Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Grandma Moses, Painter, Tom Biracree portrays the life of a spirited pioneer woman who began her career in art at the age of seventy-six. The book documents the life of Anna Mary Robertson, later known as Grandma Moses. Robertson was born in 1860 on a farm in Washington County, New York, near the border of Vermont. Biracree’s biography employs an anthropological tone as he relates the story of her early childhood. The author quotes from Moses’ autobiography of her earliest memories of “sporting with [her] brothers, making rafts to float over the mill pond, roaming the wild woods gathering flowers, and building air castles.” Grandma Moses spent many hours as a child drawing houses, barns, trees, and people on blank newsprint. In school, geography intrigued her, and she was fascinated with drawing the maps in her textbooks. The maps were so good that the teachers used them year after year to teach other children.

The farm, her family, and her early childhood influenced Moses’ paintings. Edu-cation was secondary to farming and it was only important that a girl could write her name. Schools were open only for the three months of the year between fall harvest and spring planting. Thus, it was not unusual that, instead of pursuing an education. Moses left home at twelve to become a hired girl in another farm household. It was during this time that she saw Currier and Ives prints, and these scenes may have influenced and inspired her when she began...

(The entire section is 603 words.)