Introducing Denene Millner Books, my new line of black children’s books!
Oh, I know, I know—I’m not right. I disappear from blogging for a couple of months without nary a word outside of the occasional social media post, and then I come back like KABOOM, LOOK WHO STEPPED IN THE ROOM! But I have a good reason: I’ve been writing and planning and plotting, and up to all kinds of good. While I was away, I was penning two celeb memoirs—one for Cookie Johnson, wife of Earvin “Magic Johnson,” the other for The Truth, The Legend, Taraji P. Henson. I was thinking up new ways to love on this here MyBrownBaby. And yes, I was putting the final touches on the introduction of Denene Millner Books, my new children’s book imprint, in partnership with the incredible Agate Publishing.
I’m so excited about this new venture, I barely know what to do with myself!
It’s no secret how I feel about Black children’s books: I write them, I collect them, I think they’re incredibly valuable and important, and I love them. I love them so hard. Always have, but that love became so much more urgent when I got pregnant with my girlpies and wanted desperately to surround them with music, art and books that reflect who they are—who we are. The essence of the beauty of us. Finding children’s books featuring Black characters was a challenge back then—1999, so long ago. They were there, sure, but always in short supply. I looked high and low and found some, though: I discovered books by authors Walter Dean Meyers, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Ezra Jack Keats and Vera B. Williams, and eventually added some incredible favorites to the collection, including Nikki Giovanni’s “The Sun Is So Quiet,” Faith Ringgold’s “Tar Beach,” Debbie Allen’s “Dancing In the Wings,” Jacqueline Woodson’s “We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past.” What I’ve always loved about those specific books is their ability to shine a light on our babies and their everyday lives. There’s no focus on Civil Rights icons. No big-ups for famous jazz singers or sports figures. No nods to slavery. The stories are just good ol’ fashioned tales about the every day lives of little human beings with brown skin.
It is that which will be the focus of Denene Millner Books. My imprint is a love letter to children of color who deserve to see their beauty and humanity in the most remarkable form of entertainment on the planet: books. I’m so grateful that Agate Publishing and its fearless leader, Doug Seibold, opened the door, committing not only to fulfilling my dream of writing and editing books for African American children and young people, but also to embracing my vision of books that consider the everyday wonders of their lives.
The first offering from Denene Millner Books will be “Early Sunday Morning,” a children’s picture book written by moi and illustrated by award-winning illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton. “Early Sunday Morning” will be the first of four books published next year.
Of course, you’ll be able to read all about my new imprint and the books we’ll be publishing right here on MyBrownBaby. And I’ll be offering up some exciting opportunities for authentic connections with our books and authors as we step forward into the sun, ready to celebrate the beauty and humanity of brown babies.
Can you stand it?!
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.