Girl of the Year 2013: Saige Paints the Sky

Author: Jessie Haas
Illustrator: Sarah Davis


Saige's grandmother is getting better, and Saige is getting along well with Tessa and Gabi too. The PTA has approved an after-school art class, although it's not started yet. Saige paints at her grandmother's studio instead, and invites Gabi along and paint outside there. Gabi is happy to accompany Saige horseback riding, but won't accept an invitation to paint. Saige is confused until Tessa explains that she told Gabi how artists need their space. Saige does want practice painting in solitude, and but not all the time! She's not really ready to share the studio yet, but she does want to deepen her friendship with Gabi. Fortunately, when Saige explains the misunderstanding, Gabi understands.

Saige suggests that Gabi come with her to her grandmother's rehabilitation facility, as she's just discovered a closet of old art supplies. It's not long before other patients take notice, and as Saige and Gabi return day after day, the number of painters swells. Saige even talks her grandmother's neighbor (who found her grandmother after the fall) into teaching a tin-working class or two. Saige hopes her grandmother can help her find an art teacher, but her grandmother leaves it up to Saige. Her grandmother also tells Saige that she's selling one of her horses--which shouldn't be a surprise because her grandmother is trying to preserve the Spanish barb breed, but Saige was just growing attached to that particular horse. Riding the horse gives Saige an idea: she and some like-minded students will have a "Day of Beige" protest about the lack of the promised extra-curricular activity, beige like the empty hallways with no student artwork on them. Dylan even says she could get her mom to write about in the newspaper! The Day of Beige is a success: the next day, the teachers dress in colorful, sparkly clothing to show solidarity with the arts programs, and several people step forward to volunteer as after-school art teachers.

Soon it's Saige's birthday. She invites Tessa, Gabi, and Dylan over for a celebration. There, her grandmother, recently out of the rehabilitation center, gives Saige a scroll: she's not selling the horse. She's giving it to Saige! 

Real Girls, Real Stories

Olivia B. of New York sent her own drawings to a national bird conservation group and the more than 500 pieces of art raised over $180,000 for bird rescue and wetland rehabilitation. Kyra H. of California designed jewelry charms to sell in her mother's jewelry store that raise money for different charities--almost $3,000 so far. Rachel E. and Naomi G. also made jewelry, selling their pieces to benefit four organizations (buyers could choose which of the four to donate to) and also held a bake sale to raise money for the relief effort after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Haley K. made beaded bracelets and sold them to raise more than $4,000 to help victims of the 2011 Japanese tsunami. There are also tips on holding a craft sale.


Dedicated to "Tiff, Kristina, and Julianna--Jo's precious girls." Special thanks to Beth Larsen, Executive Director of the Arts in the School, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Randy Cohen, Vice President of Research and Policy, Americans for the Arts.

Saige's birthday is October 8. Although my older daughter's birthday is in late November, we had her party early this year because we were moving in November, on October 7.

Saige's grandmother gets her arm cast off on page 95, but pictures from earlier in the book show her with both arms free, and she's using a walker to get around, something a doctor from the first book specifically said would be very hard.

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