Animal artwork by Vincenti from Tanzania
"My favorite animal is the lion (Simba in Swahili) because its the king of beasts and it has an awesome mane. In art class, I learned how to paint pictures more realistically by blending colors. I used to draw all the time when I was younger but its knowing how to paint that can make a picture look real. It feels amazing that our work will be in the book and I hope they feel amazed by our talents and that its interesting for them!"
"My favorite African animal to paint is a lion because it’s so beautiful and easy for me to draw (I love tigers for the same reason!). In art class, I have learned carefulness and neatness and to take your time. I feel really good and proud to know that our talent will be known across the world and I hope kids who read the book will get more drawing skills and believe in themselves--they can also do it!"
"My favorite animal to paint is the horse because of the way it moves. I love to paint the hair moving as it runs, but for African animals my favorite is the elephant. I have learned a lot in art class like how to mix different colors but also how to make sure that the animal is in the same position in the painting as it is in the photo you work from. Maybe its running, or walking or just standing, but you have to make sure you are showing those movements and positions. I feel good about my art being featured in a children’s book so that our art can be known to so many children and they can see and learn from us. I hope American kids will get some knowledge about different animals, what they look like, the way they run and eat and do so many things and also learn to believe in themselves that they can do it and do better!"
"My favorite animal is the black panther because they have good hunting skills and I love the movie Black Panther. In art class, I leaned that art is part of my talents, its something I hadn’t really tried before. It feels really great that my work is included in the book and I hope kids everywhere will enjoy it. I hope they will be good artists and learn that art is a good talent to have."
(C) Sleeping Bear Press, 2020
"My favorite animal to paint is the cheetah because it is so fast. In art class, I learned how to paint and blend the colors, but I love the idea of being in the book because I could be a famous artist! I hope that kids in America will be proud of our talent and want to paint just like us"
"My favorite animal is the cheetah. This is because from my childhood I used to hear about its speed, where it is the fastest animal in the world. In art class, I have learned how to sketch and make the drawing proportional without using the grid method. I learned painting and also putting very important details. I also learned how to use different kind of brushes, mixing colors and coming up with different colors. It makes me feel very good to know that my art is being featured in a children's book. I am really proud of that! I really hope American kids will get inspired by the book, feeling enjoyment when reading about African wild animals. And for those who are talented in art, I hope they will get inspired."
"My favorite animal to paint is the cheetah because I love the shape of the body and carefully painting the spots. In art class, I have learned to never give up if the picture looks bad--keep going and it will eventually be all right. I have also learned not to get too excited before you finish your picture because you can mess up the picture. I feel really great that I am in the book and I hope American kids will be excited about it. I hope they will notice that art is a great skill that you can learn."
"I love to paint elephants on sunsets, impalas and cheetahs. These animals are fun for me to draw and paint. In art class, we worked on doing reflections in the water of animals as they walk along and that was really hard. It feels wonderful to be included in the book and I hope all other kids will like it!"
The ten young people interviewed here contributed artwork published in LIONS & CHEETAHS & RHINOS! OH MY!, written by Moira Donohue and John Platt, and published by Sleeping Bear Press. When painting the animal portraits found in the book, they were from 10 to 23 years old and lived in Tanzania, Kenya, and Malawi. They learned how to draw, paint and depict African wildlife from professional artists volunteering with How To Draw A Lion, an art-based education program founded by John Platt, an award-winning New York based artist. How to Draw a Lion is a nonprofit with low overhead that raises funds by hosting art shows with the children's art. Some of the young artists in the program, like Samuel, have gone on to become professional art instructors themselves. Find out more at drawalion.com.
"A successful combination of factual prose and appealing artwork."
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All images used with permission of Sleeping Bear Press
Dionna is a spinner of children's yarns, a weaver of nonfiction articles, and a forever-learner enrolled in the Institute of Imaginative Thinking. She is the author of ORCAS, a photo-supported book for 3rd to 5th graders that can be found in the award-winning Nature's Children series published by Scholastic Press. You'll also find her kidlit work in Cricket, Ladybug, and soon in Highlights for Children. As a freelance journalist, Dionna writes for Charlottesville Family's Bloom, a Parent's Choice winner. She's been an SCBWI Mid-Atlantic member since 2005, and the content editor of her region's SCBWI newsletter, the Highlighter, since 2017. Dionna lives in Virginia with her husband. She is represented by Raven Quill Literary Agency.