Saturday, February 17, 2007


When it comes to adult fiction, I have a hard time narrowing my list of favorite authors to just one. But if asked to name MY FAVORITE CHILDREN'S AUTHOR, without hesitation, I can say, there is only one, ALICE FAYE DUNCAN.

It seems like I've been knowing Alice Faye forever. Our paths first crossed in Memphis, back in the early 90's. Not only were we both members of a writing workshop, led by another Memphis born scribe, Arthur Flowers, we also worked for the same employer, the Memphis/Shelby County Library.

I count myself as one of the proud eyewitnesses of Alice's skillful leap from the ranks of the unpublished to the published. If I'm not mistaken, she was the first of our (now, long defunct) writing group to accomplish the feat in the form of a hardcover title.

In the years since, Alice has published a total of five children's books and earned a number of honors and accolades in the process. Through it all, she has somehow managed to remain both gracious and humble, and as one of the Bluff City's literary shining stars, has largely used her time in the spotlight to illuminate the lives of common, "everyday" folk.

For me, the titles of her books alone--Willie Jerome, Miss Viola and Uncle Ed Lee (my personal favorite) and Honey, Baby, Sugar Child, to name a few--reflect a soulful and loving embrace of all that is uniquely Southern and Black. Whether the topic be civil rights, jazz, love and friendship, parenthood and/or faith Alice Faye has a special knack for "giving us (common folks) back to ourselves" is what I like to say. The poetic language of her work renders it an experience that, by right, ought be shared and read aloud.

Anyone interested in starting a collection of children's books, taking a trip down memory lane or just making a young child smile would be well advised to check out some, if not all, of Alice's titles. What follows is a list of her books and her well-deserved awards. If you're interested in learning more about Alice Faye Duncan or contacting her, visit her website at

BOOKS(Alice Faye Duncan)

1995 - The National Civil Rights Museum Celebrates Everyday People (BridgeWater Books) 1995 - Willie Jerome (Macmillan) 1999 - Miss Viola and Uncle Lee (Atheneum) 2005 - Honey Baby Sugar Child (Simon & Schuster) 2005 - Christmas Soup (with Phyllis Dooley) (Zonderkids)

HONORS (Alice Faye Duncan) 1995 - Reading Rainbow Award (Willie Jerome) 1996 - Best Book in Social Studies for Children (Everyday People) 1996 - Gold Medal in Nonfiction for Children, National Association of Parenting Publications 2006 - NAACP Image Award Nomination (Honey Baby Sugar Child)

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