Tag Archives: poetry

Firebird

Written by: Misty Copeland with Charisse Jones

Illustrated by: Christopher Myers

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Trailblazers, POC-Centric Narratives, Poetry, Ballet, Historical Figure, Historical Events, Art, Growing Up, Hard Work, Inspiration. 

Summary: This book is a beautiful conversation between trailblazing ballerina Misty Copeland and a young hopeful.  Lyrical text and flowing illustrations help capture the long road to becoming a professional dancer.  Copeland is encouraging as she talks about the thousands of repetitions she’s done, perfecting each move and stance before even taking the stage to perform.

Copeland writes to inspire and ensure young dancers of color that they can accomplish their dreams, despite them seeming far off.  She ends the book with a personal letter talking about how she didn’t see herself reflected in ballet books, and hopes that by continuing to dance and publish books, she can help inspire future generations of dancers and be the mirror she needed when she was their age.

Like so many other areas, diversity in professional dance has a long way to go.  Misty Copeland is only the second African American soloist at the American Ballet Theatre.  She strives to be the person she needed when younger, and this message resonates with us.  While we are white, we are LGBTQ and want to be the people we needed to see when we were younger: happy, successful, and making the world a better place.  With stunning illustrations, Myers brings Copeland’s message to life in the most beautiful way possible.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

web_header_inspiredBorn in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland began her ballet studies at the late age of thirteen. At fifteen, she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. She studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on full scholarship and was declared ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000. Misty joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000, joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001, and in August 2007 became the company’s second African American female Soloist and the first in two decades. In June 2015, Misty was promoted to principal dancer, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history.

In 2008, Misty was honored with the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts, a two-year fellowship awarded to young artists who exhibit extraordinary talent providing them additional resources in order to attain their full potential.  Performing a variety of classical and contemporary roles, one of Misty’s most important roles was performing the title role in Firebird, created on her in 2012 with new choreography by much sought after choreographer Alexei Ratmansky. In December 2014, Misty performed the lead role of “Clara” in American Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker, also choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. In the fall of 2014, she made history as the first black woman to perform the lead role of “Odette/Odile” in American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake during the company’s inaugural tour to Australia. Misty reprised the role during ABT’s Metropolitan Opera House spring season in June 2015, as well as debuted as “Juliet” in Romeo & Juliet.

Misty’s passion is giving back. She has worked with many charitable organizations and is dedicated to giving of her time to work with and mentor young girls and boys. In 2014, President Obama appointed Misty to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

Misty is the author of the New York Times Bestselling memoir, Life in Motion, co-written with award-winning journalist and author Charisse Jones, published March 2014. She has a picture book titled Firebird in collaboration with award-winning illustrator and author Christopher Myers, published September 2014.  She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford in November 2014 for her contributions to classical ballet and helping to diversify the art form.

qY71wcZ0_400x400Charisse Jones works for USA Today, is a journalist, and assisted in the writing of Firebird. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

72414356_thChristopher Myers is a multimedia artist, author, and playwright from New York City born in 1974. Myers earned his B.A. in Art-Semiotics and American Civilization with focus on race and culture from Brown University in 1995. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally at venues including MoMA PS1, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Mistake Room at Paos GDL, Akron Art Museum, Contrast Gallery Shanghai, Goethe-Institut Ghana, Kigali Genocide Memorial Center Rwanda, San Art Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, and The Studio Museum Harlem. Myers won a Caldecott Honor in 1998 for his illustrations in the book Harlem and a Coretta Scott King Award in 2016 for illustrating Firebird with Misty Copeland. Myers currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice

Written by: Nadia L. Hohn

Illustrated by: Eugenie Fernandes

For ages: 4-8 years 

Language: English & Jamaican/Caribbean Patois 

Topics Covered: Historical Figure, POC-Centric Narratives, Poetry, Global Community, Trailblazer, Black Culture & Identity, Jamaica, Language, Literacy. 

