Shadra Strickland Books

Book Reviews - Books for Building Your Library

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Roberta Gardner, a children's literature expert, put together a Ten Titles list for you, including books featuring illustrations by Shadra Strickland. Shadra was pleased for us to include as well titles from her four closest friends, Jonathan Bean, Lauren Castillo, Paul Hoppe, and Taeeun Yoo.

A Place Where Hurricanes Happen

Author Renée Watson and illustrator Shadra Strickland introduce you to four children who live in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina. They show us Adrienne, Michael, Keesha, and Tommy as friends with individual and group characteristics that communicate their complexity before and beyond Katrina. This book is about community, change, and love for a place. It is both authentic and sensitive; poetic and beautiful. A Place Where Hurricanes Happen is neither trite nor brutal, but is a valuable starting place for the honest conversations children need.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Thank You, Mr. Falker

Like the sun breaking through dark and heavy clouds, Mr. Falkner provided the hope and guidance author and illustrator Patricia Polacco needed to overcome the difficulties that prevented her from reading and writing. Tricia is tormented by her inability to read and by a bully who calls her "dumb." But Mr. Falkner recognizes Tricia's brilliance and intervenes to change her life. This book is a classic filled with brilliant artistry and compelling storytelling. It serves as a tribute to Mr. Falkner and all educators who use skill, compassion, and patience to help children overcome challenges and reach their fullest potential.


Bird was the first picture book Shadra Strickland illustrated. The striking images flow from dreamscapes to realty, and exude the warmth and gentle spirit of the young protagonist Mehkai, affectionately nicknamed "Bird" by his grandfather. He likes birds and drawing and practices diligently so that he can improve his skill. He's pretty good, and with the help of "his imagination and an eraser" he can easily "fix stuff that's messed up." But it's not that simple to fix his brother Marcus, who is a victim of the streets. This is a story about family, love, and the care and keeping of the soul.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Our Children Can Soar

This visual chronology of African American achievement is created by the skillful artistry of notable illustrators. Each page features captivating images rendered by a different artist, and is accompanied by brief historical facts about the individual or event. The book highlights the manner in which unsung heroes, and well known figures equally contributed to progress toward the equality of all people. The delicately crafted portrayal of Ruby Bridges by Shadra Strickland perfectly illustrates the hope and resiliency of this young agent of change.

Big or Little

Shadra Strickland illustrates this guided reading book by Fonda Bel Miller. On her way to the park, an inquisitive little girl identifies all things big and small. Shadra's vibrant, realistic images make the reader feel as if they have discovered a new friend and are walking with her on the same path. This guided reading text contains high frequency words and teachers can use it to help emergent readers identify picture clues, work on reading patterned sentences, or practice making inferences and predictions.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

The Apple Pie That Papa Baked

What could be better than warm pie made with apples handpicked by your dad? Jonathan Bean's delightful folkloric artwork coupled with Lauren Thompson's rhythmic verse, is reminiscent of cumulative tales like, The House that Jack Built. This is an engaging book that peaks all of your senses, and belongs on every shelf just in time for apple picking season. The recursive text invites students to join in and is worth reading and rereading.

Alphie Runs Away

Alfie Runs Away is a perfect pick for read aloud time. Young Alfie's feet are growing and he does not want to give up his beloved red shoes. In protest he decides to run away. Alfie's mother dutifully helps him pack, retrieving essentials such as his water bottle, flashlight (mom provides the extra batteries), and of course his teddy bear. Alfie's jaunt is short-lived because when he reaches his backyard he realizes something very important that he needs. Castillo's black outlined images with soft primary hues of red, blue and yellow compliment Kenneth Cadow's writing in this adorable story.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +


Using a three color palette, Paul Hoppe serves it up as both the author and illustrator in this fantastical book full of imagination, and whimsy. While walking in the park Henry makes a serendipitous discovery on a bench- a big red hat, and it fits him perfectly. Henry dreams about the multitude of ways he will use it. He envisions numerous escapades with the hat serving as a boat and a sled, among other creative explorations. He is thrilled by the possibilities until his mother reminds him to think about the hat's owner, which spins Henry into other equally fanciful thoughts.

So Many Days

"You are a star trailing fire at night./ You are a bird urgent for flight. You are braver than you know." This lyrical text by Alison Mchee takes the reader on a journey with a little girl and her canine companion as they explore nature's playground. They engage in simple pleasures like cavorting with the leaves, scaling massive puddles in the rain, and even stopping to smell the flowers. Taeeun Yoo's masterful images are poetic and exude a graceful, and refreshing tone. Read this book again and again to relive this joyous excursion symbolic of life and all of its possibilities.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Keats's Neighborhood

Keat's Neighborhood is a compendium of ten classic stories by the legendary Ezra Jack Keats. In addition to the treasure trove of mixed media images, this book features a tribute by well known authors and illustrators such as Eric Carle, Jerry Pinkney, Simms Taback, and Reynold Ruffin. A chronology of Keat's books, and biography are included. In 2009, Shadra Strickland won the Ezra Jack Keat's Award, which recognizes the work of outstanding new illustrators and authors who "create vividly written and illustrated books for children (9 and under)."