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Uncle Holland

Written by JonArno Lawson

Illustrated by Natalie Nelson

  • 32 Pages
  • 9781554989300
  • 8.5" x 10"
  • from grade K to grade 2
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Family / General (see also headings under Social Situations)
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Law & Crime
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Social Situations / Values



Publication Date April 01, 2017

When Holland is arrested for the thirty-seventh time for stealing beautiful things, he must make a very difficult decision. A police officer says that he must either go to jail or become a soldier. He chooses to join the army and is sent south, where he finds himself surrounded by beautiful things: palm trees, parrots, flowers and big blue waves…and fish!

Holland starts painting pictures of the fish, which he sells at the market on the weekend. Soon, he has money to send home to his parents. They are worried that he’s gone back to his stealing ways, so his father writes to ask if he earned the money honestly. Holland writes back to reassure him that he has decided to paint instead of steal because “not everything that’s pretty can be stuffed in your pockets!”

Based on a true story about JonArno Lawson’s uncle, and accompanied by Natalie Nelson’s collage illustrations, this quirky picture book is about making choices – and art.


JonArno Lawson

JonArno Lawson’s acclaimed picture book Sidewalk Flowers won the Governor General’s Literary Award. He is a four-time winner of the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Children’s Poetry. He is the author of numerous books for children and adults. He lives in Toronto with his wife and three children.

Natalie Nelson

Natalie Nelson's illustrations have appeared in many publications, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. She is the illustrator of The King of the Birds, a picture book written by Acree Graham Macam. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband.


"Sophisticated yet playful, this is an unusual, original work recommended for most picture book collections." School Library Journal

"Austere and quirky, with lots of room for conversations." Kirkus Reviews

"A delightfully offbeat testament to being delightfully offbeat." Booklist