Tag Archives: civil rights

Pies From Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Written by: Dee Romito

Illustrated by: Laura Freeman

For ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Modern Black Freedom Struggle, Segregation, Historical Figures, Historical Narratives, POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, Activism, Community Organizing. 

Summary: Georgia Gilmore is both a mother of 6 and a cook at a lunch counter during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  She is inspired to do more fundraising for the boycott, and for the community organizing and activism surrounding segregation.  Georgia spearheaded efforts of local women who cooked secretly in their homes and then sold it to others in the local community.  The profits were then used in the fundraising efforts and donated to the cause.  Georgia operated under the utmost secrecy and through her efforts she was able to donate huge amounts of money, always saying that “it came from nowhere” in order to not implicate herself or anyone else.  However, when her job finds out she’s involved with the organization efforts, she is fired.  MLK Jr. helps Georgia update her kitchen and open a home restaurant, where she is able to continue the fundraising and hold meetings for key Civil Rights leaders!

Georgia Gilmore is a lovely example of how a person can partake in solid on the ground  organization efforts and create incredible ripples of change throughout a community.  So many organizers and activists have been erased from retellings in favor of uplifting a few key individuals in a simplified narrative.  Having these stories told showcase how intricate community efforts are, and how everyone can become involved in making change.  This is a crucial message to get across in times of political and social change, we have much to learn now about the efforts of those before us.  Students today are incredibly lucky to have children’s books like this to learn about heroes such as Georgia.  After reading this book, we have hope that young people will have better access to these stories instead of learning about organizers like Georgia Gilmore as adults.

This book was sent to us by little bee books but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

sleeves_2_origDee Romito is an author of books for young readers and a former elementary school teacher. She’s also an active PTA parent, Co-founder of the Buffalo-Niagara Children’s Writer’s and Illustrators (BNCWI), and the PAL Coordinator (for published members) of West/Central NY SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).

​Dee has lived in Buffalo, NY for most of her life and loves it there. (There’s a lot more to this place than winter snow and it truly is The City of Good Neighbors.) She’s had her share of travels around the world and short stints elsewhere, including a semester in London, a summer waitressing near the beach in North Carolina, and a first year of teaching in Atlanta.

Freeman-headshot-G54sml_800Laura Freeman is originally from New York City, but now lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children. Laura received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and began her career working for various editorial clients. Laura has illustrated over thirty children’s books, including Hidden Figures written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the Nikki & Deja series by Karen English and Fancy Party Gowns by Deborah Blumenthal. In addition to illustrating books and editorial content, her art can be found on a wide range of products, from dishes and textiles to greeting cards.

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist

Written by: Cynthia Levinson

Illustrated by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figure, Historical Event, Activism, Modern Black Freedom Struggle, Civil Rights, Family, Love.

Summary:  Audrey is a nine-year-old girl, living in Birmingham in 1963.  The book opens with Audrey’s mother cooking a huge dinner for their family friend, Mike.  Mike turns out to be a nickname, and the family friend is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr! At the dinner table is talk of desegregation efforts, and Audrey dreams of days when she can shop where she wants, have brand new schoolbooks, and better seats at the movies.  One Sunday, Mike visits their church and tells those crammed into the pews to hear him speak to fill the jails and disobey unjust laws.  Audrey notices that adults don’t step forward, and instead look away embarrassed making excuses for why they couldn’t be arrested.

One night, another family friend named Jim announces a new idea to fill the jails with children rather than adults.  Bravely, Audrey steps forward with other children. She joins the hundreds of others marching but realizes that she is the only protestor from her elementary school and is in fact the youngest person at the march!  Singing freedom songs, the children march and are arrested.  Sentenced to a week in juvenile hall, Audrey comes to find that jail is not glamorous. There aren’t clean clothes and the food is bad.  She is questioned by four white men; the first ones Audrey has ever spoken to! She notices though, that every afternoon more and more children arrive at the jail, some soaking wet from being sprayed with firehoses.  By her fifth day, the jail is full!  The community has fulfilled their goal, and no more children can be arrested.  Two months after Audrey is released, Birmingham completely wipes the segregation laws from their lawbooks.

