Instructor Stories: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Introduction

I'm thrilled that Vanessa Brantley-Newton will be returning to teach live Character Design workshops for Term 2, which starts on May 9. She also agreed to mentor a discounted critique group this term, and I can't think of a better person you could have as a mentor if you want to be an illustrator. Vanessa has illustrated nearly 100 children's books, some of which she also wrote. (If you're in Makers Pro, I hope you're watching your email. Those spots will sell out quickly.)

I first met Vanessa Brantley-Newton at a big SCBWI conference in Los Angeles in 2017. She was one of the keynote speakers, and I also attended her breakout session. Both times, she moved me to tears. Vanessa did it again with her intro video for her Character Design class. She's had to overcome challenges, and yet, she speaks from this place of love and joy. And when you add all of that to her storytelling ability, you have an highly relatable, inspirational teacher. 

I want to share the following TED Talk to illustrate my point. It's from two and a half years ago, but if you aren't familiar with Vanessa, it will give you a taste of who she is.

Character Design

I've been selling my writing for about 25 years, in one form or another, but I'm fairly new to illustration. So I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was for me to understand and keep up with Vanessa Brantley-Newton's Character Design class. The work is challenging, but a beginner can do it. It's the sort of class that you could take over and over again and improve every time that you did it. 

In Vanessa's class, I learned how to:

  • Design a character
  • Capture expressions
  • Draw more consistent characters
  • Make a Character Model Sheet
  • Dress and accessorize my character
  • Turn my character
  • Move and pose my character
  • Use color and texture so much better
  • Collage more effectively

The following character model sheet is an example from Vanessa's class. She teaches with demos to make sure you don't miss any of the steps.

Best of all, if you're a Makers Pro member or pay for the live workshops, you can ask Vanessa any questions you have in the workshops.

Vanessa's Books

Vanessa Brantley-Newton has been illustrating children's books long enough that I can't post all of them here. She has a joyful, colorful style that's easy enough to pick out. Here are some of her more recent highlights.

Derrick Barnes, the author of THE KING OF KINDERGARTEN, shared an absolutely delightful video of of “Sugar Ray” Leonard reading this book on his Facebook page. Listening to him do voices for the characters will make you smile. 

And Oprah read THE HULA-HOOPIN' QUEEN on YouTube

Vanessa will be reading her newest picture book tomorrow on Instagram, which brings us to our book giveaway. 

Book Giveaway Details

I will be giving away a copy of JUST LIKE ME, Vanessa Brantley-Newton's latest picture book. If you win and would prefer a different book of Vanessa's, you can choose a different book (as long as it's one of Vanessa's, haha). To enter, just leave a comment on this post. For additional entries, you can share the post on social media and post a link to where you’ve shared in the comments (preferably as a comment to your original comment so that all of your entries are grouped together).

If you share your experience of learning from Vanessa, either through Storyteller Academy or a conference or even on this post, I'd be happy to give you another entry.

I’ll close the contest at midnight, Pacific Time, on May 9. Thanks for reading and sharing!

Blog Contributors

Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems. 

Arree Chung is an author/illustrator and the founder of Storyteller Academy. Arree’s Ninja! series has received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Kirkus also gave a starred review to Mixed, which recently won the FCGB award. 

Today Arree lives a creative life, making stories for children. Arree spends most of his time making picture books, writing middle grade novels, and sharing his love for art, design, and storytelling with kids and dreamers everywhere.

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141 thoughts on “Instructor Stories: Vanessa Brantley-Newton”

  1. I can’t wait to take her class, and was considering doing the whole Master Pro thing, but I thought we were supposed to wait until the free week was up before we enrolled. No? Nice introduction, and her own bio shows that she is a lot of fun too. Thanks for the intro.

  2. Goops. I forgot the website. My own site is down so I put my ig account. Hope that’s OK. I already commented on this post and Vanessa. Sounds like a great class.

  3. Kimberly Woerner

    My students loved your book, The King of Kindergarten, this year! It was a popular read aloud. Thank you for sharing your wit and wisdom in your books! I am looking forward to learning from you in the near future! Blessings to you and yours.

  4. Nicole Levesque

    I haven’t yet read her books but now I want them all. I’m a Preschool teacher and love discovering new PB artists. I can’t wait to get her books for my classroom and for my 3 and 6 year old daughters.

