Cover Reveal! Not Done Yet: Shirley Chisholm’s Fight for Change by Tameka Fryer Brown; Illustrated by Nina Crews
It's Women's History Month and today we are happy to reveal the cover of a new picture book about the trailblazing icon Shirley Chisholm!
Not Done Yet: Shirley Chisholm's Fight for Change is written by KidLit in Color author Tameka Fryer Brown and illustrated by Nina Crews. It will be released on November 1, 2022 by Millbrook Press.
Lisa Stringfellow talked with Tameka and Nina about their book, which was edited by Carol Hinz and designed by Danielle Carnito and Nina Crews.
Lisa: Thank you Tameka and Nina for sharing your gorgeous new book with us. Tameka, can you share how this wonderful story came to be?
Tameka: In 2017, author Kristy Dempsey alerted me to the tweet of a certain editor who had requested a picture book manuscript on Shirley Chisholm. At the time, though I knew it was an outstanding idea, I was convinced that fictional stories were my lane. Still, every now and again I would think about it, what my approach might be if I were to make the attempt. Two years later, after reading her autobiography, reviewing other books and articles, and watching hours of video footage, I felt like I knew and understood Mrs. Chisholm much more intimately. I focused on channeling her no-nonsense, can-do spirit, and that’s when I finally figured out how to enter the story.
While I was apprehensive about writing nonfiction at first, I’m so glad I decided to give it a try. I am exceptionally proud of this book.
Lisa: Nina, tell us about about the art in the book! What was your inspiration for the cover? What was the process you used in developing your ideas?
Nina: Tameka’s wonderful writing and Shirley Chisholm herself were the inspiration for this image. The cover is always the last illustration to be created. This is good, because by the time I get to it, I’ve got the overall look of the book figured out. This is the first non-fiction book that I have illustrated, and I began by combing the internet for images of Shirley to use as reference. Her energy, intelligence, passion, and humor really shine in those photographs. My challenge was to reflect that in my digital collage illustrations.
The cover is a collaboration with the art director and editor, and we went through a bunch of ideas. First the art director sent me some suggestions. Then I sent back a few ideas of my own. We knew the image needed to reflect how Shirley Chisholm used her voice to fight for change. This is a central theme of this book. Each exchange brought new thoughts about what image to use and how to design the title type. The finished illustration is based on sample art I created to be considered for this project. What a delight to have my first response to Tameka’s manuscript transform into the final cover art!
Lisa: And here is what we've been waiting for! Cover reveal time!
Lisa: Tameka, what were your thoughts when you first saw the cover?
Tameka: I thought, Oh my goodness! This is GORGEOUS! I love it so much! WOW! I love it, I love it, I love it!!
That’s pretty much an exact transcription of my thoughts…the first time I saw it and all the times I’ve looked at it afterwards. I couldn’t be happier with Nina’s art, both on the cover and the interior spreads. Nina’s passion for Mrs. Chisholm—her character, her impact, and her legacy—shine through in every illustration. The bright colors and bold graphic design channel Mrs. Chisholm’s spirit perfectly. It’s the type of cover that will grab a kid’s attention. I absolutely love it.
Lisa: And Nina, now that we’ve seen your beautiful work, can you share any advice for aspiring illustrators?
Nina: Get inspired! Spend time looking at other illustrators’ work. If you’re interested in creating books, dedicate some time to reading picture books cover to cover in your local bookstore or library. Pay attention to blogs and follow folks you admire on social media. Remember that there’s a lot more out there than gets shelf space at the major bookstore chains.
And be sure to play! The best work we make comes from the joy we bring to it. So, look for ways to find joy in your practice. Experiment! I’ve found that ideas I play around with can show up in paying projects down the road. The time taken to explore new ideas is never wasted and keeps me inspired.
Lisa: Tameka, what would you like everyone to know about this picture book?
Tameka: Not Done Yet: Shirley Chisholm’s Fight for Change is written as a narrative free verse poem with themes and details that are accessible to younger and older readers alike. The back matter, including an extensive timeline and a diverse list of additional resources, make it the perfect book for all ages to learn about this trailblazing icon. Between the lyrical text and the vivid illustrations, Not Done Yet is both educational and captivating, which makes it a worthwhile title for every collection.
I truly love this book. I hope you will too.
Lisa: Thank you Tameka and Nina for sharing the inspiration and work behind your upcoming book!
Not Done Yet: Shirley Chisholm's Fight for Change will be released on November 1, 2022 from Millbrook Press and is available for pre-order from Bookshop, Amazon, and other retailers.
We are happy to reveal the cover of KidLit in Color author Valerie Bolling's new picture book, Ride, Roll, Run, which will be published on October 4, 2022 by Abrams. Fellow KidLit in Color author Aya Khalil interviewed Valerie about her book. With sparse text—the book has only 30 words—Valerie has kept her responses to my questions brief, as well.
What does the cover say?
First of all, shout-out to Sabrena Khadija for the amazing illustrations! Doesn’t she have such a beautiful, unique style?
The cover says Community, Diversity, and Joy, which is evident in all of my books. I hope people also feel the characters’ energy and excitement that emanates from the cover.
Why should folks read this book?
Ride, Roll, Run will be a walk down Memory Lane for adults, and children will enjoy seeing activities that they like to play.
