Mascot Blog

Celebrating our Black Authors

February is Black History Month! It’s a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Americans, so we wanted to put the spotlight on some of our Black authors. We believe their books, which promote diversity and Black voices, inspire great changes in the world and we are honored to have worked on them.

Click on the book titles to be taken directly to its Mascot listing!

Look at Me!















By Niya Hicken

About the Book

Look at Me! takes you inside the mind of a child exploring everything he can be, and guides us through his hopes and dreams in a world of possibilities. As he reaches for his mommy’s hand and climbs to the moon to fulfill his destiny, he brings the reader along on a journey through the parallel worlds of his imagination. As the adventure unfolds, it gives the reader inspiration for who they can strive to be, too.

About the Author

Niya Hicken spent her childhood in London reading books in the library near her home. In fact, she read so many books that she was invited to meet the Queen of England. Niya now lives in the faraway kingdom of Atlanta, Georgia, where she loves seeing the unbelievable, inspirational, and often hilarious tales unfold in the lives of her five children. Niya’s debut book, Look at Me!, portrays the excitement and hope of these fairy tales of life as this cast of characters seek to find their happily ever after.




Penelope’s Bully















By Andre Gatling

About the Book

Penelope thought moving to a new neighborhood would be exciting, but she didn’t expect to be bullied because she was different. She befriends Chloe, a homeless puppy who is also bullied for being different.

When Chloe is taken from Penelope to a dog shelter, Penelope must find a way to rescue her new friend. Will Chloe and Penelope be able to change their bullies’ minds and save each other?

About the Author

Andre Gatling has had a long and successful career in the entertainment business as a stand-up comedian, among other roles. But his real love in life is rescuing and training an array of animals, particularly pit bulls.

Andre has spent well over 25 years working with animals and much more time growing up around pit bulls. He realized he had a unique approach to changing the behavior of aggressive dogs from his personal experiences with dogs and his time working with quarantined dogs in animal shelters. In his own words, Andre will tell you, “Aggression in a dog is similar to aggression in a human. We’re both scared of what we don’t understand, and our need to protect leads to aggression. Changing that aggression in a dog is more complex because the dog doesn’t speak English, so I had to learn to speak dog.”

Andre lives in Potomac Falls, Virginia with his two pit bulls, Chloe and Jordan, both of whom have American Kennel Club (AKC) accreditations. Chloe—who Andre calls a Ball Addict—has an AKC Canine Good Citizenship Title, while Jordan—who he calls the Bone Collector—achieved her AKC Star Puppy Award. These accolades help Andre’s advocacy for pit bulls to help change the perception of the breed.




You Are Enough! Reclaiming Your Career and Your Life with Purpose, Passion, and Unapologetic Authenticity


By Charlene Wheeless

About the Book

YOU ARE ENOUGH! chronicles Charlene Wheeless’s fearless quest to be the best possible version of herself in every aspect of her life—at work and at home. For Charlene, this means busting up stereotypes, breaking down barriers, and flat-out refusing to be ignored, pigeonholed, or forgotten.

Using blog posts from her courageous battle with breast cancer, lectures from her popular “Lessons from Being Invisible” speaking series, and personal accounts of her climb to being one of the first Black female executives in traditionally White and male-dominated industries, Charlene’s voice is one that resonates across every spectrum—a voice that demands being heard.

Charlene’s experiences serve as a compass for individuals and corporations looking to change their course, alter their patterns, and expand their ways of thinking and being. With raw honesty, blazing courage, and solution-driven sensibility, Charlene reminds us that despite the setbacks, struggles, and obstacles life throws our way, we can be seen. We must not be invisible. We must be our own authentic selves. In short: We are enough!

About the Author

Charlene Wheeless is a renowned communications expert, author, and speaker, and a powerhouse in business and in life. Following a three-year battle with cancer, she launched a strategic advisory firm, Charlene Wheeless, LLC, and joined APCO Worldwide, a global advisory and advocacy communications consultancy, as the senior advisor for equity and justice. A key voice in the future of the communications profession, Charlene is the chairman of the board of trustees for Page Society, the world’s leading professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives.

