Michele
Award Winning Children’s Illustrator
John Newbery Medal of Honor
Travels from: Indianapolis, IN

“An artful and introspective retelling of the life of a remarkable man and a painful era in U.S. history. Weatherford’s text paired with Wood’s illustrations combine to offer a memorable work of nonfiction.”—School Library Journal (starred review)

Michele Wood (American born 1964) is an American Artist, who creates imagery from found materials, plants, artist paint, photographs and more. I construct my paintings, and collage paintings to be an installation when exhibited to fill the exhibition space. The paintings transition to living art in a space. The painting and public together change the space to become a new living artwork. My work is often found in literary work for children. I am an Author and Illustrator too. My motto is “ We all can be victorious with exposure to books that reflect and engage.”

Who are you? In recent times, I have evolved as an Artist by expressing my work through literary means. I wrote my first story in 1998 in the picture book Just Like Me. My first published essay for the Hornbook Magazine May/June issue 2019 and SCBWI Newsletter. The struggle to become a whimsical writer and thought provoking was a result of lack of confidence. Now, I pour out my colorful and important stories that are reflective of my experience.

In 2021, as a result of becoming a professional award-winning illustrator, my work was selected for the Hamilton Cast Read Along /Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, read by Elijah Malcomb.

What do you do? I create award-winning historical, educational and entertaining stories of my own and illustrate other author’s manuscripts. I work two different ways. I create my own stories and my paintings are painted before the text. Second, I receive manuscripts to partner with an Author and illustrate. When taking on important projects, my work is reflective of the story and I add to it. My job is to find the adjectives and create from the descriptive words. I add more in greater detail by researching. The information I gather must be accurate. I create some of my books from concept (idea) to finish form. The books that I have created are engaging students in several learning styles: visual, text and musical.

Why do I do what I do? The reason why I am an Artist is to inform the viewing public about American stories and theological stories. With the weight of my experience and maturity, I believe what I do as a creative person can be used for reconciliation and restoration.

How have you reached this point? By mastering my way of painting after receiving my undergrad degree, I became a conceptualist and Illustrator for picture books. The first book I created won an American Book Award Before the Columbus Foundation. Afterwards, the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, Ashley Bryan Illustration Award, the 47th NAACP Image Award honor nomination and more.

My artwork is in rich tones, values, and vibrant. I went back to school to obtain my Masters in Divinity. It complemented my work by executing theological knowledge application to my books in order to further guide audiences into a richer based art and text.

BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom

Candlewick |
Creative Nonfiction

A 2021 Newbery Honor Book

In a moving, lyrical tale about the cost and fragility of freedom, a New York Times best-selling author and an acclaimed artist follow the life of a man who courageously shipped himself out of slavery.

What have I to fear?
My master broke every promise to me.
I lost my beloved wife and our dear children.
All, sold South. Neither my time nor my body is mine.
The breath of life is all I have to lose.
And bondage is suffocating me.

Henry Brown wrote that long before he came to be known as Box, he “entered the world a slave.” He was put to work as a child and passed down from one generation to the next — as property. When he was an adult, his wife and children were sold away from him out of spite. Henry Brown watched as his family left bound in chains, headed to the deeper South. What more could be taken from him? But then hope — and help — came in the form of the Underground Railroad. Escape!

In stanzas of six lines each, each line representing one side of a box, celebrated poet Carole Boston Weatherford powerfully narrates Henry Brown’s story of how he came to send himself in a box from slavery to freedom. Strikingly illustrated in rich hues and patterns by artist Michele Wood, Box is augmented with historical records and an introductory excerpt from Henry’s own writing as well as a time line, notes from the author and illustrator, and a bibliography.

Clap Your Hands: A Celebration of Gospel

Zonderkidz |
Children’s

Clap Your Hands is an inspirational, joyous celebration of poetry, art, and rhythm, tracing the history of African American gospel music and the poets, singers, and thought leaders who have fearlessly and soulfully contributed to the spiritual and social evolution of America. This powerful and poetic read bursts with vibrant artwork and is rich in personal notes and information that will interest any history buff or music enthusiast.

Created by the dynamic author and illustrator team of Toyomi Igus and Michele Wood, winners of the Coretta Scott King Award for I See the Rhythm, Clap Your Hands shares the Black history behind gospel music that has courageously broken all color barriers, influencing both worship and popular culture in America for hundreds of years. Clap Your Hands is great for children ages 4 to 8. Inside, you’ll find:

  • Notes from the author and the illustrator sharing their personal inspirations and influences, as well as their research on the roots and evolution of gospel music
  • Historical notes about the events covered in the book, exploring the cultural importance of gospel music throughout history
  • Further reading section, discography, and discussion questions to encourage learning and engagement
  • A running timeline of all historical milestones–from the first slaves to President Obama’s inauguration

    Readers of all ages will be captivated by this informative and inspirational blend of poetry, art, and music that honors gospel music and reflects its journey.