I hope people will have fun with the cadence of the rhyme and be inspired to do something fun after reading the book – realizing the possibilities for frolic that surround them daily.
And here is our cover reveal!
Together We Ride (illustrated by Kaylani Juanita and published by Chronicle) will release on April 26, 2022. Next year, there will be sequels to Together We Ride and Ride, Roll, Run, as well as my Scholastic early reader series.
Currently, I’m revising my first chapter book and hoping to get the series published.
Valerie Bolling's debut, Let's Dance! (SCBWI Crystal Kite Award winner and Connecticut Book Award finalist), was published in 2020, and she’s happy to welcome Together We Ride (illustrated by Kaylani Juanita) and Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! (illustrated by Sabrena Khadija) in 2022. Sequels to these books as well as a Scholastic early reader series (illustrated by Kai Robinson) are slated for 2023.
Valerie has been an educator for almost 30 years, teaches classes at Westport Writers Workshop, and is a WNDB mentor. She is deeply immersed in the kidlit writing community, particularly involved with SCBWI, the 12X12 Picture Book Challenge, and Black Creators HeadQuarters.
We are happy to reveal the cover of KidLit in Color author Kaitlyn Wells's new picture book, A Family Looks Like Love, which will be published on May 31, 2022 by Penguin Random House. Fellow KidLit in Color author Lisa Stringfellow interviewed Kaitlyn about her book.
Lisa: What were your thoughts when you first saw the cover?
Kaitlyn: First, all credit goes to my wonderful illustrator, Sawyer Cloud, who did a beautiful job honoring my vision for this book. She breathed life into these characters and imbued warmth and love from the very first page. As for the cover itself, I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s simplistic and refined. By focusing on the characters sans a distracting background, the reader is subconsciously reminded that love—that invisible yet tangible element—is all around. Even if you can’t see love, you feel its presence when you’re surrounded by those who care the most about you.
Lisa: What would you like everyone to know about A Family Looks Like Love?
Kaitlyn: I wrote A Family Looks Like Love from the broken pieces of my heart. It wasn’t easy discussing race as a biracial kid who grew up surrounded by people who “don’t see color” or only see color. Sometimes I felt like I had to accept other people’s assumptions about who I was and who my family should be. I felt silenced in order to make room for the louder (and fallacious) voices in the room. And when I did speak up, it hardly led to acceptance. On easier days, people assumed I was lying when I pointed to the white woman in the room as my mother. On harder days, my extended family decided it wasn’t worth knowing their Black relatives, and refused to shake my hand in greeting. And as a little girl, I found myself looking for ways to fit into the mold these people told me I needed to be in to gain their acceptance.
It’s taken a long time to realize I didn’t do anything wrong—their shortsightedness was the toxicity destroying my self esteem. Still, no one should have to go through that experience. A Family Looks Like Love reminds every young reader (and even young readers at heart) that what other people say about who you are and who your family should be is irrelevant. The only perspective that matters is your own. And it’s normal (and amazing!) for no two families to look exactly the same. I learned these lessons and more from my parents and friends who reminded me that love transcends skin color (or, in this case, fur color). I hope anyone who picks up A Family Looks Like Love feels empowered to shed any notions of self-hate, and embrace only the goodness that surrounds them.
Lisa: If a bookseller were hand-selling A Family Looks Like Love, what might they say to a potential reader?
Kaitlyn: A Family Looks Like Love is a heartwarming tale about a young pup who looks different from her doggy siblings, and has to work through her own feelings with inadequacy when other animals in the neighborhood doubt her legitimacy because of her appearance. A Family Looks Like Love reminds everyone that there’s more than one way for a family to look, and the more diversity, the better. While the inspiration for this book was based on the author’s experiences growing up mixed race, the message is meant for anyone who’s been told their family isn’t their own. All are welcomed and loved, no matter if your household includes adopted kids, multiracial parents, a single dad, two moms, multiple generations, non-traditional members—or all of the above!
And here is our cover reveal!
Lisa: Kaitlyn, please finish the following sentence starters:
Sutton Button… looks like my own little dog named Sutton, who doesn’t resemble her littermates either! Genetics, even in the doggy kingdom, can be wild!
Did you know… the flowering tree in the story is an apple tree?
Families are… beautiful, no matter what they look like. Family is the home you can always return to; the journal that knows your most embarrassing secrets; the light on your darkest days; and the heart that always beats for you.
You should have asked me…what I’m writing next! I have so many stories inside of me, especially stories full of joy. I’m working on picture books about a Black viral immunologist who saves the world (true story!), a sassy cat (hey, my cat Tanzie needs her own book too!), and a little girl just hoping to make her mother smile on one of her darkest days. I just hope I get to see these books in readers’ hands one day!
Lisa: Kaitlyn, thank you so much for sharing your cover on our blog today. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Kaitlyn: I’d love to stay in touch with readers. People can join my mailing list, and connect with me on social media.
Lisa: Thank you again, Kaitlyn!
Kaitlyn Wells is an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, among others. Her commentary on diverse literature can be found in The New York Times Book Review, BookPage, and Diverse Kids Books. Bring her chocolate or ask about her pets to become fast friends. A Family Looks Like Love is her debut children’s book. She lives in New York City with her wonderful husband, rambunctious dog, and demanding cat.
You can learn more about Kaitlyn at https://kaitwells.com.
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