Childrens Books Can Make Parents Become Detectives

Have you ever read a book that touched you so much that you had to find the author and communicate your gratitude?

Children’s books can elicit the same response.

Children can love a book so much that parents reach out to authors. The Internet makes it easy to do so. Parents can find authors through their websites and social media platforms. Before the wide use of social media finding authors usually could only be done through sending letters to publishers. I have received letters from parents that were sent to publishers for me and I have received correspondence directly from parents who found my contact information on the Internet. I cherish the letters and I also cherish the immediacy of the contact through social media.

The following is a message I received from a parent in Los Angeles who located me through social media.

“My daughter and I just finished reading When Grandmama Sings and it started a discussion about segregation, acceptance, and loving others. Thank you! We enjoyed the book.”

Mothers not only contact me, but fathers do too. The following is an email I received from a father who discovered my contact information on my website.

When Grandmama Sings is so realistic and convincing my daughter and I tried to find the history of the singer and her band.”

It brings me much joy to know that my books, not only touch children, but parents as well.

I have even received messages from parents in other countries. The following is an email I received from a father who lives in Israel.

“I am an American-Israeli citizen living practically my whole life in Israel. I have a daughter (5) whom I just finished reading the book you guys wrote and illustrated – Uncle Jed’s Barbershop. Apart from the story beautifully unfolding, the illustrations are amazing and true to life. When I got to the part where she arrives at the hospital and you describe the segregation, I ask my daughter, “What do you think? Are black people and white people any different?” Her answer is simple and touching. “Aba (father in Hebrew), you are a person. She is a person. We are all the same.” Needless to say, the rest of the story was read to her with tears in my eyes. The ending was inspiring and beautiful. And I do not usually go out of my way to find authors and illustrators of the many books I read to her. But this one was a special one. So thank you, for the beauty in storytelling, and the most splendid illustrations accompanying the book. Keep up the good work! With much appreciation!”

Hearing from parents warms my heart. I get such joy from receiving such communication. What makes the letters, emails, and social media messages extra special is that I do not know the people who take time to reach out to let me know that my books touched them.

It is beyond meaningful to know that my words have the ability to touch another human being to their core.

So parents keep up the detective work. Your messages mean more than you will ever know to authors.

For more information about my books click the link to visit my website

Childrens Books Can Inspire

One August day I was invited to the main branch of the Little Rock Public Library to read  Uncle Jed’s Barbershop to 7 & 8 year olds during Storytime. Since school was not in session parents brought their children. After reading the story, the question and answer period was dominated by parents, who were fascinated with the historical aspects of the story. They shared their childhood memories about going to the barbershop. Some animatedly talked about relatives who were barbers.

But there was not one word from any of the children.

I really wanted to hear what the children thought since Uncle Jed’s Barbershop is a book for children. No matter how long I waited, there was no comment from a child.

After all adults had exhausted their questions and shared their barber stories, I packed my bag to leave.

As I was going out the door, a little girl stopped me. She said, “I liked your story about Uncle Jed. I want to be a doctor when I grow up. But my grandmama keeps saying I’ll never be one. Now I know I can be a doctor.”

The emotions her comment generated in me are indescribable. I knew then I had achieved my goal in writing Uncle Jed’s Barbershop.  I wanted to inspire children to dream big dreams for their lives and to believe that those dreams can come true.

But that day, this girl ended up inspiring me. As a result, I felt a bigger responsibility; to make sure as many students as possible heard the story of Uncle Jed’s Barbershop.

The Little Rock library visit was my very first appearance with Uncle Jed’s Barbershop.  Since then I have travelled throughout the United States sharing Uncle Jed’s story. And countless children have read about Uncle Jed and his dream of owning a barbershop.

Year after year I receive letters from students telling me about their dreams and how hearing Uncle Jed’s story has convinced them that their dreams can come true. The letters come directly to me after school and event visits.

Letters and emails even arrive from students with which I have had no contact. They have found Uncle Jed’s Barbershop in their school library, their public library, or their teachers read it to them. An interesting aspect of the letters is that the students tell me their dreams, and they also share who tells them they cannot achieve those dreams. Oftentimes, it is a close family member.

I am delighted that Uncle Jed’s Barbershop has inspired and continues to inspire children to dream great dreams for their lives, no matter how unattainable others think those dreams may be!

For further information about Uncle Jed’s Barbershop

 

 

 

3 Reasons to Give Uncle Jed’s Barbershop This Christmas

Uncle Jed was the only black barber in the county. And he had a dream. Living in the segregated South of the 1920’s, Uncle Jed had to travel all over the county to cut his customers’ hair. He lived for the day when he could open his very own barbershop. But Uncle Jed encountered setback after setback that delayed his dream. However, not even the Great Depression could force him to give up on his dream.  Uncle Jed finally opened his barbershop after saving for years and years. The community celebrated with him and so did his niece, Sarah Jean.

Uncle Jed’s Barbershop is a stirring story of dreams long deferred and finally realized.

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Here are three reasons to give Uncle Jed’s Barbershop to the child on your  Christmas list.

  1. Uncle Jed’s Barbershop inspires children to dream great dreams for their lives and realize that those dreams can come true. I will always remember the girl in Little Rock, Arkansas who said to me, “I want to be a doctor when I grow up, but my Grandmama says I will never be one. Now I know I can be a doctor.”
  2. An award-winning musical has been adapted from Uncle Jed’s Barbershop. The most recent honor is a Henry Award nomination for Outstanding New Musical. Theatre critics say: “Get ready for some toe-tapping fun!”“Uncle Jed’s Barbershop leaps from the bookshelf to the stage!”ujb24    ujb50  angels hair9
  3. James Ransome’s wonderful richly colored paintings bring the story to life.

