Monday, July 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mari Evans July 16, 2014

We met Mari Evans in person during an African-American Education Infusion conference in Atlanta over 20 years ago but we knew of her work as a part of the Black Arts Movement from years before. The power and passion of Mari Evans' words are remarkable. They are words and images that need to be shared in print with children. Thank you Mari, for celebrating of the lives of Black children through your books, SINGING BLACK, DEAR CORINNE and I'M LATE. We are delighted to have you as a part of the Just Us Books family. Happy Birthday to you!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Remembering Walter Dean Myers

Just Us Books honors the memory of Walter Dean Myers

If you would like to donate to either of the 2 charities supported by Walter Dean Myers  you will need addresses + emails. Christopher Myers says: For the Children's Defense Fund" please use: Walter Dean Myers Donations. c/o Egmont USA, 443 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016.

If you would like to donate to Literacy for Incarcerated Youth  per Christopher Myers please use this email:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Harvesting the Wealth in Multicultural Book Publishing

Abundantly Rich: Harvesting the Wealth in Multicultural Book Publishing

The Harlem Book Fair presents an important panel discussion about diversity in children's literature, Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Moderated by Wade Hudson, President & CEO of Just Us Books. "Abundantly Rich: Harvesting the Wealth in Multicultural Book Publishing" will be telecast live on BookTV.

Included on the panel are Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, a literary consultant and founder of the very successful African-American Children’s Book Festival, held annually in Philadelphia; Brian Kenney, director of the White Plains Public Library in White Plains, NY.;  Pat Cummings, an award-winning author and illustrator whose career spans decades;  Mutiya Vision, publisher of Vision Works Publishing, an independent book publisher that has made inroads into the educational market;. Hanna Ehrlich,director of marketing for Lee & Low Books, one of the nation’s leading independent publishers of books for young people;  and Veronica Creech,  director of global markets at First Book, a nonprofit organization that connects book publishers and community organizations to provide access to new books for young readers, particularly those in need.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

WALTER DEAN MYERS—More Than an Outstanding Writer

By Wade Hudson
I was stunned when I heard that Walter Dean Myers had made his transition. During the 25 plus years that my wife Cheryl and I have been involved in publishing, it seemed that Walter was always “there.”
     We started Just Us Books, Inc. in 1988 to publish more books for children that focused on black experiences.  Writers and artists such as Virginia Hamilton and Arnold Adoff, Eloise Greenfield, Patricia and Fred McKissack, Tom Feelings, George Ford, Leo and Diane Dillon, and of course Walter Dean Myers, had already blazed a trail as book creators that we would follow.  We were novices, in a way, learning the business of publishing on the fly.   
     Cheryl and I were somewhat brash, bent on making a difference, determined to correct the injustices we saw in publishing. One would think that Myers and the other trailblazers who had been at the forefront of the struggle to change publishing to be more reflective of who we are as a nation, would have been taken aback by the two new kids on the block.  But they were not. They embraced us and welcomed us. When Cheryl and I did a radio interview with Tom Feelings in 1990, Just Us Books had only published three titles. Tom was already an established artist, a celebrity really. But he treated us as equals, applauded our efforts and encouraged us on the airways. We received support and encouragement from the other trailblazers, too. 
     Tom is gone. Virginia Hamilton is gone. Leo Dillon and Fred McKissack are gone, too. And now we have lost Walter Dean Myers.   
      I will miss seeing Walter at Book Expo America, ALA, NCTE and the many other conferences where he often held court, sharing, urging, encouraging, directing, advocating…always trying to make things better. When Walter’s article, “Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?” appeared in the March 15, 2014 issue of the New York Times, many welcomed it as timely and much needed. But Walter had written an article that appeared in the New York Times in 1986, addressing the same concerns.  He was always at the forefront, involved in many initiatives, some that he organized himself.  He was determined to increase diversity in our body of literature for children. He also advocated for the inclusion of people of color in the offices of publishing houses. 
     In 1991, Walter, Cheryl and I worked together as jurors for a scholarship competition organized to identify talented writers and artists of color and introduce them to the publishing community. The fellowship competition was a part of Multi-colored Mirror: Cultural Substance in Literature for Children and Young Adults, a conference sponsored by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Walter also supported literacy programs offered by the Children’s Defense Fund, sometimes donating his own money. I watched as he connected effortlessly with the young people who attended the summer sessions there. Whenever a speaking engagement was set up for him, Walter made sure that juvenile detention centers, prisons and other programs for youth were included.
     “I know what falling off the cliff means,” he once said. “I know from being considered a very bright kid to being considered like a moron and dropping out of school.” 
     Yes, Walter Dean Myers was a prolific, multi award-winning writer. As stated on his web site he “touched so many with his eloquent and unflinching portrayal of young African-American lives.” Walter visualized a better world. In the tradition of Frederick Douglass, he used words to encourage, empower, challenge, advocate and agitate for the change that would bring that world about. In that regard, for me, at least, he was a freedom fighter, too.  

Read more:

Sharing our stories had real meaning. Here, Walter, Cheryl and I are at a 1992 book signing held at a Toys R Us store in Manhattan, NY.