My daughter Mari was just a little peanut in my belly when I gave her her first gift— copies of Ezra Jack Keats’ “The Snowy Day,” Faith Ringold’s “Tar Beach,” and “More More More Said the Baby,” by Vera B. Williams. They were—and still are!—beautiful books with incredible stories—about the simplicity of a little brown boy and his dog enjoying a cold, winter day; about a little brown girl’s love of New York City and a party with the neighbors on the rooftop of her apartment building and; about a multiracial cast of toddlers getting smoochie hugs and kisses from their adult loved ones. It was important to me as a mom-to-be to surround my daughter with books—works that would spark her imagination and encourage her to dream. Just as important to me was that those books feature characters that look like her so that she could see herself in those stories and know that brown babies’ lives are worthy of documentation—their culture worthy of celebration.
Mari is 10 now, and she’s a wicked little book lover—she rips through one chapter book per day—and I know this is so because she’s been taught since the womb to revere the written word and the authors who share them. For years, we gave books as birthday presents to all her friends—I think we’ve single-handedly purchased and given at least a dozen copies of Debbie Allen’s “Dancing in the Wings,” and “A Snowy Day,” and “Tar Beach”—and we’ve amassed a serious collection of children’s books that we treasure.
Indeed, the gift of reading is transformative, and to kick off the first annual MyBrownBaby Happy for the Holidays Giveaway Week, some of my author and illustrator friends graciously donated AUTOGRAPHED copies of their books for the incredible collection of children’s books in the picture above. Included in this 18-book, $200+ gift package are:
Olu’s Dream, by Shane Evans. My girls and I are HUGE fans of Evans’ work; he’s the artist whose illustrated more than 25 books, including the gorgeous girl pie faces in our personal favorites: Home Made Love, by bell hooks, Jean Marzallo’s Shanna series, and; My Brother, Charlie, an upcoming picture book I wrote with Holly Robinson Peete. But these days, Shane is all about Olu’s Dream, a new series he wrote and illustrated, about a little boy who dreams B-I-G! Olu and his Oluizms are absolutely addictive. In addition to Olu’s dream, Shane autographed No More! Stories and Songs of Slave Resistance, a picture book he illustrated for author Doreen Rappaport.
VISIT OLU AND SHANE EVANS HERE.
March On!, The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World, illustrated by London Ladd. London is an astounding artist who made his book debut with the impressive Christine King Farris-penned March On! the definitive tribute to her brother, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the march and speech that changed our nation. A video rendition of the book, featuring London’s illustrations and performed by Lynn Whitfield, recently won a prestigious 2009 Andrew Carnegie Medal. His next project, Oprah: The Little Speaker, will be in stores March 2010. In addition to March On!, London autographed a poster portrait of President Barack Obama.
VISIT LONDON LADD HERE.
The Ruby and the Booker Boys series, by Derrick Barnes. I. Super. Heart. Derrick. Barnes. Period. With seven books to his credit, he marched right into my heart when he introduced the super spunky, super smart, super fly cutie pie lil’ Ruby to the world. The series is absolutely adorable (see my review HERE), but even more, Derrick is just a good brother. We’re FaceBook friends, and on his page, he’s always singing the praises of his college sweetheart/beautiful wife and their three breathtakingly gorgeous sons (see Derrick’s MBB Father of the Month profile HERE), which just makes me love him more. Who wouldn’t love a man strong enough to father three boys, but tender enough to breathe life into the perfectly delicious Ruby? In addition to Ruby and the Booker Boys: Brand-new School, Brave New Ruby, Trivia Queen, 3rd Grade Supreme, and Ruby Flips for Attention, Derrick autographed two of his earlier works, Stop, Drop, and Chill, and The Low-Down, Bad-Day Blues.
VISIT DERRICK BARNES HERE
Catwalk, by Deborah Gregory. The cheetalicious author of the bestselling Disney franchise The Cheetah Girls has a new amazing series—Catwalk, about a foursome of friends who work together to rip the runway with their own fashion line, the House of Pashmina. Wake up and smell the catnip! The second in the Catwalk series, Strike a Pose, hit bookshelves in September, and further proof that Deborah is on her grind, Catwalk has been optioned by Teen Nick network for a TV series, with Deborah attached as the executive producer and co-writer of the pilot episode. Work, Deborah! In addition to Catwalk, Deborah autographed a Cheetah Girls poster and donated a Cheetah Girls t-shirt and a picture of The Cheetah Girls, autographed by the four stars of the best-selling TV movie series.
VISIT DEBORAH GREGORY HERE.
Boycott Blues, Peggony-Po: A Whale of a Tale, Jackie’s Bat, We Are One, and Abraham Lincoln: Letters from a Slave Girl, written and/or illustrated by Andrea and Jerry Pinkney. This celebrated husband-and-wife team is downright iconic, and their books were quickly added to Mari’s burgeoning collection when she was a baby. Even when books featuring black characters were at a premium, it was the Pinkneys—she writes, he illustrates—who dedicated their careers to bringing great stories about African Americans to the bookshelves. Biographies, fairy tales, sweet stories about friendship, tall tales about little boys and whales, real-to-life stories about Civil Rights icons—you name it, the Pinkneys have done it, and with a style and grace I absolutely admire (see my review of Boycott Blues HERE and Andrea’s MBB Mom of the Week profile HERE). They are, in a word, incredible. In addition to autographing the five books mentioned above, the Pinkneys donated Harlem Summer, by Walter Dean Myers; Sassy: Little Sister Is Not My Name, by Sharon Draper; Crow Call, by Lois Lowry, and The Sound of Kwanzaa, by Dimitrea Tokunbo.
VISIT ANDREA PINKNEY HERE and BRIAN PINKNEY HERE.
WHEW! Is this the hook-up or what?! That’s 18 books featuring characters and stories your child will flip for, with AUTOGRAPHS OF THE AUTHORS AND/OR ILLUSTRATORS! This is a $218 value, but the autographs of each of these rock stars is absolutely priceless, and would make an incredible holiday gift for the special children in your life. You absolutely cannot and will not find this gift anywhere but right here at the MyBrownBaby Happy for the Holidays giveaway. Want it? Here’s your shot:
• Visit at least three of the authors’ websites (though I encourage you to visit all of them!) and leave one comment telling me what you learned about each of them.
• Be/Become a MyBrownBaby follower.
FOR EXTRA ENTRIES
• TWEET “I just entered the @MyBrownBaby Happy for the Holidays giveaway for over $200 in autographed children’s books http://shar.es/aEHNe"
• BLOG about this giveaway
• BUY one of the books featured in the giveaway, and email a copy of your confirmation order to firstname.lastname@example.org (2 entries!)
• BECOME a MyBrownBaby email subscriber (you MUST verify your email subscription to qualify) OR get the MyBrownBaby RSS feed HERE (leave a comment letting me know you’ve done so, and include an email address so that I can contact you if you win).
• ADD my button to your blog
THIS CONTEST ENDS AT 11:59 P.M. on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2009. THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10th, 2009. It is open to residents in the continental U.S. and Canada.