Monday, June 24, 2024



A talk with author Andrea Davis Pinkney – such as tonight’s – is likely to be as inspiring a literary time as one could imagine. The New York Times bestselling author of more than 30 books for children and young adults has specialized in writing about some of the most vital and challenging people and moments in U.S. history.

Her latest work, “The Red Pencil,” crosses the Atlantic to Eastern Africa for an equally inspiring story about a 12-year-old girl, Amira. As described by Hachette:

Life in her peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when the Janjaweed arrive. The terrifying attackers ravage the town and unleash unspeakable horrors. After she loses nearly everything, Amira needs to dig deep within herself to find the strength to make the long journey – on foot – to safety at a refugee camp. Her days are tough at the camp, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mind – and all kinds of possibilities.

Recent works of Pinkney, who does picture books, novels and works of historical fiction and nonfiction, include NAACP Image Award nominee “Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song,” and “Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America,” which received the 2013 Coretta Scott King Author Award medal. The Times called the book “beautifully written … fascinating.”

“Bird in a Box,” a novel from 2011, was a “Today Show” Al Roker Book Club pick. Her picture books include “Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride”; “Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters”; “Duke Ellington”; and “Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation.”

Pinkney, vice president and executive editor at Scholastic and among the “25 Most Influential People in Our Children’s Lives” list compiled by Children’s Health Magazine, lives in New York City with her husband, award-winning illustrator Brian Pinkney, and their two children. Brian Pinkney is the illustrator on several of her books.

Her visit is presented by Lesley’s Evelyn M. Finnegan Children’s Literature Lecture Series, named in honor of children’s book author Evelyn M. Finnegan, from the school’s Class of 1948.

Pinkney speaks at 7 tonight in Lesley’s Marran Theater, 34 Mellen St., in the Agassiz neighborhood near Harvard Square. The talk is free and open to the public.