Tag Archives: Verna Wilkins

Black Stars: Benjamin Zephaniah

I mentioned before that there is a series of books about successful black people. It’s depressing that you need a special series, but it’s wonderful to find books which inspire black children. As Malorie Blackman said when we met, they need to know, because it’s not at all as obvious as it may seem to someone who is white.

Here Verna Wilkins tells the story of Benjamin Zephaniah, who had a sad and difficult start to life, but who is now a tremendous role model. He is really ‘very cool’, which is almost at odds with the fact that he is so gentle and down-to-earth.

You have to admire the man for what he is. And his poems are fabulous, and even a non-poetry person like me enjoys them. Best served read by Benjamin himself, but the poems in this Tamarind book will serve as a good starting point.

And then you can read his novels about black children and teenagers.

Black Stars: Malorie Blackman

This useful short biography of Malorie Blackman was waiting to be reviewed quite some time ago, but after coming with me to London when I interviewed Malorie, my copy of the book somehow just disappeared into the bookcase as though its job was now over.

I was reminded of it by a recent comment on the blog, where someone asked for information about Malorie’s early life and how she started writing.

Malorie Blackman

And that’s exactly what you get in Verna Wilkins’s brief biography. It’s intended for young children, so the style is very simple. There are short chapters on Malorie’s childhood and teenage years, and finishes when she gets her first book published. It has a short interview at the end.

The bibliography of Malorie’s books would have been more useful if it had been up-to-date when it was published in 2008. The most recent book in the list is from 2001, and Malorie has had many books published since then.

It’s part of a series about black people who have succeeded in what they do, and this is sadly more necessary than I’d like to think. Malorie is a true black star, and luckily she’s not the only one. But there ought to be more.