Becoming Vanessa (Hardcover)

Becoming Vanessa By Vanessa Brantley-Newton Cover Image
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May/June 2021 Kids Indie Next List

“Vanessa is delightful! With irresistible illustrations, young readers will adore vivacious Vanessa and her message of confidence!”
— Jessica Walsh, The Brain Lair Bookstore, South Bend, IN


Get ready to go back to school with this inclusive, empathetic story that will help kids new to the classroom transform from timid caterpillars into beautiful butterflies who love exactly who they are!

On Vanessa's first day of school, her parents tell her it will be easy to make friends. Vanessa isn't so sure. She wears her fanciest outfit so her new classmates will notice her right away. They notice, but the attention isn't what she'd hoped for. As the day goes on, she feels more self-conscious. Her clothes are too bright, her feather boa has way too many feathers, and even her name is too hard to write.

The next day, she picks out a plain outfit, and tells her mom that her name is too long. She just wants to blend in, with a simple name like the other girls--why couldn't her parents have named her Megan or Bella? But when her mother tells her the meaning behind her name, it gives her the confidence she needs to introduce her classmates to the real Vanessa. Perfect for readers of Alma and How She Got Her Name and The King of Kindergarten.

About the Author

Vanessa Brantley-Newton is a self-taught illustrator, doll maker, and crafter who studied fashion illustration at FIT and children's book illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She is the author and illustrator of Grandma's Purse and Just Like Me, and has illustrated numerous children's books, including The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes and Sewing Stories by Barbara Herkert. Vanessa currently makes her nest in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, daughter, and a very rambunctious cat named Stripes. Learn more about Vanessa and her artwork at and on Facebook and Instagram.

Praise For…

"This classic school story offers a full range of emotions and situates this life-loving Black child in affirming family and school settings. A welcome addition to every shelf."--Kirkus

"Bright, childlike mixed-media illustrations with a variety of patterns will appeal to youngsters, and the idea of a name having a meaning will be new to many children."--Booklist

"A hopeful celebration of individualism and an ode to recognizing one’s inner specialness."--Publishers Weekly
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525582120
ISBN-10: 0525582126
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 15th, 2021
Pages: 40
Language: English