Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The 28 Days Trifecta

The Nerdy Book Club, Colby Sharp, and I are celebrating 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World. We hope you will use this important and inspiring nonfiction book in your classrooms, libraries, and homes. 

I wrote the words in black, and Shane W. Evans wrote the words in green. Thank you, Shane! 

Charles R. Smith Jr and I are SUPER excited about this collaboration. 28 Days is a vision that we all shared about expanding the idea of history to “our-story” everyday. We see this as a way to break beyond the boundary of time and really get back to stories that encourage us all 365 days of the year.

Illustration Credit: Shane W. Evans
Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, and Mother are SUPERWOMEN--- I have been doing a series of characters that sparked the idea of for this book called Oluizumz. Taking these SHEROS and making their character be a face we want to wear:

To me these sheros are reminders that we should look around us and see the faces of these amazing people in the faces that are around us today. They are here to continue to inspire us.

Illustration Credit: Shane W. Evans. 

I created the illustrations for 28 Days in a dream… Yes… part of it took place night after night on the art table… but MOST of it takes place in my rest. There were days making this book where I would wake up in the middle of the night and just start working. It took me almost a year to see all of the pages come to life and EVERY color and EVERY stroke was intentional. It was a labor of love that is an honor to these people’s legend for us all to celebrate and remember.

Illustration Credit: Shane W. Evans
If you visited my studio you would see that I am a member of a community. You would see a place that has inspired its own HASTAG #thatKCstarWall and brings people from all around the community to be reminded to “dream…. You would see a door that is truly unique to Kansas City with a handle made by an artist right here in this community. (George Rousis Metal artist) You would find a place where the doors would open to community in a unique way and close when they needed to so that the artist could hear himself think. You would find… dream…
Favorite moments:

Black History Month is every month I asked a group of 100 plus people at CLNE “What month has 28 days…” and without missing a beat the group replied “all of them…” black history is all of the worlds history it is all encompassing because it is about all of us. It is something that inspires a spirit in us to “DO” it is a mission and an honor… it is the story of greatness.

Picture books are golden gems from heaven… But really they are. I am honored to be a part of this unique way of telling stories and it is an honor to have been a voice in this world of publishing even if only for a moment. To say that I have had a hand in over 30 books is a testament to my 5 year old self that simply loved crayons, paper and picture books. I have been studying them for years…

Reading is fundamental (Fun- this is the part we miss) it is the rhythm in words and the expression of tone… Some children have a hard time with this because they don’t have something they want to read about, I hope I have brought something FUN to the table. (da--- what children (adults too) say when they want to make a point or be annoying). (mental --- if you read the wrong book you might close this part of you but when you read the RIGHT book OH what a wonderful day.)

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me my favorite album and why…? OK… GOOD QUESTION… “Songs in the Key of Life” By Stevie Wonder (why?) GOOD QUESTION… well I don’t know to be honest. Maybe because of the stories and the time in my life when those stories were being told. Maybe it is the cover of the album that has Stevie’s head in these super cool rings of fire. Maybe it is the fact that I just saw him perform the whole album in Seattle and was so "re-inspired" by the same music that I listened to when I was 8 years old. So many good
reasons. Thanks for that Mr. Schu!

"As I began my research for the twenty-eight subjects, I made a point of including some of the names I came across on my own that inspired me, like Guy Bluford, the first black astronaut. As a kid and throughout high school, I wanted to be an astronaut, and when I found out a black man had gone into space, it let me know that I could possibly do the same. Other names like Henry Johnson, Needham Roberts, and Robert Smalls were names I had never heard of until I came across their stories through research. "-Charles R. Smith |Click here to read the entire essay.

Please visit Colby's blog to read his interview with Charles R. Smith.

Illustration Credit: Shane W. Evans 

Borrow 28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.

1 comment:

  1. I cannot wait to see this book! Thank you for posting such a timely post. The illustrations look incredible. And yes, Black History Month is Every Month.