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Author Sighting: Nina Crews: Seeing Into Tomorrow

BOOK PARTY LAUNCH at City College Center for the Arts for Seeing into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright, by Nina Crews

Celebrated author, Richard Wright, wrote 4,000+ haiku? Yes. And, what's more: He wrote them in the final 18 months of his life! Turns out, the man who is among the world's most celebrated 20th-century writers, the man we know for BLACK BOY and NATIVE SON, was also a poet. And, it took a children's book illustrator and writer -- Nina Crews -- to introduce me to Wright, the poet, in her latest book SEEING INTO TOMORROW: HAIKU BY RICHARD WRIGHT

As you know, I've always believed that children's books are books for adults, as well. Last month, I witnessed the joy of many people, exploring SEEING INTO TOMORROW and Richard Wright's haiku at the book party launch, held at City College Center for the Arts, in Aaron Davis Hall. Gregory Shanck, who heads CCCA and hosted the book launch, agrees. He has stated that, “It's not just a children's book. It can be enjoyed by the entire family.”

Nina Crews Nina looks on as children create collages 600x450 IMG 9133 Photo Credit Luvon RobersonChildren enjoying making collages at the book launch event at City College for Seeing Into Tomorrow by Nina Crews. Photo Credit: Luvon Roberson

Indeed, at a fun-filled event, children, adults, and families created haiku and collages – working at tables stocked with tools to experiment with and to create. Young children, their parents, and other caregivers danced together, learning the rhythms and history of African drumming. And, Nina Crews read her book, whose memorable photo-collage illustrations were projected on a large screen. Each page seems to break out from the book, as if leaping into reality featuring the images of 12 young black and brown boys in nature and in-conversation, or so it seemed, with 12 haiku written by Richard Wright. My favorite:

“A spring sky so clear
That you feel you are seeing
Into tomorrow”

With SEEING INTO TOMORROW, her 14th book, Nina Crews has created a gorgeous, powerful, affirming book for all of us. My only regret? That my son is no longer a little boy who can see his image in a book that celebrates Richard Wright and haiku. Or, in reality, a book that celebrates creation, the act of creation in ordinary realities of life, which we can see every day in nature, in our world, all around us. Helping us, perhaps, to see little brown and black boys in our world, too.


 When my son was a child, he loved books about transportation. FREIGHT TRAIN, by Donald Crews, was a favorite. I was able to meet award-winning children's book author and illustrator Donald Crews at the book party launch. He is Nina Crews's father. Her mother, Ann Jonas, also was a children’s book illustrator and writer. For more on FREIGHT TRAIN, visit Amazon for more details.
 Check out Amazon for more details about SEEING INTO TOMORROW
 Of the 4,000+ haiku Wright wrote, 817 are published in HAIKU: THIS OTHER WORLD (1998).


SEA CREATURES FROM THE SKY, by Ricardo Cortes, New York Times #1 best-selling illustrator, isn't just another children's book. The story begins with a shark posing an existential question and it challenges readers of all ages to honor the voices of others and their lived experiences.

Yet, despite its cerebral themes, SCFTS is distinctly a children's book. The cadence of its rhyming and its luminous illustrations of ocean depths, as well as an expansive sky-to-universe stretching palette, will render a child's wonderment for learning about a world that is brand-new.

For parents and other adults, Cortes, the author, and illustrator of SCFTS, has created a book that is likely to spark new ways of knowing and seeing such wonder.

And, while the shark storyteller's "I " may not always be reliable, the shark "eye" helps us to see beyond, perhaps to a far greater truth. Cortes merely wants us to suspend logic and simply delight in the playfulness of words.

Published by Akashic Books
Publication date: 4.3.2018
Children's picture book/fiction (pre-school - Grade 2)
SEA CREATURES FROM THE SKY is available for purchase on Amazon

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A Conversation With Children’s Book Author Selma Jackson about Granny’s Helper

Selma Jackson, a 2015 Wheatley Book Awards Finalist, takes us on a much-needed journey


Do you have fond memories of heading South with your family as soon as the New York City school year ended every year? Memories of being surrounded by grandparents, cousins, extended family members? Of days filled with sunlight that seemed never to end? How about plump red tomatoes bursting with juice and seeds that you added a pinch of salt to, squeezed, and ate like apples? And, nights of catching June bugs, placing them in Mason jars, and watching them light up and dim, again and again, while huddling under your bed covers?

These are among the sweet childhood memories that Selma Jackson evokes in Granny's Helper, her debut book for children ages 8 to 11. But the book is filled with bittersweet memories, as well. Several unexpected twists and the harsh realities of racial discrimination are central to Granny's Helper.

Little Selma is unaware of the barriers her parents face because of discrimination against African-Americans, the precautions they are forced to take, and the creative strategies they devise to subvert the discrimination against themselves and their children. These bittersweet memories, of course, are held by the author, who recalls them as such only now, as she looks back through adult eyes at her childhood.

