Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head by Jeanne Walker Harvey, Illustrated by Diana Toledano

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Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head
Author: Jeanne Walker Harvey
Illustrator: Diana Toledano
Published September 20th, 2022 by Beach Lane Books

Summary: Discover the true story of how a shy miner’s daughter became one of the most legendary costume designers in Hollywood in this inspiring nonfiction picture book biography.

As a child in the small mining town of Searchlight, Nevada, Edith Head (1897 – 1981) had few friends and spent most of her time dressing up her toys and pets and even wild animals using fabric scraps. She always knew she wanted to move somewhere full of people and excitement. She set her sights on Hollywood and talked her way into a job sketching costumes for a movie studio.

Did she have formal training? Did she know how to draw or sew costumes? No. But that didn’t stop her!

Strong and determined, Edith taught herself how to sew and tirelessly worked her way up until she was dressing some of the biggest stars of the day. These included Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Ginger Rogers, and Elizabeth Taylor. She made costumes for films like Sabrina and Rear Window and TV shows like Bewitched. She also designed costumes for many of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, including To Catch a ThiefNotorious, and The Trouble With Harry. She became the first woman to head a major Hollywood movie studio costume department and went on to win eight Academy Awards for best costume design—and she defined the style of an era.

By ultimately becoming one of Hollywood’s most sought-after designers, Edith Head proved that with tenacity, anything is possible. This insightful behind-the-scenes look at the iconic figure is a must-have for cinephiles, history buffs, and fashionistas alike.

FUN FACT! Edith served as the inspiration for the iconic character Edna Mode in the Pixar film The Incredibles! With her classic hairstyle and glasses, Edith will be recognizable as the inspiration for Edna to the observant reader.

Praise:

* “Together, the art and storytelling capture Head’s belief in the transformative magic of costumes, which will certainly strike a chord with dress-up enthusiasts.” — ALA Booklist (STARRED review)

“Toledano’s mixed-media artwork… combined with starry-eyed prose, the result is a glamorous life story with a Hollywood ending.” — Publishers Weekly

About the Creators: 

Jeanne Walker Harvey studied literature and psychology at Stanford University and has worn many job hats, ranging from being a roller coaster ride operator to an attorney, a middle school language arts teacher, and a long-time docent for school groups at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She is the author of several books for young readers, including the picture book biographies Dressing up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith HeadAblaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas, and Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines. Jeanne lives in Northern California. Visit her online at JeanneHarvey.com.

Twitter: @JeanneWHarvey
Pinterest: @JeanneWalkerHarvey
Check out the many resources here at Jeanne Walker Harvey’s website!

Diana Toledano is an illustrator, writer, and educator. She is also a Pisces who loves children’s books, patterns, and dancing her heart out. Originally from Spain, Diana (pronounced the Spanish way: dee-ah-na) grew up in Madrid where she studied art history and illustration. Now she lives in San Francisco with her husband and two fluffy cats. Her mixed media art seeks to capture the magic of the ordinary. Diana’s product designs, picture books, board books, and chapter books have been published and sold all over the world. Diana also teaches workshops for kids and adults. She enjoys doing school visits and speaking at conferences. Learn more at Diana-Toledano.com.

Instagram: @dianatoledano
Facebook: Diana Toledano
Pinterest: Diana Toledano

Review: As a fan of old Hollywood, I recognized Edith Head’s costumes right away. I mean–Grace Kelly in Rear Window, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Tippi Hedren in The Birds, Fred Astaire in Holiday Inn, Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii–anyone?!? And this is just the tip of the iceberg of Head’s designing. She was nominated for an Academy Award THIRTY FIVE times and won EIGHT making her the most awarded woman in the Academy’s history. But yet, she was behind the scenes and not as well known as the actors in front of the camera, so I am so happy to have this picture book biography to bring to light her genius. A self-taught young woman with no experience fighting her way up to being an Oscar winner–yes, please! Harvey does a fantastic job of sharing Edith’s magic from her childhood dreams to her adult reality and Toledano’s illustrations work perfectly for Edith’s style and costumes.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: 

Check out the publisher-provided activity kit for some fun activities to do with the book:

Discussion Questions: 

  • What does Edith’s journey to her dream job teach you about growth mindset?
  • How did Edith’s hobbies as a child help her reach her dreams?
  • Why do you think Edith chose to wear black or other dark, neutral colors when dressing stars?
  • How does a costume designer impact a movie or show?
  • Why do you think Edith was given a second chance after she failed to create costumes for dancers dressed as candy?
  • How do you think Edith grew her confidence overtime so much that she was able to not allow nay-sayers to make her question herself?
  • What are some words in the book that you did not know? What do you think they mean based on context? Check your guess by looking ups its definition.
  • How does the Author’s Note at the end of the book add to the book experience?

