The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll Here is another book in the Patricia McKissack collection for your reading pleasure! Published in 2007 by Random House Children’s Books, The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll was written by Pat and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney.

The New York Times reviewed: “Inspired by a true story, The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll is an evocative book with a universal message” and The Washington Post commented: “Jerry Pinkney’s lovingly detailed, pencil-and-watercolor illustrations reveal a humble but lively place where the family members and their colorful clothes stand out from subdued brown-and-gray surroundings.”

IT’S CHRISTMAS, AND NELLA is beside herself with excitement! She and her sisters have been given a real gift – a beautiful Baby Betty doll. But it’s hard to share something you’ve waited your whole seven-year-old life for, and Nella grabs the doll for herself. It isn’t long before she discovers that a doll can’t do the fun things she and her sisters do together. So, as Christmas day fades, Nella shares it with her sisters. Set in the Depression era South, here’s a heartwarming story that captures the essence of the holiday.

Product Details


Porch Lies Book Cover ArtworkA few days ago, I mentioned the Black Rep does a stage production of Pat’s book, Porch Lies. Our friends at RoundTrips are producing a videoconference on that play! Here’s more information on the distance learning program, which takes place next month:

As part of its continuing collaboration with HEC-TV Live!, RoundTrips is very pleased to announce a new, free videoconference with the St. Louis Black Repertory Company.  Explore the world of theatre, ask questions of actors, directors and designers, and see live excerpts from the Black Rep’s touring productions of Porch Lies.

The Black Rep Presents: Porch Lies
Date: April 14, 2009
Time: 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time
Grade Level: Grades 2-6

About the Videoconference: Join RoundTrips and HEC-TV Live! from the rehearsal space of the St. Louis Black Repertory Company to enjoy excerpts from their touring performance of Porch Lies, adapted by Linda Kennedy from Patricia McKissick’s endearing book. Meet the actors and director who bring the story to life. View a performance of scenes from the show. Ask your questions of what it means to “act a part.” How do the actors prepare? How do they create a character? What does the director do? What’s it like to stage a touring production in a variety of different places? Participants will meet actors, director, and designers to discuss how the show came to life from the first phase of design to the final phase of implementation. Ask your questions of actors, directors and designers who are part of America’s largest professional African-American theatre company.

About the Play: Side-splittingly funny, spine-chillingly spooky, this sequel to a Newberry Honor-winning anthology is filled with bad characters who know how to charm. It takes us back to McKissick’s own childhood when she would listen to stories told on her front porch. . . to the captivating introductions to each tale, in which the storyteller introduces himself and sets the stage for what follows. . . to the ten entertaining tales. In “The Best Lie Ever Told,” meet Dooley Hunter, a trickster who spins an enormous whopper at the State Liar’s Contest. In “Aunt Gran and the Outlaws,” watch a little old lady slickster outsmart Frank and Jesse James. And in “Cake Norris Lives On,” meet a man some folks believe may have died up to twenty-seven different times!


CSD vc Today Patricia McKissack’s videoconference with Wyland Elementary had monsters! Leprechauns!

The students in Stacey Wilson’s class took turns sharing their work with Mrs. McKissack, and she offered feedback and praise on the writing. Being that we connected on March 17, it was only appropriate a guy dressed in green- a leprechaun if you will- pop into class and visit the kids during the videoconference. That was only a momentary distraction, and the kids got back on target right away. This program wrapped up the three part series. After the students have revised their work, they will share the final product with Mrs. McKissack.

Connecting tomorrow

March 16, 2009


Mrs. McKissack presents to Wyland Elementary students

Tomorrow St. Louis author Patricia McKissack will have her third New Links to New Learning videoconference connection with Stacy Wilson’s students at Wyland Elementary. Stacy reports the creative writing is going well: “They are doing a great job with it. I am going to have all of the students make a class book with their writing.” We’re looking forward to reading it!

This videoconference series wraps up Pat’s 2008-09 schedule.

Random House Inc Another book in the McKissack library is Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and other Wily Characters. Andre Carrilho illustrated the book, [ISBN: 978-0-375-83619-0 (0-375-83619-5)].

ABOUT THIS BOOK, from Random House Inc.

“Side-splittingly funny, spine-chillingly spooky, this companion to a Newbery Honor-winning anthology is filled with bad characters who know exactly how to charm. From the author’s note, that takes us back to McKissack’s own childhood when she would listen to stories told on her front porch… to the captivating introductions to each tale, in which the storyteller introduces himself and sets the stage for what follows… to the ten entertaining tales themselves here is a worthy successor to McKissack’s The Dark Thirty.”

WINNER 2006 – Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Book
– ALA Notable Children’s Book

Added bonus! If you live in the St. Louis area, you can see a live production of Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and other Wily Characters with The St. Louis Black Rep, adapted by Ron Himes & Linda Kennedy: Tales filled with humor and exaggeration, master storyteller Patricia C. McKissack transports us to the front porch — a place where lightening bugs flash, lemonade is poured, and tales about slickster-tricksters are an every-night treat.

  • Kg – 5th grades
  • Suitable for all audiences
  • 45 – Minute per session
  • Subject Areas
  • Communication Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Storytelling

Rules of Writing

March 5, 2009

Patricia McKissack Patricia McKissack

Award winning author Patricia McKissack connected to students at Wyland Elementary today over videoconference to introduce herself and her work to them. The theme of the series is Creative Writing. She discussed different genres of writing with the students, and talked about one of her books, The Dark-Thirty (check out our post a couple down from this one to learn more about it). Pat then went over some monster rules, like the covers rule- you are safe under your covers, the monsters can’t you get then- but watch out if your arm comes out from under your covers, because a monster can grab you then and take you under the bed, never to be seen from again. She also shared that while she has never published a science fiction novel, she’s working on one now.

