Carole Boston Weatherford was Baltimore-born and raised. She composed her first poem in first grade and dictated the verse to her mother. Her father, a high school printing teacher, printed some of her early poems on index cards. What a thrill!

    Since her literary debut with Juneteenth Jamboree in 1995, Carole’s books have received many literary honors. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led her People to Freedom (2006), illustrated by Kadir Nelson, won a Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration. The Sound that Jazz Makes (2000) won the Carter G. Woodson Award from National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and an NAACP Image Award nomination. Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins (2005) and Remember the Bridge: Poems of a People (2002) both won the North Carolina Juvenile Literature Award. Freedom on the Menu was a finalist for the North Carolina Children’s Book Award. Remember the Bridge was short-listed among the NCSS Notables, International Reading Association Teachers’ Choices and Voices of Youth Advocates Poetry Picks. And Birmingham, 1963 won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award for 2008.

   Carole earned a Master of Arts in publications design from the University of Baltimore and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Currently, she teaches at Fayetteville State University and lives in High Point, N.C. with her husband Ronald, son and daughter.

Selected Reviews of Carole’s Books

I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer
Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Eric Velasquez
   Author Carole Boston Weatherford and artist Eric Valasquez bring to vibrant life an important historical figure in I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer. Born to sharecropper parents in 1866 and battling racism all his life, Matthew Henson did not want to “drift in humdrum jobs…[His] dreams had sails.” As a seaman, he traveled to five continents, and then signed on with naval officer Robert Peary for an expedition to the tropics. Henson stayed with Peary for two decades, becoming his right-hand man on numerous explorations and twice saving his life. In 1909, he, Peary and four Eskimos became the first humans to reach the North Pole. Weatherford’s lyrical account highlights Henson’s intelligence, determination and flexibility as he confronts the many obstacles to his goals. Valasquez captures those characteristics in portraits of Henson playing the accordion for Eskimo hosts, carrying a frost-bitten Peary and driving a dog sled. 2008, Walker, $16.95. Ages 5 up. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum (Children’s Literature).

Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane
Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Sean Qualls
   Yes, I still have some of my John Coltrane vinyl records–it is hard to part with your favorites even if the medium is no longer in favor. Much as I loved his music, I really knew very little about the musician. Weatherford has taken an approach that should resonate with young readers. She looks at John’s life before he became an adult. What were the sights and sounds that influenced him, and how did he become one of the great jazz musicians? His home was filled with music and sounds. He heard the rhythm of his grandfather’s Sunday sermons, his mother playing hymns for the choir, and he played a clarinet in a band. He also knew great sadness due to the loss of family members and separation from his mother and aunt. He was drawn to the saxophone, and it became his solace. He listened and developed his own rich and unusual sound. What is really amazing is how much information Weatherford conveys in her concise poetic text–her song of John Coltrane. The artist has amplified her words to show an appealing young boy absorbing all the sounds around him and finally producing his own signature sound. The author’s note recaps John’s brief life and his contribution to jazz. There is also a discography, several books and a reference to a web site where readers can learn more about this artist’s life. Consider pairing it with Chris Raschka’s John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. 2008, Henry Holt, $16.95. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature).

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
   This is a fictional account of Harriet Tubman’s spiritual and physical escape from slavery to freedom; the text reads as a poetic conversation between Tubman and God and follows her journey north from a Maryland plantation. The story continues as Tubman returns to the south to rescue her family and other slaves, buoyed by her strong faith in God. This is a beautiful book! The stirring prose, often taken from spirituals, is incorporated into Kadir Nelson’s dark yet emotionally-charged paintings (which have since been awarded a Caldecott Honor); the printed text often follows the edge of Harriet’s dress or mirrors the shape of a rushing stream. The expressions on Tubman’s face show both the joy and despair she experienced throughout her life; this is not a “happy” story, but it is strong and inspiring. Although some may not want to share this book with an entire class because of the strong religious component, it certainly deserves a place on the shelves. A foreword explaining the practice of slavery and an author’s note describing further details of Tubman’s life add to the understanding of the story. Category: Picture Book. 2006, Hyperion Books for Children, $15.99. Ages 5 to 11. Reviewer: Katrina Bender (The Kutztown University Book Review, Spring 2007).

