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Guest Post: Nicole Tadgell, Illustrator of FRIENDS FOR FREEDOM

by Suzanne Slade, Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell

This week on the blog, I am excited to have my very first illustrator guest post from the award-winning and prolific illustrator Nicole Tadgell. Her latest book is Friends for Freedom,  a non-fiction picture book which centers on the friendship between civil rights activists Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass (my review to be posted soon).

As part of the guest post, Nicole sent me a few early sketches as well as some of her final artwork. Enjoy!


Illustrating famous historical figures for children’s books is a big project! Fortunately, I enjoy the research, I love pretending I’m in different times. Sometimes I worry that kids might not find the lives of famous historical figures to be interesting, but I am constantly reassured when I visit schools, libraries and book fairs and see kids looking at and reading my books with great interest.


The artwork for Friends for Freedom is done in watercolor, with gold and purple as key colors. I love the way those colors go together. I found a photo in my research that showed Miss Anthony in a plaid dress with purple and brown colors, which she described in detail in a letter to her mother.


Friendship is a universal bond, and kids today can certainly appreciate the value of friendship. This book gives readers more insight into the lives of Frederick Dougalss and Susan B. Anthony, making them more relatable just because of their friendship.


Suzanne Slade’s research uncovered a major fight between the two, which was recorded because it was a live debate reported in newspapers at the time. All friendships go through rough spots – most not as public as this argument. Yet like all true friendships, they did not let their disagreement overcome their bond.

On a personal note, I have been lucky enough to also have a lifelong friend. Lara and I met in first grade (see Communion photo below). We’ve been like sisters for many years, yet lost close touch for the last 10. Working on the art for Friends for Freedom really made me want to reconnect with my lifelong friend. Just this past weekend we saw each other in person, and it’s like no time has passed at all!


Thanks for sharing all these wonderful images, Nicole! 

About the Illustrator:


Suzanne Slade (left) and Nicole Tadgell (right)

Nicole Tadgell is the award-winning illustrator of In the Garden with Dr. Carver and First Peas to the Table. She enjoys bringing life to historical books with her loose pencil and watercolor illustrations.

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