The Legendary Miss Lena Horne

Written by: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by: Elizabeth Zunon

For ages: Elementary students and older

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Racism, Jim Crow, Segregation, Entertainment Industry, Historical Figures, Civil Rights, Modern Black Freedom Struggle.

Summary: This book spans the life of Lena Horne, legendary vocalist and performer.  Lena was born to parents that constantly hustled and were nomadic at times.  At age 2, she became the youngest member of the NAACP!  Lena got used to traveling with her mother doing vaudeville shows and sometimes staying with her grandmother where Lena took music and dance classes.  Her grandmother forbade her to consider a career in show business despite Lena’s interest in the entertainment industry.  Lena attended school until the Great Depression hit, when she became a chorus line dancer at The Cotton Club in Harlem and was coached by her mother.  Soon, she became a Broadway performer and cut a record at age 18.  Lena began to travel but experienced segregationist racism in many places, and her manager began to introduce her as Cuban instead of Black.  Eventually, MGM offered Lena a movie contract-the first one to be offered to an African-American actress!  Despite this, she had trouble securing movie roles due to her activism and white women wearing makeup in movies to look Black.  Lena sang at Truman’s inaugural ball, had two children, and was divorced.  She married a white music director partially to help her career, and it worked (but she learned to love him!). She took time off from performing and became a foot soldier for the activist efforts to end segregation and worked with the NAACP, National Council for Negro Women, and spoke at the March on Washington.  Lena eventually returned to the big screen, and continued to perform for years to come.

This book is very thorough, being clear about the hardships that Lena endured throughout her life and highlighting her activism.  It mentioned other individuals doing the same work she was doing, in some places by name and in some places not.  The author highlights how hard Lena works without reducing her to exceptionalism.  This is a long book made for older elementary students and covers a wide range and variety of topics, including fantastic vocabulary associated with the Modern Black Freedom Struggle.  An Author’s Note is in the back along with sources and resources for further learning!

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever felt uncomfortable while traveling?
  • Have you ever performed?  What was it like?
  • How do you think Lena felt when she was introduced as Cuban?
  • Why do you think it was important to Lena to take time off from performing and help in the activist efforts of the 50’s & 60’s?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about several of the lesser known individuals mentioned in the book such as Medgar Evers.  What did he do that was beneficial to the movement, and why do you think he isn’t well-known today?
  • Who were some other activist/performers like Lena Horne?  What did they do that was unique to their own experience and character?
  • Listen to some of Lena’s songs, or watch a video of her singing on Sesame Street.  What is special about her performance style?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

CaroleBostonWeatherford-259x300Carole Boston Weatherford is Baltimore-born and -raised! Carole composed her first poem in first grade and dictated the verse to her mother on the ride home from school. Her father, a high school printing teacher, printed some of her early poems on index cards. Since her literary debut with Juneteenth Jamboree in 1995, Carole’s books have received three Caldecott Honors, two NAACP Image Awards, an SCBWI Golden Kite Award, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and many other honors.

For career achievements, Carole received the Ragan-Rubin Award from North Carolina English Teachers Association and the North Carolina Literature Award, among the state’s highest civilian honors. She holds an M.A. in publications design from University of Baltimore and an M.F.A. in creative writing from University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is a Professor of English at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

71zHtxPJLqL._US230_Elizabeth Zunon was born in Albany, NY and spent her childhood in a hot, sunny, tropical country in West Africa called the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), where people speak French (and many other languages). Elizabeth’s Mom read Elizabeth’s little brother and Elizabeth a lot of bedtime stories in English after they came home from speaking French all day at school. As a little girl, she loved to draw, paint, make up dances and play dress-up, and as Elizabeth grew up, that didn’t really change! After returning to the United States, Elizabeth attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and graduated in June 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration.  She’s now back in Albany, where every day she might draw, paint, collage, sew, silkscreen, make jewelry, purses, and ponder the endless possibilities of chocolate! Her work is largely influenced by the people, places, and things from her childhood in the Ivory Coast as the product of two cultures.  You can also follow her blog-Lizzie Blogs!

