The Show Must Go On! Actors, Musicians, and Other Creative Folks

In the midst of Hollywood’s award season, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the glitz and glamour of famous stars. Famous actors and actresses walk the red carpet in beautiful designer outfits. Famous musicians put on spectacular shows during Grammy performances, sold-out concerts, and Super Bowl half-time shows. Famous authors and painters might not always get as much time in the limelight, but they still produce entertaining and thoughtful pieces of literature and art. If you’ve ever wondered how these famous people got started, look no further! Browse the list of books below to discover the humble beginnings and fascinating inspirations of some of the world’s greatest artists.

To find more children’s books about famous artists, please use our online catalog and search subject terms similar to “artists” and “juvenile” or “musicians” and “juvenile” in the advanced search boxes. Feel free to use whatever artistic career you’re interested in and see what inspiring books you find in our S-Collection.

Actors and Actresses

Cardillo, Margaret.
Just Being Audrey. 2011.
This enchanting tale features colorful illustrations that truly bring to life the tale of Audrey Hepburn’s journey to fame. With childhood dreams of becoming Europe’s top ballerina, Audrey is faced with a multitude of road blocks that lead her to the world of acting instead. An incredibly delightful read.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. H5292c]

Michelson, Richard.
Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy. 2016.
True to its title, this book tells the fascinating life of Leonard Nimoy and his journey to starring in one of the most popular television shows of all time: Star Trek. From a young age, Nimoy loved to perform, but his parents wanted him to set his sights on a more practical career, like becoming a musician. Nimoy never quit on his dream and did everything in his power to reach the stardom he always knew he was capable of achieving.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. N713m]

Yoo, Paula.
Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story. 2009.
An inspiring story of how famous actress Anna May Wong overcame racism and adversity in Hollywood to proudly represent people of Asian descent on film. Disgusted with being cast in stereotypical roles and watching white actors perform in “yellow face,” Anna May Wong moves from California to China to act in roles that respectfully and truthfully represent her culture.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. W84y]


Herkert, Barbara.
Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter. 2015.
With simple text and beautiful impressionist-style illustrations, this book dives into the life of Mary Cassatt, a champion for female empowerment in the art world. Overcoming adversity as a woman in the 1800s, Mary proves that anyone can create beautiful, inspiring art.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. C343h]

Rubin, Susan Goldman.
Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter. 2006.
Full of bold colors, family photographs, and pictures of Andy’s art, this book tells the story of Andy Warhol’s life, from a young boy from Pittsburgh who loved to draw to the wildly famous, eccentric artist who turned a Campbell’s soup can into a world-renowned painting.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. W275r]

Rubin, Susan Goldman.
Edward Hopper: Painter of Light and Shadow. 2007.
The story of famous artist Edward Hopper’s life and maturation as an artist in the early half of 20th Century America. Each page includes pictures of Hopper’s drawings and paintings, starting from his earliest sketches to his most famous painting, Nighthawks.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. H798r]

Winter, Jonah.
Frida. 2002.
The inspiring story of Frida Khalo’s incredible resilience. After suffering from a bus accident that nearly killed her, Frida endured the constant pain that enveloped her body by escaping through her art. As the daughter of a photographer and painter, Frida learned a love of art from her father and let her imagination lead her life. A simple yet beautiful read.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S. 759.972 W734f]


Golio, Gary.
When Bob Met Woody: The Story of the Young Bob Dylan. 2011.
A story that proves the truly life-changing effects of folk music. Whenever he felt alone or sad, Bob Dylan channeled his emotions into the music he listened to and performed. Never deterred by his humble beginnings, Bob strove to make his idol, Hank Williams, proud by singing songs about the honest struggles of life. Complete with quotes from Bob and stunning illustrations throughout.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. D996g]

Reich, Susanna.
Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles. 2015.
With space dedicated to each of the member’s childhoods and backgrounds, this book tells the story of how the Beatles let their shared passion for music change the history of the music scene forever. An incredibly interesting read for anyone who loves these British icons.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S.782.421660922 R2711f]

Russell-Brown, Katheryn.
Little Melba and Her Big Trombone. 2014.
A bright and colorful tale of Melba Liston’s journey to stardom as a female trombone player. As a little girl, Melba loved jazz music and knew she was meant to play the trombone. She gracefully overcame racist and sexist comments that people directed toward her for being a black woman touring the country in a jazz band. She let her voice be heard through her trombone and played along fellow famous musicians across the world.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. L698r]

