Ruby & the Booker Boys

This post has been revised at the request of the author. His statement is below. Thank you for your support:

I just wanted to take the time out to thank every single person that has supported the Ruby and the Booker Boys series since the release of the first two books two years ago. I want to give an extra special gigantic hug to everyone who has come out in support of the continuation of the series, the eventual release of book five, and beyond. My intent, over the past month for doing interviews about the need for the sales in the bookstores for books #3 and #4 to mirror the high amount of sales in the school market was in no way, shape or form intended to throw anyone or entity under the bus. But more so to show that there is an enormous audience that has been begging for decades to see a series like Ruby and the Booker Boys.

The truth of the matter is almost EVERY author goes through what I’m going through with Ruby in regards to marketing and promotion. You have to go in never expecting anyone to care for or know your audience better than you do. The problem is, because of a lack of resources, and other than luck and prayers, we were not able to receive or create the kind of buzz that needs to be built around a successful book or series. Word of mouth has been and always will be the best form of promotion. Most authors are just regular folks that just so happen to be blessed enough, like I was, to land a book deal. All we can hope for is that kind and avid readers/supporters of literacy for children like yourselves will tell everyone they know to spread the word.

The thing is, this series is like one of my children. I’ve put a ton of love, passion and creativity into the creation of the characters and sincerity behind the stories. If there is an artist alive who doesn’t feel the same way, they are not fit to consider themselves an artist.

With your most appreciated support, I will continue to push for this series to be around like some of the staple chapter book series. Maybe someday we’ll see Ruby backpacks, dolls, Booker Boys video games, television shows, the whole nine. I want to take this thing as far as it can go. The true goal of any artist is to hopefully create something that outlives them. No matter what I pen, that is my prayer, as well as to ask the most high to continue to bless me with opportunities to inspire and to be inspired.

Peace and many, many blessings,

Derrick Barnes

You can visit Derrick at www.derrickbarnes.com.

You can fan Ruby & The Booker Boys on FaceBook.

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16 Responses to Ruby & the Booker Boys

  1. What a lovely book series for girls and/or children. I have just embarked upon this art form, and have 1 book published thus far and book two is scheduled for a Father’s Day launch. My series will have a planned 24 books total. Superdaddies the Series discusses a father’s relationship with his children on his weekend as the non custodial parent. Parenting and mentorship is the focus across all racial and ethnic lines. Your stories (The Ruby series) are also an inspiration…thank you.

  2. Karen Strong says:

    Thanks for this post. We definitely need more series like Ruby and authors like Derrick Barnes.

    I plan to order these books for my god-daughters. I hope that others do the same.

  3. elliottzetta says:

    This is discouraging but not surprising news. Are the books illustrated? B/c if they’re not, I think Derrick should consider self-publishing…or moving to LaVora’s press. Why put more money in the pocket of a press that’s not committed to these characters and the community they represent? If Ruby’s already got a solid following, Derrick could take control of the series and sell books directly to his customers–Create Space also now partners with Lightening Source (Ingram) so schools, libraries, and bookstores could still carry his books…just a suggestion.

  4. This makes no sense. Supposedly, there was an outcry for an African American Ramona-type book after Elizabeth Bluemle of the Flying Pig, who writes for SLJ’s ShelfTalker blog wrote about this need last year.

    I think as an industry and in the pop culture at large we need a wake up call. Just because there is a brown child on the cover does not mean only brown children should, could, or can read the book. Ruby speaks to many: those who are spunky, those with brothers, those who look like Ruby and those who have friends that look like Ruby.

    I hope this series does not go away and I hope all of us embrace books with a variety of kids on the covers and whose lives are depicted inside those covers.

    • Leigh says:

      I completely agree that the Ruby books speak to many, many children. My daughters are not African American, but have both read Ruby and love the books!

      I looked at the catalogs of our local public library systems–one has the Ruby books and the second doesn’t. So I filled out the online form where patrons can suggest a purchase for the library system, and am waiting to see what happens. I did the same for Zetta Elliot’s Wish After Midnight about a month ago, and they have just bought a copy! Just one so far, but I was glad to see them respond. So I have my fingers crossed for Ruby!

  5. Laurel says:

    Thanks, LaVora, for the heads up on fb. I had no idea. Hopefully, this series can stick around for a long time to come.

  6. Beth Kakuma-Depew says:

    The kids here in St. Louis love this series! I’ve ordered replacements for all of them. I hope Scholastic changes their mind. The cover illustrations are so cute, too….

  7. Doret says:

    Zetta, this series is illus. Vanessa Brantly Newton. I love her work in this series. Its a perfect fit for Barnes text.

    Today, I was telling someone in an elevator about the problem The Ruby Booker series was in. A teacher, in the elevator with us, said her students love the Ruby series.

    I am not surprised about this possible outcome either just hurt. Though, I do hope it doesn’t come down to Black authors being self published or not published at all.

    Also, anyone wanting to buy the Ruby Booker series do consider ordering it from your local bookstore and tell your friends to do the same.

    Bookstore will carry what their customers want. Especially with the economy the way it is. Enough people into your local bookstore ordering this series or any other series or title by an author of color, they will have no choice but to carry it .

    And yes it totally sucks that kids of color books many times have to prove their worth before bookstores will carry them but that is the way it is. It would still be that way if books by authors of color were self published.

    When people in the community order books by authors of color at their local bookstore they are speaking up for diversity.

    (I didn’t mean to go on for so long)

  8. Vasilly says:

    I am so happy about this post! I hadn’t heard of this series before. I’m definitely getting them for my girls.

  9. SMH. I echo Zetta’s sentiments–“discouraging but not surprising news.” Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I’m picking up the series for my nieces and will spread the word. Is there also an email address Ruby supporters can send letters to?

  10. Kelly says:

    Thanks, Karen! I know Derrick appreciates your support.

    Zetta, the books are illustrated. Really cute black-and-white pictures that capture Ruby’s spirit. Interesting idea about self-publishing future books. Derrick does have a nice following that’s getting even larger with all of the buzz going on now. Cool suggestion. Thanks. I’ll pass it along to Derrick in case he hasn’t seen your comment.

    Debbie, thanks for supporting Ruby. I’ll ask Derrick if there’s an email or snail mail addy for letters.

  11. Aaron Mead says:

    Thanks for this call to arms! I was not aware of this seemingly very valuable series. I plan to post some reviews of these books at my site in the near future, and to get my children reading the books.

  12. C says:

    I’m so glad I clicked on this link. I have a say in the purchasing of books for a public library. I have been trying to find more series with characters representing minority group. It is not an easy task at all. I will be checking this series out and if I put it on a list the other braches will see it also.

  13. Samantha Reed says:

    Please keep publishing the Ruby series! I am a pre-service teacher who was trying to find more diverse materials for my students. Ruby is one of the ONLY chapter books, if not the ONLY chapter book in Barnes and Noble featuring a non-White main character! Not to mention so many books are just full of sterotypes… Keep Ruby!!!!!!!!!

  14. Elisabeth says:

    I first heard about Ruby via the Brown Bookshelf a year or so ago. After reviewing and loving Ruby, we purchased them for my public library system, where they have been very popular. We own several copies of each title, yet they are almost always checked out. My young customers have been clamoring for more!

  15. BAON says:

    For some reason my kids collect the scholastic book fliers. When reading that this book needed saving I thought I have never seen this book in the flier. So I pulled them all out (back 4yrs, even tho the book is 2yrs old) & there’s no mention of the book.That was disappointing since I’m a scholastic catalog/book fair mom

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