Alithia Ramirez Was an Artist

Brown Books/Michael Sampson. Oct. 2023. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781612546490.
PreS-Gr 3–A heartbreaking and beautiful memoir about Alithia Ramirez, a gifted and resilient artist with dreams, who died in the Uvalde, TX, school tragedy. Focusing on her life and artistry, Ramirez’s story shows how her creativity and imagination started as a toddler. She used different types of media, suffered the pangs of others wrecking her art supplies, taught art to kids, and used her life for inspiration. Ramirez experienced frustration but pushed through it and hoped to study art in Paris. Lemay shares how “Ramirez wasn’t a camera,” but an artist, for “her voice was in her heart and in her hands.” Lemay indicates Ramirez’s death indirectly, by sharing how a person lives on through their art, an idea that connects lovingly to the artist. A descriptive author’s note and art citations details how, with parental permission, Ramirez’s artwork is digitally incorporated throughout. On a spread that shows Ramirez drawing when she’s happy and sad, it’s Ramirez’s original art on each canvas. Lemay’s mixed media art features bold colors and clean lines that seamlessly incorporate the subject’s artistic style in a true tribute. Characters are racially diverse. Additional back matter includes a “Let’s Talk” section with discussion questions around art and managing frustration, hopes, and dreams.
VERDICT A powerful story of how one person makes an impact, even when interrupted by violence; this title is recommended for all.

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