Another day, another review. Today, it is Beautiful Shades of Brown: The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring. I know I would have picked up this book just for its cover and its title. But with reading this as part of the Cybils, and noting the author, I know I might have ended up picking it for Nancy Churnin too.. as I will going forward!
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The Book: Beautiful Shades of Brown
Title: Beautiful Shades of Brown: The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring
Author: Nancy Churnin
Illustrator: Felicia Marshall
Length: 32 pages
Genre: Children’s Nonfiction/ Art Biographies (6 – 10 years, and up)
Publisher: Creston Books (February 4, 2020)
Growing up in the late 19th century, Laura Wheeler Waring didn’t see any artists who looked like her. She didn’t see any paintings of people who looked like her, either. As a young woman studying art in Paris, she found inspiration in the works of Matisse and Gaugin to paint the people she knew best. Back in Philadelphia, the Harmon Foundation commissioned her to paint portraits of accomplished African-Americans. Her portraits still hang in Washington DC’s National Portrait Gallery, where children of all races can admire the beautiful shades of brown she captured.
As someone who believes in the magic of words and art, this book captured my interest immediately. And as I turned the pages to lushly created artwork in wonderful shades of brown with lots of attention to detail accompanied by the rich narrative, I cherished it some more.
What I Loved
Nancy Churnin’s narrative take us through Laura Wheeler Waring’s life as she explores and develops her talent. I truly love when picture books bring to life those who deserve to be more well-known than they are (and sometimes unknown).
I also loved all those shades of brown that make their way into the narrative, giving readers a chance to learn all those beautiful shades of brown; like burnt umber, caramel, russet, and more!
Felicia Marshall’s frame-worthy illustrations are stunningly done in the style of Waring, and beautifully capture the era and emotions.
Backmatter includes photos of some of Waring’s original paintings, an author’s note with more information on Waring and Marian Anderson, a timeline, and reading resources.
I loved the first half of the book where focus was on her childhood and relationships with her family more than the second half. And would have loved even more information on Waring herself. But this book has certainly made me curious to learn more.
This book is beautiful; it is a biography as well as a narrative on art history, artistic process, perseverance, and successfully breaking racial barriers, all in one! And yes, artwork in itself too.
A great addition to any bookshelf – and a wonderful resource to use for BHM, with art lessons, teaching colors and shades, and more.
Parents, teachers, and all educators: Be sure to check out Nancy Churnin’s website for resources, a teacher guide, and more.
“Maybe you didn’t see brown in a rainbow. …But brown WAS a rainbow, with orange and blue, red and green tucked inside, playing hide and seek.”
“..everyone would see how much color brown could hold.”
“It was as if she was hearing what she had been trying to paint for so long. Marian’s notes rose and danced about her in beautiful shades of brown.”
Get It Here
BookDepository || BookShop || IndieBound
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Top Ten Tuesday: Books Written Before I Was Born
This week’s theme at ThatArtsyReaderGirl for Top Ten Tuesday is books written before I was born. I decided to look at my bookshelves (and thankful for that A to Z listing I made last year!) and pick books that maybe fit into this month. So here are ten books from my bookshelves written before I was born that I am yet to read or would love to read again… genres – romance, race, and then simply because, one that speaks of travel (something I am sorely missing by now).
- Gone With the Wind
- Hanging Woman Creek
- The Keepers of the House
- Mansfield Park
- Sense and Sensibility
- The Trumpet Major
- Tuck Everlasting
- To Sir With Love
- The Great Railway Bazaar
Fact For the Day
Black History Month Fact:
The iconic cartoon character Betty Boop was inspired by a Black jazz singer in Harlem named Esther Jones. Read more about this at PBS.
And Now, the End of this Post
Dear reader, what are your thoughts on the featured book? Have you read this or other similar books? Any recommendations for me. And do let me know if this book intrigues you and/or if you plan to read it.
And what about the books in the Top Ten list? I am sure some of those are books many of you have certainly read.
As always, your thoughts and suggestions are welcome!
“I am not a skin color. I contain all of humanity in my heart and my mind, my flesh, my blood and my bones, and I am proud of that fact. You should be, too.” ― Laurence Overmire
44 thoughts on “Beautiful Shades of Brown: A Review”
My daughter loves art and this sounds like an interesting way to include some art into learning about black history month. Thanks for the review.
thanks Ivy.. yes, this book is perfect for that
I love learning about the lives of artist and what inspires them in their art. Thank you for sharing your review of this book.
thanks Heidi.. it is always wonderful to discover the inspiration behind their art
Great review of an interesting book!
This brought back memories from when I was in grade school! The teacher asked us to pick the brown colored crayon. I picked burnt umber (I’ve always loved that color) and she told me I was wrong. The next day she apologized and said burnt umber was a brown tone! This would be another great book for Lia in a few years!
that is such a wonderful story you shared.. and love that your teacher apologized (she must have been a really good teacher)
I loved reading Tuck Everlasting in elementary school. I haven’t thought about that book in years.
I think I watched the movie before I read the book but loved both..
This looks like a lovely book. I’m glad I discovered your post. 🙂
thank you Melissa
Another wonderful pick for Black history month! Such a beautiful book!
all the illustrations in this are as beautiful as the cover … and such an inspiring read too
thanks Bri.. it is certainly a beautiful read
I love that there are photos of her original works with it. Thanks for the review.
it does inspire me to go look for more of her paintings as well as make a trip to museums
it inspired me to go look for more of her works online and they are all so wonderful
I love envisioning colors! This sounds like my kind of book, being able to create all the mental colors.
i love how they show her process of getting the right colors, or rather the right shade of brown
so true, I did not think about that. It has been a while since I played with paint and books like this inspire me to
It sounds like an awesome book!
thanks Elisa, it is
It seems like a great book
it is a wonderful read
🙂 it is
I was glad I read Beautiful Shades of Brown fairly early on, as it helped inform how I read many other picture books during the Cybils season.
Hey, Venetia is my favorite Heyer!
Beth, I am glad I read the book as well (though by the time I got hold of it, it was towards the end of the Cybils season)..
And I had meant to add comments on those top ten books. Sadly, I am yet to read any books by Heyer (I know, I know!!)
I think my son would enjoy reading this. He is already enjoying Black History Month.
Thanks Cyndi… It is a beautiful read
I’m always looking to expand my reading list. Thanks for sharing.
This book has also captured my attention. I can’t wait to give it a read.
Am sure you will enjoy it
Reading this good review gives me the interest to read this book. I am going to get a copy of this book. Thank you!
thank you for your comments and your support!
I love that wonderful quote from the book. Sometimes we have to look harder to see the “browns” in our environment, they represent those whose voices aren’t often heard. Whether it’s racial injustice and any other status, we have to give them a voice. Thanks for sharing this artistic book.
Your review makes me ant to read this book. I love reading about interesting people and their lives. Plus lovely artwork?… I’m excited to read/see this book!
Tuck Everlasting was my favorite back when I was in school
I read the book for the first time as an adult but did love it!
I haven’t read this book, but it sounds amazing and seems like an exceptional Black History Month book!
thanks Heather.. yes it is a beautiful read
yes, it is that definitely
This sounds quite precious. I am ashamed to say, I haven’t read many of your 10 picks.
well, I have not read all of them either 🙂 I picked them for the theme and glad I realized I need to read these books sitting on my shelves sometime 🙂