Emily’s friend Tina won’t play with her anymore. Tina’s mother told her to stay away from Emily. Atian was always proud of following school rules, but now he’s in trouble all the time. Rashid is angry with his mom. She broke another law and had to go back to jail. Emily, Atian, Rashid and others in Far Apart, Close in Heart, are typical of more than 2.7 million children in the United States with a parent in jail or prison. This picture book addresses common feelings and questions about having an incarcerated parent, and offers suggestions for coping and thriving. Far Apart, Close in Heart: Being a Family when a Loved One Is Incarcerated includes an afterword by Ann Adalist-Estrin, director of the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated. An author’s note offers additional suggestions for parents, caregivers, teachers and counselors, and a list of internet resources. Learn more.
My award-winning picture books Grandmama’s Pride and Lucky Beans are historical fiction stories about African American families. These books are enjoyed by both teachers and children. The books’ subjects tie in with many classroom themes, and each book includes an historical note at the end. But they are also good stories. Even though they are set during difficult times in history, the children and families of these stories find ways to triumph. Grandmama’s Pride and Lucky Beans are based on true events that really happened in my family.
It is 1956 and Sarah Marie, her mama, and her little sister are traveling by bus to spend summer vacation with Grandmama down South. From the moment they set foot on the bus, things are different from the way they are at home. Sarah Marie is going to learn to read this summer, and when she does, she will find out why things are so different in the South. Grandmama’s Pride is a story based on memories of visiting the south before and during the civil rights era. Grandmama’s Pride is my first book for children, and is illustrated by Colin Bootman. Learn more.
It is the 1930s, and like many other workers during the Great Depression, Marshall Loman’s dad has lost his job. There’s not enough money, and there are too many beans. Ma cooks beans for supper every single night! Marshall is tired of eating beans. But maybe if he puts together Ma’s knowledge of beans with the lessons he’s learning in arithmetic (math) class, they can guess how many beans are in the big jar and win the contest. Lucky Beans is based on true stories that my father and paternal Grandmother told me, and is illustrated by Nicole Tadgell. Learn more.
Books for Adults
My writing for adults includes two collections of short fiction and a volume of poetry. Although they are not currently in print, you can find copies through bookstores or in public libraries. Many of my short stories and poems can also be found in anthologies.