Windows & Mirrors: Grandma’s Purse

Welcome to Windows & Mirrors where we feature books that provide us windows to lives outside our own and mirrors to our shared common human experiences.



Today we’re featuring Grandma’s Purse authored and illustrated by the amazing Vanessa Brantley-Newton.

I fell in love with Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s art the first time I laid eyes on it. Her illustrations are always bustling with energy and her carefully-chosen color palettes are candy for the eyes. She dreams up evocative characters and images that I want to know more about, making her books irresistible. Here are examples of artwork from her Instagram account:

See what I mean! I’m always torn with wanting to let my eyes linger over the gorgeous details and turning the page to see what other wonders might be in store.

But Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s latest creation spoke to my heart as soon as I read the title, before I’d seen a single brush stroke or inking.

Grandma’s Purse is a delightful story about a young girl who is fascinated by the treasures in her Grandma Mimi’s purse. It immediately brought back memories of my childhood when we’d visit with my grandma every Sunday. She’d always have gum or candy for me as well as other treasures to explore with her permission, of course.

Mimi’s purse is filled with sparkly fashion accessories, an old flip phone, gorgeous lipstick, glamorous sunglass, and more importantly every object has a story, inspiring dreams and memories. The text is charming, and the pictures are even more so, every scene magically speaks about family bonds with whimsy and delight.

Vanessa is also the author of two other books, perfect for black history month:  Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table and Let Freedom Sing. She has illustrated numerous gorgeous picture books:

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist

One Love: Based on the Song by Bob Marley

Mary Had a Little Glam

We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song

A Night Out with Mama

Every Little Thing: Based on the song ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley

and other picture books and novels such as the Jada Jones series by Kelly Starling Lyons and many, many more!

Check out Vanessa’s inspiring TedX talk about diversity and adversity:

To celebrate Black History Month, we curated this list of great fiction by black authors that is available on audiobook through Click the image to check it out! Audiobooks to Celebrate Black History Month

Also, if you’re going to read any blogs in February, you should check out The Brown Bookshelf’s 28 Days series. It’s fantastic with daily author interviews and book featuring black authors.



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 Let Freedom Sing and Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table and has illustrated numerous children’s books including Mary Had A Little Glam by Tammi Sauer, One Love and Every Little Thing, words by Bob & Cedella Marley, and Presenting Tallulah by Tori Spelling. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for her wonderful books and designs.

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 her website here or here or follower her on Instagram.

Posted by Michelle Leonard.