Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood

by F Isabel Campoy (Author) Rafael López (Illustrator)

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
What good can a splash of color do in a community of gray? As Mira and her neighbors discover, more than you might ever imagine! Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation--and how even the smallest artists can accomplish something big. Pick up a paintbrush and join the celebration!

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This empowering story of community engagement might inspire kids to get involved in their own neighborhoods.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
An inspiring and wistful message wrapped up in a subtle, thoughtful narrative and lively, beautiful art: simply superb.

Publishers Weekly

Inspired by how illustrator Lopez and his wife, Candice, helped enliven their San Diego neighborhood through art, Campoy and Howell introduce Mira, a young artist who sees possibilities in blank paper and loves to give away her pictures ("She gave a songbird to Mr. Sax and a red heart to the policeman who walked up and down the streets"). Mira finds a kindred spirit in a joyful muralist: "Maybe... something beautiful," he thinks as he looks at a painting Mira has taped to a dreary wall. As Mira begins contributing her own murals, others join in. Somber gray buildings are soon replaced by electric shades of pink, blue, and orange--the bold shapes, vivid colors, and flattened tableaus of Lopez's mixed-media artwork bring a mural-like atmosphere to every page as Campoy and Howell deliver a clear, uplifting message about the power of art to revitalize people and their surroundings. Ages 4-7. Agency: Full Circle Literary. (Apr.)

Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2—In a town that is dismal and austere, Mira offers her neighbor her joy—art. After Mira hands out some of her paintings, a muralist takes notice of her work. Eventually Mira, the muralist, and the diverse community come together to make their town a beautiful work of art. Lopez's illustrations dominate the landscape of the book and depict the characters' movements in a painterly style. Warm colors portray the community's efforts to brighten their neighborhood and contrast with the more muted tones used to depict the desolate cityscape. The illustrations are rendered with acrylic paints on wood, along with digital tools to layer photos and other objects to create Mira's neighborhood. The prose feels somewhat distant from the charming artwork and themes. The narrative was inspired by an actual event, as noted in the back matter, but the text does not fully transmit the heartwarming story of the powerful influence of art. VERDICT An additional purchase, especially where the artist's work is popular.—Briana Moore, School Library Journal

Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Chicago Public Library Best of the Best books of 2016
Huffington Post Best Picture Books of 2016
Kirkus Best of 2016
School Library Journal's Fuse#8 Best of 2016
Tomás Rivera Book Award

F Isabel Campoy
F. Isabel Campoy is an author, translator, and bilingual educator in San Rafael, California. Theresa Howell is a children's book author/editor in Evergreen, Colorado. Rafael López is a muralist and award-winning illustrator in San Diego, California. Visit their websites at,, and

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
April 20, 2016
Tomás Rivera
Book Award 2017 - 2017
Best Books 2016 - 2016

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