My daughter Mari was just a little peanut in my belly when I gave her her first gift copies of Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day, Faith Ringold's Tar Beach, and More More More Said the Baby, by Vera B. Williams. They were and still are! beautiful books with incredible stories about the simplicity of a little brown boy and his dog enjoying a cold, winter day; about a little brown girl's love of New York City and a party with the neighbors on the rooftop of her apartment building and; about a multiracial cast of toddlers getting smoochie hugs and kisses from their adult loved ones. It was important to me as a mom-to-be to surround my daughter with books works that would spark her imagination and encourage her to dream. Just as important to me was that those books feature characters that look like her so that she could see herself in those stories and know that brown babies' lives are worthy of documentation their culture worthy of celebration.

Mari is 10 now, and she's a wicked little book lover she rips through one chapter book per day and I know this is so because she's been taught since the womb to revere the written word and the authors who share them. For years, we gave books as birthday presents to all her friends I think we've single-handedly purchased and given at least a dozen copies of Debbie Allen's Dancing in the Wings, and A Snowy Day, and Tar Beach and we've amassed a serious collection of children's books that we treasure.

Indeed, the gift of reading is transformative, and to kick off the first annual MyBrownBaby Happy for the Holidays Giveaway Week, some of my author and illustrator friends graciously donated AUTOGRAPHED copies of their books for the incredible collection of children's books in the picture above. Included in this 18-book, $200+ gift package are:

Olu's Dream, by Shane Evans. My girls and I are HUGE fans of Evans' work; he's the artist whose illustrated more than 25 books, including the gorgeous girl pie faces in our personal favorites: Home Made Love, by bell hooks, Jean Marzallo's Shanna series, and; My Brother, Charlie, an upcoming picture book I wrote with Holly Robinson Peete. But these days, Shane is all about Olu's Dream, a new series he wrote and illustrated, about a little boy who dreams B-I-G! Olu and his Oluizms are absolutely addictive. In addition to Olu's dream, Shane autographed No More! Stories and Songs of Slave Resistance, a picture book he illustrated for author Doreen Rappaport.


March On!, The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World, illustrated by London Ladd. London is an astounding artist who made his book debut with the impressive Christine King Farris-penned March On! the definitive tribute to her brother, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the march and speech that changed our nation. A video rendition of the book, featuring London's illustrations and performed by Lynn Whitfield, recently won a prestigious 2009 Andrew Carnegie Medal. His next project, Oprah: The Little Speaker, will be in stores March 2010. In addition to March On!, London autographed a poster portrait of President Barack Obama.


The Ruby and the Booker Boys series, by Derrick Barnes. I. Super. Heart. Derrick. Barnes. Period. With seven books to his credit, he marched right into my heart when he introduced the super spunky, super smart, super fly cutie pie lil' Ruby to the world. The series is absolutely adorable (see my review HERE), but even more, Derrick is just a good brother. We're FaceBook friends, and on his page, he's always singing the praises of his college sweetheart/beautiful wife and their three breathtakingly gorgeous sons (see Derrick's MBB Father of the Month profile HERE), which just makes me love him more. Who wouldn't love a man strong enough to father three boys, but tender enough to breathe life into the perfectly delicious Ruby? In addition to Ruby and the Booker Boys: Brand-new School, Brave New Ruby, Trivia Queen, 3rd Grade Supreme, and Ruby Flips for Attention, Derrick autographed two of his earlier works, Stop, Drop, and Chill, and The Low-Down, Bad-Day Blues.


Catwalk, by Deborah Gregory. The cheetalicious author of the bestselling Disney franchise The Cheetah Girls has a new amazing series Catwalk, about a foursome of friends who work together to rip the runway with their own fashion line, the House of Pashmina. Wake up and smell the catnip! The second in the Catwalk series, Strike a Pose, hit bookshelves in September, and further proof that Deborah is on her grind, Catwalk has been optioned by Teen Nick network for a TV series, with Deborah attached as the executive producer and co-writer of the pilot episode. Work, Deborah! In addition to Catwalk, Deborah autographed a Cheetah Girls poster and donated a Cheetah Girls t-shirt and a picture of The Cheetah Girls, autographed by the four stars of the best-selling TV movie series.


