Tag Archives: Carole Boston Weatherford

Schomburg: The Man Who Built A Library

Written by: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez

For ages: 8-12 years old, or a confident reading level.

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Fiction, Historic Figures, Literacy, Trailblazers, Afro-Puerto Rican Figures, Professional Life, Schomburg Library. 

Summary: This book was sent to us by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are our own!

This book is hefty! It is crammed with information about Arturo Schomburg himself, as well as biographies of some individuals that he gathered books about.  Schomburg was fascinated with Black stories, gathering tales of “his history” to share with the world.  This is an incredibly detailed and well-researched book, it has a plethora of very specific information such as names and dates.  These would be confusing to a very young reader, it’s a lot to keep track of.  However the story can easily be vocally edited to match the listener’s comprehension level, and has fantastic vocabulary.  This is an amazing book about a scholar that changed the world by collecting stories of histories erased maliciously.  Arturo Schomburg went on to curate the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, still open and changing lives today.

About the Schomburg Center from their website:

“Each year, the Schomburg Center presents a number of exhibitions featuring art objects, photographs, documents, published works, and artifacts drawn from its own holdings, as well as resources from other institutions. These exhibitions explore issues and themes in the history and culture of people of African descent throughout the world. The programs and exhibitions are open to everyone, from schoolchildren to senior citizens, and most are available for free, increasing the library’s role as a community center. The Schomburg Center’s Traveling Exhibitions program makes exhibits on themes such as the black press, the anti-apartheid movement, black photographers, black theatre, and voluntary black migration available to institutions nationally and internationally. The Schomburg Center offers Summer Institutes for teachers, year-round teachers’ forums, and workshops on black history and culture. It also produces and disseminates curriculum guides, exhibition portfolios, and audiovisual materials on related themes.

Scholars-in-Residence Program, established in 1986, provides long-term fellowship support for research projects which draw heavily on the Center’s collections and resources.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is part of The New York Public Library, which consists of four major research libraries and 88 branch libraries located in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Considered one of the world’s greatest libraries, The New York Public Library is the only facility of its kind, with both world-class research and circulating collections that are free and open to the general public. As it enters its second century of service, The New York Public Library continues to grow and adapt to meet the needs of its millions of users worldwide.

The Center provides access to and professional reference assistance in the use of its collections to the scholarly community and the general public through five research divisions, each managing materials in specific formats but with broad subject focus. The Center’s collections include art objects, audio and video tapes, books, manuscripts, motion picture films, newspapers, periodicals, photographs, prints, recorded music discs, and sheet music.”

Arturo Schomburg is a man that deserves to be immortalized, and this book is a fantastic way to open the doors to knowledge for young readers.  We highly recommend this book!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

carolebostonweatherford-259x300-2Carole 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.

DIGITAL CAMERAIllustrator Eric Velasquez, the son of Afro-Puerto Rican parents, was born in Spanish Harlem and grew up in Harlem. His dual heritage coupled with the experience of living in dual cultures in New York City gives Eric a rich and unique cultural perspective.

As a child, his love for doodling and drawing was strongly encouraged by his mother. From his grandmother he inherited a love of music and from his father he developed a love of film. Growing up in this setting, Eric says, “Becoming an artist was a natural choice for me. I have never thought of being anything else.”

Eric attended the High School of Art and Design and earned his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1983. In 1984 he completed a year of studies with Harvey Dinnerstein at the Art Student’s League. Eric is a member of the Art Student’s League.

Upon completion of his studies with Mr. Dinnerstein, Eric began his career as a freelance illustrator. Over the next 12 years he completed numerous book jackets and interior illustrations. Such works include Beverly Naidoo’s award-winning “ Journey to Jo’Burg” and its sequel “Chain of Fire;” The complete series of “Encyclopedia Brown;” The complete series of “The Ghost Writers;” “The Apple Classic” series, published by Scholastic Books, “The Terrible Wonderful Telling at Hog Haven; and Gary Soto’s “The Skirt” and its sequel “Off and Running;” as well as the cover of the 1999 Coretta Scott King award winner “Jazmin’s Notebook” by Nikki Grimes.

In 2010 Eric was awarded an NAACP Image award for his work in “Our Children Can Soar” which he collaborated on with 12 notable illustrators of children’s literature. Eric also wrote and illustrated “Grandma’s Records” and its follow up “Grandma’s Gift” which won the 2011 Pura Belpre’ Award for illustration and was also nominated for a 2011 NAACP Image Award. Eric’s latest book “Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library” by Carole Boston Weatherford has gathered rave reviews, and has also won the 2018 Walter Award from the WNDB organization as well as the SCBWI’s The Golden Kite Award and The International Latino Award Honor.

Eric Velasquez lives and works in New York. He teaches book illustration at FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology) in NYC.

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!