Saturday, January 22, 2011

Have you discovered these children's book authors?

Beginning February 1st, Black History Month, 28 Black authors or illustrators of picture books, middle grade and young adult literature will be featured on The Brown Bookshelf blog, a wonderful resource created by veteran African American authors of children’s books. Each day of the month you can meet a different author or artist and learn about literature that will feed the imaginations of young people. Discover these superb artists who create fantastic stories for the young readers you love at, and please recommend this post to parents, teachers and guardians of young folks you know!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Just arrived...

DISCOUNT ON SHIPPING: Order more than 1 book from Now Rise Books and receive $1.50 REFUND on SHIPPING for EACH additional book purchased in the same order. Offer good on ALL BOOKS on our Now Rise Books storefront--go to our bookstore now.Martin & Malcolm, James Cone, hardcover/ Blue as the Lake, Robert Stepto, hardcover/
From Slavery to Freedom Third Edition, John Hope Franklin, Hardcover/ The Senator and the Socialite , Lawrence Otis Graham, hardcover/ The African Slave Trade by Basil Davidson/ Roberts vs. Texaco, Bari-Ellen Roberts, hardcover/ Voices of Freedom, Henry Hampton, hardcover/ Slave Religion, Albert J. Raboteau/ The Presumption of Guilt by Charles Ogletree, hardcover/ Paul Robeson, Martin Bauml Duberman, hardcover/ Against Wind and Tide (bio of William Lloyd Garrison) William Merrill, hardcover/ John Adams by David McCullough, hardcover/ W. E. B. Dubois 1919-1963 (vol 2) by David Levering Lewis/ When Egypt Ruled the East, George Steindorff, hardcover/ In the African-American Grain, John F. Callahan/ The Arrogance of Race, George M. Fredrickson/ Half A Man: The Status of the Negro in New York, Mary White Ovington
Recently Sold
Before the Mayflower Lerone Bennett Jr
Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Caroline from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion Peter H. Wood
John Adams David McCullough
Giant Steps: The Autobiography of Kareem Abdul Jabbar Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Slave Mutiny: The Revolt of the Schooner Amistad William A. Owens

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Video: Diversity in Children's and Young Adult Publishing

The world of children's literature is the territory where values regarding race, class, citizenship rights and privileges, among others, are sown. The lack of books dedicated to children of color, and people of color generally, tells all children that Black people are not important, not an integral part of American society, not necessary to consider in the global community.

This discussion on Diversity in Children's and Young Adult Publishing at the Harlem Book Fair (C-Span) last summer, 2010, addresses issues related to representing children of color in literature, as well as the woefully underrepresented number of Black editors, writers, and publishers actively working in the publishing industry, and what to do about it.
(Image: Cheryl Hudson, (left) and Wade Hudson (right), founders of Just Us Books)

Panel includes Cheryl Hudson, Publisher, Just Us Books; Jerry Kraft, Cartoonist, Mama's Boyz; Zetta Elliott, author; Vanesse J. Lloyd-Sgambati, African American Children's Project, Founder and Director; Nick Burd, author, The Fields of Ordinary; Wade Hudson, Publisher, Just Us Books and panel moderator.

C-Span: Harlem Book Fair, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Langston Hughes Auditorium, July 17, 2010

Sunday, January 2, 2011


With some regularity this year I will focus on anthologies as a genre. I have always found that there is much to be learned from an anthology because the editors (and/or writers of the introductions, prefaces, forewords) usually take precious care in explaining their purpose in assembling the anthology, whether they are charting new ground, reacting to another literary work, representing the work of a historical or literary era, genre or neglected area of study. I'll begin the new year looking at the recent publication of The Anthology of Rap (Yale UP, 20100, edited by Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois.


Check this recent article in the DC Examiner by Wendy Coakley-Thompson highlighting the ongoing discussion about how mainstream publishers market books by and about Black people.

Seg-book-gation - with a new twist
By Wendy Coakely-Thompson
DC Publishing Industry Examiner

December 31, 2010

African American authors have long complained about the disparity between them and their White counterparts. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the works of authors of color in general and of African American authors in particular are remunerated differently (i.e., through advance differentials), and marketed differently, and positioned and sold differently than those of White authors. Authors like Martha Southgate
(The Fall of Rome; Third Girl from the Left) have lamented this industry trend, which African American authors have called seg-book-gation.