Introducing: Little Light of Mine Library

Hi everyone!  Corrie is at the end of her spring semester for grad school, and has been a bit MIA lately but Lee has been doing an excellent job holding down the fort.  This week we’re featuring a Little Free Library Steward!  She does this project with her daughters, as well as provides book reviews on social media.  We love that this is a family affair, especially because here at The Tiny Activist it’s the same!  We hope you enjoy learning more about Little Light of Mine Library, and then get into some springy shenanigans afterwards in the sunshine.  Happy weekend!!


The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 9.37.03 AMLittle Light of Mine: Hi! I’m a social worker and children’s book enthusiast. Last year I became a Little Free Library Steward along with my two daughters. By nature and profession, I’m a “helper”. How that looks may change from season to season but that part of me that desires and strives to “leave people better than I found them,” that hasn’t changed. I may not always get it right but I don’t intend to stop trying. Giving my children an opportunity to serve and doing it alongside them is one of the best gifts I believe I can give them and our community — an opportunity to cultivate a heart that doesn’t look away and instead looks to do something. I know we can’t tackle every problem present in our beautiful and broken world but making a difference in the life of one person, even in the smallest way, is a worthy pursuit.

TTA: What are you passionate about?Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 9.31.58 AM

LLOM: Writing! I love writing particularly when my heart takes the lead and I use the keyboard (or a pen!) to share a piece of it. For a period of time I blogged as a freelance writer and contributor for mostly parenting sites. And then I stepped away from all of it. I immersed myself back into my work as a social worker and taking care of my family. Slowly but surely, I’m writing again. I adore children’s books and have always made reading a part of our routine at home. Books can be found sprinkled throughout the house, always within reach. My mother ensured that books could be as big of a part of my life as I wanted them to be. As a child I lived for the Scholastic school book fair, ate my fair share of personal pizzas thanks to the Book It! program and frequented the public library. If there was something I was interested in, I checked out as many books on the topic as I could. When it came time to make my case for getting a pet we headed to the library. I would like to think me having many pets growing up had something to do with my stellar research skills.

Recently I made the decision to start dreaming again and taking small steps in an effort to see if these dreams of mine will take flight. One of my dreams blends these two loves — writing and children’s books. I’m not sure what will come from it but I think that’s ok.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 9.44.38 AMLLOM: Our Little Free Library! We opened it with the intention of giving something special to our community but we’ve gotten so much ourselves. Every time I turn on our street and see our library my heart smiles. My daughters and I love reading notes in the guest book. We get beyond excited when we notice books missing because it means they have found a place in the hands and homes of others. Eventually we want to share our library on a greater scale but currently we are figuring out how to sustain our Little Free Library long term as our number of visitors increases. Currently most of the books we share are ones we bought both brand new and from library sales, and from our personal library. We’ve also been blessed by the generosity of neighbors, family, friends and library visitors. Even people from Instagram who have never met us have shared stories that they’ve written or read with us. It has been the most affirming and humbling thing to see that people all over see what we are doing and believe in it.

Sometimes I worry we’ll run out of books but for me that’s telling. It tells me that this is something important to me, something I cherish.

In addition to being a Little Free Library Steward I’ve been writing book reviews on the blog and Instagram. My hope is that it will eventually lead to more books for the library. I dream of a day when authors and publishers send books our way regularly, books we will share online and in our library.

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 9.46.23 AM

LLOM: Prayers and good thoughts are appreciated. The support we’ve been given from the book sharing community has been unexpected and I am grateful for all of it. I feel like I’ve been blessed with friendships and mentors and get to be a part of something special simply by showing up and sharing stories that we love.

Beyond that, following along with us online, telling people about what we do and sharing your stories with us are all ways to support us on this adventure of ours. We happily accept donations and you can email us if you have a book you’d like us to consider reviewing. We strive to share books that encourage, inspire and give readers the tools to be bright lights in this world. The books that my daughters and I personally buy and share are ones that do that.

You can also support your local Little Free Library-to find one visit the world mapAnd if you decide to start one of your own let me know! My daughters and I would love to encourage and cheer you on!

TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 9.41.59 AMLLOM: It is hard to narrow it down to just one — there were two books that inspired me to be a better human and stayed with me long after I closed them — The Day You Begin written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael Lopez and The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld.