Summary: Louise is a young girl living in Kingston, Jamaica.  She loves words and writing poetry, but the words get stuck when she tries to speak.  Louise gains inspiration for her poetry by listening to the sights and sounds of those around her, but she is shamed for it at school.  Louise ends up going to another school, but has trouble reciting the poems she memorized out loud.  Instead, she musters up courage to speak the lyrical flow of Jamaican Patois that she hears on the streets and in her house, rather than the formal English that she feels might be expected of her in school.  To her surprise, her classmates and teachers love Louise’s poem!  

This book is amazing for several reasons.  First, it introduces young children not only to poetry but also to an accomplished poet that they might not be familiar with if they don’t live in Jamaica!  Second, it helps normalize the linguistic cultural funds of knowledge that students bring into the classroom with them.  Many times, children of color that might speak a patois, pidgin dialect, or AAVE outside of the classroom are shamed for bringing it into school.  This invalidates their experiences and furthers the elitism associated with formal/standard English.  We should be embracing the lived experiences of students, and having this book that celebrates such a prolific woman is a great addition to bookshelves!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

4635690Nadia L. Hohn is a dynamic “story lady” who has presented to audiences in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jamaica, and Trinidad.  From the age of six years old, Nadia L Hohn began writing stories, drawing, and making books. Her first two books, Music and Media in the Sankofa Series were published by Rubicon Publishing in 2015.  Her award-winning first picture book, Malaika’s Costume was published in 2016 and its sequel Malaika’s Winter Carnival 2017 by Groundwood Books.  Nadia is also the author of Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter, an early reader by Harper Collins published in December 2018.  A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett-Coverley Found Her Voice, nonfiction picture book about the performer, playwright, author, and Jamaican cultural ambassador, Louise Bennett-Coverley otherwise known as Miss Lou, will be published in 2019 (Owlkids). Nadia was 1 of 6 Black Canadian Writers to Watch in 2018 and the first SCBWI Canada East Rising Kite Diversity Scholarship recipient in 2018. Nadia  will be a touring in Alberta as a presenter in the TD Canada Children’s Book Week in 2019.  In summer 2019, Nadia will be the writer in residence at Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver, British Columbia. Nadia is an elementary school teacher in Toronto and has taught early years music in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Nadia L. Hohn studied writing at the Highlights Foundation, Humber College School of Writers, George Brown College, and the Voices of our Nation (VONA).  She holds an honours arts degree in psychology from the University of Waterloo as well as Bachelor and Master of Education degrees from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT).  Nadia is currently working on two young adult novels, a play, the next Malaika… book, and others.  She lives in Toronto she teaches, reads a ton, and crafts stories. She also loves to write (songs, blogs, journals, stories), play piano, cook vegan dishes, travel, study arts and cultures of the African diaspora especially Caribbean folk music, Orff music education, and run.

eugenie_fernandes-2Eugenie Fernandes has illustrated a myriad of books for a whole slew of publishers!  Here is a brief blurb about her from the Kids Can Press website: “My world is yellow and blue and green. I grew up on the beach. I painted with my father — comic-book illustrator Creig Flessel. We made up stories sitting on the front porch. Birds flew down from the sky and sat on my shoulder. Cats purred. Frogs hopped. I have always lived on islands …a house on Long Island, an apartment on Manhattan Island, a thatch hut on an island in the middle of the South Pacific, and now … I live and work in a little house … on a little island … in a little lake in southern Ontario. Summer and winter …starting at the crack of dawn, I paint every day. Sometimes, I write stories. Sometimes, I sell the stories. Then I paint again … I paint my stories … I paint other people’s stories. Sometimes, I paint paintings for myself … abstract paintings … big … free … Sunshine fills my studio.I am surrounded by water and birds and trees.My world is yellow and blue and green. Eugenie graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1965. Her paintings from Earth Magic and One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference are at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.”