Learn about Uncle Jed’s Barbershop

Learn about Uncle Jed’s Barbershop Musical

This Christmas Give The Book That Inspired An Award-Winning Musical

Sarah Jean’s Uncle Jed was the only black barber in the county. He had a kind heart and a warm smile. And he had a dream. Living in the segregated South of the 1920’s, where most people were sharecroppers, Uncle Jed had to travel all over the county to cut his customers’ hair. He lived for the day when he could open his very own barbershop. But it was a long time, and many setbacks, from five-year-old Sarah Jean’s emergency operation to the bank failures of the Great Depression, before the joyful day when Uncle Jed opened his shiny new shop – and twirled a now grown-up Sarah Jean around in the barber chair.

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Uncle Jed’s Barbershop has received numerous awards, including a Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award, the Living The Dream Book Award, the Charlie May Simon Honor Book Award, and is a featured Reading Rainbow book.

Readers are saying:

“Now I know how to explain to my dad that I will never give up on my dreams.” -Z. Chowhury, 4th grade

“As a mother and teacher I have never read a book for children that was so rich in content and emotion.” -M. Berkowitz, New jersey

“When I read that book I started back believing in my dream.” -T. Allen, 3rd grade

“When I first read this book back in elementary school I loved it and still do. I am a college sophomore now. Ms. Mitchell had come to our school. She wrote ‘Never Give Up On Your Dreams’ in my book. I’m following that dream by going to college.” -A. Jones

A musical has been adapted from Uncle Jed’s Barbershop. It has won the following awards:

  • ASCAP/Disney Workshop Winner
  • O’Neill Musical Theatre Conference Finalist
  • Richard Rodgers Award Finalist
  • National Music Theater Network’s Director’s Choice Award Winner
  • Featured Show in the New York Musical Theater Festival

Uncle Jed’s Barbershop opened to rave reviews in Denver at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre – September, 2015.

For more information:

Uncle Jed’s Barbershop book

Uncle Jed’s Barbershop musical

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9 Reasons To See Uncle Jed’s Barbershop, A New Musical

Uncle Jed’s Barbershop is a new family musical coming to Denver’s Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theater, Sept. 26 – Oct. 18, 2015.

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Set in rural Arkansas near the Mississippi Delta, Uncle Jed’s Barbershop tells the story of Sarah Jean and her Uncle Jed, the only black barber in the county. Uncle Jed has a dream of opening his own barbershop. Even though he meets with setback after setback, he doesn’t give up on his dream.

I’m excited to see the characters I created in my book come alive on stage. I have followed the show through its development phase and have always appreciated the hard work and dedication the show’s creators have invested into making it a reality. I’ll be in Denver to see the show.

Here are 9 reasons why you should see it too:

1)  Uncle Jed’s Barbershop is a new family musical adapted from the award-winning book Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell, illustrated by James Ransome, published by Simon & Schuster. The book has received numerous awards including a Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award, the Living The Dream Book Award, and is a featured Reading Rainbow book.

2)  The creative team of David Wohl, Kenneth Grimes, and Susan Einhorn, who shepherded the show into an award-winning musical. From the ASCAP/Disney workshop winner to a finalist in the O’Neill Musical Theatre Conference, to a finalist in the Richard Rodgers Awards, to winner of the National Music Theater Network’s Director’s Choice Award, to the New York Musical Theater Festival, the show has wowed audiences with its soaring and soulful music. David Wohl says,Uncle Jed’s Barbershop is your story, the story of everyone who had a dream and achieved it. We are absolutely certain that your story will never ever be told in this dramatic and musical way ever again.”

3)  Broadway veteran Ken Prymus, who stars as Uncle Jed, the only black barber in 1928 Monroe County, Arkansas. His Broadway credits include Cats, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and The Wiz. Prymus says, “Uncle Jed is a lot like me. He’s a good guy who’s just trying to work hard. He loves his family and his friends. He’s stable. And he really loves his great-niece.”

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4)  Broadway veteran Nora Cole stars as Uncle Jed’s wife, Twyla. Her credits include Your Arms Too Short To Box With God, Jelly’s Last Jam, On The Town, and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Recent credits include Katherine’s Colored Lieutenant and On Golden Pond. Nora is delighted to return to the cast of Uncle Jed’s Barbershop.

5)   Veteran actor Mary Louise Lee, singer/actor extraordinaire and First Lady of Denver, stars as adult Sarah Jean. Mary Louise has performed in theaters around the country and has toured internationally with The Mary Louise Lee Band.

6)   Introducing Yasmine Emani Hunter as child Sarah Jean. Yasmine is very passionate about singing, having participated in the Rocky Mountain Children’s Choir for 4 years.

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7)  Broadway veteran Terry Burrell (Dreamgirls, Honky Tonk Nights, Three Penny Opera, Swinging On A Star, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Eubie, Show Boat). Her one woman show “Ethel” can be seen at The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta next Spring.

8)  Virtuoso pianist and composer/arranger Joel A. Martin, who arranged the music for the show.

9)  Uncle Jed’s Barbershop is a rollicking new musical. It is a celebration of hope, love, work, faith, and the power of dreams that never grow old!

For More Information:

Uncle Jed’s Barbershop

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I’ll see you at the show!

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