Category Archives: CSK Award History

CSK Through the Decades: The 1990s (Part 2)

By the mid-1990s, the CSK Book Awards was on solid ground and fully positioned to recognize and reward the new African American children’s and young adult literary talent emerging, as well as those already on the path of excellence. From 1995 and on through the remainder of the decade, the CSK Book Awards journeyed full-steam ahead, bringing extraordinary authors and illustrators along for the glorious ride.

James E. Ransome

Illustrator James E. Ransome is second to none in his visual creations that superbly depict all manner of African American history, life, and culture.  In 1995, he received the CSK Illustrator Award for his artistic contribution to the picture book The Creation.

Ransome’s greatest award-winning picture books include Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, Visiting Day, and 1994 CSK Honor Book Uncle Jed’s Barbershop. In recognition of his extraordinary artistic ability, The Children’s Book Council named Ransome one of 75 authors and illustrators everyone should know in 1994.

Often Ransome teams up with his talented wife, author Lesa Cline-Ransome. Together the two had produced several noteworthy titles, including their latest highly praised picture book, Before She Was Harriet, which tells of the many names and roles Harriet Tubman had throughout her life in a reverse chronology.  Ransome received his second CSK Illustrator Award. for this work in 2018.

Sharon Draper

1995 was a ground-breaking year for new young adult author Sharon Draper, who quickly gained national recognition and regard when she emerged as the inaugural recipient of the CSK John Steptoe Award for Outstanding New Talent for her riveting first novel, Tears of a Tiger. After a successful career as an educator and the state of Ohio’s Teacher of the Year, Draper would win four more CSK Author Awards and Honors during her notable literary career.

Tears of a Tiger takes the reader along for the ride into the life of Andy, an African American teen who struggles to cope and accept the alcohol-related death of his best friend, whose life was cut short in a terrible car accident while he was behind the wheel.  Using letters, journal writing, and class assignments or activities to organize and advance the novel, Draper aptly draws on school experiences relatable to young adults and helps them understand and empathize with several of the book’s characters.

Fellow educators have frequently marveled over the book’s ability to compel youth who had never finished a novel before to read Tears of a Tiger in its entirety. Tears of a Tiger was also honored as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, recognized as one of the best books of the year by the Children’s Book Council and named Best of the Best by VOYA and the American Library Association, as one of the top 100 books for young adults. It is the first book in what would later become the Hazelwood High trilogy. It was followed by Forged by Fire, a winner of the CSK Author Award in 1997, then Darkness Before Dawn in 2001.

In Forged by Fire, Draper provides an unfortunate yet authentic account of the life of African American teenager and basketball player Gerald as he tries to handle his tough home life and protect his younger sister and himself from the inattention and neglect experienced by their emotionally absent mother and the mental and physical torment endured at the hands of his abusive step-father.

Continuing to amass literary accolades and accomplishments, Draper received three more CSK Awards within a four-year span.  In 2004 her book, The Battle of Jericho, was selected as a CSK Honor Book; it gives the reader a raw look into the often-ignored topic of hazing and succumbing to peer pressure based on the desire to be accepted at all costs.

In 2007 Draper again won a CSK Author Award for Copper Sun. This emotion-filled and gut-wrenching historical fiction story details the horrific circumstances of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the resulting harsh plantation life in America from the perspective of 15-year-old Amari, an enslaved Ashanti girl who, in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, demonstrates fortitude, inventiveness, and hope for a better future.  Copper Sun was also named one of the Top Ten Historical Fiction Books for Youth by Booklist, nominated for the 2007 NAACP Image Award for Literature, and listed as a New York Times Bestseller.

A year later, Draper’s novel November Blues was chosen as a CSK Honor Book in 2008. It is the second novel in the Jericho trilogy, ending with Just Another Hero, published in 2009.  November Blues was also featured on the 2008 New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age list. This story allows the reader to peer into the crisis-filled life of November, a teenager grieving the recent death of her boyfriend due to a high school hazing event gone terribly wrong. Matters are made worse when she soon learns that she is pregnant with his child and must decide on the best path forward as an expectant mother and high school student grappling with the unexpected consequences of life-altering, split-second choices that deeply affect her and the people she loves and cares for.