In some ways I’m just beginning, this library adventure is an example of that. I’ve already gotten so much from having the courage to start. Not waiting until we could get our yard landscaped or have some actual curb appeal. Not waiting until I felt braver (meeting new people tends to make me nervous) or worrying if someone heard the girls bickering in the backyard or learned that I don’t always have it together. Life is beautiful and messy and hard and precious, and from what I’ve seen, heard and read thus far we’re sharing something wonderful with our community. I’m human and therefore flawed but I’m ready to begin. I’m grateful for the chance to.Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 9.40.28 AM

As for The Rabbit Listened, as someone with a deep love for words and who often uses them in excess, learning that they aren’t always needed or even wanted particularly when it comes to loved ones hasn’t come so easily. But more and more I’m striving to be a rabbit.

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

LLOM: This year has already been a rather challenging and heartbreaking one for my family and me. I’m currently juggling many things while striving to make time to water the seeds that I’ve planted, those dreams I’m dreaming.

This December we will be celebrating Little Light of Mine Library’s 1st birthday! As it gets closer, I hope to spend some time with my daughters talking about our hopes and goals for the library and organize our donations more efficiently so that we aren’t always eating dinner next to piles of books. I want to write more. I’m not sure what role the library will play in this but having the library has me writing and dreaming again. I look forward to reading more books with my family. And today I want to thank my husband and my mother for helping the girls and me make this Little Free Library dream a reality.

In 2019, I’m looking forward to sharing more books both online through Little Light Stories and Instagram and in our Little Free Library, Little Light of Mine Library.

Our hope is to only shine brighter!


Thank you for having me today and for affirming the fact that our stories matter because they do. I’m honored that you wanted to know and share a piece of mine.Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 9.34.07 AM

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Introducing: Baby Ventures!

Happy Saturday!  Chag sameach to those celebrating Passover, and Happy Easter to those who celebrate tomorrow!  This week we are lucky enough to feature Golzar & Lisa!  These hardworking women run Baby Ventures, a book company based in Maryland.  Both of these women use their experiences in non-profit work along with travel & activism to inform their creative and literary endeavors!  We hope you enjoy the adventure of getting to know the wonderful and intelligent Golzar & Lisa!


The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!


Lisa & Golzar
Golzar (left) and Lisa (right)

Baby Ventures: Greetings! We are Golzar Kheiltash and Lisa Hall, co-founders of Baby Ventures™, a Maryland-based, women-run indie children’s book company creating diversity and adventure-inspired board books and artwork. We met while working at a nonprofit in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Washington, DC in 2005, and have been close friends and collaborators ever since.


Golzar is an avid humanitarian and advocate. She trained as a lawyer and spent eleven years working on behalf of vulnerable populations at leading advocacy organizations worldwide. When motherhood entered the picture, Golzar started pouring through all the board books she could find to read with her daughter. Many of the “baby books” she came across featured oversimplified topics and images, leaving her to crave more for her budding bookworm. As co-author of all Baby Ventures™ books, Golzar is deeply committed to creating a more enriching, globally informed reading experience for young children.

Lisa has been a lifelong artist and traveler, visiting over fifty countries across six continents. Her travels include serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa, backpacking by herself across Latin America and volunteering at orphanages in Bolivia and India. Upon returning home from each of her trips abroad, Lisa painted the rich diversity of people and places she’d experienced. As co-author and illustrator of Baby Ventures™, books, Lisa combines vibrant imagery with bold colors to bring her real-life adventures to life in each book.

The ABCs of Washington, DC


As avid travelers with a deep reverence for the rich tapestry of cultures, languages, and locales that make up our global village, we founded Baby Ventures™, in 2016, with one simple mission: to encourage children early on to explore all the people, cultures, and places that make our world the wonder-filled place that it is, one literary adventure at a time. Our inaugural title, the ABCs of Washington, DC, is an ode to the real-life adventures we had while living and working in DC!

TTA: What are you passionate about?

