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Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott

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A moving and powerful introduction to the life and art of renowned artist, Judith Scott, as told by her twin sister, Joyce Scott and illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist, Melissa Sweet. Judith Scott was born with Down syndrome. She was deaf, and never learned to speak. She was also a talented artist. Judith was institutionalized until her sister Joyce reunited with her and A moving and powerful introduction to the life and art of renowned artist, Judith Scott, as told by her twin sister, Joyce Scott and illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist, Melissa Sweet. Judith Scott was born with Down syndrome. She was deaf, and never learned to speak. She was also a talented artist. Judith was institutionalized until her sister Joyce reunited with her and enrolled her in an art class. Judith went on to become an artist of renown with her work displayed in museums and galleries around the world. Poignantly told by Joyce Scott in collaboration with Brie Spangler and Melissa Sweet and beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist, Melissa Sweet, Unbound is inspiring and warm, showing us that we can soar beyond our perceived limitations and accomplish something extraordinary.


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A moving and powerful introduction to the life and art of renowned artist, Judith Scott, as told by her twin sister, Joyce Scott and illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist, Melissa Sweet. Judith Scott was born with Down syndrome. She was deaf, and never learned to speak. She was also a talented artist. Judith was institutionalized until her sister Joyce reunited with her and A moving and powerful introduction to the life and art of renowned artist, Judith Scott, as told by her twin sister, Joyce Scott and illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist, Melissa Sweet. Judith Scott was born with Down syndrome. She was deaf, and never learned to speak. She was also a talented artist. Judith was institutionalized until her sister Joyce reunited with her and enrolled her in an art class. Judith went on to become an artist of renown with her work displayed in museums and galleries around the world. Poignantly told by Joyce Scott in collaboration with Brie Spangler and Melissa Sweet and beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist, Melissa Sweet, Unbound is inspiring and warm, showing us that we can soar beyond our perceived limitations and accomplish something extraordinary.

