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Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery

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Discover the true story of NFL star Ernie Barnes—a boy who followed his dreams and became one of the most influential artists of his generations—with this beautifully illustrated nonfiction picture book. When Ernie Barnes was growing up in North Carolina in the 1940s, he loved to draw. Even when he played as a boy with his friends he drew with a stick in the mud. And he nev Discover the true story of NFL star Ernie Barnes—a boy who followed his dreams and became one of the most influential artists of his generations—with this beautifully illustrated nonfiction picture book. When Ernie Barnes was growing up in North Carolina in the 1940s, he loved to draw. Even when he played as a boy with his friends he drew with a stick in the mud. And he never left home without a sketchbook. He would draw the junk man, families walking home from church, or the old man on the sofa. He drew what he saw. But in the segregated south, Ernie didn’t know how to make a living as an artist. Ernie grew tall and athletic and became a football star. Soon enough the colleges came calling. Still, in his heart Ernie longed to paint. Would that day ever come? Ernie Barnes was one of the most important artists of his time known for his style of elongation and movement. His work has influenced a generation of painters and illustrators and can be found in museums and collections, such as the African American Museum in Philadelphia and the California African American Museum. Between the Lines is a story of inspiration, spirit, and of an American original who pursued his dream. This enchanting picture book includes pieces of artwork created by this little known artist who captured the truth and beauty of the world he saw around him.


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Discover the true story of NFL star Ernie Barnes—a boy who followed his dreams and became one of the most influential artists of his generations—with this beautifully illustrated nonfiction picture book. When Ernie Barnes was growing up in North Carolina in the 1940s, he loved to draw. Even when he played as a boy with his friends he drew with a stick in the mud. And he nev Discover the true story of NFL star Ernie Barnes—a boy who followed his dreams and became one of the most influential artists of his generations—with this beautifully illustrated nonfiction picture book. When Ernie Barnes was growing up in North Carolina in the 1940s, he loved to draw. Even when he played as a boy with his friends he drew with a stick in the mud. And he never left home without a sketchbook. He would draw the junk man, families walking home from church, or the old man on the sofa. He drew what he saw. But in the segregated south, Ernie didn’t know how to make a living as an artist. Ernie grew tall and athletic and became a football star. Soon enough the colleges came calling. Still, in his heart Ernie longed to paint. Would that day ever come? Ernie Barnes was one of the most important artists of his time known for his style of elongation and movement. His work has influenced a generation of painters and illustrators and can be found in museums and collections, such as the African American Museum in Philadelphia and the California African American Museum. Between the Lines is a story of inspiration, spirit, and of an American original who pursued his dream. This enchanting picture book includes pieces of artwork created by this little known artist who captured the truth and beauty of the world he saw around him.

30 review for Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julia Ash

    BETWEEN THE LINES is a biography of Ernest Barnes who was raised in North Carolina during segregation. The book follows his journey, focusing on how he never gave up on his desire to become an artist for a living. His determination kept growing stronger, even after he had found success as a football player in the NFL. The author did a wonderful job bringing Ernest Barnes’s journey to life on the pages of this children’s book! She shared details—like when he couldn’t afford paint, he used mud—that BETWEEN THE LINES is a biography of Ernest Barnes who was raised in North Carolina during segregation. The book follows his journey, focusing on how he never gave up on his desire to become an artist for a living. His determination kept growing stronger, even after he had found success as a football player in the NFL. The author did a wonderful job bringing Ernest Barnes’s journey to life on the pages of this children’s book! She shared details—like when he couldn’t afford paint, he used mud—that illustrated Ernest’s determination and perseverance. What an inspiration for all children and adults. The artwork is spectacular! I was left in awe! Rating: Five determined, amazing stars!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    Wonderful book on the life of Ernie Barnes that will motivate children to discover their talents in more than one area.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    I really loved the story of Ernie Barnes, I didn't know his name but I knew his work. I am hesitant to give the book 4 stars because it neglected to talk about Barnes work, "The Sugar Shack". If you were a child growing up in the 70s you knew that painting. It was on the cover of Marvin Gaye's album , "I Want You". It was on the tv show Good Times as JJ's artwork and then it closed the show for several seasons. I wanted that painting as a kid. It's evocative of the 70s for that reason but... I ga I really loved the story of Ernie Barnes, I didn't know his name but I knew his work. I am hesitant to give the book 4 stars because it neglected to talk about Barnes work, "The Sugar Shack". If you were a child growing up in the 70s you knew that painting. It was on the cover of Marvin Gaye's album , "I Want You". It was on the tv show Good Times as JJ's artwork and then it closed the show for several seasons. I wanted that painting as a kid. It's evocative of the 70s for that reason but... I gave it four because so many of our brown and black boys are pushed into sports if they show a hint of skill and kids need to know that pursuing the arts (even just as a hobby) is something that they can do. Barnes might not be a well known name but it's one that we should know because it's influenced a lot of young black artists today.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Aliza Werner

