Words Take Wing: Honoring Diversity in Children's Literature

Joyce Carol Thomas

Career

  • Writer, poet, novelist, playwright, educator, and motivational speaker
  • Telephone operator in San Francisco, CA, 1957-58
  • Ravenswood School District, East Palo Alto, CA, teacher of French and Spanish, 1968-70
  • San Jose State College (now University), San Jose, CA, assistant professor of black studies, 1969-72
  • Contra Costa College, San Pablo, CA, teacher of drama and English, 1973-75
  • St. Mary's College, Moraga, CA, professor of English, 1975-77
  • San Jose State University, San Jose, reading program director, 1979-82, associate professor of English, 1982-83
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, associate professor, 1989-92, professor of English, 1992-95
  • Visiting associate professor of English at Purdue University, 1983

Selected Awards & Recognitions

  • Danforth graduate fellow, University of California at Berkeley, 1973-75
  • Stanford University scholar, 1979-80, and Djerassi fellow, 1982, 1983
  • New York Times outstanding book of the year citation, American Library Association (ALA) best book citation, and Before Columbus American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, all 1982, and American Book Award for children's fiction, Association of American Publishers, and National Book Award, both 1983, all for Marked by Fire
  • Coretta Scott King Award, ALA, 1984, for Bright Shadow
  • Named Outstanding Woman of the Twentieth Century, Sigma Gamma Rho, 1986
  • Pick of the Lists, American Booksellers, 1986, for The Golden Pasture
  • Arkansas Traveler Award, 1987
  • Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives citations, 1989
  • Chancellor's Award for Research and Creativity, University of Tennessee, and Selected Title for Children and Young Adults, National Conference of Christians and Jews, both 1991, both for A Gathering of Flowers
  • Proclamation, City of Berkeley, 1992, for When the Nightingale Sings
  • 100 Children's Books listee, New York Public Library, 1993, Coretta Scott King Honor Book designation, ALA, Notable Children's Books designation, National Council of Teachers of English, and Mirrors and Windows: Seeing the Human Family Award, National Conference of Christians and Jews, all 1994, all for Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea
  • Poet Laureate Award, Oklahoma State University Center for Poets and Writers, 1996-2000
  • Oklahoma Governor's Award, 1998
  • Celebrated Storyteller Award, People magazine, 1999, for Gingerbread Days
  • Notable Children's Book designation, ALA, Notable Children's Trade Book in Social Studies designation, National Council for the Social Studies/ Children's Book Council, Teacher's Choice Award, International Reading Association, and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book designation, all 1999, all for I Have Heard of a Land
  • Parents' Choice Award, 2000, and Oklahoma Book Award, 2001, both for Hush Songs
  • Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award, Oklahoma Center for the Book, 2001, for body of work
  • Parents' Choice Award, 2004, for What's the Hurry, Fox? and Other Animal Stories
  • Coretta Scott King Award, 2009, for The Blacker the Berry

Works

Writings

  • (Editor and contributor) A Gathering of Flowers: Stories about Being Young in America, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1990.
  • (Editor and contributor) Linda Brown, You Are Not Alone: The Brown v. Board of Education Decision, illustrated by Curtis James, Jump at the Sun (New York, NY), 2003.
  • Contributor of poem, "Remembering Marian Anderson," to Days to Celebrate: A Full Year of Poetry, People, Holidays, History, Fascinating Facts and More, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Greenwillow Books, (New York, NY), 2005.
  • Contributor of short story, "Young Reverend Zelma Lee Moses," to Children of the Night: The Best Short Stories by Black writers, 1967 to the Present, edited by Gloria Naylor, Little, Brown and Co., (Boston, MA), 1995.
  • Contributor of short story, "Handling Snakes," to I Believe in Water, edited by Marilyn Singer, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.
  • Contributor of short story, "A Family Illness, a Mom-Son Conversation," to Necessary Noise: Stories about Our Families as They Really Are, edited by Michael Cart, HarperTempest, (New York, NY), 2003.
  • Contributor to periodicals, including American Poetry Review, Black Scholar, Calafia, Drum Voices, Giant Talk, and Yardbird Reader.
  • Editor of Ambrosia (women's newsletter), 1980.

