new books

My Story, My Dance

My Story, My Dance
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome & illustrated by James E. Ransome
(Simon & Schuster)

A boy discovers his passion for dance and becomes a modern hero in this inspiring picture book biography of Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

When Robert Battle was a boy wearing leg braces, he never dreamed he’d study at Juilliard. Though most dancers begin training at an early age, it wasn’t until Robert was a teenager that his appreciation for movement first from martial arts, then for ballet became his passion. But support from his family and teachers paired with his desire and determination made it possible for Robert to excel. After years of hard work, the young man who was so inspired by a performance of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations became the artistic director of the very company that motivated him. Today, under Robert’s leadership, Alvin Ailey continues to represent the African American spirit through dance.


"In the hands of the Ransomes, a husband-and-wife team, Robert’s life is a classic inspirational story of family love, faith and passionate artistic devotion."--New York Times Book Review

Joltin' Joe DiMaggio
Written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by James E. Ransome

A tribute to one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived, Joe DiMaggio.

In the golden age of baseball, sports announcers ruled the radio, winning and losing was front-page news, and just about every young boy wanted to grow up to wear Yankee pinstripes, including Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio, Jr., a first generation Italian from San Francisco.

But Joe (as he was called) refused to believe he was out. So he practiced and practiced and he grew up ( and up and up), and became not just a baseball player, but a baseball legend.


Atheneum Books for Young Readers
ISBN 978-1-4169-4080-7

Joltin' Joe DiMaggio

My Name is Truth

My Name is Truth, The Life of Sojourner Truth
Written by Ann Turner and illustrated by James E. Ransome

Here is the celebrated story of how former slave Isabella Baumfree transformed herself into the preacher and orator Sojourner Truth, one of the most inspiring and important figures of the abolitionist and women's rights movements. Written in the fiery and eloquent voice of Sojourner Truth herself, this moving portrait will captivate readers just as Sojourner's words enthralled her listeners.


Imprint: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780060758981
ISBN 10: 0060758988

Freedom's School
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome

When Lizzie's parents are granted their freedom from slavery, Mama says it’s time for Lizzie and her brother Paul to go to a real school—a new one, built just for them. But will it be strong enough to stand forever?

"eloquent testament to the overriding importance of school"—Kirkus

Disney Hyperion
ISBN 978-1-4231-6103-5

Freedom's School

Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History

Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome

Brought together by the love of jazz, Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson is the story of how two musical prodigies, one a young boy who studied music at Tuskegee College in Alabama, the other the son of struggling Jewish immigrants from the West Side of Chicago, came together through music and helped create the style of music known as swing.

Holiday House Publishers
ISBN 978-0-8234-2362-0

This is the Rope
A Story from the Great Migration
By Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by James Ransome

When a little girl in South Carolina finds a rope under a tree she has no idea it will become part of her family's history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto a car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother.

With grace and poignancy, Woodson's lilting storytelling and Ransome's masterful paintings tell a rich story of a family adapting to change as they hold on to the past and embrace the future.

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group
ISBN 978-0-399-23986-1

This is the Rope

Light in the Darkness

Light in the Darkness
by Lesa Cline-Ransome
, illustrated by James Ransome

Based on historical fact, Light in the Darkness is a dramatic story of the determination of slaves to learn to read and write, despite the dangers from slave patrollers. "Rosa is eager to learn her letters. After the letters come words, and after the words come reading. ... Finally they [Rosa and her Mama] reach their destination: a hole dug in the ground and covered with branches. They climb down and begin making the shapes that Morris teaches them: A...B...C..."

Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books
ISBN 978-142313495-4

view a demo video about the artwork for this book

The Christmas Tugboat, How the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Came to New York City
by George Matteson and Adele Ursone, paintings by James Ransome

With lyrical language and evocative paintings, this picture book tells the heartwarming story of a real tug trip and the girl who was at the wheel as police and fire boats, helicopters, and tourists welcomed this world-famous tree into New York Harbor.

publisher: Clarion Books
ISBN 9780-618-99215-7

The Christmas Tugboat

My Teacher by James Ransome

My Teacher
written and illustrated by James Ransome

Inspired by the countless teachers I have met throughout the years, My Teacher recounts one teacher's quest to meaningfully touch the lives of the children in her classroom despite the challenges of budget cuts, testing, limited classroom resources and family hardships as she creatively educates and uplifts future generations of doctors, politicians, bus drivers, artists and teachers.