Winter, Jonah.
How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz. 2015.
A magical telling of the life and accomplishments of Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe (famously known as Jelly Roll Morton). Complete with song lyrics, a “recipe for jazz,” and an inviting second-person narration, the story of this “father of jazz” is a true delight.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. M889w]


Burleigh, Robert.
Langston’s Train Ride. 2004.
Written in first-person point of view, this beautiful story lets readers enter the mind of a young Langston Hughes as he finds inspiration for his famous poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” With stunning visual and verbal artistry throughout, this book offers a unique look at this famous poet’s early life and works.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. L285b]

Krull, Kathleen.
Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumphs in the Life of L. Frank Baum. 2008.
A dazzling tale of L. Frank Baum’s life, starting from his golden childhood to the everyday adventures he found as inspiration while writing his best-selling children’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. A great story that reminds you to always keep a sense of wonder and a love for adventure.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. B327k]

Landmann, Bimba.
In Search of the Little Prince: The Story of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. 2014.
A lovely telling of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s remarkable life as an adventurous, daring pilot and author. As a young boy, Antoine was fascinated by airplanes and the ability to fly, so he dedicated his life to becoming a pilot. From fighting in both world wars to transporting international mail to writing about his terrific adventures, Antoine lived his life to the absolute fullest.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. S137l]

Wallner, Alexandra.
Beatrix Potter. 1995.
From playing with her family’s pet rabbit, Peter, to becoming England’s self-professed expert on mushrooms, Beatrix surrounded herself with nature and loved to write about and paint her surroundings. As a woman in the late 19th to early 20th Century, however, Beatrix faced a lot of sexist critics who didn’t take her writing seriously. Beatrix was never deterred, however, and she went on to write dozens of delightful children’s stories that are still loved today.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. P866w]

Children’s Books Written by Authors Famous for Writing Adult Fiction

Did you know that suspense writer Dean Koontz wrote poetry for children? Or that Nobel prize winning author Toni Morrison collaborated with her son to create children’s picture books? Increasingly more authors primarily known for their adult works are entering the field of children’s literature and penning picture books, poetry, and young adult novels. Look to see if your favorite author is among the following writers who have recently released a book for children or young adults.

Abrahams, Peter
Down the Rabbit Hole: an Echo Falls Mystery. 2005.
Like her idol Sherlock Holmes, eighth grader Ingrid Levin-Hill uses her intellect to solve a murder case in her home town of Echo Falls.
[Education Storage: S. Ab82d]

Alexie, Sherman
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. 2007.
Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
[Education S Collection: S. AL2752a]

Allende, Isabel
Kingdom of the Golden Dragon. 2004.
Sixteen-year-old Alexander Cold accompanies his grandmother, a writer for a geography magazine, to the remote Forbidden Kingdom in the Himalayas to help locate a sacred statue of a golden dragon before it is stolen by a greedy outsider.
[Education S Collection: S. Al547k]

Alvarez, Julia
The Secret Footprints. 2000.
A story based on Dominican folklore, about the Ciguapas, a tribe of beautiful underwater people whose feet are attached backwards, with their toes pointing in the direction from which they have come.
[Education S Collection: Q. S.398.2 Al86s]

Angelou, Maya
My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me. 1994.
A South African girl describes her pet chicken, painting special designs on her house, dressing up for school, and her mischievous brother.
[Education S Collection: S.704.042 AN43M]

Barry, Dave and Pearson, Ridley
Peter and the Starcatchers. 2004.
Soon after Peter, an orphan, sets sail from England on the ship Never Land, he befriends and assists Molly, a young Starcatcher, whose mission is to guard a trunk of magical stardust from a greedy pirate and the native inhabitants of a remote island.
[Center for Children’s Books: S. B279p]

Chabon, Michael
Summerland. 2002.
Ethan Feld, the worst baseball player in the history of the game, finds himself recruited by a 100-year-old scout to help a band of fairies triumph over an ancient enemy.
[Education S Collection: S.C342s]

Clark, Mary Higgins
Ghost Ship: a Cape Cod Story. 2007.
While visiting his grandmother on Cape Cod, nine-year-old Thomas encounters a ship’s cabin boy from centuries past.
[Education S Collection: SE. C5472g]

