Poet Marilyn Nelson Shares Her Family’s Story of Freedom

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Just Us Books Set to Publish New Picture Book by Award-Winning Poet Marilyn Nelson

Papa’s Free Day Party Shares Author’s Family Story of Freedom

(West Orange, NJ) March 11, 2021 Leading independent children’s book publisher Just Us Books will publish Papa’s Free Day Party, a powerful new picture book by award-winning poet and author Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by award-winning artist Wayne Anthony Still this April. Papa’s Free Day Party is based on the true story of Marilyn’s grandfather, who escaped a racist attack as a child, was taken in by a white family, and went on to build a new life in the all-Black town of Boley, Oklahoma. Papa’s Free Day Party will be published in hardcover and released on April 20, 2021.

Click to buy Papa’s Free Day Party Papa’s Free Day Party highlights many timely issues, including the meaning of freedom, the impact of allyship, the importance of Black history and family stories, and how everyday actions can drive powerful change.

Papa’s Free Day Party, written by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Wayne Anthony Still, published by Just Us Books. Publication date: April 20, 2021, hardcover, $17.95, ISBN: 978-0-940975-72-9, target age: 5-8

Johnnie wants to celebrate her Papa’s birthday, but Papa doesn’t know exactly when that special day is. Johnnie doesn’t understand how that could be. Then she learns about Papa’s childhood how he escaped Night Riders, the family that took him in, and how he built a new life in the all-Black town of Boley, Oklahoma. Inspired by her father’s incredible story, Johnnie decides to throw Papa a different kind of party one to recognize her father’s day of freedom.

Marilyn Nelson is the author or translator of more than 20 books and chapbooks for adults and children. Her critically acclaimed books for young readers include A Wreath for Emmett Till, Fortune’s Bones, Carver: A Life in Poems, a Newbery Honor Book and recipient of the Boston Globe/Hornbook and the Fiora Stieglitz Straus Awards. Her memoir, How I Discovered Poetry, is a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014. A three-time finalist for the National Book Award, her many honors include the Frost Medal, the NSK Neustadt Award and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. She was Poet Laureate of Connecticut, 2001 - 2006.

Wayne Anthony Still is an award-winning illustrator, painter, designer and sculptor. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in illustration and graphic design from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His work includes exquisitely designed figurines, collector’s stamps for international governments and masterful plates as well as paintings and illustrations. He lives in Pennsylvania near the city of Philadelphia where another famous member of his family, William Still, was an active leader and historian-conductor of the Underground Railroad.

Just Us Books is an independent, Black-owned publisher of children’s books that celebrate the diversity of Black people, history, and culture. Founded in 1988 by husband-and-wife team, Wade and Cheryl Hudson, its titles range from board books for infants to novels for young adults and have helped the company win numerous awards for its contributions to publishing, including Small Business Pioneer of the Year and the Children’s Book Council Diversity Outstanding Achievement Award. In more than 32 years of operation, Just Us Books has become an institution in children’s publishing and remains one of the nation’s few Black-owned presses. Just Us Books titles can be purchased wherever books are sold and through its web site: www.justusbooks.com

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