Granny's Helper tells Jackson's story of growing up in the 1950s by focusing on her grandmother's visits from the South every summer to stay with her family in New York City. This, of course, is the reverse of most summer visits in African-American families. It is during these visits that Little Selma learns many life lessons from her blind grandmother about helping others; how to read, write, and ask questions; and overcoming adversity.

Granny also helps Selma learn that although "Only boys who are named after their fathers are juniors....My father named me and your father named you." Selma discovers that -- like the boys in her family -- she, too, can share a special bond with her father through naming. Then, there are the visits the family would take every spring.

"We drove south to my parents' birthplaces of Georgia and Virginia every year between 1953 and 1958."

Little Selma would visit Granny in Hickory, Virginia; and here is how she in counterpoint to Adult Selma, the author of her story, experienced those trips South:

"My parents did not tell us that we could not use the rest stops, eat in the restaurants, or stay in hotels once we were south of Washington, DC, because of racial discrimination. Instead, we were made to feel that we were having a roadside picnic on our trip. If we had to use the bathroom we went in the woods, and we even spent the night at the home of a family in North Carolina on our way to Georgia!"

Granny's Helper offers middle-school readers the story of Little Selma through whom they can see and appreciate the important role that older members of their own families play in their lives as well as to recognize the challenging and unjust realities of the world around them. Ansel Pitcairn's illustrations have the look and feel of watercolor paintings, which enhance the easy, fluid flow of Little Selma's evolving understanding of her grandmother's unhurried yet powerful effect on shaping her into the adult she was to become. The book includes a Questions/Comments section that beginning readers of the 22-page book will find helpful.

Granny's Helper, published by the author, is a 2015 finalist in children's fiction for the Wheatley Book Awards, which opens the Harlem Book Fair in July.

Such affirming recognition of Jackson's book comes at a time when the publishing industry is being challenged to offer writers of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to tell their stories and to open pathways for editors, staff, publishers, and others to enter the industry.

#WeNeedDiverseBooks is a vital call which authors like Jackson not only issue but also heed. Yet, even in the face of exclusion, in an industry which is overwhelmingly white and male, Jackson and many other writers continue to tell stories about children of color -- for all children to read. Our children can only grow more fully and become more informed citizens when diversity in storytelling is valued and becomes a reality. For a list of diverse books for the children in your life, visit

Anita T. Gibbs -Creator of Superdaddies The Series™

Anita T. Gibbs' Book Series, "Superdaddies The Series™" Celebrates Fatherhood

anitagibbs author superdaddies book 2 pics 003 scaled 240x300Anita T. Gibbs is a seasoned sales professional, and the creator of "Superdaddies The Series™" of children's books that demonstrates that not all Dads are deadbeats. She was raised to believe in herself and her dreams. Inspired by her own father, as well as, raising her son as a single mom, Gibbs aspires to create a positive perception and motivation in the relationships between fathers and their children in this children's book series.

Gibbs defines SUPERDADDY as any man who deliberately mentors a child, and especially his own children. Gibbs provides a fresh look at children's stories that embrace the father-child relationship in a positive manner. With so many absent fathers across all classes, races and creeds alike, Gibbs believes that we need to revisit the ideals of our ancestors in order to

Gibbs strongly urges men to mentor young boys so that they clearly understand that:

Boys are students: Men are teachers -Boys ask questions: Men give answers -Boys run in gangs: Men organize teams -Boys play house: Men build homes -Boys shack up: Men get married -Boys make babies: Men raise children -A boy won't raise his own children: A man will raise his and somebody else's -Boys invent excuses for failure: Men produce strategies for success -Boys look for somebody to take care of them: Men look for somebody to take care of -Boys seek popularity: Men demand respect, so give it to them!!

Her freshman release in Nov. 2009, Daddy, I Broke My Snowball, was well received, as illustrated by the following editorial comment:

In times such as these, we need reminders about the fact that "quality" men and fathers do indeed exist, and how they provide security, love, and reassurance to their children. Daddy, I Broke My Snowball reminds us of the vast influence that committed fathers provide for their children, ESPECIALLY girls, as is depicted in this heart-warming story. Such simple things as building a "snow-woman" provide unique opportunities to bond and reinforce the sacredness of fatherhood; this is a touching example of how empowerment and self-esteem are cultivated in both boys and girls.

--Dr. Kathy A. Morrow, Clinical Psychologist

Anita Gibbs is very relevant in her approach as an author. Her style is refreshing and positive in exploring relationships. She is a talent on the rise. I strongly recommend her series for parents and professionals so that children can receive this gift. Her writings allow various subjects to be addressed in a non-threatening and enjoyable context with our youth. Reading Superdaddies The Series™ is a perfect vehicle to spend quality time with your children.

David Harris, MD
Child, adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist

The sophomore offering, Daddy, I Can Read It For You, is the story of a middle-aged divorced father of two who has a very "special" relationship with his gifted son and precocious 'tween' daughter. This Superdaddy only attended school through the eighth grade. He values healthy eating and the family's favorite; and his healthy guilty pleasure happens to be sweet potatoes.

The Superdaddies The Series™ of children's books are rated for Pre K-4.

  • Published in Authors
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