Sunday Shopping, our new spring title released this month, is a whimsical and fun-filled story of a young girl and her grandmother who use their big imaginations to go “shopping” through the Sunday paper. We asked illustrator Shadra Strickland to take us behind the scenes for creating the art work used in Sunday Shopping. Continue reading
Stacy Whitman is Editorial Director and Publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS that publishes diverse science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers. This blog post was originally posted at her blog, Stacy Whitman’s Grimoire.
I recently got this question from a writer, who agreed that answering it on the blog would be useful:
My hero is a fifteen-year-old African American boy [in a science fiction story]. A few of my alpha readers (not all) have said that he doesn’t sound “black enough.” I purposely made him an Air Force brat who has lived in several different countries to avoid having to use cliche hood-terminology. I want him to be universal.
Do you have thoughts on this either way?
Is there a possibility that my potential readers could really be offended that a) I am “a white girl writing a book about black people” and b) that my character doesn’t sound black enough? I’ve looked through your blog and website and haven’t found anything specific to my needs on this particular question. Perhaps I missed it?
…should I use Ebonics or not use Ebonics?
First of all, black people—just as white people or Latino people—are a very diverse group of people. There are people who speak in Ebonics (which I believe would be more accurately referred to as BVE–Black Vernacular English) and people who speak plain old suburban English, people who speak with any of a variety of Southern accents and people who have Chicago accents, people who speak with French or Spanish accents (or who speak French or Spanish or an African language). So the question of whether a particular character in a particular situation sounds “black enough” is a complicated question, one that even the African American community can’t necessarily agree on. Within the community (and I say this because I asked a coworker who is African American, who can speak with more authority on the subject than I can) it’s often a question that draws on complicated factors, such as money, privilege, “selling out,” skin tone (relative darkness or lightness—literally, being “black enough”), and hair texture, which all relate to how much a part of which community a person might be.
The question, then, is fraught with loaded meaning not only to do with stereotypes, but also socioeconomic meanings. The question can also tend to be offensive because of that diversity and the loaded meaning the question carries.
In honor of Black History Month, we asked some of our authors and illustrators to reflect on the black historical figures who have meant the most to them. Today, Pamela Tuck, author of As Fast As Words Could Fly, reflects on Harriet Tubman:
I was “introduced” to Harriet Tubman in history class, and her story empowered me. As soon as people hear her name, they instantly think of an African American woman who led slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad. The courage and bravery she exerted in risking her life shows how she also empowered others to believe in themselves and the promise of freedom. Harriet Tubman’s journey proves how one person can empower a community, a nation, or even the world.
This past weekend was the 22nd Annual African American Children’s Book Fair in Philadelphia. The book fair is one of the largest single day events for African American children’s books in the country – and a great way to kick off Black History Month each February. Below, a few pictures from this year’s event:
It’s Black History Month, and that means another giveaway from Lee & Low Books! We’re giving away three sets of three books featuring African Americans, and the contest will run through February 29, 2012.
You may have noticed that the winners won’t get their books until after Black History Month. We think Black History Month is important, but black history is part of American History, and shouldn’t get relegated to one month out of the year. So enter below to win three great books to enjoy all year long!
Here’s how it works:
“I think it can be read at any time of year: it is a story about mother-child relationships, about slavery, about American history, and about a great statesman. It is a story about family and tradition. And it’s a bedtime story.