About this book
Where Are You, Agnes?
Tessa McWatt • Zuzanna Celej
Agnes Martin was born on the Canadian prairies in the early twentieth century. In this imagining of her childhood from acclaimed author Tessa McWatt, Agnes spends her days surrounded by wheat fields, where her grandfather encourages her to draw what she sees and feels around her: the straight horizon, the feeling of the sun, the movement of birds’ wings and the shapes she sees in the wheat.
One day, Agnes’s family moves to a house in a big city. The straight horizon and wheat fields are gone, but Agnes continues to draw what she sees and feels around her. No one except her grandfather understands what she is trying to capture — not her mother, who asks, “Where are you, Agnes?” when she sees her daughter engrossed in her drawing; nor her siblings, who think her art is ugly. Still, Agnes keeps trying to capture what she sees inside her mind.
Agnes Martin grew up to become a famous abstract expressionist artist. Tessa McWatt has written a beautiful story of Agnes’s childhood and how it might have shaped her adult work. Zuzanna Celej’s watercolors adeptly capture Agnes’s world, including hints of the grid paintings that she was later known for, against the backdrop of prairie and city landscapes.
Includes an author’s note with more information about Agnes Martin’s life and the inspiration behind this story.
About the Creators
Tessa McWatt is an acclaimed author whose work includes novels for adults and young people. Her fiction has been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the City of Toronto Book Awards and the OCM Bocas Prize. Most recently, she published the novel Higher Ed and co-edited Luminous Ink: Writers on Writing in Canada with Rabindranath Maharj and Dionne Brand. She is the author of the forthcoming Shame on Me: An Anatomy of Race and Belonging, an analysis of the race debate from a personal perspective. She is also a librettist and professor of creative writing at the University of East Anglia. Where Are You, Agnes? is her first picture book.
Zuzanna Celej is an award-winning children’s book illustrator as well as an artist and painter. She has illustrated more than fifty children’s books, including The Map of Good Memories by Fran Nuño, which won the New York City Big Book Award, The Lighthouse of Souls by Ariel Andrés Almada, The Old Oak Legacy by J. L. Badal, Tania Val de Lumbre by Maria Parr, El secreto de Abuelo Oso by Pedro Mañas and Inside My Imagination by Marta Arteaga, which won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for Best Illustrator and the Living Now Book Award for a children’s picture book. Originally from Poland, Zuzanna now lives in Barcelona.