Caldecott & CSK Honors for Freedom in Congo Square

23 Jan


The American Library Association Youth Media Awards were announced today in Atlanta. My collaborator Gregory Christie won Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honors for his illustrations in our picture book Freedom in Congo Square. Congratulations to Greg and thanks to our editor Sonali Fry.


June 2017 Weekend Intensive

28 Dec

The April master class themed “Poetic License Renewal” was a day to be remembered. Promising manuscripts and wonderful people. Next up is the June 9-11 weekend intensive. Spaces only for 8.


Award & Shortlist News

25 Nov

Tuskegee cover   Congo Square

Award committee members, thank you for all the love for these two books. And congratulations to illustrators Jeffery Weatherford and Gregory Christie on our collaborations! It’s been a wonderful year.

YOU CAN FLY: THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN. Illustrated by Jeffery Weatherford

ALSC Notables for Older Readers (Association for Library Service to Children, American Library Association)

Kirkus Reviews Best Middle Grade Verse

NCTE Best Verse Novels (National Council of Teachers of English)

New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading & Sharing

Fuse 8 Productions Best Poetry Books for Kids

Nonfiction Detectives Best Nonfiction Books

CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison)


FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE. Illustrated by Gregory Christie

Caldecott Honor Medal

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor

Charlotte Zolotow Award (for picture book text, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

ALSC Notables for all ages (Association for Library Service to Children, American Library Association)

Illustrators Society Original Art Show

School Library Journal Best Nonfiction Books of 2016

Horn Book Fanfare

NCTE Best Poetry Books of 2016 (National Council of Teachers of English)

New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading & Sharing

Washington Post Best Children’s Books of 2016

New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2016

Huffington Post Most Powerful Picture Book of the Year honor

Center for Study of Multicultural Literature Best Books of 2016

Chicago Public Library Best Informational Books for Younger Readers

CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Capitol Choices





Books for Beautiful Brown Girls

25 Nov

A few months ago, I compiled a book list for Young Black Princes. Here is a companion list for Beautiful Brown Girls. Most are biographies of strong sisters  who distinguished themselves  despite adversity.

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century

Oprah: The Little Speaker

Michelle Obama: First Mom

Becoming Billie Holiday

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins

Birmingham, 1963



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?