Colors of the Wind
The story of Blind Artist and Champion Runner Geroge Mendoza
by J.L. Powers, paintings by George Mendoza
A 2015 New Mexico Book Award Finalist
George was one of those kids. You know, the kind that never stays still. And then one day, the doctor said he was going blind. Did that slow George down? Not for a single second. In fact, he was so fast, he went on to break a world record for blind runners. And now he’s breaking more barriers—because ironically, George Mendoza, blind painter, paints what he sees.
George Mendoza started going blind at age 15 from a degenerative eye disease. It wasn’t the sudden onset of blindness that many people experience. George lost his central vision and started seeing things that weren’t there—eyes floating in the air, extraordinary colors, objects multiplied and reflected back. George describes this condition as having “kaleidoscope eyes.”
He triumphed over his blindness by setting the world record in the mile for blind runners, and later competing in both the 1980 and 1984 Olympics for the Disabled. Now a full-time artist, Mendoza’s collection of paintings, also titled Colors of the Wind, is a National Smithsonian Affiliates traveling exhibit.
“When his best friend dies, Mendoza finds purpose in painting (with brushes or fingers) his kaleidoscopic perception; these paintings appear throughout the book. His heavy, bold streaks and swirls of color depict key events, focusing his story in ways the short sentences supplemented by Morgan-Sanders’ minimalist line drawings cannot; it’s hard to look away from a swarm of blurry butterflies or a basketball hoop painted like a blazing eye.”-Kirkus Reviews
“Powers traces the life of Mendoza, a blind painter, accompanied by Mendoza’s own striking paintings….Reproductions of Mendoza’s bright, abstract paintings appear opposite the text and small line drawings of George running and interacting with others.” –Publishers Weekly
” Seventeen full page, full color reproductions of George Mendoza’s paintings steal the attention of the reader, while Powers’ words tell the amazing story of his life and how he became a painter even after losing most of his eyesight ….Readers of all ages will enjoy this inspirational book that not only presents Mendoza’s vivid, colorful paintings, but also the story of his life and how his blindness and spirit helped him to excel. ” cj bott, Reading Today Online, June 9, 2014
“It’s a lovely product, it’s going to jump into people’s hands. It’s just stunning.” –Monica Gomez, State of the Arts, KTEP-NPR, August 2, 2014
“Mendoza’s inspirational life story has been distilled and condensed, told in a way accessible to young children and richly illustrated with the artist’s own work.” –Las Cruces Sun-News
“The story of George Mendoza, told in J.L. Powers’ beautiful, poetic language, is an illumination of the persistent power of art. Colors of the Wind reminds us all that our biggest burdens are often our greatest gifts.”
—Kathi Appelt, author of The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp and The Underneath
“May everyone who sees George Mendoza’s art understand the lessons of determination and fortitude.”
—Former First Lady, Laura Bush
“So many of us are tempted to crumble under what we perceive to be unbearable burdens. It’s an inspiration and a challenge to read about George Mendoza who has triumphed over that, and so much more.”
—Jane Seymour, actress
“The joyful, riotous colors of Mendoza’s paintings will certainly appeal to children, as will his story of perseverance and purpose.” —Shelf-Employed, read full blog post here.
“The picture book is visually stimulating and intentionally motivational to do your best and pursue your dreams, no matter what trials you may face.”–Anakalian Whims. Read full review here. Interview on Anakalian Whims here.
“COLORS OF THE WIND is a gift to give yourself and to share with readers of all ages.”–Nancy Bo Flood, The Pirate Tree. Read full review here.
“Instant kid appeal.” –Log Cabin Library. Read full review here.
“I liked the book because it was realistic and it was a true story about a blind artist. And, it reminded me of one time I closed my eyes and did finger painting. The art is really good because in the paintings you can see real life things and you see things that you don’t see in real life. Together they make a real good painting.” Raven, age 8 (for BookPeople in Moscow, Idaho)
“This biography is unlike any other I’ve read, yet it has a quality shared by the best: it inspires. The title and subtitle give the facts, but the crisp, spare text, vibrant paintings, and inset line images are even more powerful than the facts…” Unpacking the Power of Picture Books, see full blog review here.
“one of those inspiring books that will take your breath away….JL Powers presents Mr. Mendoza’s story with short sentences that are perfect for allowing young listeners to grasp the concepts presented and allows for deeper discussion on overcoming challenges and celebrating what gifts we have to work with.” Mom Read It. Read full review here.
“…waved a creative magic wand over my students. This book will fascinate the inner artist.” Reflections on the Teche. Full review here.
Interview with J.L. Powers at VCFA’s “The Launch Pad.”
“Wondrous…J.L. Powers writes with heart.” Stacking Books. Full review here.
“Charismatic. Courageous. Gifted.” Las Cruces Magazine Profile.
“Gorgeous cover.” Picture Books Online. Read full review here.
“Mendoza’s life is an inspiration to anybody who has faced seemingly unbearable obstacles and broken dreams. His story gives hope with a message of second chances and the power of reinventing your life and reevaluating your goals. You will want to check out this book to enjoy the inspirational story of George Mendoza and marvel at his beautiful paintings. Each page showcases his unique style in an explosion of texture, bold colors and interesting lines that will stay with you long after you close the book.” Bookshelves in the Culdesac. Read full review here.