Young Adult Novels

  • Marked by Fire, Avon (New York, NY), 1982, reprinted, Jump at the Sun (New York, NY), 2007.
  • Bright Shadow (sequel to Marked by Fire), Avon (New York, NY), 1983.
  • Water Girl, Avon (New York, NY), 1986.
  • The Golden Pasture, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1986.
  • Journey, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1988.
  • When the Nightingale Sings, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.
  • House of Light (sequel to Bright Shadow), Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.
  • Abide with Me, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.
  • Collected Novels for Teens, Jump at the Sun (New York, NY), 2008.

For Children

  • Cherish Me (picture book), illustrated by Nneka Bennett, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.
  • I Have Heard of a Land, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.
  • You Are My Perfect Baby (board book), illustrated by Nneka Bennett, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
  • The Bowlegged Rooster and Other Tales That Signify, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.
  • Hush Songs: African American Lullabies, illustrated by Brenda Joysmith, Jump at the Sun (New York, NY), 2000.
  • Joy! (board book), illustrated by Pamela Johnson, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.
  • Angel's Lullaby (board book), illustrated by Pamela Johnson, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.
  • The Gospel Cinderella (picture book), illustrated by David Diaz, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
  • (Adaptor) Zora Neale Hurston, The Skull Talks Back and Other Haunting Tales, illustrated by Leonard Jenkins, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
  • (Adaptor) Zora Neale Hurston, What's the Hurry, Fox? and Other Animal Stories, illustrated by Bryan Collier, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
  • (Adaptor) Zora Neale Hurston, The Six Fools, illustrated by Ann Tanksley, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
  • (Adaptor) Zora Neale Hurston, The Three Witches, illustrated by Faith Ringgold, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
  • Shouting!, illustrated by Annie Lee, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

Poetry

  • Bittersweet, Firesign Press (San Jose, CA), 1973.
  • Crystal Breezes, Firesign Press (San Jose, CA), 1974.
  • Blessing, Jocato Press (Berkeley, CA), 1975.
  • Black Child, illustrated by Tom Feelings, Zamani Productions (New York, NY), 1981.
  • Inside the Rainbow, Zikawana Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1982.
  • Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.
  • Gingerbread Days, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.
  • The Blacker the Berry, illustrated by Brenda Joysmith, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997; illustrated by Floyd Cooper, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2008.
  • A Mother's Heart, a Daughter's Love, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.
  • Crowning Glory, illustrated by Brenda Joysmith, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Plays

  • (And producer) A Song in the Sky (two-act), produced in San Francisco, CA, 1976.
  • Look! What a Wonder! (two-act), produced in Berkeley, CA, 1976.
  • (And producer) Magnolia (two-act), produced in San Francisco, CA, 1977.
  • (And producer) Ambrosia (two-act), produced in San Francisco, CA, 1978.
  • Gospel Roots (two-act), produced in Carson, CA, 1981.
  • I Have Heard of a Land, produced in Oklahoma City, OK, 1989.
  • When the Nightingale Sings, produced in Knoxville, TN, 1991.
  • (And director) A Mother's Heart (two-act), produced in San Francisco, CA, 2001.

Sound Recordings

  • The Role of Imagination in Writing, University Media Services, CSU, Sacramento (Sacramento, CA), 1986.
  • Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea, narrated by Agnes Hermann, Spoken Arts (New Rochelle, NY), 1990.
  • Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea, narrated by Ruby Dee, Spoken Arts (New Rochelle, NY), 1993.
  • House of Light, narrated by Patricia R. Floyd, Recorded Books/Griot Audio (New York, NY), 2001.

