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Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song
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Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  104 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Ashley's autobiography is full of art, photographs, and the poignant never-say-never tale of his rich life, a life that has always included drawing and painting. Even as a boy growing up during the Depression, he painted -- finding cast off objects to turn into books and kites and toy and art. Even as a solder in the segregated Army on the beaches of Normandy, he sketched ...more
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Jun 21, 2012 Maira rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
Ashley Bryan: Words to my Life's Song was received the 2010 Golden Kite Award for non-fiction. This was one of the most amazing biographies I had read. There are times where I can see biographies boring students, but this man's story and illustrations are beyond amazing!I think this book would be most suitable for students in grades 3+.

It was enough information to tell Ashley Bryan's life and yet grasp the students attention. (some biographies can be very long which tend to lose students after
Mike Romesburg
Sep 01, 2013 Mike Romesburg rated it it was amazing
Theme: "Multicultural Artists and Librarians"

Ashley Brian uses this book to describe his entire life (childhood, teen years, adulthood). He even discusses family members and key events in the history of our country that he lived through (Great Depression). The main takeaway I have from this story is that life is what we make it. Mr. Bryan did not always get his way with his life experiences, but he continued to chase his dreams and appreciate what he did have. Ultimately, he became an amazing au
I was lucky enough to hear Ashley Bryan speak at a conference a few years ago.

Young artists booktalk note: p. 51, painting outside. "I love painting outdoors from the landscape, when weather permits. Later in the day I return to my studio and work on my book projects. At times I turn to work on a puppet or a glass panel. Each activity taps into a different level of energy that allows me to extend my working day. I don't regard visits of family and friends as interruptions. Everything feeds into
Aug 24, 2009 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Both autobiography and guided tour of Bryan's beloved Little Cranberry Island, this is an exuberant portrayal of the life and work of a prolific artist, story-teller, poetry-singer, and winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder award for his body of work for children. This can be read in various ways . There's the straight-forward narrative of Bryan's long and creative life, with examples of his illustrations and Bill McGuinnes's photos of him at work and with children, and the day-long tour of his ...more
Adele Ames
Sep 03, 2013 Adele Ames rated it it was amazing
An autobiography about and amazing philanthropist, humanitarian, artist, writer, puppeteer, who lives on a tiny island off the coast of Maine.

I nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Dec 04, 2012 Gabrielle rated it really liked it
Ashley Bryan’s autobiography had an inspiring artistic theme. This is why I want to nominate his book for an Honor Book. His book is layed out as a scrapbook would be, it is simple but rich in details. He includes photos throughout his life, art pieces he has done, documents, and bright colors. Bryan’s family life was very close knit and they were all very supportive of each other. Bryan describes that he always loved to paint since he was a child. He got into an Art School where the students ...more
Another winner of a book from Ashley Bryan. I liked this so much I ordered my own copy. Bryan grew up during the Depression Era, but his family was happy and seemed to make the most of their circumstances. His parents, born in Antigua on the island of St. John, immigrated to Brooklyn and lived in a small apartment with their six kids and three orphaned nieces and nephews. The way Bryan describes his home and his parents is almost magical. His mother sang from morning until night. His parents ...more
Kim Tyo-Dickerson
What is beautiful to me about this deceptively rich picture book memoir, aside from the glorious illustrations and examples of Bryan's found artwork, are the ways he connects his childhood passions with his adult passions. It's the story of someone who always recognized and valued himself. Like the sea glass and bleached bones he scavenges from the shores of his home, nothing is lost or wasted in his life. Everything has a purpose for his art, there is beauty and meaning in every experience. For ...more
Dec 05, 2012 Ed added it
Bryan, Ashley. (2009). Words to my life’s song. New York: Atheneum/Simon & Schuster. 58 pp. ISBN 978-1-4169-0541-7 (Hardcover); $18.99

Anyone who has met Ashley Bryan or heard him speak will appreciate this gorgeous autobiography. Filled with marvelous photographs (by Bill Meguinness) of Bryan’s home on Little Cranberry Island in Maine and pictures from some of the books he has illustrated (more than 30) for children, this book is a celebration not only of Bryan’s thoughtful gentleness, but h
David Korsak
This book is about the author’s life story. He tells of his life Journey’s from his happy childhood in a Bronx apartment that his parents filled with children, birds, and flowers, through his adulthood encountering war and prejudice, always buffered by his art. He explains his journey to Norway and how he lived in a hole his first night there. He kept his art supplies safe by putting them in his gas mask. All of his tribulations are told in a matter-of-fact tone that belies the difficulties he ...more
Jul 10, 2009 Raina rated it liked it
Shelves: j, nonfic, biographical
Biography of the successful children's book illustrator and artist. The book alternates between telling stories of Bryan's life and showing snapshots of his current life in the Cranberry Islands of Maine. Nice mix of artist lifestyle and historical issues. Race crops up, as well as his close relationships with his family. I think kids will notice that he never mentions any kind of romance or children of his own, but I kind of enjoy that. It really focuses on his journey as a working artist. ...more
L11_Ryanne Szydlik
This is an autobiography about Ashley Bryan, a talented illustrator who grew up during the great depression. In his autobiography, Bryan starts with his childhood. While growing up in Brooklyn New York during the hardest economic times, Bryan had a supportive family who encouraged his artistic abilities. On graduating high school, Ashley Bryan went out to find an art college that would accept him. He was denied not because he was not skilled, but because he was was not a white student. This did ...more
Jennifer Varela
Apr 30, 2014 Jennifer Varela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tl-307, non-fiction
Words to My Life’s Song by Ashley Bryan is a picture book autobiography about the fascinating and authentic life of Ashley Bryan. In this book, the readers finds about the Bryan’s incredible spirit which he represents through his artwork. He carried his artwork close to his heart throughout his whole life. The book is in chronological order so it starts with his childhood and lets the reader learn about how he had depression growing up and this pretty much opened his immense love for art. It ...more
Jesse McMorris
Dec 06, 2015 Jesse McMorris rated it it was ok
Words to my life’s song is an autobiography about Ashley Bryant an author/ illustrator. It is about the struggles and trails he had to go through. If it was growing up in the great depression and how hard it was to come by art supplies to how dealing with racism. Even though he fought over seas he still had to do with racism from others. When he applied for art school he was the best choice, but the admissions said that they would not waste the scholarship on someone who was black. He finally ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Ashley Bryan here tells the story of how he became a writer and illustrator of children's books in alternating pages with a tour of his home and neighborhood on Little Cranberry Island, Maine. He has led an interesting life in several countries, and was also a Black soldier in World War II, serving at the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. I've never cared much for his artwork, but I do love the stained seaglass pictures he's made--I'd love to see those in person! He also talks about how his ...more
Children's Literature Project
DRA:? Reading level: grades 2-6.

