On the Tip of a Wave: How Ai Weiwei’s Art Is Changing the Tide

Scholastic/Orchard. Oct. 2023. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338715941.
PreS-Gr 3–Ai Weiwei is an artist born in China during the late 1950s, when government officials were trying to rid the country of academic individuals who didn’t approve of the way they ran the country. Left with his family to live in a labor camp, Weiwei learned to survive by drawing and sculpting on the dirt walls of the hole his family inhabited in the desert. In his 20s, Weiwei was able to move to the United States to study art, only returning to China to be with his ailing father. Noticing a stark difference between China and the U.S. surprised Weiwei. He began creating art that spoke about humanity, namely refugees. Illustrated in pencil, pastels, and the use of digital, this book boasts the orange, blue, and white of the life vests worn by the refugees as they traveled by sea to seek solace in a new land where very few were welcomed. Back matter explains in detail about Weiwei’s life and work. Inspiration is sprinkled throughout as the illustrator weaves examples of Weiwei’s work on every page. “Establishing the understanding that we all belong to one humanity is the most essential step for how we might continue to coexist on the sphere we call Earth.”
VERDICT An outstanding biography of an important artist whose work challenges us to change the way we look at other human beings. This will guide deep discussions on borders and the plight of so many people around the world.

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