hotTEAs of Children’s Literature: Wade Hudson

Wade Hudson is president of Just Us Books, Inc., an independent children’s publishing company he co-founded with his wife, Cheryl Willis Hudson. Just Us Books is a leading publisher of books that represent our diversity, with a focus on Black history, culture and experiences. Wade has authored 30 books for children and young adults.


☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: My day starts with a hot cup of coffee, which I drink while reading the morning paper. When I was a little boy growing up in rural Louisiana, I was awakened each morning by the aroma of coffee brewing.  For me, it signaled a new day. I would watch my Dad sitting at the table, drinking his cup of coffee while reading the morning paper. I was too young to join him then, but I continue my father’s tradition now. A second cup normally follows my wake-me-up cup of coffee, and after a quick breakfast, I am ready for the new day.

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESS: Feelings I Love to Share by Wade Hudson, illustrated by Laura Freeman, published by Marimba Books (2015), and Book of Black Heroes from A to Z (revised edition) by Wade Hudson and Valerie Wilson Wesley, published by Just Us Books, Inc. (2013).



☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK: Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street by Rita Williams-Garcia, illustrated by Damian Ward, published by Marimba Books (2015).


I am a native of Louisiana. And I love the wide variety of cuisine found in the state. The northern part of the state is more known for its southern Soul, rural-influenced cuisine. The southern section, especially New Orleans, is characterized by the Mississippi River and other bodies of water, is famous for its Creole, Cajun, and seafood-centered cuisine. Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street spotlights the tradition of youngsters’ tap dancing in the French Quarter using bottle caps stamped and ground in the soles of their shoes instead of taps. This delightful book captures the flavor of the Crescent City and introduces some of the famous dishes and food it is known for such as jambalaya, beignet, po’boys and red beans and rice. Let’s eat y’all!


  • AFRO-BETS® Book of Shapes (to be re-issued by Just Us Books, Fall 2016)
  • AFRO-BETS® Book of Colors (to be re-issued by Just Us Books, Fall 2016)
  • I’m a Big Brother Now, by Katura J. Hudson, illustrated by Sylvia Walker (Marimba Books, a new picture book for Fall 2016)
  • Book of Black Heroes: Political Leaders Past and Present, by Gil L. Robertson (Just Us Books, a new book of biographies, Fall 2016)
  • Sights I Love to See (another book in the “I Love to” series published by Marimba Books, Spring 2017).

☕☕ Visit Wade Hudson’s Official Website and the Just Us Books website and Online Store. Keep up with current news on the Just Us Books Facebook Page.

☕☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Get in the groove with the AFRO-BETS ABC Song!



☕☕☕☕ AND ANOTHER SWEET SIP (in case you missed it):  Cheryl Willis Hudson’s hotTEA post! With TWO hotTEAs in the house, they must have to wear their flame proof suits all the time. 🙂

Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

author chat: kelly starling lyons on tea cakes for tosh

tea cakes cover

They’re light and buttery, a little chewy, just a touch of brown around the edges. The fragrance of vanilla and cinnamon wafts through the kitchen as they gently puff up in the oven.

Some describe it as a soft, old-fashioned sugar cookie; some say they are neither cookie nor cake, but most agree that Southern tea cakes are all about childhood, family, and a big ole batch of feel-good memories. If a bite of Southern cuisine could hug you, the tea cake would be it.

I would be lying if I didn’t confess that Tea Cakes for Tosh (Putnam, 2012) had me at the title along with the picture of the grandmother and grandson on the cover. Certainly their special bond is the heartbeat of this tender, multi-layered intergenerational tale so lovingly told by Kelly Starling Lyons and masterfully illustrated by Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winner E.B. Lewis.

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♥ miss edna lewis, my valentine ♥

“So many great souls have passed off the scene. The world has changed. We are now faced with picking up the pieces and trying to put them into shape, document them so the present-day young generation can see what southern food was like. The foundation on which it rested was pure ingredients, open-pollinated seed—planted and replanted for generations—natural fertilizers. We grew the seeds of what we ate, we worked with love and care.” ~ Edna Lewis (“What is Southern?”)


For me, she’s the one. The more I learn about Edna Lewis, the more I love her.

Since today marks the 7th anniversary of her passing at age 89, it’s a good time to celebrate her remarkable achievements as an award-winning chef, cooking teacher, caterer, cookbook author and Grand Dame of Southern Cuisine with a love-in-your-mouth piece of her Warm Gingerbread. Mmmmm-mmmmm!

long view

Miss Lewis, as she was always known, grew up in the small farming community of Freetown, which is located behind the village of Lahore in Orange County, Virginia (about 66 miles from where I live). Her grandfather founded Freetown with two other freed slaves and started the first area school in his living room.