    Phenomenal and thorough biography of artist and pro football player Ernie Barnes. I didn't know of his art before, but I'm captivated by the examples that were shared in the endnotes. I loved the message that you don't have to choose one thing to be, you can be anything and everything. I'll be sharing this with my students this week. I know they'll be enraptured by it. Phenomenal and thorough biography of artist and pro football player Ernie Barnes. I didn't know of his art before, but I'm captivated by the examples that were shared in the endnotes. I loved the message that you don't have to choose one thing to be, you can be anything and everything. I'll be sharing this with my students this week. I know they'll be enraptured by it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex Baugh

    When Ernie Barnes was a young boy, he loved to draw, and after seeing the art hanging in the library where his mother worked, he knew he wanted to be an artist. But becoming an artist wasn't the easiest thing. Because he was 6'3" Ernie was recruited to play football, first for his high school, than in college, and finally in the pros. But Ernie never gave up his dream of being an artist, even after his coach tore up his sketchbook. As a football player, Ernie observed everything he saw with the When Ernie Barnes was a young boy, he loved to draw, and after seeing the art hanging in the library where his mother worked, he knew he wanted to be an artist. But becoming an artist wasn't the easiest thing. Because he was 6'3" Ernie was recruited to play football, first for his high school, than in college, and finally in the pros. But Ernie never gave up his dream of being an artist, even after his coach tore up his sketchbook. As a football player, Ernie observed everything he saw with the eye of an artistic, not a player and much of what he saw was later realized on canvas. Luckily, after being injured, Ernie was offer a position with the New York Jets - as official team artist at full salary. I'm a girl who doesn't know very much about football, so I really appreciated the way Wallace focused on Ernie's drive to be an artist rather than a player. Wisely, Collier didn't try to imitate Ernie's style of art, creating his own dynamic watercolor and collage illustrations. There's plenty of back matter in this well researched book, including a Historical Note, an Author's Note, an Illustrator's Note. There are also suggestions for learning more, books for further reading, videos and films of interest, and Additional Resources.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laura Giessler

