The recipient of the Kansas Authors Club Children’s Book Award is Janey Olsen, Famous Artist of the Beach, written and illustrated by H.C. Friesen with original paintings by Grace Baity. Janey Olsen shares with its readers what it means to be an artist. The protagonist, who turns ten during this formative summer vacation, is inspired by her innate desire to create art, and she is supported in her efforts by other artists in her family, including a mother who makes and sells jewelry and a cousin who is an emerging photographer. These are people who understand, take seriously, support, and value this child’s artistic impulses. Janey experiments with different media while aspiring to be recognized at the upcoming Festival of the Arts, and we are privy to her development as we turn the pages of the volume and see the charming and engaging pictures that she is making. Almost every page has some visual enhancement, nurturing and perpetuating the theme of the novel. In the process of honing her craft, Janey learns how to see others more clearly, becoming a kinder and more generous person and learning to value collaboration and community rather than competition. Friesen offers a strong sense of her novel’s setting, North Carolina’s Outer Banks, including visual attributes such as a map, photographs, and evocative illustrations throughout the volume. Moreover, her volume offers wonderful resources in its back matter, including Janey’s own list of tips for “How to Be a Famous Artist of the Beach” as well as Friesen’s rich resource unit for drawing and coloring a lighthouse, among other materials. Beautiful endpapers enhance the total design of her volume. Altogether, this is a well-unified and beautiful book, and its form astutely enhances its themes.
2022 Kansas Authors Club Children’s Book Judge