30 review for Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott

  1. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    An AMAZING story about twin sisters, one who is normal and the other who was institutionalized at a young age with Down Syndrome. This is one of the most amazing stories of sisterly love I have ever heard and the art is so beautiful. Just a wonderful, uplifting story. You can see her art on the Internet if you search for images of Judith Scott, it is utterly amazing! 5 stars Happy Reading!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    (content warning: institutionalization, family trauma) I would give this ten stars if I could. I loved it so much that I bought my own copy after borrowing it from the library. Imagine you are a little child and you wake up one morning and your twin sister and your dad are both gone. Your mom tells you that your dad is taking your sister to a special school. Your dad comes back, but your twin doesn't. When you finally visit her months later, you know right away that this isn't a school that she's (content warning: institutionalization, family trauma) I would give this ten stars if I could. I loved it so much that I bought my own copy after borrowing it from the library. Imagine you are a little child and you wake up one morning and your twin sister and your dad are both gone. Your mom tells you that your dad is taking your sister to a special school. Your dad comes back, but your twin doesn't. When you finally visit her months later, you know right away that this isn't a school that she's in. The twin sister has been institutionalized on a doctor's advice. She has Down syndrome and is Deaf. She receives no education and is labeled as difficult. Eventually, with a little gentle encouragement, she becomes an internationally renowned artist. The art in this book is beautiful, with colors that mirror the mood of the text and small details that young readers will enjoy pointing out. Very inspiring book about how art can change us all.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    Told by Joyce Scott, the twin sister of Judith, this picture book explores the closeness of the sisters as small children until they are separated for years. The two sisters shared everything with one another, playing together all the time. Then Joyce is sent to kindergarten and Judith is left behind. Judith has Down syndrome and has never spoken. Then her parents send Judith to a special school where she will live and learn to talk. They don’t visit for a long time and when they do, the school Told by Joyce Scott, the twin sister of Judith, this picture book explores the closeness of the sisters as small children until they are separated for years. The two sisters shared everything with one another, playing together all the time. Then Joyce is sent to kindergarten and Judith is left behind. Judith has Down syndrome and has never spoken. Then her parents send Judith to a special school where she will live and learn to talk. They don’t visit for a long time and when they do, the school isn’t like other schools. There is no playground, no desks, no books. As they grow older, Joyce gets married and has children. She continues to think of Judith as being at her side all the time. Eventually, she is able to bring Judith out of the institution and to live with her. Joyce finds Judith an art program to be part of. Judith attends but won’t participate at all. Months go by until her teachers give her some natural materials and fabric. Suddenly, Judith is creating unique pieces of sculpture and is celebrated as an artist. Full of sorrow and loss, this picture book examines the destructive nature of the systematic institutionalization of people with special needs to both the person institutionalized and their loved ones. Having Joyce herself narrate the book is powerful. The beautiful connection the sisters have in their young childhood forms a foundation of connection that allows her to rescue her sister decades later. Even as the book moves to when Judith finds her artistic voice, there is a melancholy to the years lost and the muting of her voice for so long. Sweet’s illustrations are incredible and moving. She incorporates collage and also builds sculptures to pay homage to Scott’s work. Built with string, textiles, wire and wood, there is a celebratory nature to them of an art newly found. In other moments, Sweet captures wistfulness, longing and connection with light, shadow and color. An extraordinary look at an artist who was almost lost. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Heart-wrenching and full of love. This biography unfolds in unexpected directions. Would be good to open a discussion about perceptions and discrimination of people with disabilities.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central Born in 1943, twins Judith and Joyce Scott were close. They played with dolls and tea sets, and had adventures outside. Their lives diverged, however, when Joyce went to kindergarten and Judith was not allowed to go because she had Down Syndrome and had never spoken. One day, Judith was gone, and Joyce was told that she had been sent away. This was the standard treatment of children with mental challenges at the time, but was a bleak choice. Joyce was al Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central Born in 1943, twins Judith and Joyce Scott were close. They played with dolls and tea sets, and had adventures outside. Their lives diverged, however, when Joyce went to kindergarten and Judith was not allowed to go because she had Down Syndrome and had never spoken. One day, Judith was gone, and Joyce was told that she had been sent away. This was the standard treatment of children with mental challenges at the time, but was a bleak choice. Joyce was allowed to visit occasionally, but missed her sister and didn't like the way that she had to live. Once she grew up, Joyce made plans to get Judith to move from Ohio to where Joyce lived in California, and found out that Judith had been profoundly deaf her whole life! Once in California, Joyce was determined to find a place for her sister to learn, and enrolled her with the Creative Growth Arts Center. It took some time, but eventually Judith found her voice in making elaborate wrapped sculptures of found objects, with secrets hidden inside the bundles. Sadly, Judith died in 2005, but outlived the life expectancy for someone with her challenges and left a lasting legacy of her artwork. Melissa Sweet combines pencil and watercolor illustrations with found objects and thread to colorfully recreate Judith's life and work. The bright, multicolored palette recreates the exuberant qualities of Judith's art, come of which is replicated in 2-D for the book. There is a helpful timeline of Judith's life, as well as a few photographs, notes from the author and illustrator, and a list of organizations related to Down Syndrome. This book will appeal to anyone who is interested in crafts, or wants to know more about artists who have struggled with difficulties in order to produce their art. Allen Says Silent Days, Silent Dreams is the only other picture book biography that covers another such artist.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Iris

    This picture book made me so emotional!!! It's about fiber artist, Judith Scott, and her heartbreaking experiences through the eyes of her twin sister, Joyce. Joyce and Judith were twins, inseparable for the first seven years of their life. One day, Joyce woke up to find Judy gone. She had been taken by their father to an institution where she stayed for 35 years. Judy had Down Syndrome and was also deaf, though no one realized this until she was much older. Because of her inability to hear, she This picture book made me so emotional!!! It's about fiber artist, Judith Scott, and her heartbreaking experiences through the eyes of her twin sister, Joyce. Joyce and Judith were twins, inseparable for the first seven years of their life. One day, Joyce woke up to find Judy gone. She had been taken by their father to an institution where she stayed for 35 years. Judy had Down Syndrome and was also deaf, though no one realized this until she was much older. Because of her inability to hear, she was given a low IQ at the institution and wasn't permitted to participate in any activities. She stayed there for 35 years until Joyce successfully gained legal custody of her and took her home. After she enrolled Judy in a local art studio that welcomed adults with disabilities, Judy found her passion and started creating beautiful sculptures with fiber and found objects. Her work was shown internationally. A truly inspiring and moving commemoration from one loving sister to another.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aolund

