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Author Spotlight: Nina Crews

by | Jul 26, 2022 | African-American, Children, Matchmakers, Picture Books

With the arrival of her newest work, I’m Not Small, I wanted to take a look back at Nina Crews’ catalog of fantastic photo-illustrated picture books and highlight some of my favorite things about this wonderful artist and author.

Most of Nina’s work employs a special technique of blending collaged photography with illustration and graphic design, which when paired with simple and poetic text, all works to create a strong sense of movement and magic on each page. She often uses a layering effect as shown in these two pages (from Seeing Into Tomorrow and One Hot Summer Day), which makes the images feel like 3-dimensional scenes that you could fall right into:


Layered photographs of clouds with a yellow kit flying among them. A child's hand points toward the kite. Yellow text says,  


Photo of the summer sign high in the sky with scattered clouds. Collaged in the foreground are photos of a young girl wearing sunglasses and holding a fan, standing under shady leaves of a maple tree near a crosswalk sign. Text says,


Crews grew up in Brooklyn, NY, a place which has a large influence on her art and serves as the setting for many of her picture books. Such a busy, angular environmental setting contrasts wonderfully with her imaginative and dreamy collage work to bring excitement and limitless possibility to her stories. Her joyful, tender portraits center and celebrate Black children, of whom she often includes biographical information at the end of the book (sometimes she even photographs family members for her books). All of this comes together perfectly in pages such as this one below from The Neighborhood Mother Goose:


A collage of photos layered over a Brooklyn sidewalk to pair with the nursery rhyme the Cow Jumped Over the Moon, including laughing child, a cat holding a fiddle, a small dog, a large plate and spoon, and a cow over the moon.


I would recommend Crews’ books to anyone and everyone, and certain titles speak to particular experiences: Seeing Into Tomorrow was created for and with Black boys; A Girl Like Me was created as an affirmation and inspiration for Black girls. Nina even created fun tie-in activities for these titles, available for download here:

Get to know Nina Crews by putting these favorite titles below (in addition to the ones linked above) on hold through Clevnet today!

A Girl Like Me 


A Ghost Story

The Neighborhood Sing-Along

 I’ll Catch the Moon

Jack and the Beanstalk

You Are Here


Sky-High Guy