Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song

Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song

by Ashley Bryan
Publisher: Atheneum
First Edition, ©2009, ISBN: 9781416905417
Hardcover, 64 pages
Current Retail Price: $19.99
Not in stock

Historical Setting: African American

Ashley's autobiography is full of art, photographs, and the poignant never-say-never tale of his rich life, a life that has always included drawing and painting. Even as a boy growing up during the Depression, he painted -- finding cast off objects to turn into books and kites and toy and art. Even as a solder in the segregated Army on the beaches of Normandy, he sketched -- keeping charcoal crayons and paper in his gasmask to draw with during lulls. Even as a talented, visionary art student who was accepted and then turned away from college upon arrival, the school telling Ashley that to give a scholarship to an African American student would be a waste, he painted -- continuing to create art when he could have been discouraged, continuing to polish his talents when his spirit should have been beaten. Ashley went on to become a Hans Christian Anderson Award nominee, a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer, and a multiple Coretta Scott King award winner. As you might imagine, his story is powerful, bursting with his creative energy, and a testament to believing in oneself. It's a book every child in America should have access to and it does what the very best autobiographies do; it inspires!

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Well-loved illustrator Bryan's pictures and recollections tell of his lifelong devotion to making and sharing art. His Antiguan-born parents sang, kept birds and sheltered orphans; they showed him how to resist convention and survive defeat. Drawing every day, as a soldier during WWII he kept his art supplies in his gas mask ("There would have been a tumble of materials if I were ever in need of that mask!" he says). Bryan honed his skills, overcame racism and discouragement, and thrived throughout 20th-century tumult. While the text forms a single narrative thread, the busy pages are laid out scrapbook-style on bright, overlapping rectangles of color, old family photos next to artwork next to call-outs of Bryan's words in large type. Bryan brought elements of African art to award-winning collages and woodcuts; on his own time, he made (and continues to make) other treasures. McGuinness's photos show the artist in many settings on the Maine island he now calls home. A book for parents and children to enjoy together, Bryan's triumphant story will inspire artists of every age. All ages. (Jan.) 
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From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4 Up—The inimitable Bryan offers a clear portrait of his own evolution as artist and writer in this brief, highly illustrated volume. He leads readers on a photographic tour around his home—Little Cranberry Island off the coast of Maine—describing beaches laden with smooth stones; the daily habits of lobster boatmen; the little nondenominational church; and his studio filled with toys and puppets created from found objects, panels made of sea glass, and canvases of painted flowers. Intertwined is the story of his parents, who emigrated to New York from Antigua, bringing with them their fondness for the colors and sounds of nature, which they passed on to their son, his five siblings, and three cousins. His academic and professional achievements are touched upon in relation to his work and teaching. The color that plays a prominent role in his life spreads throughout this slim volume in page highlights; in clear photos of the island; in spreads taken from his books; in the oversize type that stands out on some pages. The man's humility, his deep appreciation of natural beauty, his fascination with other cultures, his love of folk literature, his openness to all forms of artistic expression, and his delight in learning and in passing on his craft to others form the essence of this inviting presentation. His autobiography is a small treasure to share with those who love children's literature and an inspiring read-aloud that speaks to young people about human qualities that lead to success and happiness.—Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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