Politician, organizer, and author Stacey Abrams has written her debut picture book, Stacey’s Extraordinary Words, which will be published December 28, 2021, by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books. The book is based on Abrams’ childhood experience competing in elementary school spelling bees.
In a statement, Abrams said, “Words have always been important to me. I loved competing in spelling bees as a young girl. With this book, I want to inspire children to speak up for themselves and for others—and to keep trying if they don’t succeed the first time around.” The story follows some of what she went through. “Like Jake, some kids picked on me and others who were different. Over the years, I learned how to use my words to do good, even when I am most afraid.”
The book, aimed at children ages four through eight, from preschool through third grade, according to the Amazon listing, will be illustrated by Lucian American artist and illustrator Kitt Thomas, who is also making their picture book debut. Thomas is also the illustrator of 2022 middle grade novel Just Right Jillian by Nicole D. Collier, and has worked with companies including Netflix, Hasbro and Cartoon Network.
In a statement, Alessandra Balzer, Vice President and Co-Publisher of Balzer + Bray, said, “Stacey Abrams is a tireless advocate for fairness and equality. She is the ultimate role model. It is an enormous honor to publish her first picture book, a story about a little girl who learns to persevere in the face of adversity. I can’t think of a more important message for children.”
Abrams, the founder of Fair Fight, has also written multiple nonfiction and fiction titles, including New York Times bestsellers Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose and the Fight for a Fair America, Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change and, most recently, thriller While Justice Sleeps, as well as eight romance novels under the name Selena Montgomery. One of them, Never Tell, is in development with CBS, and three, Rules of Engagement, The Art of Desire, and Power of Persuasion, will be reissued by Berkley in 2022 under Abrams’ name.
While Abrams is known primarily for her work in the political realm, writing has been a constant for her since she was a teenager; her first romance novel was written during law school. She told NPR in May, “I love writing. I learned to write almost as soon as I learned to read. I went through a teenage phase where I wrote Christian rock and country music. Turns out those are not genres for me, but I see it both as a passion, but it’s also an avocation.”
Children’s books by politicians and those in the political world aren’t uncommon. Vice President Kamala Harris wrote picture book Superheroes Are Everywhere, illustrated by Mechal Renee Roe. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has written It Takes a Village, illustrated by Marla Frazee, as well as co-authoring Grandma’s Gardens with daughter Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Carme Lemniscates. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the author of multiple children’s books, including Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You, illustrated by Rafael López.