Book Trailer: 

The trailer can also be viewed on the author’s website:
https://www.jeanneharvey.com/dressingupthe-stars

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Nonfiction biography picture books, specifically about groundbreaking women, including Harvey’s books on Maya Lin and Alma Thomas

Recommended For: 

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Signature

**Thank you to Alex at Simon & Schuster and Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**

Author Guest Post: “The Whole Book Approach” by Diane deGroat, Author of The Adventures of Robo-Kid

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The Whole Book Approach to The Adventures of Robo-Kid

The Whole Book Approach to story time reading was developed by Megan Dowd Lambert in association with the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to “bring children’s ideas and questions to the center of shared reading while celebrating the picture book as a visual form.” Yes, it’s a mouthful, but when witnessed in action, it becomes an exciting way to share picture books with children by drawing inspiration from Visual Thinking Strategies (www.vtshome.org). As Megan says in the preface to her book, Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See (Charlesbridge 2015), we should invite children to react to “the whole book­”—its text, art, design, production, and materiality.

How have the designers tested the limits of its “bookness?” Not only does it have shape and weight and visual appeal, but it is mobile. It can be opened and closed. It is an object, not just a story to be listened to. In this day of eBooks and streaming, a printed book is an art form which has staying power. Children can engage with great picture book art and critical thinking skills when the discussion starts before reading the book, continues after reading it, and, importantly, includes a large amount of discussion during the reading of the book. Studies have found that this dialogic reading enhances comprehension, engagement, vocabulary, and literacy skills. More information about the Whole Book Approach can be found on Megan’s website: www.megandowdlambert.com.

Now for an example. I designed my new book, The Adventures of Robo-Kid with all of the above in mind. Take a look at the dustjacket and start with questions inspired by Visual Thinking Strategies: What do you see happening in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What else can you find? Then consider, what do you think the book will be about? Notice the two styles of art I used. One is realistic and the other is cartoony. Why do you think I did It that way?

Turn the book over and look at the back of the book. Notice that I made one continuous illustration wrap around from the front to the back. Why do you think I did that? What do you think will be more important in the book—the realistic part or the comic part? Or will they be equally important?

Take the paper dustjacket off. Look at the art pasted onto the hardcover underneath it and compare it to the dustjacket. See the difference? Do you feel like you are reading a comic book now, and not a picture book? That was my goal! Why do you think I did that?

Now open to the front endpapers. Megan says in her book, “Endpapers give us clues.” My endpapers introduce us to Robo-Kid and his dog even before the story has begun. Go back to using those VTS-inspired questions, or ask yourself: How does Robo-Kid get schooled? Why do you think he’s looking at the Earth globe with so much interest? What do you think his dog wants? If you miss seeing all this, the story inside the book still makes sense, but adding endpapers like this offers more material for the person/child who finds it to enjoy as the enter the story.

On the next spread, the title page will introduce us to Henry and his dog in my realistic style of art. So now you see why I used two styles—one for the comic book story and one for the “real” world story. But can you still find what is the same about the two characters and their worlds?

When you start to read the story you can see how I melded the two worlds into one book. Henry is engaged in reading his Robo-Kid comic. The comic art shows what he is reading.

The two stories will continue on spreads, with Henry’s at the top, and Robo-Kid’s below it—until they come together!

After the book was printed, and I read it to kids, I learned an important lesson. When reading a comic-type book to non-readers, it’s important to point to the panel and the text you are reading. Otherwise, showing the whole spread with so many different actions going on could be confusing.

I hope you can share this book with your students using the Whole Book Approach. Remember to look carefully at the art. Especially the very last page with Henry’s dog. What does he see that the others don’t? And don’t miss the back endpapers, which continue the story!

