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
- The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne
- Looking for Bapu
- The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
- For Spacious Skies: Katharine Lee Bates and the Inspiration for “America the Beautiful”
- Women’s Art Work: More than 30 Female Artists Who Changed the World
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