What will the students write about? We’ll let you know…

Another Patricia McKissack book (her latest!) we’d like to feature on Can You Imagine?: Stitchin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt.MrsMcKissack

You can listen to Pat describe- in her own words- learning about Gee’s Bend, researching quilting, and the book writing process! Click here to hear to an interview she had in February 2009 with Barbara Gray, contributor of the radio show Around Cincinnati.

School Library Journal from
The rural Alabama community of Gee’s Bend is widely recognized for its unique quilts. Although the women have been quilting for over a century, their work was unknown until art historian William Arnett discovered it about 20 years ago. Stitchin’ and Pullin’ is the modern-day story of Baby Girl, who grows from a child playing beneath her elders’ quilting frame to becoming a member of the intergenerational circle, piecing together her first quilt. McKissack’s free-verse narrative shares the rich heritage of the Gee’s Bend artisans as Baby Girl selects the fabrics that have significance to her and her family and finds the “heart” of her quilt. She speaks about the meaning of colors and patterns and what they bring to a quilt. The story is full of love and spirit. [Cozbi A.] Cabrera’s acrylic paintings depict the richness of tradition and strength of character as connections are made between fabric and history. Readers will enjoy the slow cadence of verse as they pause to consider history through the eyes of the people who lived it and the legacy that is passed on to the next generation.-Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO


  • ISBN: 0375831630
  • ISBN-13: 9780375831638
  • Format: Hardcover, 48pp
  • Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
  • Pub. Date: October 2008
  • Sales Rank: 86,482
  • Age Range: 6 to 10
  • Series: Picture Book

flossieandthefoxFlossie and the Fox is a real gem in the Patricia McKissack book collection! With memorable opening, ““FLO-O-O-OSSIE!”, this book is a “multicultural folktale, [as] Flossie takes a joyful and comic journey through fox-haunted woods as she carries her basket of eggs.” (Scholastic). This book is illustrated by Rachel Isadora.

From School Library Journal on
McKissack recounts this story which was told to her as a child by her grandfather. Flossie is a young black girl who lives with her grandmother in the rural south. When Big Mama sends Flossie to deliver a basket of eggs to a neighbor, she cautions her to be careful of the fox who had been frightening the chickens and stealing their eggs. To Flossie’s “How do a fox look?,” Big Mama responds that “A fox be just a fox.” Having no idea what this means, Flossie sets out on her mission through a wooded area, where she is greeted by the fox. As he tries to convince her that he is to be feared, she refutes him by insisting that he prove who he is. To readers’ delight, the frustrated fox fails every attempt. Fox’ final confrontation with a fierce dog saves the day for Flossie, who proves herself to be more cunning than the fox. The watercolor and ink illustrations, with realistic figures set on impressionistic backgrounds, enliven this humorous and well-structured story which is told in the black language of the rural south. The language is true, and the illustrations are marvelously complementary in their interpretation of the events. This spirited little girl will capture readers from the beginning, and they’ll adore her by the end of this delightful story. Helen E. Williams, University of Maryland, College Park | Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.


  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Dial (October 30, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803702507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803702509

Here’s another book by Patricia McKissack we’d like to feature: The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural (illustrated by Brian Pinkney).

From Publishers Weekly: When I was growing up in the South, writes McKissack, we called the half hour just before nightfall the dark-thirty. Her nine stories and one poem, however, are far too good to be reserved for that special time when it is neither day nor night and when shapes and shadows play tricks on the mind. These short works-haunting in both senses of the word-explore aspects of the African American experience in the South, from slavery to the Underground Railroad and emancipation, from the era of Pullman cars to the desegregation of buses, from the terror of the Ku Klux Klan to ’60s activism. Here, African Americans’ historical lack of political power finds its counterbalance in a display of supernatural power: ghosts exact vengeance for lynchings; slaves use ancient magic to enforce their master’s promise of emancipation. As carefully executed as McKissack’s writings, Pinkney’s black-and-white scratchboard illustrations enhance the book’s atmosphere*, at once clearly regional in setting and otherworldly in tone. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)

Interesting note*, according to Pat, “The writer and illustrator don’t work together. The writer and editor work to make sure the text is polished. The art director chooses an illustrator whose artwork best represents the text. The artist and illustrator sometimes never meet or talk to each other. It is really a matter of trust and confidence in the publishing team that you work with.”


  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (December 3, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679883355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679883357

We’re going to start featuring assorted books from the Fred and Patricia McKissack collection; the first one we’re showcasing is Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African-American Whalers and is a 2000 Coretta Scott King Honor Book.

In an article with Scholastic, Pat shared, “We’ve written extensively about slavery in America, but I never realized how important free black sailors were to the Underground Railroad and to the abolitionist movement. They’ve helped in more ways than we can imagine.”

From Kirkus Reviews (on
…a well-written, historical account of African-Americans who sailed on whaling ships off the East Coast between 1730 and 1880. The whaling industry provided great opportunities for free black seaman (and runaway slaves), many of whom could not find jobs elsewhere. The McKissacks note that during the “golden age” of whaling in the early 19th century, African-Americans comprised one-quarter of the crews; after the Civil War, their ranks swelled to half of all whalers… Another thread of this fascinating history is the story of the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad for the Nantucket and New Bedford whalers.


  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0590483137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590483131