Posted tagged ‘Picture Book Biographies’

Radiant Art

May 4, 2017

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

I was not familiar with Jean-Michel Basquiat until I read, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, written and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, Little, Brown and Company. This book was awarded the 2017 Caldecott Medal, the 2017 Coretta Scott King Award for its illustrations, and the 2017 NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Literary Work.

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From an early age, Jean-Michel knew he wanted to become a famous artist. His mother was a creative spark in his life, exposing him to literature, theater, museums, and the energy of New York City. His father brought home old paper from the office on which Jean-Michel drew for hours. When his mother became ill, Jean-Michel lost an important mentor in his life. More than ever, drawing and painting were his passion. At night, he spray-painted poems and drawings on the walls in the New York City. His pieces brought attention to the city’s diverse population and its social and political issues. Basquiat’s unique style was embraced by art critics and fans, and, at a young age, he achieved his goal of becoming a famous artist.

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” ~Edgar Degas

What makes this book truly amazing is Javaka Steptoe’s eye-catching illustrations. In the back matter of the book, he provides more information about Jean-Michel Basquiat and adds a poignant author note. Javaka Steptoe was inspired by Basquiat’s work. He saw his graffiti in New York City, read about Basquiat in the newspapers, and went to one of his art shows. In illustrating this book, Steptoe says he used his own interpretations of the artist’s works rather than using copies. The end result is a book filled with vivid illustrations inspired by Basquiat and his unique style. Through his text and art, Javaka Steptoe exposes readers to an extraordinary artist and offers them an opportunity to learn and appreciate artists and their compositions.

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.” ~Pablo Picasso


 

Movin’ to the Music

May 5, 2016

Music speaks to me. When I hear something that makes me want to move to the groove, I find my happy feet.

 

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Jazz Baby did just that. This book is written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie and is a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. Wheeler’s text and Christie’s illustrations sing to its readers. It’s fast-paced. It has rhythm, rhyme, and a beat that keeps your toes tapping. There’s snap, clap, and singing with a “Doo-Wop-Doo.” Each page turn offers up more fun as family, friends, and neighbors get into the action as the beat goes on. When the song and dance party comes to an end, it’s time for the little jazz baby to sleep. “OH YEAH!”

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Another book that is upbeat is Trombone Shorty. It’s a Coretta Scott King Award winner and a Caldecott Honor Book. This is a picture book autobiography written by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier. Andrews tells how his love of music began when he was a child, living in New Orleans where music was always in the air. He was drawn to brass instruments, and when he found a broken trombone, he made it his. Because the instrument was much bigger than he was, he got the nickname Trombone Shorty. His older brother encouraged him, and he practiced day and night. At a jazz festival, Bo Diddley heard him play his trombone and called him on stage to join him. After that, Trombone Shorty organized his own band and played around New Orleans. He now has a band of his own and has performed with many talented musicians. Even with his success, Trombone Shorty has not forgotten his roots. He started the Trombone Shorty Foundation to make sure the musical history of New Orleans is preserved. His foundation also helps mentor talented music students from New Orleans high schools. This inspiring story accompanied by Collier’s  amazing illustrations is not to be missed.        

Women’s History Month

March 27, 2014

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Surrounded by amazing women!

Celebrating Women’s History Month

March 20, 2014

Betty Mae Tiger Jumper is an inspirational woman who demonstrated character, courage, and commitment during her life. The picture book biography, She Sang Promise:  The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader, by author, Jan Godown Annino, describes her life as a member of the Seminole Tribe in Florida.

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As a small child, Betty Mae learned tribal medicine, traditions, stories, and legends of the Florida Seminoles. When Betty Mae heard about reading, she pleaded with the Elders to send her to school. She was a quick learner and eventually went on to become a trained nurse. Returning home to the people she loved, Betty Mae convinced women to trust her new medicine and helped many suffering from diseases.    

It seemed there was nothing Betty Mae couldn’t do. When her husband was sick and unable to work, she took over for him and wrestled alligators. When the U.S. government asked the Seminoles to organize a Tribal government to work with leaders in Washington D.C., she became the “voice for her people.” And when it came time to elect a Tribal leader, Betty Mae asked for votes. She was the first woman to be elected a leader of the Seminole Tribe in Florida. In a man’s world, Betty Mae Jumper sang promise to all. Throughout her life, she never forgot where she came from and continued to keep alive the stories and traditions of the Seminoles.

The illustrations by Lisa Desimini are in bright jeweled colors that depict time-honored aspects of the Seminoles. Like the title, She Sang Promise, this book is uplifting and serves as an inspiration to young girls and boys who have the character, courage, and commitment to succeed!

The Man Behind the Name on the Beer

September 27, 2012

Sam Adams coming right up! I’m not talking about the beer brewed in Boston. I’m talking about the man brewed in Boston.

Today is Samuel Adams’ two hundred ninetieth birthday. Here are some fast facts about the man of the day.

  • Born in Boston, MA
  • Went to Boston Latin School
  • Graduated from Harvard College – now Harvard University
  • Second cousin to John Adams — the Second President of the United States
  • One of America’s Founding Fathers
  • Political Activist
  • Organized the Boston Tea Party
  • Delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774
  • Signed the Declaration of Independence
  • Signed the Articles of Confederation
  • Governor of Massachusetts
  • Buried in Granary Burying Ground in Boston

Although inept in his business ventures, including the brewery he inherited from his father (How ironic!), Sam Adams was a man among men when it came to politics and action. He spoke out against the harsh laws imposed upon the colonists by England and was on King George’s “most wanted” list. As his gravestone says, Samuel Adams was “… A Leader of Men and an Ardent Patriot.”

Before your children assume Sam Adams is just a beer, introduce them to the real Sam Adams in the very informative biography, Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? It’s written by Jean Fritz, a master of historical biographies, and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Another excellent picture book biography is A Picture Book of Samuel Adams written by David A. Adler/Michael S. Adler and illustrated by Ronald Himler.

Then raise your glass – preferably a glass of Sam Adams beer – and give three cheers for Samuel Adams on his birthday!

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!


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