  5. Wow. Vanessa sounds like a person everyone likes to be around. I can’t wait to learn from her. And that title “Mary Had a Little Glam” is so awesome and right up my alley! I definitely want to read that one! Looking forward to her session this week 🙂

  6. Beth Gallagher

    Vanessa has been an inspiration to me ever since I discovered her online while my daughter was ill. Not much could lift me out of that Hell, but Vanessa’s talent, her joy, and her support sure did. I’ll be finding a way to take her classes! Thanks for the chance to win one of her books!

  7. That was such a wonderful video shared!! The initial story caused me some anxiety, but I’m relieved it was comical in the end! I studied film history in college, so I’m well aware of what the horrible representations of people of diverse backgrounds were like. I am so relieved things are changing now and there needs to be more effort made like with what Vanessa has done through her books. Being the change is the only way. Thank you!

  8. I am so impressed with her work, just reading this blog sparked a possible resolution to a block I’ve been having with a character! I’m going to go back and just draw draw draw this character and get to know him again. Thanks!

  9. All of this is so very new to me but I am excited to get started learning all that I can from Vanessa.

    I am also interested in the makers pro classes and any classes that Vanessa will be teaching. I so need this!

  10. I want to be friends with Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Please come eat dinner with my family and I in Miami, Florida!!! 🙂 The Ted Talk was beautiful . I can’t wait. My name is Amanda Humbert Knight. I want to win the book, but, I really just want to be friends lol. Like real friends, that drink tea together. Keep inspiring children and families with your pictures. You inspire mine. My family and friends are seen on ever page of your books. Thank you.

  11. Tanika Roberson

    So excited to find another amazing author! I look forward to finding out more about her from the Storyteller Group and the sessions!

  12. Deyanira Aponte

    I am so excited about this week’s workshop. Ever since I had a son I have fallen in love with children’s books. I can’t wait for Vanessa’s part of the workshop!

  13. I am so looking forward to learning from Vanessa. I’m very much a beginner, so I haven’t signed up for any classes yet. But learning about her and the things she covers in her class makes me eager to feel ready to sign up!

  14. Wow! Would.lobe to win one of Vanessa’s books. They all look amazing! I have a 4 yr old daughter who loves to read! 😉

  15. That was so inspirational. As a teacher I am always scouring the internet for books that reflect my students! I love Vanessa’s illustrations and mission to provide our kids with representation and diversity!

  16. That was so inspirational. As a teacher I am always scouring the internet for books that reflect my students! I love Vanessa’s illustrations and mission to provide our kids with representation and diversity!

  17. Stephanie Mckenney

    I can’t wait for tomorrow’s picture book challenge with Vanessa. The motivation and inspiration I’m getting from this small workshop is really firing things up for me. I have a small fear about drawing so I’m excited to take a leap. I also want to sign up for classes. Plus, I love Vanessa’s books! Thank you for this opportunity!

  18. Can’t wait to learn from Vanessa. My daughter has some of her books in her library. It is important to have diversity in children’s books that she can identify with and are part of all children’s literature.

  19. Kimberly Robinson

    I love Vanessa Brantley-Newton. We were able to meet her in person at the Decatur Book Festival and my baby girl even chose to do a black history poster about her. Her books are absolutely wonderful and I love that my children are able to see characters that resemble them. I can’t wait to read her new book and see what other things she has in store.

  20. She sounds amazing. Illustrating characters is probably my weakest point and I’d love to take her class.

  21. I’ve just discovered her and I’m devouring everything she’s done because it is so inspirational! I’d love to win a copy!

  22. I’ve never seen her books before, but sure as heck will look out for them now.i no doubt her enthusiasm oozes all over the page

  23. This class sounds great, I was reading about it on the website and I’d love to take it. I’m an artist but illustration is new to me.

  24. Vanessa is amazing! It’s no small feat and I am impressed with all she has accomplished! Thank you for the opportunity to learn from her!

  25. I love Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s characters and her ability to tell a story. She made it look so easy! I plan to participate and learn more from such an expert in both illustrations and story telling as an eager learner sitting at her feet…!

  26. I also had the thrill of meeting Vanessa at the LA SCBWI Conference; and what a beautiful human being she is. She is serious, Joyous Sunshine. I loved listening to her stories from childhood, neighborhood, and early struggles as she reached for her creative goals. Vanessa makes the wonderful work she does looks so easy, but it’s not! 😁 She is a genius creative spreading loving kindness and joy everywhere she goes. My favorite book of Vanessa’s is, The Hula-Hooping Queen. The depth of character in this story is, hug the book, REAL, REAL, TIGHT good. 😁 I’d love to win any of Vaness’a works, but TH-HQ would be highest hope.