Video Recordings

  • 1995 Virginia Hamilton Conference, a videorecording from the 1994 Virginia Hamilton conference at Kent State University, including presentation of the annual Virginia Hamilton Essay Award to Sandra Stotsky, and panel presentation with Lulu Delacre, Joyce Carol Thomas, and Shonto Begay, moderated by Tony Manna.
  • Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea, narrated by Ruby Dee, Spoken Arts (New Rochelle, NY), 1996.
  • Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea, narrated by Ruby Dee, Spoken Arts (New Rochelle, NY), 1997.

Media Adaptations

  • Marked by Fire was adapted as the stage musical Abyssinia, produced at Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, CT.

Selected Publications About The Author

Books

  • Afro-American Fiction Writers After 1955, edited by Thadious M. Davis and Trudier Harris, Gale Research Co. (Detroit, MI), 1984.
  • Something About the Author, vol. 40, edited by Anne Commire, Gale Research Co. (Detroit, MI), 1985.
  • Something About the Author. Autobiographical Series. vol. 7, edited by Joyce Nakamura, Gale Research Co. (Detroit, MI), 1990.
  • Speaking for Ourselves: Autobiographical Sketches by Notable Authors of Books for Young Adults, edited by Donald R. Gallo, National Council of Teachers of English (Urbana, IL) 1990.
  • Speaking for Ourselves, Too: More Autobiographical Sketches by Notable Authors of Books for Young Adults, edited by Donald R. Gallo, National Council of Teachers of English (Urbana, IL) 1993.
  • Kovacs, Deborah. Meet The Authors: 25 Writers of Upper Elementary and Middle School Books Talk About Their Work, Scholastic Professional Books (New York, NY), 1995.
  • Writers for Young Adults, edited by Ted Hipple, Charles Scribner's Sons (New York, NY), 1997.
  • Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson, Greenwood (Westport, CT), 1999.
  • St. James Guide to Young-Adult Writers, edited by Tom Pendergast and Sara Pendergast, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
  • Vardell, Sylvia M. Poetry People: A Practical Guide to Children's Poets, Libraries Unlimited (Westport, CT), 2007.

Articles

  • Creative Classroom, March-April, 1998, Brenda Pilson, "Home Sweet Poetry," pp. 20-22; January-February, 2001, Lee Hopkins " A Determined Spirit: Singing the Conscience of a People, " pp. 30-32.