Published June 28, 2022 by Neal Porter Books

About the Book: A comic-book superhero climbs off the page and into the real world. When they get into trouble, his biggest fan is there to save the day.

Imagine you could meet your favorite comic-book hero in the real world. What kinds of questions would you ask? Would you go on new and exciting adventures? While heroes might seem larger than life, everyone can use some help from a friend.

Follow two intersecting stories set in the real world and inside a comic book as a real-life kid finds the courage to cope with his anxiety with the help of Robo-Kid, a comic superhero with his own vulnerabilities. With two distinctive art styles blending comic book and traditional picture book formats, Diane deGroat’s The Adventures of Robo-Kid is an inspiring tale about what it takes to be a hero.

Diane deGroat has been writing and illustrating picture books for more than thirty years. For the last ten years she has been illustrating the highly popular Charlie the Ranch Dog series with blogger, author, food-writer, and television personality Ree Drummond, also known as the Pioneer Woman.

About the Author: 

Diane deGroat
www.dianedegroat.com
www.thestorybehindthestories.com

Thank you, Diane, for this in depth look at using your book with readers!

Guest Review: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, Illustrated by Christian Robinson

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Guest Reviewer: Amanda & Sendy, UCF Elementary Education Student

Last Stop on Market Street
Author: Matt de la Peña
Illustrator: Christian Robinson
Published January 8, 2015 by Penguin Books

Summary: “Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt, CJ, you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.”

CJ begins his weekly bus journey around the city with disappointment and dissatisfaction, wondering why he and his family can’t drive a car like his friends. Through energy and encouragement, CJ’s nana helps him see the beauty and fun in their routine.

This beautifully illustrated, emotive picture book explores urban life with honesty, interest, and gratitude.

Last Stop on Market Street is a story about appreciating differences, happiness, and inequity. CJ and his Nana take the bus to its last stop on Market Street every Sunday after Church. On the Sunday this book is set on, CJ begins to wonder why they must wait in the rain for the bus instead of buying a car. Nana enlightens him by giving him different ways of appreciating what they have, what they do in their everyday lives, and all the types of people they meet. The theme of the novel is Nana showing CJ the value in how they live their lives and helping those who need it.

Last Stop on Market Street has won multiple awards and spent time at the number one spot in the New York Times Bestseller List.

About the Author: Matt de la Peña is the #1 New York Times-bestselling. Newbery Medal-winning author of five picture books and six critically acclaimed young adult novels.  He was also awarded the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Award and received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University. He is currently living in Brooklyn, NY with his family.

About the Illustrator: Christian Robinson has received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for his art in Last Stop on Market Street. He was born in Hollywood, California. He was awarded a Caldecott Honor and the Newbery Medal

Review: Last Stop on Market Street is a stunning contribution to art in children’s literature and the future of book of storytelling. This novel reveals the creative potential of a powerful cross-cultural author-illustrator partnership. The art combined with the theme of the novel embraces the diversity in ourselves and everyday routine but others.

This book is such an amazing book! It is easy to see the bad that goes on in our lives, and things that we do not like, but this book is a great reminder to see the good in those situations that it is difficult to. I would recommend “The last stop on Market Street” to every teacher and parent to read to their children and/or have them read it themselves.

Throughout this book, a little boy named CJ had many questions. He did not like riding the bus or going to the soup kitchen after church and always questioned why he didn’t have certain things. Nana always had a clever response and see’s the brighter side to every situation. CJ learns this from her and begins to see it too allowing him to feel more confident and happier about his situations.

Just as adults need these reminders that your life is just as good as your mindset, it is good to instill it into our children as well. If they grow up feeling like they don’t have enough, it will transfer into adulthood. This is an amazing book that brings an amazing lesson to all ages. There’s beautiful in even the ugliest things

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is perfect to teach students about acceptance and the importance of helping others in need. As CJ ends his bus ride with his Nana, he goes to work at a soup kitchen which enables him to understand how he gives back to his community.

Also, it would be a great opportunity to use this book in the classroom during group reading, or even partner reading. This book would bring a great opportunity in a group setting because it will allow the students to have discussions. They will be able to discuss what they think about the book, how they feel about the main characters and have the opportunity to express the times that they have felt unhappy. This can now turn into a conversation of how they can see these situations in a better light next time. this will allow the students to sharpen up their critical thinking skills, learn how to have discussions and understand what is like to be open minded.

