Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, August 28, 2017

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines: Designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
by Jeanne Walker Harvey; Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
Christy Ottaviano Books; Henry Holt and Company. 2017
ISBN: 9781250112491
Grades 3 and up
To write this review, I borrowed the book from my local public library.

Note: While Cathy Potter is on Sabbatical, Louise is writing all the reviews. Cathy will return February, 2018.

“Maya grew up with art. Her father was an artist who made art with clay. Her mother was a poet who made art with words.”

Her parents, immigrants to the U.S., fled China because they didn’t like being told what to be and what to think. “Her parents never told Maya what to be or how to think.”

In 32 pages, including an author’s note, Walker introduces Chinese-American Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

Phumiruk’s detailed sketches, created digitally in Adobe Photoshop with scans of watercolor and texture, convey a sense of wonder at the world as seen through the eyes of Lin. Phumiruk uses tones of green, brown, grays that reflect a child who was silent, observant, and found solace in nature. 

Maya Lin was studying architecture at Yale when, in her last year of college, she entered a contest to design a memorial to those who died  during the Vietnam War. “The contest rules said that the memorial must blend with a park setting and include the names of every soldier who died fighting or was missing.”  That is almost 56,000 names. 

Maya’s design was chosen out of 1,421 entries. When the judges discovered she was only a student, they were furious. Yet, Maya stood strong and eventually her design was approved.

Harvey begins with Lin as a young girl and follows her journey, travel, college, the winning of the prestigious contest, and the building of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In one double-page spreads we watch the memorial being built and, turning the page, see the very personal experience individuals have visiting the memorial. Harvey ends this remarkable picture book biography briefly explaining Lin’s process for creating her projects.

A good introduction to creativity, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for all ages.

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