Out of my Mind, published in 2010, is considered by many to be Draper’s most well-written and received work thus far. The book remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for nearly two years, translated into 20 languages, and selected to 32 state reading lists.

In 2015 the American Library Association honored Draper as the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime literary achievement. Acknowledging her interconnected relationship with reading, writing, and teaching, the author has shared that she learned to dream through reading, create dreams through writing, and develop dreamers through teaching.  

Draper’s latest book, Blended, was published in 2018 and deals with issues of divorce, racism, and blended families from the perspective of Isabella, a bi-racial preteen. Draper continues to skillfully ignite and engage a diverse body of youth and young adult readers with her appealing, realistic, and thought-provoking storylines and writing style.

Javaka Steptoe

Javaka Steptoe, the phenomenal son of the literary groundbreaker and CSK New Talent Award eponym John Steptoe, is as eclectic and unique an artist and author as his name suggests. In 1998 he was the recipient of the CSK Illustrator Award for his first book, In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall:  African Americans Celebrating Fathers, and dedicated it to the memory of his own father. This beautifully illustrated book celebrates the majesty and splendor of African American fathers through poetry (one he contributed, titled “Seeds,” was written in homage to his father) and an African proverb. In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall was an ALA Notable Children’s Book selection and received a nomination for Outstanding Children’s Literature Work at the 1998 NAACP Image Awards.

Almost 20 years later, Steptoe was once again recognized and rewarded for his dual talent as an illustrator and author when he received the CSK Author Award in 2017 for his picture book biography, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. In Radiant Child, Steptoe writes the sometimes complicated yet ever remarkable life story of the young, gifted, and Black visual artist Basquiat, with compassion and dignity that helps lessen the sadness the reader cannot help but feel for the loss of a rare genius, gone too soon.  His words, coupled with the colorful and captivating collages that comprise the book’s illustrations, make this work an artistic and literary masterpiece, bar none. Adding to his professional success that year, Steptoe also received the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Regarding his use of collage as a frequent art form, Steptoe once declared it a means of survival. From his perspective, this hodge-podge artistic method is analogous to how Black people have survived 400 years of oppression and taken the scraps life has thrown them and fashioned them into art.

Sharon Flake

Rounding out the 1990s CSK Book Award recipients is none other than children and youth author Sharon Flake, who in 1999 burst onto the literary scene as the last of only three recipients of the CSK John Steptoe Award for New Talent during the 10-year span. In that year, Flake was recognized and rewarded for her highly acclaimed book The Skin I’m In, which featured the headshot of a dark-skinned beauty on the cover that captivated and commanded the attention of countless readers in the United States and internationally.  Possessing its own literary brand of Black Girl Magic, The Skin I’m In tells the all-too-familiar story of Maleeka, a 13-year-old middle school student who suffers from low self-esteem because of her dark skin and profound sadness due to the sudden death of her father.  With the aid of an unexpected ally, Maleeka ultimately develops the strength to battle and defeat the internal and external foes she faces to finally be content in her own skin. Written in a culturally relevant and realistic style that speaks the language of so many Black youths globally, the book was a compelling force that sparked important conversations about race and demanded that attention be paid to the deleterious effects of racism and colorism in our contemporary culture. In 2018, The Skin I’m In celebrated its 20th Anniversary, including a foreword written by Jason Reynolds. With well over one million copies in print and translated into several languages, this powerful work has withstood the literary test of time and promises to forge ahead in popularity and praise for many more decades to come.

In recognition of her incredible ability to reach active and reluctant young readers alike through her engaging, keeping-it-real writing style, Flake received a CSK Book Honor in 2002 for Money Hungry, which takes the reader on the journey of a teenage girl’s challenges to overcome the cyclical poverty her family has endured for generations. Who Am I Without Him: Short Story Collection about Girls and Boys in Their Lives earned Flake her second CSK Honor in 2005; this book recounts a variety of social, emotional, and physical entanglements and experiences endured by girls facing real-life relationship challenges and struggles.

