Category Archives: Children & Young Adults

Announcements of new books for children and young adults

Mixed Me! by Taye Diggs and Shane W. Evans

Feiwel & Friends
October 6, 2015

Mom and Dad say I’m a blend of dark and light:
“We mixed you perfectly, and got you just right.”

Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them.

Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.

Essence Magazine’s Book Features for April 2015

Essence Magazine’s book features for April 2015, selected to catch some Spring Fever — featuring Attica Locke, Eric Jerome Dickey, Angela Flournoy, Tracey Baptiste, Tracy K. Smith:

Pleasantville (Jay Porter Series) by Attica Locke

Harper, April 21, 2015, Hardcover

In this sophisticated thriller, lawyer Jay Porter, hero of Attica Locke’s bestseller Black Water Rising, returns to fight one last case, only to become embroiled once again in a dangerous game of shadowy politics and a witness to how far those in power are willing to go to win.

Fifteen years after the events of Black Water Rising, Jay Porter is struggling to cope with catastrophic changes in his personal life and the disintegration of his environmental law practice. His victory against Cole Oil is still the crown jewel of his career, even if he hasn’t yet seen a dime thanks to appeals. But time has taken its toll. Tired and restless, hes ready to quit.

When a girl goes missing on Election Night, 1996, in the neighborhood of Pleasantville — a hamlet for upwardly mobile blacks on the north side of Houston — Jay, a single father, is deeply disturbed. He’s been representing Pleasantville in the wake of a chemical fire, and the case is dragging on, raising doubts about his ability.

The missing girl was a volunteer for one of the local mayoral candidates, and her disappearance complicates an already heated campaign. When the nephew of one of the candidates, a Pleasantville local, is arrested, Jay reluctantly finds himself serving as a defense attorney. With a man’s life and his own reputation on the line, Jay is about to try his first murder in a case that will also put an electoral process on trial, exposing the dark side of power and those determined to keep it.

One Night by Eric Jerome Dickey

Dutton, April 21, 2015, Hardcover

For one night, a couple checks in to an upscale hotel. The pair seem unlikely companions, from opposing strata of society, but their attraction is palpable to all who observe them — or overhear their cries of passion. In the course of twelve hours, con games, erotic interludes, jealousy, violence, and murder swirl around them. Will they part ways in bliss, in sorrow, or in death?

Filled with all the hallmarks of an Eric Jerome Dickey bestseller — erotic situations, edge-of-your-seat twists and turns, and fun, believable relationships — One Night will delight Dickey’s existing fans and lure countless new ones.

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 14, 2015, Hardcover

The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone — and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts — and shapes — their family’s future.

The Turner House brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It’s a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home.

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers, April 28, 2015, Hardcover

The jumbies are coming!

Corinne La Mer isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. She knows that jumbies aren’t real; they’re just creatures parents make up to frighten their children. But on All Hallows’ Eve, Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden woods. Those shining yellow eyes that follow her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?

Corinne begins to notice odd occurrences after that night. First she spots a beautiful stranger speaking to the town witch at the market. Then this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne’s house, cooking dinner for her father. Danger is in the air. Sure enough, bewitching Corinne’s father is the first step in Severine’s plan to claim the entire island for the jumbies. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and ancient magic to stop Severine and to save her island home.

Ordinary Light: A memoir by Tracy K. Smith

Knopf, March 31, 2015, Hardcover

From the dazzlingly original Pulitzer Prize-winning poet: a quietly potent memoir that explores coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter.

The youngest of five children, Tracy K. Smith was raised with limitless affection and a firm belief in God by a stay-at-home mother and an engineer father. But just as Tracy is about to leave home for college, her mother is diagnosed with cancer, a condition she accepts as part of God’s plan. Ordinary Light is the story of a young woman struggling to fashion her own understanding of belief, loss, history, and what it means to be black in America.

In lucid, clear prose, Smith interrogates her childhood in suburban California, her first collision with independence at Harvard, and her Alabama-born parents’ recollections of their own youth in the Civil Rights era. These dizzying juxtapositions — of her family’s past, her own comfortable present, and the promise of her future — will in due course compel Tracy to act on her passions for love and “ecstatic possibility,” and her desire to become a writer.

Shot through with exquisite lyricism, wry humor, and an acute awareness of the beauty of everyday life, Ordinary Light is a gorgeous kaleidoscope of self and family, one that skillfully combines a child’s and teenager’s perceptions with adult retrospection. Here is a universal story of being and becoming, a classic portrait of the ways we find and lose ourselves amid the places we call home.

Essence Magazine’s Book Features for February 2015

Essence Magazine’s book features for February 2015, selected for Black History Month — featuring Ethel Payne, Rosa Parks, Wes Moore, Sonia Sanchez, Malcolm X:

Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press
by James McGrath Morris

February 17, 2015

Acclaimed biographer James McGrath Morris brings into focus the riveting life of one of the most significant yet least known figures of the civil rights era — pioneering journalist Ethel Payne, the “First Lady of the Black Press” — elevating her to her rightful place in history at last.

For decades, Ethel Lois Payne has been hidden in the shadows of history. Now, James McGrath Morris skillfully illuminates this ambitious, influential, and groundbreaking woman’s life, from her childhood growing up in South Chicago to her career as a journalist and network news commentator, reporting on some of the most crucial events in modern American history.

Morris draws on a rich and untapped collection of Payne’s personal papers documenting her private and professional affairs. He combed through oral histories, FBI documents, and newspapers to fully capture Payne’s life, her achievements, and her legacy. He introduces us to a journalist who covered such events as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Little Rock school desegregation crisis, the service of black troops in Vietnam, and Henry Kissinger’s 26,000-mile tour of Africa.

A self-proclaimed “instrument of change” for her people, Payne broke new ground as the Washington correspondent for the Chicago Defender. She publicly prodded President Dwight D. Eisenhower to support desegregation, and her reporting on legislative and judicial civil rights battles enlightened and activated black readers across the nation. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized Payne’s seminal role by presenting her with a pen used in signing the Civil Rights Act. In 1972, she became the first female African American radio and television commentator on a national network, working for CBS. Her story mirrors the evolution of our own modern society.

Inspiring and instructive, moving and comprehensive, Eye on the Struggle illuminates this extraordinary woman and her achievements, and reminds us of the power one person has to transform our lives and our world.

With 16 pages of black-and-white photos.

The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America
by Lani Guinier

Beacon Press, January 13, 2015, Hardcover

Standing on the foundations of America’s promise of equal opportunity, our universities purport to serve as engines of social mobility and practitioners of democracy. But as acclaimed scholar and pioneering civil rights advocate Lani Guinier argues, the merit systems that dictate the admissions practices of these institutions are functioning to select and privilege elite individuals rather than create learning communities geared to advance democratic societies. Having studied and taught at schools such as Harvard University, Yale Law School, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Guinier has spent years examining the experiences of ethnic minorities and of women at the nation’s top institutions of higher education, and here she lays bare the practices that impede the stated missions of these schools.

