The Day Madear Voted

Jerry Changed The Game! How Engineer Jerry Lawson Revolutionized Video Games Forever

Meet Jerry Lawson, the Black engineer who revolutionized the video game industry, in this engaging picture book biography perfect for fans of Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions and Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History.

Before Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch, there was a tinkerer named Jerry Lawson. As a boy, Jerry loved playing with springs, sprockets, and gadget-y things. When he grew up, Jerry became an engineer—a professional tinkerer—and in the 1970s, he turned his technical know-how to video games.

Back then, if players wanted a new video game, they had to buy an entire new console, making gaming very expensive. Jerry was determined to fix this problem, and despite roadblocks along the way and having to repeat a level or two, it was never game over for his mission. Eventually, he leveled up and built a brand-new kind of video game console: one that allowed players to switch out cartridges! He also founded Video Soft, Inc., the first African American–owned video game company in the country.

Jerry’s tinkering and inventions changed the video gaming world forever. Today, gamers have access to hundreds of video games at the push of a button, all thanks to him. Game on!



Kirkus Reviews

“Harris’ vivid illustrations and graphics complement Tate’s engaging text. Enticing and inspiring fare.”



“Readers will understand that Lawson was a dedicated, determined, and inventive man who paved the way for video games and Black entrepreneurs.”




Click here to download the JERRY CHANGED THE GAME! standards-aligned Educator’s Guide for Grades 1-5 for classrooms, libraries, and community groups.






• Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

Eureka! Excellence in Nonfiction Award Honor Title (CA)

CBC Best STEM Book List Selection

2023 Nerdies: Nonfiction Picture Book Award

2023 Denver Public Library 2023 Staff Picks for Kids – Nonfiction & Poetry

• 2024 Mathical Book Prize winner

• 2024-2025 Cypress Fairbanks ISD Horned Toad Tale List




Roto and Roy: To the Rescue!

This rip-roaring rescue adventure series by bestselling author Sherri Duskey Rinker and award-winning artist Don Tate celebrates the teamwork of man and machine!

When a flash flood threatens a nearby town, helicopter Roto and pilot Roy soar to the rescue! Quick—a truck needs to be hoisted to safety! Hurry—that family’s car is being swept away! Now grab as many sandbags and supplies as you can carry! This mission’s going to be rough, but Roy and Roto are tougher than tough.

From Sherri Duskey Rinker, bestselling author of the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site series, and acclaimed illustrator Don Tate, this action-packed story showcases two awesome heroes and the power of teamwork.




“Propulsive action, engaging illustrations, and a
great message about the value of determination and teamwork make this a must.”

Roto and Roy: Helicopter Heroes

When a dangerous forest fire burns out of control, helicopter Roto and pilot Roy are ready to fly to the rescue! They’re braver than brave, tougher than tough, and nothing will stop this firefighting crew from completing their mission.

From Sherri Duskey Rinker, bestselling author of the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site series, and award-winning illustrator Don Tate, this action-packed series starter will have kids cheering for two awesome new heroes—and imagining how they might save the day themselves!



Click here to download the Roto and Roy Helicopter Heroes Storytime Kit.




• Publishers Weekly

“It’s the ideal story for any reader who yearns for straight-up selfless heroism from people and vehicles alike.”


• Kirkus

“This engaging, rhyming picture book looks and feels like a large comic book. The cartoonlike illustrations are action-packed and divided into panels on several spreads. Like classic superhero comics, there is plenty of onomatopoeia, inviting audience participation. . . . A fun friendship story for young readers fond of brave exploits, helicopters, comics, or any combination thereof..”


• Booklist

“Mighty firefighting pilot Big Roy Thunder may cut an imposing figure in Tate’s drama-soaked illustrations (you can practically see the rippling cape at his shoulders), but he’s not the only hero here: Roto is “fueled and ready, brave and strong. / Her shiny wings are tough and long. / Superhero helicopter! / She’s awesome, and nothing can stop her.” When the call comes in, off soars the daring duo to douse forest fires, rescue the occasional frightened puppy, then return to Hangar One and the cheers of crowds of fans. “THAT’S how we roll!” rumbles Big Roy. “BOOM!” Sporting large, expressive eyes like many of her anthropomorphic working-machine kin, Roto exudes grim determination while battling the smoky blaze, and smiling confidence at other times.”














Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes


Young Ernie Barnes wasn’t like other boys his age. Bullied for being shy, overweight, and uninterested in sports like boys were “supposed” to be, he instead took refuge in his sketchbook, in vibrant colors, bold brushstrokes, and flowing lines. But growing up in a poor, Black neighborhood during the 1930s, opportunities to learn about art were rare, and art museums were off-limits because of segregation laws. Discouraged and tired of being teased, Ernie joined the school football team. Although reluctant at first, he would soon become a star.

But art remained in Ernie’s heart and followed him through high school, college, and into the NFL. Ernie saw art all around him: in the dynamic energy of the game, the precision of plays, and the nimble movement of his teammates. He poured his passion into his game and his craft, and became famous as both a professional athlete and as an artist whose paintings reflected his love of the sport and celebrated Black bodies as graceful and beautiful.

He played for the Baltimore Colts (1959–60), Titans of New York (1960), San Diego Chargers (1960–62), and the Denver Broncos (1963–64). In 1965, Barnes signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Canada, but fractured his right foot, which ended his professional football career. Soon after, he met New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin, who was impressed by Barnes and his art. In 1966 Barnes had a debut solo exhibition in New York City, sponsored by Werblin at the Grand Central Art Galleries; all the paintings were sold. Barnes became so well-known as an artist that one of his paintings was featured in the opening credits of the TV show Good Times, and he was commissioned to create official posters for the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics.

From award-winning author and illustrator Don Tate, Pigskins to Paintbrushes is the inspiring story of Ernie Barnes, who defined himself on his own terms and pushed the boundaries of “possible,” from the field to the canvas.

The back matter includes Barnes’s photograph and his official Topps trading card. Also included are an author’s note, endnotes, a bibliography, and a list of websites where Barnes’s work can be seen.



Click here to download the PIGSKINS TO PAINTBRUSHES standards-aligned Educator’s Guide for Grades 1-5 for classrooms, libraries, and community groups.










Swish!: The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters

The true story of the high-flying Harlem Globetrotters — the team that changed basketball forever.

In this book you will find one-finger ball-spinning, rapid-fire mini-dribbling, and a ricochet head shot!

You will find skilled athletes, expert players, and electrifying performers — all rolled into one!
You will find nonstop, give-it-all-you’ve-got, out-to-win-it, sky’s-the-limit BASKETBALL!
You will find THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS, who played the most groundbreaking, breathtaking ball the world had ever seen. With rhythmic writing and dynamic illustrations, Swish! is a celebration of the greatness, goodness, and grit of this remarkable team.



“Slade has done careful, thorough research, easily engaging young readers as they learn about the Globetrotters’ groundbreaking history. Veteran illustrator Tate creates constant movement, visually underscoring the title with dynamic (sometimes impossible) perspectives and basketballs caught in stop-motion fashion as they fly across the court. . . .  From beginning to end, fans will feel connected to the dynamic style of the Globetrotters and how they influenced American history” 


“Lively text mimics the energy of the game . . . Tate’s artwork beautifully reflects the joy, talent, and athleticism through big smiles and elongated limbs. Basketball fans will enjoy this introduction to an iconic sports institution.” 

Publishers Weekly

“Tate’s dynamic digital pictures capture the players’ perseverance as they prove instrumental in integrating pro basketball and score legions of fans, and a comprehensive timeline rounds out the book. . .  this is an enthusiastic tribute to a groundbreaking team.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Slade keeps the narrative positive, emphasizing forward social progress in professional basketball, while balancing the Globetrotters’ crowd-pleasing antics with a nod to the serious strategic impulse behind it. Tate’s digital artwork matches the mood, with a smiling cast of wiry, taffy-limbed showmen whose pace never slows.”

Horn Book

“Tate’s illustrations, done digitally in his usual big-hearted-caricature style (Whoosh!, rev. 7/16, and others), are an ideal match for the subject, with the players’ tallness and thinness perfectly exaggerated, and the forever-motion of that big orange ball and its handlers spinning, twirling, and dunking on every scene.”

School Library Journal

“The players’ quick movements and the constant ball action are expertly represented by Tate’s dynamic cartoon-style spreads. VERDICT This well-researched, accessible picture book makes this story bounce off the page.”



