Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing is a picture book biography of the contemporary artist by an author with unmatched access to information about his childhood. It’s written by Haring’s younger sister. The book takes full advantage of that family knowledge, focusing on his childhood. The first third of the book is about him before he finished high school and how drawing fit into his childhood life. We see him drawing with his family, annoying teachers with his constant doodling, creating drawing games with his friends, and giving family members gifts of art.
The rest of the book shows how, as an adult, he brought his art to the world. But those adult enterprises are nicely tied back to his childhood self with the apt refrain, “…he just kept drawing.”
I love the way books by family members can highlight quiet but important moments. And in this book, Haring has gathered many images from Haring’s childhood. They’re incorporated into the illustrations of the book and also show up, annotated, in the back matter. the back matter also has a bunch of wonderful family photos showing Haring as a young person. It’s a substantial back matter–three full spreads–with images, a biographical essay, and–my favorite part–Kay Haring’s own reflections on the legacy of her brother.
Here’s another book with amazing endpapers–ones that you can get lost looking into and that will remind you why Haring is such a beloved artist.
Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing, by Kay Haring, illustrated by Robert Neubecker. Dial Books for Young Children: 2017.