Today, I continue my celebration of Black children’s book creators around the Triangle and state. I was planning to make this the final installment. But there are so many outstanding authors and illustrators that I’m creating a part III. Learn about the wonderful creators below, check out their work and stay tuned for one more salute.
Celebrated for her paintings, murals and sculptures, Dare Coulter is shining in a new field – children’s book illustration. She lent her talent to three books including the beautiful My NC from A to Z written by Michelle Lanier, director of NC Division of State Historic Sites. Dare’s mission? “My hope is to leave behind a body of work that accomplished my primary artistic objective, which is to give life to large and unapologetic depictions of black joy.” Learn more about Dare at www.darecoulter.com.
Author of inspiring picture book biographies like TickTock: Banneker’s Clock, named a best STEM book by the Children’s Book Council, and Bread for Words: A Frederick Douglass Story, Shana Keller says she has a passion for history and storytelling. One of her favorite quotes is from Benjamin Banneker: “Every day is an adventure in learning.” Learn more about Shana at www.shanakeller.com.
Award-winning cartoonist, NAACP History Maker recipient and inspiration for the Hulu show Woke, Keith Knight’s art has been featured in publications around the globe including The Washington Post, Ebony and ESPN the Magazine. He is the illustrator of the acclaimed Jake the Fake middle-grade series written by Craig Robinson. Learn more about Keith at www.kchronicles.com
The director of the N.C. Division of State Historic Sites and the first executive director of the NC African American Heritage Commission (NCAAHC), Michelle Lanier is a folklorist, historian, educator and preservationist. Her debut children’s book, My N.C. from A to Z, illustrated by Dare Coulter (see above) showcases the amazing history of our state. “This colorful, sturdy board book celebrates pride of place, creates connections to North Carolina’s rich African American heritage, and teaches children about human equality and social justice,” reads the description on the NCAAHC website. Learn more about Michelle at www.ncdcr.gov/about/leadership/michelle-lanier.
An award-winning young adult author, Christopher Ledbetter says he’s drawn to stories of transformation. He hopes readers feel strength and hope in his books. “I continue to write because I see it as an avenue to inspire and uplift. And, because the stories refuse to stop springing into my mind and demanding to be written.” he says on his website. His imaginative novels include Drawn, Inked, The Sky Throne and his latest, The High Court. Learn more about Chris at www.cdledbetter.com.
Kwame Mbalia hit the scene with a splash. His freshman middle-grade novel, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, won a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award. And that’s not all. He’s a New York Times bestseller whose follow up, Tristan Strong Destroys the World, earned multiple starred reviews like his debut. Look for his upcoming novel, Last Gate of the Emperor, written with Prince Joel David Makonnen, in May. Learn more about Kwame at https://kwamembalia.com/.
A speculative fiction YA author, executive editor and creator of Georgia McBride Media Group, she has published dozens of titles by authors around the country. Jonathan Maberry, author of Flesh & Bone and Rot & Ruin, said this of Georgia’s own novel, Praefatio: “This is teen fantasy at its most entertaining, most heartbreaking, most compelling. Highly recommended.” Learn more about Georgia at www.georgiamcbride.com.
LaRonda Gardner Middlemiss
A former engineer, LaRonda Gardner Middlemiss fell under the spell of picture books through her son. Savoring stories with him called her to write books of her own. Kirkus called her debut title, I Love Me! illustrated by Beth Hughes: “A celebratory proclamation of ultra-inclusive self-love.” LaRonda dreams of illustrating her own books one day. Learn more about her at www.iscribeisketch.com.
Johnny Ray Moore
His poignant board book biography, The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr., has sold more than 100,000 copies. Johnny Ray Moore is an accomplished songwriter, greeting card writer, poet and children’s book author. His titles include Howie Has a Stomachache, A Leaf, Silence Please, Anthill for Sale, So Many Questions. Learn more about Johnny at www.johnnyraymoore.com.