BV: While there are several key principles that drive us, one core tenet we are particularly passionate about is working to ensure that all children – regardless of income or circumstance – have equal, unhindered access to quality board books from an early age. Although we are a small company, we are dedicated to donating our books and time to organizations that are working tireless on behalf of children and families, with causes ranging from early literacy to life-saving humanitarian assistance.

Because reading with children is a proven way to foster early literacy as well as a lifelong love of books, we also prioritize hosting story times as often as we can. Last year, through collaboration with the Family Library at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, we were honored to host a very special story time with our ABCs of Washington, DC, which was broadcast live to patients throughout the hospital.

We are also big believers in the power of a library card – we strongly support local libraries nationwide, and we are working hard to ensure that our books are available for circulation at a number of public libraries across the US. We are thrilled to announce that our bilingual Spanish-English counting book, ¡Números, Baby!, has just been accepted for circulation at several branches of the Chicago Public Library!

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!


¡Números, Baby!

BV: We have just released our third title, ¡Números, Baby!, and are undertaking an ambitious and targeted distribution plan across the US.  ¡Números, Baby! is inspired by our own travels across Latin America and Spain, and introduces youngsters to the stunning beauty and linguistic, cultural, and geographical diversity of the Spanish-speaking world. Each page combines numbers and text with vibrant illustrations depicting the unique attributes of nine Latin American countries, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and Spain.


¡Números, Baby! also embodies one of our core company goals: to encourage bilingualism from an early age. Studies have shown that learning a new language is invaluable for the development of babies’ brains. Beyond the science, we believe it is also a singularly powerful way to foster empathy and develop kinship with our global brothers and sisters.

World Central Kitchen (WCK)


We are also honored to help give back to local communities that inspired ¡Números, Baby! – a portion of all sales of this title goes to World Central Kitchen (WCK), a nonprofit food assistance organization founded by chef and humanitarian advocate José Andrés.  WCK is doing exemplary work on behalf of vulnerable populations in Latin America and beyond – please visit their website to support their incredible efforts.  

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

BV: The publishing industry is changing drastically, even from just a few short years ago when we waded into this field. We keenly welcome the uptick in indie authors and publishers who are creating one of kind, timely books that are helping raise tomorrow’s compassionate, connected adults. Get to know your local authors, seek out indie authors who are tackling issues you want your children to grow up reading about, and most of all, shop at your local indie bookstore! Since launching our first book, we have had the privilege of having our books sold at a number of incredible indie bookstores in the greater Washington, DC area. Many of these indie bookstores are women-owned and/or run, and we couldn’t be prouder to collaborate with them. Throughout our indie literary community, women are lifting up other women in the most inspiring and empowering way. Support that by supporting them– go to Indie Bound and find your local indie bookstore!

TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?


All Are Welcome

BV: That’s a very tough question! If we had to choose just two, they would be: All Are Welcomewritten by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman, and Alma and How She Got Her Name, by author and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal. We are voracious readers with our own little ones, and we find ourselves feeling both moved and hopeful when we read such inclusive, empowering titles with them.


TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

BV: While there are a number of opportunities we are excited for this coming year, top of the list is our upcoming trip to Puerto Rico! This incredible, resilient island inspired page 5 of ¡Números, Baby! and we feel strongly about going to visit whenever we can.  Leading up to our trip, we are striving to set up several book donation drives with our local partners in the US, to help bolster school libraries in Puerto Rico. If you would like to donate a new children’s book or Young Adult fiction or non-fiction book, please contact us at!

Loyalty Books


We will also be hosting several author events throughout this year, including this month: If you and your little ones are in the DC area, join us on March 23rd at newly opened indie bookstore Loyalty Books for story time with our ABCs of Washington, DC – we’ll be celebrating cherry blossoms and the global friendship they represent, and much more from A to Z in our capital city! Check out their website for more details!

Happy reading adventures,

Golzar and Lisa

Stay Connected with Baby Ventures™!


Screen Shot 2019-04-20 at 12.28.08 PM

Baby Ventures™ Website

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Baby Ventures™ Facebook

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Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

Written by: Phil Bildner

Illustrated by: John Parra

For Ages: 5-10 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Hurricane Katrina, American Folktales, Community Involvement, Activism, Social-Emotional Growth.

