Cover image for A drawing in the sand : a story of African American art
A drawing in the sand : a story of African American art
Butler, Jerry, 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Madison, Wis. : Zino Press Children's Books, [1998]

Physical Description:
64 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 31 cm
Describes Jerry Butler's development as an artist and his discovery of the long and beautiful tradition of Afro-American art that preceded him.
Reading Level:
920 Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC 3-5 6.2 5 Quiz: 28052 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6537.B89 A2 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area-Black History

On Order



Features an illustrated tale of Jerry Butler's journey as an artist. This book also tells the parallel story of how African American artists struggled to achieve their visions, and it shows examples of some of their finest work. It is suitable for ages 9-12.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-7. Eclectic in concept, this large-format book intertwines two separate but related strands: the history of African American artists and the personal story of Jerry Butler's life and education as an artist. Often the two texts run in parallel columns on the same page, visually differentiated by their typeface and colored backgrounds. Butler's family photos, collages, and paintings appear along with photographs of artwork by others, such as Henry Tanner, Augusta Savage, Jacob Lawrence, and Faith Ringgold. Although readers may find the concept a little bewildering at first, those who stick with it will be rewarded twice, increasingly involved in Butler's personal narrative and better informed about the lives and work of great African American artists working in many styles and materials. Butler, who now teaches art at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, begins his personal history with his strong family roots in Mississippi, and though he has traveled north and explored the whole range of art history, he continues to draw strength and inspiration from his childhood and young-adult experiences. His own discovery of African American art becomes an eye-opening journey of discovery for readers as well. An original and personal introduction to the field. --Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

First-time author Butler (illustrator of Sweet Words So Brave: The Story of African American Literature) brings together his memories of growing up a fledgling artist in Magnolia, Miss., with brief biographies of 15 African-American artists (an additional 17 are listed at the end) who overcame racial and economic barriers to pursue their art. Butler warmly tells of how, from a young age, he would draw "in the red, sandy dirt between the pecan and oak trees in our yard," and of the enormous influence of his Grand Mo Lu, who got him work as a church muralist and told him about other black artists. Butler also spotlights a conflict that he believes divides black artists to this day: whether to make art for their community or to be free to take on a variety of subjects for a multiracial audience. Photos, Butler's own artwork and well-chosen examples of works by Augusta Savage, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden and others create interesting visual juxtapositions. However, the different threads of the text (biographies of the artists are set off from Butler's narrative in tinted boxes) are poorly laid out, making it difficult for readers to follow the various sections from one page to the next. Bold type on large bands of bright colors and intermittent blocky neon type compete with these other elements and have a jarring effect. Despite the complicated and confusing layout, however, readers of all ages will likely find inspiration in the lives Butler has chosen to highlight. In telling a story of African-American art, this book chronicles the universal, enduring quality of creative imagination. Ages 8-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved