Monday, November 14, 2011

White Water: inspired by a true story, by Michael Bandy and Eric Stein

After tasting the warm, rusty water from the fountain designated for African Americans, a young boy questions why he cannot drink the cool, refreshing water from the "Whites Only" fountain. Based on a true experience co-author Michael S. Bandy had as a boy.

Publisher: Candlewick Press, unpaged

Saturday, November 5, 2011

These Hands, by Margaret H. Mason, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

An African American man tells his grandson about a time when, despite all the wonderful things his hands could do, they could not touch bread at the Wonder Bread factory. Based on stories of bakery union workers; includes historical note.

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, unpaged

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden's Childhood Journey, by Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

In Harlem, New York City, an artist follows the rhythms of blues music as he recalls his North Carolina childhood while painting, cutting, and pasting to make art.

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Children, unpaged

Monday, October 17, 2011

Heart and soul : the story of America and African Americans, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

A simple introduction to African-American history, from Revolutionary-era slavery up to the election of President Obama. Written in the voice of an "Everywoman," an unnamed narrator whose forebears came to this country on slave ships and who lived to cast her vote for the first African American president, "Heart and Soul" touches on some of the great transformative events and small victories of that history.

Publisher: Balzer and Bray, 108 p.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ghetto Cowboy, by G. Neri

Twelve-year-old Cole's behavior causes his mother to drive him from Detroit to Philadelphia to live with a father he has never known, but who soon has Cole involved with a group of African-American "cowboys" who rescue horses and use them to steer youths away from drugs and gangs.

Publisher: Candlewick Press, 218 p.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

With the Might of Angels, by Andrea Davis Pinkney

In 1955 Hadley, Virginia, twelve-year-old Dawnie Rae Johnson, a tomboy who excels at baseball and at her studies, becomes the first African American student to attend the all-white Prettyman Coburn school, turning her world upside down. Includes historical notes about the period.

Publisher: Scholastic, 324 p.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Uncle Martin's words for America, by Angela Farris Watkins, illustrated by Eric Velasquez

In this inspirational story about Martin Luther King Jr.--told from the perspective of his niece Angela Farris Watkins--readers learn how King used his message of love and peace to effectively fight for African Americans' civil rights. Focusing on important words and phrases from his speeches, such as justice , freedom , and equality , Watkins uses King's language to expose young readers to important events during the civil rights era.

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 39 p.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Storm Called Katrina, by Myron Uhlberg, illustrated by Colin Bootman

When flood waters from broken levees submerge their New Orleans neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a young cornet player and his parents evacuate their home and struggle to survive and stay together.

Publisher: Peachtree, unpaged

Monday, July 25, 2011

Camo Girl, By Kekla Magoon

A poignant novel about a biracial girl living in the suburbs of Las Vegas examines the friendships that grow out of, and despite, her race.

Publisher: Aladdin, 218 p.

Carmen, by Walter Dean Myers

A policeman's obsessive love for a tempestuous wig factory worker ends in tragedy in this updated version of Bizet's Carmen, set in Spanish Harlem, and told in screenplay format.

Publisher: Egmont USA, 122 p.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bird in a Box, by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Abstract: It's 1937. America is struggling to get out of the Great Depression and 3 children, Otis, Willie and Hibernia, are about to become friends. They already have a lot in common: they've each lost a loved one, they're all reaching for their dreams and they're a lot like their hero, African American boxer Joe Louis. As their lives gradually converge to form friendship, family and love, the children learn that hope and determination can change their lives forever. In this moving novel, their trials and triumphs echo those of Joe Louis, as he fights to become the next heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Award-winning and bestselling author Andrea Davis Pinkney masterfully weaves in factual information about Joe Louis and actual radio commentary from his fights, enriching the narrative of this uniquely rendered and beautifully written novel. Bird in a Box was inspired by the author's great-grandfather, Cyclone Williams, a one-time boxing hopeful on whom the character of Willie is based. This novel captures her family's recollections of the night Joe Louis won the title and what it meant to them but it also shows how one victory gave hope to a nationwide community.

Publisher: Little Brown, 278 p

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eliza's Freedom Road, An Underground Railroad Diary, by Jerdine Nolen

Abstract: A twelve-year-old slave girl begins writing in a journal where she documents her journey via the Underground Railroad from Alexandria, Virginia, to freedom in St. Catharines, Canada.

Publisher:   Simon and Schuster, 139 p

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Nation's Hope, the Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Abstract: On the eve of World War II, African American boxer Joe Louis fought German Max Schmeling in a bout that had more at stake than just the world heavyweight title; for much of America their fight came to represent America's war with Germany. This elegant and powerful picture book biography centers around the historic fight in which Black and White America were able to put aside prejudice and come together to celebrate our nation's ideals.

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, unpaged

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Underground, written and illustrated by Shane W. Evans

A family silently crawls along the ground. They run barefoot through unlit woods, sleep beneath bushes, take shelter in a kind stranger's home. Where are they heading? They are heading for freedom.

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, unpaged

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Great Migration, Journey to the North, by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist

Abstract:  The author's poetry describes the period of the 20th century when many African Americans left the South to make better lives for themselves in the northern states.

Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books, unpaged

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giant Steps to Change the World, by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, illustrated by Sean Qualls

Abstract: Pursuing one's own path in life takes courage, strength, and perseverance, as demonstrated by such inspirational leaders as Barack Obama, Albert Einstein, and Muhammad Ali.

 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, unpaged

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Roots and Blues: A Celebration, by Arnold Adoff, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Abstract: Lyrical text explores how Blues have been part of everyday life throughout history, from its origins in the sounds of the earth, through slaves' voices singing of freedom, to today's greatest performers--and listeners.

Publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Clarion Books, 86 p.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards 2012

Reading makes time pass so quickly. The American Library Association (ALA) will be announcing their 2012 literature awards before we know it! One of my favorite award-groups is the Coretta Scott King array of honors for African-American authors and illustrators.

The awards began in the late 1960's when two librarians met at a booth at the annual ALA convention. Both were trying to obtain a poster of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and their conversation turned to a discussion of the need to honor the work of African-American authors and illustrators. A publisher at the booth asked them why they didn't start an award. One year later, at a dinner of the New Jersey Library Association, Lillie Patterson was honored for her book Martin Luther King, Jr. Man of Peace. In 1982 the American Library Association added the CSK award to its nationally honored children's literature awards. (Source:

So, it's time to begin reading to find our favorites of this year's books meeting the criteria established by the many volunteer committee workers who have chosen those honored in years past. Please post your comments and book suggestions on the blog, or send them to

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011 Coretta Scott King Book Awards

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards were announced at the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting in January.

Author Award: One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia

Illustrator Award: Dave the Potter: artist, poet, slave, by Laban Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Honor Books


Lockdown, by Walter Dean Myers

Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, by G. Neri


Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix, by Gary Golio, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe

For more information about the 2011 Coretta Scott King Awards, please click here.