On Saturday, March 26, 2016, I participated in a beautiful event at Books for BlackLivesMatter - Toronto Freedom School held at A Different Booklist (ADB) book store where I taught freedom songs, the role of music in civil rights, and the use of symbols on Underground Railroad quilts as forms of resistance and read from my two new books Music and Media in the Sankofa series. My colleague and friend teacher/author/historian/clincian Natasha Henry shared from her titles Freedom and African Diaspora in the Sankofa series. This afternoon we collected boxes full of new books for the Freedom School purchased by patrons and supporters from the BLM wishlist. BLM Freedom School is still taking donations of books and you can find out more information from their Facebook page here. There is a book wishlist and I know that these include more of the Sankofa books by Rubicon Publishing. I also put my trusty face-painting skills to use as I got to create some images on a young visitor. Some more good news that day was that all copies of Malaika's Costume sold out at A Different Booklist bookstore today and they will be ordering more.
On March 5, 2016 about 75-ish(?) people gathered in A Different Booklist bookstore at 746 Bathurst Street just south of Bloor Street from 2-4pm to celebrate "the birth" of my very first picture book, Malaika's Costume. Planning this event felt like planning my wedding. I wanted to create an atmosphere that was "very Caribbean"-- warm, fragrant, rhythm-filled, welcoming. Itah Sadu, author and co-owner of ADB, and her staff created a wonderful window display and filled the shelves with Carnival headpieces that inspired. Soca and reggae music filled the air. Punch filled cups and containers containing Caribbean vegetarian fare-- Trinidadian doubles (a fried dough snack filled with curried chick peas), gizzada (a Jamaican tart filled with sweet coconut), cassava chips (Malaika's favourite that is over-priced in Canada), and homemade Jamaican patties. (I spent three-days making these Jamaican vegan beef patties with jerk sauce made from scratch and flavours called Tingle and Lava. Thanks to my mother who helped me to make the perfectly-shaped crusts.) You probably can tell, I am a bit of a foodie. (My first blog was mostly about becoming vegan.) I squealed with glee as everyone came-- my family, close friends, people I I have not seen in 10+ years, coworkers, my fellow CANSCAIP-, Sanofa's Pen-, and SCBWI-members, church friends, and many supporters and their kids. (They brought kids!) Standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the cozy bookstore (reminding me very much of the crowds during Carnival minus the blazing sun), the audience heard co-owner Itah grace us with a welcome, a few words from my publisher at Groundwood Books Sheila Barry, and then my reading of Malaika's Costume. My illustrator Irene Luxbacher and I signed books from all the attendees. My Groundwood Books publicist Cindy Ma, marketing director Fred Horler, and editor Nan Froman were all there. This experience was such a blessing! And given that we didn't have the horizontal space to do crafts (or Palance), we used the vertical space to dance to the Iwa-Shadow-Butterfly-Wave. Irene and I signed books and chatted with attendees. (That day we sold quite a few and now I am also happy to say that the copies at A Different Booklist have sold out (and they are now being ordered). I have included a slideshow of photos taken that day and soon will post some videos (once I figure it out). Thank you to all who came! Can't wait for Malaika's Carnival Book Bash at Albion Library on April 2!
One of the wonderful opportunities that I have had as a result of Malaika's Costume is writing guest blogposts on different blogs just for kicks but also to promote this picture book and me as an author. This harkens back to my high school, university, and community newspaper and magazine days, when I went after fun assignments as varied as covering a Russian Christmas celebration and Waldorf. Or, I could also query and propose different topics as well such as being a Friendly Visitor to an 86-year old Ukrainian make-up artist and whether or not the habits we have in love affects the duration of a relationship. Oh what fun! I guess in some ways, I am a non-fiction writer at heart. Here is a list and links to the three guest posts that I have written over the past month. I am also currently working on one for Women's Day and will add that fourth one to this bunch. If you wish to read more of my guest posts on a regular basis, please click the PRESS tab to your left so you can get the most updates.