Summary: This book is in American Folktale style, making Cornelius larger than life!  Marvelous Cornelius is based on an actual man who lived in New Orleans and was a sanitation worker.  Cornelius was known for doing fancy tricks while picking up the trash, and being a friendly face around the neighborhood.  When Hurricane Katrina strikes, he sees the destruction that the storm has wrought and is disheartened.  Instead of waiting for reinforcements, Cornelius takes it upon himself to begin the cleanup of his beloved neighborhood and city.  Soon, others begin to help and the community comes together along with volunteers to bring New Orleans streets a little bit closer to what they had been in the past, before Katrina.

Marvelous Cornelius does a great job of highlighting the importance of community involvement while also teaching young children about the storm.  It is perfect for young audiences and focuses on teamwork instead of personal hardship.  While it is important for more details about the storm to be shared, this introduces it in a way that won’t scare younger readers and listeners.  Having a protagonist that is warm and kind, especially a black man, is crucial for representation!  While this story does embellish Marvelous Cornelius from the actual person, there is an extensive Author’s Note in the back that talks more in-depth about Hurricane Katrina, Cornelius, and the community efforts that helped rebuild New Orleans.

Reflection Questions:

  • Why do you think it was important for Cornelius to help clean up his community instead of waiting for someone else to do it?
  • How would you feel if something you started doing impacted those around you, and made them start to help as well?
  • What about your community is important to you?
  • How can you make your community better?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Do you live in a place where there are hurricanes?  How about tornados or earthquakes?  There are all sorts of large weather events that happen all over the world.  Learn more about them, and try to make a tornado in a bottle!
  • Contact a meteorologist and learn about how their jobs are impacted by the weather.  Take a field trip to a news station nearby and see where they do their work everyday.  Are there more people than just the meteorologist doing work about the weather?
  • Investigate more about what people need after a large weather event that might flood their homes or break things (like during an earthquake).  What sort of community support systems are available, and what do they need in terms of donations?  Is there anyway for your class or school to help them?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Phil-Ups.jpgPhil Bildner grew up in Jericho, New York, a Long Island suburb of New York City.  Phil went to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and got his undergraduate degree in political science (B.A. ’90). Then he went to law school at New York University School of Law (J.D. ’93). Phil passed the bar exam in both New York and New Jersey and got a job as an associate at a large Manhattan law firm.

Quickly he realized that being a lawyer wasn’t for him, and instead went back to school and got a master’s degree in early childhood and elementary education!  Phil taught for 11 years before leaving to write full-time, though he never stopped working with kids. He began chaperoning student-volunteer trips to New Orleans to help in the post-Hurricane Katrina recovery effort. Phil founded The NOLA Tree, a non-profit youth service organization and served as the Executive Director. They worked with other non-profit and service organizations on community building and development projects. He also launched The Author Village and works with other creative professionals.  Phil is still writing and visiting schools all over the world!

JohnParraPortrait2010John Parra is the illustrator of numerous books for children including the Pura Belpré Honor winning Frida Khalo and Her Animalitos, the Pura Belpré Honor and SCBWI Golden Kite Award winning Gracias/Thanks, the Pura Belpré Honor award-winning Green Is a Chile Pepper, and the SCBWI Golden Kite Award winning Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans. John is also the illustrator of the Christopher Award-winning Waiting for the Biblioburro, and the 2018 picture book is Hey, Wall.

As a boy growing up in Santa Barbara, California, John always loved to draw — robots, creatures, cities, his family, and of course, his Hispanic roots and heritage influenced his creations. But it wasn’t until a conversation with visiting artist, Salomón Huerta, during John’s final year at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena that his art style came into focus. John discovered he could infuse his culture and personality into his work, and ever since, he hasn’t stopped.

John has taught art at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, CA, and in 2015 he shared his creations at a special event and workshop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. John’s work can now also be seen on a series of six USPS Forever Stamps titled Delicioso, which celebrates Latino food cuisine.

John loves planting Easter Eggs – funny, personal, or symbolic references. For instance, in all of his books, John always includes a self-portrait of himself as a child. But don’t ask him to help you find these hidden gems, he won’t give them away!