Goaded on by a contemporary culture that establishes value through ranking and sorting, universities assess applicants using the vocabulary of private, highly individualized merit. As a result of private merit standards and ever-increasing tuitions, our colleges and universities increasingly are failing in their mission to provide educational opportunity and to prepare students for productive and engaged citizenship.

To reclaim higher education as a cornerstone of democracy, Guinier argues that institutions of higher learning must focus on admitting and educating a class of students who will be critical thinkers, active citizens, and publicly spirited leaders. Guinier presents a plan for considering “democratic merit,” a system that measures the success of higher education not by the personal qualities of the students who enter but by the work and service performed by the graduates who leave.

Jam on the Vine: A Novel by LaShonda Barnett

Grove Press, February 3, 2015, Hardcover

Ivoe Williams, the precocious daughter of a Muslim cook and a metalsmith from central-east Texas, first ignites her lifelong obsession with journalism when she steals a newspaper from her mother’s white employer. Living in the poor, segregated quarter of Little Tunis, Ivoe immerses herself in printed matter as an escape from her dour surroundings. She earns a scholarship to the prestigious Willetson College in Austin, only to return over-qualified to the menial labor offered by her hometown’s racially-biased employers.

Ivoe eventually flees the Jim Crow South with her family and settles in Kansas City, where she and her former teacher and lover, Ona, found the first female-run African American newspaper, Jam! On the Vine. In the throes of the Red Summer — the 1919 outbreak of lynchings and race riots across the Midwest — Ivoe risks her freedom, and her life, to call attention to the atrocities of segregation in the American prison system.

This House Is Not for Sale: A Novel by E.C. Osondu

Harper, February 3, 2015, Hardcover

A powerful tale of family and community, This House Is Not for Sale brings to life an African neighborhood and one remarkable house, seen through the eyes of a young member of the household. The house lies in a town seemingly lost in time, full of colorful, larger-than-life characters; at the narrative’s heart are Grandpa, the family patriarch whose occasional cruelty is balanced by his willingness to open his doors to those in need, and the house itself, which becomes a character in its own right and takes on the scale of legend.

From the decades-long rivalry between owners of two competing convenience stores to the man who convinces his neighbors to give up their earthly possessions to prepare for the end of the world, Osondu’s story captures a place beyond the reach of the outside world, full of superstitions and myths that sustain its people.

The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters
Wes Moore

Spiegel & Grau, January 13, 2015, Hardcover

The acclaimed author of The Other Wes Moore continues his inspirational quest for a meaningful life and shares the powerful lessons — about self-discovery, service, and risk-taking — that led him to a new definition of success for our times.

The Work is the story of how one young man traced a path through the world to find his life’s purpose. Wes Moore graduated from a difficult childhood in the Bronx and Baltimore to an adult life that would find him at some of the most critical moments in our recent history: as a combat officer in Afghanistan; a White House fellow in a time of wars abroad and disasters at home; and a Wall Street banker during the financial crisis. In this insightful book, Moore shares the lessons he learned from people he met along the way — from the brave Afghan translator who taught him to find his fight, to the resilient young students in Katrina-ravaged Mississippi who showed him the true meaning of grit, to his late grandfather, who taught him to find grace in service.

Moore also tells the stories of other twenty-first-century change-makers who’ve inspired him in his search, from Daniel Lubetzky, the founder of KIND, to Esther Benjamin, a Sri Lankan immigrant who rose to help lead the Peace Corps. What their lives — and his own misadventures and moments of illumination — reveal is that our truest work happens when we serve others, at the intersection between our gifts and our broken world. That’s where we find the work that lasts.

Our Auntie Rosa: The Family of Rosa Parks Remembers Her Life and Lessons
by Sheila McCauley Keys

Tarcher, January 22, 2015, Hardcover

A warrior in the fight for freedom, justice, and equality, Rosa Parks had the vision for a better world. She demonstrated that one person’s actions can indeed make a difference. What many don’t know is the person behind the persona. “Auntie Rosa,” as she was called by the many nieces and nephews she helped raise, extended her love and encouragement to her closest kin. She was a guiding force and inspiration in their lives, and in this remarkable book they share with readers the great wisdom Auntie Rosa imparted to them.

In Our Auntie Rosa the family of Rosa Parks presents a collection of personal remembrances, reflections, and never-before-seen photos and letters that pay tribute to Rosa Parks’s incredible strength and determination. Parks’s brave act on a bus in Alabama on December 1, 1955, was just one moment in a life lived with great humility and decency. Our Auntie Rosa is a life’s instruction manual from one of the most famous figures in American history that will inspire generations to come.

SOS – Calling All Black People: A Black Arts Movement Reader
edited by by John H. Bracey Jr., Sonia Sanchez, James Smethurst

Univ. of Massachusetts Press, February 28, 2014, Paperback

This volume brings together a broad range of key writings from the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, among the most significant cultural movements in American history. The aesthetic counterpart of the Black Power movement, it burst onto the scene in the form of artists circles, writers workshops, drama groups, dance troupes, new publishing ventures, bookstores, and cultural centers and had a presence in practically every community and college campus with an appreciable African American population. Black Arts activists extended its reach even further through magazines such as Ebony and Jet, on television shows such as Soul! and Like It Is, and on radio programs.

Many of the movement s leading artists, including Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins, Nikki Giovanni, Woodie King, Haki Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, Askia Tour, and Val Gray Ward remain artistically productive today. Its influence can also be seen in the work of later artists, from the writers Toni Morrison, John Edgar Wideman, and August Wilson to actors Avery Brooks, Danny Glover, and Samuel L. Jackson, to hip hop artists Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Chuck D.

S.O.S Calling All Black People includes works of fiction, poetry, and drama in addition to critical writings on issues of politics, aesthetics, and gender. It covers topics ranging from the legacy of Malcolm X and the impact of John Coltrane s jazz to the tenets of the Black Panther Party and the music of Motown. The editors have provided a substantial introduction outlining the nature, history, and legacy of the Black Arts Movement as well as the principles by which the anthology was assembled.

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March
by Lynda Blackmon Lowery

Dial, January 8, 2015, Hardcover

A memoir of the Civil Rights Movement from one of its youngest heroes

As the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Albama, Lynda Blackmon Lowery proved that young adults can be heroes. Jailed eleven times before her fifteenth birthday, Lowery fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African-Americans. In this memoir, she shows today’s young readers what it means to fight nonviolently (even when the police are using violence, as in the Bloody Sunday protest) and how it felt to be part of changing American history.

Straightforward and inspiring, this beautifully illustrated memoir brings readers into the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, complementing Common Core classroom learning and bringing history alive for young readers.

Dark Girls

Amistad, November 11, 2014, Hardcover

From the director of the NAACP Award–nominated documentary comes this gorgeous companion book to celebrate dark-skinned women.

Black has never been more beautiful. Dark Girls is a testament to the strength and grace of women everywhere, no matter their skin tone, upbringing, or education. Featuring such celebrities as Lupita Nyong’o, Vanessa Williams, Sheryl Underwood, Judge Mablean, and Loretta Devine, Dark Girls presents outstanding women from all walks of life, sharing intimate insights into what their dark skin means to them.

Combining Barron Claiborne’s brilliant photography, Shelia Moses’s touching narrative, and Bill Duke’s extraordinary vision, Dark Girls is a beautiful and empowering work to be treasured by women of all ages. This thoughtful, sophisticated, and uplifting collection captures the elegance of dark skin—joyfully showcasing that we truly are beautiful for who we are.

X: A Novel
by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

Candlewick, January 6, 2015, Hardcover

Co-written by Malcolm X’s daughter, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world.

Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s a pack of lies—after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion—and that he can’t run forever.

X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.

Twintuition: Double Vision by Tia and Tamara Mowry

April 21, 2015

Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tamera Mowry-Housley are the latest stars looking for a spot on your bookshelf.

Thanks to series like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Beautiful Creatures and Twilight, Young Adult Fiction has never been hotter with readers of all ages. Looking to broaden their horizons (and the brand), the twins told E! News that they’re penning their own run of line of YA books titled Twintuition.

Their first book, Double Vision, is slated to be released by HarperCollins in April 21, 2015. Tia and Tamera haven’t divulged any details about what the series will be about, but prospective readers should expect a fantastic adventure when they crack open the tome.

“We are huge fans of supernatural fiction and have always wanted to write a book that tweens can relate to,” Tia and Tamera said in a statement. “This project gives us a chance to combine both interests.”

Essence Magazine’s Book Features for August 2014

Essence Magazine’s book features for August 2014, highlighting an interview with Patrik Henry Bass (“The Zero Degree Zombie Zone”) and an article on Steve Harvey and Lisa Nichols (“Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success”):

The Zero Degree Zombie Zone
Patrik Henry Bass (Author), Jerry Craft (Illustrator)

Scholastic Press
August 26, 2014

Shy fourth-grader Bakari Katari Johnson is having a bad day. He’s always coming up against Tariq Thomas, the most popular kid in their class, and today is no different. On top of that, Bakari has found a strange ring that appears to have magical powers–and the people from the ring’s fantastical other world want it back! Can Bakari and his best friend Wardell stave off the intruders’ attempts, keep the ring safe, and stand up to Tariq and his pal Keisha, all before the school bell rings?

Media celebrity and Essence Magazine entertainment producer, Patrik Henry Bass delivers adventure, fun, fantasy and friendship in this illustrated action-packed adventure starring an African American boy hero and his classmates.

I Know What You’re Thinking: Using the Four Codes of Reading People to Improve Your Life
by Lillian Glass

May 2, 2003

Knowing how to read people– picking up on and interpreting their hidden cues– is a tremendous asset for virtually anything you do. In I Know What You’re Thinking, psychologist, bestselling author, and communications expert Dr. Lillian Glass helps you develop a tremendous new set of skills that will make you more perceptive, more powerful, and more successful. As she has done for her numerous clients, Dr. Glass shows you– step by step– how to gain the power to know the truth about people. Through simple quizzes and easy-to-follow exercises, you’ll learn to improve your judgment of others and make better decisions while projecting confidence, sincerity, and strength. With this fun, down-to-earth guide, you’ll be able to look anyone in the eye with a quiet self-assurance that says I Know What You’re Thinking.

You Say More Than You Think: A 7-Day Plan for Using the New Body Language to Get What You Want
by Janine Driver

January 4, 2011

Now You’re Talking!
Do you want to be bulletproof at work, secure in your relationship, and content in your own skin? If so, it’s more important than ever to be aware of what your body is saying to the outside world. Unfortunately, most of what you’ve heard from other body language experts is wrong, and, as a result, your actions may be hurting, not helping, you.

With sass and a keen eye, media favorite Janine Driver teaches you the skills she used every day to stay alive during her fifteen years as a body-language expert at the ATF. Janine’s 7-day plan and her 7-second solutions teach you dozens of body language fixes to turn any interpersonal situation to your advantage. She reveals methods here that other experts refuse to share with the public, and she debunks major myths other experts swear are fact:

Giving more eye contact is key when you’re trying to impress someone. Not necessarily true. It’s actually more important where you point your belly button. This small body shift communicates true interest more powerfully than constant eye contact.

The ‘steeple” hand gesture will give you the upper hand during negotiations and business meetings. Wrong. Driver has seen this overbearing gesture backfire more often than not. Instead, she suggests two new steeples that give you power without making you seem overly aggressive: the Basketball Steeple and the A-OK Two-Fingered Steeple.

Happy people command power and attention by smiling just before they meet new people. Studies have shown that people who do this are viewed as Beta Leaders. Alpha leaders smile once they shake your hand and hear your name.

At a time when every advantage counts — and first impressions matter more than ever — this is the book to help you really get your message across.

Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches
Steve Harvey

September 9, 2014

In his phenomenal #1 New York Times bestseller Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey told women what it takes to succeed in love. Now, he tells everyone how to succeed in life, giving you the keys to fulfill your purpose.

Countless books on success tell you what you need to get that you don’t already possess. In Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success, Steve Harvey tells you how to achieve your dreams using the gift you already have. Every one of us was born with a gift endowed by our creator — something you do the best at with very little effort. While it can be like someone else’s, your gift is yours alone. No one can take it away. You are the only one who can use it — or waste it.

Steve shows how that gift holds your greatest chance at success, and the fulfillment of your life’s mission and purpose. He helps you learn to define your gift — whether it’s being a problem solver, a people-connector, a whiz with numbers, or having an eye for colors. He makes clear that your job is not your gift; you may use it in your work, but it can also be used in your marriage or relationship, your community, and throughout every aspect of your life. Throughout, he provides a set of principles that will help you direct your gift. “The scriptures say your gift will make room for you and put you in the presence of great men,” Steve reminds us. This book is your roadmap to identifying your gift, acknowledging it, perfecting it, connecting it to a vehicle, and riding it to success. Because Success is the gift you already have.”

Funny yet firm, told in Steve’s warm and insightful voice, and peppered with anecdotes from his own life, practical advice, and truthful insights, this essential guide can help you transform your life and achieve everything you were born to.

Ashley Bryan’s Puppets: Making Something from Everything

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
July 8, 2014

Beloved storyteller and creator Ashley Bryan reveals the vibrant spirit of found objects in this magnificent treasury of poetry and puppets.

