Me, somewhere around 2nd grade
I’m an achievement-oriented person, always have been. Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that my journey to publishing Around Our Way on Neighbors’ Day didn’t really start out as a dream.
It was a goal from day one.
Yes, I made the rookie mistake of banging out a picture book story in three days, mailing it off to four of the top publishers in the industry, and waiting confidently for the offers to roll in because of my phenomenal, oft-commended writing skills.
Well. At least I had done enough research to make sure the manuscript was properly formatted and a SASE was enclosed.
Though that first book was certainly way…way…WAY off the mark, I do consider that first round of submissions to have been serendipitous. From those submissions, I received a form rejection letter (photocopied askew on the page) that informed me about The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Via SCBWI, I found out there was much I had no idea I didn’t know. I got straight to the business of learning it. The rest is ongoing history.
From Booklist: “[A]n African American girl bounces around her urban neighborhood celebrating Neighbors’ Day…happily surrounded by a multicultural crowd.… The acrylic art is saturated with rich color, energetic movement, and abstract figures and shapes, all reminiscent of Jacob Lawrence’s art. Most scenes are double-page spreads that, together with the words, demonstrate the size and diversity of a joyful world.”
From School Library Journal: “…The book’s lively illustrations and energetic main character lead readers to think about their own neighborhood, and the kind acts and community spirit that make good neighbors. This story in verse is sure to receive a warm welcome, and it might inspire youngsters to institute their own ‘Neighbors’ Day.’”
From Kirkus: “…In this lively and accessible poem, a multicultural community brings food, music and laughter to the streets to celebrate their neighborhood….”
From Children’s Literature: “…In rhythmic rhymes kids dance, jump rope, and eat ice cream…Nothing sits still on these double pages. The people, buildings, even the sidewalks seem to vibrate….”
From Multiculturalism Rocks!: “…The first lines set the tone: no cloud in the sky; if you were moody when you picked up the book, prepare yourself to smile. I like that I can sing the text. I am enjoying how fun it is to read it to children. I challenge the adult to remain seated during the whole reading….”
From ReaderKidZ: “…[A] celebration of good people, joyful times, and a community that honors and respects the traditions and culture of those who call this part of town home… lively, rhythmic language and bright, colorful illustrations…a celebration of families and neighborhoods and all that’s right in the world.”
From A Book and A Hug: “…[A] diverse, energetic, vibrant clan of people who live side by side and bring their uniqueness together to create a delicious melting pot…Great smiling energy beams out to you from the warm, bright pictures and the voice calls to everyone, ‘Hey, who lives in your neighborhood?’ Go find out!”
From K12Reader: “The book is a welcome addition to the growing body of multicultural children’s literature, offering a positive portrayal of a diverse community cooperating and having a good time together…a valuable addition to any classroom.”
From The Children’s Book Review: “…This is a fun, rhythmic read that showcases a multi-ethnic community joining together to share some laughs and more than a few servings of rice and beans, collard greens, mac and cheese, and grilled lime chicken—all contributed by various families in the area. Throw some dancing into the mix and you’ve got one heck of a party.”
Find out more about Tameka and her upcoming projects at her website: www.tamekafryerbrown.com