This book is significant in the way it treats the characters.  Audrey is not seen as exceptional in her actions, only in her age.  The illustrations show careful thought and detail, the background individuals vary in size, shape, wardrobe, and more importantly skin tone.  In the back there is both an author’s note and a timeline of events surrounding the children’s march in Birmingham.  There is also a list of sources, a book recommendation for older readers, and Audrey’s favorite hot buttered roll recipe!  Both author and illustrator are familiar with the struggles of oppression, and one can tell by the way that background characters are treated and illustrated.  The movement is explained as a group effort with many moving pieces rather than Audrey single-handedly bringing about change to Birmingham.

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you think Audrey became so brave?
  • Do you think it would be easier to be in a juvenile detention center with a lot of people you knew?
  • How do you think Audrey was feeling when she realized her actions were creating change for her entire community?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about the Modern Black Freedom Struggle, and how resistance occurred for much longer than just in the typically talked about decade of 1954-1964.  What sorts of happenings in the movement were occurring since the end of the Civil War?
  • Read more about the Birmingham Children’s March, and what it inspired people around the country to do.  What other actions were a direct result, and how were youth vital to the movement’s success?
  • Look at photos or watch some interviews with other individuals who participated.  What can we learn from them, and other activists who came before us?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

cynthialevinsonCynthia Levinson lives in two places with her husband, who is a law professor. Most of the year, they hang out in Austin, Texas. In the fall, they’re in Boston, Massachusetts. Cynthia didn’t always want to become a writer but a college friend always encouraged her. The friend was right but Cynthia had to wait for the right time. Cynthia is awed by writers who also have day jobs and children at home. It was only after her children got through college and paid off those bills that she could take the risk of leaving my job at a state education agency and dip a toe into writing.  She’s written lots of magazine articles for kids about pandemics, about Moko, the mind-body problem, civil rights, and a bunch of other topics. Creativity takes a lot of work. And, frankly, as a nonfiction writer, she self-describes as not all that creative. Like people who can work, raise children, and write, those who can make up stories, settings, characters, and emotional valence astonish Cynthia.

Vanessa-new-225x300Vanessa Brantley Newton was born during the Civil Rights movement, and attended school in Newark, NJ. She was part of a diverse, tight-knit community and learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment at early age.

Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her into the artist she is today. As an illustrator, Vanessa includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her stories and artwork. She wants allchildren to see their unique experiences reflected in the books they read, so they can feel the same sense of empowerment and recognition she experienced as a young reader.

​Vanessa celebrates self-love and acceptance of all cultures through her work, and hopes to inspire young readers to find their own voices. She first learned to express herself as a little girl through song. Growing up in a musical family, Vanessa’s parents taught her how to sing to help overcome her stuttering. Each night the family would gather to make music together, with her mom on piano, her dad on guitar, and Vanessa and her sister, Coy, singing the blues, gospel, spirituals, and jazz. Now whenever she illustrates, music fills the air and finds its way into her art.

The children she draws can be seen dancing, wiggling, and moving freely across the page in an expression of happiness. Music is a constant celebration, no matter the occasion, and Vanessa hopes her illustrations bring joy to others, with the same magic of a beautiful melody.


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!

Back of the Bus

Written by: Aaron Reynolds

Illustrated by: Floyd Cooper

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Civil Rights, POC-Centric Narratives, Activism, Historical Events, Historical Fiction, Rosa Parks.  

Summary: This book takes place on December 1st, 1955.  This is also the historic day when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a public bus to a white person.  The narrator is a young boy, sitting with his mother in the back of the bus.  The narrator spies a woman he knows, Mrs. Parks, at the front of the bus.  When the bus fills up, a voice demands that some folks move to the back.  Some people move, but one doesn’t.  The narrator can’t hear exactly what’s happening, but his mother tells him to be quiet and they both strain to listen.  He recognizes that his mother is using a serious voice, and he waits and waits while the bus that should be moving along the route continues to be stopped.  He realizes that Mrs. Parks is in the front of the bus with fierce eyes he compares to a lightning storm.  A police officer gets on the bus, and begins to question why Mrs. Parks won’t give up her seat.  She’s arrested, and escorted off the bus.  The book ends with the narrator noticing his mother has a lightning storm in her eyes now, and notices that he feels a little stronger than yesterday.