Sharon Flake’s literary repertoire includes eight novels, a short story collection, and a children’s picture book.  Her written works continue to receive numerous awards, honors, and recognition for their literary merit and distinguished style.

Without question, the 1990s was a decade bursting with new and established African American literary notables, as evidenced by the bestowing of more than 30 prized CSK Author, Illustrator, and Honor Awards during this time period. Many first-time and relatively new award recipients in the 1990s received additional CSK Book Awards in later years, as well as other book awards and recognitions.

Regarded as the gold standard for annually evaluating the best in African American children’s and young adult literature created by a cadre of exceptionally talented African American authors or illustrators, the CSK Book Awards is unparalleled in acknowledging literary works that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.  Growing increasingly stronger in its reputation for identifying, recognizing, and showcasing the meritorious contributions of emerging and existing talent, the CSK Book Awards firmly established its distinctive place among other literary award programs during the 1990s.

For a printable list of all the CSK winners to date, with a thumbnail image of each book cover, visit

Nichole Lynn Shabazz is a Media and Educational Technology Specialist for Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. Her forthcoming book, Engaging Boys of Color at the Library:  Proven Strategies for Reading Achievement (ABC-CLIO, Libraries Unlimited), was published January 31, 2021.  She is a member of the CSK Marketing Committee.

CSK Through the Decades: The 1990s (Part 1)

The two decades prior to the 1990s firmly established the Coretta Scott King Book Awards as exemplary and essential among its earlier created counterparts. During the 1990s, incredibly talented authors and illustrators such as Angela Johnson, Sharon Draper, Sharon Flake, James Ransome, Tom Feelings, Javaka Steptoe, and Patricia and Fredrick McKissack received award recognition and honors for their outstanding written works and exceptional illustrations celebrating and showcasing the remarkable culture and history of African Americans.

Patricia and Fredrick McKissack

At the start of the decade, literary couple extraordinaire Patricia and Fredrick McKissack won the 1990 CSK Author Award for A Long Hard Journey:  The Story of the Pullman Porter. This title recounted the true story of the powerful union effort and victory of African American Pullman porters known as the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters as they ultimately became the first major Black labor union admitted to the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1925.

The McKissacks were inspired to write African and African American stories and make history come alive for children to introduce them to the greatness exhibited and pain endured by such extraordinary people. They aimed to provide stories that deeply resonated with young people in a way they could understand, internalize, and connect with emotionally. This literary power couple co-wrote more than 50 books, with Fred serving as the primary researcher and Patricia writing the text. They attributed their continued success to constant communication and conferring with one another throughout the writing process.

In 1993, the McKissacks won a CSK Honor Book designation for Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman? This biographical account told the story of Sojourner Truth, an African American female activist, abolitionist, and preacher who dedicated her life to the cause for African American and women’s equal rights.

Writing numerous books herself, in 1993, Patricia McKissack received the CSK Author Award for what has been considered her most notable work, The Dark Thirty:  Southern Tales of the Supernatural.  This compilation of nine stories and a poem was written from her childhood memories when the half-hour before nightfall was considered the dark thirty.  This award-winning title was illustrated by Brian Pinkney, who also won the CSK Illustrator Award for Sukey and the Mermaid in the same year.

Teaming up again, two years later, Fred and Patricia won their second CSK Author Award in 1995 for Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters. This historical story described the contrast between the slaveholder and the enslaved as they prepared the Big House for the Christmas holiday on a Virginia plantation in the 1850s while also revealing the triumphant spirit of a people, who, despite oppression, find a way to prepare their humble yet heart-filled living quarters for the “Big Times.” That same year, the couple received another CSK Honor Book recognition for Black Diamond: The Story of the Negro Baseball Leagues. In this non-fiction book, they share the history of the Negro League Baseball and pay homage to the legendary players whose perseverance and enduring spirit paved the way for others to follow.

Honoring their illustrious careers and unforgettable contributions to African American children’s literature, the McKissack’s were awarded the prestigious Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2014, shortly after Fred’s death a year earlier.  After what can only be regarded as a remarkable literary ride of more than 40 years, Patricia McKissack died in 2017. Her final picture book, What is Given from the Heart, an endearing tale about the priceless act of giving, was posthumously published in 2019.

