Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson is a naturally gifted artist whose extraordinary talent continues to develop and be discovered. Before the age of 30, Nelson had already illustrated children's books, sold paintings to celebrities, and worked on a movie directed by Steven Spielberg.

Nelson received the 2012 Coretta Scott King Award for writing and illustrating Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. In 2007 Kadir Nelson received a Caldecott Honor for his evocative illustrations in Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. In 2008 he won a second Caldecott Honor for his artwork in Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad.

Books by This Author

Nelson Mandela

Age Level: 6-9

"This picture-book biography matches Mandela's outsize achievements with large, powerful images, resulting in a presentation that will seize and hold readers' attention…Nelson's paintings range from poignant, when Mandela's mother tells him good-bye as he leaves home for more education at the age of nine, to exuberant, when Mandela and 100 men arrested for protesting apartheid respond by dancing and singing, to inspiring, when people organize rallies demanding his release. When freedom finally comes, 'a colorful sea of people' celebrate." — School Library Journal

We Are the Ship: The Story of the Negro League Baseball

Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

An introduction by baseball great Hank Aaron opens this riveting look at the history of the Negro League. A large format supports revealing portraits of League players and an absorbing narration revealed in nine innings. Endnotes and further readings conclude this memorable and accessible history.

Books by This Illustrator

Jim Thorpe's Bright Path

Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

Product Description: This biography portrays the childhood and school years of the immensely talented Native American athlete, Jim Thorpe (1887—1953). Born in Oklahoma, Thorpe spent his first years exploring the outdoors with his father and twin brother, Charlie. At age six, the boys were sent to an Indian boarding school, which Jim hated. He struggled academically, and his only outlet was sports.

Just the Two of Us

Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: 3-6

Jubilant illustrations show how a father supports his son as he grows into a man and eventually becomes a father himself. The text is from Will Smith's popular song of the same name, and is distinguished by luminous, full-color paintings that make the words sing.

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)
Dramatic full color illustrations (which won a Caldecott Honor) and splendid, poetic language depict the bravery of Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery on a Maryland plantation only to return again and again to help other slaves escape. Deeply religious, Harriet became known as the Moses of her people and a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Testing the Ice

Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: 6-9
Baseball great, Jackie Robinson, never joined his children at the lake near their Connecticut home until the winter he made sure its ice was safe for skating. His daughter recognizes that courage is shown in many ways — from testing ice to breaking the baseball color barrier. Rich illustrations extend this well-told family story.

The Undefeated

Drawings of the faces of many black figures.
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English

Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present.

The Village that Vanished

Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: 6-9

Abikanile and her mother help their Yao village in Africa avoid the slavers, which requires courage and standing together. This original story of resourcefulness and solidarity is told in the tradition of a folktale. Handsomely crafted illustrations echo its mystery and magic.

Thunder Rose

Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: 6-9
"Thunder Rose is an African-American child born on a stormy night abuzz with booming thunder, flashing lightning, and hailing rain. Her parents are awestruck by her remarkable gifts, which include forming a ball out of lightning, speaking in full sentences minutes after her birth, and snoring through a booming, thunderous rumble… Nolen and Nelson offer up a wonderful tale of joy and love, as robust and vivid as the wide West. The oil, watercolor, and pencil artwork is outstanding. A splendid, colorful, and most welcome addition to the tall-tale genre." — School Library Journal

Under the Christmas Tree

Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: 3-6

The joy of Christmas is told from a child's point of view in a series of poems, illustrated with warm and gentle illustrations. The universal pleasure in the season is set in the cozy warmth of a loving family.

Walking on Earth and Touching the Sky: Poetry and Prose by Lakota Youth at Red Cloud Indian School

Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

This is an exceptional poetry collection written by Lakota students in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades at Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The historic school was founded in 1888 at the request of Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Lakota. The poems enable readers to learn about the unique lives and heritage of students growing up in such distinctive circumstances and straddling cultures.

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