Our Books

The Brown Bookshelf members aren’t only dedicated to shining the light on authors and illustrators of color writing for children, we are writers and illustrators of children’s literature.

Young Adult Fiction

Angels Grace cover_large2

by Tracey Baptiste

For ages 12+

Baptiste’s debut is well-written, with a determined, relatable heroine, solid characterizations, and an exotic setting that is well-evoked.” – Kirkus

A New York Public Library Staff Pick, 2005.


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By Varian Johnson
For ages 12+

Saving Maddie
“[A] sincere story…the questions Josh weighs about morality, God, and desire feel wholly genuine.” — Publishers Weekly

My Life As A Rhombus
“Without a bit of preaching, Varian Johnson gives us a story of two teenage girls who are faced with the consequences of unplanned pregnancies. Teens will love the emotional peaks and valleys of the tale and be gratified by the conclusion.” – Ellen Wittlinger, author of Hard Love

“…there’s wry humor here, and the sometimes raw dialogue is well done.” – Booklist

“[Johnson] has captured the struggles of teen girls perfectly…” – TeensReadToo, Five Star Review, Gold Award for Excellence

Red Polka Dot In A World Full of Plaid
Essence Bestseller (March, 2006)

“An enjoyable coming-of-age story of headstrong, sarcastic and vulnerable Maxine Phillips…I would recommend this book to the teen and young adult readers.” – APOOO Bookclub

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The Del Rio Bay Series
By Paula Chase
For ages 12+

“Surprisingly real and deep…well worth reading.” – Teens Read Too

“Contemporary friendship story, which revels in rich diversity of race, color, and class.”

“With humor and a clear eye, Maryland author Paula Chase sees straight to the heart of today’s teen culture.”
Washington Parent, February ’08

“Our fave cheerleader with flavor is back in the third installment of the Del Rio Bay series.”
American Cheerleader, August 2008

“Fans of the series will enjoy the continuing adventures of the crew; newcomers will appreciate this fine young adult novel while seeking out the previous four escapades” – Harriet Klausner on Flipping The Script

Middle Grade Fiction

Rise of the Jumbies

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The Jumbies series
by Tracey Baptiste


“Why buy another mediocre retelling of a Greek myth for your kid, when you can introduce them to a gorgeously-told fairy tale that originated outside of Europe?” – NPR

“Endlessly addictive and hypnotic.” – Essence

The Jumbies books are “best of the year” picks from: NPR, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, New York Magazine, Brightly, New York Public Libraries. Both are Junior Library Guild selections.

By Kelly Starling Lyons
For ages 9-12

NEATE: Eddie’s Ordeal

“The talk is casual and contemporary, and readers will like the family drama as well as the warmth among friends and the realistic view of failure and success.” – Booklist

“Compelling and touching story of a father and son who are struggling to understand each other.” – Ebony Magazine

Eight Grade Superzero Widget
By Olugbemiosola Rhuday-Perkovich
For Ages 9-12

Eighth-Grade Superzero
Reginald Garvey McKnight created a superhero character in kindergarten; now he dreams of being a real-life leading man: The Guy who’s got game and gets The Girl. Instead, he threw up on the first day of school. In front of everyone. Eighth grade has gone downhill ever since.

In EIGHTH GRADE SUPERZERO, Reggie wonders why things are so bad if God is so good; his faith at all levels is challenged by his friendships, his work at a homeless shelter, and a pair of “Dora The Explorer” shoes. Reggie’s involvement in a school election leads him to the superhero within; he learns that sometimes winning big means living small.

By Crystal Allen
For ages 9-12

Thirteen-year-old Lamar Washington is the maddest, baddest most spectacular bowler ever at Striker’s Bowling Paradise. But when it comes to girls, he doesn’t have game—not like his older brother Xavier the Basketball Savior. And certainly not like his best friend “Spanish fly guy” Sergio. So Lamar vows to spend the summer changing his image from dud to stud by finding a way to make money and snag a super fine Honey!

“Cocky, sharp-tongued, and a known prankster, 13-year-old Lamar Washington is a protagonist readers won’t soon forget… Debut author Allen gives Lamar a singular (and often comically misguided) way with words …Under all the braggadocio is a boy with a big heart, and from the first sentence Lamar will have readers hooked.”
—Starred Review, Publishers Weekly 1/11

Image result for "The offenders: saving the world while serving detention!"By Jerry Craft

The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention!

Guided Reading level – W
Grade level Equivalent- 5
Interest level– grades 5-8 (middle school reader) Ages 12-up

A freak accident gives five middle school kids (from very diverse backgrounds) super powers. But instead of being able to transform into cool super-beings, they are forced to take on the characteristics of the kids they pick on. Now they’re the ones who are being teased, and by the same kids who they are trying to help!

