Day 13: Daniel Beaty

Daniel.Beaty head shotDaniel Beaty has phenomenal acting, singing, composing, and writing skills and he has the awards and honors to prove it.
One of his solo plays, Emergence-See!, had an off-Broadway sold-out extended run in 2006. In 2008, the play retitled Emergency sold-out a seven-week engagement in Los Angeles and was awarded two 2009 NAACP Theater Awards including Best Actor.

His latest play, The Tallest Tree in the Forest is based on the life of Paul Robeson.

“ . . . Beaty changed characters, from the wife of Robeson, to Robeson, to a young Robeson and many others by use of voice, facial expression and body language,” said Steve Wilson of the Kansas City Theater Examiner.

The Book

No matter what form his work takes, Daniel considers himself a storyteller. His latest art form is a picture book, Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dreams for Me. In it, he tells the story of a little boy growing up without his father. It’s a personal story based on the knock-knock game he played with his own dad until the morning his dad did not knock on his bedroom door.

Knock Knock book cover

Daniel introduced Knock Knock in 2005 as a poem he wrote and performed for HBO’s Def Poetry. Watch it here: Knock Knock 

Although, Daniel’s dad was incarcerated, he decided not to explain the absent father in his book. This leaves the reason open and results in a story any child with an absent father will appreciate. 

In a Publishers Weekly podcast interview, illustrator Bryan Collier and Daniel discuss their collaboration. Listen to it here.  

The Buzz
“The text, powerful and spare, is well supported by Collier’s watercolor and collage art…there is a lot going on in the mind of any child who has been denied a parent, for whatever reason. In this book they will find comfort and inspiration.” (The Horn Book)

“By sharing his experience, explained in an afterword, Beaty lends his voice to children struggling with the absence of a parent and the grief that goes with it.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

“A poignant [and] heart-wrenching tale of love, loss, and hope.” (School Library Journal)

“The desire for guidance encountering life’s experiences is told from a small child’s point of view with candor, as well as hope….” (Booklist)

“Challenging but ultimately uplifting, Knock Knock is a thoughtful meditation on grappling with the sometimes uneasy legacy passed down to us by our parents.” (The Huffington Post)

For more about Daniel Beaty visit his website:   Daniel Beaty

Posted by Gwendolyn Hooks

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4 Responses to Day 13: Daniel Beaty

  1. Robin Smith says:

    I am so glad more people will know Beatty’s work because of this blog. I love his spoken word work and I am a huge fan of this book. Collier’s art adds so much to the already fine words.
    I hope this is the first of many books for children by Daniel Beatty.
    Robin

  2. Michael Eure says:

    Thanks for providing these insights on the multifaceted talents of Daniel Beaty. I will be sharing this article with several individuals and organizations, as well as, during an upcoming meeting with the North Carolina Museum of History African American Cultural Celebration Planning Committee.

  3. tadmack says:

    I’ve heard so much about this book – had no idea that the author had a whole other life! This is excellent!

  4. […] Today's honoree in the seventh annual 28 Days Later campaign, a Black History Month celebration of children’s book creators of color, is Daniel Beaty. […]

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