Day 24: Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the NAACP Image Award-nominated author of several books, including: OPERATION SISTERHOOD, an IndieNext List Top Ten Pick and Black Caucus of the American Library Association Best of the Best Selection; MAKEDA MAKES A BIRTHDAY TREAT, a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book; IT DOESN’T TAKE A GENIUS, a Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book of the Year, SOMEDAY IS NOW, an NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, and MAE MAKES A WAY, a RISE Feminist Book List and CCBC Choices title. Olugbemisola has contributed to a number of anthologies, including WE RISE, WE RESIST, WE RAISE OUR VOICES, and is editor of the We Need Diverse Books collection THE HERO NEXT DOOR.

I still have the October 2009 email from Kelly Starling Lyons inviting me to join The Brown Bookshelf team. I was so excited and honoured that for once I ignored my usual instinct (which is to run and hide from my computer — you know, it can’t see me, if I can’t see it) and wrote back an incoherent variation on WOOOOOHOOOOOYESTHANKYOU!



The love, friendship, mutual respect, and sheer brilliance of the other members of the Brown Bookshelf family are gifts that I will treasure for the rest of my days.

They are wonderful humans, full stop. I say the same about our extended family, including Just Us Books, I, Too Arts, Collective, the African American Children’s Book Project, and finally the Amplify Cohort that you’ve been reading about all month. Working with our friends at Highlights to develop Amplify has been a wonderfully enriching experience of community-building and creative exchange.

And then…not only do all of the above create an astonishing array of wonderful stories for all ages, they motivate and inspire so many, including me, to do the same.



It’s hard to believe that my debut, 8th GRADE SUPERZERO, is ready for high school, so to speak — 2024 marks fourteen years since its publication date, and it’s still a thrill to hear from readers who are discovering it for the first time. Since then, my writing has taken me all over the place — to picture books, nonfiction, chapter books, anthologies, comics — even a dip into YA. 2024 has also brought my novel YOU’RE BREAKING MY HEART, out this month from Levine Querido.

You're Breaking My Heart cover art by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu
Cover by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu

It’s a book about the many ways grief really takes you through it; how it can mess with our memories, and the stories we tell ourselves. Harriet Adu blames herself for her brother’s death, and has isolated herself from her family and friends. She thinks she doesn’t deserve or need joy, and goes on an emotional journey that takes her beyond the world she knows. This was a hard one to write; I wanted to honour the fullness of Black girlhood and womanhood, the challenging emotions that we often have to mask or hide. Harriet’s story did not want to be told in a typical way. I’m really happy with how it turned out — no small thanks to my very patient, brilliant editor Nick Thomas. Check out the audiobook; the story is told in two POVs; I read the first third, then the incredible Channie Waites comes in and will blow you away.



I have two paperbacks out this Spring. First, in just a couple of weeks: SAVING EARTH, an MG-YA nonfiction title with art by Tim Foley, on how we grapple with the global past, present, and future of the climate crisis. Inspired by Nathaniel Rich’s groundbreaking LOSING EARTH, it delves into the science, politics, and culture of the movement. You can read an excerpt here.

Art by Tim Foley

SAVING EARTH seeks to shine a light on the ways that Black, Indigenous, and many other people of color have always been involved in environmental justice movements. And while I highlight the voices and work of young activists around the world, the book is careful to note that this is not a mess for “the kids” to clean up. As Alexandria Villaseñor pointed out: “Let’s cancel the Youth Climate Hope Industrial Complex now….If you’re relying on youth to save us, then you’re not doing enough yourself.”

Whose stories have been told? Whose voices do we listen to?

These are the questions that I asked myself while working on the book, the questions that I’m always asking as I dream and write new stories.


My other 2024 paperback will be June’s THE SUN DOES SHINE Young Readers Edition, a School Library Journal and Chicago Public Library Best of the Year book, written with Anthony Ray Hinton and Lara Love Hardin.The Sun Does Shine cover art

I was honoured to have had the opportunity to share a small part of Anthony Ray Hinton’s incredibly heartbreaking, infuriating, and remarkable story. Mr. Hinton and I discuss the adaptation process with Betsy Bird over at School Library Journal.







Also in June, the second MAKEDA MAKES I Can Read! book is coming: MAKEDA MAKES A HOME FOR SUBWAY! I have so much fun with this curious, creative Jamaican American Brooklynite. This time, she decides that the class guinea pig, Subway, is languishing in a BORING cage, so it’s up to her to build him some real fun. Oh, Makeda.

Makeda Makes A Home for Subway, cover art by Lydia Mba
art by Lydia Mba

Then just as the year ends and the new one begins, OPERATION SISTERHOOD 2: STEALING THE SHOW will be here! What a time I’ve had working with the wonderful Phoebe Yeh on the return to my beloved NYC sisters and their joyful ways. This time round, Sunday has decided to step out of her sisters’ shadows and get some solo shine by writing, directing, and starring in her own show — what could possibly go wrong? A new neighbor, self-obsessed superstar Talitha Thomas, has an answer to that. In another lifetime, I was around celebrities quite a bit, and I have to say that Talitha was a lot of fun to write.

I have more OPERATION SISTERHOOD news! And other book news! And news news! But I think I can’t share yet. But when I can, I’ll be sharing Brown Bookshelf-ly, because this will always be home.

Thank you all for riding with us.

Read Black stories. Share Black stories. Celebrate Black stories.


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