Subscribe to SLJ
Bowllan's Blog
Inside Bowllan's Blog

Writers Against Racism: Black History Month Books


  1. I have Rap A Tap Tap if I didn’t give it away.

  2. It’s a beautiful book and will definitely engage students.

  3. Thanks, Amy and Joan, for bringing into the light my historical non-fiction about John Wesley Blair, an extraordinary–and heretofore unsung–African-American hero who deserves to be better known and appreciated! The research spanned some 12 years (this was pre-Internet, so it was all primary-source), with his account spilling over into my Forest Fires…Run for Your Life! (Mondo). The latter contains the only two extant photos of the heroic train porter. He’d been born in Arkansas, and was almost assuredly a slave until his teenage years. All the documentary evidence seems to say that–except for 2 Chinese workers–all the 300 people on the train on that fateful day were white. The sheer generosity of his heart boggles the imagination, and it still chokes me up!

    • Wow! Josephine, I am honored to have you here. Thank you for telling the story of the unsung, as I am sure there are more. Keep inspiring us with your words. In solidarity.

  4. Joanne Walsh says:

    Thank you Josephine for writing this incredible story! I found it in a book store in upstate NY several years ago and was fascinated with the story. As I said in the video, it is the “unsung”heroes who fascinate me and whose stories I try to highlight with my students. It is so important for them to remember these heroes and understand that it isn’t only the more famous that contributed to our world. Another part that captured me, is that as much as I love history and especially American History, I had never heard of the Hinckley fire until I read your book. When I have read this story to my students, they have been riveted and totally in awe. Again thank you for writing this overlooked chapter in our history and thank you for your nice comments.

  5. I can never get over the simple fact that the Dillons are a husband/wife team and have won the Caldecott more than once!
    Separately, I LOVE Kadir Nelson’s work in “Henry’s Freedom Box” by Ellen Levine. The cover always grabs me. It’s a wonderful book for Black History Month.

    • Thank you, Samantha. Every classroom should ‘house’ these lovely and educational books. I have to find “Henry’s…haven’t seen that one.

  6. Dear Amy and Joanne,

    Thank YOU so much for the kind comments, and for taking the time from your busy schedules to reply!

    A co-incidental and serendipitous event since I last posted: the person at the Forest Service, Brian J. Stocks, who provided–by courier–so much of the source material for the above-mentioned, long-ago (and long-lived!) research on my two books about fire, emailed me after a decade of our not having been in touch.

    In catching up about the process, we recalled the role that my kind Reference Librarian here at The Westhampton Free Library played in connecting us. The librarian obtained a directory from the Service, and joked that since it was so thick, I might as well just pick a name at random. Chuckling, I said a little prayer, and landed on Brian’s name. “There goes my phone bill!” I cried. “He WOULD have to be in Canada!” Those dozen years of research later, I called Brian to ask how he’d like me to credit him in Forest Fires…Run for Your Life, and it was then that he thought to ask me who had suggested I contact him. “Was it The Boys in Washington?” (Imagine my double-take!) I explained about the librarian’s joke, and then it was HIS turn to chuckle. Turns out that he was Senior Forest Fire Research Scientist for all of North America! (Hurray, hurray, huRAY for librarians!)

    With such good wishes,


  1. Famous scientists…

    […]Writers Against Racism: Black History Month Books « Bowllan's Blog[…]…