The Artivist

by Nikkolas Smith (Author)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
An inspiring picture book about how children can combine art and activism in their daily lives.

"They say I'm an artist. They say I'm an activist."

When a young boy realizes the scope of inequities in the wider world, he's seized with the urge to do more. He decides to bring together the different parts of himself—the artist and the activist—to become. . . an Artivist. After his mural goes viral, he sets out to change the world one painting at a time.

With inspiring text and stunning illustrations by Nikkolas Smith, The Artivist is a call to action for young readers to point out injustice in their lives and try to heal the broken bones of the world through their art.
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$17.09 $18.99

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
A powerful read-aloud to share and discuss.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

A Black child who is both activist and artist combines those concepts in this layered work from Smith (That Flag). For the story's narrator, who loves to paint and to "seed goodness," the world they live in often proves not to be the world they want, as visualized by the building-size monster they face that's made up of all manner of injustices. Bringing their identities together to effect change, the child determines to make art that will "show everyone what isn't working right." Kinetic textured digital illustrations portray issues of gentrification and housing insecurity, pollution and waste, hate and racism, and voter disenfranchisement, among others, while simple language makes big actions feel powerfully straightforward ("This needs to be fixed. This needs to be fixed too"). Envisioning "the broken bones I see and the healing I hope for" makes an impact: when the child paints a mural that transforms an eviction-related sign from "MOVE TODAY" to "LOVE TODAY," the image goes viral, inspiring others. It's a meaningful portrait of artistic advocacy that ends with an invitation: "The Artivist is you. What change will you bring?" An author's note concludes. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Nikkolas Smith
Nikkolas Smith is an Artivist, picture book author, and Hollywood film illustrator. He is the author-illustrator of The Golden Girls of Rio and My Hair Is Poofy & That's Okay. He also illustrated the picture books I Am Ruby Bridges, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: The Courage to Dream, That Flag, and the New York Times bestselling The 1619 Project: Born on the Water. Many of Nikkolas's viral and globally published sketches that have sparked important conversations and inspired meaningful change are included in his book Sunday Sketch: The Art of Nikkolas. He speaks on his Artivism at conferences, workplaces, and schools around the world, and he also leads workshops about digital painting. Born in Houston, Texas, Nikkolas lives in Los Angeles, California. Learn more here:
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
September 20, 2023
BISAC categories
JUV003000 - Juvenile Fiction | Art & Architecture
JUV039140 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
JUV039290 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Activism & Social Justice
Library of Congress categories
African Americans
Picture books
Social change
Mural painting and decoration

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