This book is a tribute to all of the teachers who come in early, leave late and give a little something extra to their students.

My hope is that readers leave My Teacher motivated, recharged and ready to take on the tremendous task of dedicating their lives to a greater purpose.

Published by Dial
ISBN 978-0-8037-3259-9

Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass
written by Lesa Cline-Ransome

"We started with the letter A and continued from there..." Based on Frederick Douglass's own Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, this is an inspiring story of the power of the individual.

"Drawing from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the Ransomes...create a powerful biographical account of the anti-slavery crusader, writer and orator's early life."
Starred Review, Publisher's Weekly

Published by Simon & Schuster
ISBN 978-1-4169-5903-8

Words Set Me Free

When Grandmama Sings

When Grandmama Sings
written by Margaree King Mitchell

About the gift of love, the beauty of music and its power to bring people together-- even in the segregated South, this is a warmhearted book about Belle's travels with her Grandmama on her singing tour throughout the south. "Belle, tonight was special. I could feel all of those folks with me. I want us to feel this way all the time. I want to sing in a place where black people and white people aren't kept apart...that's the kind of world I want for you."

Published by Harper Collins
ISBN 978-0-688-17563-4

New Red Bike!
Written and illustrated by James E. Ransome

New Red Bike is appropriate for preschoolers and early readers. Dealing with very simple, straightforward concepts of movement: up, down, back, around, under, behind, this might be the first book a child could read. In the midst of these concepts is a story: a little boy named Tom learns to share his New Red Bike with his friend, Sam.

"Every child knows the fine line between a stolen bike and a "borrowed" one. Ransome... writes here about the joys of cycling and the perils of the lost bicycle, and ultimately about the rewards of sharing and riding bikes among friends. With sweet illustrations and simple text, the message will work especially well with the training-wheel set." New York Times Book Review

Published by Holiday House
ISBN: 978-0-8234-2226-5

New Red Bike!

Before There Was Mozart

Before There Was Mozart
by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome

Joseph Boulogne loved music:
the singing of birds, the beat of drums, the peal of church bells- and most of all, the soaring notes of his violin. But as the son of a white plantation owner and a black slave, newly arrived in France from the West Indies, what chance did Joseph have for success with his music? Here is the true story of an extraordinary boy who overcame the prejudices of his peers to become one of the finest classical musicians in all of Europe.

ISBN 978-0-375-83600-8
Publisher Schwartz and Wade Books, a division of Random House

Gunner, Football Hero
by James E. Ransome

So what if Gunner is rounder than most football players? He throws a stellar pass! When he becomes third-string quarterback on his Pee Wee Football team, he fears he won't ever get to take the field. But in the championship game his team's luck runs out, and it is up to Gunner to lead them to victory. Will his awesome arm save the game? James Ransome's illustrations add humor and life to this unusual story about sportsmanship.

Lesson Plans for Teachers

ISBN-10: 0823420531
ISBN-13: 978-0823420537
Publisher: Holiday House

Gunner, Football Hero

A Joyful Christmas

A Joyful Christmas: A Treasury of New and Classic Songs, Poems, and Stories for the Holiday
by James E. Ransome

Filled with new and beloved poems, stories, songs, and more, here is a beautiful collection of prose and verse that celebrates the Christmas season. You'll find the classics here, such as Silent Night, Deck the Halls, and The Twelve Days of Christmas, as well as new stories by the talents of Pam Munoz Ryan, Joseph Bruchac, Katherine Paterson, Nancy Willard, and others. This evocative treasury depicts the holiday season in all its warmth and glory.

ISBN-10: 0805066217
ISBN-13: 978-0805066210
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.