Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott

by Joyce Scott (Author) Melissa Sweet (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
A moving and powerful introduction to the life and art of renowned artist, Judith Scott, as told by her twin sister, Joyce Scott and illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist, Melissa Sweet. Judith Scott was born with Down syndrome. She was deaf, and never learned to speak. She was also a talented artist. Judith was institutionalized until her sister Joyce reunited with her and enrolled her in an art class. Judith went on to become an artist of renown with her work displayed in museums and galleries around the world. Poignantly told by Joyce Scott in collaboration with Brie Spangler and Melissa Sweet and beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist, Melissa Sweet, Unbound is inspiring and warm, showing us that we can soar beyond our perceived limitations and accomplish something extraordinary.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Scott (Entwined, for adults) and Spangler (Beast) begin this powerful picture biography of Scott's twin sister Judith (1943-2005) with a description of their early childhood. Joyce and Judy did everything together: "I don't know if everything comes in twos, but it seems that way to me!" But when Joyce is ready to attend school, Judy, who has "what will come to be known as Down syndrome," stays home. One morning, Joyce wakes up to find Judy gone, institutionalized by their parents. As an adult, Joyce brings her sister to live with her family and enrolls her in an art program, where Judy begins making intricate, colorful constructions with string, twigs, and found objects, word of which grows among buyers, critics, and museums. In delicate lines, illustrator Sweet (Alphamaniacs) commemorates the story's most emotive moments--Joyce's desolation, clutching twin stuffed bunnies, when Judy vanishes, and the whole-family embrace that enfolds Judy when she arrives to live with Joyce's family. Told in an order that allows readers to appreciate Judy the way Joyce does, this book's creators successfully render a personal story of love, nurture, and individual gifts. Back matter includes more information and photos of Judy's fiber art. Ages 4-8. Authors' agents: (for Scott) Stacey Glick, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret; (for Spangler) Mackenzie Brady Watson, Stuart Krichevsky. (June)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Told in an order that allows readers to appreciate Judy the way Joyce does, this book's creators successfully render a personal story of love, nurture, and individual gifts." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

A sweet yet troubling account of sisterhood and the power of art." —Kirkus Reviews

Joyce Scott
Joyce Wallace Scott is an educator, RN, development specialist, and published poet. She serves on the advisory board of the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California, and is currently involved in establishing the first program for artists with disabilities in Bali, dedicated to her sister's memory. She lives in Dutch Flat, California, with her husband.

Brie Spangler graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and is the author-illustrator of two picture books, Peg Leg Peke and The Grumpy Dump Truck. She also wrote a YA novel, Beast. Learn more about Brie and her books at BrieSpangler.com or on Twitter at @BrieSpangler.

Melissa Sweet is the Caldecott Honor artist of A River of Words by Jen Bryant, The Sleepy Little Alphabet by Judy Sierra, and Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter, among others. She is also the author-illustrator of Balloons Over Broadway, which was awarded a Robert F. Sibert Medal. You can find her online at melissasweet.net and on instagram at @melissasweetillustrator.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
June 20, 2021

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