Dorris, Michael
Morning Girl. 1992.
Morning Girl, who loves the day, and her younger brother Star Boy, who loves the night, take turns describing their life on an island in pre-Columbian America; in Morning Girl’s last narrative, she witnesses the arrival of the first Europeans to her world.
[Center for Children’s Books: S. D737M]

Erdrich, Louise
The Birchbark House. 1999.
Omakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847.
[Education S Collection: S. Er292b]

Gaiman, Neil
The Wolves in the Walls. 2003.
Lucy is sure there are wolves living in the walls of her house, although others in her family disagree, and when the wolves come out, the adventure begins.
[Uni High Graphic Novels: GN G127wo]

Goodman, Allegra
The Other Side of the Island. 2008.
Born in the eighteenth year of Enclosure, ten-year-old Honor lives in a highly regulated colony with her defiant parents, but when they have an illegal second child and are taken away, it is up to Honor and her friend Helix, another “unpredictable,” to uncover a terrible secret about their island and the corporation that runs everything.
[Education S Collection: S. G621o]

Hiaasen, Carl
Hoot. 2002.
Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy’s attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site.
[Education S Collection: S.H52h]

Hoffman, Alice
Moondog. 2004.
When a family adopts a well-behaved puppy that they name Angel, everything is fine until the next full moon.
[Education S Collection: SE. H675m]

Hornby, Nick
Slam. 2007.
At the age of fifteen, Sam Jones’s girlfriend gets pregnant and Sam’s life of skateboarding and daydreaming about Tony Hawk changes drastically.
[Education S Collection: S. H783s]

Koontz, Dean
The Paper Doorway: Funny Verse and Nothing Worse. 2001.
A collection of humorous poetry for children.
[Education Storage: S.811 K837p]

Mitchard, Jacquelyn
Ready, Set, School! 2007.
After Rory the raccoon conquers his fear of spending an entire night away from home, he is prepared to tackle the challenge of starting school just one week later, whether his parents are ready or not.
[Education S Collection: Q. S. M691re]

McCall Smith, Alexander
The Five Lost Aunts of Harriet Bean. 2006.
When her absent-minded inventor father suddenly remembers that he has five sisters, nine-year-old Harriet Bean, who has never heard of them before, determines to find her unknown aunts so that the unfinished family portrait can be completed.
[Education S Collection: S. S. M124f]

Morrison, Toni
The Big Box. 1999.
Because they do not abide by the rules written by the adults around them, three children are judged unable to handle their freedom and forced to live in a box with three locks on the door.
[Education S Collection: Q. SE. M8341b]

Oates, Joyce Carol
After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away. 2006.
Blaming herself for the car accident on the Tappan Zee Bridge that killed her mother, fifteen-year-old Jenna undergoes a difficult physical and emotional recovery.
[Education S Collection: S. Oa8a]

Pratchett, Terry
Nation. 2008.
After a devastating tsunami destroys all that they have ever known, Mau, an island boy, and Daphne, an aristocratic English girl, together with a small band of refugees, set about rebuilding their community and all the things that are important in their lives.
[Education S Collection: S. P887n]

Prose, Francine
Leopold, the Liar of Leipzig. 2005.
After a scientist accuses him of lying, Leopold, who has told tales in Leipzig’s zoo for many years, is surprised to find that he must explain the nature of storytelling.
[Center for Children’s Books: SE. P945l]

Tan, Amy
The Moon Lady. 1992.
Nai-nai tells her granddaughters the story of her outing, as a seven-year-old girl in China, to see the Moon Lady and be granted a secret wish.
[Education S Collection: Q.SE. T1532M]

Updike, John
A Child’s Calendar. 1999.
A collection of twelve poems describing the activities in a child’s life and the changes in the weather as the year moves from January to December.
[Education S Collection: S.811 Up1c1999]

Walker, Alice
There is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me. 2006.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker invites readers young and old to see the world — and our place in it — through new eyes. Glowing colors and radiant images accompany this joyous celebration of the connections and interconnections between self, Nature, and creativity.
[Education S Collection: Q. S. W1521th]

African American Children’s Writers

In honor of Black History Month, the S-Collection presents selected books by notable African American authors. In the U.S., early children’s literature often presented stereotypes of African Americans in books written by white authors. By the mid-20th century, a growing number of African American writers sought to present positive images of Black life and culture. African American authors can offer insight into the Black experience in ways writers of other races can not, as African American author Jacqueline Woodson writes, “I realized that no one but me can tell my story.”*

*Woodson, J. (1998). Who Can Tell My Story [white authors writing about people of color]. The Horn Book Magazine, 74, 34-38.

