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  • Carol Swartout Klein

One Year Later the Book Continues to Bring People Together

What started out with only local distribution and a small press run for the children's book Painting for Peace in Ferguson has turned into a much bigger year than anyone anticipated. Launched on February 21, 2015, not only was it selected to represent the state of Missouri at Library of Congress' National Book Festival, it also received an IPPY Outstanding Book of the Year award beating out more than 6,000 other entries. Appearing on the local, indie book best-seller list for 22 out of 52 weeks, it quickly sold out of its first run of 2,000 books. As the second year of Painting for Peace in Ferguson begins, the book continues to gain interest and momentum with two exciting projects in the works. Author Carol Swartout Klein is working on a companion coloring book and a large art installation that involves dozens of pieces of the painted boards from the windows of businesses in Ferguson and the surrounding communities that is slated to open in early fall.

Now in its second printing, the book began national distribution starting in August with libraries throughout the country placing it on their shelves and teachers from Texas to New York and California reading it in classrooms. Since the book was published, Klein has been a sought-after presenter at conferences, book stores and with school groups not only locally, but throughout Missouri and other states.

And, making good on the promise to give back to youth programs and businesses in the Ferguson area, more than $4,000 in donations have been contributed and more than 650 books have been donated to area schools including the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

Ferguson Youth Initiative receives funds from the book.

“It's been an incredible year,” said Klein. “I've met so many wonderful people, from artists and teachers to organizers. I've shared laughter and tears with people I never would have known if it hadn't been for this book. I think what we have learned as a community in the past year is that the issues that led to Ferguson are complex, entrenched and will take time to change. But what's encouraging is that, like the artists featured in Painting for Peace in Ferguson, there are many people in communities everywhere willing to give of their time and resources to make a difference. I believe that the message of hope and aspiration that was portrayed in the art is what people can relate to when they look at the book – whether they're in first grade or senior citizens.”

What's next

Painting for Peace coloring book, coloring book for all ages, adult coloring book

Painting for Peace: A Coloring Book is scheduled to hit the bookstore shelves on May 24 with some advance copies available mid-April. This 40-plus page coloring book will include renderings of many of the pieces of art that brightened the blank plywood covering the windows of businesses in Ferguson. This coloring book is unique in that it will include designs that range from simple drawings that young children can master to complex detailed drawings that will appeal to adults. In this way children and adults can color together and talk about the messages and spirit behind the art as well. The book will also feature behind the scenes stories from several of the artists whose work has been transformed into a coloring page format. Robert O'Neil, who did the much of the graphic design work for the storybook Painting for Peace in Ferguson, has drawn all of the coloring book images which include works based on the painted boards and his own new, original illustrations.

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