Birmingham, 1963
Carole Boston Weatherford
   Weatherford’s free verse tersely but vividly recreates the feelings of a ten-year-old African-American girl in 1963 as individuals participating in the Civil Rights Movement are being confronted with police dogs and water canons. She recalls the meetings, and the marches, but in particular, the Sunday at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where, after Sunday school, Ku Klux Klan members blew up the church, killing four young girls. The horror is made clear; then each of the girls is remembered in sadness. The black cloth cover under the dust jacket sets the emotional tone for the tragic story. Full-page black and white photographs from the time face the off-white text pages with their few lines of type plus gray photographic vignettes of objects related to the text, like fancy socks and gloves, or the coins for the collection plate. The images have been chosen to emphasize the drama of the hurtful events of the day. Brick-red geometric shapes are also repeated in varying positions on the text pages, perhaps suggesting the fragmentation of the church. They add a sense of mystery as they help unify the images. An Author’s Note adds factual historic information, while explaining the fictional function of the narrator of the moving presentation. 2007, WordSong/Boyds Mills Press, $17.95. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).

Program Details

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
In this performance of the Caldecott Honor book, audiences join in choral reading, creating sound effects and singing spirituals. (All Ages)

Remember the Bridge: Reading, Writing & Rhythm
Audiences chant refrains, sing and play percussion in this celebration of African-American heritage. (All Ages)

Freedom on the Menu & Poetry a la Carte
Stories and poems celebrating the African-American freedom struggle. Grade 2 up.

Becoming Billie Holiday
Performance of poems from the similarly-titled award-winning fictional verse memoir. Teens & adults

Jazz Baby
Stories, song, poetry, percussion and movement reinforce listening skills. For preschoolers to grade 2. 60 students maximum.

Sidewalk Chalk Poetry Fest
Poetry, percussion and playground rhymes celebrate family and community (Pre-K-6). Workshop covers poetry, letter writing, description and process analysis. Grades 2 to 5.

From the Underground Railroad to the North Pole
Poetry and storytelling program pays tribute to Marylanders Harriet Tubman and Matthew Henson. Grade 2 up

Hurricanes & Heroes
Storytelling, Writing Workshop & Teacher Workshop Based on Sink or Swim: African-American Lifesavers of the Outer Banks, A True Adventure (AR selection and NCDPI supplemental title for social studies)
Performance: Story, song, character education and hurricane lore. Grades 3 up
Workshop: Covers song lyrics, persuasive letters and alliteration. Grades 3 to 8. 50 students maximum.
Teacher Workshop: Covers history, spirituals and hurricane lore. Teachers receive a study guide with synopsis, timeline and classroom activities.

Linking the Spoken & Written Word
Creative Writing Workshop for Teacher In-service: Literature rooted in oral traditions inspires participants’ poems or stories. Choose units on family stories, quilting, folktales, holidays, recipes, proverbs, superstitions or blues. All ages and ability levels. 50 students maximum.

VROOM! Verbs Are Engines
Storytelling & Writing Workshop for Assemblies or Classrooms.
Verbs are the most powerful and descriptive part of speech. Students listen to a tall tale, noting the narrative arc and listing action verbs. Students then write a sequel to the tale. Grades 3 to 6.

Keynotes & Workshops
For professional conferences, community agencies, churches, parenting/literacy programs and family audiences

Fees:
Performance – 30-60 minute poetry or storytelling program, 200 students maximum: $500
(Single performances available only in NC Triad)

Writing Workshop – 2 to 3 sessions per day, 50 students maximum: $400 per session

Day-long Author Visit – 3 assemblies or workshops,1 informal session for students or teachers and book signing: $1,200-$1,500

Conference Keynotes $2,500

Travel and lodging: Travel and lodging costs to be covered by booking organization if travel is beyond the North Carolina Triad region.

Additional Information

To learn more about Carole and her publications please visit www.caroleweatherford.com.