This book is a great introduction to both the Civil Rights movement and activism.  Written from the boy’s perspective helps young readers empathize and become engaged with the story.  The plot line easily opens up discussions for fairness, racism, activism, and historical figures.  While Rosa Parks certainly wasn’t the first woman to partake in this specific form of activism and rebellion on public transportation (one was, among many others, Claudette Colvin!) she is certainly the most well-known.  While Rosa was far from the kindly old lady who was just fed-up, she is a figurehead in history and a worthy role-model for any child!

It is crucial to recognize that the story most individuals are taught in schools about Rosa Parks has been watered down and made palatable.  She was a well-established activist by the time these boycotts came around, and had indeed been happening on public buses since the 1940’s.  We believe that it is important to have a highly accessible entry point for children learning about activism, but it must not stop there!

Reflection Questions:

  • What do you think about the fact some people couldn’t sit specific places on the bus?
  • Have you ever heard of Rosa Parks before?
  • What can you do if you see someone being treated unfairly?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about important historical figures like Claudette Colvin and Bayard Rustin.  What activism did they become involved with, and why are they lesser known than Rosa?
  • The struggle for equality is not over yet.  Who can you write letters or give a phone call to, for this cause?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Aaron Reynolds_0Aaron Reynolds is the author of numerous great books for kids, including “Chicks and Salsa”, “Tale of the Poisonous Yuck Bugs, The Nineteenth of Maquerk, “and “Breaking Out of the Bungle Bird. “He lives near Chicago, where his wife, two kids, and four cats keep life spicy.



Floyd-CooperFloyd Cooper received a Coretta Scott King Award for his illustrations in The Blacker the Berry and a Coretta Scott King Honor for Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea and I Have Heard of a Land. Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mr. Cooper received a degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma and, after graduating, worked as an artist for a major greeting card company. In 1984, he came to New York City to pursue a career as an illustrator of books, and he now lives in Easton, Pennsylvania, with his wife and children.

Major Taylor Champion Cyclist

Written by: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Illustrated by: James E. Ransome

For ages: 6-10 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historic Figure, Historical Events, Sports Figures, Civil Rights, Racism, Trailblazer. 

Summary: Set in Victorian times, this book covers the life of Marshall Taylor, later known as Major Taylor.  When Marshall was 8, he was hired by a rich white family to be a companion for their only son.  Marshall lived a great life, getting education and material goods that were not often received when a person of color so soon after the Civil War.  The year is not exact, but the opening scenes of the book is somewhere around late 1880’s, early 1890’s.  Marshall goes one day, at age 13, to a bike shop to get something fixed so he can finish his paper route.  Upon leaving, he does some tricks and gets noticed by the two shop owners.  They offer him a job cleaning the shop and doing tricks for customers, and even throw in a new bike to sweeten the deal!  Marshall agrees, and wears a military style jacket when doing tricks, earning him the nickname Major Taylor.  The shop owners ask if he wants to be in a bicycle race one day, even though he protests he ends up racing and wins!  Continuing to work at the shop, Marshall befriends the famous cyclists that come in.  Louis “Birdie” Munger is a patron of the shop, and asks Marshall to move to Worcester, Massachusetts with him and train to be a professional cyclist.  Marshall agrees, and began to train.  When he’s 18, he’s officially a professional cyclist.  Marshal begins to tour, and begins to see the racism and segregation that was so common around the United States.  However, Marshall was the only African-American member of the League of American Wheelmen and competed wherever he wanted.  Because of this though, Marshall had troubles with other cyclists who were racist and wanted him out of the competition.  During races, they would gang up on him and try to force him to lose.  Because of this, Marshall became skilled at weaving in and out among racers and it only made him a better rider.  The press called him The Black Whirlwind and he was famous!  He became the World Champion in 1899.  A few years later, Marshall became good friends with Edmond Jacquelin the 1900 World Champion and they decided to race against each other.  Marshall loses the first race, but a rematch is scheduled.  Major Taylor wins!!

