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Mitchell’s New Book, “When Grandmama Sings,” Adds to the Literary Record

Kansas City, KS (BlackNews.com) — Award-winning children’s book author, Margaree King Mitchell, has a new book that inspires children to sing their own song when deciding their life’s goal. When Grandmama Sings reunites Mitchell with James E. Ransome, the award-winning author and artist of Uncle Jed’s Barbershop. Mitchell’s books are set in the segregated South and focus on ordinary people who achieve extraordinary things for the time period in which they live.

She writes to inspire children to dream great dreams for their lives. “If children can see that the characters in my stories, which lived during a time of racial barriers and discrimination, could achieve their dreams, surely they will believe that they can too. I’ll never forget the little girl who said to me that because of Uncle Jed’s story she now believes she can become a doctor even though her grandmamma told her she would never be one,” says Mitchell. She adds, “In all of my school visits I always ask the kids to tell me their dreams. I want them to be heard. I want them to feel that their dreams matter to someone.”

Mitchell has listened to thousands of children sharing their dreams about the future. More children will be sharing their dreams with Mitchell in the coming months as she has programs scheduled in Northern Mississippi, South Florida, Little Rock, Atlanta, Memphis, Houston, and places in between.

Although she now lives in Kansas City, Mitchell grew up in the South. “I was born and raised in Holly Springs, Mississippi on my grandfather’s farm. My grandfather owned his own farm during a time when not many black people owned their own land. I was a firsthand witness to the struggles he went through in maintaining his farm, which is why I put obstacles to be overcome in my stories,” Mitchell says. “I want children to know that their dreams will not be easy to achieve. It seems like the bigger the dream, the bigger the obstacles that come your way. But with persistence and focus and determination, dreams can and will come true.”

Mitchell also takes time to explain the historical aspects of her books to children. “Valuable lessons can be learned from history,” Mitchell says. “If children learn the lessons of the past they will not repeat those mistakes.”

Set in the 1940’s, When Grandmama Sings follows eight year old Belle as she accompanies her grandmother, Ivory Belle Coles, a jazz singer, on a tour of southern cities. What she sees affects her deeply. But her grandmother’s handling of the obstacles she faces makes a profound impression on Belle. At the end of the tour Grandmama Coles is offered a record contract and moves up north. Belle realizes she also has a song to sing and one day her gift will takes her places. James Ransome’s imaginative watercolors breathe life into every page and every situation encountered on the tour.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with James again,” says Mitchell. “His work on Uncle Jed’s Barbershop and on When Grandmama Sings is filled with passion and exemplifies the era.”

Mitchell’s presentations also touch her adult audiences as she talks about the value of southern history in children’s literature. “I’m surprised by the way my stories affect adults, especially the ones who grew up in the South. I hear countless stories of their experiences. They tell me their stories with as much emotion as if the incidents occurred yesterday,” Mitchell says. “In some cases it is the first time they have shared family stories from the past. I hear stories from white and black people. They tell me that my books encourage them to talk to their children about the past.”

When Grandmama Sings is available online and in bookstores everywhere.

About Margaree King Mitchell

Margaree King Mitchell is the author of the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Uncle Jed’s Barbershop, illustrated by James E. Ransome, and Granddaddy’s Gift, illustrated by Larry Johnson. An award winning musical, featuring Broadway veteran Ken Prymus, has been adapted from Uncle Jed’s Barbershop. She is the creator of the EveryBody Has A Dream program, which empowers students in urban and rural areas to shoot for the stars with aspirations for their lives. Her new book, When Grandmama Sings, illustrated by James E. Ransome, was published January 2012 by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins. She lives in Kansas City.

Photo Caption: Bookcover

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