Charlene has lived the experience of being a Black female executive at several leading global companies. The accumulation of her experiences has positioned her as a cornerstone in driving anti-racist practices, inclusivity, diversity, and belonging in corporate environments. Charlene has been named one of the most influential PR professionals for five consecutive years, inducted into the PR Week Hall of Femme and the PR Global Powerbook, and was inducted in The Network Journal’s 2017 25 Influential Black Women in Business.

She resides in Northern Virginia with her husband and two dogs. She also has two adult daughters.




White People Really Love Salad















By Nita Mosby Tyler

About the Book

Everyone has a story and those stories are worthy of being revisited as insight into who we are today. If you can revisit even one childhood story, good or bad, it is likely to provide valuable information about your thinking, your ideology and even your behavior today. “If you care to fully understand your world view as you move forward in your life, take some time to look backwards,” states Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler. Our childhood experiences give us valuable clues about ourselves. Using her own childhood experiences, Dr. Mosby Tyler discusses the imprint that social climates, race relations, stereotypes, education systems and parenting had in shaping her perspectives. Ultimately, she shares, “those perspectives have been the source and muse for many of my adult successes…and missteps.” No matter what your childhood story is, it is an important ingredient in the formation of the very best you! White People Really Love Salad will inspire you to learn, laugh and leverage your key experiences as a part of a journey in understanding how you got to be who you are today.

About the Author

Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler, the Chief Catalyst and Founder of The Equity Project, LLC, andThe HR Shop, LLC is accredited by the Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence and is nationally recognized for her work. Through The Equity Project, LLC, a consulting firm designed to support organizations and communities in building, diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, Dr. Mosby Tyler has consulted with hundreds of organizations across the country in her work. From communities of the segregated South to holding historical professional positions such as the first African American woman to be both the Senior Vice President and Chief Inclusion Officer for Children’s Hospital Colorado and Executive Director of the Office of Human Resources for the City and County of Denver, Dr. Mosby Tyler has used her past experiences to design a life committed to equity with grace. She is married to Rev. Dr. Timothy Tyler and has three beautiful children—Jasmine, Imani and Chinelo.




Shayla Sweet and Her Magical Pen















By L.S. McIntyre

About the Book

Join Shayla Sweet in discovering the world around her with her handy-dandy magic pen. What secrets can it reveal today? The sky’s the limit with this Super Smart Girl!

About the Author

L.S. McIntyre was raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is the proud mother of three children and is the founder/director of the Super Smart Girl’s Club, a literacy-based nonprofit organization designed to mentor and motivate young girls ages 2-18. L.S. McIntyre takes pride in her books of positivity and inspiration.




The Lil’ Mac Series














By Clarence McFerren II

About the Books

Every summer, Lil’ Mac can hardly wait to visit his family out in the country. Summers in Fayette County, Tennessee, move at a different pace than life in Lil’ Mac’s urban city home, and every year Lil’ Mac makes the most of it.

This year, he faces quite a trial when his cousin Perry challenges him to a race, but he soon finds out he has much more to learn than how to run fast.

Join Lil’ Mac and find out how he discovers respect is an important character trait no matter who you’re with.

About the Author

Clarence McFerren II, a native Memphian, is an inspiring educator and a renaissance man with many talents. Clarence launched his career in Washington, D.C. public charter schools, where he began his specialization in arts education, focusing on interdisciplinary and inquiry-based learning. Later, he graduated from American University with an M.A. in Performing Arts: Dance and a graduate certificate in Arts Management. That eventually led to working and training engagements with various organizations, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, The Ailey School, Tennessee Arts Commission, and many more. It was in these capacities that he cultivated his optimistic leadership style to engage the multiple intelligences of young minds to be unafraid of thinking independently. Clarence is a Miss America Scholarship Pageant certified judge, Tennessee Notary Public, USA Track & Field Level II sprints, hurdles, and relays coach, a lifetime member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and former finance specialist paratrooper in the United States Army. He also enjoys fitness, motivational speaking, modeling, and traveling both nationally and abroad.




Melanin Brown Discovers America















By Candice Davis

About the Book

Melanin Brown is a very wise thirteen-year-old seventh-grader who witnesses a new student being bullied because of his beliefs. This situation makes her feel very uncomfortable, and she knows that the actions of those students are wrong. With the guidance of her parents and her experiences with teachers and friends, paired with her own desire to treat people the way she wants to be treated, Melanin learns how to deal with and address various social constructs while coming into her own voice.