Since last stop on market Street is the street where the soup kitchen is, this book can also be read during history time to focus on the soup kitchen, how soup kitchens came about, the reasons for them and why people go to them

Discussion Questions: 

  • Who is telling the story? How do you know?
  • How and why does CJ’s mood change throughout the book?
  • How do CJ and Nana look at life differently?
  • Why do you think Nana volunteers? What does she gain?
  • How can you show more gratitude and optimism, like Nana?
  • What do we learn about the different settings from the illustrations?
  • where was CJ and his Nana coming from in the beginning of the story?
  • What animal their Nana used to describe the bus?
  • Who were the people that CJ was talking about on the bus?
  • What was the name of the bus driver?
  • What is on the last stop of Market Street that CJ and his Nana went to?
  • Why didn’t CJ like the last stop?
  • What did CJ see over the building at the end of the book?

Flagged Passages: 

Book Trailer: 

Recommended For: 

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Thank you, Amanda & Sendy, for your reviews!

The More You Give by Marcy Campbell, Illustrated by Francesca Sanna

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The More You Give
Author: Marcy Campbell
Illustrator: Francesca Sanna
Publishing December 28, 2021 by Chronicle

Summary: A modern-day response to The Giving Tree, this lyrical picturebook shows how a family passes down love from generation to generation, leaving a legacy of growing both trees and community.

Once there was a wide-open field, and a boy who loved his grandmother,
who loved him back.

The boy’s grandmother gives him many gifts, like hugs, and Sunday morning pancakes, and acorns with wild and woolly caps. And all her wisdom about how things grow. As the boy becomes a father, he gives his daughter bedtime stories his grandmother told him, and piggyback rides. He gives her acorns, and the wisdom he learned about how things grow. His daughter continues the chain, then passing down gifts of her own. Here is a picture book about the legacy of love that comes when we nurture living things—be they people or trees.

Ricki’s Review: This book is absolutely stunning. It captures the beautiful spirit of giving as it passes through generations. I found myself drawn into the text, captivated by the words and the powerful illustrations. I loved the ways in which the spirit of giving is captured across three generations. Overall, I love the way it captures kindness, wisdom, and love.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might read The Giving Tree and then read this book. Students could engage in a discussion of giving. The two texts exist as foils for each other, and the giving does not just go one way.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do we give? What do we give?
  • What does it mean to give?
  • What does giving mean for the boy in the book? His grandmother?
  • What have elders given to you?

Book Trailer:

Read This If You Love: Books about Giving; Books about Intergenerational Love; Books about Kindness

Recommended For: 

**Thank you to Cynthia at Random House Children’s Books for providing a copy for review!**

Guest Review: All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

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Guest Reviewer: Sharon, UCF Elementary Education Student

All Are Welcome
Author: Alexandra Penfold
Illustrator: Suzanne Kaufman
Published July 10th, 2018 by Bloomsbury Publishing

Summary: Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms. A school where kids in patkas, hijabs, and yamulkes play side-by-side with friends in baseball caps. A school where students grow and learn from each other’s traditions and the whole community gathers to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school.

About the Creators: 

A graduate of New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, Alexandra Penfold began her career in publishing as a children’s book publicist at Simon & Schuster where she worked on media campaigns that appeared in USA Today, Newsweek, US News and World Report, and NPR’s All Things Considered. For eight years she served as an editor at Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster working on award-winning books for young readers of all ages. She is currently a literary agent with Upstart Crow Literary representing children book authors and illustrators as well as select adult projects.

Suzanne Kaufman is the New York Times bestselling illustrator of All Are Welcome.  She is the recipient of The Ezra Jack Keats/Kerlan Memorial Fellowship, Society of Children’s Book Writers Illustrators Mentorship and Portfolio Honors and Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Her books have been awarded Bank Street College Education Best Children’s Books of the Year Honors, Notable Books for a Global Society, CCBC Choice Award, Washington State Best Picture Book Award, Mathical Honor Award, and Amazon Best Children Book of the Year.  Her books include her own book Confiscated and illustrated work: Big Feelings, Take Your Pets to School Day, 100 Bugs, Naughty Claudine Christmas, and Samanthasaurus Rex.  She has presented at SCBWI Summer Conference, NMAEYC Conference, Tucson Book Festival, Los Angeles Festival of Books and Penguin Random House Book Festival.

