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Children's Nonfiction Art

A Brush Full of Colour

The World of Ted Harrison

by (author) Margriet Ruurs & Katherine Gibson

Pajama Press Inc.
Initial publish date
Aug 2021
Art, Painting, Post-Confederation (1867-), Emigration & Immigration
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2021
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2014
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 6 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7


Now in an updated edition with revised back matter, the quintessential picture-book biography of Ted Harrison (1926–2015)

Ted Harrison’s brightly coloured and wildly imaginative paintings set in the Yukon have become synonymous with the North. His instantly-recognizable images of the land of the midnight sun hang in galleries and private collections around the world. But how did a boy who grew up in a drab mining town in northeast England become one of Canada’s most beloved and decorated artists?

A Brush Full of Colour is the story of a boy whose passion for learning would save him from a life in the coalmines. The books by the American writer Jack London and Canadian poet Robert Service fired his imagination with scenes of the wilderness and the Klondike Gold Rush. He trained as an artist, and a stint in the British Intelligence Service allowed him to travel. But Ted never stopped dreaming of the North, and when he saw an advertisement for teachers in Northern Alberta, he jumped at the chance to emigrate to Canada, where the biggest adventure of his life would begin.

Margriet Ruurs and Katherine Gibson trace the life of Ted Harrison and the influences that would lead to his unique style as an artist. Filled with full-colour examples of his vivid art, and with a foreword written by Ted Harrison himself, this nonfiction picture book will provide inspiration for a new generation of budding artists.

About the authors

Margriet Ruurs is the award-winning author of forty books for children. Passionate about literacy, she writes children's and educational materials and conducts author visits and writing workshops at international schools around the world. Her picture book biography A Brush Full of Colour: The World of Ted Harrison won the Canadian Children’s Literature Roundtables Information Book Award and the Crystal Kite Award, and was nominated for several others. Born in the Netherlands, Margriet raised her family in the Yukon, Canada. Today, when she isn't travelling, she runs a booklover's bed and breakfast on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia.


Margriet Ruurs' profile page

Katherine Gibson is the best-selling author of four non-fiction books. Her work has been published internationally in several languages. Katherine’s extensive research for the illustrated biography Ted Harrison: Painting Paradise was instrumental in the writing of her latest book, A Brush Full of Colour: The World of Ted Harrison. This picture book biography, co-authored by award-winning children’s author Margriet Ruurs, has been nominated for several awards. Katherine lives on Vancouver Island. More about Katherine Gibson at:

Katherine Gibson's profile page


  • Winner, Crystal Kite Award
  • Short-listed, OLA Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award
  • Short-listed, Rocky Mountain Book Awards
  • Commended, Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection
  • Short-listed, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award
  • Winner, Canadian Children's Literature Roundtables Information Book Award
  • Short-listed, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards
  • Short-listed, OLA Best Bet
  • Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"

Excerpt: A Brush Full of Colour: The World of Ted Harrison (by (author) Margriet Ruurs & Katherine Gibson)

Victoria, B.C. Dear Readers, I am pleased to write the foreword to this book, which I hope will introduce many new readers and lovers of art to my life and work. During my career as a teacher, author and artist, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting students from different parts of the world. Through the years they have influenced my simple artistic style and helped bring my stories and painting to life. If I have inspired them to find their way as artists, I am truly grateful.

I urge you to keep on reading, writing and painting. Develop your own style and keep it honest and true to who you are. Find inspiration in the world around you, and you will make the world a happier and more creative place.

Affectionate regards, Ted Harrison

Editorial Reviews

Praise for A Brush Full of Colour

2016 Crystal Kite Award Winner

2015 Canadian Children's Literature Roundtables Information Book Award Winner

2016 Ontario Library Association Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award shortlist

2015 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award shortlist

2015 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards shortlist

2016 Rocky Mountain Book Awards shortlist

2015 Hackmatack Children's Choice Award nominee

2015 Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection

2014 Ontario Library Association Best Bets selection

2014 Resource Links "The Year's Best" selection

"Seldom does an artist's biography for children offer so many beautiful reproductions of the subject's work. Pair this inviting book with Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song (2009), another wonderfully visual celebration of an artist following his own path."—Booklist

"An outstanding, well-organized biography...A joy to look at and an inspiration to read."—School Library Journal

"A child-friendly introduction to an iconic, wonderfully accessible and quintessentially Canadian artist."—Kirkus Reviews

"[A] must have...The text is easy to read, comprehensive, and interesting...[A] beautifully presented book...Highly recommended."—Resource Links

"This outstanding biography does more than just inform the reader of Ted Harrison's life in a well organized way. A Brush Full of Colour is indicative of the spirit and passion of its subject...Highly Recommended."—CM Magazine

"This inspirational and informative biography includes many stunning examples of Harrison's luminous artwork as well as resources, sources and a foreword written by the artist himself..."—Canadian Children's Book News

"[T]his book is virtually larger than life...A Brush Full of Colour is an exemplary youngCanLit biography."—CanLit for LittleCanadians

“The clear skies, the horizons, the wonder of the northern lights, and the beauty of the first and last look at each day were captured in a bold new light.”—Sal’s Fiction Addiction

Other titles by Margriet Ruurs

Other titles by Katherine Gibson