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News & Reviews

Updated: Feb 22, 2022



HarperCollins Publishers

(pub.2.22.2022) 40 pages

Author: Jeanne Walker Harvey

Illustrator: Loveis Wise

Character: Frieda Caplan


"Celebrate the life-changing power of art in this inspiring and stunningly illustrated picture book biography of American artist Alma Thomas.

Meet an incredible woman who broke down barriers throughout her whole life and is now known as one of the most preeminent painters of the 20th century. Told from the point of view of young Alma Thomas, readers can follow along as she grows into her discovery of the life-changing power of art.

As a child in Georgia, Alma Thomas loved to spend time outside, soaking up the colors around her. And her parents filled their home with color and creativity despite the racial injustices they faced. After the family moved to Washington DC, Alma shared her passion for art by teaching children. When she was almost seventy years old, she focused on her own artwork, inspired by nature and space travel.

In this celebration of art and the power of imagination, Jeanne Walker Harvey and Loveis Wise tell the incredible true story of Alma Thomas, the first Black woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York City and to have her work chosen for the White House collection. With her bold and vibrant abstract paintings, Alma set the world ablaze with color."

Tantalizing taste:

"Inspired by what she saw,

Alma began painting in a new style.

Circles and stripes.

Dashes and dabs.

Ablaze with color.

Soft colors, bright colors.

She created colors and patterns

she remembered

from her childhood days in the South

and from what she saw now

at her favorite park nearby.

She painted how she felt on the inside

when she experienced nature outside.

The wind.

The sunshine.

The flowers.

How nature made her heart sing and dance,

even when life could be hard and unjust."

And something more: I'm so very excited to be sharing our book, ABLAZE WITH COLOR - A Story of the Painter Alma Thomas, just two days before the release date. As I wrote in the Author's Note: "I greatly admire Alma's dedication to both of her careers, as an arts educator for children and as an artist... Whenever I see Alma's artwork, my spirits are lifted. I'm deeply grateful that I had the opportunity to write about her inspiring life and paintings, ablaze with joyous color."

Loveis Wise's illustrations in our book are truly stunning -- ablaze with joyous color! And, as I always explain to children when I share my books, the creation of every book is a collaborative process, and I want to share my heartfelt gratitude for my amazing agent, Deborah Warren of East West Literary Agency, who found a home for this book, and editor extraordinaire Megan Ilnitzki of HarperCollins, and the HarperCollins team: Chelsea C. Donaldson, art director, Caitlin Stamper, designer, and Shona McCarthy, copy editor, and everyone else at Harper who shared their time and creativity to make this book a reality.

And, as a long-time guide at San Francisco Museum of Art for school groups, I greatly admire Alma's passion for teaching art to children. I want to share that on my website, I've posted some wonderful art and thinking activities for children which can be downloaded: .

Nelson Mandela's Hope for His Nation



Eerdmanns Books for Young Readers

(pub.3.30.2021) 48 pages

Author: Lindsey McDivitt

Illustrator: Charly Palmer

Character: Nelson Mandela

Overview: "As Nelson Mandela lived and worked under the unjust system of apartheid, his desire for freedom grew. South Africa separated people by races, oppressing the country’s non-white citizens with abusive laws and cruel restrictions. Every day filled Mandela with grief and anger. But he also had hope—hope for a nation that belonged to everyone who lived in it.

From his work with the African National Congress, to his imprisonment on Robben Island, to his extraordinary rise to the presidency, Nelson Mandela was a rallying force against injustice. This stirring biography explores Mandela’s long fight for equality and the courage that propelled him through decades of struggle. Illustrated in the bold, bright colors of South Africa, A Plan for the People captures the spirit of a leader beloved around the world."

Tantalizing taste:

"Mandela covered fear with confidence. Courage. And calm.

...Mandela and his friends readied themselves to be the leaders their nation needed. This required news from the world outside prison. Sneaking newspapers from the trash heap when guards looked away, they shared all the information they could. Whispered across locked cells. Written in invisible ink made with milk. Delivered in tiny notes."

And something more: Charly Palmer shared in the Illustrator's Note: "Everywhere you go, you'll run into people disillusioned with politics and activists. But I believe that President Mandela was sincere and genuine in his desires for his people. We are often in the presence of greatness, and we're not even aware of it. Our elders may be traumatized by their experiences, or they may dismiss their stories as not being relevant or important. But their experiences have helped us be where we are. We're always standing on the shoulders of giants - giants like Nelson Mandela."

"The illustrations and the color in this book by Loveis Wise are phenomenal. The images really reflect the style and artistry of Alma Thomas.

"The colors, the style, the bold and vibrant strokes are really eye-catching, memorable and have a strong understanding of the use of color. You get a sense of Alma Thomas's style and art from the book. The art just makes the story come alive and seem full of joy and imagination. The story itself I feel is an important one from kids. It gives Alma's history and struggles and then her striving to not settle. She was determined to pave her own life and break barriers. She creates art that's bold, beautiful and bright. I also liked that Thomas encouraged art with others. This is an inspiring tale that will encourage kids to reach for their dreams and not be afraid to use their imaginations to create art.

"I felt like this book was really put together nicely between the art and the text. It's something that easily could be read at homes, schools, and the classrooms.

"And teachers and parents could have children create art with bold colors as a supplement activity. This book is just beautifully done. I highly recommend checking it out. It's something that you will want to share with your kids and others."

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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