Lest one be tempted to think seg-book-gation is some paranoid fantasy of overwrought African American authors with hyperactive imaginations, the Wall Street Journal, one of the nation’s most mainstream organs, explored race-based publishing practices. In a piece from 2006, Jeffrey Trachtenberg, the WSJ reporter who covers the publishing industry, addressed this disparity in a piece called Why book industry sees the world split still by race. At the time, the most glaring manifestation of seg-book-gation was the African American section in chain bookstores. Briefly, Trachtenberg pointed out that, as African Americans were only a small percentage of the population, African American authors would be dueling for the same targeted audience, and, as a result, had less of a chance of achieving widespread success. Moreover, Whites were less likely to patronize a section of the bookstore segregated by race. Some African American authors have tried to counter this aspect of seg-book-gation with humor. Carleen Brice (Children of the Waters; Orange Mint and Honey) writes the blog White Readers Meet Black Authors, her “sometimes serious, sometimes light-hearted plea for EVERYBODY to give a black writer a try.” She bills her blog as the White reader’s "official invitation into the African American section of the bookstore!” Humor would be valuable in confronting seg-book-gation’s most recent incarnation.

Enter White authors Kathryn Stockett and Sue Monk Kidd. African American author Bernice L. McFadden discusses their impact at length in her Washington Post opinion piece Black writers in a ghetto of the publishing industry’s making. It starts this way:

Kathryn Stockett's novel "The Help," published by a Penguin Books imprint, sold 1 million books within a year of publication. Her novel has gained accolades and awards, including the prestigious South African Boeke Prize. "The Help" is being adapted for the screen; at the helm of production is the Academy Award-winning director and producer Steven Spielberg. Sue Monk Kidd's best-selling novel "The Secret Life of Bees," also published by Penguin Books, is another story set in the South with African American characters. Kidd's novel garnered similar fame, fortune and recognition... Stockett's and Kidd's novels tackle racism and celebrate the power of friendship and acceptance. Both novels were given beautiful covers that did not reveal the race of the characters. Both books were marketed to black and white audiences.

The difference between them and McFadden is that, though McFadden’s novel Sugar, like The Help and The Secret Life of Bees, is set in the segregated South and explores similar themes, Sugar was marketed exclusively to an African American audience – that same overfished pond of African American readers. Though Stockett and Kidd are not the first White authors to write about African American characters, they, through the access White authors are granted, appear to be positioned as better than the real thing. The slippery slope of this trend would be that African American authors would be entirely Photoshopped out of their own experiences, replaced a more palatable Caucasian facsimile or by other essentialist notions of those experiences. McFadden, in her blog Naki, discusses how her latest novel, Glorious, remained relegated to the Black Expressions book club, while Stockett’s The Help is accessible in Black Expressions and in other mainstream book clubs.

But what do the staggering successes of Stockett and Monk Kidd mean to that old chestnut that Whites would not read fiction about African Americans? Who better to ask than Millenia Black…?

Link to article:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Fables and folklore -- timeless tales

Fables and folklore are fondly remembered from childhood because of their humor, larger than life characters--often including the personification of animals--their dramatic action and the delicious fear they inspired in us when we were children. In short, they almost never failed to entertain.

Regardless of time or place, these imaginative stories illustrate what motivations operate at the core of nearly all people: our deepest concerns, human weaknesses, moral failings and, sometimes, our noble instincts as well. Ultimately, these stories are sources of wisdom about human nature and life. For these reasons, revisiting some of the fables and folk tales of our youth is a good idea no matter what our age. There is always something worthy to be reminded of--or even something new that we may neeed to learn, in a fairly safe encounter and with a smile.

I am exploring fables and folk tales this year and thought sharing a fable from Aesop, one of our greatest story tellers, would be a wonderful way to start the New Year with a moral still so relevant for us today.

The Four Oxen and the Lion
By Aesop

A Lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to
dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came
near they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way
he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At
last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each
went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then
the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all

Moral: United we stand, divided we fall.