Little Cranberry Island. It’s a small island, with fewer than a hundred inhabitants, but it’s got more than its share of treasures — including the magnificent Ashley Bryan himself, a world-renowned storyteller and author of such classics as All Night, All Day and Beautiful Blackbird. Daily, for decades, Ashley has walked up and down the beach, stopping to pick up sea glass, weathered bones, a tangle of fishing net, an empty bottle, a doorknob. Treasure.

And then, with glue and thread and paint and a sprinkling of African folklore, Ashley breathes new life into these materials. Others might consider it beach junk, but Ashley sees worlds of possibilities.

Ashley Bryan’s two-foot-tall hand puppets swell with personality and beauty, and in this majestic collection they make their literary debut, each with a poem that tells of their creation and further enlivens their spirit.

I am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer

June 17, 2014
I am Rosa Parks (Ordinary People Change World)
by Brad Meltzer (Author), Christopher Eliopoulos (Illustrator)

“We can all be heroes” is the message entertainingly told in this picture-book biography series from #1 New York Times Bestselling author Brad Meltzer.

“Kids always search for heroes, so we might as well have a say in it,” Brad Meltzer realized, and so he envisioned this friendly, fun approach to biography -– for his own kids, and for yours. Each book tells the story of one of America’s icons in a vivacious, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, those who aren’t quite ready for the Who Was biography series. Each book focuses on a particular character trait that made that role model heroic. For example, Rosa Parks dared to stand up for herself and other African Americans by staying seated, and as a result she helped end public bus segregation and launch the country’s Civil Rights Movement.

This engaging series is the perfect way to bring American history to life for young children, providing them with the right role models, supplementing Common Core learning in the classroom, and best of all, inspiring them to strive and dream.

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

January 2, 2013
One day when Nelson Mandela was nine years old, his father died and he was sent from his village to a school far away from home, to another part of South Africa. In Johannesburg, the country’s capital, Mandela saw fellow Africans who were poor and powerless. He decided then that he would work to protect them. When the government began to keep people apart based on the color of their skin, Mandela spoke out against the law and vowed to fight hard in order to make his country a place that belonged to all South Africans.

Kadir Nelson tells the story of Mandela, a global icon, in poignant verse and glorious illustrations. It is the story of a young boy’s determination to change South Africa and of the struggles of a man who eventually became the president of his country by believing in equality for people of all colors. Readers will be inspired by Mandela’s triumph and his lifelong quest to create a more just world.

Paparazzi Princesses by Bria Williams & Reginae Carter

June 4, 2013
Money and designer clothes. Fame and red carpet events. Front row concert tickets and expensive parties.

That’s the good stuff . . . but being the daughter of a music mogul or a famous rapper isn’t easy. Step inside the lives of Kayla Jones and Promise Walker. As the daughters of two legends of rap music, trips, cash, designer labels and famous friends are just business as usual for Kayla and Promise. But so are the high expectations of super-successful parents, the drama of having two-faced friends, the not-always welcome glare of constant media attention and the hurt of nasty gossip. Add to that the ugly reality that some people would do anything to take their parents down — and Kayla and Promise face a daily struggle to figure out who to trust when everyone is blinded by their dad’s power. To make matters worse, sometimes, they’re not even sure of each other!

Article: Black Girls Hunger for Heroes, Too

What happens when two great black women fiction writers get together to talk about race in young adult literature? That’s exactly what happens in the conversation below, where Zetta Elliott, a black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children, and award-winning Haitian-American speculative fiction writer Ibi Aanu Zoboi decided to discuss current young adult sci-fi.

Black Girls Hunger for Heroes, Too: A Black Feminist Conversation on Fantasy Fiction for Teens
For the interview post by Zetta Elliott on December 17, 2013 – 3:19pm, click here.

Black feminists have a range of opinions (just ask one about Beyonce), and so it’s always invigorating to share ideas on the topics that matter most to me. Bitch Magazine‘s blog recently published a conversation I had with writer Ibi Zoboi about race and representation in The Hunger Games and YA speculative fiction. Our 45-minute talk amounted to over 5000 words and we had to reduce that to under 2000 words for the blog. We’ve decided to post the rest of our discussion here, and the full podcast will be available on the Bitch Magazine website in 2014.

Black Girls Hunger for Heroes, 2
Zetta Elliott
December 18, 2013
For the interview post by Zetta Elliott, click here.

Essence Magazine’s Book Choices for December 2013

Essence Magazine’s book selections for December 2013, including “Patrik’s Picks” and “Raising Smart Girls”:

Viking Adult, 9/17/2013, Kindle Edition

Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan

With her wise, wry, and poignant novels of families and friendships, Terry McMillan has touched millions of readers. Now, in her eighth novel, McMillan gives exuberant voice to characters who reveal how we live now—at least as lived in a racially diverse Los Angeles neighborhood.

Kaleidoscopic, fast-paced, and filled with McMillan’s inimitable humor, Who Asked You? opens as Trinetta leaves her two young sons with her mother, Betty Jean, and promptly disappears. BJ, a trademark McMillan heroine, already has her hands full dealing with her other adult children, two opinionated sisters, an ill husband, and her own postponed dreams—all while holding down a job delivering room service at a hotel. Her son Dexter is about to be paroled from prison; Quentin, the family success, can’t be bothered to lend a hand; and taking care of two lively grandsons is the last thing BJ thinks she needs.

The drama unfolds through the perspectives of a rotating cast of characters, pitch-perfect, each playing a part, and full of surprises. Who Asked You? casts an intimate look at the burdens and blessings of family and speaks to trusting your own judgment even when others don’t agree. McMillan’s signature voice and unforgettable characters bring universal issues to brilliant, vivid life.

Knopf, 8/27/2013, Kindle Edition

Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat

From the best-selling author of Brother, I’m Dying and The Dew Breaker: a stunning new work of fiction that brings us deep into the intertwined lives of a small seaside town where a little girl, the daughter of a fisherman, has gone missing. Claire Limyè Lanmè — Claire of the Sea Light — is an enchanting child born into love and tragedy in Ville Rose, Haiti. Claire’s mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother’s grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper, who lost a child of her own, so that Claire can have a better life. But on the night of Claire’s seventh birthday, when at last he makes the wrenching decision to do so, she disappears.

As Nozias and others look for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed among the community of men and women whose individual stories connect to Claire, to her parents, and to the town itself. Told with piercing lyricism and the economy of a fable, Claire of the Sea Light is a tightly woven, breathtaking tapestry that explores what it means to be a parent, child, neighbor, lover, and friend, while revealing the mysterious bonds we share with the natural world and with one another. Embracing the magic and heartbreak of ordinary life, it is Edwidge Danticat’s most spellbinding, astonishing book yet. This edition includes a reading group guide. 