They Call Me Güero; A Border Kid’s Poems

Written by: David Bowles

Cover Art by: Zeke Peña

For ages: YA upper elementary/middle grades

Language: English & Spanish

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Mexican-American Experience, Immigration, Prejudice, Culture & Traditions, Poetry, Own Voices, Latinx. 

Summary: Our narrator is a twelve year old boy known only as Güero, a slang term/nickname for a person with red hair and freckles.  He lives near the border of Mexico, and goes on the weekends to the market to buy groceries and visit family.  This book of poetry gives short snippets and vignettes in the life of Güero, including his introduction to poetry from his seventh grade teacher.  Bowles skillfully interjects these light topics of life in Texas with more introspective and difficult subjects such as immigration, racism, and prejudice.  This book is excellent, it’s great to see a main character’s perspective that is often underrepresented, especially in poetry. Güero’s life experience is a very specific area of the country, and we don’t know enough about it from a young person’s perspective.

About the Author & the Cover Artist:

David-Bowles-cpp-CROPPED-lo-res-768x679David Bowles is a Mexican-American author from south Texas, where he teaches at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley. He has written several titles, most notably The Smoking Mirror (Pura Belpré Honor Book) and They Call Me Güero (Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, Claudia Lewis Award for Excellence in Poetry, Pura Belpré Honor Book, Walter Dean Myers Honor Book).

His work has also been published in multiple anthologies, plus venues such as Asymptote, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Metamorphoses, Rattle, Translation Review, and the Journal of Children’s Literature.

In 2017, David was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters.

David’s literary representation is Taylor Martindale Kean and Stefanie Von Borstel of Full Circle Literary. His Hollywood representation is Sandra Ávila of Inclusion Management.

J1400x933-13422+copyZeke Peña makes comics and illustrations as an accessible way to remix history and explore complex issues. He was born in Las Cruces, NM and grew up in El Paso, TX. He has a degree in Art History from the University of Texas, Austin and is self-taught in drawing and painting. He has published work with VICE.com, Latino USA, The Believer Magazine, The Nib, Penguin Random House, Holt/Macmillan and Cinco Puntos Press. In 2018 he received the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for a graphic biography he illustrated titled Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide. His first children’s book My Papi Has a Motorcycle, written by author Isabel Quintero was published in 2019 by Kokila, a Penguin Young Readers imprint.

Freedom over me; Eleven slaves, their lives and dreams brought to life

Written & Illustrated by: Ashley Bryan

For ages: 10-12 years (grades 4-6)

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Enslavement, Enslaved People, Historical Figures, Historical Events, Poetry, Historic Narratives, Narratives of Enslavement. 

Summary: This book is comprised of poems telling the stories of 11 enslaved people.  Records of these individuals were found in a historical document owned by the author himself, who developed free verse poetry and personal details of the people who were merely listed with their price on a document.

In Athelia’s poem, the last stanza reads “As slaves, we do what our owners expect and demand of us. As human beings, our real lives are our precious secret.” Bryan brings to life the harsh realities of enslaved life in a way that humanizes and reveals the multi-faceted nature of these enslaved peoples.  After a poem that corresponds with each of the people: Peggy, John, Athelia, Betty, Qush, Jane, Stephen, Mulvina, Bacus, Charlotte & Dora;  another poem tells of their dreams.  While their real jobs and dreams are unaccounted for in written historical documents, they are probably not far off from the dreams of many of the millions of enslaved peoples throughout the history of the United States.  America is a country that was founded with and built on the backs of enslaved people.

These poems are beautiful, and have even more beautiful illustrations paired with them. Bryan does a fantastic job memorializing these 11 people that history all but forgot.  We particularly love the colorful illustration of Bacus’ dreams, showing him blacksmithing and singing a song of freedom.

