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Transcript of Ashley Bryan
Words to My Life's Song (2009)
Let it Shine (2007)
Beautiful Blackbird (2003)
Author, Illustrator, Storyteller
Can't Scare Me! (2013)
Painter, Poet, Illustrator, Storyteller
Bryan (Beautiful Blackbird) again proves himself a maestro with scissors (depicted on the end pages) in a series of arresting, kaleidoscopic cut-construction-paper collages that interprets three beloved spirituals: "This Little Light of Mine," "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." Each page contains two lines of lyrics alongside images of nature or of children and adults with diverse skin tones frolicking harmoniously in settings both urban and pastoral. This wide spectrum of experiences suggests the songs' themes of utopian peace, tolerance and beauty.
- Publisher's Weekly , 2014
Ashley Bryan : Words To My Life's Song
Born in 1923 in Harlem, NY.
Attended Cooper Union Art School.
Served in World War II.
Studied Philosophy at Columbia University, and earned a Fulbright Scholarship to study art in Europe.
He has written and illustrated 40+ children’s books.
First African American to publish a Children's Book as an author and illustrator.
Retired Emeritus Professor at Dartmouth.
Blackbird talks of the difference a little black can make, but he also emphasizes that external appearances do not reflect the inner self. Which of the two is more important is never clarified. Still, the rolling language and appealing illustrations make this a must.
- Kirkus Reviews, 2010
Bryan's interminable spirit and artistic talent shine on every page of this photo-biography. Framed in the format of a tour of the Maine island where he lives, Bryan moves through important events of his life both past and present. He says that he cannot remember a time when he was not drawing and painting. The book invites multiple readings. One strand of text commemorates the beauty of the island, while another presents biographical information. A plethora of pictures and illustrations contribute meaning beyond the words.
- Children's Literature, 2014
With his inimitable style and distinctive folk-art illustrations, Bryan tells a trickster tale from the French and English Antilles about a wild and fearless boy who doesn't flinch even when his grandma tells him stories of giants with two and three heads. He plays his flute ("Too-de-loo-de-loo-de-loot!") and sings: "Tanto, Tanto, I'm wild and I'm free. /Grandma's stories can't scare me. / I'm bold! I'm brave! And though I may be small, /No many-headed giant scares ME at all!" The stylized giants are not too scary and the book could be used successfully in storytimes with children's participation.
- School Library Journal, 2014
Awards & Nominations
1981, Coretta Scott King Award, Illustrator,
Beat the Story Drum, Pum-Pum
2006, Hans Christian Andersen Award Nominee
2008, Coretta Scott King Award, Illustrator,
Let it Shine: Three Favorite Spirituals
2009, Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
2010, Golden Kite Award, Nonfiction,
Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song
2012, Coretta Scott King - Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement
Ashley Bryan Books:
Recognized for colorful words and illustrations.
Perfect for Read Alouds, New Readers & Sing Alongs.
Covers several genres: Non-fiction: Biography, Folklore & Poetry.
Themes reflects African Culture, African American Culture, Diversity, Pride, and Spirituality.
Beat the Story Drum, Pum-Pum
Let it Shine
Ashley Bryan, Words to My Life’s Song
Can’t Scare Me!
Five more transplanted African folktales, equipped, for reading aloud, with much pum-pum, uh-huh, and a little be-bop, by the author/artist of The Ox of the Wonderful Horns. The tales can be just plain silly, as is Monkey who becomes so wrapped up in his "shoo bee do" and "hay baa ba ree bop" delivery that he forgets the message he was to deliver to the head chief; or they can be gently moral, as when a young frog and snake make friends--until their prejudiced mothers warn them about each other’s' treacherous ways.
- Kirkus, 1981
Beat the Story-Drum Pum-Pum
Ashley Bryan. (n.d). Retrieved November 18, 2014 from
Ashley Bryan Center (2014). Ashley Bryan: Renowned Artist, Writer, Storyteller, Humanitarian.
Retrieved from http://ashleybryancenter.org/bio/
Barnes & Noble (2014). Ashley Bryan: Words to my Life’s Song. [Editorial Review]. Retrieved
Barnes & Noble. (2014) Let it Shine: Three Favorite Spirituals. [Editorial Reviews]. Retrieved
Kirkus. (1981, October 1). Beat the Story-Drum, Pum-Pum. [Review of the book Beat the Story-Drum, Pum-Pum
by Ashley Bryan]. Retrieved from
Kirkus. (2010, May 20). Beautiful Blackbird. [Review of the book Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan]. Retrieved
Marantz, S., K. (1988, March). Interview with Ashley Bryan. The Horn Book. Retrieved from
Simon & Schuster. (2009,July 29). Watch Poet Ashley Bryan Read Words to My Life’s Song.
[Video file]. Retrieved