Book Review: We Can: Portraits of Power by Tyler Gordon

Posted September 25, 2021 by Richetta in #ownvoices, Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Young Reader / 0 Comments

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Book Review: We Can: Portraits of Power by Tyler Gordon

I received this book for free from MacKidsBooks in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Book Review: We Can: Portraits of Power by Tyler GordonWe Can by Tyler Gordon
on September 28, 2021
Genres: Juvenile Nonfiction / Art / Painting, Juvenile Nonfiction / Diversity & Multicultural
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover
Source: MacKidsBooks
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop

"When I was born, the doctors told my mom that if I did survive I would have lots of health problems and be blind, deaf and severely mentally delayed . . . Boy were they wrong!" —Tyler Gordon

Fifteen-year-old Tyler Gordon's journey from a regular kid growing up in San Jose, California, to a nationally recognized artist wasn’t without its challenges. For the first six years of his life he was fully deaf, which led to a stutter and bullying. Art gave him a creative outlet for his pain. Then, after painting a portrait of Kamala Harris and posting it on social media, he received a call from the vice president herself! Soon his art was everywhere. He had an interview with the The Today Show. He was the youngest artist featured in the Beverly Center. His portrait of LeBron James graced the cover of TIME Magazine. And that was only the beginning!

Here is a debut picture book by partially deaf prodigy Tyler Gordon, featuring his bold paintings of over 30 icons—musicians, artists, writers, civils rights leaders, sports legends, change-makers, record-setters, and more—alongside short explanations of how these people inspire him.

If Tyler can make art and follow his dreams, you can, too. We all can.

When I heard that a 15-year old was the author of We Can: Portraits of Power, I immediately wanted to check it out. As an educator and mom I am always here for kid/teen success stories! Also as a mom of an artistic child, I can’t wait to share this inspirational book with her.

Some Background

Tyler Gordon began painting when he was 10 years old. He had a dream at the time in which “God said that if I didn’t use my gifts, he was going to take them away from me.” Tyler has since painted over 300 portraits of icons that have inspired both the world and his own life personally. He also has a severe stutter and was bullied because of it. One of the second things that caught my attention about this book was the phrase on the book flap before I began reading, “pain into paint on the canvas.” Tyler has learned to channel his pain into his artwork and learning about the icons that he paints.

Portraits of Icons

Tyler’s portraits feature those from both the 20th and 21st centuries. Everyone from our current president Joe Biden and poet Amanda Gorman, who both have had to persevere through a stutter, to older icons like Marilyn Monroe Jimi Hendrix. You can see the influence on his work from the media he consumes, like The View with Whoopi Goldberg. You can also see the influence of his mother in portraits of Prince and The Beatles. And of course you see the influence of those he admires.

My Fave Portraits

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • Kamala Harris
  • Janet Jackson

Paintbrushes and Talent

This kid has talent! This book is inspirational on multiple levels. This book is for kids suffering from bullying, for those trying to overcome a stutter, for those who are interested in art. This is definitely a great selection for the young artist in your life. It also features lots of present-day and historical icons that a young scholar can learn more about. For each portrait he shares why he was inspired to paint that person’s portrait.

We Can: Portraits of Power Book Tour Continues

Don’t forget to visit the next stops on this tour! Check out Instagram for the continued tour with a song playlist from Reading Stewardess on September 27 and a review by Booktuber Books with Brandie Shanae on Sept. 28!

Special thanks to Colored Pages Bookish Tours for selecting me to participate in this book tour for We Can: Portraits of Power. Thank you also to Macmillan and Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers for providing a free finished copy of the book. This did not effect the content of my review.

We Can: Portraits of Power Book Tour Schedule

September 22nd

Curlytop Reads – Review Only 

September 23rd

Wordsandcyphers – Review Only 

September 24th

Books-N-Bullsh!t – Mood Board

September 25th 

Mella’s Musings – Favorite quotes 

September 26th 

Cocoa With Books – Review Only 

September 27th 

Reading Stewardess – Playlist 

September 28th

 Books with Brandie Shanae – Review Only

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