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News & Reviews

What a wonderful experience to be interviewed by Tom Grace, thriller author and architect and father of five (he knows picture books!). Thank you to the host, Dean Karayanis, for the opportunity! Check out the interview: Jeanne Walker Harvey – Maya Lin: Artist – Architect of Light and Lines:

"This week, we introduce children to the woman behind the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. The book (for young readers ages 4 to 8) is Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines, by San Francisco children’s author Jeanne Walker Harvey. Just how did a college student managed to win the design competition for what’s now the most frequently visited monument in the nation’s capital?"

Oh! I'm so honored that THE HORN BOOK just posted a *starred* review of MAYA LIN: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines.

"In its early pages, this quiet and contemplative picture-book biography sets up artist-architect Maya Lin’s fascination with spaces, natural and human-made, and their dynamic relationship with phenomena such as light. The daughter of two Chinese-immigrant artists, a potter and a poet who “never told Maya what to be or how to think,” Maya honed both her creativity and her intellect as a child.

She went on to study architecture, a fusion of “art, science, and math,” in college. During her senior year at Yale, Maya entered a national contest to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, inspired by its guideline that the design must blend with the park setting. That a twenty-one-year-old novice beat out 1,420 other candidates, many of them famous architects, is intrinsically captivating fodder for a picture book, and Lin’s conviction about her own design in the face of public backlash is a built-in lesson in perseverance.

Appropriately, the book’s muted art has the fine lines, precision, and spatial astuteness of architectural drawings, and Phumiruk’s use of perspective is often striking. A wide double-page spread of the finished memorial, for instance, impressively captures its length as the wall of fallen solders’ names stretches diagonally toward the horizon.

Harvey’s text makes thoughtful, relatable connections between Lin’s work and the themes of her life; an author’s note adds supplementary details on the memorial’s design and touches on Lin’s later work."

Reviewed by Katrina HedeenKatrina Hedeen, associate editor of The Horn Book Guide and manager of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards.

Jeanne Walker Harvey, illus. by Dow Phumiruk. Holt/Ottaviano,

$17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-250-11249-1

Harvey (My Hands Sing the Blues) and debut illustrator Phumiruk recount the career of architect Maya Lin, using a textual and visual sparseness that echoes Lin’s minimalist style. Harvey introduces Lin as an observant child with an eye for form, structure, and the interplay of light. While in college, Lin entered the Vietnam Memorial design contest, which required including the names of almost 58,000 dead or missing soldiers: “These rules rang true to Maya. She knew the power of names.” Harvey provides just enough biographical details to give a sense of Lin’s life, including touching on the initial backlash against her design for the memorial, while Phumiruk’s muted artwork, assembled digitally, makes good use of watercolor and corrugated textures to evoke the inspiration Lin drew from nature. Ages 4–8. Agent: Deborah Warren, East West Literary. (May)"

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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