    Well-told biography with engaging illustrations. As always, I liked learning something about a person with whom I was unfamiliar. I like the message that one can be an artist and an athlete, that it doesn't have to be one or the other (see also Chris Cooley). I also liked how this book dealt with the issue of race and art: When Ernie asked "Where are the paintings by Negro artists?" the response was "Your people don't express themselves in that way." Then (yes! Facts matter and go,teachers): "Er Well-told biography with engaging illustrations. As always, I liked learning something about a person with whom I was unfamiliar. I like the message that one can be an artist and an athlete, that it doesn't have to be one or the other (see also Chris Cooley). I also liked how this book dealt with the issue of race and art: When Ernie asked "Where are the paintings by Negro artists?" the response was "Your people don't express themselves in that way." Then (yes! Facts matter and go,teachers): "Ernest knew they did. His teacher had shown slides of artwork by Henry O Tanner, Edmonia Lewis, and Palmer Hayden." This speaks to the importance of sharing this book with children (and I love that later on in the book, children are looking at Ernie Barnes' work at the art museum in NC). Some of his paintings are shown in the back matter, and I was inspired to look up "Sugar Shack" as well.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Growing up in Durham in the 1940s, Ernie Barnes wanted to be an artist, but the adults in his life wanted him to play football. Not to mention, when he asked why there were no paintings by Negro artists at the museum, he was told that "your people don't express themselves in that way." Ernie started with football, but never gave up his artistic dream, eventually finding a way to bring the worlds together. I was unfamiliar with this story, even though I knew his most famous painting, Sugar Shack, Growing up in Durham in the 1940s, Ernie Barnes wanted to be an artist, but the adults in his life wanted him to play football. Not to mention, when he asked why there were no paintings by Negro artists at the museum, he was told that "your people don't express themselves in that way." Ernie started with football, but never gave up his artistic dream, eventually finding a way to bring the worlds together. I was unfamiliar with this story, even though I knew his most famous painting, Sugar Shack, and you probably do, too. Give to any kid with artistic aspirations, especially one who's been taught that sports and art are mutually exclusive, or that creating art is only for some people and not others.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    These illustrations are done in beautiful muted colors. This is the story of Ernest Barnes who always wanted to be an artist. His family and the football coach from his school convinced him to play football and he did it very well but never lost his aspiration to draw/paint. At graduation he was even picked up to play professional ball with the Baltimore Colts. His career continued from there but he still really wanted to exercise his artistic side. His final compromise was to quit football but These illustrations are done in beautiful muted colors. This is the story of Ernest Barnes who always wanted to be an artist. His family and the football coach from his school convinced him to play football and he did it very well but never lost his aspiration to draw/paint. At graduation he was even picked up to play professional ball with the Baltimore Colts. His career continued from there but he still really wanted to exercise his artistic side. His final compromise was to quit football but paint images of the game he knew so well. Finally he could be successful at what he loved.

  9. 4 out of 5

    MaryLibrarianOH

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. An unusual biography as it is partly about a football player but mostly about an artist. Ernie Barnes was a man who went after his dreams even when faced with not being able to pay the rent. After quitting professional football he carved a niche for himself in the world of sports as the artist capturing the important moments. The illustration elevate this book and I think it would be a great suggestion for both artists and athletes who have to do biography reports.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Viviane Elbee

    This is an interesting non-fiction biography about Ernie Barnes, an artist, who used to be an American football player. I had seen his artwork before and it was fun to discover more about the artist behind the artwork. This book has quite a lot of text, so it's more for elementary students than for preschoolers. Kids also enjoyed the story and voted to give it 5 stars. This is an interesting non-fiction biography about Ernie Barnes, an artist, who used to be an American football player. I had seen his artwork before and it was fun to discover more about the artist behind the artwork. This book has quite a lot of text, so it's more for elementary students than for preschoolers. Kids also enjoyed the story and voted to give it 5 stars.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    Why talk about "Sugar Shack" and then not include an image of it?????? I wish more of Barnes' work had been included in Collier's illustrations. It wasn't until I saw "Double Dutch" in the afterword that I realized I recognized Barnes' style. Why talk about "Sugar Shack" and then not include an image of it?????? I wish more of Barnes' work had been included in Collier's illustrations. It wasn't until I saw "Double Dutch" in the afterword that I realized I recognized Barnes' style.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This book was recommended by Nancy Pearl when she spoke at our library. I had never heard of Ernie Barnes before. It was a wonderful story of an artist turned pro football player turned artist. A great book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Another fantastic biography of a person of color I've never heard of. Keep 'em coming! Let's rewrite history! The intersection of football and art makes this a good candidate to expand the horizons of boys who only want to read about sports! Another fantastic biography of a person of color I've never heard of. Keep 'em coming! Let's rewrite history! The intersection of football and art makes this a good candidate to expand the horizons of boys who only want to read about sports!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Hamill