John lives in Queens New York with his wife Maria, and like always, he continues to work in his studio, passionately creating art.

Introducing: Little Justice Leaders

Happy Saturday, humans!  It’s starting to feel a little bit more like spring here in New England, we’ve reached the rainy and steamy portion of April and Corrie is dreading the forthcoming wave of pollen.  We are thrilled to be able to help Shelby spread the word about her most recent project: Little Justice Leaders!  Shelby is incredibly hardworking, and we hope you all enjoy learning more about the incredible number of things she’s working on!

Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 8.56.50 AM
Shelby and Donovan!



The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!

Little Justice Leaders: I’m Shelby, and I’m the creator of Little Justice Leaders, a subscription box to help parents and teachers teach their kids about social justice. I am also working on my Ph.D. in Urban Schooling at UCLA. My work has always centered on social justice and education, and I am passionate about many issues of social justice. In 2012, I co-founded a non-profit organization called 1girl that provides leadership development opportunities for middle school girls and college women. I also spent years working in schools directly with parents, teachers, and students in a variety of roles. As a graduate student, my research focuses on the connection between the juvenile justice system and the education system. Specifically, I work with youth who are transitioning out of incarceration and back into educational spaces. 

TTA: What are you passionate about?

LJL: I am passionate about education and social justice! I’ve always worked in the field of education, and I love working with kids and seeing them grow. I think it is so important for us to teach compassion, acceptance, and love. I want to help raise a generation of kids who are going to care about humanity. I would love to help create a world where all young people want to get involved with their community, give back to society, and support each other.Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 8.51.54 AM

For me, giving back and working towards social justice has been part of everything I’ve done – in terms of my work with non-profits, schools, my own schooling, and now through Little Justice Leaders. I think it is so important for us to bring together morality and education. I hear so much about what is wrong with schools, but it is always focused on things like math, literacy, and graduation rates. These are important, but what about humanity? What about morality? I’m passionate about getting people talking about how we infuse education with morality and love. 

Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 8.49.31 AMTTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on! 

LJL: My main project right now is raising excitement for our Little Justice Leaders boxes. I sent out our first boxes in August of last year, and we started our teacher box subscription just a couple months ago in January. Now it is starting to gain some traction and attention from parents and teachers! I am super excited about the potential of getting these boxes out to more parents and teachers across the US and beyond. Each month, I have a new project of creating a box that is fun, interesting, and informative for parents, teachers, and kids. On top of my working on my dissertation, this is quite a project each month! But I absolutely love doing it and hearing from the people who receive the boxes.

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

LJL: Spreading the word is a huge help! Most of the growth has been through word of mouth – teachers and parents sharing Little Justice Leaders with fellow teachers and parents. That has been incredibly helpful for me. People can also join our mailing list. That way, they can stay up to date with all the fun stuff we have going on.

In addition, I’m always looking for recommendations of what could go in the boxes. Specifically, I would love to connect with small business owners, artists, entrepreneurs, and teachers who want to work with me to help provide something for upcoming boxes.

TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?51qrFbbFoPL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

LJL: This is such a hard one for me because I read a lot and I love books. One of my favorites that I read in 2018 was When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele. This book is an honest, real look into some parts of the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement. I highly recommend it for anybody who cares about social justice and supporting Black communities. 

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

LJL: In this coming year, I’m going to be launching a middle school version of our boxes! This year, we only offer boxes for elementary students, so I’m super excited to expand and reach more young people! We’ll be launching the middle school version in the fall. Stay tuned! 

Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 8.45.17 AMStay Connected with

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Tan to Tamarind: Poems about the Color Brown

Written by: Malathi Michelle Iyengar

Illustrated by: Jamel Akib

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Self-Acceptance, Self-Esteem, POC-Centric Narratives, Poetry, Family, Community, Culture & Traditions.

Summary: This book is a collection of poetry that celebrates the different tones and shades of brown skin!  Each poem is titled with a shade: Bay, Sienna, Topaz, Sandalwood, and many more!  The poems are short and easy to read for young readers.  The illustrations are bright and beautiful, portraying happiness and community.