Born to Swing: Lil Hardin Armstrong’s Life in Jazz

Calkins Creek |
Children’s

Here is the story of “Hot Miss Lil” Hardin Armstrong, legendary jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader–and a female pioneer on the music stage.

Ever since she was a young girl, Lil Hardin played music with a beat. She jammed at home, at church, and even at her first job in a music store. At a time when women’s only place in jazz was at the microphone, Lil earned a spot playing piano in Chicago’s hottest band. She went on to achieve fame as a bandleader and composer, and “swung” with many of the greatest early jazz musicians, including her husband, Louis Armstrong. Award-winning author Mara Rockliff and acclaimed illustrator Michele Wood brilliantly capture the rhythms and passions of this jazz pioneer and legend whose music and story deserve to be heard. This biography contains strong back matter which includes archival images, further information about Lil, a list of some of her songs and recordings, a timeline, an author’s note, and a bibliography.

Like a Bird: The Art of the American Slave Song

Millbrook Press |
Children’s

Enslaved African Americans longed for freedom, and that longing took many forms–including music. Drawing on biblical imagery, slave songs both expressed the sorrow of life in bondage and offered a rallying cry for the spirit.

Like a Bird brings together text, music, and illustrations by Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator Michele Wood to convey the rich meaning behind thirteen of these powerful songs.

Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, Inspired by Historical Facts

Orchard Books |
Children’s

Nikki Grimes offers a glimpse into the inspiring lives of Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman, with breathtaking illustrations by Michele Wood!

What if Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony sat down over tea to reminisce about their extraordinary lives? What would they recall of their triumphs and struggles as they fought to achieve civil rights for African Americans and equal rights for women? And what other historical figures played parts in their stories? These questions led Coretta Scott King Award winner Nikki Grimes to create CHASING FREEDOM, an engaging work of historical fiction about two of the nineteenth century’s most powerful, and inspiring, American women. With breathtaking illustrations by Coretta Scott King Award winner Michele Wood, CHASING FREEDOM richly imagines the experiences of Tubman and Anthony, set against the backdrop of the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Additional back matter invites curious young readers to further explore this period in history–and the larger-than-life figures who lived it.

i see the rhythm

Children’s Book Press |
Children’s

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, American Library Association (ALA)
Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Book, American Library Association (ALA)
Notable Children’s Book, American Library Association (ALA)

i see the rhythm is an inspiring celebration of African American music and the far-reaching impact it has had on the world.

From Michele Wood and Toyomi Ingus, the award-winning artist and author of Going Back Home, comes their second book, i see the rhythm, a uniquely visual and poetic introduction to the history of African American music.

Beginning with the roots of black music in Africa and continuing on to contemporary hip hop, i see the rhythm takes us on a musical journey through time. We are invited to feel the rhythm of work songs on a southern plantation, to see the rhythm of jazz from a balcony in New Orleans, to dance to the rhythm of swing at the Savoy in Harlem, and to rejoice to the rhythm of gospel from a church pew on a Sunday morning.

Each stunning spread-including art, poetic text, a description of the music style, and a time line of selected historical events-encompasses the spirit of the times and the strength of the communities where the music was born. Igus’s lyrical text, matched with Wood’s daring vision, captures the feel of each style of music and pays tribute to the musicians who gave the music life.

i see the rhythm is an inspiring celebration of African American music and the far-reaching impact it has had on the world.

I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers |
Children’s

This rich and intricate collection of poems chronicles the various experiences of American slaves. Drawn together through imagery drawn from quilting and fiber arts, each poem is spoken from a different perspective: a house slave, a mother losing her daughter to the auction block, a blacksmith, a slave fleeing on the Underground Railroad.

This moving and eloquent set of poems, brought to life by vivid and colorful artwork from Michele Wood, offers a timeless witness to the hardship endured by America’s slaves. Each poem is supplemented by a historical note.

Going Back Home: An Artist Returns to the South

Children’s Book Press |
Children’s

More than half a century after her family moved North to find a better life, African American artist Michele Wood returned to the South to see and feel the land where her ancestors lived. In her first book for children, Wood presents her paintings inspired by this personal journey. Igus interprets her visual images and family stories. Full color.

Christmas Soul: African American Holiday Stories

With original stories by Debbie Allen, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Whitney Houston, D.L. Hughley,
Monica, and more. In this collection of poignant and witty original stories, African American
celebrities recount their favorite childhood Christmas memories. Accompanied by evocative oil
paintings, these stories will illuminate the holidays for years to come. A portion of the proceeds
for Christmas Soul will be donated to The United Negro College Fund.

I See the Rhythm & I See the Rhythm of Gospel

i see the rhythm, a uniquely visual and poetic introduction to the history of African American
music. Each stunning spread— matched with Wood’s daring vision— captures the feel of each style
of music and pays tribute to the musicians who gave the music life.

