Thursday, December 18, 2014

Friends for Freedom on Publisher's Weekly!

African-American Interest Young Readers Titles, 2014–2015

Friday, November 14, 2014

What's in a name?

Nichole...Nicole...Nickie...Nicky...Nikki?

The spelling of my name–- both my given name and nickname – has been shaped over my lifetime, much to my amusement.

Apparently I've taken liberties with the spelling of my own name since the beginning. "Nichole" was written on the birth certificate by the nurse, who thought of course Nicole had an H. My mother passionately disagreed, and worked for 10 years to have this corrected.

I came across old letters such as this one while working on preserving old family items by scanning. Clearly shows Dad spelled my name this way.


But Mom spelled it "Nickie". This is how she taught me to spell my name, and I happily signed my drawings with it, too.

Sometimes I used both. Was I trying to make both my parents happy?


Mostly I spelled my name "Nickie". When Prince's song Darling Nikki came out in 1984, I adopted this spelling for awhile. When I met a friend who spelled it that way all her life, I returned to the old spelling. I also played with my middle name. I sometimes signed artwork with "Samara Nicole", reversing middle with first name. I even put that as my name on the inside of my high school ring. 

Playing with my name was a form of self-identity. When I became involved in role-playing, here was a chance to play with who I could be. "Meadow" would became my name in those circles of friends for twenty years.

Joining the workforce after college, I dropped my nickname entirely, asking coworkers to only call me Nicole. Easy, since they did not know me. Nicole sounded much more professional than Nickie anyway. When my picture books became published, I used Nicole as well. 

Over twenty books later, the distance and formality of Nicole from Nickie sometimes leaves me with a sense of lonely disconnectedness, and now I savor being called by my nickname by friends and family. No matter how it is spelled.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Reviews: Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass


Kirkus
Two important historical figures from separate worlds come together for the common purpose of freedom.

From the first line of this work of creative nonfiction, the author makes clear the contrasts between Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony: The cabin in which the slave, Frederick, was born had clay floors; the two-story house in which Susan was born had floors of polished wood. Despite differences in race, class and upbringing, Douglass and Anthony determined to be friends despite the taboos against cross-racial friendships. Both Slade’s text and Tadgell’s watercolor illustrations emphasize the passion each had for social justice as well as the lengths to which they both went to maintain their friendship. Often, characters in the background peer at them, looking disgusted or scandalized. In one illustration, enemies throw rotten eggs at them; Douglass’ angry expression and Anthony’s upraised fist speak to their determination to make their friendship an example of how America should be. The backmatter, which includes a photograph of bronze sculptures in Rochester, New York, of Douglass and Anthony having tea together, also offers useful information from the author in which she delineates the facts versus the fiction in the story.

This biographical gem places the spotlight on a friendship far ahead of its time. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-58089-568-2
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Review Posted Online: July 29th, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2014


School Library Journal
Offering a new perspective, this informational picture book details the deep friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. Even though their friendship was taboo for the time period, they were able to withstand prejudice and even violence, including the brawls and fights that broke out when the two spoke against slavery together, and being pelted with rotten eggs. The illustrations are simple and realistic, focusing on the strength of their rapport. The author eloquently weaves together information about the fight against slavery and the battle for women's rights, setting this title apart from others. An extensive author's note provides more information on research and on the bronze sculpture of Anthony and Douglass in Rochester, New York. A solid addition that will spark conversations about gender and racial equality.

Publishers Weekly - Starred Review
At a time when “it wasn’t proper for women to be friends with men” and “You weren’t supposed to be friends with someone whose skin was a different color,” Anthony and Douglass sought out each other based on mutual respect and a shared commitment toward equality. Tadgell’s carefully drafted and evocative watercolors capture both the past and present obstacles Anthony and Douglass faced, from Douglass’s youth as a slave to rotten eggs hurled at the two when they appeared in public together and combative differences of opinion, as when the Fifteenth Amendment proposed to give voting rights to black men but not to women. Author and artist notes and a time line conclude a powerful testament to a friendship that spanned decades as it challenged conventions and “helped America grow up, too.” Ages 6–9. Illustrator’s agent: Christina A. Tugeau. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/2014

Release date: 09/09/2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Reviews: With Books and Bricks: The Story of How Booker T. Washington Built a School


School Library Journal
Slade, Suzanne. With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School. illus. by Nicole Tadgell. 32p. bibliog. notes. Albert Whitman. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807508978. 

