Kid Lit Review of “Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood” by F. Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell

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This book tells the story of Mira, a little girl who lived “in the heart of a gray city,” but who loved to draw and fill her room with color. She decided to pass her pictures around to share the happiness she got from brightly colored art.

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One day she encountered an artist and he helped her paint bright colors on a wall, making it light up like sunshine. Other people soon joined in, drawing pictures on the bricks, adding “color, punch, and pizzazz!” As more and more people participated, “Color spread throughout the streets. So did joy.”

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Mira and the artist went all around the city, painting bright colors, decorating “with poetry and shine.” The artist told the people, “You my friends, are all artists. The world is your canvas.”

As we learn in the Authors’ Note at the end of the book, a true story inspired this book. In fact, it is the story of the award-winning illustrator, Rafael López. He and his wife Candice helped form the “Urban Art Trail,” seeking volunteers of all ages, races, and walks of life to revive their community through art. The group transformed their neighborhood in San Diego’s East Village into a place of beauty. The movement spread as far away as Canada and Australia.

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The joyous and colorful acrylic illustrations in this book by Rafael López himself have an emphasis on primary shapes and colors. The pictures often take up the whole double-page spread, using fluid shapes and movements to cross the seam between pages.

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At a website based on the book, you can learn more about the Urban Art Trail and about murals used for beautification around the world. The site even includes a montage of pictures showing murals in many cities, including San Diego.

Evaluation: I found the “real” story more interesting than the fictional one. I also thought it was not made clear that random painting on walls is not always legal. But the illustrations are vibrant and interesting, and perhaps will inspire readers to learn more about how they, too, can make a difference in their communities.

From the illustrator's website

From the illustrator’s website

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

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2 Responses to Kid Lit Review of “Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood” by F. Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell

  1. BermudaOnion says:

    The true story does sound great and I love those bright illustrations too.

  2. This looks wonderful! I’m adding it my nice new kids’ books list on Goodreads, which I am saving for when my nephew gets a little older.

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