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7 Responses to Blog

  1. Dear Brown Bookshelf:

    Betsy Bird, a children’s book reviewer who works in the Children’s Center of the New York Public Library, referred me to you.

    I’m an author with a new YA book coming out this October. Ugly To Start With is a collection of short stories being published by West Virginia University Press. The 13 stories–about growing up in The Mountain State–have all been published in good literary journals, including The Iowa Review.

    My short stories have appeared in more than seventy-five literary journals, including North American Review, The Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Chattahoochee Review. Twice I have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. My short story “The Scratchboard Project” received an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2007.

    I am also the author of the nationally acclaimed coming-of-age novel The Night I Freed John Brown (Philomel Books, Penguin Group, 2009), winner of The Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers (Grades 7-12) and one of ten books recommended by USA TODAY for Black History Month. Rave reviews include Kirkus Reviews, The Boston Globe, The Buffalo News, and BookPage, along with award-winning literary magazines Mid-American Review, Black Warrior Review, and The Texas Review.

    Can I talk you into reviewing my collection, Ugly To Start With? I’d be very grateful. If you email me back, I’ll send you a professional-grade PDF of my collection for your consideration.

    I’m confident you’ll enjoy my stories.

    Thank you, and I look forward to hearing back from you.

    Kindly,

    John Michael Cummings

  2. From Where Do We Come is not a story about slavery. It’s a children’s book about Life- a guide to survival. It’s a reminder that we have what it takes to get through any situation in life. By holding onto our Faith- that unwavering belief that the Creator is in full control and He makes no mistakes so trust Him. By remaining Resilient- our ability to bounce back from any situation we find ourselves in. By being bold enough to use our own Minds to think for ourselves, to interpret situations free from others’ influence/agenda, and to turn negatives into positives. Finally, by keeping Family bonds tight. Not just biological family- with any and all persons who share our core values and beliefs. There is Strength in numbers- necessary for praying together and taking care of the Village. If we can make it through slavery, we can make it through any situation that comes our way. We already have it in us- From Where Do We Come (simply put) aims to celebrate that fact.

    “From Where Do We Come?” was inspired by a conversation I had with my children last year. My son was a 2nd grader at the time, when he came home with a question about slavery. Interestingly enough, that very same day I had just had a conver…sation with my dad on the subject, and had not decided on an approach for
    having discussions about race with my children. In addition, I was trying to determine the appropriate age for addressing the issue but still wasn’t clear about its degree of necessity. Well, that dilemma would become a non-factor as my son (and subsequently my daughter) began bombarding me with questions.

    “From Where Do We Come?” in essence, captures the inevitable conversation I had with my children on that very day. Here are the important take-aways from the discussion: Schools begin teaching our children about slavery as early as 1st grade, which I learned from my daughter. It leaves children, black children in particular, with many questions about their identity and their place in the world. As much as we may not see the benefit(s) in revisiting a very painful part of our history, it’s very necessary. Fortunately for me, I was able to address my children’s questions & concerns using an age-appropriate approach, and I (hopefully) relieved them of the emotional burden they may have otherwise carried for years, if not their entire lives. What burden you ask? The burden of feeling like we as black people must’ve done something wrong to have been taken as slaves in the first place. The weight of feeling like we must be responsible for making white people want to treat us that way. The burden of not wanting to be black because look what happens to black people. The burden of why us? The burden of am I good enough? The burden of being angry and thinking somebody owes me something because of what happened to my ancestors.

    While these are certainly valid thoughts & feelings, they are self-defeating. As parents, it is our responsibility to comfort our children and to help them make sense of the world around them- even when it makes us uncomfortable. School history lessons don’t address any of the questions/concerns/EMOTIONS this piece of history stirs up in our children. “From Where Do We Come?” does not revisit our past for the sake of conjuring old unwanted feelings. It does not blame anyone nor does it focus on the harsh realities of slavery. The story addresses the important take-aways worthy of celebrating that came out of this particular chapter in our history. It simply reaches back in time (from Africa to Slavery to Now) to re-tell our story, in an EMPOWERING way, of how we have come to be African-Americans.