K-Gr 2–Booker T. Washington is a well-known historical figure, but the story of how he built the Tuskegee Institute by hand is not quite as common. This picture book brings the tale to light accessibly and engagingly. Young readers are sure to marvel at the accomplishments of Washington and his perseverance in spite of obstacles. The story is told simply, with beautiful watercolor and pencil illustrations. An endnote goes into more detail about Washington’s life and struggle to bring education to all. While this is not an all-encompassing biography, it is certainly a notable story about a lesser-known aspect of his life. Readers will enjoy this title, and it will easily tie in to school units as an enticing read-aloud. 

–Ellen Norton, White Oak Library District, Crest Hill, IL


Bookpage.com
LABOR OF LOVE
History comes alive in Suzanne Slade and Nicole Tadgell’s With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School, an engaging overview of the life of the legendary educator. Washington’s dreams begin early, during his boyhood as a slave. A glimpse of sentences on a chalkboard in the white kids’ classroom sparks his desire to learn. Washington pursues his goal as slavery ends, teaching himself to read and graduating from an institution in Virginia. From there, his dreams get bigger, as he sets out to build a first-class school for blacks from scratch—literally—out of Alabama clay. With the help of students and supporters, he makes his vision a reality, establishing the world-renowned Tuskegee Institute. Tadgell’s softly realistic pencil and watercolor illustrations add special appeal to this tale of a tireless leader whose legacy can still be felt today. This article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of BookPage.
http://bookpage.com/features/17079-real-life-heroes-teach-young-readers-to-reach-stars#.VCBCKOc585J


BCCB (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
SLADE, SUZANNE With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School; illus. by Nicole Tadgell. Whitman, 2014 [32p]
ISBN 978-0-8075-0897-8 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys
R 6-9 yrs

Former slave Booker T. Washington’s childhood and single-minded quest for an education has been the subject of several picture-book biographies, but here Slade highlights a precise episode in Washington’s later life, when he arrived at Tuskegee, Alabama as an educator and discovered he had no proper building in which to teach. The leaky wooden edifice, crammed with students, needed to be replaced with a sturdy brick building, but there were no bricks and no money with which to buy them. The solution, so obvious to Washington but so trying for his students, was to make their own bricks. This required digging deep for Alabama clay, mixing it with mud and straw, molding it, and firing the bricks in a homemade kiln. The first batch of thousands of bricks were lost to a faulty kiln, as was the next batch, and the next. At this point, Washington knew a proper kiln was required, and he sold his own precious gold watch for it. The bricks were fired, the first of many buildings was erected, and the rest is Tuskegee Institute history. Slade supplies enough background on Washington’s childhood to provide context but keeps the focus mostly on this single event, putting further information on the institute itself into closing notes. Tadgell’s watercolor illustrations are literal enough to offer viewers a sense of place and process, while a recurrent rainbow theme—most effectively used to illuminate Washington’s features as he teaches under an umbrella in a rainstorm—reminds them of the elusiveness of Washington’s dream. Quotation sources and a short bibliography are included. EB

With Books and Bricks NEW Review by BCCB (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)

BCCB (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)

SLADE, SUZANNE With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School; illus. by Nicole Tadgell. Whitman, 2014 [32p]
ISBN 978-0-8075-0897-8 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys
R 6-9 yrs


Former slave Booker T. Washington’s childhood and single-minded quest for an education has been the subject of several picture-book biographies, but here Slade highlights a precise episode in Washington’s later life, when he arrived at Tuskegee, Alabama as an educator and discovered he had no proper building in which to teach. The leaky wooden edifice, crammed with students, needed to be replaced with a sturdy brick building, but there were no bricks and no money with which to buy them. The solution, so obvious to Washington but so trying for his students, was to make their own bricks. This required digging deep for Alabama clay, mixing it with mud and straw, molding it, and firing the bricks in a homemade kiln. The first batch of thousands of bricks were lost to a faulty kiln, as was the next batch, and the next. At this point, Washington knew a proper kiln was required, and he sold his own precious gold watch for it. The bricks were fired, the first of many build- ings was erected, and the rest is Tuskegee Institute history. Slade supplies enough background on Washington’s childhood to provide context but keeps the focus mostly on this single event, putting further information on the institute itself into closing notes. Tadgell’s watercolor illustrations are literal enough to offer viewers a sense of place and process, while a recurrent rainbow theme—most effectively used to illuminate Washington’s features as he teaches under an umbrella in a rainstorm—reminds them of the elusiveness of Washington’s dream. Quotation sources and a short bibliography are included. EB

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

With Books and Bricks - How Booker T. Washington Built a School

With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School by Suzanne Slade. Albert Whitman & Co. 2014. 978-0807508978








Booker T. Washington had an incredible passion for learning. Born a slave, he taught himself to read. When the Civil War ended, Booker finally fulfilled his dream of attending school. After graduation, he was invited to teach in Tuskegee, Alabama. Finding many eager students but no school, Booker set out to build his own school--brick by brick. An afterword gives detailed information on how the school was built.

