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  Children, biography Details

Against All Odds:
Artist Dean Mitchell's Story

Author : Betty R. James
Category : Children, biography
ISBN : 978-0-942407-83-9
Price : $ 13.95
Pages : 64, hardcover, NASTA specifications
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Against All The Odds: Artist Dean Mitchell’s Story is a biography of a small-town Southern boy who grew up in a time and culture where his artistic talents were not appreciated. Dean’s grandmother, Marie Mitchell took on the task to raise the frail infant grandson from the age of eleven months, even though she was caregiver for her aged mother at the same time. Due to his family’s poverty, Dean began working on tobacco farms in order to help his grandmother make ends meet while yet a child. The family seemed never to have sufficient food and basic necessities and the small monthly check she received from the government was their largest source of income to take care of the boy she often called her precious gift. Many obstacles confronted Dean along the way. Times growing up in the small tobacco town were hard and lonely for Dean, but he survived, and refused to conform to the expectations of others in society. Read the epic of how Dean survived and what inspired and motivated him to achieve his life goals.

The book is beautifully illustrated with 20 color illustrations from artist Eluster Richardson and features 10 replicas of artist Dean Mitchell's original paintings, chosen by him to enliven the story.

This book portrays a story of determination, inspiration and dedication exhibited by a young man who would not accept the limitations of others in his pursuit of becoming an accomplished artist.


After reading this very poignant story by my friend Betty James, I quietly sat in my favorite chair in the family room, closed my eyes, and reflected for a moment on the well-crafted words and paintings that I had just taken in. Of course this is my usual reaction when I have read or viewed something moving, something powerful. My first inner most thoughts were about how pleased I was that Betty developed and wrote this story; a story about a brave and talented young man who did not give up on his dreams. My thoughts then went back to my own personal and professional challenges and I quickly thought of a very famous quote that served as an anchor for my personal journey in life by -Richard M. DeVos, “If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence….

For many of us, it is very difficult to develop an insatiable desire to launch out into our own destiny, to achieve a goal and gain recognition. However, we must believe in ourselves. We must realize that sometimes in life, our victories don’t come without adversity. We must always remember that the challenges and obstacles we face in life are not there to break us, but to create us. We must keep the faith and work hard to overcome them. We must persist for persistence is one of those positive, personal characteristics necessary for any successful venture.

There are dozens of youth who possess undeveloped talents similar to Dean Mitchell. This book will serve as an inspirational message to youth who may be facing some of the same challenges as Dean Mitchell. Whether these challenges are associated with academics, personal talents, sports, or even public speaking; the reader will be encouraged not to give up and continue to persist, persist, and persist, until their skills are mastered.

We have to learn to see ourselves as the driver of our own life. When we work hard on any worthwhile goal, our motivation will not always remain at the same level. Sometimes, we will feel motivated; and sometimes we won’t. But, it is not our motivation that will produce positive results--it is our action, our hard work. Persistence will ultimately provide its own motivation. Persistence equates to taking action, so keep working diligently.

For those readers who are acquainted with the life and works of Dean Mitchell, this book becomes a unique treasure to be passed down through generations as a memento to overcoming obstacles and challenges while rising to national prominence. This is a story that will leave an indelible impression on the reader. However, I must post a warning; you will want to maintain several copies, as you will want every youth who may be faced with or who you perceive to be faced with challenges, whether you know them personally or not, to have a copy of, Against All Odds: Artist Dean Mitchell’s Story.

Patricia Green-Powell, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Educational Leadership
Florida A&M University
Tallahassee, Florida


As a teacher, I have always enjoyed creating and writing stories, but this is the first published as a book. I was drawn to Dean Mitchell some years ago when I learned that this talented young artist was from my hometown of Quincy, Florida. Dean was raised by his grandmother who instilled in him a set of values that motivated him to achieve beyond the normal expectations of a small-town Southerner with many odds against him. The story of Dean Mitchell deserves to be told. His success stands as a lesson for achievement. His art career began at age twelve when he purchased his first paint-by-number oil art set from a small store in Quincy. Today, he is famous for his immaculate watercolor and oil paintings found in art galleries throughout the United States.

I feel that Dean is a role model worthy of emulation by today’s children. His artistic excellence is celebrated by people of every generation. Dean is a humble young man with something great to share with everyone. His passion for the simple things in life and the vignettes of real life he chronicles through his paintings relate to young and old alike. This book portrays a gifted young man of determination, inspiration and dedication who would not accept the limitations imposed by others in his ambition of becoming an accomplished artist. My desire is for children to gain an understanding of what it takes to achieve their life goals just like Dean Mitchell.

I am pleased that Dean has approved this sketch of his life and has endorsed the use of his paintings to share with readers as well.
About the Author
Betty R. James, a native of Quincy, Florida earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Elementary Education from Florida A & M University in 1975, and a Masters of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Florida State University in 1997, both with honors. She is a Reading Coach at Gretna Elementary in Quincy. A thirty-year elementary school educator, she previously worked as a classroom teacher, primarily in first and second grades, a family literacy coordinator, and school administrator.

Throughout her career, Betty has loved reading and writing poetry and short stories for use in her elementary classes. In her list of many accolades, Betty was voted Teacher of the Year and has served as School Improvement Team Leader, and Chairperson of several school committees. She also serves as education chairperson of The Gadsden Arts Center. A recipient of the Top Ten Exemplary Family Literacy Programs Award presented by the State of Florida, she established a Library Club and the Dean Mitchell Art Club.

Wife and mother of two children and four grandchildren, Betty continues her lifelong goal of teaching and motivating children to do their best in their pursuit of their life goals.

Title of the Month
Ray Stevens' Nashville
Ray Stevens’ Nashville is the story of a Nashville legend who has seen many changes during the last fifty plus years. Ray takes us along on his American Dream journey from the little mill town of Clarksdale, Georgia, where he was born, through his school days in south Georgia, to his early recording experience with friends like Jerry Reed and Joe South in Atlanta under the tutelage of Bill Lowery. Then, on to Nashville– Music City USA–where he established himself as not only a world famous recording artist but, as one Nashville star recently said, as “The most talented man on Music Row.”

Author : By Ray Stevens with C.W. "Buddy" Kalb
Category : Inspirational Books
ISBN : 9781935802228
Price : $ 19.95

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