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Genre: Non-Fiction children’s book, Biography Recommended Grade Levels: K-3 Themes: Art, Inspiration, Sports, Civil Rights, Education Summary: In the southern state of North Carolina a young boy, Ernie Barnes, knew he was an artist at heart. He would often engage in mud painting to express himself. As an African American living in a time of segregation, his ability to visit art museums was hindered. Even so, his thirst for art still remained. Ernie was a quiet individual who preferred drawing and pa Genre: Non-Fiction children’s book, Biography Recommended Grade Levels: K-3 Themes: Art, Inspiration, Sports, Civil Rights, Education Summary: In the southern state of North Carolina a young boy, Ernie Barnes, knew he was an artist at heart. He would often engage in mud painting to express himself. As an African American living in a time of segregation, his ability to visit art museums was hindered. Even so, his thirst for art still remained. Ernie was a quiet individual who preferred drawing and painting over social engagements. As he grew older, his natural physical abilities were evident and sport coaches quickly recruited him to join the high school squads. He especially excelled in football and was granted 26 different football scholarships for college around the United States. Barnes decided to attend North Carolina College at Durham, an all-black university, to study art and play football. His studies brought to his attention that art is all around us in the world and can be expressed in various ways. As a senior in college, his ability to play football at a high level was observed by members of the National Football League and drafted to play for the Baltimore Colts. Even as a professional football player, he could not abandon his love for art, and he would start creating painting during football events. He would draw and paint the scenes from plays, the stadium, and famously The Bench. After suffering injuries to his hands, Barnes was cut from the team and forced to find labor through other avenues. He learned valuable lessons as a door to door salesman, and enjoyed talking to consumers about his love for art. A little while has passed in his life and his window for playing football reopened. He decided to continue his football career as well as create more artistic scenes from his football experiences. As his time as a football player came to an end, Ernie financial situation was severely unstable and he was forced to sell his work to pay for his survival. One day he read a quote from Vincent Van Gogh and was inspired to follow his lifelong dream of being a successful artist. Incredibly, the dream came true after getting the opportunity to talk to the NFL owners during a special event. He showed them his works and quickly earned substantial respect, recognition, and money. He was able to open his very own gallery in New York City and show the world his fabulous works of art. Personal Response: I love the story of Ernie Barnes and can see that his life was full of tough trials but his perseverance allowed him to reach his dreams. It’s incredible to see that art is something all individuals can use to express themselves no matter who they are or what they do for a living. Barnes’ athletic career in football allowed me to relate to him because I played football as a youth and saw the scenes represented in Barnes’ artwork. His story gives us the ability to see hard work in progress, and how African Americans didn’t have certain privileges when it came to segregation. The message of never giving up and following one’s dreams is something that all readers need to be exposed to in their lifetime. Note about illustrations: Bryan Collier, an African American illustrator who has won the Caldecott Honor, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award, created the illustrations for this book. He used a unique style of art by combining watercolor and detailed collages. The pictures he created in the book allow readers to feel part of the story being told. They add a unique dynamic which helps communicate the message and themes of the book. Reader Response/Classroom Connections: A way to integrate this book into a lesson can be through the creative arts, specifically through the activity of painting mud. Ernie Barnes used mud as a medium to express himself and helped him find his passion as an artist. For my lesson I would take my students outside after a rainy day and find an area where mud was present. If mud is not present, alternatives can include sand or snow (during the winter). I would ask the students to think back to the part of the story where Ernie painted mud and allow them to recreate it. Furthermore, I would ask the students to explain what they saw in their mud paintings and how it can be seen as an expression of themselves. Another lesson I could use this book for would be in the English Language Arts department. I would ask my students to think about the themes of the book and how following your dreams is something all students should do. To build on that through a writing activity, I would give my students the opportunity to explain their life’s dreams and goals as well as ask them to state why having perseverance is something all people should strive to have in their life.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Marshall

    Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace (2018) is such a beautifully written depiction of an athlete's passion for art and how Ernie Barnes saw the world as art. Ernie Barnes always knew he wanted to be an artist. Ernie"waited for the backyard to turn into mud. Painting mud. Then Ernest found a stick and painted in the slippery soil." Ernie would find any tool he could grasp onto to make art. Being in the segregated South, Ernie' Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace (2018) is such a beautifully written depiction of an athlete's passion for art and how Ernie Barnes saw the world as art. Ernie Barnes always knew he wanted to be an artist. Ernie"waited for the backyard to turn into mud. Painting mud. Then Ernest found a stick and painted in the slippery soil." Ernie would find any tool he could grasp onto to make art. Being in the segregated South, Ernie's mother never felt comfortable taking him to a museum and therefore, Ernie never felt how he could make a living being an artist. "Who is going to feed you if you become a painter?" asked Ernest's father. In high school, Ernie played football. "Coach made him an offensive lineman. Ernest played center, and became captain of the team." Ernie went on to play college football. "In the movement of every football play...in the explosion of a kickoff...in the swivel and swerves of game action, he saw beauty." On Draft Day in 1959, Ernest was drafted into the NFL. While the team would have time-outs during games, Ernie would scribble notes about what he saw so he could sketch them later. Ernie decided he was going to go in a different path than that of playing the game. "He gathered his paintings and carried them to a meeting for the owners of the American Football League. I want to be the Official Artist for the American Football League," Ernie said. The fiction twin text I decided to compare Between the Lines with is, What if...by Samantha Berger (2018). What if...is a story about imagination, perseverance, creativity, and not giving up, just like Ernie Barn's life. The book reflects a little girl who knows one thing is for certain, she is going to create. She asks herself a question in every page. What if? In the first page she is drawing with a pencil but, "What if that pencil one day disappeared? I'd fold paper until stories appeared." "What if that paper was no longer there, I'd chisel the table and carve the chair." The story goes on to imagine how the little girl can create without the tool she had in the page previously. The little girl draws with her hands and fingers just like Ernie would paint with a stick in the mud. The little girl also sculpts the snow, makes sandcastles, shadow puppets, singing, dancing, and imaging. Everything this little girl is doing is art and she is also creating. My rationale for combining these two books come in a few different theories. One would be, both of these books revolve around dreaming. The fiction book is a true story about a man's life and the non-fiction book is about a little girl who shares multiple ways of creating. The non-fiction book enhances my fiction book because, both of these books focus on the certainty that they were born to be artistic people. The little girl in, What if...says, "No matter what, as long as I live, I will always create." Ernie struggled to get to be where he was at the end of his life but never gave up. The little girl always found a way to be a creator even if she didn't have the art tool she had before. The interactive strategy I would use to bridge the two texts would be, a Venn diagram. The little girl in What if...and Ernie Barns have many differences: a child(girl) compared to a high school/college student to grown man, professional football player and no job. Ernie lived in the South and the little girl appears to live in busy city based upon the apartment building her bedroom is located. However these two characters share multiple things in common: love of art, creators, passion, imagination, sees the world in a different way than most. Citations: Berger, Samantha (2018) What if.... New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company. Wallace, Sandra N (2018) Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Liz B

    Really interesting picture book biography (with beautiful art, too) of Ernie Barnes, who grew up in the segregated South and became both a pro football player and a successful artist.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Walsh

    Summary-This book tells the story of Ernie Wells and how he battled his love for art and playing football. Ernie was told at a young age that painting would not make him rich so instead, he played football. As he grew older he could not deny his love for art so he continued painting and selling art materials. Eventually, he became a well-known football player, but an even better artist. Now he has influenced the African American culture with his fantastic art galleries around the nation. Personal Summary-This book tells the story of Ernie Wells and how he battled his love for art and playing football. Ernie was told at a young age that painting would not make him rich so instead, he played football. As he grew older he could not deny his love for art so he continued painting and selling art materials. Eventually, he became a well-known football player, but an even better artist. Now he has influenced the African American culture with his fantastic art galleries around the nation. Personal Response- I like how this book kind of had two stories. It told about how Ernie struggled with his love for both sports and art and they seemed to be pulling him in opposite directions. Eventually, he listened to his heart and I thought it is incredibly appropriate for students to hear this story to learn about African American artists and how they shaped America. Illustrations- I like how Bryan Collier (illustrator) used vibrant textures in his work. You can see it in the characters hair, the details in the paint brushes, as well as the art displayed throughout the book. The artist used paint and the entire book as a canvas to show the different ways art was immersed in Ernie's life. Classroom Connections-This book could be used in the creative arts and History classroom for grades 3 or 4. It could be used to show the different textures you can use with paint. Using a sponge instead of a paintbrush like in the book and see how the texture changes could teach children to think outside the box when creating their art. Additionally, this story could be used in History class. Students could study famous African American artists and how they influenced art by doing things differently like, Ernie.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Petersen