    “Development of a child’s self-image is perhaps the most important barometer of future success.” Self-worth and self-esteem are important beliefs for empowering oneself. A valid sense of self-worth is necessary in order to attain joy, peace, love, and control of one’s own life. It is what enables us to believe that we are capable of doing our best with our talents, of contributing well in society, and that we deserve to lead a fulfilling life.

    After our discussion, my son was asked how he felt. His response: “I feel proud.” My daughter’s response was very similar, and she asked the most questions- although she couldn’t comprehend the subject matter as well as my son. It was at this very moment that I knew a book was born.

  3. jtetter25 says:

    Dear Brown Bookshelf,

    I would like to nominate myself for th 28 Days Later campaign. My name is Jamilah, and I am an author of an inspirational children’s book, From Where Do We Come.

    From Where Do We Come is not a story about slavery. It’s a children’s book about Life- a guide to survival. It’s a reminder that we have what it takes to get through any situation in life. By holding onto our Faith- that unwavering belief that the Creator is in full control and He makes no mistakes so trust Him. By remaining Resilient- our ability to bounce back from any situation we find ourselves in. By being bold enough to use our own Minds to think for ourselves, to interpret situations free from others’ influence/agenda, and to turn negatives into positives. Finally, by keeping Family bonds tight. Not just biological family- with any and all persons who share our core values and beliefs. There is Strength in numbers- necessary for praying together and taking care of the Village. If we can make it through slavery, we can make it through any situation that comes our way. We already have it in us- From Where Do We Come (simply put) aims to celebrate that fact.

    “From Where Do We Come?” was inspired by a conversation I had with my children last year. My son was a 2nd grader at the time, when he came home with a question about slavery. Interestingly enough, that very same day I had just had a conver…sation with my dad on the subject, and had not decided on an approach for
    having discussions about race with my children. In addition, I was trying to determine the appropriate age for addressing the issue but still wasn’t clear about its degree of necessity. Well, that dilemma would become a non-factor as my son (and subsequently my daughter) began bombarding me with questions.

    “From Where Do We Come?” in essence, captures the inevitable conversation I had with my children on that very day. Here are the important take-aways from the discussion: Schools begin teaching our children about slavery as early as 1st grade, which I learned from my daughter. It leaves children, black children in particular, with many questions about their identity and their place in the world. As much as we may not see the benefit(s) in revisiting a very painful part of our history, it’s very necessary. Fortunately for me, I was able to address my children’s questions & concerns using an age-appropriate approach, and I (hopefully) relieved them of the emotional burden they may have otherwise carried for years, if not their entire lives. What burden you ask? The burden of feeling like we as black people must’ve done something wrong to have been taken as slaves in the first place. The weight of feeling like we must be responsible for making white people want to treat us that way. The burden of not wanting to be black because look what happens to black people. The burden of why us? The burden of am I good enough? The burden of being angry and thinking somebody owes me something because of what happened to my ancestors.

    While these are certainly valid thoughts & feelings, they are self-defeating. As parents, it is our responsibility to comfort our children and to help them make sense of the world around them- even when it makes us uncomfortable. School history lessons don’t address any of the questions/concerns/EMOTIONS this piece of history stirs up in our children. “From Where Do We Come?” does not revisit our past for the sake of conjuring old unwanted feelings. It does not blame anyone nor does it focus on the harsh realities of slavery. The story addresses the important take-aways worthy of celebrating that came out of this particular chapter in our history. It simply reaches back in time (from Africa to Slavery to Now) to re-tell our story, in an EMPOWERING way, of how we have come to be African-Americans.

    “Development of a child’s self-image is perhaps the most important barometer of future success.” Self-worth and self-esteem are important beliefs for empowering oneself. A valid sense of self-worth is necessary in order to attain joy, peace, love, and control of one’s own life. It is what enables us to believe that we are capable of doing our best with our talents, of contributing well in society, and that we deserve to lead a fulfilling life.