The Brown Bookshelf is designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers. Our flagship initiative is 28 Days Later, a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by African Americans. (source: The Brown Bookshelf website) The founders of the Brown Bookshelf are a who's who in African-American children's literature and themselves authors and/or illustrators. Before getting published, I had visited the Brownshelf and read these biographies and their respective websites, so it is truly honour to now get to write a post on their website.
Here is an excerpt:
Interviewer Nadia: You write this book in a lyrical style… patois… Creole. We don’t see that very often in picture books. To have a book written in the spoken language… Caribbean-English or Ebonics… that’s rare. How have the reviewers and critics responded? How open was your publisher receptive, open to you writing in this way?
Nadia L. Hohn: I wrote this book in what I call “patois lite”. I don’t use alternate spellings, the phonetic spellings you can often see on signs in the Caribbean. Instead, I use certain language that often happen in the English-speaking Caribbean and when I do read-aloud, I use my “Caribbean voice”. So far critics have called the way I write “colloquial” and one reviewer said she found it “jarring “ on the first read but by the second read, she liked it and found it the charm of the book.
IN: Who do you think will like this book?
NLH: I think children ages 3 to 7 will definitely like it. I tested it out on my own students and a New York City school I visited in February. I also think folks of Caribbean background and immigrants will identify with the story. Teachers and librarians will love it for the diverse content. And children’s book lovers will love that it is a “fresh” voice— a patois-speaking little girl— a story told from her perspective. It’s a window to another culture and way of being.
To read the rest of this "selfie interview", visit the link below.
Guest post: Nadia Hohn’s selfie interview on “Malaika’s Costume” March 1, 2016
Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD)
The Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) celebrates diversity in literature by promoting diverse authors and stories in Brampton, Ontario – one of Canada’s most culturally diverse cities. This is the first year of the festival and they have an exciting line-up of workshops and speakers. FOLD will take place from May 6 to 8, 2016.
Here's a preview:
Black History Month began as Negro History Week in the United States in in Canada in 1926 as a way to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of people of African descent. In 1976, it became Black History Month and in 1995, it was officially recognized here in Canada. February is the shortest month and one of the coldest times of the year. The perfect way to celebrate one of these cozy evenings is curled up with a book — not only in February, but all year round. Here are twelve must reads to keep you busy.
1) I and I by Tony Medina, illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson (Lee & Low Books, 2009)
Through Medina’s luscious and descriptive poems and Watson’s gorgeous lifelike illustrations, I and I is a celebration of Marley’s life. The reader gets snapshots of young Robert in the rural hills of Nine Mile in St. Ann parish to the bustling life and crippling poverty of Trenchtown to the concert stage.
2) The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (Harper Collins, 2007)
Lawrence Hill’s sweeping saga told through the life of Aminata Diallo’s journey through continental Africa, the United States, Canada, and then Europe. Aminata is a woman before her time— literate, poised, strong-willed, and reflective— she restores the dignity of Black woman in the often brutal slave narrative. Also adapted to film.
To read the rest of this post, visit:
12 Black History Books February 17, 2016
It almost goes without saying that my publisher, Groundwood Books, will ask authors to write on their blog. Blogging on a website that already has a public readership is an important way that authors can plug their work and engage with different audiences.
Miss Lou- Guest Post by Nadia L. Hohn March 24, 2016
Celebrate Black History Month with Malaika's Costume and the Stone Thrower February 2, 2016
I wanted a perfect way to celebrate the launch of Malaika's Costume, my first picture book, so I decided that a book trailer would be best. You know when you start something new and have no idea how it's going to turn out and you're too stubborn to stop or turn back. Yeah, that's how this book trailer went. It was fun to design but a bit of trial and error. I used iMovie for the first time on my computer and it took in total about 4 hours of work plus 1 1/2 hours to upload it to youtube. Hope you enjoy and please share with others!