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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood. Written by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, with illustrations by Rafael Lopez. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Raincoast. 2016. $23.99 ages 5 and up

"Teachers and papas
jumped in.
Babies  too!
Mira and the man handed
out brush after brush.
Color spread throughout
the streets.
So did joy.
Wherever Mira and the man
went, art followed them like
the string of a kite."

Despite the gray that surrounds her, Mira has an eye for the beauty that art can bring to her neighborhood and the people who live there. Mira loves to 'doodle, draw, color and paint.' She happily shares her creations with those she meets, and even tapes her artistic creations to the nearby drab walls. It helps, but not much!

When she meets a man with a pocketful of paintbrushes she is inquisitive, asking what he sees in these surroundings. He answers, then shows her just exactly what a mural is. Mira is eager to give assistance.

"As the man drew pictures on the bricks,
Mira added color, punch and pizzazz!"

It isn't long until everyone is involved, adding music to the mix and a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the art that so enhances their community and the way they feel about it. In a note from the authors they share that their book is based on a true story.

"At one time, the colorful East Village near downtown San Diego, California, did not have murals on the walls, nor quotes from Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez written on the sidewalks. Benches were not the works of art you can see now, and people living in the area were not part of the vibrant community that they are today."

Rafael Lopez and his wife Candace made the plan, hosting meetings to share ideas and inviting all who would benefit from change in their community. The results of their hard work inspired other communities around the world to do the same. It is fitting that the astonishing illustrations, created with 'a combination of acrylic on wood, original photography, and digital art' are the work of that same Rafael Lopez.

I love the curved lines, the lovely splashes of beautiful, bright color, and the way the book moves from horizontal to vertical! It is as vibrant as I imagine the East Village must be. The human spirit is alive and well on each of its marvellous pages - glowing and proud.

You can go to Rafael Lopez's blog to learn more:

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