James Baldwin

James Baldwin’s Little Man, Little Man

Baldwin_REV_jacket_frontToday is the official publication date for the republication of James Baldwin’s only children’s book Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood.  Little Man, Little Man celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of black childhood. Now available for the first time in forty years, this new edition of Little Man, Little Man—which retains the charming original illustrations by French artist Yoran Cazac—includes a foreword by Baldwin’s nephew Tejan “TJ” Karefa-Smart and an afterword by his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart, with an introduction by Baldwin scholars Nicholas Boggs and Jennifer DeVere Brody. In it we not only see life in 1970s Harlem from a black child’s perspective, but we also gain a fuller appreciation of the genius of one of America’s greatest writers.

Editor Nicholas Boggs told the New York Times about his discovery of an old copy of Little Man, Little Man in Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library in the 1990s, when he was an undergraduate. “It wasn’t like anything else he’s written, and the more I read it, it wasn’t like anything else I’d read,” he told the Times, and it led him to begin a campaign to get the book republished. The Times notes that the reissue “could scarcely be more timely” and interviews author Jacqueline Woodson about the book. “Now that we have a children’s book, we can start people off even younger,” she told them. “It’s a book that young people can read or have read to them, but it’s also a new Baldwin for adults.”

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Little Man, Little Man has also been praised by Levar Burton, who says, “The prospect of reading an out-of-print children’s book by none other than James Baldwin himself is as tantalizing an invitation as I have ever been offered. And . . . it does not disappoint!”  The book has been positively reviewed in People MagazinePublishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness. Teachers and librarians are praising it as well. On her blog Ms Yingling Reads, school librarian Karen Yingling says the book will be a great teaching tool “because it is a rare primary source snapshot of a particular place and time.” We are offering a free Teacher Resource Guide that aligns with Common Core standards.

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Although it is available everywhere now, the book will be officially launched in New York City from September 11-14 with several great events open to the public. The events will kick off with a symposium at New York University on September 11 featuring the book’s editors and Baldwin’s niece and nephew in conversation with several scholars. On September 13, Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture hosts a book release and conversation among the book’s contributors along with novelist Jacqueline Woodson and writer Kia Corthon. Then on September 14, Harlem’s Sugar Hill Children’s Museum hosts TJ’s Bash, a colorful day of art-making activities, storytelling, poetry, and music for children ages 3-8. And wrapping up the weekend’s events will be an event at McNally Jackson bookstore in Williamsburg on September 15.

Preview the book by listening to Tejan Karefa-Smart read from it and watch James Baldwin himself discuss writing for children in this great video created by Dia Felix and Nicholas Boggs. Then buy the book on our website for a 30% discount using coupon code E18LMLM.

Duke University Press to Bring James Baldwin’s Only Children’s Book Back Into Print

LittleManLittleManLittle Man, Little Man is the only children’s book by acclaimed writer James Baldwin. Published in 1976 by Dial Press, the book quickly went out of print. Now, at a time when Baldwin is more popular than ever, and readers, librarians, and booksellers are clamoring for more diverse children’s books, Duke University Press is proud to bring the book back into print. It will be available in August 2018.

In the book, four-year-old TJ spends his days on his lively Harlem block playing with his best friends WT and Blinky and running errands for neighbors. As he comes of age as a “Little Man” with big dreams, TJ faces a world of grown-up adventures and realities. Little Man, Little Man celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of black childhood. In it we not only see life in 1970s Harlem from a black child’s perspective; we gain a fuller appreciation of the genius of one of America’s greatest writers.

James Baldwin called Little Man, Little Man a “celebration of the self-esteem of black children.” In their brief introduction to the book, Baldwin scholars Nicholas Boggs and Jennifer DeVere Brody explain that the illustrations and text invite readers to “look again and experience the social ills represented in the book—violence, economic disparity, alcoholism and drug abuse, and the distortions of mass media—from the perspective of a black child, and one, it is important to note in closing, who is not innocent.” They suggest that audiences at the time were not ready for this perspective, which might explain the book’s initial reception.

Duke University Press’s new edition of Little Man, Little Man retains the charming original illustrations by French artist Yoran Cazac and includes a foreword by Baldwin’s nephew Tejan “TJ” Karefa-Smart (the inspiration for the title character) and an afterword by his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart.

Booksellers wanting more information or wishing to place an order for the book can contact Sales Manager Jennifer Schaper at jennifer.schaper@dukeupress.edu.

All other inquiries: Laura Sell, Publicity, lsell@dukeupress.edu or 919-687-3639.

Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood
By James Baldwin. Illustrated by Yoran Cazac.
Edited and with an introduction by Nicholas Boggs and Jennifer DeVere Brody
With a foreword by Tejan Karefa and an afterword by Aisha Karefa-Smart
ISBN: 978-1-4780-0004-4
Hardcover, 128 pages, $22.95
Fully illustrated in color
August 2018