These poems intertwine cultural tradition and significance with skin color and celebration.  One boy’s grandmother soaks yucca leaves to make medicine for cuts, friends bake gingerbread together, and a wedding party dances together in a swirl of ocher.  Focusing on these joyous moments and celebration of family history is so important to build self-esteem and normalize experiences of marginalized populations.  Having poetry written specifically in admiration of different hues of skin increases the visibility of cultures often written out of history.  We love these diverse poems, letting the reader peek into the lives of others all over the world!

Reflection Questions:

  • Did you know all of these different words for the color ‘brown’?
  • Why do you think it’s important to have different words to describe our physical characteristics?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • What are some things your family does that has cultural significance?  When and why are these activities important?
  • How would you describe your skin color?  Go on a nature walk and look for natural objects that resemble you and your family.
  • Try your hand at writing poetry!  Write a poem about something that’s important to you, like the subjects of the poems in the book.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Malathi-199x300Children’s poet and author Malathi Michelle Iyengar grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She earned a BA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MFA in music at the California Institute of the Arts, and an MA in education at California State University, Los Angeles.

She is also the author of the children’s story book Romina’s Rangoli (2007, illustrated by Jennifer Wanardi). Iyengar lives in Long Beach, California, where she is an elementary school teacher. She is also an accomplished clarinet player.


imageThumbCat_91Jamel Akib was born in Leigh-on-sea, Essex, England, on the 4th November 1965 to mixed English and Malaysian parentage. He moved to Sabah, North Borneo at the age of five and returned to England to pursue further education at the age of thirteen. He gained a BA honors Degree in Illustration in 1989.

He began working for the London Observer newspaper while still a student at art college, and has since become an award winning artist involved in many exhibitions and commissions.

He has so far illustrated the covers for three booker prize finalists!
Jamel is represented by Illustration ltd. in London, New York and Singapore. He lives in Salisbury, England with his wife and two boys.

Moses “Fleet” Walker: The First African-American to play Major League Baseball

Hello there! Today is opening day for the Boston Red Sox, and around here, everyone can’t wait for the start of the season! Fenway Park was once again open, and the reminder of Boston baseball led yours truly (Lee) to do a little deep dive into baseball history that doesn’t always get covered-the leagues that made space for athletes of color, all the way back in the 1870’s! This post is a photo-heavy exploration of the amazing pioneer Moses “Fleet” Walker, and his impact on the history of baseball in America.

From the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, MO:

“African-Americans began to play baseball in the late 1800s on military teams, college teams, and company teams. They eventually found their way to professional teams with white players. Moses Fleetwood Walker and Bud Fowler were among the first to participate. However, racism and “Jim Crow” laws would force them from these teams by 1900. Thus, black players formed their own units, “barnstorming” around the country to play anyone who would challenge them.

In 1920, an organized league structure was formed under the guidance of Andrew “Rube” Foster—a former player, manager, and owner for the Chicago American Giants. In a meeting held at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City, Mo., Foster and a few other Midwestern team owners joined to form the Negro National League. Soon, rival leagues formed in Eastern and Southern states, bringing the thrills and innovative play of black baseball to major urban centers and rural country sides in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. The Leagues maintained a high level of professional skill and became centerpieces for economic development in many black communities.”

Moses Fleetwood Walker

“The Moses Fleetwood Walker story is an American story about a constant need to fight for justice, equality and freedom” Rep. David Leland of Columbus, Ohio


Nickname: Fleet
Career: 1883-1889
Positions: c, of, 1b
Teams: minor leagues (1883, 1885-1889), major leagues (1884)
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Born: October 7, 1857, Mt. Pleasant, Ohio
Died: May 11, 1924, Steubenville, Ohio

Seated left, Moses Walker. Top row, third from the left, Weldy Walker.

From the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s eMuseum, which is a wonderful online resource for educators and baseball fans alike:

Photo353083“The son of a doctor, he was born at a waystation on the underground railway for fugitive slaves on their way to Canada, and as a youngster his parents moved to Steubenville, Ohio, where he attended integrated schools and played on integrated baseball teams. Tall, slender, handsome, and intelligent, he became the first black player to play in the major leagues when he played 42 games with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association in 1884, batting .263 for the season. A catcher with the ballclub, later in the year he was joined by his brother, Weldy Walker, who joined the team as a replacement outfielder for an injured player. 

