the author. The last I believe can help to forge a connection between readers and this author. Who knows, most likely some young readers are at this very moment nurturing their own “Spark of a Writer!” --7th grade English teacher
Where did Remmy come from?
The Art of Being Remmy was inspired by the most exciting event in my young life. At age 13, I was one of the winners in a Draw the Beatles contest run by the New York City radio station WABC. The prize was two tickets to see the Beatles in concert on August 29, 1964! The thrill of that whole experience has always stayed with me and planted the seed in my mind that became Remmy’s story.I spent many years writing Remmy’s story. I attended conferences, workshops, and retreats presented by the New Jersey chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), and workshops at the Highlights Foundation. With the help of authors, editors, agents, and especially writer friends, I turned a happy memory into a novel.
Although my novel is autobiographical in the sense that I used my feelings and historical events from that time in my childhood, the characters and conflicts, actions and dilemmas, are all fictional.
The idea of using artwork in my novel came midway through the process. At first, I drew possible characters and situations.
Although the above elements are still important pieces of the story, I decided to have Remmy illustrate her way through the novel in her Super Secret Sketchbook. So instead of just watching Remmy navigate the ups and downs in her life in 1965, you get to see the events through her own eyes and emotions.
Visit Remmy's Pinterest page and learn more about Art, Sixties Fashion, the Beatles, Sexism in the Sixties, Girl Power, and more.