One day, a young artist named Mira meets a muralist, and alongside their neighbors they transform the “heart of a grey city” into Maybe Something Beautiful (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99). It just so happens that Rafael López, the illustrator of this true story about San Diego’s Urban Art Trail, is the very same muralist whose bright and colorful work inspired this book. F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell tell the story of a neighborhood transformed by joyous collaboration. López uses vibrant acrylics with collaged patterning to create both the cityscape and characters with plenty of personality. After the magical conclusion, the endnotes describe in more detail the true story that inspired this amazing book. Ages 4-8.
In Ada’s Violin (Simon and Schuster, $17.99), Susan Hood tells the powerful story of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, Paraguay. Cateura is a trash dump, with thousands of adults and children working as trash-pickers and “recyclers.” It was there that Favio Chávez, an environmental engineer, started a music program for kids and enlisted a recycling crew to create instruments out of scraps of all sorts. See Ada Ríos, one of the first children to join the program, and the Orchestra achieve success with tours, YouTube videos, a 60 Minutes feature, and a documentary. Sally Wern Comport uses pencil and acrylic for her two-page narrative illustrations, also collaging scraps of trash to symbolize Ada’s surroundings. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Orchestra. Ages 4-8.
Cloth Lullaby (Abrams, $18.95) is a perfect, poetic tribute to the artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010). Amy Novesky describes the young Louise, who bonded deeply with her mother (later immortalized in Bourgeois’s many spider sculptures) and grew up working in her family’s tapestry-repair workshop. Bourgeois’s lifelong love of textiles and patterns and her constant metaphorical re-imagining of childhood are lovingly evoked. Striking, mood-setting illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault in colored pencils, pastels, watercolors, and bright brushwork are often reminiscent of Louise’s own paintings. After reading this stunning book, you will be inspired to visit Bourgeois’s giant spider that lives in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. Ages 6-10.