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.

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Making reading fun!

Sierra, Judy. Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the Hat. New York: Random House, 2017.
Imagine this assignment: write a story that makes reading fun and that uses only 50 different words! That was the inimitable Theodore Geisel’s task in 1954: write something fun for children in the first grade.  Of course, he did it. In fact, he created 47 books in all. This nonfiction picture book illustrated by Kevin Henkes will fascinate readers young and old. And maybe even inspire some budding writers and artists.

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Ideas for making reading fun!

The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss by Kathleen Krull with paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (New York: Random House, 2004). A heart-warming picture book biography with softly coloured full-page illustrations and small drawings by Dr. Seuss. The old-fashioned style of the paintings and the gentle rhythm of the words create a story that feels like a memory told by a grandparent. Additional information about Dr. Seuss’s adulthood is provided at the end of the book. Highly recommended for readers and listeners 8 years old and up. (Kathleen Krull has written many biographies, both picture books and chapter books, and they’re all a joy to read. Her flowing style of writing makes the informative content sound like someone talking to you, telling you about someone you might like to meet.)

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Thank you, Beatrix Potter!

A Celebration of Beatrix Potter: Art and Letters by More Than 30 of Today’s Favorite Children’s Book Illustrators. New York: Penguin Young Readers Group, 2016.
Artists pay tribute to Beatrix Potter in this celebration of her stories. Tomie de Paolo, Peter H. Reynolds, Rosemary Wells, David Wiesner and 28 more illustrators tell how the famous stories influenced them and share their own unique illustrations to commemorate the 150th anniversary in 2016.
The letters will intrigue older readers who fondly remember the stories from their own childhood. Both the letters and illustrations are highly recommended for teacher-librarians and classroom teachers to use as part of a unit on styles of illustration. [Animals in art; Authors; Illustrators; Beatrix Potter]

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