Renowned children’s author and illustrator James Ransome visited King Springs Elementary to share his story and love for all forms of creativity with students.
Ransome spoke with students from grades 3-5 about his path to becoming an author/illustrator and just what exactly goes into putting together a children’s book. His presentation included a virtual tour of his home studio in New York, where he has created the art for more than 50 well-known children’s books, including “Uncle Jed’s Barbershop,” “Satchel Paige,” and “Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist.”
“I think the best part of coming to schools is when I name off some of my books and hear children getting excited and shouting ‘Hey! I’ve read that one!” he said. “When you’re working, you often lose sight of how these books will impact the children who read them, so going to schools lets me keep that in focus.”
Ransome concluded his presentation by asking student volunteers to draw numbers on an easel, then creating mini-masterpieces from the numbers.
“I saw the same presentation when I was in fifth grade, and it just proves that with imagination, anyone can be an artist,” he said.
The number 7 became a mysterious magician. The number 8 became a waiter at a fancy restaurant. Each number inspired a different piece of art from Ransome, and the students were thrilled to guess what that number would become as Ransome drew right in front of them.
“It’s important for kids to realize that the most important part of creativity is to have fun,” he said. “That should be what we teach our kids in art class, above all.”
About James Ransome (Bio Courtesy of JohnRansome.com)
The Children’s Book Council named James E. Ransome as one of 75 authors and illustrators everyone should know. Currently a member of the Society of Illustrators, Ransome has received both the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration and the IBBY Honor Award for his book, The Creation. He has also received a Coretta Scott King Honor Award for Illustration for Uncle Jed’s Barbershop, which was selected as an ALA Notable Book and is currently being shown as a feature on Reading Rainbow. How Many Stars in the Sky? and Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt were also Reading Rainbow selections.
PBS’s Storytime featured his book, The Old Dog. Ransome has exhibited works in group and solo shows throughout the country and received The Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance award for his book, The Wagon. In 1999, Let My People Go received the NAACP Image Award for Illustration and Satchel Paige was reviewed in Bank Street College of Education’s “The Best Children’s Books of the Year.”
In 2001, James received the Rip Van Winkle Award from the School Library Media Specialists of Southeast New York for the body of his work. How Animals Saved the People received the SEBA (Southeastern Book Association) Best Book of the Year Award in 2002 and the Vermont Center for the Book chose Visiting Day as one of the top 10 diversity books of 2002. In 2004, James was recognized by the local art association when he received the Dutchess County Executive Arts Award for an Individual Artist. He has completed several commissioned murals for the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Hemphill Branch Library in Greensboro, NC.
He created a historical painting commissioned by a jury for the Paterson, NJ Library and a poster for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Brown vs. the Board of Education. His traveling exhibit,Visual Stories, has been touring the United States since 2003. His work is part of both private and public children’s book art collections.
James lives in Rhinebeck, New York with his wife Lesa Cline Ransome, a writer of children’s books. They have collaborated on a number of books together, including Satchel Paige, Young Pele, Quilt Alphabet, Before There Was Mozart and Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass. Their newest title, Light in the Darkness was released in 2013. They live in the Hudson Valley with their four children and one St. Bernard.