    This beautiful tribute to artist Judith Scott, written by her twin sister Joyce, inspired, sorrowed, and touched me. It was painful to read about Judith's institutionalization due to her Down Syndrome, but super powerful to see her explosion into artist and creator upon coming to live with Joyce and having access to space/resource for unbounded creation. This story is well-written, with short "chapters" that still feel natural in the picture-book context. Frankly talks about ableism (though this This beautiful tribute to artist Judith Scott, written by her twin sister Joyce, inspired, sorrowed, and touched me. It was painful to read about Judith's institutionalization due to her Down Syndrome, but super powerful to see her explosion into artist and creator upon coming to live with Joyce and having access to space/resource for unbounded creation. This story is well-written, with short "chapters" that still feel natural in the picture-book context. Frankly talks about ableism (though this word is not used), institutionalization, and death. Themes: Dis/ability, Siblings, Art Age range: Elementary

  8. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    I am leery to review books where disabled folks are positioned as inspiration for able-bodied readers, and I’d be interested to read some reviews from folks who have Down Syndrome. Nonetheless, I found the artwork in the book did justice to the artist herself, really bringing to life the textures and colors found in the original artwork. I was especially moved by the photo of the artist at the end as well as the word choices throughout the text.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Josie Stewart

    I found this book among my stack of "New Books" from the library. What a treasure. I learned about an artist Judith Scott. I learned and felt the love between sisters. I am reminded of a time where institutional living was probably the most common option for someone with perceived limitations, and I hope that we are as a society are doing better. The power of art in this story was very moving. Don't miss the author's and Illustrator's notes. I found this book among my stack of "New Books" from the library. What a treasure. I learned about an artist Judith Scott. I learned and felt the love between sisters. I am reminded of a time where institutional living was probably the most common option for someone with perceived limitations, and I hope that we are as a society are doing better. The power of art in this story was very moving. Don't miss the author's and Illustrator's notes.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ginger

    Inspiring The author shares a deeply personal story about her sister who spent far too many years i in a colorless institution where no one could see her potential. Only after they were reunited and found an amazing art program was her true creativity unearthed. Melissa Sweet’s illustrations make this story pop and it’s so clear the amount of research, skill and love she put in.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Raven Black

    Is there a full length biography of this person? The picture book while lovely, does not seem to do Ms. Scott justice. Great for a classroom/art class setting or if doing a unit of women or people who are not neurotypical and/or have down syndrome. Just a must have just because, but also if you are interested in fiber art or art in general.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Leona

    This was fascinating, on so many levels - twin sisters, Down Syndrome, institutionalization, separation, art therapy … As an adult, I wanted more information. Realizing it’s written from the perspective of the sister, the childhood confusion about their differences is understandable. This would be a good introduction to how Special Ed and services have improved and our better understanding of people’s potential rather than their limitations. The art Judy created is intricate and unique. I recomm This was fascinating, on so many levels - twin sisters, Down Syndrome, institutionalization, separation, art therapy … As an adult, I wanted more information. Realizing it’s written from the perspective of the sister, the childhood confusion about their differences is understandable. This would be a good introduction to how Special Ed and services have improved and our better understanding of people’s potential rather than their limitations. The art Judy created is intricate and unique. I recommend this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Lombard

    What an amazing book! The story of Judith Scott's life was both heart wrenching and triumphant. So many people with different abilities were institutionalized in the recent past, but despite this, Judith's spirit soared when given the opportunity. Wonderful story. What an amazing book! The story of Judith Scott's life was both heart wrenching and triumphant. So many people with different abilities were institutionalized in the recent past, but despite this, Judith's spirit soared when given the opportunity. Wonderful story.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mary Lee

    A beautify story that will encourage young readers to think about the changes over time in the ways we treat people who are "disabled." There is much to consider about the importance of the arts in our expression of our truest selves, and the power of family. A beautify story that will encourage young readers to think about the changes over time in the ways we treat people who are "disabled." There is much to consider about the importance of the arts in our expression of our truest selves, and the power of family.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sara Cook

    A touching story of the magic released in art and creativity when all people are given space to flourish.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    Need to know more about Judith Scott.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    A unique and touching look at an artist who flourished in a program for creative people with disabilities. The mixed-media illustrations are as vibrant as Judith Scott herself.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Holly Mueller

    Oh my goodness, I LOVED this book! I had not heard of Judith Scott and her fiber sculptures until this book. How extraordinary. Once again, Melissa Sweet creates incredible illustrations.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    4 stars for this illuminating biography

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christina

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carlos

  22. 5 out of 5

    Yara

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Hunter

  25. 5 out of 5

    Big

  26. 5 out of 5

    Holly

  27. 4 out of 5

    ProBuilding Service

  28. 5 out of 5

    L

  29. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Flynn

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

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