Boycott Blues, Peggony-Po: A Whale of a Tale, Jackie's Bat, We Are One, and Abraham Lincoln: Letters from a Slave Girl, written and/or illustrated by Andrea and Jerry Pinkney. This celebrated husband-and-wife team is downright iconic, and their books were quickly added to Mari's burgeoning collection when she was a baby. Even when books featuring black characters were at a premium, it was the Pinkneys she writes, he illustrates who dedicated their careers to bringing great stories about African Americans to the bookshelves. Biographies, fairy tales, sweet stories about friendship, tall tales about little boys and whales, real-to-life stories about Civil Rights icons you name it, the Pinkneys have done it, and with a style and grace I absolutely admire (see my review of Boycott Blues HERE and Andrea's MBB Mom of the Week profile HERE). They are, in a word, incredible. In addition to autographing the five books mentioned above, the Pinkneys donated Harlem Summer, by Walter Dean Myers; Sassy: Little Sister Is Not My Name, by Sharon Draper; Crow Call, by Lois Lowry, and The Sound of Kwanzaa, by Dimitrea Tokunbo.


WHEW! Is this the hook-up or what?! That's 18 books featuring characters and stories your child will flip for, with AUTOGRAPHS OF THE AUTHORS AND/OR ILLUSTRATORS! This is a $218 value, but the autographs of each of these rock stars is absolutely priceless, and would make an incredible holiday gift for the special children in your life. You absolutely cannot and will not find this gift anywhere but right here at the MyBrownBaby Happy for the Holidays giveaway. Want it? Here's your shot:


¢ Visit at least three of the authors' websites (though I encourage you to visit all of them!) and leave one comment telling me what you learned about each of them.

¢ Be/Become a MyBrownBaby follower.


¢ TWEET I just entered the @MyBrownBaby Happy for the Holidays giveaway for over $200 in autographed children's books”

¢ BLOG about this giveaway

¢ BUY one of the books featured in the giveaway, and email a copy of your confirmation order to (2 entries!)

¢ BECOME a MyBrownBaby email subscriber (you MUST verify your email subscription to qualify) OR get the MyBrownBaby RSS feed HERE (leave a comment letting me know you've done so, and include an email address so that I can contact you if you win).

¢ ADD my button to your blog

THIS CONTEST ENDS AT 11:59 P.M. on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2009. THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10th, 2009. It is open to residents in the continental U.S. and Canada.

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  1. OMG, Shane Evan's illustrations are amazing I plan to buy Bintou's Braids for my 3yo daughter. I would love to have him lecture at one of our J&J activities as he is so well traveled and would definitely excite the kids with his travels.

  2. Thanks Denene for these literary lessons. Another illustrator I was unfamiliar with until seeing your tweet. London Ladd was influenced by NC and Andrew Wyeth. His work is amazing also and I can't wait until Oprah the Little Speaker is available March 2010. I the the fact that he is giving back in his community through his after school arts program to bring art to inner city youth. Bravo, for him giving back in such a positive way!

  3. I'm so excited to have this Ruby and the Booker Boys for my 3yo daugther I want to run to Barnes & Nobles tomorrow. When I saw the illustration on the cover by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, I could see my little princess' face right away. I love the fact that Mr. Barnes created this character in his world of boys. Thank you so much for aspiring to bring your literary genius to print; I will forever be a fan. I love the fact that he defied the myth that we can offer the world more than our athletic prowess and rap skills.

  4. I am so excited about learning about these authors and illustrators I feel gitty. Andrea Pinkney remembers writing her first story in the 2nd grade. I think the one thing learned is the fact her mother was a teacher and her father a storyteller influenced her love of books. Her first published work was Alvin Ailey and what a great way to introduce my 9yo son to the plethora of awesome African Americans with great stories and histories.

  5. I love the FAQs included on his sight his favorite food is Thai, favorite color is Indigo Blue, favorite time of day is midnight. I love Mr. Pinkney's talent as both author and illustrator. I also appreciate the husband-wife team as he illustrates for his wife's books. I want to purchase Hush Little Baby and Sleeping Cutie as soon as possible. I love all books related to bedtime as this is the time of day when me and the kids get to really bond. I am just in awe with the level of talent featured in his books, paintings and sketches.

  6. Already follow your blog.

  7. I have your button on my blog.

  8. OMG! Can I just tell you that I LAUGHED OUT LOUD when I read your comment on my blog for the Handbad Heaven giveaway?! You are hilarious, I had to check you out! How awesome is your blog?! This is another reason I love performing reviews/giveaways, it gives me the oppotunity to meet new bloggers!