This book covers in-depth the life and career of Marshall Taylor, one of the world’s greatest cyclists and a trailblazer of integrating the sport of cycling.  Given opportunities not afforded the majority of the African-American community, he was able to show the world that athletic talent is talent, regardless of race.

Reflection Questions:

  • What is your favorite sport?
  • How do you think Major Taylor felt when he was the subject of attacks just because of his race?
  • How can you stand up for someone that you see being bullied?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Think about your favorite sport.  Learn about when it became integrated, and who the trailblazers were that made desegregation happen.  What were some hardships encountered, and how did this historical figure react to the challenges faced?
  • Try a new sport that has always interested you.  Snowshoeing, kayaking, football, whatever you can think of!  What are some things you need in order to play the sport, and is it accessible for everyone?  If no, brainstorm different ways to make the sport able to be played and enjoyed by everyone!
  • Contact a professional cyclist and see if they will visit your classroom.  Ask questions about what they do to train, what a race is like, and if they have a lot of bikes!  How is being a professional cyclist the same and different as other professional athletes?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

lesa_nolaLesa Cline-Ransome grew up in Malden, MA, a suburb just outside of Boston, the daughter of two nurses and the youngest of three. She considers consider herself very lucky to have grown up with a mother who loved to read. Each week Lesa’s Mom would take Lesa with her to our local library so that she could stock up on books. As Lesa grew older she would venture off into the children’s section and gather up her own collection to check out. Through her mother Lesa realized that reading could become a wonderful escape and writing even more so. When her mother gave Lesa a diary as a gift, she first filled the pages with the “very important” details of her life—adventures with her friends, secret crushes and the many ways in which her family drove her crazy. Then Lesa began creating her own stories! Lesa became interested in children’s books the year she married. Her husband, James was working on illustrating his first book which allowed both of them to look at picture books in a new way. When they’d browse books in bookstores, he studied the illustrations, she read the stories. Lesa eventually completed a graduate degree in elementary education and through coursework became truly immersed in children’s literature.

james-e-ransome-1261135The Children’s Book Council named James E. Ransome as one of seventy-five authors and illustrators everyone should know. Currently a member of the Society of Illustrators, Ransome has received both the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration and the IBBY Honor Award for his book, The Creation. He has also received a Coretta Scott King Honor Award for Illustration forUncle Jed’s Barbershop which was selected as an ALA Notable Book and is currently being shown as a feature on Reading Rainbow. How Many Stars in the Sky? and Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt were also Reading Rainbow selections. PBS’s Storytime featured his book, The Old Dog. Ransome has exhibited works in group and solo shows throughout the country and received The Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance award for his book, The Wagon. In 1999 Let My People Go received the NAACP Image Award for Illustration and Satchel Paige was reviewed in Bank Street College of Education’s “The Best Children’s Books of the Year.” In 2001, James received the Rip Van Winkle Award from the School Library Media Specialists of Southeast New York for the body of his work.  How Animals Saved the People received the SEBA (Southeastern Book Association) Best Book of the Year Award in 2002 and the Vermont Center for the Book choseVisiting Day as one of the top ten diversity books of 2002.  In 2004 James was recognized by the local art association when he received the Dutchess County Executive Arts Award for an Individual Artist.  He has completed several commissioned murals for the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Hemphill Branch Library in Greensboro, NC. He created a historical painting commissioned by a jury for the Paterson, NJ Library and a poster for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Brown vs the Board of Education.  His traveling Exhibit, Visual Stories has been touring the United States since 2003.  His work is part of both private and public children’s book art collections.

The United States v. Jackie Robinson

Written by: Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Illustrated by: R. Gregory Christie

For ages: 5-10 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figures, Military History, Sports Figures, Civil Rights.