Beginning with the roots of black music in Africa and continuing on to contemporary hip hop, i
see the rhythm takes us on a musical journey through time. We are invited to feel the rhythm of
work songs on a southern plantation, to see the rhythm of jazz from a balcony in New Orleans,
to dance to the rhythm of swing at the Savoy in Harlem, and to rejoice to the rhythm of gospel
from a church pew on a Sunday morning.

Each stunning spread-matched with Wood’s daring vision, captures the feel of each style of
music and pays tribute to the musicians who gave the music life

Like A Bird: Art of American Slave Songs

Enslaved African Americans longed for freedom, and that longing took many forms—including
music. Drawing on biblical imagery, slave songs both expressed the sorrow of life in bondage
and offered a rallying cry for the spirit.

Like a Bird brings together text, music, and illustrations by Coretta Scott King Award–winning
illustrator Michele Wood to convey the rich meaning behind thirteen of these powerful songs.

Born To Swing: Lil Hardin Armstrong Life in Jazz

Here is the story of “Hot Miss Lil” Hardin Armstrong, legendary jazz pianist, composer, and
bandleader—and a female pioneer on the music stage.Ever since she was a young girl, Lil
Hardin played music with a beat.

Domestic Violence: Restore the imprint on my soul

I will discuss domestic violence through creative means. I wrote a poem to share. I will teach the adults to write a poem during discussion. I will discuss the steps I took to make my way back.

Mental health topics

Student workshops

BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, Illustrator Q&A with Michele Wood

Illustrator Michele Wood on Faith and Art

Robert A Nicholson Library | York Children’s Literature Festival 2022

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Grants, Honors, Awards and Reviews

2022-2023 Creative Renewal Arts Fellow
2021 NCAA College Playoff Championship Mural “Light of the World Log Cabin Field Goal by artist Michele Wood, on South Capitol Street near Maryland Street”
2019 Global Ministries: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. Ministry Grant
2017 McGraw Foundation: Awarded Grant

Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom
2021 John Newbery Medal, Honor
2021 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
2021 ALSC Notable Children’s Books
2021 El dia de los
2021 Notable Poetry Award

Starred Review for Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom 2021
2021 Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books Award
2021 Booklist
2021 Horn Book
2021 Award CCBC Choices, Cooperative Children’s Book Center (Cover)
2021 School Library Journal
2021 Publishers Weekly

Born To Swing: Lil Hardin Armstrong’s life in Jazz
2019 CCBC Choices award
2019 Elvia de los award
2019 Junior Library Guild Selections

I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage
Starred Review for 2019
2019 Best Books Kirkus Reviews
2019 Best Children’s Books of the Year
2019 Bank Street College of Education
2019 School Library Journal
2019 Booklist
2019 Publishers Weekly
2019 Kirkus Reviews
2019 Notable Children’s Book
2019 American Library Association (ALA)
2019 Notable Books in the Language Arts
2019 National Council of Teachers of English

Like A Bird: The Art of American Slave Song
2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner
2017 Notable Award Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, Winner
2016 Land of Enchantment Book Award Reading List Selection, Long-listed, 2016 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids, Winner
2016 Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children, Winner

Chasing Freedom: the life Journey of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony
2016 NAACP Image Awards Honor for outstanding Literary work
2016 CCBC Choice: Honor Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Like A Bird: The Art of American Slave Song
2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner
2017 Notable Award Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, Winner
2016 Land of Enchantment Book Award Reading List Selection, Long-listed
2016 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids, Winner
2016 Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children, Winner

I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery
2013 CCBC Choice:Cooperative Children’s Book Center
2013 Notable Books for a Global Society
2013 Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature
2013 Parents Choice Award, Parents Choice Foundation

I See the Rhythm
2000 Texas Bluebonnet Award, Texas Library Association for I See the Rhythm
1999 Jane Adams Award, accepted at the United Nations, I See Rhythm
1999 Notable Book Award, American Library Association for I See the Rhythm
1999 Coretta Scott King Award, American Library Association for I See the Rhythm
1999 Best book of the Year , National Association of Multicultural Education for I See the Rhythm
1999 Blue Bonnet Ribbon Book Award, for I See the Rhythm picture book Book and Award/Honors
Going Back Home: Artist Return to the South Illustrated by Michele Wood,
interpreted and written by Toyomi Igus, Children’s Book Press. Story about my history.
1997 California Collections, California Readers
1997 National Parenting Publicists, Honor Award
1997 NAPPA National Parenting Honor Award, Going Back Home picture
1997 International Reading Association Award, Going Back Home book
1997 Kipping Stone Award, Skipping Stone International Multicultural Magazine
1996 Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book Award, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Book Going Back Home
1994 The Black History Jazz Series accepted at the Apex Museum, Atl, Ga.
1993 The Black History Jazz Series, accepted at the Apex Museum, Atl, Ga.
1992 Apex Museum Fine Art Contest, won second prize

Media clips

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of History | Hamilton Cast Read Along

World Footprints Podcast | Celebrating Black History – In Literary Color

The Brown Bookshelf | Michele Wood

Media Kit

By clicking the link below your will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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