Day 18: Christopher Myers

myers_christopher_lgChristopher Myers is an award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books. In 1998, Myers won a Caldecott Honor for his illustrations in Harlem, written by Walter Dean Myers. The following year, he wrote and illustrated Black Cat, a book that received a Coretta Scott King Award (2000). In addition to writing and illustrating his own stories, Myers often illustrates books written by his father, award-winning author Walter Dean Myers. Christopher’s books also include lies and other tall tales.

H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination (EgmontUSA), written and illustrated by Myers, won a Coretta Scott King Honor award in 2013.

Source: Wikipedia

3 thoughts on “Day 18: Christopher Myers

  1. I am writing from Rome, Italy, and your article on “The apartheid of children’s literature” was brought to my attention just as I was launching my children’s book “Habiba la Magica” (Magic Habiba). As you can see from the book cover, showing the face of a little black girl against the ruins of ancient Rome, my book is a challenge to what you call “This apartheid of literature — in which characters of color are limited to the townships of occasional historical books that concern themselves with the legacies of civil rights and slavery but are never given a pass card to traverse the lands of adventure, curiosity, imagination or personal growth”. My Habiba is a 9-year old African-Italian girl, born in Rome, speaking Roman dialect and having friends whose parents are of Asian, African or Roman origin – to them, it makes little difference, the key difference is which soccer team they support: Habiba is a passionate fan of the Roma team, called by its fans “Magic Roma”, while her best friend Silvia the red-head supports the rival team, Lazio. Typical conflict, among Romans: but to some of her neighbors, Habiba is not a Roman at all. She is a “foreigner”, because her mother came to Italy from Africa on a refugee boat, and her dad drowned during the crossing, which Habiba experienced in her mother’s womb.

    Habiba is shy, afraid of swimming and riding a bicycle, unsure of herself. Then one day she meets a “retired witch”, who gives her a tiny broom. She will learn to fly and overcome her fears, she will awaken the ancient Roman statues and teach them to fly, she will daunt gangsters… Through the process, she will experience “personal growth” but also the importance of friendship and cooperation with her friends, more powerful than Magic.

    I just thought I’d share this story with you. I don’t know if any American publisher may be interested in this “black” perspective on faraway Italy. I certainly had trouble enough finding a publisher in Italy, as most of them answered precisely in terms of the “townships” you mentioned: “if you want to write about a black child, write a “realistic” book about racism. Why Magic?”

    Because. I’m not black myself, I just stand for the right of each and every child to imagination and Magic, and have found enthusiastic help among parents and teachers, especially in the most “mixed” neighborhoods of my city. Many of them intend to read the book in class next term.

    I’d be grateful if you could spare the time to let me know how you feel about this, or even just drop me a note of acknowledgement. I have a website, but unfortunately it’s only in Italian:

    Thanks for what you wrote, and all the best.
    Chiara Ingrao, Rome, Italy

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