  27. Andrea West (Urbina)

    “King of Kindergarten” is one of my husband and my favorite books to read to our 4-year-old son. The experience of the main character and his parents is so authentic. We undoubtedly want our little boy to feel like a king. While her books appeal to all children regardless of race, they should definitely be on the reading lists of children of color and their parents and educators. Ms Brantley-Newton representation of the culture and experience of children of color is extremely important work. She is an inspiration, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn from her.

  28. Colleen Roderiques

    I am so grateful to Storyteller Academy for exposing me to Vanessa! Just watched her TedTalk and I am in love💗 what a beautiful life story that lead her to this amazing work. I want not only to learn from her but to be her friend, sit at her table!

  29. Elena Sonora Brown

    My first introduction to Ms. Brantley-Newton was when she visited my town during the public library’s “Greensboro Bound:Literacy Festival”. I got a signed poster of her book “Jada Jones: Rock Star”.

  30. Elena Sonora Brown

    My first introduction to Ms. Brantley-Newton was when she visited my town during the public library’s “Greensboro Bound:Literacy Festival”. I got a signed poster of her book “Jada Jones: Rock Star”.

  31. Gennifer Jones

    My daughter loves Mary Had A Little Glam! Such amazing work and Vanessa is so inspiring. I’m looking forward to learning more!

    1. Today’s class was so helpful and freeing! Thank you so much for teaching Vanessa, and for providing access to all this wisdom Arree and Myrna!

  32. Susan Rodriguez

    I loved listening and learning from Vanessa today! She is such an inspiration and so full of joy for her craft! I loved learning about her background and how the struggles we go through can help us in our character development. Thank you so much Storyteller Academy!

  33. Absolutely loved Vanessa’s class on Character Design. Her enthusiasm & passion for illustrating just makes me dive into my art supplies every time I watch her!
    Really enjoyed tonight’s session as part of picture book week. Again she breaks down the steps into an easy to follow format, seemingly mind-reading as she answers all the questions I have as she goes along. Thanks Vanessa for a fun session!

  34. Keisha Shearss

    I absolutely LOVE Vanessa! She is pure light. I met her two years ago at my campus. I am a dyslexia teacher, and felt like meeting her was designed to bring out the writer in me. It was so wonderful to see her again today via Zoom.

  35. Vanessa is such an inspiration to me as I am a kid lit illustrator just dipping her toes into the field! Vanessa and Arree’s chat about character design today was enlightening and I learned so much.

  36. I love Vanessa! She came to my SCBWI illustrator conference in Salt Lake City, Utah earlier this year (the first conference I have ever been to) and her presentation was so powerful. She made everyone feel so empowered and excited and ready to take on the world. And her message about diversity was so good. Anyway, I can’t wait to take her class!

  37. SO very inspiring!! I hope to win a copy of Vanessa’s book JUST LIKE ME. Thank you for sharing her TEDx Talk. Amazing talent in both art & song & public speaking!! I joined Storyteller Academy in January 2018 and have taken a few intensives, mini-classes & courses with Arree, Kenneth, Jim & Carter. Really enjoyed Vanessa’s character design intro today! Here’s my digital illustration from a childhood photo. I also share your article on my FB timeline 🙂

  38. I felt a fire lit inside me today as I watched Vanessa today in the zoom meeting! I have been feeling uninspired and like my time for this had past but now I feel like nothing can hold me back! Her passion and experiences are so inspiring and her way of teaching is magnetic! I can’t wait to see what characters are locked inside waiting to come out! Thank you Vanessa!

  39. I’m so excited to start learning and exploring this field. I grew up thinking I would write a book, so being offered all these resources right now has been so uplifting and exciting! Thank you to everyone at storyteller academy for everything you do!!

  40. I have always loved her work. Seeing her yesterday in class was so amazing. She’s such a great instructor and her warmth and joy in what she does is contagious 😊!

  41. I loved watching Vanessa’s Character Design Class yesterday! Very excited to learn more throughout the week!

  42. Vanessa’s class in the free academy was the tipping point in my decision to enroll in the Storyteller Academy 🙂 Vanessa Newton is a gift! Thank you!!