Reflection Questions:

  • Why do you think that personal details of these and other enslaved people weren’t recorded?
  • How can we memorialize the lives lost through enslavement, if we don’t know so many of the people who were enslaved?
  • What other questions do you have about the process of creating poetry based on just a few simple details?
  • Why do you think Ashley Bryan felt the need to not only write these stories, but also make a book about them?
  • How is this helping our current day viewpoint about the lives of enslaved peoples?

About the Author & Illustrator:

ashleyAshley Bryan doesn’t speak his stories, he sings them, fingers snapping, feet tapping, his voice articulating. His entire body is immersed in the tale. Born in 1923, Ashley was raised in the Bronx, NY. At seventeen, he entered the tuition-free Cooper Union School of Art and Engineering, having been denied entry elsewhere because of his race. Encouraged by supportive high school teachers, Ashley was told, “Apply to Cooper Union; they do not see you there.” Admission was based solely on a student’s exam portfolio. Drafted out of art school into the segregated US army at age nineteen, Ashley preserved his humanity throughout World War II by drawing, stowing supplies in his gas mask when necessary. After the war, Ashley completed his Cooper Union degree, studied philosophy and literature at Columbia University on the GI Bill, and then went to Europe on a Fulbright scholarship, seeking to understand why humans choose war. In 1950, renowned cellist, Pablo Casals, agreed to break the vow of silence he had taken after Franco came to power in his native Spain. Ashley was permitted to draw Casals and his fellow musicians during rehearsals in Prades, France, where Casals was in exile. Through the power of Casals’ music sessions, something “broke free” for Ashley: “I found the rhythm in my hand.” Ashley returned to the United States, teaching art at several schools and universities, retiring in the 1980s to Maine’s Cranberry Isles as professor emeritus of Dartmouth College.

Keep Climbing, Girls

Written by: Beah E. Richards (Introduction by LisaGay Hamilton)

Illustrated by: R. Gregory Christie

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Self-Expression, Acceptance, Self-Acceptance, Independence.

Summary: This is a poem about girl power!  The main character is determined to prove her bravery and climb to the top of the tree, despite threats from the intimidating figure Miss Nettie that she’ll fall and break her neck.  She is called a tomboy, and that has a lot of negative connotations but our main character doesn’t care.   I would say there is much less negativity surrounding the term these days, and that it is generally more of a descriptor, but in the 1950’s when this was originally written there was a lot more stigma surrounding the term.

A particularly profound stanza of the poem which continues to ring true today is: “But Miss Nettie hadn’t reckoned with the wisdom of little girls. For even they know little boys have the upper hand in this world. The only way to make a bid for a girl’s equality is to climb right up to the toppermost bough of the very tallest tree”. The main character realizes that in order to gain respect, she must do something that would impress the group in power-in this case, the neighborhood boys.  She shows remarkable bravery, both in climbing the tree branches and defying an authority figure (risking punishment after her feat is accomplished).

The poem overall is framed within this tree climbing experience, but can be applied to other experiences in life.  In a patriarchal world, women (especially women of color) are expected to be exemplary in order to be seen as equal.  This poem ages well, and is still both an anthem for tomboys and a call for daring adventures.

Reflection Questions:

  • When have you done something that required bravery?
  • What do you think the main character was thinking about when she was climbing?
  • Do you like climbing trees?
  • What other animals like to live in trees?
  • If you were building a tree house, what type of tree would you like to live in?

About the Author & the Illustrator: 

Beah RicardsBeulah Elizabeth Richardson (July 12, 1920 – September 14, 2000), known professionally as Beah Richards, was an American actress of stage, screen, and television. She was also a poet, playwright, and author.  The poem which serves as the text for the book was originally written in 1951!

Richards was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her supporting role in the film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner in 1968, as well as winning two Primetime Emmy Awards for her guest roles in the television series Frank’s Placein 1988 and The Practice in 2000. She also received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the 1965 production of The Amen Corner.

