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

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Synopsis

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!
 

About Ashley Bryan

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Ashley Bryan grew up to the sound of his mother singing from morning to night, and has shared the joy of song with children ever since. One of our most beloved illustrators, he is this year's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award winner and has been a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer, a Coretta Scott King Award winner (most recently for Beautiful Blackbird), and the recipient of countless other awards and recognitions. He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine, where he can often be found with a cluster of children, all singing. McGuiness is a consultant and trainer for Moody Risk Management Services, specializing in cash flow dynamics.
 
Published January 6, 2009 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 64 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Education & Reference, Children's Books.

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ashley Bryan

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Twenty splendid examples of spirituals are provided with simple arrangements by David Manning Thomas (guitar chords also included).

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Families and schools can draw on this wonderful, generous guide to shape their own Kwanzaa celebrations.

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Jun 01 2007 | Read Full Review of Ashley Bryan: Words to My Lif...

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Bryan’s Christmas offering combines a poignant poem about a shepherd boy who builds his own stable with exuberant paintings in a masterful melding of rhythmic text and dazzling art.

Sep 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Ashley Bryan: Words to My Lif...

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These double spreads don't have the handsome sweep of those in the earlier book, but they are decorative and the paintings are lovely in detail: intimate, tender moments like David singing to Saul, or Daniel's appealingly pensive lions.

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An extra-large trim size, a vibrant palette and Bryan’s glorious cut-paper collage illustrations add up to a marvelous interpretation of three traditional African-American spirituals: “This Little Light of Mine,” “Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” In...

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The other birds agree that Blackbird is the most beautiful, as his black feathers “gleam all colors in the sun.” Blackbird mixes up a little something in his medicine gourd, and presents each bird with some black patterns of its own.

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Publishers Weekly

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In his first book of poems for both children and adults, Bryan elegantly and powerfully celebrates life--the sadness of leaving, the joy to be found in nature, the pride of family.

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Bryan ``artfully blends the traditions of African American culture with those of Western art,'' said PW about his collection of poems, which ``elegantly and powerfully celebrates life.'' All ages.

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Giovanni (The Genie in the Jar) and Bryan (What a Morning!) form a fruitful partnership in this ebullient collection of 13 poems.

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""Joyful in both word and palette,"" said PW, ""this African story tells why lightning and thunder reside in the sky and not on earth, as they once did."" Ages 4-8.

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In Bryan's (Aneesa Lee and the Weaver's Gift, reviewed below) thoughtful introduction to this eclectic collection of 26 African proverbs from various traditions (Yoruba, Gola, Maasi, etc.), he reflects on the ""household of proverbs"" in which he was raised.

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The message about inner beauty and identity becomes somewhat diluted by the closing song, in which the birds triumphantly sing, "Our colors sport a brand-new look,/ A touch of black was all it took./ Oh beautiful black, uh-huh, uh-huh/ Black is beautiful, UH-HUH!"

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Bryan gives a joyous performance of his work on this recording of some of his favorite African tales.

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The Theater at the Dallas Convention Center was packed on Monday morning, filled with librarians and children's literature enthusiasts waiting to see what books, authors and illustrators would be recognized among the 2012 American Library Association awards.

Jan 25 2012 | Read Full Review of Ashley Bryan: Words to My Lif...

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we see Joseph's kindness as he strokes the shepherd boy's dog, and then we see the radiant star move to its proper position over the stable the boy built.

Dec 07 2012 | Read Full Review of Ashley Bryan: Words to My Lif...

Huffington Post

But I also knew that because of the film's chosen locations, some people would see the problem not as their own, but as one that is found in the backwards and uneducated South where folks talk with a heavy accent and mosey around in heavy boots.

Apr 09 2012 | Read Full Review of Ashley Bryan: Words to My Lif...

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