Extraordinary Magic: The Storytelling Life of Virginia Hamilton

by Nina Crews (Author)

Extraordinary Magic: The Storytelling Life of Virginia Hamilton
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
This lyrical picture book biography tells the story of one of America’s most celebrated children’s book authors, Virginia Hamilton, the first African American to win the Newbery Medal, and is perfect for fans of Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré.

Virginia was free.
To be a dreamer.
To be a wanderer.
To be her own unique self.
Free to be.

Virginia Hamilton was only nine years old when she decided she would become a writer. Growing up in the countryside of Ohio, she listened to her family’s stories and knew that words held extraordinary magic. From her childhood years discovering her love for storytelling, to her early adult life honing her craft in the city, Virginia found her voice in her writing as she began a career defined by her roots.  

Through interconnected poems, this moving biography celebrates the remarkable life of the highly decorated and much beloved Virginia Hamilton. It’s a stunning tribute to a girl who dared to dream—and inspired those after her to do the same.
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Publishers Weekly

Before she was an award-winning author of children's books, Virginia Hamilton (1934-2002) learned the art of storytelling from her close-knit family, who "knew that a good story doesn't/ have to be exactly true." Crews's free-verse poems recount Hamilton's Ohio upbringing learning from her father about Black luminaries, and wondering how she might shine like the starry individuals in her beloved family. After using her imagination to escape a nightmare, nine-year-old Hamilton determines to be a writer, and so she writes, filling her notebook and moving to New York City before finding success--then returning with her own family to the land where she was born. Digitally rendered, shape-based illustrations attend slice-of-life lines to emphasize Hamilton's experiences walking through the world as a storyteller whose "most extravagant trips/ were in her mind." An author's note and timeline conclude. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)

Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for Extraordinary Magic:

"Both a tribute to Hamilton's genius and an invitation to those yet to come."—Kirkus
Nina Crews

Nina Crews is the acclaimed author and illustrator of I'm Not Small and One Hot Summer Day and the illustrator of Not Done Yet: Shirley Chisholm's Fight for Change by Tameka Fryer Brown, as well as Seeing Into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright, A Girl Like Me by Angela Johnson, and The Neighborhood Mother Goose. She is the recipient of the NY Library Association Empire State Award. Nina lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and son. She invites you to visit her online at ninacrews.com.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little Brown and Company
Publication date
January 09, 2024
BISAC categories
JUV000000 - Juvenile Fiction | General
Library of Congress categories
African Americans
Picture books
Authors, American
21st century
Biographical poetry
African American women poets
Hamilton, Virginia

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