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Alice Faye Duncan (The Children's Book Podcast #475)

December 4, 2018



Alice Faye Duncan (@AliceFayeDuncan) is an author and poet, and she's also a school librarian. Alice brings two new picture books to the show. The first is called MEMPHIS, MARTIN, AND THE MOUNTAINTOP: THE SANITATION STRIKE OF 1968 and through the voice of a young girl the story recounts the sanitation strike that brought Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Memphis and that would reach all corners of Memphis in its breadth and scope. R. Gregory Christie illustrated the story and his art beckons readers to sit with the varied emotions that hang on the faces of those involved and affected by the strike. Alice also shares A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS, a picture book told in poetry about the gifted and glorious life of an American Treasure. The format of this book is that of a love poem to Gwendolyn’s life and legacy, and, quite frankly, I found myself clinging to every word. Two beautiful picture books, and a conversation worthy of their merit. 




This historical fiction picture book presents the story of nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s final stand for justice before his assassination--when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest.


In February 1968, two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment in Memphis, Tennessee. Outraged at the city's refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike. The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this unfortunately would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" sermon in Mason Temple Church. Inspired by the memories of a teacher who participated in the strike as a child, author Alice Faye Duncan reveals the story of the Memphis sanitation strike from the perspective of a young girl with a riveting combination of poetry and prose.


Acclaimed writer Alice Faye Duncan tells the story of poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize.


SING a song for Gwendolyn Brooks.

Sing it loud--a Chicago blues.


With a voice both wise and witty, Gwendolyn Brooks crafted poems that captured the urban Black experience and the role of women in society. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago, reading and writing constantly from a young age, her talent lovingly nurtured by her parents. Brooks ultimately published 20 books of poetry, two autobiographies, and one novel. Alice Faye Duncan has created her own song to celebrate Gwendolyn's life and work, illuminating the tireless struggle of revision and the sweet reward of success.




  • THE FUTURE HAS A PAST--Notes on Writing Non-Fiction and Historical Fiction (YouTube)

    • At the inaugural Memphis Literary Arts Festival (June 16, 2018) Alice Faye Duncan and Ravi Howard discuss 5 roads to publishing Non-Fiction and Historical Fiction. They propose that writers need (1) A Compelling Germ of Passion For Their Subject (2) The Impulse to Snoop like a Detective (3) Curated Playlists to Transport The Writer Back in Time (4) A Sanctuary for Writing (5) Specific Writing Reference Books and Writing Tools That Are Practical and Ergonomically Inspiring.




Alice Faye Duncan writes books for young readers and adults. HONEY BABY SUGAR CHILD is a mother's love song to her baby. The lyrical text sings and swings just like music. One must read it aloud with LOVE, JOY and SOUL!


MEMPHIS, MARTIN AND THE MOUNTAINTOP (The 1968 Sanitation Strike) is a lyrical combination of poetry and prose that explores Dr. King's assassination and his last stand for economic justice in the city of Memphis. The illustrator is Caldecott Honor recipient, Gregory Christie.


12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN TENNESSEE is a child's travel guide across the Volunteer State (GO VOLS!). Two cousins in ugly holiday sweaters visit important landmarks throughout the state, while traveling in a mini-van called the "Reindeer Express." The illustrator is Mary Uhles.


A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS will debut in January 2019. This is the first picture book biography to explore the life and times of Chicago poet--Gwendolyn Brooks. In 1950, Miss Brooks was the first African American writer to receive a Pulitzer Prize.


Have you heard the name, "Pinkney?" Alice's book--JUST LIKE A MAMA will make its debut on Mother's Day (2019). The illustrator is Charnelle Pinkney Barlow. Her grand father is Caldecott illustrator, Jerry Pinkney. Charnelle is a master artist too. Get ready to be charmed with impressive images and a lyrical text.


Learn more about Alice at


And purchase any one of Alice Faye Duncan's books for you, your readers, a friend, or a library HERE.


*This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases made through these links will support the costs of maintaining the podcast, webcomic, and other materials associated with this site. 





Thank you, JENNY SUE, AMY, SARA, KATE, LISA, DARSHANA, MARIANNE, JARRETT, ANITRA, MIKE, LYNN, LINK, CORRINA, CYNTHIA, ELAINE, DOUG, JUDI, AMANDA, RUTH, LARA, TERESA, and others who are coming with me on this journey. You’re welcome to join us. Just visit and pick the support tier that’s right for you. All the hugs and high fives for all of the many, many ways all of out there listening support this show.


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