    Looking forward to blogging with you! 🙂

  9. ok, first, let me say WOW to all these great books! snowy day is sofia's fav book right now! and i have never seen the "ruby" books by derrick, but i am thrilled to see them! and just in time for christmas! how exciting!!!!

    ok, i visited derrick's site and first, i love that he loves his doctor wife and 3 boys…but that he is seeing his dreams come true in writing even though he didn't know that was his dream! awesome! love that! and thanks for the opp here girl!

  10. Thanks for the opportunity & good luck to everyone!

    I visited Deborah Gregory's site first, I admit I'm a little partial to her. Let me explain. I was writing a paper for an English course and sent an email to her and she responded. I got an "A" on my paper. 🙂 Since then – 2 yrs. ago – I have subscribed to her website. However, I didn't know she posed nude for Marc Batiste. You go girl!

    Secondly, I visited London Ladd's website. OMG! I am so looking forward to March 2010. I didn't know he desired to open his own art academy. As schools cut back on the arts, how awesome it would be to be taught by the one & only, London Ladd.

    Finally, I visited Derrick Barnes site. I NEVER knew he didn't have any daughters. You'd never know it by the way he writes about Ruby's adventures & oh yes, she has some outrageous adventures. She's a handful.

    Good luck to everyone!

  11. I re-tweeted "I just entered the @MyBrownBaby Happy for the Holidays giveaway for over $200 in autographed childrens books"

  12. Lastly…I follow your blog!

  13. This is such a great giveaway, as my kids love books, I mean LOVE BOOKS and better yet the books are of the likes of them!! Even better is that my husband's name is Olu and my kids names have the "'olu" name in their names as well.

    Shane W. Evans ~ is the award-winning illustrator of many children's books, including No More! by Doreen Rappaport, Bintou's Braids by Sylviane A. Diouf, and Homemade Love by Bell Hooks. Mr. Evans lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

    Derrick Barnes ~ one of the brightest, and most creative new voices in children's lit and is from Kansas City and Created the Ruby and the Booker Boys series.

    Deborah Gregory ~ Is a Writer, performer and designer Deborah Gregory is the award-winning author of "The Cheetah Girls" novel series (Disney Publishing Worldwide). I didn't know she was behind the Cheetah Girls for Disney.

  14. Olu's dream is being used in DC schools (thank goodness for all the help that system can get). The Ruby series has been around since '08, but I'm just now hearing about them. Thanks for the exposure. I love nonfiction, but I've never heard of Pinkney. I will definitely be picking up her works on Alvin Ailey and Benjamin Bannekar this week!

  15. I'm an email subscriber of your blog (brownatural at gmail dot com).

  16. I follow.

  17. I added your button to my blog!!

    I still have my fingers crossed!!! One of the best giveaways, are books for kids!!

  18. Thanks for such a wonderful giveaway. I visited Shane Evans website and learned Olu's Dream was adopted by DC schools & Became a model for teaching, very nice. I also visited London Ladd Studios and learned that Most of his work is created with acrylic paint in his studio.
    And lastly, I visited Derrick Barnes website and learned that he has three boys just like I do 🙂

  19. Teresha@Marlie and Me

    I am so geeked about this giveaway as proud bookworm and a new mama trying to build her daughter's library!

    Fist, I visited Shane Evans' page and learned that he worked on "Olu's Dream" for 10 years.

    Second, I visited Derrick Barnes page and learned that in 1999 he was the he first African-American man hired as a staff copywriter by Hallmark Cards

    Third, I visited Deborah Gregory and learned that she has also launched her company, CHEETAHRAMA, offering her original designs including hand-crafted decoupage art cases and hair accessories.

  20. Teresha@Marlie and Me

    email subscriber

  21. Teresha@Marlie and Me

    I have your blog button scrolling on my sidebar

  22. Being a book lover — particularly those by African American authors – as well as the mother of three brown babies, I thought that there would not be too much that I dont know about this stellar cast of authors and illustrators. But I was wrong:

    Andrea Davis Pinkney was born under the sign of Libra — Libras RULE 🙂

    Brian Pinkney has written and illustrated two books that I must get for my little brown superhero boy: Cosmo and the Robot and The Adventures of Sparrowboy.

    As the mother of two Cheetah Girl fanatics, I had no idea that Deborah Gregorys jiggy jungle was “the magical place that exists inside every dangerous, scary, crowded city. It's that place where dreams really do come true”, but my girls did!

