Family Ties, Black Beauty Celebrated in New Self-Published Titles | Indie Voices

Librarian Amy Martin highlights a strong new crop of self-published children's books, including a middle grade family drama and several picture books about black hair.
Indie Voices is a quarterly column dedicated to exploring and recommending self-published children’s books that offer diverse and inclusive perspectives. FamilyTies-Indie-Voices-CVsIt’s difficult to break into the business of making children’s books. That goes double for people of color, queer authors, the differently abled, and/or those creating stories about people who identify with one or more of those categories. Self-publishing can give voice to marginalized people who may be overlooked by mainstream publishing. Below, I recommend a handful of self-published titles whose skillful presentations of diverse stories make them worthy purchase for libraries serving children. This time, I highlight an affecting middle grade family drama, a picture book about donor-conceived children, and four works that celebrate beautiful black hair—a trend that will find an eager readership. BROWN, C. Punch. Pineapple Sugar. 168p. Darby and Allen Publishing Company. 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780997277401. Safiri is a child with an impossible task: to get through seventh grade knowing her mother may not have much longer to live. Can her mother’s words about “pineapple sugar”—the knowledge that good and bad, sour and sweet, always go together in life—help her find hope? Brown’s moving middle grade novel is raw and honest in its portrayal of anticipating the loss of a beloved parent, and readers will appreciate the depiction of an African-American family coming together with warmth and love. LIU-TRUJILLO, Robert. Furqan’s First Flat Top/el primer corte de mesita de Furqan. illus. by author. 40p. Come Bien Books. 2016. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9780996717809. Furqan is ready for his first haircut, and even though he knows exactly what he wants—a flat top like Marcus’s!— he can’t help but feel nervous. What will his new hair look like? Liu-Trujillo has illustrated several books, but this is the first he’s both written and illustrated, and his love for the subject shows in his warm, detailed watercolors of a happy father and son. In English and Spanish. MILLER, Sharee. Princess Hair. illus by author. 32p. CreateSpace. 2014. Tr $16.00. ISBN 9781500778101. The first of three books in this column expressing love for black girls’ hair. Sharee Miller draws hair skillfully enough to show the difference between braids, twists, and dreadlocks, and her delightful pen-and-ink illustrations radiate joy and movement. OLAJIDE, Tina. Emi’s Curly, Coily, Cotton Candy Hair. illus. by Courtney Bernard. 32p. CreateSpace. 2014. Tr $8.99. ISBN 9781503144941. Olajide’s love letter to black hair centers on Emi, whose hair is varied in texture from twisty to springy to “fluffy like cotton candy.” Emi warmly narrates the process of having her hair done by her mother, from combing out the tangles to shampoo and conditioner to creating her chosen style: twists. Courtney Bernard’s bold illustrations glow with happiness through every step. ROE, Mechal Renee. Happy Hair. illus. by author. 34p. Mechal Roe. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780991621118. Here’s your storytime pick: a call-and-response style picture book about puffs, wraps, and Bantu knots. Each page has a short rhyme—“smart girls/ cool curls,/cute crop/ don't stop,”—to which the response is always “I love being me!” Roe’s cartoony digital art will be embraced on sight, perhaps literally. This is an easy book to love, and comes in hardcover to boot. TYNER, Christy. Zak’s Safari: A Story of Donor-Conceived Kids of Two-mom Families. illus. by Ciaee. 32p. CreateSpace. 2014. Tr 15.00. ISBN 9781502325464. “Some families have a mom and a dad, so they already have the sperm and egg that they need to make a baby… Some families have one or two moms. They already have the egg, so they need the sperm.” Zak, a brown skinned child with two moms, narrates this sublimely inclusive, child-friendly explanation of where babies come from when the parents aren't one mom and one dad. Ciaee’s retro-inspired art is charming and full of delight. Every library serving families should own this title.

To submit titles for consideration in the next Indie Voices column, please send review copies to the attention of School Library Journal / Amy Martin: 123 William Street, Suite 802 New York, NY 10038.

Amy Martin is the children’s collection management librarian for the Oakland Public Library, CA.
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Alicia Holt

Thank you for this opportunity. I will be sending you my book, The Day Cappy Bear Got Lost.

Posted : Oct 17, 2016 04:52


This is does one submit books for review. I am a self published child author who writes books about my adventures with my family. To date I have sold over 1000 copies of my book The Adventures of Jazzy and Bobby-Be Kind to Yourself and Others.

Posted : Aug 17, 2016 12:14

Kiera Parrott

Hi JM. You can submit review copies for consideration by mailing them to 123 William Street, Suite 802 NY, NY 10038. Please mark "Attn: Amy Martin/School Library Journal." Submission does not guarantee review coverage, but we seriously consider every title sent to us.

Posted : Aug 17, 2016 01:58

Graciela Tiscareno-Sato

Kiera, If Amy Martin is in Oakland, CA, why do books get submitted to SLJ in NY? Is there a gatekeeper there? Is there a different person who considers bilingual children's books in Spanish/English for review? I'm one of those curious, interested-in-process type authors. :-) My award-winning BILINGUAL children's book series (first two titles: "Good Night Captain Mama" and "Captain Mama's Surprise") are very well received by children's librarians.....when we can get visibility into their world via these traditional processes. I'm looking to learn. Thanks! Graciela

Posted : Jan 23, 2017 03:31



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