Summary: Before we knew Jackie Robinson as the first African-American Major League Baseball player, he served in the military.  Jackie grew up in California, during segregation.  His family was the only family of color on their street, and once their neighbors even started a petition to make them leave.  His mother resisted, and taught her children to always stand up for what was right.  Jackie was a phenomenal athlete, and one of the best college football players in the country.  Unfortunately, his knee was injured because of constantly being tackled by teammates even when he didn’t have the ball.

When Jackie Robinson was first in the military, it was still racially segregated.  This means he and the other soldiers of color had separate places to sit, eat, and live.  While he was still serving, the military outlawed segregation!  This meant that now Jackie and his other soldiers were integrated with the rest of the soldiers, specifically the white ones.  Unfortunately, things did not change overnight.  One day, Jackie was ordered to the back of the bus by the driver so a white soldier could sit down.  Jackie refused.  Even though the military had been desegregated, Robinson was taken to court by the military police.  Jackie must remember what his mother taught him, about standing up for what’s right even when it’s difficult.

This is a great book to cover a not-so-distant time in American history, as well as one of the most well-known sports figures.  This isn’t a well-known case either, and it is important for children to know how influential and strong Jackie Robinson was.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you heard of Jackie Robinson before?
  • What’s your favorite sport to play?
  • Jackie was very brave to stand up for what was right.  What can you do that’s brave, to help people too?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about historic Civil Rights cases.  What is a case that particularly inspires you?  What can you learn from the past that can help marginalized communities today?
  • Jackie Robinson was the first MLB player of color.  Who are the other major sports heroes of color that broke barriers?  Did any of them go through anything like Jackie did when he was in the military?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

sudipta bardhan-quallenIn 2001, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen was well on her way to not being a writer. She had graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 1998 with a BS in Biology, spent a year in Boston, and then had returned to Caltech as a PhD candidate in developmental biology. That’s when she had her first child, Isabella. Bella’s birth didn’t change Sudipta’s plans – she thought she’d take a long maternity leave then return to graduate school. Then, her daughter Brooklyn came along. With two small children, Sudipta found herself less interested in biology as she was in parenting. And for the first time, she found that she had stories to tell, stories she wanted to share with her daughters, and she decided to try to get published. After a half-dozen rejections, in 2003, Sudipta sold her first story to a children’s magazine, Highlights for Children. Using her science background as a springboard, Sudipta began writing nonfiction for children, including Championship Science Fair Projects, Last Minute Science Fair Projects, AIDS, and Autism. She branched out into other nonfiction, including biographies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Jane Goodall, and altogether, Sudipta has written 18 nonfiction books for kids.

R. Gregory ChristieIllustrator and freelance artist Richard Gregory Christie was born on July 26, 1971 in Plainfield, New Jersey to Ludra V. St. Amant Christie and Gerard Adoltus Christie. Raised by his mother, a Louisiana Creole, and his father, a Jamaican pharmacist, Christie was raised in the Scotch Plains community of Plainfield near the Jerseyland Resort. He attended St. Bartholomew the Apostle Elementary School where he demonstrated a talent for art early on. In 1985, Christie worked for Commercial Art and Supply while he attended Fanwood High School. Graduating in 1989, he enrolled in New York City’s School for Visual Arts (SVA). His first illustration was published by the Star Ledger in the summer of 1990. In 1993, Christie graduated from SVA with his B.F.A. degree. In 1994, Christie illustrated the album cover of Justice System’s Summer in the City. Soon, his work graced the covers of jazz labels from all over the world, including Joe Sample’s Old Places Old Faces Warner Brothers, 1996; George Benson’s A Song for my Brother Giant Step Records, 1997; and Coltrane The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings GRP Impulse, 1997. Christie’s’ illustrations also appeared in numerous publications in Europe, Asia and America. In 1996, he illustrated Lucille Clifton’s The Palm of My Heart; Poetry by African American Children. The book won a Coretta Scott King Award honor from the American Library Association and a Reading Magic Award from Parenting magazine. Christie has illustrated the biographies of many other significant historical and cultural figures, including Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, and Sojourner Truth. In 2006, he won a Coretta Scott King Award honor for Brothers in Hope ; The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, and for illustrating Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth.
Currently, Christie is a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine.