genre / topics: contemporary fiction; art, creativity, grief and friendship
age range: 8-12
Caroline Gertler’s website
Sensitive and thoughtful—a story about loss, friendship, and the beauty of self-discovery.
— Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me
Like an impressionist painting, Gertler’s novel provides splashes of color ultimately revealing the emotions, drama, and truths of tween life. . . . Gertler’s vivid word choice details color and the senses, creating an authentic and relatable tween girl voice tinged with the perspective of a budding artist.
— School Library Journal, starred review
A realistic, poignant exploration of loss, friendship, and self-discovery.
— Kirkus Reviews
Please tell us about your book.
Many Points of Me is about Georgia Rosenbloom, who’s grieving the loss of her father, a famous artist. When Georgia finds a sketch that Dad made of her before he died, she sets out to prove that he intended to paint her for his last, great unfinished painting. Set in New York City, this is a story of creativity, grief, friendship, and finding the many different points of yourself.
What inspired you to write this story?
The inspiration came from wanting to write a story that incorporated my love of art history and museums—the Metropolitan Museum of Art, specifically. I grew up loving books like From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and now, contemporary art-related middle grades, including Under the Egg, Masterpiece, and All the Greys on Greene Street.
For my story, I wanted to explore the specific angle of what it would be like to grow up with a father who was a famous artist. I was interested in that on an emotional level—what would it be like to grow up in his shadow, if you’d lost him too young. And as a mystery—what if there was some question he left unanswered—in this case, the last asterism painting, which he didn’t get to finish.
Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?
I suppose I’d already done the research I needed for this book with my academic studies in art history (I have an MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London) as well as the volunteer education work I do at the Met. I underwent a year-long training program to become a Met docent, leading tours of the museum, and did further training and research to specialize in Old Master paintings. I did some extra thinking about which artists to include and mention in Many Points of Me and wanted to focus on women artists, who tend to be under-represented.
One other neat thing I did in the name of research—though perhaps more for fun, as I’m not really sure it finds its way into the story—was going to an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum a few years ago on Georgia O’Keeffe, whom my Georgia was named after.
Lastly, there are a few references to astrophysics-related topics, such as the planets, the moon, and the stars. Georgia’s dad was inspired in his art by star-watching. I first heard the term “asterism” in a class I took at the American Museum of Natural History with one of my children.
What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?
Many Points of Me would be a great fit for the classroom in connection to studying art; perhaps if a class was doing a unit on self-portraits, in particular. Also, there’s the intersection between art and science: Georgia’s dad’s last series of paintings are of asterisms. Other relevant topics include social-emotional experiences, such as grief—how Georgia is processing the loss of her father and its effect on her ability to make her own art. The ways friendship can change and shift over time, as well as what constitutes a family: Georgia and her mom are a family unit, and their best friends are also a single-mother-child unit. Together, they become like a family. And there’s always the New York City setting, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art!