Category Archives: Books

Creative Juice #237

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Creative Juice #237

Beauty and fun.

Rest in Peace, Beverly Cleary

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Ramona

Beverly Cleary, the beloved children’s author, passed away yesterday at age 104. She is especially remembered for her series about Ramona Quimby.

Creative Juice #235

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Creative Juice #235

Things to try. Things to remember.

Creative Juice #234

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Creative Juice #234

Lots of artsy stuff.

Creative Juice #233

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Creative Juice #233

Pretty to look at. Fun to think about.

Outstanding African-American Authors

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As an old white woman, I never knew until fairly recently that all my life I’d been the beneficiary of white privilege. I’d heard of it, but I didn’t think it applied to me, because I’m not rich. You have to be rich to be privileged, right?

Wrong.

Every day, I am the recipient of advantages that aren’t offered to my darker brothers and sisters. I am spared the assumptions made of people of color just because my skin is pale.

Three things made me aware of this phenomenon—an article in my Lutheran denomination’s magazine, and two groundbreaking books by African-American authors.

When I read the nonfiction book Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, I realized how much I take for granted, and how many obstacles to success people of color face. It opened my eyes and broke my heart.

Next to The Holy BibleHidden Figures is the most important book I’ve ever read. As a boomer born in the 1950s and living through the tumultuous 1960s, I thought I knew all about the civil rights movement. It turns out I knew very little. I thank Margot Lee Shetterly for educating me. For example, I didn’t know that long before I was born, thousands of African Americans graduated from historically Black colleges and universities. They were every bit as highly educated as white college graduates, but had trouble finding employment in their fields. Many entered the teaching profession, working in Black schools, offering hope to the next generation. Good work, but low-paying, especially the farther back you go.

The book is very well-written. It reads like a novel, though it is nonfiction and scrupulously annotated. I am humbled to learn about the Langley Research Center computers, and I believe Hidden Figures should be required reading for everyone in the United States, especially white people like me. The movie based on it is often on TV, and I watch it whenever I can.

I read Angie Thomas’ YA novel, The Hate U Give, to find out what all the fuss was about. I was prepared not to like it, but it transcended my expectations. The story is multi-layered, with difficult family issues, and yet you understand that Starr and her parents are people with principles who want to do the right things. Thomas does a great job of weaving a spellbinding plot. I’m not sure if her aim was to give white people an idea of what it is like to be a Black person in America today, but The Hate U Give has opened my white female senior citizen eyes. When people started saying, “Black lives matter,” white people, me included, said, “All lives matter,” to which Black people replied, “You don’t get it.” Thanks to this brilliantly written book, I am beginning to understand.

Not every book by a Black author needs to change the world. Some are just good stories.

I’ve read Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, and it transported me to a different world. Drawing from West African myth, Adeyemi created the kingdom of Orïsha (which on the endpaper map looks a lot like the continent of Africa). Its citizens fall into two groups: the diviners, distinguishable by their white hair, who could perform magic; and the kosidán, who can’t. Eleven years before the beginning of the story, magic disappeared from Orïsha, the same night as the Raid, a genocide of the diviners orchestrated by ruthless King Saran, who believed magic was destroying Orïsha and was determined to wipe it out. And that’s all I’m going to tell you, because if you are tired of the same old fiction, you are ready for Children of Blood and Bone. One warning, though—things do not get wrapped up at the end, so you’ll probably have to read the second and third installments.

Years ago I read Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale, and Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress. I’ve read at least one Toni Morrison book, but I can’t remember which.

I love Maya Angelou’s poems and wisdom. I’ve read two of her autobiographies, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Gather Together in My Name. They barely get her out of her teens; I’ve got five more to go. She lived an amazing life and overcame huge odds. Did you know she was a teenaged madam? She also wanted to join the Army and qualified for Officer’s Candidate School, but that dream ended when she was accused of being a Communist. She danced professionally for a short time; then her partner reconciled with his ex and fired her.

While researching for this article, I came across many authors whose names I know but whose books I haven’t read: Octavia Butler, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Marlon James, Colson Whitehead, Jessmyn Ward, Jacqueline Woodson, Zora Neale Hurston, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Hopefully, I will read some before next Black History Month.