Tom Feelings

In 1994 Tom Feelings received the CSK Illustrator Award for Soul Looks Back in Wonder. Throughout his multi-dimensional artistic and literary career, Feelings created as a painter, sculptor, cartoonist, illustrator, and author whose work visually exuded the uplifting mantra, “Black is Beautiful,” which evoked pride and respect from people of African descent while commanding awe and appreciation from fans all over the world.

Just two years later, Feelings was again awarded the CSK Illustrator Award in 1996 for his breathtaking picture book The Middle Passage: White Ships, Black Cargo. The arresting illustrations visually tell the harrowing and tragic story of the forced journey of Africans to the Americas during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.  Once asked who he was and what he did, Feelings responded that he was an African born in America and a visual storyteller producing art rooted in African culture, informed by the African American experience and reflecting and interpreting the lives and experiences of the people who gave him life. After more than four decades of fulfilling his mission to encourage and inspire Black children to know and love their beauty in every way. Tom Feelings died in 2003.

Angela Johnson

Angela Johnson’s first CSK Book Award recognition came in 1991 when she received a CSK Honor for her book When I Am Old with You.  This lovely story features a small African American boy and his grandfather, who share happiness and family ties that transcend generational differences.

Like Tom Feelings, who was recognized for his artistic talent by the CSK Book Awards in 1994, Angela Johnson won the CSK Author Award, in the same year, for her book Toning the Sweep.  In this poignant novel, the lives of three generations of African American women, 14-year-old Emily, her mother, and grandmother (who is dying of cancer), are chronicled as each holds their own separate truths that are ultimately revealed to the others.

Fairly new on the literary scene in the early 1990s, Johnson’s acclaim quickly grew as young readers, fellow authors, and book reviewers marveled at her rare and resonant writing style, which captured her audience with relevant stories that spoke to children and older youth. Her goal was, and still is, to write books filled with characters who come alive and stick with the reader far after the story has ended.  

Johnson closed out the decade by earning her second CSK Author Award in 1999 for her book, Heaven.  In this story, the main character Marley’s world is turned upside down when she learns that she is not the biological daughter or the parents who raised her and must come to terms with what it truly means to be someone’s family. In 1999 she also received a CSK Honor for her book, The Other Side: Shorter Poems.

Five years later, Johnson won her third CSK Author Award in 2004 for her novel, The First Part Last, and the prequel to Heaven. This novel offers an alternating before and after perspective inside the life of 16-year-old Bobby, a new father, raising his daughter as a single parent.

Impressed with an admiring reader and aspiring writer, Elizabeth Acevedo, Johnson dedicated the novel to Miss Acevedo and her 1999-2000 sixth grade class. Fast forward almost 20 years later, and it is as if the nod in recognition of the writer’s emerging talent and Johnson’s intuitive foresight, coupled with her own literary and poetic prowess, added fuel to Acevedo, who, in 2018, skyrocketed to even higher heights of recognition and respect by winning the coveted National Book Award, and the Globe-Horn Book Award for her book The Poet X.  The novel-in-verse also won the 2019 Pura Belpre and Printz Awards. Fondly recalling the importance of being regarded and the impact Johnson’s book dedication had on her, Acevedo noted it as the first time she’d ever seen her name in print.

Angela Johnson has been named a MacArthur Foundation fellow and Genius Grant recipient among her vast career accomplishments. This rare honor is given to a select few considered exceptionally talented in their creative endeavors and comes with a hefty $500,000 prize. Over the years, Johnson has received the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award, the Printz Award, and the Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth’s Literary Award. She has written over 40 picture books, poetry, short stories, and young adult novels to date.

Please read Part Two featuring Sharon Draper, Sharon Flake, James Ransome, and Javaka Steptoe.

Nichole Lynn Shabazz is a Media and Educational Technology Specialist for Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. Her forthcoming book, Engaging Boys of Color at the Library:  Proven Strategies for Reading Achievement (ABC-CLIO, Libraries Unlimited), was published January 31, 2021.  She is a member of the CSK Marketing Committee.