Reviews

  • Best Sellers, June, 1982, Wendell Wray, review of Marked by Fire, pp. 123-124.
  • Black Issues Book Review, May, 2001, Althea Gamble, review of House of Light, p. 23.
  • Black Scholar, summer, 1982, Dorothy Randall-Tsuruta, review of Marked by Fire, p. 48.
  • Booklist, February 15, 1994, review of Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea, p. 1081; September 15, 1995, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Gingerbread Days, p. 176; February 15, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of I Have Heard of a Land, p. 1009; January 1, 1999, Kathy Broderick, review of Cherish Me, p. 891; October 1, 2000, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of The Bowlegged Rooster and Other Tales That Signify, p. 342; December 15, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of Hush Songs: African-American Lullabies, p. 823; February 15, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of House of Light, p. 1101; March 15, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of A Mother's Heart, A Daughter's Love, p. 1392; September 15, 2002, Cynthia Turnquest, review of Crowning Glory, p. 238; December 1, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of Linda Brown, You Are Not Alone: The Brown v. Board of Education Decision, p. 658; February 15, 2004, Michael Cart, "Carte Blanche: Fifty Years after Brown v. Board of Education," p. 1052, and Ilene Cooper, review of The Gospel Cinderella, p. 1078; May 15, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of What's the Hurry, Fox? and Other Animal Stories, p. 1622; February 1, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of The Six Fools, p. 68; June 1, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of The Three Witches, p. 78; February 1, 2007, Ilene Cooper, review of Shouting!, p. 60; May 15, 2008, Hazel Rochman, review of The Blacker the Berry, p. 46.
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1984, Zena Sutherland, review of Bright Shadow, p. 119.
  • Essence, December, 2006, "Child's Play," review of The Three Witches, p. 88.
  • Horn Book, March-April, 1996, Martha V. Parravano, review of Gingerbread Days, pp. 219-220; September-October, 2008, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Blacker the Berry, pp. 604-605.
  • Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1988, review of Journey, p. 1410; February 1, 2001, review of House of Light; May 15, 2002, review of Crowning Glory, p. 742; November 15, 2003, review of Linda Brown, You Are Not Alone, p. 1364; April 1, 2004, review of What's the Hurry, Fox? and Other Animal Stories, p. 331; April 15, 2004, review of The Gospel Cinderella, p. 402; January 15, 2007, review of Shouting!, p. 82; June 15, 2008, review of The Blacker the Berry.
  • Language Arts, January, 2009, Laura B. Smolkin, review of The Blacker the Berry, p. 226; March, 2010, review of The Blacker the Berry, pp. 313-314.
  • Publishers Weekly, July 25, 1986, review of The Golden Pasture, p. 191; September 25, 1995, review of Gingerbread Days, p. 57; January 8, 1996, review of Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea, p. 70; April 6, 1998, review of I Have Heard of a Land, p. 77; February 19, 2001, review of House of Light, p. 69; May 6, 2002, review of Crowning Glory, p. 57; December 8, 2003, review of Linda Brown, You Are Not Alone, p. 62; May 24, 2004, review of The Gospel Cinderella, p. 62; August 14, 2006, review of The Three Witches, p. 205; January 29, 2007, review of Shouting!, p. 74.
  • San Francisco Chronicle, May 17, 2004, Rona Marech, "Brown vs. Board of Education: Fifty Years Later; Authors Reflect on How Ruling Affected Their Young Lives," p. E1.
  • School Library Journal, March, 1982, Hazel Rochman, review of Marked by Fire, p. 162; October, 1988, Starr LaTronica, review of Journey, p. 165; January, 1996, Meg Stackpole, review of Gingerbread Days, p. 107; November, 2000, Steven Engelfried, review of The Bowlegged Rooster and Other Tales That Signify, p. 135; February, 2002, Bina Williams, review of Joy!, p. 114; June, 2002, Barbara Buckley, review of Crowning Glory, p. 126; January, 2004, Kelly Czarnecki, review of Linda Brown, You Are Not Alone, p. 161; April, 2004, Mary N. Oluonye, review of What's the Hurry, Fox? and Other Animal Stories, p. 144; May, 2004, Mary N. Oluonye, review of The Gospel Cinderella, p. 136; January, 2006, Nina Lindsay, review of The Six Fools, p. 119; August, 2006, Nina Lindsay, review of The Three Witches, p. 105; March, 2007, Mary Hazelton, review of Shouting!, p. 186; August, 2008, Teresa Pfeifer, review of The Blacker the Berry, p. 114.
  • Working Mother, June-July, 2008, review of The Blacker the Berry, p. 14.

Interviews

  • "Joyce Carol Thomas," in Women Writers of the West Coast: Speaking of Their Lives and Careers, edited by Marilyn Yalom, Capra (Santa Barbara, CA), 1988, pp. 31-39.
  • "Joyce Carol Thomas," in Inter/Views: Talks with America's Writing Women, Mickey Pearlman and Katherine U. Henderson University of Kentucky Press (Lexington, KY), 1990, pp. 125-131.
  • SAGE: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women, summer, 1988, Theodore R. Hudson, "Affirming Rainbows and Flames: A Conversation with Joyce Carol Thomas," pp. 68-70.
  • African American Review, spring, 1998, Darwin L. Henderson and Anthony L. Manna, "Evoking the 'Holy and the Horrible': Conversations with Joyce Carol Thomas," pp. 139-146.

Archival Material

  • Joyce Carol Thomas Papers, Children's Literature Research Collections, University of Minnesota Libraries
    • Collection contains holograph, typescripts, dummies, correspondence, and related materials for one book of poetry, Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea
    • Web version of inventory available at: http://bit.ly/hnajGf (http://bit.ly/hnajGf)

Selected Websites