The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 2 - Page 61

Interview with an Author: Julius Anthony


Glenda Nugent

Mr. Bumble who speaks quietly as he lives in his quiet house, and drives his quiet car, and takes care of his quiet pet parrot. One day a little boy moves next door and changes Mr. Bumble’s entire world by turning his parrot into a noisy pet which causes there to be too much noise in his house on a day when his car started making noisy sounds. It’s quite a funny story and in the end Mr. Bumble and the little boy become friends. Lillian Moore was a significant author in the legend of Black children’s literature. In 1965, she helped to establish the Council on Interracial Books for Children with the objective of promoting books that better reflected a multicultural society. Over the years, the work of the council has been monumental in promoting books that tell authentic stories about Black children.

My other favorite children’s book is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and it is noted as the first book published in the 20th century (1963) that featured a Black child as the protagonist. Recently the US Postal Service celebrated this book by commemorating a Forever USA Stamp in honor of the main character Peter in the stamp’s illustration shows him in his famously known red hooded coat. As it was for most Black children during my childhood and unfortunately still today, finding a book in the prekindergarten through third grade classroom that has pictures of children that look like you is rare. This to me is simply wrong. My belief is every child deserves to see themselves in the books they read. Having access to The Snowy Day as a young child was transformative for me. I remember trying to make angles in my front yard snow just like Peter did. I imagined I was Peter because he looked like me and lived in a neighborhood that resembled mine. Today I work really hard to ensure that all children have many opportunities to experience the joy I felt reading for the first time my favorite books. I also try to continue the legacies of authors like Lillian Moore and Ezra Jack Keats.

Tell us about the process you use to write a book.

Ideas to write about can come to me at any moment, like during a classroom visit, driving in my car, or even while washing clothes. The concept comes first then flashes of thought in the form of conversations or poems. Whatever comes to me, I try to immediately write on paper or in a text. When I am ready, I will find a quiet space, light a vanilla candle, listen to musical recordings by Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman, Sweet Honey in the Rock, or even various neo soul artists; then I write. Music definitely inspires me. My best writing is done in these types of creative spaces.

Tell us about St. Louis Black Authors

I started St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature Initiative in 2016 as a way to promote the creative work of local authors who published stories about Black Children. The St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature Initiative is a social entrepreneurial response to the predominance of metropolitan St. Louis’ Black children reading at extremely