Creative, funny, and engaging – this book presents a unique look at the dynamics of bullying. With a diverse cast of characters, the book illustrates that bullying affects everyone – and that the students who are bullying can change their behavior and make their school a more positive place. — PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center

So Done Cover by Paula Chase

For ages 9-12

When best friends Tai and Mila are reunited after a summer apart, their friendship threatens to combust from the pressure of secrets, middle school, and dance auditions for a new talented and gifted program. A memorably complex and compelling story about the friendship between two very different girls.

“A beautifully written and achingly realistic portrayal of the growing pains even the best friendships often must endure. Tai and Mila’s journey felt as real and messy and ultimately hopeful as all true friendships are.” Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry’s

Chapter Books

Jada Jones series by Kelly Starling Lyons

Rock Star - hi-resClass Act“Readers who love “Ivy and Bean” or “Katie Woo” will want to meet Jada Jones. VERDICT With a nice balance of friendship, drama, and the much-needed representation of girls of color who revel in scientific pursuits, this is a strong purchase for most collections.” –  School Library Journal

“Easy to read and sprinkled with science, a contemporary tale of friendship, loss, acceptance, and learning how to be who you are and rock what you’ve got.” – Kirkus

Picture Books

Around Our Way on Neighbors’ Day

By Tameka Fryer Brown

“[A]n African American girl bounces around her urban neighborhood celebrating Neighbors’ Day…happily surrounded by a multicultural crowd.… The acrylic art is saturated with rich color, energetic movement, and abstract figures and shapes, all reminiscent of Jacob Lawrence’s art. Most scenes are double-page spreads that, together with the words, demonstrate the size and diversity of a joyful world.”–Booklist

“…The book’s lively illustrations and energetic main character lead readers to think about their own neighborhood, and the kind acts and community spirit that make good neighbors. This story in verse is sure to receive a warm welcome…”–School Library Journal

“…In rhythmic rhymes kids dance, jump rope, and eat ice cream…Nothing sits still on these double pages. The people, buildings, even the sidewalks seem to vibrate….”–Children’s Literature

“…[A] diverse, energetic, vibrant clan of people who live side by side and bring their uniqueness together to create a delicious melting pot…Great smiling energy beams out to you from the warm, bright pictures and the voice calls to everyone, ‘Hey, who lives in your neighborhood?’ Go find out!”–A Book and A Hug


Ellen’s Broom

By Kelly Starling Lyons
For ages 4-8

“Lyons’s homespun and heartfelt dialogue combines with Minter’s exquisite use of line, color, and composition to produce a story that radiates deep faith and strong family bonds.” – School Library Journal

 “A spirited story filled with the warmth of a close family celebrating a marriage before God and the law.” – Kirkus Reviews

One Million Men and Me


By Kelly Starling Lyons
For ages 4-8

CCBC Choices 2008
Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s best-of-the-year list

“The tone is strongly inspirational, and Ambush’s realistic double-page spreads, which make particularly good use of close-ups, portray the child and her daddy against the big scenes of the crowds “united and strong.” – Booklist

“Kelly Starling Lyons has crafted an endearing tale that immediately brings to focus the significance of The Million Man March. The story is told from an unexpected perspective, yet fully captures the spirit of the day which was the empowerment of black men.” – RAWSISTAZ Reviewers

Find the Cat: A Pet Club Story

By Gwendolyn Hooks
For Ages 4-8

Kayla’s cat, Daisy, is missing. Kayla is so worried, she calls her friends, and soon enough the entire Pet Club is on the case.



Books Illustrated by Don Tate

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Ron’s Big Mission

A Junior Library Guild selection.

The Hidden Feast
“…Tate’s lushly painted acrylics capture the animals at their silliest and rooster at his sulkiest. This mostly literary retelling is filled with contemporary cliches and incorporates the motifs and plot structure of the traditional African-American tale. Fun for telling or reading…”

Summer Sun Risin’
The National Christian School Association’s ’04-05 Children’s Crown Gallery Award nominee

“Sunny acrylic and oil paintings on textured paper coupled with verses featuring colloquial language portray a summer day in the life of a hardworking African American farm family.” – Kirkus Reviews

Sure As Sunrise
“The animal characters in human clothes are reminiscent of puppets in the big, clear oil-and-acrylic illustrations; their body language and exaggerated expressions are wonderful as they question, scheme, rage, and–sometimes–outwit the powerful.” Starred review by Booklist

Black All Around
“The artist does a good job varying the settings, supplying both fantasy and homelike backdrops that incorporate the images from the text.” – Publishers Weekly

Graphic Novels

Mama's Boyz: In Living Color!Mama’s Boyz: In Living Color
Written and Illustrated by Jerry Craft

Mom and the Boyz are back in their fourth book, but this time it’s in their very first, full-color graphic novel! Follow the humorous struggles of a mom raising her two teenage sons. Based on the popular Mama’s Boyz syndicated comic strip. Special features include a foreword by famed cartoonist Lynn Johnston; a special story on my life in comics; and a section on how to draw!

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