LisaGay_HamiltonLisaGay Hamilton (born March 25, 1964) is an American actress who has portrayed roles in films, television, and on stage. She is best known for her role as attorney Rebecca Washington on the ABC‘s legal drama The Practice (1997-2003). She also portrayed Melissa Thoreau on the TNT comedy-drama Men of a Certain Age (2009-2011), Celia Jones on the Netflix series House of Cards (2016), Suzanne Simms on the Hulu series Chance (2016), and Kayla Price on the Hulu series The First (2018).

Hamilton’s film credits include roles in 12 Monkeys (1995), Jackie Brown (1997), Beloved (1998), True Crime (1999), The Sum of All Fears (2002), The Soloist (2009), Beastly (2011), Beautiful Boy (2018), and Vice (2018). Her theater credits include Measure for Measure (Isabella), Henry IV Parts I & II (Lady Hotspur), Athol Fugard’sValley Song and The Ohio State Murders. Hamilton was also an original cast member in the Broadway productions of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and Gem of the Ocean. In 2005 she won a Peabody Award for creating and directing the 2003 documentary film Beah: A Black Woman Speaks.

4724_29061686R. Gregory Christie is a multi-award winning children’s book illustrator with more than 60 traditionally published books to his credit. He is also the owner of GAS-ART GIFTS (Gregarious Art Statements) an Atlanta based traveling children’s bookstore that provides art services to private and public groups.  R. Gregory Christie received a Caldecott Honor for his illustrations in Freedom in Congo Square, written by Carole Boston Weatherford. He is a three-time recipient of The New York Times’s 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year Award, a six-time recipient of the Coretta Scott King Honor Award in Illustration, and a winner of the Boston Globe­–Horn Book Award, the NAACP’s Image Award, and the Once Upon a World Children’s Book Award from the Museum of Tolerance. Visit Mr. Christie’s website at Gas-Art.com!

10 Things You Might Not Know About R. Gregory Christie

  • He is an NAACP Image Award Winner.
  • The 2013 Kwaanza Stamp designer.
  • A Caldecott Honor Winner
  • A Six time, Coretta Scott King Honor recipient.
  • Has won many awards from The New York Times and Boston Globe.
  • An artist for a New Orleans Jazz Festival poster.
  • Has films on Netflix through Karyn Parson’s “Sweet Blackberry” projects.
  • He’s done many album covers including John Coltrane’s and Joe Sample’s.
  • One Billion people saw his artwork on the New York City subway cars in 2013.
  • He’s lived in many places including Sweden, Germany, Canada, and Australia

A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks

Written by: Alice Faye Duncan

Illustrated by: Xia Gordon

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Poetry, Black Culture & Identity, Women Poets, Own Voices, Trailblazer, Historical Figure, Historical Events.

Summary: This book is a fascinating rendition of poetry surrounding Gwendolyn Brooks, some of it is her own poetry and some is the author’s.  The author creates her own song to celebrate Brooks, and text winds around beautiful illustrations.  This book is very hard to describe, it’s more of an immersive experience than a traditional story!

Gwendolyn was born in Kansas but spent most of her life in Chicago.  Her parents were extremely supportive of her gift with words, and fought back against a teacher who accused Gwendolyn of plagiarizing.  Brooks wrote tons of poetry throughout her entire life, and sought inspiration from what she saw outside her window.  She was the first Black Pulitzer Prize winner, being awarded this high honor in 1950.  An author’s note with more concrete details about the life of Brooks is in the back, including a detailed timeline spanning two pages and suggested readings by Brooks herself!