*Junior Library Guild Selection

*2021 Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts (NCTE)

*2021 Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year list

*EPL 2020 “101 Great Books for Kids”

*2022 Texas Bluebonnet list

*2021-22 Arkansas Diamond Primary   Book Award nominee

*2023 Illinois Monarch Award nominee

*Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice  Program

William Still and His Freedom Stories: Father of the Underground Railroad

The remarkable, little-known story of William Still, known as the Father of the Underground Railroad from award-winning author-illustrator Don Tate

William Still’s parents escaped slavery but had to leave two of their children behind, a tragedy that haunted the family. As a young man, William went to work for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, where he raised money, planned rescues, and helped freedom seekers who had traveled north. And then one day, a strangely familiar man came into William’s office, searching for information about his long-lost family. Could it be?

Motivated by his own family’s experience, William began collecting the stories of thousands of other freedom seekers. As a result, he was able to reunite other families and build a remarkable source of information, including encounters with Harriet Tubman, Henry “Box” Brown, and William and Ellen Craft.

Don Tate brings to life the incredible true story of William Still’s life and work as a record keeper of enslaved people who had fled to freedom. Tate’s powerful words and artwork are sure to inspire readers in this first-ever picture book biography of the Father of the Underground Railroad.


Click here to download the Activity Guide (CCSS Annotated).




• Kirkus

“Tate’s sentences are often short, underscoring Still’s effort and drive; when they occasionally lengthen, they land with a punch… His paintings often likewise play out in vignettes that capture action over time then linger lovingly on the expressive faces of his characters. Brings deserved attention to the life of a man who dedicated himself to recording the lives of others.”


• School Library Journal

“Gentle and straightforward prose… The text recounts the oppression and dehumanization of slavery but is not too graphic for the target age demographic…. Tate’s expressive, colorful illustrations work well with the text to convey this important part of American history…. This inspirational true story combines fact with a very readable narrative, spotlighting a pivotal figure in the abolitionist movement. A book that deserves a place on school and public library shelves.”

• Booklist

“The digital illustrations portray [Still] effectively from infancy to old age…. In this concisely written, informative picture-book biography, Tate introduces a man who deserves to be more widely known.” 



Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book —Chicago Public Library, 2020

Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Book Award Silver Honor —California Reading Association, 2020

Best of Picture Books —Kirkus Reviews, 2020

Children’s Crown Award (Nominee) —National Christian School Association, 2021-2022

Golden Kite Award, Nonfiction —Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, 2021

Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List (Intermediate)— Kansas National Education Association, 2021

Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Awards (Nominee, Grades 3-5)— Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, 2021-2022

Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, 2021


Carter Reads The Newspaper

“Carter G. Woodson didn’t just read history. He changed it.” As the father of Black History Month, he spent his life introducing others to the history of his people.

Carter G. Woodson was born to two formerly enslaved people ten years after the end of the Civil War. Though his father could not read, he believed in being an informed citizen. So Carter read the newspaper to him every day. When he was still a teenager, Carter went to work in the coal mines. There he met a man named Oliver Jones, and Oliver did something important: he asked Carter not only to read to him and the other miners, but also research and find more information on the subjects that interested them. “My interest in penetrating the past of my people was deepened,” Carter wrote. His journey would take him many more years, traveling around the world and transforming the way people thought about history.


Click here to download a Common Core Teacher’s Guide.




“Hopkinson skillfully shapes Carter’s childhood, family history and formative experiences into a cohesive story.…the inclusion of notable figures from black history reinforces the theme (a key is in the backmatter). An important and inspiring tale well told.” 


“Young readers will be caught up in his story…. Quotes are seamlessly woven into the narrative, and a time line, list of sources, and bibliography add research appeal. Of special note are the illustrations, which include more than 40 portraits of black leaders… Their images and one-line biographies will pique further interest, making this a valuable resource for school and public libraries.” 

School Library Journal

“Thorough back matter… A charmingly illustrated picture book biography for elementary schoolers.” 

