Episode 375: Bringing Omitted BIPOC History to Light through Middle Grade Picture Books – Interview with Traci Sorell and Carole Boston Weatherford

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Traci Sorell and Carole Boston Weatherford.

Traci is the author of the critically acclaimed book We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga. She is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located. Today we’re talking about her picture book Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer (Illustrated by Natasha Donovan).

Carole is the author of numerous award-winning books including the Newbery Honor book Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom (illustrated by Michele Wood), and R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (illustrated by Frank Morrison). Today we’re discussing her picture book Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre (Illustrated by Floyd Cooper).

When she’s not traveling or visiting museums, Carole is mining the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles. She lives in North Carolina.

In this episode Traci, Carole, and I discuss:

  • Why they each decided to tell these forgotten stories as middle grade picture books.
  • The deliberate and unique choices they made in structuring their narratives.
  • How they created a distinct sense of time and place to ground their books.

Plus, their #1 tip for writers.

About Traci Sorell 

Traci Sorell is the author of Sibert, Orbis Pictus, AILA American Indian Youth Literature Award, and Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga. She is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located.

You can find Traci on her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer

Mary Golda Ross designed classified airplanes and spacecraft as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s first female engineer. Find out how her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.

Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan trace Ross’s journey from being the only girl in a high school math class to becoming a teacher to pursuing an engineering degree, joining the top-secret Skunk Works division of Lockheed, and being a mentor for Native Americans and young women interested in engineering. In addition, the narrative highlights Cherokee values including education, working cooperatively, remaining humble, and helping ensure equal opportunity and education for all.

About Carole Weatherford

Carole Boston Weatherford is the author of numerous award-winning books including and Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, illustrated by Michele Wood which received a Newbery Honor; R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul, illustrated by Frank Morrison which won the 2021 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Book Award. When she’s not traveling or visiting museums, Carole is mining the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles. She lives in North Carolina.

You can find Carole on her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation’s history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa’s Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community.

News of what happened was largely suppressed, and no official investigation occurred for seventy-five years. This picture book sensitively introduces young readers to this tragedy and concludes with a call for a better future.

If you decide to check out these books, we hope you’ll do so via these Amazon affiliate links: Classified and Unspeakable where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 375

(Right-click to download.)

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