Long before it became chic to advocate fresh, organic, seasonal ingredients and field-to-table cuisine, Edna and her fellow Freetown residents were enjoying a bucolic live-off-the-land existence — growing, harvesting and preserving their own food, gathering nature’s bounty (seeds, fruit, nuts), fishing the streams, hunting wild game in the woods, cultivating domestic animals.

In The Taste of Country Cooking (Knopf, 1976), a classic of Southern cuisine edited by the brilliant Judith Jones (also Julia Child’s editor), Edna shares recipes and reminiscences of the simple, flavorful, uniquely American, Virginia country cooking she grew up with, lovingly describing how they anticipated the select offerings of each season and celebrated special occasions like Christmas and Emancipation Day with full-out feasts.


We are reminded that there’s nothing better than a freshly picked sun-ripened apple, relishing a dish of Spring’s mixed greens (poke leaves, lamb’s-quarters, wild mustard), celebrating Summer’s bounty with deep-dish blackberry pies, apple dumplings, peach cobblers and pound cakes, sitting down to a Fall Emancipation Day dinner of Guinea Fowl Casserole, “the last green beans of the season and a delicious plum tart or newly ripened, fresh, stewed quince.” As Alice Waters says in her introduction, “sheer deliciousness that is only possible when food tastes like what it is, from a particular place, at a particular point in time.”

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friday feast: happy birthday, langston hughes!


I can’t think of a better way to welcome February, commemorate Black History Month and anticipate all things love for Valentine’s Day than by celebrating the 111th birthday of noted Harlem Renaissance poet, novelist, social activist, essayist, playwright, and columnist Langston Hughes.

In light of recent events — the inauguration of President Obama, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday — I’ve been trying to imagine what Langston would say about all that’s going on in America today.

No doubt he will continue to be universally beloved for championing creative expression and human rights and remaining an accessible inspiration to people of all socio-economic backgrounds. Many of his iconic poems (“Let America Be America Again,” “I, Too, Sing America”), resonate more strongly than ever as our struggle continues to build a nation where “opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe.”

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a big bowl of goodness: No Mush Today by Sally Derby and Nicole Tadgell


For breakfast this fine Monday morning, we’ve got mush!

Just released this month by Lee and Low, No Mush Today, by Sally Derby, will provide a satisfying meal for picture book fans needing some familial reassurance.

Nonie is fed up with her bowl of cornmeal mush and her baby brother’s crying. Why not go live with Grandma?

After all, Grandma “attends” when Nonie speaks, and calls her “Sweet Pea.” They head out to grown-up church, where neighbors greet them along the way. Once there, Nonie’s daddy winks at her, trying to make her smile.

But Nonie’s having none of that, and later grumps that no one told her there was going to be a church picnic. Grandma calls her along, saying, “We’ll all go together.”

After a delicious lunch of fried chicken, three kinds of cake, and lemonade, Daddy finally convinces Nonie to go on a boat ride. He shows her some wonderful things, including a family of ducks. “Ducklings stick with their families,” he reminds her.

After a lovely afternoon, they head back home, where Momma’s waiting at the gate, and Nonie’s brother is smiling and reaching out for her. By then, Nonie realizes she has missed her family, and maybe being with them isn’t so bad after all. She’ll come back under one condition — no more mush!

Written in spare text that conveys believable, child-centric emotion with a splash of Southern dialect, No Mush Today is beautifully illustrated in soft watercolors by Nicole Tadgell. Tadgell expands the narrative by creating a context of loving communion, a small town backdrop of good folk and simple pleasures. The warmth of family radiates in spreads showing neighbors and church friends greeting each other with big smiles and hugs. And then there’s Nonie’s toy duck, which young eyes will follow with great interest.

When it isn’t clutched tightly in her hand, it’s sitting on the table or peeking out of her pocket, a constant companion for a child missing the attention of her parents. At the end of the story, Nonie hands the duck over to her little brother, a sweet gesture that shows her heart has opened up a little to sharing her parents with a sibling. Just as her daddy said at the park, “Lots to learn from ducks.”

The yellow endpapers, Nonie’s yellow hair ribbons, and of course, the yellow toy duck, visually complement the bowl of cornmeal mush. Take your time with this book in order to fully appreciate its riches. The children you share it with will likely say, “More mush today!”

No Mush Today has received glowing reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, Rutgers, and Booklist, which you can read at the Lee and Low website.

Check out these cool photos showing how the artwork was done at Sally Derby’s website.

And drop by Nicole Tadgell’s blog. It’s the friendly thing to do!

*Interior spreads posted by permission, copyright © 2008 Nicole Tadgell, published by Lee and Low Books, Inc. All rights reserved.