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On Rudine Sims Bishop’s “Following in Their Fathers’ Paths” (from March 1998)

Radiant ChildIf you don’t already know, the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards were announced this morning at the ALA Midwinter conference in Atlanta. Among the honorees is Javaka Steptoe, who will receive the Caldecott Medal for Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (read the starred review from the November/December 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine).

daddyfc-w-sealJavaka Steptoe is the son of the late author-illustrator John Steptoe, whose picture books helped bring African American children’s literature to mainstream (white) attention in the 1970s and 80s. In her article, “Following in Their Fathers’ Paths” from the March/April 1998 issue of the Magazine, scholar Rudine Sims Bishop talks with Javaka, as well as with Christopher Myers, son of another legendary African American children’s book creator, Walter Dean Myers. As Rudine said almost twenty years ago: “This is the first generation of African Americans who have had the opportunity to grow up in households in which children’s literature was the family business, and the possibility that one could grow up to have a career writing or illustrating children’s books was as likely as any other. Their fathers — and mothers — blazed the trail, and I for one am grateful that their offspring have chosen to follow.”

Congratulations, Javaka Steptoe! I’ll let you have the last word: “I might do the same things that he does, but I can’t do them the way he did them, so I do things the way that I do them. I don’t have a problem being identified with him, but ultimately I will make my own footsteps.”

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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