Chicago Review Press, 8/1/2013, Hardcover

First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School by Alison Stewart

Dunbar High School in Washington, DC, defied the odds and, in the process, changed America. In the first half of the twentieth century, Dunbar was an academically elite public school, despite being racially segregated by law and existing at the mercy of racist congressmen who held the school’s purse strings. These enormous challenges did not stop the local community from rallying for the cause of educating its children.

Dunbar attracted an extraordinary faculty: one early principal was the first black graduate of Harvard, almost all the teachers had graduate degrees, and several earned PhDs—all extraordinary achievements given the Jim Crow laws of the times. Over the school’s first eighty years, these teachers developed generations of highly educated, high-achieving African Americans, ground-breakers that included the first black member of a presidential cabinet, the first black graduate of the US Naval Academy, the first black army general, the creator of the modern blood bank, the first black state attorney general, the legal mastermind behind school desegregation, and hundreds of educators.

By the 1950s, Dunbar High School was sending 80 percent of its students to college. Today, as with too many troubled urban public schools, the majority of Dunbar students struggle with reading and math. Journalist and author Alison Stewart, whose parents were both Dunbar graduates, tells the story of the school’s rise, fall, and path toward resurgence as it looks to reopen its new, state-of-the-art campus in the fall of 2013.

Basic Civitas Books, 9/10/2013, Hardcover

Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II by Farah Jasmine Griffin

As World War II raged overseas, Harlem witnessed a battle of its own. Brimming with creative and political energy, the neighborhood’s diverse array of artists and activists took advantage of a brief period of progressivism during the war years to launch a bold cultural offensive aimed at winning democracy for all Americans, regardless of race or gender. Ardent believers in America’s promise, these men and women helped to lay the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement before Cold War politics and anti-Communist fervor temporarily froze their dreams at the dawn of the postwar era.

In Harlem Nocturne, esteemed scholar Farah Jasmine Griffin tells the stories of three black female artists whose creative and political efforts fueled this historic movement for change: choreographer and dancer Pearl Primus, composer and pianist Mary Lou Williams, and novelist Ann Petry. Like many African Americans in the city at the time, these women weren’t native New Yorkers, but the metropolis and its vibrant cultural scene gave them the space to flourish and the freedom to express their political concerns. Pearl Primus performed nightly at the legendary Café Society, the first racially integrated club in New York, where she débuted dances of social protest that drew on long-buried African traditions and the dances of former slaves in the South. Williams, meanwhile, was a major figure in the emergence of bebop, collaborating with Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Bud Powell and premiering her groundbreaking Zodiac Suite at the legendary performance space Town Hall. And Ann Petry conveyed the struggles of working-class black women to a national audience with her acclaimed novel The Street, which sold over a million copies — —a first for a female African American author.

A rich biography of three artists and the city that inspired them, Harlem Nocturne captures a period of unprecedented vitality and progress for African Americans and women, revealing a cultural movement and a historical moment whose influence endures today.

Reagan Arthur Books, 5/21/2013, Kindle Edition

We Need New Names: A Novel by NoViolet Bulawayo

A remarkable literary debut — shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize! The unflinching and powerful story of a young girl’s journey out of Zimbabwe and to America.

Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo’s belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad.

But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America’s famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few. NoViolet Bulawayo‘s debut calls to mind the great storytellers of displacement and arrival who have come before her-from Junot Diaz to Zadie Smith to J.M. Coetzee-while she tells a vivid, raw story all her own.

Knopf, 5/14/2013, Kindle Edition

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home. As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives. Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet.

William Morrow, 10/29/2013, Hardcover

Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni

With Chasing Utopia, Nikki Giovanni, one of America’s most celebrated artists, demands that the prosaic—flowers, birdsong, winter—be seen as poetic.

The poetry of Nikki Giovanni has spurred movements and inspired songs, turned hearts and informed generations. She’s been hailed as a healer and a national treasure. But if her reputation is writ large upon the national stage, her heart resides in the everyday where family and lovers gather, friends commune, and those no longer with us are remembered.

And at every gathering there is food, food as sustenance, food as aphrodisiac, food as memory. A pot of beans are flavored with her mother’s sighs, this sigh part cardamom, that one the essence of clove; a lover requests a banquet as an affirmation of ongoing passion; an homage is paid to the most time-honored appetizer, soup.

W. W. Norton & Company, 2/4/2013, Paperback

Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry by Charles Henry Rowell

More than seventy poets are represented in this innovative new anthology of African American poetry since the 1960s.

This is not just another poetry anthology. It is a gathering of poems that demonstrate what happens when writers in a marginalized community collectively turn from dedicating their writing to political, social, and economic struggles, and instead devote themselves to the art of their poems and to the ideas they embody. These poets bear witness to the interior landscapes of their own individual selves or examine the private or personal worlds of invented personae and, therefore, of human beings living in our modern and postmodern worlds. The anthology focuses on post-1960s poetry and includes such poets as Rita Dove, Ai, Nathaniel Mackey, Natasha Trethewey, Kevin Young, Terrence Hayes, Elizabeth Alexander, Major Jackson, Carl Phillips, Harryette Mullen, and Yusef Komunyakaa—artists who, using a wide range of styles and forms, are cultivating a poetry of personal voice and interiority that speaks against the backdrop of community and anscestry.

Dreamtitle Publishing, 10/7/2013, Hardcover

I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl! by Betty Bynum

I’M A PRETTY LITTLE BLACK GIRL! introduces adorable Mia, who wakes with her hair just-a-going every which-a-ways! With her abundant energy and joy leading the way, readers follow Mia as she plays with her friends who are all shades, shapes and sizes. There’s tall Kia, Keisha the reader, Charlotte her best friend, Dina Rose-Marie the artist, Imani the dancer, Anna who loves sports, Ruby the singer, and honey-haired Tracy. Mia finds that Pretty is within herself and her friends, and being pretty is way beyond what the mirror shows.

Arthur A. Levine Books, 3/1/2013, Hardcover

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.

The lush city of Palmares Tres shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Tres will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

Pulsing with the beat of futuristic Brazil, burning with the passions of its characters, and overflowing with ideas, this fiery novel will leave you eager for more from Alaya Dawn Johnson.

The Magic Poof by Stephen Hodges, illustrated by T. Kyle Gentry


Seven year old Ange-Marie has always felt different. Who wouldn’t when your best friend is literally attached to you? The Poof is a great ball of curly hair that sits directly on top of Ange-Marie’s head. His magical and playful nature always seems to produce mischief and adventure. In book one of The Magic Poof series, Ange-Marie must decide what to wear for school picture day. But The Poof also wants to look good for picture day! How does Ange-Marie look her best and keep her enchanted and hairy friend a secret? In the end, both The Poof and Ange-Marie find that compromise is the key in any friendship.

Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Ten-year-old Sugar lives on the River Road sugar plantation along the banks of the Mississippi. Slavery is over, but laboring in the fields all day doesn’t make her feel very free. Thankfully, Sugar has a knack for finding her own fun, especially when she joins forces with forbidden friend Billy, the white plantation owner’s son.