Faith Ringgold, Multi-Faceted Artist

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Faith Ringgold, Multi-Faceted Artist

Faith Ringgold is a painter, sculptor, writer, quilter, and performance artist. She was born on October 8, 1930, in Harlem, New York, right in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance, to Andrew Louis Jones and Willi Posey Jones. Her mother was a fashion designer, and her father loved to tell stories. The home environment they created encouraged their children’s creativity. Because of asthma, Faith spent much of her childhood quietly at home, drawing, coloring, and sewing.

Her neighborhood was full of creative Black people. Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes lived around the corner. Sonny Rollins was one of her childhood friends.

She enrolled in City College of New York, planning to major in art, but in 1950, that was not an approved course of study for women; so she majored in art education instead. After graduation, she taught art in New York City public schools, painting on her own. Later, she served as a professor of art at the University of California in San Diego. Her paintings echoed the Civil Rights movement, and also the feminist movement, and coincided with her social activism. She was influenced by African art, particularly in her use of color.

Faith Ringgold; story quilt; quilt
Tar Beach 2 (1990), story quilt by Faith Ringgold. Photo by Brooklyn Museum; used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License; cropped.

After viewing an exhibit at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, she was inspired to create “story quilts” that combined painting and quilting in the African-American tradition. Her first story quilt was a collaboration with her mother.

The same trip also launched her foray into sculpture. She made masks, often extending them with bodies. Her sculptures are mostly soft sculptures, doll-like.

Photo of Faith Ringgold, taken in April, 2017 by Brooklyn Museum; used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Ringgold has authored and/or illustrated 17 children’s books. Her books have earned her prestigious awards, such as the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award and the Coretta Scott King award for illustration. She was also a runner-up for the Caldecott Medal.

To learn more about Faith Ringgold’s life and to view high resolution images of her art, check out her website.

Creative Juice #227

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Creative Juice #227

Topics serious and entertaining:

Guest Post: Merry Christmas by Kathy Temean

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Thank you to Kathy Temean and to Writing and Illustrating for these beautiful Christmas images and lovely accompanying music.

Writing and Illustrating

 

CHERYL PILGRIM: Being featured on Illustrator Saturday Janruary 11, 2020.

KATE COSGROVE: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

DEBORAH MELMAN: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

FRANCE BRASSARD:FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

 Sleigh Ride

Jing, Jing, Jing Jingle,
the bells mix and mingle
with clip-clopping hooves as we glide,
on a sleigh sliding silently,
winding a path
on a shadowy, whispery ride

Toes tap and tingle,
as jingle bells jingle,
a single brave horse leads the way.
We snuggle together
like sleepy snowbirds
at the end of this best Christmas Day.
By Carol Murray

JIM STARR: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

RUTH SANDERSON: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

RUTH SANDERSON: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

RENE GRAEF: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

TIEMDOW PHUMIRUK:FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

HOW BEAUTIFUL CHRISTMAS

By Eileen Spinelli

How beautiful these wintry nights,

scented trees and twinkling lights,

ribboned gifts, stocking hung,

cookies baked and carols sung.

How…

View original post 136 more words

Creative Juice #219

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Creative Juice #219

It’s beginning to look a little like Christmas. I put a new Christmas bedspread and pillow shams on our bed.

  • Awesome photographs of nature’s power.
  • For the musicians and the music teachers: young composers get to hear their works performed by the New York Philharmonic.
  • Beautiful zentangles.
  • Ways to beat writer’s block.
  • For the writers: flabby characters? Put them through some exercises.
  • Have you taken your Christmas card picture yet?
  • Ways to use your books to decorate for Christmas. (I am seriously thinking of turning my TBR pile into a tree. The books are already stacked on the floor…)
  • In case you need to laugh, here’s a story about what to do when your husband says you can’t buy any more towels.
  • Some ingenious Christmas tree tools.
  • We all know what we should be doing in order to live our best lives. Read this to get it all in one place.
  • Interview with illustrator Jim Starr.
  • Christmas movies to stream.