Guest Post by Tacardra B. Rountree
It was my Junior year of high school and I was given an assignment in my Literature Class to write a poem about myself starting with the words, I Am. During that time, I had fallen in love with the poetry of Maya Angelou, especially the poem, “Phenomenal Woman.”I probably thought to myself, if I can be phenomenal, I can also be a Queen. My assignment started with the words, I Am An African Queen. It continued as a poetic affirmation. I published the poem in my first book, Writings From Down Through the Years.
In graduate school, I came across the book, Honey I Love and Other Love Poems by Eloise Greenfield. When I read the poem,” Honey, I Love,” I was quickly reminded of my childhood. This poem became one of my favorites. It was several years later during my teaching career that I found the picture book Honey, I Love by Eloise Greenfield. It was at that moment, I decided to turn my poem, “I Am An African Queen,” into a children’s picture book.
I knew I needed to find an illustrator who could make my words come to life. Little did I know that my illustrator would be someone that I already knew. Audrey “Sala Adenike” Jeter-Allen is known in my hometown for teaching and sharing African dance and culture. One year, we were both vendors at the same event. I was selling my first book and she was selling her artwork. I did not realize she was a visual artist. When I saw her artwork, I knew she would be the perfect illustrator for my book. I shared my ideas with Jeter-Allen and we exchanged contact information. She decided to illustrate my book and capture my vision with beautiful paintings and graphic illustrations. I wanted girls and women to find themselves on the cover and pages of the book.
When it came to the title, I wanted something short and catchy. In February of 2018, I visited the Mann-Simons Site, one of the historical houses in Columbia, South Carolina. While I was reading one of the informational markers, a gentleman walked by and said, “Hello Queen.” I said, “Hello.”A few days later I said, “That is the title of my book, Hello Queen.”
Remember, you should always answer to what you want to be called. The gentleman called me a Queen and I answered. He also confirmed what I already knew about myself. Yes, I am a Queen. I represent beauty, intelligence, determination, and more. After reading my book, I want young girls and women to boldly say, “I am a Queen” and realize that Queens are all around them.
I did not realize the type of impact my 11th-grade assignment would have on my life. Save your writings and even your homework assignments. You may have the next best selling children’s book!
Tacardra B. Rountree is an author, inspirational speaker, and educator. Rountree has her Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Fort Valley State University and her Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Minnesota..
She is the author of Writings From Down Through the Years and Hello Queen. Writings From Down Through the Years is a compilation of inspirational poetry and readings. Hello Queen is her second book and first children’s picture book. Rountree seeks to encourage and inspire others with her words. She enjoys sharing her books with schools and libraries.