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Metal Man Hardcover – July 1, 2008

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 470L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge; 1 edition (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580891500
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580891509
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,362,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4—This unusual picture book is a tribute to a real metal sculptor, Mitch Levin, a friend of the author. Devon, a young African-American boy, loves to watch "Metal Man" create art out of junk in his city workshop. When he envisions a house in a shining star, the sculptor helps him to bring his idea into reality. Beautifully understated, the story is about the capacity of art to empower the artist and to affect how others see the world. The poetic text is visceral—readers experience the sounds, vibrations, textures, and heat of the metal shop. "'Whatcha makin', Metal Man? I say./He don't answer. He never does./'Whaddya see?' That's all he says." The cartoon illustrations, in rusty browns and shiny blues, depict the metal man as tall, strong, gentle, and wise, a larger-than-life hero. He encourages Devon to embrace his own vision, but also protects him from the dangerous tools he is not ready to use. In the space of an afternoon, the youngster grows in understanding and confidence. A wonderful example of sensory writing and colloquial storytelling, this would be an excellent book to read before embarking on art projects, museum trips, art-appreciation lessons, or community-helper units, and will inspire independent readers with a desire to try their own hand at sculpture or artistic creation.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Reynolds works the picture-book format with the same mastery Mitch [the Metal Man] applies to rusty iron. A few offhand remarks, a couple of brief conversations, and a smattering of the young narrator's own observations are transformed into a remarkably clear portrait of Devon as a kid with a lot more going on inside than the adults in his life have noticed or acknowledged. . .
Hoppe's mixed-media illustrations supply the heat and burly muscle the text demands. A controlled hodgepodge of broad brushstrokes and squiggly pencil lines, detailed representations of Mitch at work, and subtle backdrops of simplified forms and diminished colors all invite close, lingering inspection. Just as Reynolds deploys words economically, Hoppe limits his palette, mainly employing two dominant colors. Browns and related tans handle mundane affairs, the surfaces we all see, from the creamy chocolate skin tones of the African-American cast, to the drab workshop and the oxidized metals Mitch will call to life. Blues suggest possibility the heavy machinery that transforms the metal, the hot blue sparks of the torch, the blue background behind Devon as he conjures his star house, the blue shadows cast by Devon when Mitch first invites him into the creative process, even the blue blouse Mama wears when she recognizes her son's interior energy. If Devon is consistently shown as an ordinary kid, speaking volumes through supple body language and facial expressions, Mitch is variously portrayed as a mystery man, a sometimes giant, larger-than-life idol, or an accessible friend, just as Devon views him. He looms over Devon in their initial conversation, abates in size when they work side by side at the table saw, and fills a full two pages as a grinder-wielding titan, bringing out he shine in the metal (and, metaphorically, the boy) that was under there all the time.
Will Devon ever create these wonders entirely on his own? Who knows? Reynolds' audience will certainly agree he's too young to handle the tools and torch just yet. But whatever medium he ultimately adopts as his own or even if he never undertakes an art project at all Devon knows that he can find meaning in visual forms others may miss, that his ideas have value, and that some adults can listen and respect. It's a message that any young artist in the making will welcome, but one that even listeners who will never progress beyond stick men can appreciate, too. --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Literature, starred review

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kirsten G. Cutler on August 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Reynolds, Aaron. Metal Man. Illustrated by Paul Hoppe. Charlesbridge. 2008.

This is a very sweet story about a young African-American boy who loves to watch his neighbor who he calls the "Metal Man" weld metal sculptures. His mom says that the man is just making junk and that "makin' junk out of junk ain't a real job." But the little boy thinks, "Looks like work to me." He sees shapes and objects, and poignantly comments, "When I hang out with the metal man, I get it right. I see what I see. Not like school." The mixed media illustrations in predominantly yellow, brown and blue shades portray an energetic thoughtful boy: emotions flit across his face as he admiringly observes the metal works artist, and then imagines a piece of artwork he would like the artist to create for him, "I wanna make a house in a star". Together, they cut out pieces for a "star-house" and then the "metal man" reminds the young boy to step away while he welds the pieces together with the "angry fire" he characterizes as "killer bees". This lovely paean to creativity showcases a tender interaction between the boy and the man, presents a simple yet vivid description of the process of welding, and reveals a touching change in perspective on the part of the boy's mother, "I'm seein' things different, and maybe Mama is too, all because of that fiery metal man." This is a beautifully rendered book that deserves a wide audience.
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By Ulyyf on June 21, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great story about seeing art in every day, and about doing art. (It's not a great story about how I can construct a sentence. Sorry about that one!)

The pictures are alive and active, and fit the words well.

The text... well, the text is written in a non-standard dialect. As far as I'm concerned, this is all for the best. It is GOOD for children to know that not everybody speaks the same way, that other people speak differently (or, alternatively, that there's nothing wrong with the way they speak at home). It is GOOD for people to have more than one way to speak. The person who has two dialects is twice as smart and able as the person who only has one. There is nothing shameful in speaking differently from one another, no more than there is in thinking differently. What a terribly dreary world this would be if we all spoke the same way! If you love language, you let it live, and languages live through changing.

But if you're the sort who prefers your language dead in the dictionary, please - read before you buy.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Metal Man is a children's picturebook told from the point of view of an African-American boy during the heat of summertime. The young boy befriends a welder to turns junk into the most amazing things! The vibrant drawings of award-winning artist Paul Hoppe practically burst off the page in this unabashed celebration of the joys of summer, family, and creating artworks through metal welding.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Children's bookreader on March 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A nice story that goes awry when an adult "tries" to narrate poor grammar on a child's voice to tell the story. No are some lines: ----"Whatcha makin', Metal Man" I say. He don't answer. He never does. "Whaddya see?" That's all he says. It don't look like nothing yet.----My child usually asks to have a book read over and over. This one left us exhausted after one read. The only reference we did like was the one to the El Train, 'us being from Chicago and all'.
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