Reflection Questions:

  • What do you know about poetry?
  • Do you think songs and poems are the same thing?
  • Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do?
  • How did that make you feel?
  • How do you think Gwendolyn felt when her mother believed her, and defended her to the teacher that thought she was plagiarizing?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

M6beHbvg_400x400In the words of Alice Faye Duncan herself:

I am my mother’s only child and Memphis is my home. I went to library school at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville). While there, Professor Glenn Estes introduced me to picture books. At the University of Memphis, I took a Children’s Literature Class from Professor Ramona Mahood. She introduced me to author, Charles Turner, who inspired me to write WILLIE JEROME–my very first book. Macmillan published it in 1995. Picture books are my favorite to write! They allow me to “sing” without a music education or singing voice. YOU DON’T WANT ME TO SING. Really. 

I discovered the poets, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks, when I was a child searching the crowded shelves in my parents’ personal library.  While I loved each poet, my early writing was most similar to Paul Laurence Dunbar.  I wrote for the ear to hear and the voice to speak words like I heard them spoken in school, church and the sundry store. Langston, Gwen and I, have Dunbar in common.  It was Paul Laurence Dunbar who moved us early in life to make words our vocation. Words are my work and my pathway to words began with poetry.  

My picture books include biographies of Black artists and moments in American History seldom told. I also write lyrical stories that celebrate the sustaining power of love between a mother and child. My books are illustrated by award winning artists like Gregory Christie, Xia Gordon, Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (YES! of the Famous Pinkney Family) and Mary Uhles. MEMPHIS, MARTIN AND THE MOUNTAINTOP won a 2019 Coretta Scott Honor Medal for illustrations.

28539_profile_1382809390Xia Gordon is an Ignatz-nominated cartoonist and illustrator living in Brooklyn, NY. She grew up in Orlando, FL and graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Cartooning & Illustration in 2016. She studied as a Teaching Assistant Intern at the Robert Black Burn Printmaking Worskshop in 2016 and was a Visiting Artist at the Center for Cartoon Studies in 2018.

Her comic Kindling was published by 2dcloud in early 2017 and was named one of The Comic Journal’s Best Comics of 2017 and 2018. She also Illustrated A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks written by Alice Faye Duncan (Sterling Children’s Books.)

Selected Clients: The New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Penguin Random House (Classics)VICE NewsBuzzfeed News, Lenny Letter, Narratively, The Baffler.

Some nice words from: Philippe LeBlanc at ComicsBeat, Ardo Omer at Book Riot, and Rob Clough of High-Low Comics.

Interview for FRESH at Communication Arts.

 

 

Around Our Way on Neighbor’s Day

Written by: Tameka Fryer Brown

Illustrated by: Charlotte Riley-Webb 

For ages: 4-7 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Community, POC-Centric Narratives, Friendship, Poetry.

Summary: This is a bright, fun, lyrical adventure through a close-knit neighborhood during the celebration of Neighbors’ Day (which could be described as a block party).  The narrator is a young girl with yellow ribbons in her hair.  She travels around the neighborhood seeing what festivities everyone is partaking in, and describes them for the reader in short poetic bursts.  People playing chess, a set of triplets and their sour lemonade, as well as a plethora of delicious dishes made with love.  The pages burst with friendship, love, and joy.  The painted illustrations convey so much movement and excitement they practically jump off of the page!

This is a fun and quick read.  The words make the reader want to chant them like a handclap game or jumprope song.  We were left wishing we knew where this magical neighborhood was, and how we could score an invitation to the next Neighbors’ Day!

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you live in a neighborhood?
  • If so, do your neighbors hang out and do things together like the characters in the book?
  • What kind of event or party would you like to have?
  • What types of responsibilities do you think go into planning a large party like Neighbors’ Day?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Charlotte Riley-Webb has a creative and unique painting style!  Experiment with different mediums of art, and pick one that is your favorite.  Maybe you can design the invitations for your next party!
  • Have your own classroom Neighbors’ Day!
  • Learn more about cartography, or map-making.  Look at maps of your community and make a road map out of masking tape on a carpet.  Can everyone put their houses on the map, or do some friends live farther away?
  • Design and draw your own neighborhood!  What do you wish was near where you live, and what are your favorite parts of the community?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Tameka001-hires2smaller2Tameka Fryer Brown is a writer now, but she didn’t plan on being one when she was young. Tameka thought she was going to be a lawyer. When Tameka went to college, though, she changed her mind and majored in business instead.

