Myles Pinkney is a freelance photographer who, along with his wife Sandra, created the NAACP award-winning book Shades of Black, along with A Rainbow All Around Me and Read and Rise, a collaboration with the National Urban League. Sandra wrote the words and Myles illustrated each of the titles in a dazzling multicultural photo essay style. They show the diversity of skin color and other characteristics of African American children and feature appearances by the couple’s own children, Myles, Charnelle-Rene, and Rashad.
In addition to collaborating with Sandra, Myles has illustrated books by the celebrated children’s author Nikki Grimes. Myles graduated from Marist College with a degree in communications; however, he has been studying photography for his whole life. Myles and Sandra live with their family in Highland, New York.
Shades of Black
Sandra L. Pinkney, Photographs by Myles Pinkney
Originally published as a picture book, this book won the Pinkney’s many accolades and awards for their affirmative message. Now offered as a board book, this book will let even younger children enjoy looking at the delightful photographs of African-American kids. What many may find startling is that the kids shown in the book range from dark ebony to almost white and every shade in between. Hair color and texture and eye color are all the things that make us different and also alike. The photographs are engaging and the message is clear–it really does not matter what color you are, you are still beautiful. I really loved some of the descriptions and comparisons: “I am the creamy white frost in vanilla ice cream,” comes from a light-skinned African-American boy and his sister enjoying a vanilla ice cream cone. The text and picture on the opposite page feature a dark-skinned boy eating chocolate and the text describes him as “the milky smooth brown in a chocolate bar.” Using food as colors to compare against skin tones is really clever; Sandra Pinkney also compares hair to wool and grass and eyes to a variety of stones. A wonderful book for any home, school or public library. 2006 (orig. 2000), Cartwheel/Scholastic, $6.99. Ages 1 to 6. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature).
I Am Latino: the Beauty in Me
Sandra L. Pinkney, Photographs and Illustrations by Myles Pinkney
The Pinkneys’ husband and wife team have designed this book as a celebration of Latino children parallel to their Shades of Black and A Rainbow All Around Me. The text is spare; each of four sections begins with the phrase “I am Latino/a. Can you sense the beauty?” Then, three pages of attractive photos of individual or groups of children highlight one of the five senses, moving from “Listen to the melody of my language” to “Feel my music explode”; to “See the love in my family” to “Smell and taste my food.” The idea of a rainbow of cultures and customs within the Latino culture is underlined by the use of a wide range of colors to frame the photos. While the concept of the book is praiseworthy, the mix of Spanish and English phrases is confusing and inconsistent; in the music section, Spanish is represented by names of dances or types of music; the family section, however, uses a Spanglish mélange with phrases such as “Playful Hermano (Brother).” 2007, Little Brown and Company, $16.99. Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry (Children’s Literature).
A Rainbow All Around Me
Sandra Pinkney, Photographs and Illustrations by Myles Pinkney
“A piece of the rainbow–you and me.” That line epitomizes the thrust of this book with its multicultural group of children who present the different colors of the rainbow. Our “yellow” child wears a bright yellow slicker and boots and sports yellow barrettes and an umbrella. Miss Blue is looking totally cool in her denim hat and jacket, wearing her indigo shades, giving us the peace sign and sipping a tasty blueberry-colored beverage. Red, orange, purple, black, green, pink, brown, white and tan are covered in a similar manner. Brilliant pictures, playful use of different fonts and print sizes, and fun words make this book a visual and verbal treat for little ones. 2002, Scholastic, $14.95. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Chris Gill (Children’s Literature).
Myles and Sandra are available to present on their own or together.
Presentation A (Myles only)
Myles uses plenty of visuals during his presentations, which are 45 minutes long with a five minute question and answer session. During his presentations Myles will discuss the several books that he has done and will also discuss why some were extremly challenging. Myles also talks about the use of props, models, and the joys of taking photographs. In addition to learning about photography through Myles’ presentation, the children will learn how to be observant of the world around them and how to appreciate the differences in each other.
Presentation B (Sandra only)
Sandra’s presentation focuses on diversity. Her presentations are 45 minutes long with a five minute question and answer session. During her presentation she will discuss her writing techniques, thought process, editing, and other aspects of completing a manuscript. She will demonstrate, through writing exercises, how a poem is created. Her workshops are very energetic and informative. In addition to learning about writing, the children will leave her presentation with increased self-esteem and an appreciation for the differences in each other.
Presentation C (Sandra and Myles together)
When presenting together, Myles and Sandra discuss the various aspects involved in the publication of their books. Together, through a lively discussion and audience participation, they debate on the importance of words to pictures (Sandra) and pictures to words (Myles), only to end up affirming the importance of both, to the delight of their audience.
Workshop A (Sandra)
Children’s Writing Workshop–Poetry is More Fun Than I Thought
During this workshop, Sandra focuses on how she began to write poetry. She helps the children tell stories and/or share feelings about a subject using poetry as the genre. Children are shown how simple and how much fun poetry can really be. Each child will be encouraged to make a poetry book with illustrations. During this workshop the children will be introduced to the progression of writing from brainstorming to organizing ideas to writing a poem.
Workshop B (Myles)
My World Through Pictures
During this workshop, Myles assists the children in creating a picture book through photographs using a digital camera, Polaroid camera, and/or images from a magazine. Children will be shown how to set up a scene to photograph and the importance of being observant. The children will learn how to tell a story through images. At the end of the workshop the children will have a completed book of images telling a story about the world around them.
Myles and Sandra can do up to four sessions per day. Their programs are designed for grades K-5. For one presentation with either Myles or Sandra the cost in $750 plus expenses, and for one presentation together the cost is $850 plus expenses. For two presentations with either Myles or Sandra the cost is $850 plus expenses, and for two presentations together the cost is $950. For three presentations with either Myles or Sandra the cost is $950 plus expenses, and for three presentations together the cost is $1050.
To learn more about Myles and Sandra Pinkney and their publications please visit their