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Go Forth and Tell: The Life of Augusta Baker, Librarian and Master Storyteller

Illustrated by April Harrison
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From an award-winning author and illustrator comes this picture book biography about beloved librarian and storyteller Augusta Braxton Baker, the first Black coordinator of children’s services at all branches of the New York Public Library.

Before Augusta Braxton Baker became a storyteller, she was an excellent story listener. Her grandmother brought stories like Br’er Rabbit and Arthur and Excalibur to life, teaching young Augusta that when there’s a will, there’s always a way. When she grew up, Mrs. Baker began telling her own fantastical stories to children at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library in Harlem. But she noticed that there were hardly any books at the library featuring Black people in respectful, uplifting ways. Thus began her journey of championing books, writers, librarians, and teachers centering Black stories, educating and inspiring future acclaimed authors like Audre Lorde and James Baldwin along the way.

As Mrs. Baker herself put it: “Children of all ages want to hear stories. Select well, prepare well and then go forth and just tell.”
April Harrison is an award-winning children's book illustrator. She received the Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe New Talent Award for Patricia C. McKissack's final picture book, What Is Given from the Heart, which received four starred reviews and which the New York Times Book Review called an "exquisite story of generosity." She also received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for Me and the Boss. April illustrated Alicia D. William's Shirley Chisholm Dared, as well as Tricia Elam Walker's Nana Akua Goes to School, which also received four starred reviews. Her work appears in the public collections of Vanderbilt University, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, the Atlanta Housing Authority, and the Erskine University Museum and in many private collections. April lives in South Carolina. Visit her at april-harrison.com. View titles by April Harrison
★ "Intricate details will draw novice readers back to the pages, while more experienced readers will find a treasure trove of biographical sources compiled by McDaniel . . . here’s thoughtfulness here in the craft and pacing of her prose, certainly; reverence, too, inthe textured layers of Harrison’s mixed-media and visual storytelling. But more than anything, simplecare is evident. Care for a Black librarian who sought out every gap a tale could bridge, who shattered barriers to ensure Black children would see themselves on library shelves, and whose legacy continues to this day exactly as it began—in the thrall of good stories." —Kirkus, starred review

★ "Brimming with color and texture, Harrison's illustrations incorporate acrylics, pen, and mixed-media collage elements that bestow a pleasing three-dimensional look to the scenes . . . Appended with a time line, sources, and author's note, this makes a worthy addition to library collections." —Booklist, starred review

★ "[A] glowing account of legendary storytelling librarian Baker . . . Harrison’s intricate mixed-media collages employ shifting scale to bring to life this vital history of a vital figure." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ "McDaniel gives an account of Baker’s life that is as celebratory as the heroes in her folktales, attesting that Baker internalized the message that 'where there’s a will, there’s a way'. Harrison’s exuberant mixed-media collage illustrations capture the vibrancy of both the storyteller and her stories, creating worlds and words that leap off pages." —Horn Book, starred review

About

From an award-winning author and illustrator comes this picture book biography about beloved librarian and storyteller Augusta Braxton Baker, the first Black coordinator of children’s services at all branches of the New York Public Library.

Before Augusta Braxton Baker became a storyteller, she was an excellent story listener. Her grandmother brought stories like Br’er Rabbit and Arthur and Excalibur to life, teaching young Augusta that when there’s a will, there’s always a way. When she grew up, Mrs. Baker began telling her own fantastical stories to children at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library in Harlem. But she noticed that there were hardly any books at the library featuring Black people in respectful, uplifting ways. Thus began her journey of championing books, writers, librarians, and teachers centering Black stories, educating and inspiring future acclaimed authors like Audre Lorde and James Baldwin along the way.

As Mrs. Baker herself put it: “Children of all ages want to hear stories. Select well, prepare well and then go forth and just tell.”

Author

April Harrison is an award-winning children's book illustrator. She received the Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe New Talent Award for Patricia C. McKissack's final picture book, What Is Given from the Heart, which received four starred reviews and which the New York Times Book Review called an "exquisite story of generosity." She also received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for Me and the Boss. April illustrated Alicia D. William's Shirley Chisholm Dared, as well as Tricia Elam Walker's Nana Akua Goes to School, which also received four starred reviews. Her work appears in the public collections of Vanderbilt University, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, the Atlanta Housing Authority, and the Erskine University Museum and in many private collections. April lives in South Carolina. Visit her at april-harrison.com. View titles by April Harrison

Praise

★ "Intricate details will draw novice readers back to the pages, while more experienced readers will find a treasure trove of biographical sources compiled by McDaniel . . . here’s thoughtfulness here in the craft and pacing of her prose, certainly; reverence, too, inthe textured layers of Harrison’s mixed-media and visual storytelling. But more than anything, simplecare is evident. Care for a Black librarian who sought out every gap a tale could bridge, who shattered barriers to ensure Black children would see themselves on library shelves, and whose legacy continues to this day exactly as it began—in the thrall of good stories." —Kirkus, starred review

★ "Brimming with color and texture, Harrison's illustrations incorporate acrylics, pen, and mixed-media collage elements that bestow a pleasing three-dimensional look to the scenes . . . Appended with a time line, sources, and author's note, this makes a worthy addition to library collections." —Booklist, starred review

★ "[A] glowing account of legendary storytelling librarian Baker . . . Harrison’s intricate mixed-media collages employ shifting scale to bring to life this vital history of a vital figure." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

★ "McDaniel gives an account of Baker’s life that is as celebratory as the heroes in her folktales, attesting that Baker internalized the message that 'where there’s a will, there’s a way'. Harrison’s exuberant mixed-media collage illustrations capture the vibrancy of both the storyteller and her stories, creating worlds and words that leap off pages." —Horn Book, starred review

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