At the age of 7, Bryan Patrick Avery discovered a love of reading after receiving his first Bobbsey Twins Mystery Book. Today, he is an award-winning poet and author of over 20 books for children. Bryan is our 28 Days Later Day 9 honoree.
BRYAN PATRICK AVERY is an award-winning poet and author of over twenty books for children including a dozen books in the early chapter book series, MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS, illustrated by Arief Putra. He is also the author of the middle grade collective biography, BLACK MEN IN SCIENCE, illustrated by Nikita Leanne, the Jake Maddox JV Mysteries OFF BASE and SOCCER SUSPICIONS, and three picture books: EARL LEARNS A LESSON and MAX’S MAGIC CHANGE, both illustrated by Roman Diaz, and THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, illustrated by Jerome White. He is the 2021 recipient of the SCBWI Work in Progress Award for his chapter book mystery THE ROBOT IN THE LIBRARY.
My first children’s book was THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH (Spork). I signed the contract in the Spring of 2017 and the book was published in April of 2021. A span of four years between contract signing and publication isn’t unusual, but it’s also not typical. In this case, I was glad to wait. The publishing team had a difficult time finding the right illustrator for the project. There were days when I felt like saying, “just pick someone!” but I know that’s never the right answer.
Thankfully, my publisher connected with Jerome White who agreed to illustrate the book. I had admired Jerome’s work for a while. He’s an amazing artist and had written and illustrated a book inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen. In my mind, he was a perfect fit.
I provided a selection of photographs taken by my grandfather and Jerome went to work. When my author copies arrived, I gave the first copy to my mother. It brought tears to her eyes.
The wait for my debut book was truly worth it.
Perhaps most popular books are those in the Mr. Grizley’s Class series (Picture Window Press). I signed the contract for the first four books series in the summer of 2020, just after the murder of George Floyd. I knew I wanted to create a diverse classroom of kids who supported and championed one another. I also wanted a teacher who was big and Black. He would be someone who towered over the kids but was still seen as kind and caring. This was my way of combatting the notion that big, Black men are scary and, therefore, dangerous. Now, young readers have counterpoint to that stereotype.
Arief Putra illustrates the series and did a terrific job bringing the characters to life. Capstone even uses a cardboard cutout of Mr. Grizley at publishing events!
On Being an Amplify Black Stories Cohort Member
Being a member of the Amplify Black Stories cohort strengthened my network in the children’s publishing business. Through the first year of the program, our cohort grew close and even began working together on publishing projects (e.g. Nadia L. Hohn’s THE ANTIRACIST KITCHEN). After the first year was over, and the formal events ended, we continued to gather to support one another, celebrate our successes, and work through our challenges.
We’ve become more than just colleagues, we are a family.
Learn more about Bryan Patrick Avery on his website: bryanpatrickavery.com