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2016 CCBC Choices 

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay

2016 Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of the Year 

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay

2015 CCBC Choice

The Hula Hoopin’ Queen

2015 CCBC Charlotte Zolotow Award

The Hula Hoopin’ Queen

2015 Bank Street College of Education Best Books

The Hula Hoopin’ Queen

2015 WSRA Picture This! Selection

The Hula Hoopin’ Queen

2015 Delaware Diamonds

The Hula Hoopin’ Queen


2014 Best Cover Award for Highlights’ Hello Magazine


2014 Society of Illustrators Original Art Show


2014 The Jane Addams Peace for Children’s Books Honor We Shall Overcome


2014 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People

We Shall Overcome

2013 Bank Street College of Ed Best Kid's Book of the Year

We Shall Overcome


2013 Bank Street College of Ed Best Kid's Book of the Year

Every Little Thing

Aladdin Books

American Girl


Blue Apple Books

Book Apple



Cricket Magazine
Focus on the Family

Harcout Children’s Books


Houghton Mifflin Harcout

Lee & Low

National Geographic

Penguin Books

Simon and Schuster
Tricycle Press

Vanessa Brantley Newton was born during the Civil Rights movement, and attended school in Newark, NJ. She was part of a diverse, tight-knit community and learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment at early age. 


Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her into the artist she is today. As an illustrator, Vanessa includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her stories and artwork. She wants all children to see their unique experiences reflected in the books they read, so they can feel the same sense of empowerment and recognition she experienced as a young reader.

Vanessa celebrates self-love and acceptance of all cultures through her work, and hopes to inspire young 

readers to find their own voices. She first learned to express herself as a little girl through song. Growing up in a musical family, Vanessa’s parents taught her how to sing to help overcome her stuttering. Each night the family would gather to make music together, with her mom on piano, her dad on guitar, and Vanessa and her sister, Coy, singing the blues, gospel, spirituals, and jazz. Now whenever she illustrates, music fills the air and finds its way into her art. 


The children she draws can be seen dancing, wiggling, and moving freely across the page in an expression of happiness. Music is a constant celebration, no matter the occasion, and Vanessa hopes her illustrations bring joy to others, with the same magic of a beautiful melody.

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