    Over the Thanksgiving vacation, my fifth grader wrote a 24-page story about a girl named Selina. Derrick Barnes – whom we are big fans of – wrote his first story when he was in the fifth grade!

    London Ladd is new to me. I learned that much of his work is informed by his multiracial heritage.
    Shane Evans collaborated with Shaquille ONeal on the book, “Shaq and the Beanstalk and Other Very Tall Tales.”

    Already a huge fan and follower of the BrownBaby and have “pubbed” it on my Facebook page.

  23. Thank you for this post and all the wonderful recommendations! We recieved "The Snowy Day" as a gift right after our son was born and it's a favorite. I will definitely be looking into purchasing several of the ones you have listed!

    Hoping to Adopt again

  24. So this is my second post..I didn't realize the first time that I read your post that there was a contest involved!
    So here goes:
    I am a follower of your blog
    I subscribe through my email
    I will be posting your button on my blog
    I visited three of the authors/illustrators you had listed
    1. London Ladd- taught art at the Kuuma project as part of Syracuse University's South Side Initiative.
    2. Shane Evans- Had dreamed of opening his own studio since the age of 12. His book was 10 years in the making!
    3. Derrick Barnes- Became the first African American in the history of the Hallmark company to be hired as a staff copywright in 1999!
    Thanks again for the great post!

  25. Whoa awesome giveaway!! We love reading so this would be great to win.

    Evans-He has worked with many publishers like Disney's Jump at the Sun, Scholastic, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster

    Ladd- has also taught art at the Kuumba Project as part of the Syracuse University's South Side Initiative.

    Barnes-first attempt at writing a real story was in the fifth grade

    Andrea Pinkney-a self-taught African-American scientist and mathematician.

    Oh and I follow

  26. Shane has worked for Disney!!! haha, that stuck out to me cause I'm OBSESSED with Disney!

    Ladd is a BEAUTIFUL painter Holy Moly!! Love the Martin Luther King I March On book! The book is filled with vivid illustrations.

    Brian has been featured at the art studio in Chicago! Oh, and he kinda looks like Tiger Woods 😉

    Man, I will die if I win these! Spawnie will LOVE it!!!!! We need kids books!

  27. Tweeted!

  28. I have your button on my blog! 🙂

  29. Jennae @ Green Your Decor

    I am loving the ilustrations on the Ruby Booker series! It's not often we get to see little brown-skinned cutie pies on book covers, and my daughter NEEDS a taste of this! And Ruby Flips for Attention is perfect for my little wannabe cheerleader/gymnast, who loves to emulate her older nieces. I learned that Derrick Barnes has three sons, the youngest of whom is named Silas. I'd love to hear what they think of Ruby!

  30. Jennae @ Green Your Decor

    The catwalk series looks great! I never realized that Deborah Gregory was the author of The Cheetah Girls novels OR that is is a 22-book series. You go girl!

  31. Jennae @ Green Your Decor

    I learned that Shane Evans worked on Olu's Dream for 10 whole years! I know he must have felt like he reached the summit of the tallest mountain when he got it published! And to have it become a teaching model at a DC school had to be the icing on the cake.

    Thank you so much, Denene, for introducing me to all these authors and illustrators on their work. I know I'm better for it!

  32. I learned that Ladd wants to open his own art academy for inner city children (wouldn't that be great!). I also learned that Shane Evans conducts workshops that would be so educational to be able to attend and in conclusion, I learned that Andrea Pinkney is a mathmetician which is especially inspiring to teach my daughter that she too can excel in math!
    This is such an excellent collection of books. What a learning tool for my children's homeschool this would be. Thank you,

  33. I am an email subscriber…thanks!

  34. My daughter devours books. She is top in her 2nd grade class. I would LOVE to win these for her. Thanks for the chance.

  35. I learned Shane W. Evans will be in Arkansas on December 4th, Derrick Barnes lives with his family in Missouri, and Andrea Davis Pinkney won the Carter G. Woodson Award for her book Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters.

