Reviewed by Edi Campbell
Review Source: Edi Cotton Quilts
Book Author: Jerry Pinkney
Let’s start with the cover. Pinkney’s books are highlighted in each letter of this middle grade memoir, serving to highlight some of his remarkable work. Just below them is a drawing of Pinkney as a child, glancing at one of his sketchbooks with a look of pleasure on his face. The sepia-toned endpapers are filled with his pieces of his sketches, setting the mood, era, and color palette for the book. In the text, Pinkney explains how he began this story so many years ago, how he’d hoped to layout the book, and why he wanted to write it.
Jerry Pinkney was an African American artist and illustrator. Jason Reynolds paid tribute to him in Time Magazine saying, “He has surely inspired and spawned hundreds of Black artists. We talk about ‘legacy’ so cavalierly these days, but I think we have to acknowledge that Jerry Pinkney will go down as a legend. The thing about Black illustrations in children’s books is that they create a palate for children; the first art they see is in those books. They create taste.” Reynolds, and others, note that Pinkney was a family man. What I’ve noticed is that for him, “family” extended to the world of African American children’s book creators. Continue reading on Edi Cotton Quilts.
Just Jerry by Jerry Pinkney
Genres: Art, Biography and Autobiography
Reading Level: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Review Source: Cotton Quilts
An inspiring memoir of a Caldecott-winning artist and one of the most acclaimed children's book illustrators of all time, sharing the story of a young artist who finds the courage to follow his passion against all odds.
* "A moving work from a legend of children's literature and a testament to his legacy of visual storytelling." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Jerry Pinkney — creator of Caldecott Medal-winning The Lion & the Mouse and The Little Mermaid — drew everywhere, all the time. Since childhood, it was how he made sense of the world — how he coped with the stress of being a sensitive child growing up in crowded spaces, struggling with a learning disability, in a time when the segregation of Black Americans was the norm.
Only drawing could offer him a sense of calm, control, and confidence. When friends and siblings teased him about having the nickname "Jerry" as his only name, his mother always said, "Just 'Jerry' is enough. He'll make something of that name someday." And so he did, eventually becoming one of the most celebrated children's book illustrators of all time and paving the way for countless other Black artists.
Jerry's vivid recollections and lively sketchbook drawings of his youth in postwar America tell an inspiring story of how a hardworking boy pursued his passion in less-than-ideal circumstances and became a legendary artist against all odds.
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