    After our discussion, my son was asked how he felt. His response: “I feel proud.” My daughter’s response was very similar, and she asked the most questions- although she couldn’t comprehend the subject matter as well as my son. It was at this very moment that I knew a book was born.

  4. I would like to nominate “Legend of the Mantamaji, Book One” by critically-acclaimed television director Eric Dean Seaton, released October 8th.

    His graphic novel series is timely, compelling and important. Children of all races need to see people of color in the role of ‘superhero.’ It does children a disservice to see that only white males can save the world and it is particularly egregious that people of color are written out of the future in science fiction. What Seaton does in book one and throughout the LOTM series is create characters that are engaging and a story line that leaves readers on the edge of their seats.

    Seaton’s work has been rated ‘ON!’ by Common Sense Media, was the only independent publisher featured as a 2014 San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive and was the only black superhero graphic novel at New York Comic Con.

    From the website:

    Television director Eric Dean Seaton’s first graphic novel series is a tale exploding with brilliant art, action-packed adventure, true-to-life
    characters and a smart and twisting plotline. Published by “And…Action!” Entertainment, Legend of the Mantamaji tells the story of Elijah Alexander, a rising Assistant District Attorney in New York who learns he is the last of a race of mystical knights called the Mantamaji, who once protected mankind.

    When an ancient evil is resurrected, Elijah has to turn his back on everything he’s worked for, accept his birthright and learn how to use his magical warrior abilities to defeat the greatest threat the Mantamaji ever faced.

    The books features artwork by Brandon Palas, colorist Andrew
    Dalhouse who has worked with From Boom, Dark Horse, Image,
    Marvel and DC and lettering by Deron Bennett, who was nominated
    for an Eisner Award two years ago for his work on titles like Jim
    Henson’s Dark Crystal, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand and Helldorado,
    among others.

    Book One is set for release on October 8th, with release dates for book two and three scheduled for December 10, 2014 and February 11, 2015, respectively.

    About Eric Dean Seaton:

    As an episodic director, Eric Dean Seaton is a two-time NAACP Image Award nominee and has helmed over 38 different shows, 195 episodes of television, 18 music videos, two pilots for Nickelodeon, “Bad Fairy,” and “Sketch,” as well as two pilots for Disney XD, “Mighty Med,” which currently shooting its second season and “Kickin’ It,” which has completed its four year run.

    Eric has also directed episodes of NBC/Warner Bros. comedy
    “Undateable,” BET’s “Let’s Stay Together,” as well as direct the pilot
    and co-executive produce the Starz Kids and Family Channel and
    international hit, “The Wannabes Starring Savvy.”

    He is a two-time NAACP Image Award nominee for Best Directing in a Comedy Series and the 2014 winner of the Samella Lewis Award for Professional Achievement from The Ohio State University.

    http://LegendoftheMantamaji.com
    http://EricDeanSeaton.com

  5. terreecemclarke says:

    I would like to nominate “Legend of the Mantamaji, Book One” by critically-acclaimed television director Eric Dean Seaton, released October 8th.

    His graphic novel series is timely, compelling and important. Children of all races need to see people of color in the role of ‘superhero.’ It does children a disservice to see that only white males can save the world and it is particularly egregious that people of color are written out of the future in science fiction. What Seaton does in book one and throughout the LOTM series is create characters that are engaging and a story line that leaves readers on the edge of their seats.

    Seaton’s work has been rated ‘ON!’ by Common Sense Media, was the only independent publisher featured as a 2014 San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive and was the only black superhero graphic novel at New York Comic Con.

    From the website:

    Television director Eric Dean Seaton’s first graphic novel series is a tale exploding with brilliant art, action-packed adventure, true-to-life
    characters and a smart and twisting plotline. Published by “And…Action!” Entertainment, Legend of the Mantamaji tells the story of Elijah Alexander, a rising Assistant District Attorney in New York who learns he is the last of a race of mystical knights called the Mantamaji, who once protected mankind.