Review: This story was very inspiring, and I enjoyed reading it very much. This story resembles what I wish for my future classroom and school to be like. I think it is very important to teach acceptance to children at a very young age and to show them that not everyone looks the same or has the same traditions. This book teaches children that diversity is something good and a strength. This book will hopefully make students feel that no matter what they are welcomed and have a safe space in their school. There are a lot of illustrations and repetition that will help ELL students. This book shows flags of other countries and different types of people which I think will make ELL students feel welcomed at their new school. Students should find someone in the book they can relate to and feel special that they have someone like them in the story. This book emphasizes that no matter what you do at home with your family, what clothes you wear, where you come from, what foods you eat, or what traditions you have with your family, everyone is able to come together and be friends and play together at school. This message is so important and so strong. Children who learn about diversity early on will later become more understanding of their differences with others and will realize what a good thing it is to have diversity.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book could be used to talk about different countries and the types of traditions different people have around the world. Teacher’s can pause while reading the book and discuss different characters’ countries. This book also teaches the valuable lesson that everyone is welcomed and that acceptance of others is very important. This is a good book to read to teach the class about acceptance and in an underlying way it also prevents bullying. If students learn to be accepting of each other’s differences, that could stop a lot of the bullying that goes on in schools. Teachers can use this book to discuss how their community is similar and different to the one portrayed in the book. Students can also discuss how diversity makes a community better and why they think that. Teachers can also discuss with students times they have felt unwelcomed and what they could do to make others feel welcomed.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What makes the kids in the book remind you of yourself and your friends?
  • Based on what you have seen in the book, do you think having a diverse community like the one in the book is better? Why or why not?
  • If you could be a part of this classroom would you want to? Why or why not.
  • What are some things that the children in the book are doing that makes you think they are kind? Look close at the illustrations on each page. What are some kind things you could do to other students?
  • What is something you and your family do that you think is unique? Explain what it is that you do and why it is unique.
  • What do you think is happening in the cover illustration of the book?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Inclusion and diversity

Recommended For: 

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Thank you, Sharon, for your review!

A River’s Gifts: The Mighty Elwha River Reborn by Patricia Newman, Illustrated by Natasha Donovan

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A River’s Gifts: The Mighty Elwha River Reborn
Author: Patricia Newman
Illustrator: Natasha Donovan
Published September 6th, 2022 by Millbrook Press

Summary: A mighty river. A long history.

For thousands of years, the Elwha river flowed north to the sea. The river churned with salmon, which helped feed bears, otters, and eagles. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, known as the Strong People located in the Pacific Northwest, were grateful for the river’s abundance. All that changed in the 1790s when strangers came who did not understand the river’s gifts. The strangers built dams, and the environmental consequences were disastrous.

Sibert honoree Patricia Newman and award-winning illustrator Natasha Donovan join forces to tell the story of the Elwha, chronicling how the Strong People successfully fought to restore the river and their way of life.

About the Creators: 

Patricia Newman’s books inspire young readers to seek connections to the real world. Her titles encourage readers to use their imaginations to solve real world problems and act on behalf of their communities. These books include Sibert Honor title Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem; Orbis Pictus Recommended Book Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean; Bank Street College Best Book Zoo Scientists to the Rescue; Booklist Editor’s Choice Ebola: Fears and Facts; and Green Earth Book Award winner Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Patricia frequently speaks at schools and conferences to share how children of any age can affect change. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com.

Natasha Donovan is the illustrator of the award-winning Mothers of Xsan series (written by Brett Huson). She illustrated the graphic novel Surviving the City (written by Tasha Spillett), which won a Manitoba Book Award and received an American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA) honor. She also illustrated Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer which won an Orbis Pictus Honor Book and an American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA). Natasha is Métis, and spent her early life in Vancouver, British Columbia. Although she moved to the United States to marry a mathematician, she prefers to keep her own calculations to the world of color and line. She lives in Washington. www.natashadonovan.com

Review: This book is different than Newman’s other books as it is illustrated and more lyrical than her books of the past; however, there is no need to worry — the book is beautiful! Newman does a fantastic job balancing the narrative of the river and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe with informative information about water, salmon, dams, and other wildlife. Newman’s prose also does amazing justice when it comes to the river’s legacy and the indigenous tribes that relied on, and lost, the river.