    I paired Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery and Brontorina together. At first, you might think that this is a strange pairing but after reading both books, both of my main characters never give up on their dreams and it pays off! Ernie uses football to help him get farther in art and Brontorina gets help from her friends to help her follow her dream of being a dancer. I thought it was really inspiring that Ernie never got lost in the money or fame I paired Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery and Brontorina together. At first, you might think that this is a strange pairing but after reading both books, both of my main characters never give up on their dreams and it pays off! Ernie uses football to help him get farther in art and Brontorina gets help from her friends to help her follow her dream of being a dancer. I thought it was really inspiring that Ernie never got lost in the money or fame of football, especially at the professional level, but he kept pursuing his art while also playing football. He kind of saw it as a means to an end. Brontorina was brave when she first asked to join the dance school and she knew too that she needed some training to become a dancer. For my interactive strategy I would do a Venn Diagram with these two books. I think that between the two books my students would be able to see how they are similar and how they are different. I would use the Brontorina to help extend Ernie's story to theirs. Between the Lines is very specific and students might have a harder time relating to the story line or main character. Brontina helps extend Between the Lines and shows that we can relate to other's stories even though we might not share the same dream. I would use these books in either a social studies lesson as an African American Hero unit. And then I think I would also use it for a guidance lesson on kindness and pursuing your dreams. Twin Text: Brontorina Howe, J. (2010). Brontorina. Candlewick Press.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*

    Wallace, Sandra Neil Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery. PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION. Paula Wiseman (Simon), 2018. $18. Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G. This is the true story of famous artist Ernie Barnes. His life starts in the segregated south, where he develops a love of art and a wish to see African American artists in galleries. But because of his height, he fell into football, and eventually made that his career. Ernie n Wallace, Sandra Neil Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery. PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION. Paula Wiseman (Simon), 2018. $18. Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G. This is the true story of famous artist Ernie Barnes. His life starts in the segregated south, where he develops a love of art and a wish to see African American artists in galleries. But because of his height, he fell into football, and eventually made that his career. Ernie never forgot his artwork though, and when the time was right he found success as a sports artist and more. Filled with large creative illustrations. I like this story on so many levels; Ernie was is successful and famous African American role model, he is an inspirational and incredibly talented artist, and he can show young people that you can like art and like sports at the same time. The artwork is just incredibly –both by the illustrator Bryan Collier and by Ernie Barnes himself. I’m going to be showing this book to our art teacher right away. EL – ADVISABLE. Stephanie, Elementary School Librarian & Author https://kissthebook.blogspot.com/2018...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christine Irvin

    Ernie Barnes loved art from his childhood all the way through until his death. His mother nurtured his love for drawing and artwork, and his father nurtured his love for music. He didn't try out for his high school football team, but the football coach noticed his physique, and recruited him to the team, where he became a star player. From there, he went on to play in the American football League. But Ernie's real love was art. When he wasn't actually on the field playing, he would sit on the si Ernie Barnes loved art from his childhood all the way through until his death. His mother nurtured his love for drawing and artwork, and his father nurtured his love for music. He didn't try out for his high school football team, but the football coach noticed his physique, and recruited him to the team, where he became a star player. From there, he went on to play in the American football League. But Ernie's real love was art. When he wasn't actually on the field playing, he would sit on the sidelines and sketch what was happening on the field. He didn't really want to play football, but as a young black man in the segregated South, he didn't think he could make a living with his artwork. After the last game of the 1964 season, Ernie quick the game. He didn't have any money, but he had an idea. Over the years he had produced dozens of drawings and paintings, many of them football-related. He decided to pitch his idea at a meeting for the owners of the AFL. He told them he wanted to "become the Official Artist for the American Football League." And, he did. His paintings now hang in museums in such places as Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Tournas