African American Authors and Selected Works
Curtis, Christopher Paul

Bud, Not Buddy. 1999.
Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father–the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids. A Newberry Medal Winner.
[Education S Collection: S.C941b]

The Watsons Go to Birmingham. 1995.
The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963.
[Education S Collection: S. C941W]

Visit the publisher’s website for Christopher Paul Curtis.
Hamilton, Virginia (1936-2002)

Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush. 1982.
Fourteen-year-old Tree, resentful of her working mother who leaves her in charge of a retarded younger brother, encounters the ghost of her dead uncle and comes to a deeper understanding of her family’s problems. This book won numerous awards including a Newbery Honor Medal.
[Education S Collection: S. H18S]

Zeely. 1967.
Geeder’s summer at her uncle’s farm is made special because of her friendship with a very tall, composed woman who raises hogs and who closely resembles the magazine photograph of a Watutsi queen.
[Education Storage: S. H18Z1986]

Visit Virginia Hamilton’s Website (This site is not actively updated).
Lester, Julius

Ackamarackus: Julius Lester’s Sumptuously Silly Fantastically Funny Fables. 2001.
A collection of six original fables with morals both silly and serious.
[Education S Collection: Q.S.398.2 L567a]

Black Cowboy, Wild Horses: a True Story. 1998.
A black cowboy is so in tune with wild mustangs that they accept him into the herd, thus enabling him singlehandedly to take them to the corral.
[Education Storage: Q. SE. L5674b]

Sam and the Tigers: a New Telling of Little Black Sambo. 1996.
Follows the adventures of a little boy named Sam when he matches wits with several tigers that want to eat him.
[Education Storage: SE. L5674S]

Visit Julius Lester’s Website
McKissack, Patricia

Black Hands, White Sails: the Story of African-American Whalers.1999.
A history of African-American whalers between 1730 and 1880, describing their contributions to the whaling industry and their role in the abolitionist movement.
[Education Storage: S.639.28 M217b]

The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural. 1992.
A collection of ghost stories with African American themes, designed to be told during the Dark Thirty–the half hour before sunset–when ghosts seem all too believable.
[Education S Collection: S. M217D]

Mirandy and Brother Wind. 1988.
To win first prize in the Junior Cakewalk, Mirandy tries to capture the wind for her partner. Caldecott honor book.
[Education Storage: Q.SE. M217M]

Learn more about Patricia McKissack
Myers, Walter Dean

Shooter. 2004.
Written in the form of interviews, reports, and journal entries, the story of three troubled teenagers ends in a tragic school shooting.
[Education S Collection: S.M992s]

145th Street : Short Stories. 2000.
Ten stories portray life on a block in Harlem.
[Education S Collection: S.M992o]

Visit Walter Dean Myers’s Website
Ringgold, Faith

Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad In The Sky. 1992.
With Harriet Tubman as her guide, Cassie retraces the steps escaping slaves took on the Underground Railroad in order to reunite with her younger brother.
[Education S Collection: Q.SE. R473A]

Dinner at Aunt Connies’s House. 1993.
Dinner at Aunt Connie’s is even more special than usual when Melody meets not only her new adopted cousin but twelve inspiring African-American women, who step out of their portraits and join the family for dinner.
[Education S Collection: SE. R473D]

Tar Beach. 1991.
A young girl dreams of flying above her Harlem home, claiming all she sees for herself and her family. Based on the author’s quilt painting of the same name, this is a Caldecott Honor Book.
[Education S Collection: Q.SE. R473T)

Visit Faith Ringgold’s Website
Taylor, Mildred D.