Publishers Weekly

“Conversational… Delicately textured mixed-media illustrations…offer spare, stylized images…” 

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“This will be a go-to title for Black History Month, but a more meaningful tribute to the celebration’s founder will be a catalyst for further African-American studies throughout the year.” Shelf Awareness

“Exemplary… This inspiring picture book combines a rich but focused text with clear, expressive mixed-media illustrations. It sheds light on an important, inspiring, but little-known subject, and the supplemental back matter gives weight to the exceedingly important takeaways that history must include all people, and that anyone can change history.”



Carter G. Woodson Book Award (Honor Book, Elementary)―National Council for the Social Studies, 2020

Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Book Award Silver Honor ―California Reading Association, 2019

Social Justice Literature Award ―Literacy and Social Justice Special Interest Group, International Literacy Association, 2020

Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award ―Parents’ Choice Foundation, 2019

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People ―NCSS/CBC, 2020

Notable Children’s Books―ALSC, 2020

Northern Lights Book Award (Biography) ―Northern Dawn Awards, 2019

Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book ―Chicago Public Library, 2019

Top 10 Books for Kids ―New York Public Library, 2019

Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children’s Literature (Finalist) ―Literary Arts, 2020

Best Children’s Books of the Year (Starred) ―Bank Street College of Education, 2020

Children’s Crown Award (Nominee) ―National Christian School Association, 2020-2021

Delaware Diamonds (Nominee, 3-5) ―Diamond State Reading Association, 2020-2021

Paterson Prize for Books for Young People (Honor Book) ―The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College, 2020

No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas

Junius G. Groves came from humble beginnings in the Bluegrass State. Born in Kentucky into slavery, freedom came when he was still a young man and he intended to make a name for himself. Along with thousands of other African Americans who migrated from the South, Junius walked west and stopped in Kansas. Working for a pittance on a small potato farm was no reason to feel sorry for himself, especially when he’s made foreman. But Junius did dream of owning his own farm, so he did the next best thing. He rented the land and worked hard! As he built his empire, he also built a family, and he built them both on tons and tons and tons of potatoes. He never quit working hard, even as the naysayers doubted him, and soon he was declared Potato King of the World and had five hundred acres and a castle to call his own..




“The mixed-media illustrations, awash in blues, greens, and browns, successfully represent the expansiveness of the land and the momentous nature of Groves’ accomplishments. A glossary, a timeline, and other helpful backmatter make this an excellent research resource for teachers and students alike. . . . This a-peel-ing story will give readers a new appreciation for spuds. 
***Starred Review***



“Dynamo book creators come together to tell a long overdue story . . . Far more than a tale of tubers, this is an inspiring account of hard work and a

wonderful picture-book biography of a self-made farmer.



 Junior Library Guild Selection, Fall 2018


Stalebread Charlie and the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band

Based on a true story, a vibrant, inspirational picture book about self-reliance and the power of creativity and music, in which a group of hungry homeless kids in 19th century New Orleans build their own musical instruments from discarded items and become a successful band.

It’s 1895, and ten-year-old Stalebread Charlie and his friend Warm Gravy roam the streets of New Orleans, homeless and hungry. Stalebread has heard folks say that music feeds the soul—and he wonders if it could also fill their bellies. Soon he and his friends are playing instruments made out of junk—a fiddle from a cigar box, a kazoo from a comb—until their hats are filled with coins, their bellies are filled with beignets, and their souls are filled with music. This inspiring make-lemonade-from-lemons tale includes author/illustrator notes about the real Stalebread and the research behind the book and a make-your-own-instrument activity.



“An upbeat introduction to the scrappy origins of a little-known bit of American musical history. ”


Publishers Weekly

“The story uses onomatopoeias—“Sing-Taka-Taka,” “Scatta-Pat-Scat,” and “Skippity-Bippity-Skip”—to convey the band’s sound, and buoyant illustrations by Tate (Strong as Sandow) show a lively depiction of street life. But the book succeeds as a prompt for readers to learn more about these seminal young musicians. ”


School Library Journal

“[An] author’s note discusses the history of the spasm bands and jazz, but most welcome is the illustrator’s explanation that follows, which acknowledges the role that African Americans had in creating jazz but explain that Tate’s pictures accurately depict the spasm band’s white members. These extras elevate the book from a pleasant story to a worthwhile teaching tool. VERDICT: Units on music and of American history will benefit from this jaunty tale.”


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