    I am a follower of My Brown Baby


  36. a wonderful gift for my school bus kids

  37. Andrea Davis Pinkney The first official story she remembers writing was in second grade — it was about her family.

    Shane W. Evans He has more than 30 books to his credit as an illustrator

    Deborah Gregory a foster child growing up in the New York City foster care system of which Gregory is also a survivor

    Derrick Barnes worked for Hallmark Cards for three years


  38. i follow your blog

    email subscriber


  39. This is an amazing giveaway. Thank you for hosting it! I learned that Lois Lowry grew up all over the world because her father was an Army Dentist, Walter Dean Myers was a high school drop-out and joined the army on his 17th birthday, and Sharon Draper has been honored by the White House six times.

    I am also a follower of your blog.

    — Chelsea S.

  40. Tweeted.

    — Chelsea S.

  41. Blogged about this giveaway.

    — Chelsea S.

  42. Im an email subscriber.

    — Chelsea S.

  43. I have your button.

    — Chelsea S.

  44. I learned that derrick barnes has 3 beautiful sons!

    I learned that Andrea Pinkney uses museums, libraries and interviews to research her books.

    I learned that London Ladd lives in Syracuse – I wish I had known him when I lived there!

    What a fantastic giveaway!

  45. Thanks so much for the contest. What an amazing opportunity. And some great ideas for the brown babies on my Christmas list.

    Visited all of the websites but here's some info on three:

    Shane Evans – Amazing that he talks about his Illustrations, Design, Paintings, Photography, Lectures on his site.

    London Ladd – He lives in New York. Goal is to one day open his own art academy for inner city children. (Love it!!)

    Andrea Davis Pinkney – During a recent interview she said, "It's so much fun! I can't believe people call it work…I write every single day because I love it so much." (You have to applaud that.)

    That's all. I already follow your blog. Of course!!

    ~ humps

  46. I just tweeted the giveaway:


  47. I added your button to my blog:

    ~ humps

  48. What an amazing giveaway- I am a HUGE fan of childrens books and especially ones they learn from! Onto what I learned…
    Shane Evans does school and library presentations that can be geared fr all ages! He also created the characters for Shanna's Show on Disney. I used to watch that with the kids I babysat for years cool to put a person with the show!
    Derrick Barnes creates characters for his books that usually aren't shown in a favorable light in pop culture. He also doesn't have a daughter. I LOVE that his school presentations include a book signing and prizes! His books look wonderful!
    Andrea Pikney writes about extraordinary African Americans. I love that the people she chooses to write about aren't obvious greats, but ones that would be somewhat unknown to children (and adults!)She pays extremely close attention to details and thoroughly researches whoever she is writing about!
    thanks again for the giveaway, these authors rock!

  49. I subscribe by email! thanks so much!

  50. It was fun learning how the character Ruby Marigold Booker is the daughter that author Derrick Barnes and his wife never had. That is so cute and a testament to just how much love he has for what he does and of what he wants to give to our children.

    Its very inspirational to know that Olu's Dream is an official textbook. That. Is. Huge. I am very sure that Mr. Evans is on top of the world.

    Having a 22-book series is impressive. I had no idea The Cheetah Girls had so many adventures! Deborah Gregory is definitely doing her thang!!

  51. I am a follower.

  52. I spot the My Brown Baby button on my blog.

  53. I am a follower, thanks

  54. RT again, I hope I can win these wonderful books:

  55. Shane Evans has illustrated books dealing with the topics of slave resistance and civil rights.
    London Ladd carries a sketchbook and his paints with him everywhere he goes constantly perfecting his craft. Derrick Barnes was a a campus newspaper advice columnist.

    I follow you.

  56. I subscribe to your feed.

  57. I learned that Shane Evans has spoken at many schools and events all over the country.

  58. Shane has worked for Disney.
    Evans has worked with many publishers like Disney.
    Derrick Barnes doesn't have a daughter.

  59. This is an amazing gift of a giveaway!

    Deborah Gregory-I learned that as a child she was a dreamer to hide the pain of growing up in foster care.

    Derrick Barnes-was the first African-American man to be a copywriter for the Hallmark company.

    Shane Evans-also handcrafts furniture and other goods as well as being an author and illustrator.

    Follow you on google

    melanieinaz2003 at yahoo

  60. button on my sidebar

  61. I am so sad I didn't make it! I was checking out the authors sites and realized that by the time I posted it was too late! boo hoo. Anyways, awesome giveaway. seriously!

  62. Dawn the Retired One

    I just came across you and too late for the book give away contest. But love the creative idea of your blog.

  63. Its very inspirational to know that Olu's Dream is an official textbook.great stuff thanks

    Pegasos World turkey

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