CSK Through the Decades: The 1980s

In the 1980s, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards became an official ALA award as African American literature evolved and transformed the landscape of children’s literature.  The work of authors Walter Dean Myers and Virginia Hamilton, as well as that of illustrators Jerry Pinkney, John Steptoe, and Ashley Bryan, forever changed the face of children’s literature. These literary giants claimed their rightful place by producing some of the best in children’s literature.  All have received multiple CSK Book Awards during this period that played a significant role in propelling their careers.

Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers, a pioneer of young adult fiction, won his first CSK Book Award for the groundbreaking Young Landlords in 1980.  Myers captured two more CSK Author Award wins in 1985 for Motown and Didi: A Love Story and in 1989 for Fallen Angels, a Vietnam conflict saga.  Some 80-plus titles later, Myers’ books have stood the test of time as moving, tough stories for and about black male teens.  Myers has won more CSK Book Awards than any other author, garnering five wins and six honors.  He is the recipient of numerous other book awards. He also served as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a post appointed by the Library of Congress.  Most recently, he posthumously became the winner of ALSC’s Children Literature Legacy Award.   


Virginia Hamilton

Virginia Hamilton had already ignited the children’s book world by becoming the first African American author to win a Newbery Medal in 1975 for M. C. Higgins, the Great, for which she also won the National Book Award. In the eighties, her talent continued to soar, and she captured two CSK Book Awards, in 1983 for Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush, and in 1986 for The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. The 1980s also brought Hamilton four CSK Honor book awards: The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl (1984), A Little Love (1985), Junius Over Far (1986), and Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave (1989).  Hamilton was one of the most distinguished authors of twentieth-century children’s literature.  She received nearly every award in the field during her 35-year career, including the Hans Christian Andersen Award and the MacArthur Fellowship, becoming the first author of books for youth to do so.  In 2010 the Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award was named in her honor.

John Steptoe

John Steptoe was only 18-years-old when his first book, Stevie, received national attention in 1969. The eighties witnessed Steptoe winning two CSK Illustrator Awards: Mother Crocodile: An Amadou Tale from Senegal written by Rosa Guy in 1983, and Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: an African Tale in 1988He also won a CSK Illustrator Honor award in 1983 for All the Colors of the Race.  Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters became his breakthrough book; the African tale is still widely used today, appearing on school reading lists and a favorite among storytellers.  In his 20-year career, Steptoe illustrated 16 picture books, 12 of which he also wrote. With the permission of his family, the John Steptoe New Talent Award was established by the CSK Book Awards committee to affirm new talent and offer visibility to excellence in writing and/or illustration. The award has existed since 1995 but began bearing the Steptoe name in 1999.

Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney’s career as a book illustrator was launched at a critical time in African American children’s literature evolution. When the Council on Interracial Books for Children (CIBC) was established, dedicated to integrating the content of children’s books and also securing more African American writers and illustrators to create these books, Pinkney was there as a greeting card designer and creator of the first black stamps. His initial work with CIBC included book cover art and illustrations in fiction titles. Pinkney reviewed his first CSK nod in 1981 with an Illustrator Honor for Count on Your Fingers African Style. That was followed by three CSK Book Awards wins Mirandy and Brother Wind (1989), Half a Moon and One Whole Star (1987), and The Patchwork Quilt (1986).  There is no doubt that the CSK Book Awards was instrumental in bringing visibility and recognition to his work. Pinkney’s career now spans some fifty-plus years, and he has received numerous awards and honors.  In 2010, he captured the Caldecott Medal for his adaption of the classic tale The Lion and the Mouse.  He had previously won five Caldecott honors.   With more than a hundred books to his credit,   Pinkney has made an incredible contribution to the world of children’s books and has helped advance multiculturalism and African American themes.