    This is a wonderful picture book biography of the artist Ernie Barnes. Growing up in the South in the 1940's, football was the way open to him to make a living, but he always made art. After stints in the NFL and the AFL, he became the official artist of the AFL. Wallace describes the ease with which Barnes was able to enter the world of sports, and also how racism barred his way to the world of art. He was self motivated and kept drawing during his football career despite getting fined $50 each This is a wonderful picture book biography of the artist Ernie Barnes. Growing up in the South in the 1940's, football was the way open to him to make a living, but he always made art. After stints in the NFL and the AFL, he became the official artist of the AFL. Wallace describes the ease with which Barnes was able to enter the world of sports, and also how racism barred his way to the world of art. He was self motivated and kept drawing during his football career despite getting fined $50 each time his coach found him drawing! Engaging text places Barnes' struggles and achievements in historical context. Collier's richly textured watercolor and collage illustrations show Barnes as a relatable figure and make him come alive to the reader. Substantial back matter adds more depth to the subject, including reproductions of Barnes's art, resources and author and illustrator notes. I love that this book shows that Ernie Barnes was at the intersection of art and sports, which kids tend to think of as incompatible subjects. What a great read aloud for early elementary school classrooms!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jo Oehrlein

    How a black boy grew up in the segregated south and became an artist (at first supporting himself by playing pro football). A story of grit and determination and self-knowledge and talent and courage. This part early on is just heart breaking: Ernest searched for paintings of people like him. He didn't see any. He had to find the wors to ask the tour guide an important question. Ernest moved closer, gathering the words in his head. "Where are the paintings by Negro artists?" he asked. Surprised by E How a black boy grew up in the segregated south and became an artist (at first supporting himself by playing pro football). A story of grit and determination and self-knowledge and talent and courage. This part early on is just heart breaking: Ernest searched for paintings of people like him. He didn't see any. He had to find the wors to ask the tour guide an important question. Ernest moved closer, gathering the words in his head. "Where are the paintings by Negro artists?" he asked. Surprised by Ernest's question, the tour guide paused. "Your people don't express themselves in that way," she said.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Frances Hotchkiss

    I loved this beautiful book on the life of Ernie Barnes artist and football player. The collage illustrations are gorgeous, so realistic! It was wonderful that his mom made sure her children knew about music and art. Because of his size his dad wanted him to be a professional football player. He said Ernie's art would not feed him. It was outstanding that while he played football he got ideas for his paintings and was able to still pursue his passion of art. Ernie's paintings were enjoyed by man I loved this beautiful book on the life of Ernie Barnes artist and football player. The collage illustrations are gorgeous, so realistic! It was wonderful that his mom made sure her children knew about music and art. Because of his size his dad wanted him to be a professional football player. He said Ernie's art would not feed him. It was outstanding that while he played football he got ideas for his paintings and was able to still pursue his passion of art. Ernie's paintings were enjoyed by many, "In Ernie's paintings they saw hope. They saw struggle. They saw beauty." The Historical, Authors and Illustrators notes are very informative and fill in the blanks of his life.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joan Arbogast

    "When I became an athlete I didn't stop being an artist." "An artist paints his own reality." "Being an artist has created in me the desire to continually affirm beauty." What an inspiring story of someone who overcame tremendous barriers to reach his dream of being an artist! Love the illustrations, too! Now I know something about Barnes, I want to go to the Pro Football hall of Fame in Canton to see his first football painting, The Bench. Back matter holds" an Historical Note, Author's Note, Illus "When I became an athlete I didn't stop being an artist." "An artist paints his own reality." "Being an artist has created in me the desire to continually affirm beauty." What an inspiring story of someone who overcame tremendous barriers to reach his dream of being an artist! Love the illustrations, too! Now I know something about Barnes, I want to go to the Pro Football hall of Fame in Canton to see his first football painting, The Bench. Back matter holds" an Historical Note, Author's Note, Illustrator's Note, To Learn More, Quote Sources, and Additional Resources.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Westerville