Sugar has always yearned to learn more about the world, and she sees her chance when Chinese workers are brought in to help harvest the cane. The older River Road folks feel threatened, but Sugar is fascinated. As she befriends young Beau and elder Master Liu, they introduce her to the traditions of their culture, and she, in turn, shares the ways of plantation life. Sugar soon realizes that she must be the one to bridge the cultural gap and bring the community together. Here is a story of unlikely friendships and how they can change our lives forever.

From Jewell Parker Rhodes, the author of Ninth Ward (a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and a Today show Al’s Book Club for Kids pick), here’s another tale of a strong, spirited young girl who rises beyond her circumstances and inspires others to work toward a brighter future.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
May 7, 2013

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia

Rita Williams-Garcia‘s much-anticipated middle-grade novel P.S. Be Eleven is the sequel to her New York Times bestseller One Crazy Summer, a Newbery Honor Book and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award.

Eleven-year-old Brooklyn girl Delphine feels overwhelmed with worries and responsibilities. She’s just started sixth grade and is self-conscious about being the tallest girl in the class, and nervous about her first school dance. She’s supposed to be watching her sisters, but Fern and Vonetta are hard to control. Her uncle Darnell is home from Vietnam and seems different. And her pa has a girlfriend. At least Delphine can write to her mother in Oakland, California, for advice. But why does her mother tell her to “be eleven” when Delphine is now twelve?

The historical novel, set in the 1960s, features vivid characters, insight into family relationships, and a strong sense of place.

P.S. Be Eleven
Rita Williams-Garcia
May 21, 2013

African American Bestsellers for June 2013

The bestselling books for June 2013 from

  1. Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
    (Grand Central Publishing, 2013-06-18, Hardcover)
    Mo’ Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Everyone’s Favorite Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world. He digs deep into the album cuts of his life and unearths some pivotal moments in black art, hip hop, and pop culture. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is many things: virtuoso drummer, producer, arranger, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon bandleader, DJ, composer, and tireless Tweeter. He is one of our most ubiquitous cultural tastemakers, and in this, his first book, he reveals his own formative experiences–from growing up in 1970s West Philly as the son of a 1950s doo-wop singer, to finding his own way through the music world and ultimately co-founding and rising up with the Roots, a.k.a., the last hip hop band on Earth.


  2. Never Say Never: A Novel by Victoria Christopher Murray
    (Touchstone, 2013-06-04, Paperback)
    In this emotionally charged and inspiring novel about a love triangle, secrets between best friends threaten to blow up friendships and a marriage and change lives forever. When Miriam’s fireman husband, Chauncey, dies while rescuing students from a school fire, Miriam feels like her life is over. How is she going to raise her three children all by herself? How will she survive without the love of her life? Luckily, Miriam’s sister-friend Emily and Emily’s husband, Jamal, are there to comfort her. Jamal and Chauncey grew up together and were best friends; Jamal and Emily know they will do all they can to support Miriam through her grief. Jamal steps in and helps Miriam with the funeral arrangements and with her children, plus he gives her hope that she has a future. But all the time that they spend together—grieving, sharing, and reminiscing—brings the two closer in ways they never planned. . . .


  3. Dirty Rotten Liar (Misadventures of Mink LaRue) by Noire
    (Kensington Books, 2013-06-25, Kindle Edition)
    Noire’s versatile storytelling keeps the urban erotic genre hot! –Kiki Swinson, bestselling author of the Wifey seriesWhat can go wrong when con-mami Mink LaRue joins forces with her slick-tongued look-alike Dy-Nasty Jenkins to run a three-hundred-grand hustle on the super-rich Dominion oil family? With the conniving Philadelphia stripper Dy-Nasty seeking to dip her fingers into the same pot of gold, Mink knows she has to play her hand right and hustle at the very top of her grind. But when Mink is suddenly called back home to be at the bedside of her sick mother, she is forced to leave Dy-Nasty alone at the mansion to work a solo scam on the Dominions and possibly claim the entire jackpot for herself. Will Dy-Nasty lie her way into the hearts of the Dominions and be declared a rightful heir to the vast family fortune? Or, will fate throw a cruel twist in the game and get both ghetto princesses kicked out of the mansion and left on the curb, dead broke? “Noire knows all about street slang, scams, strip clubs, and fierce sex bouts. . .This is top-of-the-line street lit.” –Library Journal on Natural Born Liar (starred review) “Sizzling, action-packed, electric and gut-wrenching.” –RT Book Reviews on Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless


  4. The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 23: Folk Art
    (The University of North Carolina Press, 2013-06-03, Paperback)
    Folk art is one of the American South’s most significant areas of creative achievement, and this comprehensive yet accessible reference details that achievement from the sixteenth century through the present. This volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture explores the many forms of aesthetic expression that have characterized southern folk art, including the work of self-taught artists, as well as the South’s complex relationship to national patterns of folk art collecting. Fifty-two thematic essays examine subjects ranging from colonial portraiture, Moravian material culture, and southern folk pottery to the South’s rich quilt-making traditions, memory painting, and African American vernacular art, and 211 topical essays include profiles of major folk and self-taught artists in the region.


  5. Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream by Christina M. Greer
    (Oxford University Press, USA, 2013-06-06, Paperback)
    The steady immigration of black populations from Africa and the Caribbean over the past few decades has fundamentally changed the racial, ethnic, and political landscape in the United States. But how will these “new blacks” behave politically in America? Using an original survey of New York City workers and multiple national data sources, Christina M. Greer explores the political significance of ethnicity for new immigrant and native-born blacks. In an age where racial and ethnic identities intersect, intertwine, and interact in increasingly complex ways, Black Ethnics offers a powerful and rigorous analysis of black politics and coalitions in the post-Civil Rights era.


  6. After the Dawn: A Family Affair Novel by Francis Ray
    (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013-06-18, Paperback)
    Samantha Collins is stunned when her grandfather turns Collins Industry over to her, causing more than a bit of ill will among the other family members, especially her uncle, Evan. But nothing stuns her more than when she finds out that he has asked Dillon Montgomery to help her run the company. Her grandfather had fired Dillon and ordered him off the company property years ago.   Twelve years ago Samantha made her feelings known to Dillon and the whole thing ended in disaster and they haven’t spoken since. Working together now, even all these years later, is sure to be a disaster. Still, she needs his help if she is going to keep Collins Industry afloat. But will the prodigal son return to the empire – and the woman – who desperately need him? Will he be able to admit how much he desperately needs them.


