Just Jerry

Pinkney, Jerry. Just Jerry: How Drawing Shaped My Life. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2023.
Jerry Pinkney always loved drawing. He would lie on his bunk bed and draw pictures on the wall. He would lie under the piano in the living room of the small house where he lived and draw pictures in his sketchpad. He would ride his bicycle through the streets of Philadelphia and stop to draw more pictures. School was difficult, especially in the 1940s and 50s when few people recognized dyslexia. But when Jerry picked up a pencil and started to draw, he came alive. This memoir is a vivid account of Pinkney’s childhood and young adulthood. Right from the first page, the style of writing pulls a reader into the life of a boy growing up in a city where African Americans didn’t feel safe if they ventured beyond their neighbourhoods. It immerses readers in the life of a large loving family and shows how Pinkney was able to become one of the most famous children’s book illustrators in America. Highly recommended for readers 10 years old and up. 

Jerry Pinkney illustrated over 100 books. Here are a few…

Pinkney, Jerry. Aesop’s Fables. New York: SeaStar Books, 2000

Pinkney, Jerry. The Grasshopper and the Ants. New York: Little Brown & Company, 2015.

Pinkney, Jerry. The Lion and the Mouse. New York: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009.
A dramatic wordless book.

Pinkney, Jerry. The Tortoise and the Hare. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013.
An almost-wordless version.

Pinkney, Jerry. Noah’s Ark. New York: SeaStar Books, 2002. 
A lovely retelling of the Biblical story with lushly detailed illustrations.

More books about artists

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More books about – and by – people of African heritage

The Brilliant Calculator

Lower, Jan. The Brilliant Calculator: How Mathematician Edith Clarke Helped Electrify America. New York: Calkins Creek, an imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers, 2023.
Edith Clarke was born in 1883 and grew up loving numbers, excelling at school math competitions. She was sent to boarding school to learn about manners and music but instead dreamed of building railroads and bridges. After attending college, she became a math and physics teacher and helped invent a slide rule to speed up math calculations. She studied engineering, designed electrical transmission lines, and invented a calculator to help other engineers provide electricity for people all across America. All the information is told as a smoothly flowing story, in short sentences comfortable for reading silently or aloud. Extensive additional information is included at the end: an author’s note; a timeline; a glossary; a descriptive list of eight more women mathematicians, engineers, and inventors; and a lengthy bibliography. This beautifully designed and illustrated biography highly recommended for readers 9 to 90 years old.

More books about mathematics

More biographies

You know those paper grocery bags and lunch bags? Margaret Eloise Knight invented a machine that could fold and glue paper to make those flat-bottomed bags.

Have you heard of desalination? Maria Telkes invented a device that used solar power to turn salt water into fresh drinkable water.

Every day, there seems to be a new computer software programme. Erna Schneider Hoover received one of the very first patents for computer software, designing a system to prevent telephone networks from becoming overloaded. 


Told and Retold

Berry, Holly. Told and Retold: Around the World with Aesop’s Fables. New York: Philomel Books, 2022.
The Lion and the Mouse. The Tortoise and the Hare. The Crow and the Pitcher. These short memorable stories are known as fables, first told by Aesop in ancient Greece. Did he really exist? Maybe. Maybe not. But versions of his stories are told all around the world. In this brightly illustrated collection, the author retells nine tales from the Andes, Africa, China, Greece, Israel, Siberia, Switzerland and the U.S.A. Highly recommended for readers 8 to 11 years old and as a read-aloud for younger children.

More fables

The Big Sting

Delaney, Rachelle. The Big Sting. Toronto: Tundra, 2023.
Leo and his family are spending a week on a small island off the coast of British Columbia. Leo enjoys virtual adventures on his computer at home in Toronto, but now he is in the middle of a real-life mystery: his recently deceased grandmother’s beehives have been stolen and his grandfather is determined to find them. Meanwhile, his parents have taken themselves off to a luxury resort. How will Leo cope with his grumpy grandfather and impetuous younger sister? The hopefulness of Patricia MacLachlan’s stories and the zany humour of Polly Horvath’s stories combine in this life-affirming novel highly recommended for readers 8 to 11 years old.

A novel by Patricia MacLachlan

Novels by Polly Horvath

Stories about grandparents

Stories by Canadian writers

Stories set in Canada