children's books

Franklin C. Edwards (Ep. 9, 2024)

On this edition of In Black America, producer and host John L. Hanson, Jr. speaks with Franklin C. Edwards, author, publisher and owner of Franklin The Helper Children’s Books in Plano, Texas, whose mission is to help children overcome social obstacles and build self-confidence.

Vitamina T

Don’t forget to take your Vitamin T! That’s T for Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales. In this episode, taco journalist Mando Rayo and bilingual educator Suzanne Garcia-Mateus sit down and browse through the spanglish children’s book that they co-wrote called Vitamina T for Tacos. They connect over their shared experiences of growing up bilingual and speaking spanglish and how that motivated them to write a book that represented the complex culture that they didn’t see in children’s books when they were growing up.

Kari Anne Roy

K.A. Holt loves middle grade novels and poetry and has a gift for both.

Her novel Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel won praise from middle grade readers all over the nation. Her poetry shines in her collection Haiku Mama: Because 17 Syllables is All You Have Time to Read, written under the name Kari Anne Roy, is a collection of haikus hilariously bemoaning the struggles and joys of parenting.

In 2010 Holt combined the two genres and started writing middle grade novels in verse. Her first, Brains for Lunch (A Zombie Novel in Haiku?!), followed the misadventures of a preteen zombie dealing with all the romantic challenges of middle school while also being one of the living dead.

Rhyme Schemer follows a middle school bully with a secret passion for poetry. In her forth coming novel in verse, House Arrest, a young boy journals about his struggles through a year of probation and his younger brother’s health crisis.

Holt’s anti-heroes pop with life (even the undead ones). She depicts the emotional and social pre-teen challenges of her young characters with pitch perfect humor and riveting authenticity. She manages to avoid ever condescending to her readers or artificially endowing her middle grade characters with adult takes on the world. She nails the wildly turbulent thoughts and feelings of a 7th grader – and does it in verse.

Holt has a knack for bringing poetry to surprising places. In 2013 Holt and fellow Austinites Jodi Egerton, Sean Petrie and David Fruchter took a love of vintage typewrites and public poetry and formed Typewriter Rodeo. The group can be found at music concerts, museum openings, and SXSW parties banging out spontaneous poems on old school typewriters.

Holt, again writing as Kari Anne Roy, is also a celebrated blogger known for fearlessly diving into difficult issues ranging from abortion legislation to CPS investigations. Her insights are supported by relentless honesty and a wry wit. More than one entry on her blog has gone viral and emerged on the national scene.

It’s a true pleasure to get to sit down with Holt on The Write Up and discuss her craft and career and how she balances daily life, deadlines, and being a mother of three. Join us as we chat about the attraction of writing for a younger audience, her love for underdogs and preteen ne’er-do-wells, and the allure of poetry.