Ashley Bryan

Author and artist Ashley Bryan could be called the “grandfather’’ of African American children’s book illustrators because he has inspired many up-and-coming illustrators.  In the 1980s, Bryan met his stride, his talent was revealed, and the CSK Book Awards acknowledged and rewarded his work. He received four CSK Illustrator Honors during the 1980s: Beat the Story Drum, Pum-Pum (1981), I’m Going to Sing: Black American Spirituals (1983), Lion and the Ostrich Chicks and Other African Folk Tales (1987), and What a Morning! The Christmas Story in Black Spirituals (1988).  Bryan’s remarkable career has spanned half a century, and he has published over 50 titles.  Motivated by the black oral tradition, many of Bryan’s books were influenced by African American spirituals and African folktales.  He has been the recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award and the Laura Ingalls Wilder/Legacy Award; he has been a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer and the recipient of countless other awards and recognitions.   It is gratifying to know that Bryan’s legacy and his lifelong collection of letters, books, and artwork will be preserved at the University of Pennsylvania for generations to come.

As you can see, this vanguard of black children’s book creators achieved literary success, bringing African American children’s literature to the forefront and providing much needed diversity to children’s literature.

Carolyn Garnes is Chair of the CSK Marketing Committee, past CSK Committee Chair 1990-1994, & CSK Book Awards Jury, 1987-1994.

CSK Through the Decades: The 1970s

The 1970s were the formative years for the Coretta Scott King Award as new African American writers emerged.  One of those talents was Mildred DeLois Taylor.   Taylor’s relationship with the Coretta Scott King Award is a long and illustrious one, spanning more than three decades and resulting in four CSK wins  – Let the Circle Be Unbroken (1982), The Friendship (1988), The Road to Memphis (1991), The Land (2002) – and two honors, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry (1977) and Song of the Trees (1976). Born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1943, Taylor tells her own family’s story, like that of the Logan family whom she brings to life in her novels, one of pride, struggle, and endurance in the face of oppression. Wishing to raise their daughters in an area offering more economic opportunity and less racial strife, Taylor’s parents relocated the family to Toledo, Ohio, when she was three months old. Once a year, however, Taylor returned south to visit her relatives, where she was consistently regaled with tales of their family’s history.

Taylor recalls her father’s knack for storytelling with great pride, noting that “These stories of family history were handed down from generation to generation, and as a child I was inspired to pass these stories on.” Putting those narratives down on paper was more than a way to make a living; it was a calling that paid homage to her ancestors even as it introduced generations of children to a proud black family whose love and solidarity sustained them through the harshest of times. Her childhood experiences strengthened Taylor’s desire to write as one of the only black students in her classes. She was also horrified by how history textbooks downgraded the accomplishments of and injustices suffered by blacks, telling a history of her people that was unrecognizable from the narratives of fortitude and perseverance her own father recounted. Taylor graduated from high school in 1961 and enrolled at the University of Toledo, where she majored in English and minored in history. A frustrating first attempt at publishing a novel (Dark People, Dark World) did not deter her. After earning her Master’s in Journalism from the University of Colorado, Taylor moved to Los Angeles in 1971 and worked as a proofreader and editor.

Her big break came in 1973 when a friend told her about a writing contest sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books for Children. The story she submitted was based on her father’s life, but she decided to rewrite it from a girl’s perspective at the last minute. That tale – which won Taylor the contest and established her career as a children’s author – became Song of the Trees, the first installment chronicling the life of the Logan family. Set during the Great Depression in Jim Crow-era Mississippi, the Logans own four hundred acres of land, insulating them from some of the horrors visited upon their black peers who are forced to sharecrop on white plantations. What makes the Logans unique is not simply their land, which is a source of sustenance and pride, but the strength and dignity with which Taylor imbues each character. Taylor admits in her Penguin profile that she “wanted to show a different kind of black world from the one so often seen. I wanted to show a family united in love and self-respect, and parents, strong and sensitive.” In the sequel to Song, the Newbery Award-winning and CSK Honor Roll of Thunder, Taylor gave readers a family anchored by three generations of strong black women, most notably Cassie, the nine-year-old protagonist and granddaughter of Paul and Caroline, who purchase the land upon which the family lives.

Rodney Marcel Fierce is a Humanities Teacher at Sonoma Academy in Santa Rosa, California, and is finishing his dissertation for his English doctoral program at The University of Southern Mississippi. He is a member of the CSK Marketing Committee.