You Gotta Meet Mr. Pierce! The Storied Life of Folk Artist Elijah Pierce by Chiquita Mullins Lee and Carmella Van Vleet, illustrated by Jennifer Mack-Watkins

Published by Kokila

Summary:  In this fictionalized story about real-life artist Elijah Pierce, a boy and his dad enter Mr. Pierce’s barbershop.  The shop is full of wood carvings, and Mr. Pierce is happy to share stories about his life and art.  The boy has some new colored pencils and is trying to get an idea for a picture.  Mr. Pierce tells him how his art often came from stories, whether they were from his own life, the Bible, or something someone told him.  After the haircut and the stories are finished, Mr. Pierce gives the boy a carved elephant.  “I think I know what I want to draw…” he says as he and his dad leave the shop.  The final page shows a father and son (I think the father is the boy who is now grown up) about to enter a museum with an exhibit of Elijah Pierce’s work.  Just like the dad at the beginning of the story, the man tells his son, “You gotta meet Mr. Pierce!”  Includes a timeline of Elijah Pierce’s honors, additional information about the exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., places to see Elijah’s work, and notes from the author and illustrator with additional information about Elijah Pierce, the book, and the illustrations.  40 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  A charming story about a little-known artist who will get some well-deserved recognition with this book.  The fictional format is engaging, and the folk-art inspired illustrations are the perfect complement.

Cons:  I found the ending a little confusing, as I couldn’t figure out what the boy had decided to draw, and I wasn’t sure who was pictured on the last page. 

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