While I knew who Jerry Pinkney was, I was not familiar with his personal life. But Just Jerry: How Drawing Shaped My Life is a lovely memoir that highlights the important and beautiful parts of his life as he made his journey to becoming the artist we know today. His memoir, starting off with a note from the editor, is something that is more than an autobiography. It is a look at parts of the life of a man who would win awards and show the world that a “colored kid” could make it.
The thing I enjoyed most about this book is that it is honest, but hopeful. We see the racism of the time, but we see how Jerry didn’t’ let that get him down. But how it did shape his thoughts. We probably don’t see the worst of it, but we do see the doubts he has, the hopes and dreams, and the relationship with his family, friends and the neighborhood. We see how he became who he was meant to be. And all the while, dealing with the hardships such as dyslexia, racism, and interesting relationships with his father, mother and siblings. When he has some lucky encounters, and important ways to use drawing to help him grow, his determination is what it took to make the artist. The inspiration of his journey is relatable to all.
Having read as an online reader copy, I need a finished edition to see how the artwork is, as things are mostly unfinished looking sketches. Pinkney passed before things were finished, therefore I wish to compare the two to see what changes were made. Overall, this is a wonderful book that allows the reader to feel as if they are reading fiction, but having the joy of knowing it is nonfiction and there was someone this cool out there.