  7. Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation (Littlefield History of the Civil War Era) by Caroline E. Janney
    (The University of North Carolina Press, 2013-06-03, Hardcover)
    As early as 1865, survivors of the Civil War were acutely aware that people were purposefully shaping what would be remembered about the war and what would be omitted from the historical record. In Remembering the Civil War, Caroline E. Janney examines how the war generation–men and women, black and white, Unionists and Confederates–crafted and protected their memories of the nation’s greatest conflict. Janney maintains that the participants never fully embraced the reconciliation so famously represented in handshakes across stone walls. Instead, both Union and Confederate veterans, and most especially their respective women’s organizations, clung tenaciously to their own causes well into the twentieth century. Janney explores the subtle yet important differences between reunion and reconciliation and argues that the Unionist and Emancipationist memories of the war never completely gave way to the story Confederates told. She challenges the idea that white northerners and southerners salved their war wounds through shared ideas about race and shows that debates about slavery often proved to be among the most powerful obstacles to reconciliation.


  8. Long Division by Kiese Laymon
    (Agate Bolden, 2013-06-11, Paperback)
    Kiese Laymon’s debut novel is a Twain-esque exploration of celebrity, authorship, violence, religion, and coming of age in Post-Katrina Mississippi, written in a voice that’s alternately funny, lacerating, and wise. The book contains two interwoven stories. In the first, it’s 2013: after an on-stage meltdown during a nationally televised quiz contest, 14-year-old Citoyen “City” Coldson becomes an overnight YouTube celebrity. The next day, he’s sent to stay with his grandmother in the small coastal community of Melahatchie, where a young girl named Baize Shephard has recently disappeared.Before leaving, City is given a strange book without an author called “Long Division.” He learns that one of the book’s main characters is also named City Coldson—but “Long Division” is set in 1985. This 1985 City, along with his friend and love-object, Shalaya Crump, discovers a way to travel into the future, and steals a laptop and cellphone from an orphaned teenage rapper called…Baize Shephard. They ultimately take these with them all the way back to 1964, to help another time-traveler they meet protect his family from the Klan.City’s two stories ultimately converge in the mysterious work shed behind his grandmother’s, where he discovers the key to Baize’s disappearance.


  9. Sister: An African American Life in Search of Justice (Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography) by Sylvia Bell White
    (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013-06-06, Hardcover)
    Raised with twelve brothers in a part of the segregated South that provided no school for African American children through the 1940s, Sylvia Bell White went North as a teenager, dreaming of a nursing career and a freedom defined in part by wartime rhetoric about American ideals. In Milwaukee she and her brothers persevered through racial rebuffs and discrimination to find work. Barred by both her gender and color from employment in the city’s factories, Sylvia scrubbed floors, worked as a nurse’s aide, and took adult education courses.            When a Milwaukee police officer killed her younger brother Daniel Bell in 1958, the Bell family suspected a racial murder but could do nothing to prove it—until twenty years later, when one of the two officers involved in the incident unexpectedly came forward. Daniel’s siblings filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city and ultimately won that four-year legal battle. Sylvia was the driving force behind their quest for justice.            Telling her whole life story in these pages, Sylvia emerges as a buoyant spirit, a sparkling narrator, and, above all, a powerful witness to racial injustice. Jody LePage’s chapter introductions frame the narrative in a historical span that reaches from Sylvia’s own enslaved grandparents to the nation’s first African American president. Giving depth to that wide sweep, this oral history brings us into the presence of an extraordinary individual. Rarely does such a voice receive a hearing.


  10. Children Are Diamonds: An African Apocalypse by Edward Hoagland
    (Arcade Publishing, 2013-06-01, Hardcover)
    An African apocalypse by “one of the very best writers of his generation” (Saul Bellow).This is not the Africa of Isak Dinesen, nor the Africa of Joy Adamson. This is the Africa of civil wars and tribal massacres, where the Lord’s Resistance Army recruits child-soldiers after forcing them to kill their parents and eat their hearts. The aid workers who voluntarily subject themselves to life here are a breed of their own.Meet Hickey, an American school teacher in his late thirties, an American school teacher who burns his bridges with the school board and goes to Africa as an aid worker. Working for an agency in Nairobi, one of his jobs is to drive food and medical supplies to Southern Sudan to an aid station run by Ruth, a middle-aged woman, who acts as nurse, doctor, hospice worker, feeder of starving children, and witness. Ruth is gruff but efficient, and Hickey, who is usually drawn to youth and beauty, is struck by her devotion. Returning to Nairobi, he can’t forget what he has seen.When the violence and chaos in the region increase to a fever pitch and aid workers are being slaughtered or evacuated, Hickey is asked to save Ruth overland by Jeep. What happens to them and the children that have joined their journey is the searing climax of this novel. Hoagland paints an unflinching portrait of a living hell at its worst, and yet amid that suffering there is hope in the form of humility, sacrifice, and life-affirming friendship.


  11. Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink by John Campbell
    (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013-06-16, Paperback)
    Nigeria, the United States’ most important strategic partner in West Africa, is in grave trouble. While Nigerians often claim they are masters of dancing on the brink without falling off, the disastrous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the radical Islamic insurrection Boko Haram, and escalating violence in the delta and the north may finally provide the impetus that pushes it into the abyss of state failure. In this thoroughly updated edition, John Campbell explores Nigeria’s post-colonial history and presents a nuanced explanation of the events and conditions that have carried this complex, dynamic, and very troubled giant to the edge. Central to his analysis are the oil wealth, endemic corruption, and elite competition that have undermined Nigeria’s nascent democratic institutions and alienated an increasingly impoverished population. However, state failure is not inevitable, nor is it in the interest of the United States. Campbell provides concrete new policy options that would not only allow the United States to help Nigeria avoid state failure but also to play a positive role in Nigeria’s political, social, and economic development.


  12. Discovering Wes Moore by Wes Moore
    (Listening Library (Audio), 2013-06-11, Audio CD)
    Through the telling of events from his own life, Wes Moore (author of the bestselling adult title The Other Wes Moore) explores the issues that separate success and failure. He also counterpoints his story with another man, someone who shared the same name, was almost the same age, grew up fatherless in a similar Baltimore neighborhood, but is serving a life sentence for murder. Compelled to write to the other Wes, the author was surprised to receive a reply. And so began a friendship, as letters turned into visits and the two men got to know one another. This compelling story about the challenges of growing up and the responsibility for the choices we make, is sure to inspire. Includes an 8-page photo insert.


  13. Drop Dead, Gorgeous by J. D. Mason
    (St. Martin’s Press, 2013-06-25, Hardcover)
    Desimonda returned to seek out revenge in Beautiful, Dirty, Rich. Now her best friend, Lonnie, is out for a little payback of her own Lonnie Adebayo, best friend to Desimonda Greene, is a walking, talking billboard for the old adage, “You can’t keep a good woman down.”  But Jordan Gatewood has done so much more than just try and keep her down. He made a huge mistake when he put his hands on her, thinking that he could get away with it.  But he made an even bigger mistake by not making sure that she was dead before he left that house. Finding his secret half-brother is just the beginning of Lonnie’s plot for revenge. 


