Charles R. Smith, Jr.
SONG FOR JIMI: The Story of Guitar Legend Jimi Hendrix (Neal Porter Books, 2021)

Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of the Year

A CSMCL Best Multicultural Children's Book of the Year

An Evanston Public Library Great Books for Kids pick!

"[A] psychedelic love letter. . . ."—New York Times

★ "Smith gives light, air, and sound to the life story of an unparalleled musician. . . . Rodriguez’s gritty, oil-based woodblock paintings effectively capture Hendrix’s passion, drive, and genius. . . . This creative, impassioned, in-your-face biography is as on fire as Jimi Hendrix’s guitar."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"Poet Charles R. Smith Jr. and illustrator Edel Rodriguez have collaborated on this electrifying picture book biography of guitar genius, Jimi Hendrix. Visuals practically leap off the page and stab the eye and ear with bright, bold colors and pulsating sounds. . . . This book breaks the mold, personifying Jimi Hendrix's journey to greatness using the art of poetry and illustration with jarring effectiveness." —School Library Connection

"Using flashy colors and explosive compositions, Rodriguez creates a set of poster-style illustrations that give this tribute to legendary "git-tar man" Jimi Hendrix both an evocative urgency and a strong period flavor."—Booklist

"Bursts with psychedelic color and rhythmic verse. . . Free verse structured like one long song with repeating motifs is an effective choice for conveying Hendrix’s creative and musical journey. . . . Music radiates from Jimi in swirls, rays, and zig-zags, and he is rendered in a different dynamic pose on each page."—School Library Journal

"Smith casts his narration in free verse rhythms reflective of Hendrix’s musical. . . . Rodriguez tracks Hendrix through a vibrant visual age progression that will engross readers with the revolving door of looks. . . ." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Hendrix fans young and old will appreciate this look at how 'Jimi showed the world/ how to kiss the sky.'"—Publishers Weekly

HOOP KINGS 2: New Royalty (Candlewick, 2021)

"All-star–caliber poems inspired by all-star NBA players. With varied rhyme schemes, rhythmic structures, and forms wrapped around high-energy art, Smith’s newest addition to his b-ball–celebrating poetry collections is a solid refresher on some of the who’s who of today’s NBA. . . thoughtful and cleverly representative of the on-court production of 12 outstanding players from Anthony Davis to Russell Westbrook."—Kirkus Reviews

"This poet’s still got game."—Booklist

28 DAYS: Moments in Black History that Changed the World (Roaring Book Press, 2015)

★“Fuelded by childhood memories of hearing the same Black History Month stories about the same people and events told the same way over and over, Smith, sought to convey the importance and relevance of African American contributions and milestones in a fresh, engaging manner . . . An inspiring, fresh take on a perennial topic.”―Booklist, Starred Review


"Highly recommended as a reference book, an example of poetic forms, and a work of art."―School Library Journal


“Succinct biographical info, included throughout, further cements the value and utility of the project, both in and out of the classroom.”―Publishers Weekly

BRICK BY BRICK (Amistad, 2013)

"Evocatively illustrated by Floyd Cooper, Brick by Brick conveys hardship, suffering and the bloated avarice of the slaveholders who roll money between their unblemished fingertips…But Smith and Cooper also capture a majesty and pride in the new presidential residence."―The New York Times Book Review 

"Two Coretta Scott King Award winners pool their substantial talents in a somber tribute to the slave laborers who helped build the White House."―Publishers Weekly

"An excellent title that provides an admirably accurate picture of slavery in America for younger readers."―Kirkus Reviews

I AM THE WORLD (Antheum Books for Young Readers, 2013)
STARS IN THE SHADOWS (Anthem Books for Young Readers, 2012)
PICK-UP GAME: A Full Day of Full Court (Candlewick, 2011)
BLACK JACK: The Ballad of Jack Johnson (Roaring Book Press, 2010)
CHAMELEON (Candlewick, 2008)

Charles R. Smith Jr. is an acclaimed author, poet, and photographer. He was the recipient of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for his photography in My People, a picture book based on the poem by Langston Hughes. He was the first photographer to win the award. He also won the Coretta Scott King Author Honor for writing Twelve Rounds to Glory: The story of Muhammad Ali. Charles has over twenty-five books to his credit, including If: A Father’s Advice to His Son, based on the poem by Rudyard Kipling, which he did photographs for. A native of Los Angeles, California, Charles now lives with his family in Poughkeepsie, New York. If he’s not working on a project or visiting a school, Charles enjoys martial arts, coaching youth sports, and spending time with his kids.