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Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies Hardcover – January 1, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-This beautifully produced, comprehensive, and highly sympathetic biography of the artist covers her entire life, reporting her influences and her accomplishments, and bringing her out from behind the shadow of her famous husband. The broad facts are freely available around the Web, but here they've been organized roughly chronologically and presented in context with descriptions of works that presaged movements in music as well as visual and performance art. Divided into sections representing different life stages, the detailed narrative includes helpful historical background for modern teens and is written in a lively, often colloquial style. Endpapers with the words "Imagine Peace" in the 24 languages in which they are carved on the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland will remind readers of two major themes of Ono's life. The book is liberally illustrated with photographs, but it will take a stretch of readers' own imaginations to understand just how ground- and taboo-breaking her art and life have been. The back matter includes a bibliography that reflects the authors' extensive research, which included an interview with the subject. For those who enjoyed Elizabeth Partridge's John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth (Viking, 2005), this will be a must-read.-Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MDα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Though Yoko Ono was born into a life of wealth and privilege, she did not have an easy childhood. Her emotionally distant parents uprooted her many times to change schools or move from Japan to America and back to Japan, where she endured hunger and fear during World War II. Intelligent, creative, and strong willed, she married against her parents’ wishes and lived in poverty in New York City for many years, developing her own idiosyncratic, conceptual form of writing, music, visual art, and performance pieces. While this biography documents Ono’s life broadly, the writing is uneven in quality. The sections on her childhood and her third marriage, to John Lennon, are the most interesting. In discussing Ono’s work and its reception by critics and the public, the authors often seem to take on the role of apologists rather than journalists or historians. On the plus side, this is handsomely designed and generously illustrated; it is also well researched and filled with intriguing details. There’s not a lot for young people about Ono. They will find this a good starting place. Grades 9-12. --Carolyn Phelan
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This biography shows us another Yoko: an innovative and exciting conceptual artist, musician, writer and comeback kid. The biography is short but hits the high marks, beginning with Yoko's privileged, yet emotionally cold, upbringing in Japan. The precocious child came out of the bombing raids of World War II with an insatiable curiosity and desire to make a mark. This would lead her to write music, pen incredibly imaginative poems and envision a new society through art.
In New York, she ran in circles that included Andy Warhol and John Cage, and was an early member of Fluxus. Her films and performance art gained some critical acclaim, which was soon overshadowed by her relationship with John Lennon.
The book sprints through life with John, pre- and post-Beatles, but offers the story we've already heard with a more balanced viewpoint. Yoko and John were a couple that redefined the marriage of equals and channeled their energies into projects audiences didn't always like but wouldn't call boring.
The authors followed the story into the 1990s and 2000s as Yoko put out new music and a couple hot remix albums, along with tours and catchy videos. In fact, I wish the authors had included more on this period.
There are many photos of Yoko, including ones of her as a child, her art works and her family, including, of course, the ones many have seen of her and John Lennon.
This book gives a background and a clue into the life of Yoko. It tells of her hardships and rejections, her experiences in Japan during and after WWII. Much of her life is told and her feelings explained, including explaining her art works. Her first marriage to Toshi, her second with Tony Cox and their daughter Kyoko are described. Then her meetings with Lennon and her thoughts on giving her opinions to the Beatle's music are detailed. The bed-in and their reasons for that, her custody battle for Kyoko are explained. Sean's birth and their life together afterwards and Lennon's death are expounded upon. Her life after and that of Sean and even Kyoko are touched upon.
All is told in a simple and clear fashion with many of her quotes. For those who only know of Yoko Ono during her time with John Lennon, this will give a background to her life. This is a book for fans of Yoko Ono and even John Lennon and for those who simply want to learn more about the life of Yoko Ono.
“Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies” is not filled with Beatles nostalgia, but with Yoko’s unique form of creativity. Some of what she attempted to share over the years is quite obscure and “deep,” leaving the typical art critic and reader/viewer to scratch their heads in disbelief. “Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies” tries to explain, through Yoko’s thoughts and own words, what she really was thinking when creating her work while the rest of us were wondering “what was she thinking?!”
Her deepest desire was to be a creative artist, and to be recognized for her work. This biography is aimed to educate those who previously may just have thought of her as “John Lennon’s wife.” It shows that she was his wife, but was so much more in her own right.
For readers aged 14 and older.
This book makes a worthy addition to a library's collection, especially for students who study art.
Personally, I was very much moved by the explanations behind the art, especially by Play It By Trust (the entirely white chess set) and Wish Tree.
It is said that 'art makes you look at the world differently.' I am looking at the world differently since I read this book.