Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song
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Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song

by Ashley Bryan
     
 

Ashley's autobiography is full of art, photographs, and the poignant never-say-never tale of his rich life, a life that has always included drawing and painting. Even as a boy growing up during the Depression, he painted — finding cast off objects to turn into books and kites and toy and art. Even as a solder in the segregated Army on the beaches of Normandy,

Overview

Ashley's autobiography is full of art, photographs, and the poignant never-say-never tale of his rich life, a life that has always included drawing and painting. Even as a boy growing up during the Depression, he painted — finding cast off objects to turn into books and kites and toy and art. Even as a solder in the segregated Army on the beaches of Normandy, he sketched — keeping charcoal crayons and paper in his gasmask to draw with during lulls. Even as a talented, visionary art student who was accepted and then turned away from college upon arrival, the school telling Ashley that to give a scholarship to an African American student would be a waste, he painted — continuing to create art when he could have been discouraged, continuing to polish his talents when his spirit should have been beaten. Ashley went on to become a Hans Christian Anderson Award nominee, a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer, and a multiple Coretta Scott King award winner. As you might imagine, his story is powerful, bursting with his creative energy, and a testament to believing in oneself. It's a book every child in America should have access to and it does what the very best autobiographies do; it inspires!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Well-loved illustrator Bryan's pictures and recollections tell of his lifelong devotion to making and sharing art. His Antiguan-born parents sang, kept birds and sheltered orphans; they showed him how to resist convention and survive defeat. Drawing every day, as a soldier during WWII he kept his art supplies in his gas mask ("There would have been a tumble of materials if I were ever in need of that mask!" he says). Bryan honed his skills, overcame racism and discouragement, and thrived throughout 20th-century tumult. While the text forms a single narrative thread, the busy pages are laid out scrapbook-style on bright, overlapping rectangles of color, old family photos next to artwork next to call-outs of Bryan's words in large type. Bryan brought elements of African art to award-winning collages and woodcuts; on his own time, he made (and continues to make) other treasures. McGuinness's photos show the artist in many settings on the Maine island he now calls home. A book for parents and children to enjoy together, Bryan's triumphant story will inspire artists of every age. All ages. (Jan.)

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Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
Bryan's interminable spirit and artistic talent shine on every page of this photo-biography. Framed in the format of a tour of the Maine island where he lives, Bryan moves through important events of his life both past and present. He says that he cannot remember a time when he was not drawing and painting. The book invites multiple readings. One strand of text commemorates the beauty of the island, while another presents biographical information. A plethora of pictures and illustrations contribute meaning beyond the words. The pages are filled with current photographs of Bryan and his island. These are combined with family photos and Bryan's own artwork, including black and white sketches, colorful background accents, and reproductions from some of his published books. Readers come to know Bryan as they discover his basic values and his love of life. He has an abiding appreciation of nature; a profound respect for the many cultures of the world; a broad knowledge of folk literature; and a profound appreciation of all forms of artistic expression. A delightful celebration of Bryan's life and his art. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 4 Up

The inimitable Bryan offers a clear portrait of his own evolution as artist and writer in this brief, highly illustrated volume. He leads readers on a photographic tour around his home-Little Cranberry Island off the coast of Maine-describing beaches laden with smooth stones; the daily habits of lobster boatmen; the little nondenominational church; and his studio filled with toys and puppets created from found objects, panels made of sea glass, and canvases of painted flowers. Intertwined is the story of his parents, who emigrated to New York from Antigua, bringing with them their fondness for the colors and sounds of nature, which they passed on to their son, his five siblings, and three cousins. His academic and professional achievements are touched upon in relation to his work and teaching. The color that plays a prominent role in his life spreads throughout this slim volume in page highlights; in clear photos of the island; in spreads taken from his books; in the oversize type that stands out on some pages. The man's humility, his deep appreciation of natural beauty, his fascination with other cultures, his love of folk literature, his openness to all forms of artistic expression, and his delight in learning and in passing on his craft to others form the essence of this inviting presentation. His autobiography is a small treasure to share with those who love children's literature and an inspiring read-aloud that speaks to young people about human qualities that lead to success and happiness.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

Kirkus Reviews
A joyous photo of the author with outstretched arms on the cover invites readers to join him on a walk through his life, present and past. Alternating between a guided tour of Maine's Little Cranberry Island, where he lives, and his reminiscences, Bryan takes readers from the family's crowded apartment in the Depression-era Bronx to his acceptance into Cooper Union's art school, where he was the only African-American in his class, to his philosophy degree from Columbia University and Fulbright scholarship to Germany. Reproductions from his books appear against photos from his family history and of his island home, demonstrating how his memories and his life have formed and informed his art. In elementary school he was introduced to poetry as performance art: "It is at the heart of all my work." The cozily familiar approach will be appreciated by those who have heard the master storyteller and those familiar with his books. When he concludes, "I've enjoyed walking the island with you," readers will believe him. (notes on images) (Autobiography. 9 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416905417
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
01/06/2009
Pages:
64
Sales rank:
791,615
Product dimensions:
10.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile:
970L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Ashley Bryan grew up to the sound of his mother singing from morning to night, and he has shared the joy of song with children ever since. A beloved illustrator, he has been the recipient of the Coretta Scott King—Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award; he has also been a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer, a Coretta Scott King Award winner, and the recipient of countless other awards and recognitions. His books include Sail Away; Beautiful Blackbird; Beat the Story-Drum, Pum Pum; Let It Shine; Ashley Bryan’s Book of Puppets; and What a Wonderful World. He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine.

Ashley Bryan grew up to the sound of his mother singing from morning to night, and he has shared the joy of song with children ever since. A beloved illustrator, he has been the recipient of the Coretta Scott King—Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award; he has also been a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer, a Coretta Scott King Award winner, and the recipient of countless other awards and recognitions. His books include Sail Away; Beautiful Blackbird; Beat the Story-Drum, Pum Pum; Let It Shine; Ashley Bryan’s Book of Puppets; and What a Wonderful World. He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine.

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