STORY PAINTER: The Life of Jacob Lawrence tells the story of the artist Jacob Lawrence, born in 1917, Jacob, known as “Jake” grew up during the Great Migration, the largest migration of African-Americans to the North, since the days of slavery. Jake documented this historic American event in his series of painting entitled The Migration of the Negro.”
In the beginning, Jacob Lawrence’s childhood was difficult, as his parents had moved and lived in three different cities by the time Jake was six years old. He later moved to Harlem, growing up during the Harlem Renaissance, and was influenced by the sights and sounds and energy of the city. Although he did play stick ball like the rest of the neighborhood kids, his favorite pastime was exploring the streets of Harlem, where each block told a different story.
By the time he was 13, he began having difficulty in school, and his mother, afraid he would be recruited by a gang, enrolled him into a neighborhood program, where he first began creating art.
Years later, Jake would experience overnight success as an artist which led to pressures he was not prepared for; however he overcame the obstacles, and became one of the most celebrated and renowned American painters. In 197o, his painting of Jesse Jackson was featured on the cover of TIME magazine; and in 1977, he was one of five famous American artist to be invited to President Jimmy Carter’s swearing in ceremony.
Jacob Lawrence is most loved and recognized for his “Migration of the Negro” series and his depictions of Harlem life .
STORY PAINTER: The Life of Jacob Lawrence is a beautiful re-telling of an amazing artist’s life and a great introduction to African-American history. Unlike other picture books, STORY PAINTER is over 50 pages long and features over 20 reproductions of Lawrence’s work, along with historical black and white photos documenting aspects of his life. Therefore, it is a book where children ages eight years-old and younger would need to read it or have it read to them in several stages, however this makes it a great story for bed time. It is a wonderful book that should be read all children, as it tells the story of an important man who documented two very important and historic times in U.S. history.
The Life of Jacob Lawrence: Written by John Duggleby