In his autobiography, Bryan reveals that even as a boy growing up during the Depression, he painted made kites and books out of thrown off objects. As a solder in the segregated Army on the beaches of Normandy, he sketched with charcoal crayons and paper he kept in his gasmask. He tells that although he was considered a talented, visionary artist, he was turned away from college upon arrival, because of the color of his skin. Despite of many hardships in his life
Maddie Sharp
Apr 28, 2014 Maddie Sharp rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tl307
Words to My Life’s Song by Ashley Bryan is an picture book autobiography about the amazing life of Ashley Bryan. We learned about Bryan’s remarkable spirit and his artwork that was very dear to him throughout is lifetime. The book opens with his childhood and his life growing up in the depression and the beginning of his passion for art. Then his life as a soldier in the battle of Normandy beach where he kept charcoal and paper in his gasmask to draw during lulls in battle. After applying and ...more
Brooke Jenkins
I appreciated the beautiful artwork and photography present in this book. It was truly authentic to display his plethora of art as illustrations. I also enjoyed how the book paralleled the telling of his past with the reality of his present. Perhaps my favorite part of this book was that it was truly historical in the sense that it touched on multiple historical events. For example, this book could easily be used an African American biographical study or to teach about race segregation of ...more
Jul 26, 2009 Jenn rated it liked it
Shelves: maine, 50books_poc, 2009
What an incredibly inspirational life artist Ashley Bryan has had. This book is a collage of photographs, examples of his art in many mediums (beach glass stained glass, found object sculptures, paintings and illustrations), and his story, and the whole is a unique, lovely autobiography for kids. I love everything he has to say about following one's passion and making a space for creativity in one's life. His Maine home and studio are supposed to be amazing, and oh, this book only reinforces my ...more
Jul 08, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Ashley Bryan walks along the beaches of Cranberry Island to share his song. Inspiration surrounded him from an early age—fruit, Impressionists’ artwork, caged birds, city trash. He had an ongoing desire to consume education throughout his life, and he always shared it with others. He always gave back and appreciated where he came from and those that helped him on his path. What others saw as trash, he made into beautiful, unique pieces of art. He took what he was given and made it flourish.
Aug 12, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful book--a sort of autobiography of this award-winning illustrator. Very inspirational. I liked that the book showcased the wide range of Bryan's artistic talents. His paintings and drawings are superb. However, it seemed to be more than one book. The parallel narratives of Bryan walking along the beach (in prose-like descriptions) along with his life's story told in words, illustrations, and other ephemera is a little odd and choppy. I don't think it would appeal to younger ...more
Angela Williams
Dec 16, 2009 Angela Williams rated it it was amazing
Grades 2nd & up

Bryan uses photographs from his hometown to tell the story of his life. The text is easy to read and uses words that can be understood by younger children. Children will enjoy the simple pictures as well and how art played a role in Bryans career choices.

Art/Social Studies

Lesson idea: collect various materials such as buttons, shells, and sticks to make a doll of their own.
Feb 18, 2009 Mandy rated it really liked it
The visual presentation of this book is its greatest strength. I liked the mix of illustrations and photographs as well as the variations in text size and color.

I wonder if the way the present-day walk along the beach and the information about Bryan's life are intermingled will be confusing for kids.
Feb 05, 2012 Robynn rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed this book he created to tell the story of his life in words, photos and drawings. What a very special man. He is the winner of this years Coretta Scott King Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jan 29, 2016 Amanda rated it really liked it
I really liked this one. I like artist biographies because you get to see the moments in their youths that inspired them or made them realize the role art would play in their lives. This one's no different.
Apr 17, 2010 Bethany rated it it was amazing
I really like the work that Ashley Bryan does, and I have heard his poetry is amazing to listen to. When I heard that this book was on the Maine Student Book Award List for 2010-2011, I rushed to the library to check this book out (:.<3.(:.
Shadra Strickland
Nov 28, 2010 Shadra Strickland rated it really liked it
This is a great biography for children. You can feel the inspiration oozing from each page. As an adult, I would have liked more information, but this is a perfectly suitable book for younger readers.
Ⓛeah ✿εїз✾
Jan 03, 2011 Ⓛeah ✿εїз✾ rated it did not like it
If you know me you know I'm an obsessive about reading, like the MSBA list every year this was one of thoes books and that is the only reason I read it.
Jan 13, 2009 Alison rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book, 5k
A WONDERFUL book that aptly captures the remarkable spirit of and events in this tremendous man's life. Like Ashley himself, this book shines.
Aug 03, 2009 Rachel rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the artwork in this book, but the narrative jumped around and was sometimes hard to follow.
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Ashley Bryan is an illustrator, children's author, and poet.
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