  43. Tassy Hawthorne

    Being part of the storyteller academy has been a life changing event for me. Being a preschool teacher for 25 years my desire is to one day read my book to kids . Vanessa class has inspired me to another level . Her energy and positive vibe is just as invigorating as her smile . I learn how to draw amazing kids down to the small details of their clothes . Her talent goes beyond books and I learn that you can take creativity to many different levels.

  44. Vanessa’s class last week was just fantastic. She has a vibrant presentation style and is a natural teacher. Looking forward to her course.

  45. Kimberly Buckmaster

    I am so excited to be a part of Storyteller Academy and Makers Pro! The free class with Vanessa gave me confidence to know I CAN be an illustrator of my own books!

  46. Kristen Ryals

    I am so motivated by Vanessa and her story. I am excited by how much I learned about creating characters from her and look forward to taking her full course!

  47. Vanessa is an incredible human. I love her enthusiasm and warm heart. Looking forward to starting her class next week!

  48. Beautiful Ted talk!! I am taking her class now and loving that passion! Before I even knew who she was I was reading books she illustrated and kept looking for them because they represented the diversity I wanted my children to see!!

    1. Congratulations, Tara! You won Vanessa’s picture book. I will email you for your mailing address.

  49. I took the one day workshop with Vanessa on developing a character, and then I took what she taught me to try and draw a character I have been thinking of for awhile. I was pretty excited that she actually came out looking halfway decent! I love Vanessa’s teaching style and I ADORE her work. After learning from her I feel more confident that I can actually learn to draw better and maybe someday illustrate my own stories!

  50. Joy Pitcairn

    I really enjoyed Vanessa’s Bootcamp lesson, which was during my first introduction to SA – so fun to see how she works!

  51. Denise Meagher

    Great talk – so much positive energy projecting out from my screen! I look forward to her class this term

  52. I have every one of Vannessa’s books in my elementary library. However, we don’t have this copy. If I win, guess where it is going? In my library to be shared with my 420 elementary students. We love you, Vanessa. I have also attended one of her workshops, and I love how we are to create diverse characters.

  53. Such an amazing spirit and joyful artist! I love how her work provides such inclusions for under acknowledged populations. I have worked for years with special needs groups and as an artist always tried to represent diversity and celebrate the differences. Vanessa thank you for representing with your strong and beautiful voice!

  54. I just listened to Vanessa’s introduction for Character Design and can hardly wait to create art with her!

    1. Myrna Foster

      I made my teenager listen to Vanessa’s introduction, and he was grumpy about it until the end. Then he thanked me for having him listen to her story.

  55. I was privileged to watch Vanessa’s session during picture book challenge week. Not only was I inspired to try my hand in drawing but a quote that stuck out to me was “Even if you fall… fall forward”. Vanessa you are such an inspiration to all my students I teach.

  56. Marilyn Cullen-Reavill

    Myrna you are amazing and this blog is fabulous. When Vanessa first offered her class I thought that it might be too technical and over my head. Hearing your comments made me rethink that. I have always been a fan of her work and I love her style. So I can’t wait to learn more.
    Thanks again,
    Marilyn

  57. I have to say, I never hesitated to draw in front of my classes, because I was SO BAD! I wanted to encourage those who said ” I can’t draw,” I always said, “Honey, YOU have got nothing on ME!”
    BUT AREE & Vanessa have made believers of me. I WILL ILLUSTRATE my book as well! I’m overcome with joy!

  58. Katherine Wong

    I really enjoyed her character design class during the Picture book challenge. She broke down how to draw a character so clearly and made drawing more accessible to me. Drawing people are definitely not a strong point for me and her technique showed me it can be done. Loved her spin on the goat in the well story in her Ted talk. I have heard it before but never heard anyone tell it her way.

  59. christy ruiz

    These books share a powerful message and they are beautifully illustrated. I would love to have a set of these books for my classroom.

  60. I am so thrilled to be learning from Vanessa! Her creativity is electric!!! Her designs are so simplistic and beautiful. Hearing her story moved me to tears. I never considered that I could illustrate my own books. After taking her class on illustration last week, I am confident that I can. I look forward to the weeks to come! I feel as though I have found my tribe at Storyteller Academy!!

  61. Yesenia Hernandez

    What a great blog post. I love how you said you cried both times when you heard her talk. I did too when I heard her Ted Talk you linked to this blog. Thanks for the heart felt education and story you wrote on Vanessa. I truly enjoyed it. 🙂

  62. I enjoyed your blog and really everything that I am reading on the story teller site. the king of kindergarten book looks really cute to me, as I have a little brown grandson that will be going to kindergarten next year ( if the coronavirus is lifted.)Thanks for all your work! I am in rolled in makers pro and looking forward to beginning tomorrow!