Melanin is the type of everyday heroine we all wish we had when we were young. Knowledgeable beyond her years, caring, and innocent, Melanin is a leader whose empathy (and even sarcasm, at times!) transcends boundaries and limitations. Meet your new favorite role model as you join Melanin along this journey of self-discovery—you might just learn a lot about yourself, too!

About the Author

Candice Davis is a middle school Special Education Teacher in Washington, DC, with a background in film. Candice started her career in education as a Curriculum and Personnel Specialist, writing grants and proposals. Due to her desire to have more of a direct impact on disadvantaged students, she transitioned into teaching. This is Candice’s debut book. She holds an M.Ed. in Educational Psychology with a focus in Social Foundations from the University of Virginia and a BA in Film and Video Studies from George Mason University.




Adventures of the Ausome Kid: Brailynn goes to Paris, France















By Brailynn Camille

About the Book

The Ausome Kid, Brailynn Camille, is an eight-year-old little girl with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She travels the world with friends to educate them about different cultures, teach them character traits, and promote Autism awareness and acceptance. In this book, Brailynn and her friend Starr use their imaginations to fly to Paris, France. They visit beautiful sites, eat yummy pastries, and learn that an act of kindness can make someone’s day.

About the Author

Brailynn Camille is the eight-year-old daughter of best-selling author Brittnie Granville. Raised in Madison, Alabama, Brailynn’s special abilities led to the development of a brand that tells her story as a little black girl with Autism. She has creative ideas that contributed to the storytelling of her first book series, Adventures of the Ausome Kid. The first book, Brailynn Goes to Paris, France, shares Brailynn’s imaginative experiences as she travels the world with her friends during playdates. Our mission is to spread awareness, encourage acceptance, and promote the inclusion of children with Autism while exploring the world. The Adventures of the Ausome Kid book series aligns with our vision to highlight the AUSOME abilities of children with Autism.

Brailynn has a love for the arts and is currently training in multiple dance styles that include stage arts, ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and acro. She also enjoys traveling the world and learning different foreign languages. With her book series, she encourages children to use their imaginations, learn about other cultures and languages, take interest in traveling, learn how to display kindness, and treat others who are different with dignity and respect. Brailynn and her mother are on a mission to entertain, educate, and empower their community to join their journey on advocating for Autism.




Captain B















By Brandon Smith

About the Book

Timmy is a very happy young boy who loves school,
music, people, and most importantly, his mother. But
then one day, he encounters a bully at school. Can he
find the right way to deal with this problem?

About the Author

Brandon Maurice Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he grew up with his grandparents, younger sister, and mother. From an early age, he was bigger than his classmates and was bullied for his size. But, his big stature worked in his favor when he began playing football at the request of his grandfather.

A person of wisdom, strength, and charisma, Brandon’s grandfather was a role model to anyone who knew him. Brandon honors his grandfather by treating others with the same kindness and integrity he was known for prior to his passing. Given his own experience with bullying, he wrote Captain B to reach a wider audience and teach children how to treat each other with kindness and cope with difficult feelings in positive ways.




Jurni















By Nikos Cox

About the Book

In this deeply emotional story, we learn that lessons about life and death can be taught by the unlikeliest of teachers. In Jurni, one young girl with a passion for all things math, science, and outer space shines a light on how we can all deal with grief and loss. 

The confusion, pain, and shock of tragedy affects us all, no matter how old we are. After losing her mother, Jurni’s dad urges her to look up at the starlit night sky, and explains that her mother will always be up in the stars. From that moment on, Jurni is set on a course to reach the stars she sees from below. Her mission: becoming an astronaut to be close to her mother again. The only hurdle in Jurni’s way is winning a local NASA science competition that could pave the way for her biggest dream. 

Join Jurni as she embarks on a quest that will give her a deeper knowledge of her own ability to survive the pain of personal loss.

About the Author

Nikos Cox is a designer and photographer currently residing in Northern Virginia. Hailing from Hampton Roads, he has photographed countless future world leaders as a school yearbook photographer, traveled to three continents and ten countries, and helped produce short films and theater productions while studying at Virginia Tech. When he isn’t writing, you can find him spending time with family and friends.

 



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