Posts Tagged ‘kadir nelson’

There are many artists making the world of children’s picture books the grand place that it is, but few move me the way Kadir Nelson does.

These book jackets will give you some indication of Mr. Nelson’s immense talent, but you’ll have to go to his website to get better image quality and bigger images. Better yet, grab a few of his books from your local library and soak in the lovely illustrations that way. Several years ago his work was featured at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. It was a real treat to see the paintings in person!

His paintings capture light, love, and emotion in every detail. I’m drawn in by the faces. These look like people I’d like to get to know. They look like people with stories worth sharing. In many cases, Kadir Nelson is the one sharing the stories in writing and illustration. I encourage you to open one of his books and soak in the rich African American history with the sorrow and joy so beautifully expressed in Kadir Nelson’s work.

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Nelson MandelaNelson Mandela grew up in South Africa.  He was one of the Xhosa people who had lived peacefully in the bountiful mountains and valleys until “their land was taken and their spirits dimmed” by people from Europe.  His father died when he was only nine years old and when he was 13 he went far away to the city of Johannesburg to attend school.  He became a lawyer and defended people who could not defend themselves.  He and others protested a cruel policy created by the government called apartheid.  “It split the people into three–African, Indian, European.”  Mandela wanted one South Africa, where everyone could enjoy freedom like that in neighboring countries.

He was arrested for his belief that things could be different and improved and he was sent to live in a bleak prison on Robben Island for many, many years. His children grew up without him.  People continued to protest. Finally the government agreed to change. “Apartheid was no more.  Nelson was an old man . . . at last set free.”

The people of South Africa elected him president.  He represents hope to many people.

Kadir Nelson has written a wonderful biography of Nelson Mandela.  His art and words represent without flaw the struggle and the hope of Nelson Mandela’s life .  Don’t miss out — check out this book!

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On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we celebrated the Coretta Scott King Book Awards at the Allen County Public Library.  We held a mock election to choose our favorite African American illustrator who published a book in 2012 that demonstrates an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.  (Those qualities are included in the criteria for the REAL Coretta Scott King Book Award, presented annually for outstanding children’s literature.)  Children voted Kadir Nelson the winner for his work illustrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech, “I Have A Dream.”  The children most frequently commented that they loved Nelson’s art because it was so “realistic.”


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