  14. African American Women’s Life Issues Today: Vital Health and Social Matters by Catherine Fisher Collins
    (Praeger, 2013-06-30, Hardcover)
    Written by an all-female, all-African American team of health experts that include nurse practitioners, registered nurses, educators, and psychologists, this book focuses on the diseases and related social issues that cause the greatest harm and pose the greatest threat to African American women today. Its chapters address topics as varied as heart disease, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, domestic violence, cervical and breast cancers, obesity, depression, mental illness, dementia/Alzheimer’s, and incarcerated women’s health care. A chapter is dedicated to identifying the social, cultural, and environmental barriers that block African American women from experiencing the best possible lives. Providing comprehensive coverage of the topic from an Afrocentric perspective, this text will be of great interest to medical and psychological health professionals and professors; social workers, counselors, and students in these fields; as well as African American women seeking current and expert information on these health threats.


  15. Mister and Lady Day: Billie Holiday and the Dog Who Loved Her by Amy Novesky
    (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2013-06-18, Hardcover)
    Billie Holiday—also known as Lady Day—had fame, style, a stellar voice, big gardenias in her hair, and lots of dogs. She had a coat-pocket poodle, a beagle, Chihuahuas, a Great Dane, and more, but her favorite was a boxer named Mister. Mister was always there to bolster her courage through good times and bad, even before her legendary appearance at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Newton’s stylish illustrations keep the simply told story focused on the loving bond between Billie Holiday and her treasured boxer. An author’s note deals more directly with the singer’s troubled life, and includes a little-known photo of Mister and Lady Day!


  16. Fearless Voices: Engaging a New Generation of African American Adolescent Male Writers by Alfred Tatum
    (Scholastic Teaching Resources (Theory an, 2013-06-01, Paperback)
    Tatum addresses the power of writing to connect young people with the deeper meaning in their own lives as they put their voices on record, exploring, in particular, writing as a tool to navigate lives in “communities of turmoil” and build positive relationships. Additionally, he’ll explore the power of writing to help students construct meaning as readers as they explore the enabling literary works of their textual lineages. The book also addresses the practical implications of supporting students as writers and, to that end, targets teachers as writers. For use with Grades 6 & Up.


  17. The Exchange by Nikki Rashan
    (Urban Books, 2013-06-25, Paperback)


  18. Blacks In and Out of the Left (The W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures) by Michael C. Dawson
    (Harvard University Press, 2013-06-18, Hardcover)
    The radical black left that played a crucial role in twentieth-century struggles for equality and justice has largely disappeared. Michael Dawson investigates the causes and consequences of the decline of black radicalism as a force in American politics and argues that the conventional left has failed to take race sufficiently seriously as a historical force in reshaping American institutions, politics, and civil society. African Americans have been in the vanguard of progressive social movements throughout American history, but they have been written out of many histories of social liberalism. Focusing on the 1920s and 1930s, as well as the Black Power movement, Dawson examines successive failures of socialists and Marxists to enlist sympathetic blacks, and white leftists’ refusal to fight for the cause of racial equality. Angered by the often outright hostility of the Socialist Party and similar social democratic organizations, black leftists separated themselves from these groups and either turned to the hard left or stayed independent. A generation later, the same phenomenon helped fueled the Black Power movement’s turn toward a variety of black nationalist, Maoist, and other radical political groups. The 2008 election of Barack Obama notwithstanding, many African Americans still believe they will not realize the fruits of American prosperity any time soon. This pervasive discontent, Dawson suggests, must be mobilized within the black community into active opposition to the social and economic status quo. Black politics needs to find its way back to its radical roots as a vital component of new American progressive movements.


Article: Encouraging Literacy For Black Children

Encouraging Literacy For Black Children: Take the 20-4-30 Reading Challenge For Your Child
by Denene@MyBrownBaby on April 1, 2013

I think reading to my daughter at age 10 is just as crucial—if not more—as it was filling her with the fantastic tales of Keats and Vera B. and the Pinkneys and the many incredible books we shared with the girlpies when they were little. I have not one doubt in my mind that reading to my babies from the womb on up helped make them smarter and more curious and engaged—traits that have served them well in the classroom and beyond.

I have no problems shouting that from the rooftops. Which is why today, I’m taking the 20-4-30 Story Time Challenge. The challenge, led by the adorable literacy website, Sydney’s Book Club, calls for parents to pledge to read to their children for 20 minutes a day for 30 days during the month of April—a testament to our commitment to improve literacy in our communities.


The Good Braider by Terry Farish

In spare free verse laced with unforgettable images, Viola’s strikingly original voice sings out the story of her family’s journey from war-torn Sudan, to Cairo, and finally to Portland, Maine. Here, in the sometimes too close embrace of the local Southern Sudanese Community, she dreams of South Sudan while she tries to navigate the strange world of America – a world where a girl can wear a short skirt, get a tattoo or even date a boy; a world that puts her into sharp conflict with her traditional mother who, like Viola, is struggling to braid together the strands of a displaced life. Terry Farish’s haunting novel is not only a riveting story of escape and survival, but the universal tale of a young immigrant’s struggle to build a life on the cusp of two cultures.

The author of The Good Braider has donated this book to the Worldreader program.

Believe: The Victorious Story of Eric LeGrand by Eric LeGrand

Young Readers’ Edition:

The inspirational story of Eric LeGrand . . . also adapted for young readers!

On October 16, 2010, Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand was known as a key performer on the field and a much-loved teammate who could make anyone smile. But in the heated fourth quarter of a tie game against Army, everything changed in a moment. A crushing tackle left him motionless on the field, and while the entire stadium went silent with fear and anticipation, Eric knew his life would never again be the same.

What he didn’t know, however, was that the months to come would be a remarkable, transformative journey: one so profound that he would call the year following the accident that paralyzed him from the neck down the best year of his life.

In this uplifting memoir, now adapted for young readers, Eric tells the amazing story of how he rebuilds his life, continues his college education, and pursues a career in sports broadcasting. His belief in a grand plan and his hope for the future make him a model for anyone who has experienced tragedy or faced obstacles.

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

One day when Nelson Mandela was nine years old, his father died and he was sent from his village to a school far away from home, to another part of South Africa. In Johannesburg, the country’s capital, Mandela saw fellow Africans who were poor and powerless. He decided then that he would work to protect them. When the government began to keep people apart based on the color of their skin, Mandela spoke out against the law and vowed to fight hard in order to make his country a place that belonged to all South Africans.

Kadir Nelson tells the story of Mandela, a global icon, in poignant verse and glorious illustrations. It is the story of a young boy’s determination to change South Africa and of the struggles of a man who eventually became the president of his country by believing in equality for people of all colors. Readers will be inspired by Mandela’s triumph and his lifelong quest to create a more just world.