    When an ancient evil is resurrected, Elijah has to turn his back on everything he’s worked for, accept his birthright and learn how to use his magical warrior abilities to defeat the greatest threat the Mantamaji ever faced.

    The books features artwork by Brandon Palas, colorist Andrew
    Dalhouse who has worked with From Boom, Dark Horse, Image,
    Marvel and DC and lettering by Deron Bennett, who was nominated
    for an Eisner Award two years ago for his work on titles like Jim
    Henson’s Dark Crystal, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand and Helldorado,
    among others.

    Book One is set for release on October 8th, with release dates for book two and three scheduled for December 10, 2014 and February 11, 2015, respectively.

    About Eric Dean Seaton:

    As an episodic director, Eric Dean Seaton is a two-time NAACP Image Award nominee and has helmed over 38 different shows, 195 episodes of television, 18 music videos, two pilots for Nickelodeon, “Bad Fairy,” and “Sketch,” as well as two pilots for Disney XD, “Mighty Med,” which currently shooting its second season and “Kickin’ It,” which has completed its four year run.

    Eric has also directed episodes of NBC/Warner Bros. comedy
    “Undateable,” BET’s “Let’s Stay Together,” as well as direct the pilot
    and co-executive produce the Starz Kids and Family Channel and
    international hit, “The Wannabes Starring Savvy.”

    He is a two-time NAACP Image Award nominee for Best Directing in a Comedy Series and the 2014 winner of the Samella Lewis Award for Professional Achievement from The Ohio State University.

    http://LegendoftheMantamaji.com

    http://EricDeanSeaton.com

  6. Dear Brown Book Shelf,

    I would like to nominate A World Of Our Own:The Beginning.

    After having our first child in 2007 we searched and searched for positive media choices with images possessing our own likenesses. We had some amazing finds but noticed that our options for faith based books were extremely limited. We asked ourselves, “What can we do about it?” Our careers were beginning to take off, so the task of creating a book would have to be tabled until the correct opportunity availed itself.

    In 2012, that opportunity presented itself by way of a conversation. We were sitting in our living room discussing the lack of media choices for our now three children. Our Bible was sitting on the coffee table. We both said almost in unison, “Let’s write a book about God’s creation!” After brewing a pot of coffee and working for about an hour, we had developed a rough draft for what would become our first publication.

    It’s been 2 years in the making and our labor of love is finally done!

    A World of Our Own: The Beginning beautifully illustrates the first 7 days of God’s creation. Children of all ages will enjoy its rhythmic word play and be captivated by its creative essence. So… parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends etc. presenting the first book in the A World of Our Own series…The Beginning.

    For more updates, information about our book, please visit;

    http://www.ourstorybookspublishing.com

    http://www.facebook.com/ourstorybookspublishing

    Thanks!

    Omar and Kimberly Finley

  7. James Gordon says:

    Hello, my name is James Gordon. I am the author of the DJ Gatsby Book Club Children’s Book of the Year “Hi My Name is Bobo” (A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader). I’d like to nominate it for your 28 Days Later feature. Here’s is the latest review of Bobo.

    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5A slice of life
    ByStorywraps “Marilyn”on February 10, 2015
    Format: Kindle Edition
    Can you remember “back in the day” when life was simple, donuts were a celebration, and Saturday morning was reserved for all-morning cartoon viewing? Well this wonderful, heartwarming book will provide a trip down memory lane and a jumping off point to converse with your child as to how your childhood was spent as opposed to his present day one.

    James Gordon documents a typical weekend in the life of a 5th grader. Bobo and his brother Smiley are immersed in viewing television shows that the whole family rallied around, sibling rivalry (and camaraderie ) at its best, scrumptious food that mom prepared, and of course, going to church as a family on Sunday. He unwraps a nostalgic, slice of life that takes you back to the 70’s and highlights how kids were allowed to be kids and how they revelled in the importance of family relationships and what made them happy at that time.

    The inserted photos are a great addition to the narrative and the fact that the main character is an African American boy is a very important component to the book, as the picture book industry seems to be lacking in that area. I highly recommend this book.

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