Since Tameka worked very hard, she graduated summa cum laude (which is a fancy way to say “Tameka got excellent grades”). After college, she got a job as a medical supplies sales representative. Tameka sold products that hospitals need to perform surgery. Tameka actually got to watch them do surgeries, too. It was very cool. But she used to have to travel a lot with that job. Once Tameka was a mom, she decided she didn’t want to travel so much anymore. That’s when she became a Full-Time Mother instead. Being a mom is a lot of fun! After a few years, Tameka wanted to add another job, too. She made a list of all the things she was good at doing, and writing was at the top of that list.

Since Tameka’s children and Tameka LOVE to read picture books, she thought that would be a great type of writing for her to learn. Tameka studied and practiced, and studied and practiced some more. Finally, all of her hard work and practice paid off…She sold a book!

That’s the story of how Tameka became a writer and a published author. Tameka hopes you like her books. Tameka writes them for kids just like YOU.

DSC_0076An Atlanta native, Charlotte Riley-Webb moved with her family to Cleveland, Ohio as a toddler, where she was educated in the public school system and earned her B.F.A. degree from The Cleveland Institute of Art but has continued her education throughout the years. As a professional visual artist, Charlotte documented the essence of her culture in her three year traveling painting exhibition, “From Stories of My America”, which debuted at the Hammonds House Museum in Atlanta in 2001 and exhibited in seven different museums and fine art galleries in the south. Over the years her venues extended across the country and beyond the states to include Surinam, South America and Anguilla, British West Indies. Webb’s work is included in numerous, private, business and corporate collections. Her public works installations include Faces and Phases of Fulton, a mural size painting installed in the Fulton County Public Service office in Atlanta and the installation of her collaborative medium, “sculpted paintings” which she creates with her sculptor husband, Lucious. The couple installed an outdoor public arts work in the concert district of downtown Hampton, Virginia for which they were awarded “The Hampton Arts Commission Award of Excellence” and their piece, “Sounds of Perpetual Spring”, was voted as the city’s People’s Choice Purchase Award for their permanent collection. They installed “Arts Alive”, the commissioned sculpted painting in the fall of 2010, at the new arts center in Shreveport, LA. Contemporary realistic with an abstract flair is how she described her representational works. This rhythmic style with bright bold colors, easily translated into the illustrations for six children’s books Rent Party Jazz, Sweet Potato Pie, The Entrance Place of Wonders, Today Around Our Way, as well as Seed Magic. Charlotte was one of twelve artists contributing to the 2010 NAACP Image Award winning, Our Children Can Soar published by Bloomsbury Books.

While building her fine art career, she opted to address the need for socialization and creative expression in several of Atlanta’s senior facilities, at that time an overlooked population. Charlotte taught art classes to senior citizens as a volunteer for thirteen years from1984-1995 then again in 1998-2001. An art gallery for the senior students’ work was opened in one of the high-rises and Charlotte was awarded materials grants by the City of Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs. For this effort in 1987, Webb was awarded the Iota Phi Lambda Visual Arts Award granted in eight different areas of community service. A natural teacher, she also successfully completed two summer residencies, teaching abstract art, to inner city youth in Shreveport, Louisiana in 2009 and 2010, offering an alternative to gang violence and idle time. As a result two of her student graduates are considering a career in the arts.

An evolution of study, growth and expansion has led Charlotte to her new and present genre, abstract art. She began the process by studying with two of this country’s premier abstract artist, the late John T. Scott of New Orleans and Moe Brooker of Philadelphia. This opportunity aided her in finding her own “abstract niche” and helped propel the career which she had been hinging on for many years, even in her representational works.