To add to Newman’s work, Donovan’s illustrations bring everything to life that Newman shares. Her work is filled with color and life and brings the whole book together.

A spectacular nonfiction picture book that takes the reader on a journey of a river’s legacy filled with lyrical prose and important information.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The publisher has provided a Teaching Guide for The River’s Gifts:

There is also an interview with Patricia Newman that digs deeper into her book:

Flagged Passages: 

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Environmental nonfiction picture books

Recommended For: 

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Signature

**Thank you to Patricia Newman and Lerner for providing a copy for review!**

Guest Review: We Can: Portraits of Power by Tyler Gordon

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Guest Reviewer: Sailor, UCF Elementary Education Student

We Can: Portraits of Power
Creator: Tyler Gordon
Published September 28th, 2021 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Summary: “When I was born, the doctors told my mom that if I did survive I would have lots of health problems and be blind, deaf and severely mentally delayed . . . Boy were they wrong!” —Tyler Gordon

Fifteen-year-old Tyler Gordon’s journey from a regular kid growing up in San Jose, California, to a nationally recognized artist wasn’t without its challenges. For the first six years of his life he was fully deaf, which led to a stutter and bullying. Art gave him a creative outlet for his pain. Then, after painting a portrait of Kamala Harris and posting it on social media, he received a call from the vice president herself! Soon his art was everywhere. He had an interview with the The Today Show. He was the youngest artist featured in the Beverly Center. His portrait of LeBron James graced the cover of TIME Magazine. And that was only the beginning!

Here is a debut picture book by partially deaf prodigy Tyler Gordon, featuring his bold paintings of over 30 icons—musicians, artists, writers, civils rights leaders, sports legends, change-makers, record-setters, and more—alongside short explanations of how these people inspire him.

If Tyler can make art and follow his dreams, you can, too. We all can.

About the Author: Tyler Gordon is a fourteen-year-old painter whose work has been featured in TIME Magazine, Essence, Good Morning America, and ABC News. In 2020, he was awarded the Global Child Prodigy Award. He currently lives in San Jose, California with his family.

Review: We Can: Portraits of Power by Tyler Gordon is by far one of the best books for children to read. This book provides a lot of historical, and current information, that many people do not know, but should, about very famous and influential people. Tyler Gordon was only 14 years old when his book was published. He relates every single person that he paints to himself and talks about the honorable work that these people have done, walls they have torn down, and glass ceilings they have broken through.

Every single student can relate to this book in some way or another, with over 30 people showcased in We Can: Portraits of Power, students will be able to see themselves through one of them, all of them, or even through Tyler Gordon himself. This book is filled with politicians, artists, athletes, singers, philanthropists, civil rights activists, and many more. This story is able to empower students to be activists for theirs, and other people’s rights, all while also getting them excited and encouraging  them to learn about the history that some of these amazing  people have made, and are continuing to make.

I loved reading this book and looking at the beautiful art that Tyler has done and will continue to do. I cannot wait to see what this young man’s future holds.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: We Can: Portraits of Power by Tyler Gordon provides many great opportunities for use within the classroom. To start, teachers are able to have students pick their favorite person that Tyler had painted and write why that person was also an inspiration to them.  Teachers can also have students paint a portrait of someone who had has a big impact in their lives,  and. then write about them.

I think that one of the best ideas to pair with We Can: Portraits of Power by Tyler Gordon. would be to have students make a list of people who they look up to, and people that empower them to be great. After students make their lists, they would go back and write why these people have been so influential in their life, and then finally paint an image of them. Creating their own mini versions of We Can: Portraits of Power.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How does Tyler relate to President Biden? Do you know anyone that could also relate to President Biden and Tyler? Why is it good to be able to relate to successful people?
  • How did Tyler’s creativity help him?
  • How did this book inspire you?
  • Who did you relate to in this book? Why?
  • Why did Tyler use athletes, politicians, and historical figures in this book? What did it do to the story that he used  a variety of people?
  • Who do you think is the most important person in this book? Why do you think that? How can you relate to this person?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Art, Diversity, Empowerment

Recommended For: 

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Thank you, Sailor, for your review!