    I was unfamiliar with this story, even though I knew his most famous painting, Sugar Shack, and you probably do, too. Give to any kid with artistic aspirations, especially one who's been taught that sports and art are mutually exclusive, or that creating art is only for some people and not others. - Becky, Collection Development Reserve a library copy. I was unfamiliar with this story, even though I knew his most famous painting, Sugar Shack, and you probably do, too. Give to any kid with artistic aspirations, especially one who's been taught that sports and art are mutually exclusive, or that creating art is only for some people and not others. - Becky, Collection Development Reserve a library copy.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    I really enjoyed this book. I liked the pacing of how the author told Barnes's story. I learned so much. I had seen Barnes's work before but did not know the story of the artist; it is incredibly inspirational! And I think Collier made the absolute right choice not to try to make the art in the book look like the artist's. Barnes's style needs no explanation or adaptation. I had to immediately get online and look up the works mentioned but not pictured in the book. To me, this means the book doe I really enjoyed this book. I liked the pacing of how the author told Barnes's story. I learned so much. I had seen Barnes's work before but did not know the story of the artist; it is incredibly inspirational! And I think Collier made the absolute right choice not to try to make the art in the book look like the artist's. Barnes's style needs no explanation or adaptation. I had to immediately get online and look up the works mentioned but not pictured in the book. To me, this means the book does its job amazingly well. Please check this one out!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robin Loughlin

    Between the Lines is a wonderful true story about a boy who had many talents, but was passionate about one. Ernie Barnes loved art as a young boy and all through his life, but was also a very talented football player, and even went on to play in the NFL. But he never lost his love for art, and was finally given the opportunity to realize his dream! It's a heartwarming story about never giving up hope for what you want to do, although sometimes taking a different path when it makes sense financia Between the Lines is a wonderful true story about a boy who had many talents, but was passionate about one. Ernie Barnes loved art as a young boy and all through his life, but was also a very talented football player, and even went on to play in the NFL. But he never lost his love for art, and was finally given the opportunity to realize his dream! It's a heartwarming story about never giving up hope for what you want to do, although sometimes taking a different path when it makes sense financially and for the current time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Very well written and researched, this is a appealing story of someone following his dream in unusual and difficult circumstances. Barnes' determination is so inspiring! What a story. Collier's illustrations are equally well done, honoring Barnes' style but remaining Collier's own. Using fascinating perspectives and textures, these reward close inspection with rich detail. Back matter is outstanding and includes both author and illustrator notes that were really interesting. Very well written and researched, this is a appealing story of someone following his dream in unusual and difficult circumstances. Barnes' determination is so inspiring! What a story. Collier's illustrations are equally well done, honoring Barnes' style but remaining Collier's own. Using fascinating perspectives and textures, these reward close inspection with rich detail. Back matter is outstanding and includes both author and illustrator notes that were really interesting.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Micha O'Connor

    Excellent biography of professional football player who later became renowned artist, Ernie Barnes. His work is housed in the National Football Hall of Fame, has graced the cover of Marvin Gaye albums and television's Good Times. Occasionally called the "Black Picasso," his unique style depicts bodies with movement and grace. This book reveals the life of the gentle giant who moved from football field to museum. Excellent biography of professional football player who later became renowned artist, Ernie Barnes. His work is housed in the National Football Hall of Fame, has graced the cover of Marvin Gaye albums and television's Good Times. Occasionally called the "Black Picasso," his unique style depicts bodies with movement and grace. This book reveals the life of the gentle giant who moved from football field to museum.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    This is a wondrous story about a quiet artistic boy whose passion was drawing, yet he had a natural talent for football. His life evolved in a storybook switch from playing football professionally to survive, to becoming the official artist for the American Football League. The watercolor and collage illustrations are as glorious as the biography.

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