I was commissioned the lovely Jessica Spotswood to do a promo illustration for the historical anthology, A Tyranny of Petticoats. Edited by Jessica, it contains stories from 15 YA authors, featuring 15 very different American girls. I’ve been quite interested in historical fiction lately, so this was super fun to work on! You’ll want to read it. 

Pre-order the book here for a signed copy along with a 5x7 postcard print. 8x10 prints will also be available as giveaways at various book events form the authors. I’ll keep you posted!

(Stories by: J. Anderson Coats, Andrea Cremer, Y. S. Lee, Katherine Longshore, Marie Lu, Kekla Magoon, Marissa Meyer, Saundra Mitchell, Beth Revis, Caroline Richmond, Lindsay Smith, Jessica Spotswood, Robin Talley, Leslye Walton, Elizabeth Wein)

From fantasy to contemporary fiction, there are many amazing young adult reads by African American authors. Celebrate Black History Month by picking one of the amazing titles above by staple authors such as Jacqueline Woodson, Angela Johnson, Jason Reynolds, and the very first Printz Award winner Walter Dean Myers.

For more books by authors of color check out Diversity in YA and Rich in Color

  • The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
  • The Last Part First by Angela Johnson
  • The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  • This Side of Home by Renee Watson
  • Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright
  • March: Book 1 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
  • Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina by Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince
  • Panic by Sharon M. Draper
  • Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson
  • How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
  • Darius and Twig by Walter Dean Myers
Otto Grows Down: Careful what you wish for

My son is most likely going to be an only child, which means sibling rivalry is like a big ole mystery box to him. I think he’s vaguely jealous of friends with younger brothers, mildly amused by little sisters, but perhaps mostly relieved that he doesn’t have to worry that his Playmobil collection will end up covered in slobber and snot.

In Otto Grows Down, Otto is in the midst of his 6th birthday festivities when his brand spanking new little sister Anna decides to steal the spotlight with a crying fit. Hoping to calm her down, Otto’s parents ask him to jingle a rattle for her. And not just any rattle: Otto’s special rattle from when he was a baby. I have to say, I’m kinda with Otto on this one–move that screaming baby away from the darn cake and give the birthday kid his special moment. Sheesh.

Ah well, Otto subconsciously takes matters into his own hands. Oh, he’s gonna shake that rattle, but he’s also gonna simultaneously wish his sister had never been born. Boom, how d'you like them apples? 

Here’s Otto making his wish, and his expression is one reason I love this book. 

With that silent wish, Otto just messed with time-space continuum, Einstein-style. Suddenly, everything starts going all wonky. (I wonder if Otto’s birthday watch is available in my size.)

And it lasts long after the birthday party’s over. Like, Otto gets a haircut, but comes out with longer hair.

He goes into the bath clean, and comes out dirty.

And, ruh-roh, even going to the bathroom is crazytown.

A week later, Anna’s is delivered back to the hospital, and Otto’s angst starts to get to him:

But Anna’s not the only one getting younger. Eventually, Otto finds himself celebrating his 5th birthday. Then his 4th. Then his 3rd. Each year, he tries to undo his wish but each year, it gets harder and harder because of his deteriorating ability to speak.

Well, praise be, Otto comes up with the right formula at the last possible moment – his first birthday party. Phew. Anna comes back, Otto is six again, and their parents smile in blissful ignorance in the background.

It’s a super-cool book, especially the charming and slyly funny illustrations.

My only mom-esque worry is whether a kid who has secretly wished a little bro or sis into non-existance (and let’s face it, haven’t we all?) – will be scared sh*tless that their thoughts will have serious consequences. On the other hand, maybe it shows kids that being jealous of a sibling is totally normal. Well, since I like this book, I’m going with the latter.

Available here.

Some images from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.


Check the last fucking trick. Dylan Thompsons 630 on, same way 2 out. 

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon

Tariq Johnson is a fictional African-American teenager.

Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Tamir Rice are real African-American boys.

What do they all have in common? They’ve been murdered by white men who saw no punishment for their crime.

This is their story. The boys who were killed by prejudice and racism. The story of a black neighborhood plagued by poverty and gang violence. The stories of the murdered boys’ friends and family and community.

Who was Tariq Johnson? Was he a good student with dreams of college? Was he a gang-member? Did he have a gun? Or was he holding a chocolate bar? Was he a good person? Does it matter?

The story is told in alternating POVs - which got a bit much after awhile because it was hard to keep them straight, since most of them weren’t defined that well. There is confusion, there are different accounts of what happened, and as always people capitalizing off tragedy while the media spins it all out of control.

The fascinating thing was that Magoon doesn’t paint Tariq as an innocent saint. He was just a regular boy growing up in a poor neighborhood. There were people who loved him, people who hated him, people who thought he was just another victim of gang violence, and people who just didn’t give a flying crap.

But every single one of those people who were somehow touched by Tariq’s tragic death, their stories get told too. Including the killer’s.

I suppose one frustrating thing for me was that there didn’t seem to be any closure. But then I realized it was exactly the same as it happens again and again, as it was for Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Tamir Rice. People get angry, people protest, police ignore them, the jury acquits the murderer, the white killer walks away while the black victim is dead. The media makes a bit more noise and then… then, it just goes away.

And there’s no ending harder to digest that that one. The one that is exactly like real life. The one that doesn’t end, the one that will keep happening until we acknowledge that racism is still a huge problem in our society. Until then, the story of Tariq Johnson will continue to be as real as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Tamir Rice, and countless other African-Americans whose families never see justice. Until then, there will be no ending or closure to this story.

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