  63. Vanessa is such an inspiration. An amazing person. Awesome in everything . I’m looking forward to learning from Vanessa.

  64. I loved the demo class with Vanessa and her Ted talk!! It is what inspired me to sign up for Storyteller Academy to learn more. I have never been very confident in my drawing character and what I am learning from her is helping me breakthrough my fears.

  65. I’d love to win one of Vanessa’s books. Her style of art is so joyful and bright! I have really enjoyed watching her teach how to create characters in the Storyteller Academy videos. She has a very approachable teaching style and her personality always shines.

  66. Daphne McKinley

    Greetings friends…..I am excited about my adventure and hopefully, possibly……HARD WORK, mentorship and a GOOD STORY, INTO THE PUBLISHING WORLD. It seems like I have been marching, dancing,singing, creating my way to this time in my life. Now that I have found this group ……let the NEW journey begin. I would LOVE ❤️ to win one of Vanessa’s books. The illustrations are amazing.

  67. I have been a fan of Vanessa for some time now as far as her books and inspiring illustrations she posts on Instagram and Facebook.

    Her TED talk made me feel like I can conquer the world and her soulful rendition was the icing on the cake.

    I enjoyed her class and felt accomplished as a novice with illustrations. I look forward to studying with Vanessa further in the future.

    Vanessa is a sweet and beautiful person inside and out!

  68. After seeing her presentation during “the week” … I KNEW I had to take her class! Really excited to move forward with her guidance!

  69. “Coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous.” Albert Einstein. For years I have sold the books entitled The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and One Love by Cedella Marley (daughter of Jamaican music legend Bob Marley) through my e-commerce site which focuses on toys and books for Children of Color. I selected those two books because they have great stories and are beautifully illustrated with Black young protagonists, a sight that until recently was the exception rather than the norm. However, I never thought about the illustrators nor their stories until I fortuitously stumbled into the free seminars held during Storyteller’s Academy Picture Book Challenge week. Each academy class was wonderful but when I took Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s hour seminar her story and passion resonated with me. In fact, I felt as if she was speaking directly to me and only to me. After the seminar I looked up her published books and that’s when I connected the dots between her and the One Love book. That book resonated with me because of my Jamaican and American roots. When I listened to Vanessa’s TedTalk I further understood how The Snowy Day book inspired her to be the change she wanted to see. Vanessa’s session moved me to take her Character Design class. I am new to writing, drawing and illustrating nevertheless Vanessa’s seminar and TedTalk make me feel that is a non issue. So I am going to create some stories and characters that hopefully make children feel acknowledged and embraced. Why not and why not now?

  70. Beth Gallagher

    Vanessa is one of the most positive and inspirational people I’ve ever “met”. I’ll just cross everything that I’m the lucky winner of her book! 🙂

  71. Crystal Heckstall-Rice

    If I win this book, I promise to share it with my students, friends, and family! Winning this book would be a bonus Mother’s Day treat! 😘Vanessa, you are truly my “Shero”!!! 📚💖✏️🎉

  72. Jamie Huddleston

    I’m so inspired by Vanessa. I wish I could take her critique group. I hope some day I can.

  73. Erica Couben

    I truly enjoyed her workshop during the Picture Book Week Challenge! She inspired me for sure! I have signed up to take her class this term. I’m excited to learn more!

  74. Denitrie Tisdale

    I love the illustrations for all of the books that were listed!!!! I am excited to learn how to illustrate!

  75. Before joining the Storybook Challenges, I have always aspired to be an illustrator and would write my own stories. I loved Vanessa’s mini lesson and it has helped me begin drawing again. I hope to read more of her work 😊

  76. Wow can I relate to Vanessa! School came hard for me as I had a rough start. In second grade there was an incident with my second grade teacher. She was abusive which made it difficult to concentrate in school. But I managed to make it through. Vanessa’s story of how she became an artist inspires me. It makes me know I can and will achieve my dream of becoming an author illustrator!

