Archive for February, 2015

Dunagan’s Secret of the Satilfa, Trouble on the Tombigbee named Accelerated Reader titles

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 by Brian Seidman

Secret of the Satilfa by Ted DunaganTed Dunagan’s books Secret of the Satilfa and Trouble on the Tombigbee have both been chosen as Accelerated Reader books for students, selected by Renaissance Learning. These are Ted’s second and third novels for middle-school readers, following A Yellow Watermelon, which was selected as an Accelerated Reading title in 2009. Dunagan is a three-time Georgia Author of the Year Award winner for his first three books, and his newest in the series, The Salvation of Miss Lucretia, has also been nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award.

Dunagan’s books follow young Ted and Poudlum, two boys in 1948 Alabama who bond despite their different races. Over the course of the series, the boys solve mysteries and have many adventures, often reminding themselves and their town that the similarities between them are far greater than their differences. A stage play based on A Yellow Watermelon premiered in March 2014 in Coffeeville, Alabama, with the Grove Hill Arts Council, and will be produced again this year.

Students at Wilson Hall Middle School in Grove Hill, Alabama, big fans of Ted’s books, have been involved with the Accelerated Reading Program since kindergarten. Students select books that match their reading levels, read them at their own pace, and then take a quiz developed by Accelerated Reader. The quizzes monitor and provide for teachers and students immediate feedback regarding reading performance and vocabulary growth, and prizes help incentivize the students to keep reading.

When A Yellow Watermelon was named an Accelerated Reader title in 2009, Wilson Hall teacher Annell Gordon called it “a delicious option … for book-hungry students! They will savor the adventure, mystery, and the lessons learned by Poudlum and Ted in a coming-of-age story that is set in their own back yards.”

Find Ted Dunagan’s books on the Accelerated Reader site by searching for “ted dunagan.” Ted Dunagan wrote a column about the Accelerated Reader designation for The Monticello News.

A Yellow Watermelon, Secret of the Satilfa, Trouble on the Tombigbee, and The Salvation of Miss Lucretia are all available in print and ebook from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

US Postal Service dedicates Robert R. Taylor Black Heritage stamp

Friday, February 13th, 2015 by Brian Seidman

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee: An African American Architect Designs for Booker T. Washington by Ellen WeissThe US Postal Service inducted Robert R. Taylor, the United States’ first academically trained African American Architect, into their Black Heritage Stamp series this past week. In a ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, Taylor’s great-grandaughter White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett dedicated the stamp with Postmaster General Megan Brennan.

As related in historian Ellen Weiss’s book Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee (NewSouth Books), Taylor received an architectural degree at MIT, and was then recruited by Booker T. Washington to teach and and help design the buildings of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (later Tuskegee University). Taylor’s buildings were seen, in defiance of strengthening Jim Crow laws, as a public expression of racial pride and progress. Weiss’s lush hardcover book recounts Taylor’s life and accomplishments alongside over 100 photographs, including a full pictorial catalog of Taylor’s work at Tuskegee University.

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee received the Award of Excellence from the Southeastern Society of Architectural Historians.

The Norman Transcript (OK) (via the Architectural Record) spoke with Jarrett about the honor. “Anytime I face a daunting challenge and self-doubt creeps in, I think of my great grandfather, Robert Taylor, the son of a slave, who traveled from Wilmington, NC , to attend M.I.T . in 1882,” she said. “He believed that with a good education, hard work, relentless determination and a dedication to family, there were no limits to what he could accomplish. The example he set gives me strength and courage. My family is proud to stand on his shoulders and we know that it is our responsibility to embrace his values, to ensure that his legacy will be ‘forever stamped’ in the conscious of future generations.”

Robert R. Taylor 2015 Black Heritage Stamp

Read more from the Architectural Record.

Ellen Weiss’s Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee: An African American Designs for Booker T. Washington is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Birmingham’s Airport Inn bar has Alabama National Guard connection

Friday, February 6th, 2015 by Brian Seidman

Wings of Denial: The Alabama Air National Guard's Covert Role at the Bay of Pigs, by Warren Trest and Donald DoddOne of “Birmingham’s best bars” has a military connection within its long, storied history. A recent article by Jesse Chambers, “Stories of CIA missions, rats shot with pistols make Airport Inn, est. 1938, one of Birmingham’s best bars,” featured the Airport Inn bar in East Lake near the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth airport. Opened in 1938 as The Baseball, the almost 80-year-old bar still serves a thriving group of regulars.

Many of those regulars, Chambers notes, are veterans. He writes, “The bar is a long-time haunt for members of the Alabama Air National Guard, based less than a mile away at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth.”

In fact, the bar even earned a footnote in Cold War lore, when Alabama’s Air Guard played a key role in the Bay of Pigs debacle of 1961, a U.S. attempt to topple Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

Guard pilots and crewman — as well as some of the workers at Hayes Aircraft Company at the airport — were recruited for the CIA-directed invasion and sent to secret bases in Guatemala and Nicaragua to train Cuban exiles that would fly B-26 bombers.

“The Air Guard members gathered at the inn the night before leaving Birmingham to go on the Cuban mission and partied there when they came back,” according to the book Wings of Denial: The Alabama Air National Guard’s Covert Role at the Bay of Pigs, by Warren Trest and Donald Dodd [published by NewSouth Books].

“Sometimes reporters went to the Airport Inn looking for a good story,” Trest and Dodd wrote. “The Birmingham warriors didn’t stand on protocol, and anyone could forget that ‘loose lips sink ships’ when the beer was flowing and the hair was down.”

Roy Wilson, one of the Guard members involved in the CIA venture, even moonlighted as an Airport Inn bartender, according to the book.

Read Jesse Chambers’s feature on the Airport Inn from, part of Chambers’s series on the oldest surviving bars in Birmingham.

Wings of Denial: The Alabama Air National Guard’s Covert Role at the Bay of Pigs is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Eugene Bullard named to Booklist Top 10 Multicultural Nonfiction Books for Youth list

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 by Lisa Harrison

Eugene Bullard: Worlds First Black Fighter Pilot by Larry Greenly

2014 proved to be a banner year for the YA biography Eugene Bullard: World’s First Black Fighter Pilot by Larry Greenly, and the honors continue with the new year. After receiving two awards for YA literature — the New Mexico/Arizona Literary Award and the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award — the book has just been honored by Booklist magazine.

Booklist has chosen Eugene Bullard as one of the top ten multicultural titles for youth in the nonfiction category for 2015. The magazine says of the book, “The incredible story of Bullard, an African American pilot honored by the French yet shunned by Americans, receives a moving treatment here.” Booklist is a leading magazine for librarians searching for quality reading material for their collections.

The story of pioneering WWI aviator Eugene Bullard is known to military history and aviation enthusiasts, but is not as familiar to the general public. Larry Greenly recounts Bullard’s story from his birth in 1895 in Columbus, Georgia, through his combat experiences as an expatriate pilot in World War I and World War II, to his return to America.

Congratulations to NewSouth Books author Larry Greenly on this well-deserved recognition for his work. Read about all the books chosen at the Booklist website.

Eugene Bullard is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.