Archive | May, 2016

P&P Conversations

31 May

While touring to launch Freedom in Congo Square, I visited Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington. Before reading to school groups, I sat down for an interview. I had almost forgotten that I wore a fedora that day.


Books for young black princes

22 May

I’ve been told that I write boy books–if there is such a thing. Sure, I’ve written about women like Billie Holiday, Leontyne Price and Fannie Lou Hamer and had girls as fictional narrators. But many of my biographies focus on boys who beat the odds and grew into great men. Achievers whom I wish my son had learned of as a boy. As a young black prince.

My son was an avid reader, but preferred fantasy and sci-fi to nonfiction–unless the subject was magic or sharks or drawing. When he was a tween, I’d borrow a stack of library books for him in hopes that he’d read one or two. I also bought him chapter books like Bud, Not Buddy; Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs; and  Drew and the Bub Daddy Showdown. 

But I wish I had served up more nonfiction about African American history, which was too often neglected or whitewashed in school. In my own defense, there were not many juvenile biographies then of African American men beyond Martin Luther King, George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson and Michael Jordan. So, I write picture books that I think would have inspired and empowered my son. For today’s young black princes.


Books for Young Black Princes

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America

I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer

Jesse Owens: Fastest Man Alive

Sink or Swim: African American Lifesavers of the Outer Banks

You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen

Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane

Racing Against the Odds: The Story of Wendell Scott, Stock Car Racing’s First African American Champion

A Negro League Scrapbook

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins

Obama: Only in America

And for babies and toddlers:

My Favorite Toy

Mighty Menfolk




Eleanor. Was. Everywhere.

18 May
YCF Hart Midde launch crop.jpg

The author-illustrator team Carole and Jeffery Weatherford outside Hart Middle School, Washington, DC, during You Can Fly book tour. The school visit was sponsored by An Open Book Foundation.

“You can fly,” said First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt after going for a short hop in a training plane with Tuskegee flight instructor “Chief” Anderson. Back at the White House, Mrs. Roosevelt urged her husband to give African Americans a chance to become military pilots.

I didn’t discover that quote until AFTER I had already titled the book You Can Fly; not until after I had already written the poem “A Shot”–about how Mrs. Roosevelt urged her husband to push the military to train African Americans as pilots. Kind of makes me wonder if the narrator’s voice is actually Eleanor’s.

At Hart Middle School, Jeffery and I were greeted by a quote by Mrs. Roosevelt on an outdoor mural. Another quote by the former first lady overlooks the school’s lobby. In the media center where we presented, yet another Eleanor Roosevelt quote shares wall space with quotes by other historic and literary figures.

Is Eleanor trying to tell me something?

You Can Fly: a paper airplane

4 May

YCF paper airplane-page-001

Download template here . Use these instructions or watch this video.

Gordon Parks book a 2017 Beehive nominee in Utah

4 May

GordonParks cover small

That’s Beehive as in the Children’s Literature Association of Utah; not the hairdo made famous by Baltimore hons. Thanks CLAU for this honor!