  77. Vanessa,
    I can relate to part of your story I have several learning disabilities. Although mine were left & right directional processing, math, processing problems, spelling, comprehension on much higher level. I had difficulty keeping up in class because my Daddy moved us every 2 to 3 years and I lived in 6 different southern states and 11 different cities with in those states by the time I was 18. During those moves my learning became more deficient each time we moved. Learning disabilities were not introduced until I was in high school. So I was called SSSSLLLOOW (slow learner). But Momma encouraged and told me I was going to college from the time I was a little girl. I believed her and all through school I struggled daily. I stayed after school and worked with tutors, I spent hours doing homework most of the time in tears. I knew in my heart I was smart because you could tell something and show me how to do it with repetition and I would finally understand. I wrote stories all my life and when I went to college, yes I did, I graduated with an Elementary Special Education degree from Auburn in Montgomery and later I received a Master’s in Language Arts. I taught precious little children and gave my strategies to my students that I learned to function in their lives for 39 years. Now I have retired and I am pursuing my dream to entertain, teach and bring joy to children through my stories. I never thought about illustrating them except for my student, but you and Arree have given me a new perspective. Thank you and I hope my story just like your story will encourage some to continue their dream.
    I enjoyed your goat story and your song, along with your voice it was inspirational.

  78. TIFFANY TOLLIVER

    I love to see these fun characters of color. I’ve yet to read any of Vanessa’s books and am so excited to explore them and learn more about her. How awesome that Oprah read one of her books on YouTube. I’m so inspired by Vanessa!

  79. Rhonda Little

    I am reading this blog and watching the video in the early morning after what would have been Ahmaud Arbery’s 26th birthday. Moved to tears by Vanessa’s story and song, I find it quite divinely timed for us to be reminded about the importance of diversity in today’s world. We are our children’s first teachers and it’s so important make sure they not only see others, but themselves as well, as being different but sometimes the same. I’m not a parent, but definitely a favorite auntie to many in my family, circle, and community. I look forward to continuing to be a source of encouragement to children as I step into the world of Kid Lit, writing stories and drawing illustrations that they can easily identify with. Like you, Ms. Vanessa, it was a long time coming before I saw me represented in story books. Snowy Day is one of me and my siblings favorite books. Thank you for your transparency and inspiration. I look forward to taking your class.

  80. Marinne Nolen

    I was so inspired by Vanessa story it awakened dreams of being a book writer and illustrator that I believed were far too gone to achieve.Now Im writing and drawing a little bit everyday and have inspired my son and daughter to do the same.My heart has so much joy working towards my dream again. I feel like me again my kid size me again.

  81. Genevieve Costello

    Thank you for this beautiful introduction to an illustrator I hope to study with when I become more advanced.

  82. Kailyn Keplinger

    I loved learning about character design and bringing characters to life from Vanessa’s seminar! She is incredibly talented as an illustrator and instructor and I appreciated all of the feedback she provided! Love her characters and her stories!

    1. I love her work and her story about her life’s struggles because we all go through this thing called life. But despite her disabilities and all that she’s been through she has managed to succeed and accomplish her goals. This is inspirational because it helps us to realize that we can all be just like Vanessa and that we can all achieve all that we want to achieve.

  83. Love the energy she brought while sharing how to create your own character! I definitely can’t wait to take one of her classes in the future!

  84. I have been a fan of Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s work and I continue to appreciate her storytelling ability. With words and illustrations, she gives a “voice” to so many children that need to be represented on and off of the storybook page..

  85. Vanessa, I cried, I smiled, I laughed. Thank you for that! but mostly Thank you for being you-all the time! Because you’re an authentic you, I can see you and in turn see myself a little bit better. I LOVE your bigness of brightness. It’s a true reminder to me to not play small anymore. Keep on wid chour awesome bad self ovah der-You’re so needed. I needed to see you. Thank you again for that.
    (Yeah, that’s a white girl saying that =D I have love that saying, said that particular way, from the first time I heard it a long time ago. There is no other way to say it.)

  86. Shannon Chadwick

    I have enrolled in Vanessa’s Character design class and I couldn’t be more excited! After taking Vanessa’s one day class last week I was motivated to try my hand at illustrating. I may not be a Picasso (yet) but I am ready to leave my “artistic” mark!

  87. Vanessa Brantley-Newton, You had me crying because back in my days, no one knew what I had. I am a 63-year-old dyslexic, and I have so much trouble with it today. You inspired me so much today, Thank you. I will self publish my first book soon. I am so grateful for Storyteller Academy for encouraging me to improve my writing regardless of my disabilities. It’s places like this Academy that will change school systems because they need change.

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