Celebrity Children’s Authors and the Publishers Who Love Them, Part 2

I must con­fess, I’m par­tic­u­lar­ly annoyed by African Amer­i­can celebri­ties who jump into the children’s book fray because “there are no books for our chil­dren,” to which I respond, Huh? Spike Lee made such a claim in a year when I, alone, had five books pub­lished. So, I take it he is not only unaware of my con­tri­bu­tions to the field over the last 30-plus years, but has also missed out on the sub­stan­tial cat­a­log of books by Angela John­son, Pat and Fred McKis­sack, the Pinkney clan (Andrea, Glo­ria, San­dra), Tonya Bold­en, Sharon Flake, Jer­dine Nolen, Car­ole Boston Weath­er­ford, Wade and Cheryl Hud­son, Julius Lester, Wal­ter Dean Myers, Rita Williams-Gar­cia, Eloise Green­field, Vir­ginia Hamil­ton, and so on, and so on. Then there are the host of award-win­ning illus­tra­tors who have brought black books to life: Tom Feel­ings, Kadir Nel­son, George Ford, Eric Velasquez, R. Gre­go­ry Christie, Bryan Col­lier, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Java­ka Step­toe, E.B. Lewis, Bri­an Pinkney, Myles C. Pinkney, and Calde­cott win­ner Jer­ry Pinkney, and so on, and so on.

To be sure, there is room in the mar­ket for many more authors and illus­tra­tors of col­or. And one can cer­tain­ly harp on the fact that too few black books make the fea­tured wall in the children’s sec­tion of, say, Barnes and Noble—which is a rant for anoth­er day. But to say that there are no books fea­tur­ing African Amer­i­can chil­dren means that these celebri­ties have failed to do their home­work! Their loud­ly spo­ken asser­tions con­sti­tute a slap in the face for those of us African Amer­i­can authors and illus­tra­tors who have long toiled in the field. Shame on them!

3 Responses

  1. You tell ’em, Nik­ki! Maybe this will trig­ger folks like Spike check­ing out some of these won­der­ful authors–like you! Hey, tried to face­book you, but there was­n’t a way to do that. Tried to snail mail you but the enve­lope came back. So now, tag you’re IT. Drop me an email so I know how to con­tact you. I don’t want you to think I took your words at SCBWI for granted.

  2. Here I go again Nik­ki. You are so right. And plen­ty of these authors you men­tion have been around a long, long time. Wow–I even illus­trat­ed Wal­ter Dean Myers’ 1st or 2nd pic­ture book when we were both kids. And Vir­ginia Hamil­ton was an ele­gant young lady grac­ing the Macmil­lan offices from time to time back in those days. And Greg Christie, who I love like one of my own kids, is grow­ing old­er as they are. Some folks just nev­er learn.

  3. I am a 43 year old woman who is cur­rent­ly enrolled in col­lege at Texas Wom­an’s Uni­ver­si­ty. I am doing a study of authors for my library sci­ence class and final­ly learned about you. I am also white. I have read your book “Road to Paris” once and will again. I am read­ing your book of poetry/prose “Bronx Mas­quer­ade”. I love it so much that I am read­ing it again from begin­ning to end just to learn more about these char­ac­ters you have cre­at­ed. I want you to know that I feel some­what like Sheila. I now see how poet­ry can impact a stu­dent espe­cial­ly spec. ed. kids whom I will be teach­ing. Please con­tact me if pos­si­ble because I would enjoy a con­ver­sa­tion with you. Thanks, Melissa

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