The Road to Memphis. 1990.
Sadistically teased by two white boys in 1940s rural Mississippi, a black youth severely injures one of the boys with a tire iron and enlists Cassie’s help in trying to flee the state. This is part 3 of the Logan Family series.
[Education Storage: S. T216RO]

The Well: David’s Story. 1995.
In Mississippi in the early 1900s ten-year-old David Logan’s family generously shares their well water with both white and black neighbors in an atmosphere of potential racial violence.
[Education S Collection: S.T216w 1998]

Visit Penguin Publisher’s website on Mildred Taylor.
Looking for more information on African-American authors and their books? Try these sources:

Many Peoples, One Land: a Guide to New Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. 2001.
[Education Juvenile Reference [non-circulating]: S.016.8108H366m]

Black Authors and Illustrators of Books for Children and Young Adults. (4th ed.), 2007.
[Education Juvenile Reference [non-circulating]: S.011.62R658b2007]

The All-White World of Children’s Books and African American Children’s Literature. 1995.
[Main Stacks: 810.9 AL58]

The Coretta Scott King Awards, 1970-2004. (3rd ed.), 2004.
[Education Juvenile Reference [non-circulating]: S.016.8108 C812]

Jack Prelutsky — The First Children’s Poet Laureate

This month, children’s author and poet Jack Prelutsky will celebrate his 67th birthday. He will also mark the halfway point in his two year tenure as the nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate. Newly created by the Poetry Foundation in 2006, the Children’s Poet Laureate award “aims to raise awareness that children have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them.”* Prelutsky was awarded the honor last year in recognition of over 40 years of delighting young and older readers with his witty, wacky rhymes on everything from nightmares to noses (and some very unusual creatures in between). His works have been translated into several languages and sold millions of copies worldwide.

*[Poetry Foundation]

Want to know more?
Visit the author’s website for poems, photos, and answers to frequently asked questions

View a 15 minute interview with Jack at the Reading Rockets website

Jack Prelutsky in the Education S-Collection.
The following list is a selection of Prelutsky’s award winning works, and some of his most recent offerings. For a complete list of the UIUC library’s holdings, enter the terms “Prelutsky, Jack” into an author search in the online catalog.

Awful Ogre’s Awful Day. 2001.
In a series of poems, Awful Ogre rises, grooms himself, dances, pens a letter, and goes through other activities as the day passes.
[Education Storage: Q.S.811 P915a]

Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant: And Other Poems. 2006
An illustrated collection of humorous poems on a variety of topics.
[Education S-Collection: Q.S.811 P915b]

Beneath a Blue Umbrella: Rhymes. 1987.
A collection of short humorous poems in which a hungry hippo raids a melon stand, a butterfly tickles a girl’s nose, and children frolic in a Mardi Gras parade.
[Education Storage: S.811 P915b]

The Dragons are Singing Tonight. 1993.
A collection of poems about dragons, including “I’m an Amiable Dragon,” “If You Don’t Believe in Dragons,” and “A Dragon is My Computer.”
[Education Storage: Q.S. 811 P915D]

The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders: Rhymes. 2002.
Here are poems about people and animals, set in such far-flung places as Minot, Minneapolis, Tuscaloosa, Tucumcari, and the Grand Canyon.
[Education S-Collection: Q.S.811 P915f]

The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight: More Poems to Trouble Your Sleep. 1980.
Presents 12 scary poems.
[Education Storage: S.811 P915h]

If Not For the Cat: Haiku. 2004.
Haiku-like poems describe a variety of animals.
[Education S-Collection: S.811 P915i]

It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles: Poems. 2000.
A collection of humorous poems such as “The Dancing Hippopotami,” “You Can’t Make Me Eat That,” “My Father’s Name is Sasquatch,” and “Dear Wumbledeedumble.”
[Education S-Collection: S.811 P915itr2000]

The New Kid on the Block: Poems. 1984.
Humorous poems about such strange creatures and people as Baloney Belly Billy and the Gloopy Gloopers.
[Education Storage: S.811 P915ne]

Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep. 1976.
Twelve poems featuring a vampire, werewolf, ghoul, and other monsters.
[Education Storage: S.811 P915N]

The Snopp on the Sidewalk, and Other Poems. 1977.
Twelve poems about snopps, grobbles, flonsters, and other fantastic creatures.
[Education Storage: S.811 P915S]

Something Big Has Been Here. 1990.
An illustrated collection of humorous poems on a variety of topics.
[Education Storage: S.811 P915so]

Wild Witches’ Ball. 2004.
A tall witch, a round witch, a silly witch too. Some are spooky, some are cute, and one wears go-go boots! They have gathered for their ball. Why not try to count them all?
[Education S-Collection: SE.P91w]