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Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee!

Last updated Thursday, May 9, 2019

Author: Andrea Loney
Illustrator: Keith Mallett
Date of Publication:
ISBN: 1620142600
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2019

Synopsis: James Van Der Zee was just a young boy when he saved enough money to buy his first camera. He took photos of his family, classmates, and anyone who would sit still for a portrait. By the fifth grade, James was the school photographer and unofficial town photographer. Eventually he outgrew his small town and moved to the exciting, fast-paced world of New York City. After being told by his boss that no one would want his or her photo taken -by a black man, James opened his own portrait studio in Harlem. He took photographs of legendary figures of the Harlem Renaissance--politicians such as Marcus Garvey, performers including Florence Mills, Bill -Bojangles- Robinson, and Mamie Smith--and ordinary folks in the neighborhood too. Everyone wanted fancy portraits by James Van Der Zee. Winner of Lee & Low's New Voices Award, Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee! tells the story of a groundbreaking artist who chronicled an important era in Harlem and showed the beauty and pride of its people.

Note to readers:
•  Andrea Loney is a long-time Reading to Kids volunteer! TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VAN DER ZEE!, her picture book biography, won the 2014 Lee & Low New Voices Award! And it’s illustrated by the magnificent artist Keith Mallett! It’s a Junior Library Guild Fall 2017 Selection and it won the California Reading Association’s 2017 EUREKA! Nonfiction Children’s Gold Award!

Discussion topics: To be posted soon ...

Craft ideas:
•  Make a cardboard camera with cardboard (you bring), a section of paper towel or toilet paper roll, and string.
•  Make a Father's Day card. (for father, uncle, grandfather, someone who is like a father to you.)
•  Check our craft ideas on Pinterest!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!