Full text of reviews here.
Coloring pages here.




Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Portfolio III

Fall Friends

With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School by Suzanne Slade.

Mystery Feather

Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass by Suzanne Slade.

Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass by Suzanne Slade.

Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass by Suzanne Slade.

Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass by Suzanne Slade.

With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School by Suzanne Slade.

Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass by Suzanne Slade.

Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass by Suzanne Slade.

Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass by Suzanne Slade.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wheaton College makes an appearance in Friends for Freedom!

When women were allowed to attend college (not just female seminaries and finishing schools) I of course thought showing my alma mater would be most appropriate. :)
I worked from a photo of Mary Lyon from the Wheaton archives for this illustration.

I still miss you...


Monday, September 22, 2014

New review for With Books and Bricks!

"LABOR OF LOVE
History comes alive in Suzanne Slade and Nicole Tadgell’s With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School, an engaging overview of the life of the legendary educator. Washington’s dreams begin early, during his boyhood as a slave. A glimpse of sentences on a chalkboard in the white kids’ classroom sparks his desire to learn. Washington pursues his goal as slavery ends, teaching himself to read and graduating from an institution in Virginia. From there, his dreams get bigger, as he sets out to build a first-class school for blacks from scratch—literally—out of Alabama clay. With the help of students and supporters, he makes his vision a reality, establishing the world-renowned Tuskegee Institute. Tadgell’s softly realistic pencil and watercolor illustrations add special appeal to this tale of a tireless leader whose legacy can still be felt today. This article was originally published in the September 2014 issue of BookPage."

http://bookpage.com/features/17079-real-life-heroes-teach-young-readers-to-reach-stars#.VCBCKOc585J

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Friends for Freedom Launches Today!

Book Birthday!
Author copies arrived in the mail just in time for the big day!
 So many months of hard work, and finally the book is arriving to the world today! I think back on the earliest drafts:
early rough sketch

Finished art
Early rough sketch

Finished art


...to the finished art, and often things change dramatically, but the spirit of the scene stays the same. I really love how this book turned out. I feel that I've helped bring two historical figures to life for kids to learn & hopefully inspire them to read further about how both Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony helped change America – in part, by simply being friends.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Early work found!

When Mom said come get your stuff, I thought I had taken everything when I moved out already. Turns out there was some art I did that was still hanging around, and not going with her. So I took some photos & scans to remember them. Space wins over nostalgia - unless anyone wants 'em, they're going to the recycle bin!



The land of happy trees! A study done after watching Bill Alexander. Around 1980. Acrylic on canvas board.
Watercolor. This one won a ribbon in Norton Middle School contest. My teacher was Mrs. Gagnon.
Long Island Back Yard. Watercolor. About 1982. This one was painted from a photo. I remember how I felt while painting this. We had moved from LI to Norton, MA and I was homesick.
The Dirt Road, Paved. 1980-1990? Oil on canvas board.

Maple or Sycamore tree in the yard at the house in Norton, MA. Around 1981-82 I think was acrylic, on canvas board.



This is a study from another artist. Does anyone know who she is? I'd love to look her up. I copied several of her works to study how she treated light. Oil on canvas board, 18x24.

1984. Another study from a magazine. Learned how to paint transparent bubbles. Oil on canvas board, 18x24.


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Starred review from Publishers Weekly!

Wonderful to hear this!

Publishers Weekly
At a time when “it wasn’t proper for women to be friends with men” and “You weren’t supposed to be friends with someone whose skin was a different color,” Anthony and Douglass sought out each other based on mutual respect and a shared commitment toward equality. Tadgell’s carefully drafted and evocative watercolors capture both the past and present obstacles Anthony and Douglass faced, from Douglass’s youth as a slave to rotten eggs hurled at the two when they appeared in public together and combative differences of opinion, as when the Fifteenth Amendment proposed to give voting rights to black men but not to women. Author and artist notes and a time line conclude a powerful testament to a friendship that spanned decades as it challenged conventions and “helped America grow up, too.” Ages 6–9. Illustrator’s agent: Christina A. Tugeau. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/2014
Release date: 09/09/2014


http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-58089-568-2

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Coloring Pages for Friends for Freedom!

