Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell
Illustrations by Rafael López
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 16, 2016
Sometimes all you need to make your community a little better is to add a splash of color. For Mira, her neighborhood is drab and gray and so she begins to hand out colorful pictures she has drawn. A flower to the grocer, a butterfly, and a flower taped to a wall. Then she meets a man who is a muralist. He hands Mira a paintbrush and together they turn the East Village of San Diego into something beautiful.
Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, this delightfully bright book is awash with color and emotion. Reminding me of A Curious Garden, this is the story of transformation and what people can do within their own community. I love these kinds of stories, because it is important that children not only see themselves in stories, but can also see a place for themselves in the world. Mira seems to be a fictional character herself, but she is a good foil for children to see themselves in the story. As with any book about art though, it is the illustrations that are integral to the story. Rafael López was integral to the making of the Urban Art Trail, transforming San Diego's East Village where he lived. López's Mexican influences are on every page, having a vague fairy tale mythic quality to them. I simply can't state enough how lovely this book is.