(Click to Read) Weldy Walker’s 1888 letter challenging the passing of laws banning black players from playing Major League baseball

In 1887 he played with Newark in the International League, where he and George Stovey formed the first black battery, and Walker hit .263 and stole 36 bases for the season. The superstar of the era, Cap Anson, refused to play in the game because of their presence, setting the stage for future exclusion of blacks from the established leagues.”

Life After Baseball

From the New York Times’s larger Overlooked series, that for Black History Month in February profiled “remarkable black men and women never received obituaries in The New York Times — until now. We’re adding their stories to our project about prominent people whose deaths were not reported by the newspaper”.

“After that one season in the minors, his year in the majors, and five more seasons in the minors, Walker left professional baseball in 1890. He fell upon difficult times.

In April of 1891, he was embroiled in an argument with several white men on a street in Syracuse, where he had played minor league ball. He pulled a pocketknife and fatally stabbed one of them. The questions of whether the episode stemmed from racial epithets, and whether Walker was hit in the head with a rock hurled by one of the men before or after he wielded his knife, were in dispute. An all-white jury found him not guilty, believing he acted in self-defense.

Walker pursued business opportunities with his brother Weldy in his post-baseball life. Their ventures including an entertainment center in Ohio that offered motion pictures, plays, opera and vaudeville. He patented inventions that facilitated the loading of film reels by his projectionists at a time when the movie industry was in its infancy.

201_246b3bec8c178c3642cb42553eb7d9f7“Back to Africa” Movement

By the turn of the 20th century, if not earlier, Walker had become dispirited by bigotry. In 1902, Moses and Weldy coedited a short-lived newspaper, The Equator, which focused on racial matters. In 1908, Moses wrote a published tract titled “Our Home Colony: A Treatise on the Past, Present and Future of the Negro Race in America.” It was a scholarly work but essentially a cry of despair.

When Walker died of pneumonia on May 11, 1924, in Cleveland, he was working as a clerk in a billiard parlor. He outlived his first wife, Arabella, with whom he had three children, and his second wife, Ednah, both having been his classmates at Oberlin. He was about 66. He was buried in an unmarked grave at Union Cemetery in Steubenville. Weldy, who died in 1937, was buried alongside him.

William Edward White

White photographed as a member of the 1879 Brown University baseball team

Researchers with the Society for American Baseball Research have found that a Brown University student named William Edward White played in one game at first base for the Providence Grays of the National League in 1879. White was the son of a Georgia slave owner and his mixed-race house servant. But he lived as a white man and was not regarded otherwise when he played in that major league game.

fleetwood walker
Mural depicting Walker at Fifth Third Stadium, home of the Toledo Mud Hens

Moses Fleetwood Walker remains the first major leaguer recognized in his time as an African-American. In recent decades, the Walker brothers have emerged from obscurity. The minor league Toledo Mud Hens have posted a historical marker outside their ballpark chronicling Moses’s career, and the Ohio Legislature passed a measure in 2017 establishing an annual Moses Fleetwood Walker Day on his birthday. Private fund-raising has financed gravestones at the Walker brothers’ resting sites. Moses’s marker, dedicated in 1990, reads in part: “First Black Major League Baseball Player in the USA.”

“When Moses Fleetwood Walker played, people had never seen African-Americans of his caliber before. You’re talking about an African-American baseball player who was at the top of his game, and intellectually sharp as a tack. In these trying times, with so much division right now, so much violence and so much misunderstanding between groups of people, we need this story. It’s a sad story, but so inspirational.”

Craig Brown, adjunct instructor at Kent State and Stark State College and a Society of Baseball Research (SABR) member who led fundraising efforts to purchase a headstone for Weldy Walker’s gravesite (next to his brother Moses’ gravesite).

Moses Fleetwood Walker’s grave at Union Cemetery in Steubenville, Ohio
Weldy Wilberforce Walker’s grave at Union Cemetery in Steubenville, Ohio

Title Image: Ars Longa Art Cards “Pioneer Portraits”