Coloring Pages are ready! Teachers & parents, feel free to download & print for the kids.





Tuesday, August 19, 2014

School Library Journal reviews With Books and Bricks!

Always nice to read a review from School Library Journal!


Slade, Suzanne. With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School. illus. by Nicole Tadgell. 32p. bibliog. notes. Albert Whitman. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807508978. 

K-Gr 2–Booker T. Washington is a well-known historical figure, but the story of how he built the Tuskegee Institute by hand is not quite as common. This picture book brings the tale to light accessibly and engagingly. Young readers are sure to marvel at the accomplishments of Washington and his perseverance in spite of obstacles. The story is told simply, with beautiful watercolor and pencil illustrations. An endnote goes into more detail about Washington’s life and struggle to bring education to all. While this is not an all-encompassing biography, it is certainly a notable story about a lesser-known aspect of his life. Readers will enjoy this title, and it will easily tie in to school units as an enticing read-aloud. 

–Ellen Norton, White Oak Library District, Crest Hill, IL


Monday, August 18, 2014

Tardis Sneakers Update

Here's my followup of how they are getting worn:
Shoes are now getting broken in.

Color has remained very nice!

The paint is cracking a bit where the shoes flex. And they are beginning to get dirty. :)

Overall, I think they are aging nicely! If I were to do this again, I think I would only use one coat of acrylic sealer so it would be less shiny.



And I also found some old sketches of the idea process:


Friday, August 08, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Friends for Freedom!

A very nice Kirkus Review!

Two important historical figures from separate worlds come together for the common purpose of freedom.
From the first line of this work of creative nonfiction, the author makes clear the contrasts between Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony: The cabin in which the slave, Frederick, was born had clay floors; the two-story house in which Susan was born had floors of polished wood. Despite differences in race, class and upbringing, Douglass and Anthony determined to be friends despite the taboos against cross-racial friendships. Both Slade’s text and Tadgell’s watercolor illustrations emphasize the passion each had for social justice as well as the lengths to which they both went to maintain their friendship. Often, characters in the background peer at them, looking disgusted or scandalized. In one illustration, enemies throw rotten eggs at them; Douglass’ angry expression and Anthony’s upraised fist speak to their determination to make their friendship an example of how America should be. The backmatter, which includes a photograph of bronze sculptures in Rochester, New York, of Douglass and Anthony having tea together, also offers useful information from the author in which she delineates the facts versus the fiction in the story.
This biographical gem places the spotlight on a friendship far ahead of its time. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)


https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/suzanne-slade/friends-for-freedom/

Tuesday, July 01, 2014



Newest arrival! An advance copy of Friends for Freedom arrived - with a lovely note from the folks at Charlesbridge.

Check out the Facebook page I made for this book!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lee and Low's New Visions Award!

Lee and Low's New Visions contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a middle grade or young adult novel published.
Manuscripts will be accepted now through October 31, 2014. The winner of the New Visions Award will receive a grant of $1000 and our standard publication contract. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash grant of $500. For further details, including full eligibility and submission guidelines, please visit the New Visions Award page.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

CBC Diversity Event

I was honored to be asked to be a part of the CBC "Speed Dating" Diversity event at Simmons on May 14th. Met a lot of good people and many good discussions began. We can only move forward!

There is a new blossom of diversity awareness recently – appearing on tumblr, and on twitter, and Grace Lin, Walter Dean Myers, Zetta Elliot and interviews here. Controversy over lack of representation at BEA, and most recently, a new article on 10 YA books adults must read only consisted of white characters.



Friday, May 02, 2014

School Visits

I love to visit schools! Unfortunately, because I work full-time, I don't get to do many of them. My favorite thing to do is visit just one or two classrooms and let kids get up close & personal with original artwork. We'll draw together, and I do a painting demonstration.
For older kids, larger groups and/or college students, I can also do a powerpoint presentation. Your school would need to have a computer, projector, and a microphone for large groups.
Feel free to email me for this fall semester to schedule your visit: ntadgell at gmail dot com.

Happy drawing!