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Happy Anniversary: Stevie

Stevie by John Steptoe (1950–1989) was published by Life magazine and then by Harper & Row in 1969. It celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2019. I locate the beginning of what I’ve come to call #blackboylit — literature for children and young adults that centers the experiences of boys of African descent, written and illustrated […]

Review of Let ’Er Buck!: George Fletcher, the People’s Champion

Let ’Er Buck!: George Fletcher, the People’s Champion by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; illus. by Gordon C. James Primary, Intermediate    Carolrhoda    40 pp.    g 2/19    978-1-5124-9808-0    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5145-4180-1    $18.99 Nelson (Bad News for Outlaws, rev. 11/09) returns to the Old West for this engrossing picture-book biography of African American cowboy and bronc buster George […]

Be “the hero and the author” of your story

If you have the opportunity to see Elizabeth Acevedo speak, go. I was lucky enough to attend two of her events as the inaugural Gwen Ifill Mentor-in-Residence at Simmons University last week, and I still can’t get enough.* (And that’s in addition to hearing her Fiction & Poetry Award acceptance speech at the 2018 BGHB […]

Picture book love and community

These new picture books model self-love, strength in community, and pride in identity for very young children of color. Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, is an affirmation of self-love for children of color. An exuberant brown-skinned girl recounts many situations in which she puts her “hands up”: playing peek-a-boo, […]

Celebrating Black History 2019

February is Black History Month. The following nonfiction titles present informative, inspirational, and moving stories about notable African American people and events, to be shared with readers all year long. See also our Five Questions interview with Claire Hartfield, winner of the 2019 Coretta Scott King Author Award for A Few Red Drops: The Chicago […]

Five questions for Claire Hartfield

With painstaking historical detail, Claire Hartfield’s nonfiction book  A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 (Clarion, 12–16 years) recounts the week of violence in 1919 Chicago that left thirty-eight people dead and 537 wounded (two-thirds of the casualties were black; one-third, white) and the underlying causes leading to the conflict. Hartfield is […]

Francie at Frugal

On Saturday, I went to Frugal Bookstore for Francie Latour‘s “Auntie Luce Holiday Book Event.” Francie is the author of Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings, illustrated by Ken Daley (Groundwood), inspired by Haitian artist Luce Turnier (1924-1994). She’s also one half of Wee The People (with Tanya Nixon-Silberg): Wee The People (WTP) is a Boston-based social […]

Jacqueline Woodson’s 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award Acceptance

And you wait, are awaiting the one thing that will infinitely increase your life; the powerful, the uncommon, the awakening of stones, depths turned toward you. Dimly there gleam in the bookcase the volumes in gold and brown; and you think of lands journeyed through, of pictures, of the apparel of women lost again. And […]

Reflections on Black Children’s Literature: A Historical Perspective

The ideas expressed below were originally written in response to an opinion piece written by publisher Denene Millner, which ran in The New York Times on March 10, 2018. Though most of the write-up below speaks to this particular opinion article, it has been slightly modified to address some of the expressed viewpoints in her […]

“To Be Great, Heroic or Beautiful”: The Enduring Legacy of The Brownies’ Book

Heretofore the education of the Negro child has been too much in terms of white people. All through school life his text-books contain much about white people and little or nothing about his own race. All the pictures he sees are of white people. Most of the books he reads are by white authors, and […]