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Art Around Us 10 books that show the world’s creative side

These books will inspire young readers interested in all kinds of artistic endeavors –
poetry, illustration, movies, dance and more.

Easy Nonfiction
‘Imagine’ by Juan Felipe Herrera
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera recalls his childhood spent traveling with his migrant farming family in this memoir in verse. Luminous illustrations by Caldecott Honoree Lauren Castillo sweep across the pages, as a young boy picks flowers, plays with tadpoles, says goodbye to friends and goes to school, where he learns a new
language and starts writing poetry.

‘That is My Dream!’ by Langston Hughes and Daniel Miyares

Langston Hughes’ 1924 poem “Dream Variation” serves as the text to this beautifully illustrated picture book. Miyares’ watercolors capture both the tensions of racial segregation and the joy found in making friends who don’t look like you. A provocative and hopeful book, it is as relevant today as when it was first written.

Picture Books
‘Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins’ by Michelle Meadows, illustrated by Ebony Glenn

In the time when racial segregation is common, a young African-American girl who loves to dance wants to be a ballerina. Janet is not accepted at first to a dance school because of the color of her skin and, once, is told to lighten her skin. Through the help of her family and through her own perseverance, Janet becomes the first African-American prima ballerina to dance at the Metropolitan Opera House.

‘Linus The Little Yellow Pencil’ by Scott Magoon

In the upcoming family art show, Linus, a little yellow pencil, and all the other art supplies are eager to enter and win. Linus is having some trouble with his entry because his other half, eraser Ernie, is not very encouraging and keeps erasing what Linus draws. They must learn to work together to create a drawing for the art show. This is a humorous and pun-filled story that will entertain all ages.

Young Readers
‘Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Celebration of the African-American National Anthem’ by James Weldon Johnson, illustrated by Elizabeth Catlett

This is a beautiful reissue celebrating the centenary of the official African-American national anthem. Linocut illustrations by Elizabeth Catlett accompany the stanzas on the opposite page and add a vivid realism to the narrative. A new foreword by celebrated children’s author and illustrator Ashley Bryan is a wonderful introduction to this powerful book.

‘Ada Lace and the Suspicious Artist’ by Emily Calandrelli

Third-grader and inventor Ada Lace is on spring break, but it’s not as relaxing as she envisioned. Her friend, Nina, is excited about meeting her favorite artist, Miroir, and she asks Ada for help in polishing her online portfolio. But when the girls meet Miroir, he snubs them, and they uncover a potential forgery among his works. The author of this popular series is the Emmy-nominated host of “Xploration Outer Space” and a correspondent on “Bill Nye Saves the World.”

Middle Readers ‘Short & Skinny’ by Mark Tatulli

In 1977, Mark is about to start eighth grade and thinks he is both too short and skinny. He’s convinced that changing his shape can improve his life, stop the bullies and get the girl of his dreams and that the cures promised in the ads in the backs of his comics are the answer. But when a new movie, “Star Wars,” comes out, Mark has a new plan that includes his directorial debut in this semi-autobiographical graphic novel.

‘Drum Roll, Please’ by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Melly is shy and really introverted and about to head off to summer camp for two weeks when her parents tell her they are getting divorced. At least she is going to camp with her best friend, Olivia, but once at her music-oriented summer camp, she and Olivia are split up. Olivia is also suddenly into boys and unavailable to hang out. Melly begins to confide in her new pal and bandmate, Adeline, but could they be more than friends?

Young Adult
‘Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist’s Journey’ by Akiko Higashimura

This autobiographical manga by the creator of the seminal “Princess Jellyfish” series follows Akiko through the process of becoming the heralded mangaka she is today. In this first volume, Akiko speeds through her early years and focuses on the trials she faced from her demanding sensei, as she prepares for the cutthroat world of art college. A unique look at what it takes to become a superstar in the manga world.

‘Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee’ by Jeff Zentner

In this both hilarious and moving novel, two longtime friends host a late-night weekend TV show featuring campy horror films in their Tennessee hometown. Featuring a cast of memorable supporting characters, this friendship-centered work authentically explores how lives can diverge as the end of high school approaches. The author’s accurate representation of contemporary teen voices is truly phenomenal.

About Compiled by the Baltimore County Public Library’s Collection Development Staff

Baltimore's Child Staff

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