Friday, December 26, 2014

‘Words Take Wing’ brings celebrated children’s authors to Davis

From page A8 | February 18, 2014 |

Davis students were among more than 1,000 on hand last week when the UC Davis School of Education celebrated the 10th anniversary of “Words Take Wing” with an appearance by renowned children’s author Andrea Pinkney and her husband, author and illustrator Brian Pinkney.

The students — among them classes from Patwin and Montgomery elementary schools and Holmes Junior High School — were treated to stories, music, book readings and a taste of the creative process both Pinkneys go through in their work.

The couple’s appearance at Freeborn Hall on Thursday followed visits to Sutter Children’s Hospital and the Sacramento Public Library the day before, all part of the annual Words take Wing program, which since 2004 has celebrated children’s literature by showcasing the diversity of stories and characters found in works by authors from different cultures.

Much of the Pinkneys’ work focuses on the African-American experience, with books about Alvin Ailey, Sojourner Truth, freedom fighters and many more. Their book “Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters” won a Coretta Scott King Honor Award in 2001, and the couple’s latest award-winning book is “Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America.”

Thursday, before a packed Freeborn Hall filled with students from not only Davis but also Woodland, Winters, West Sacramento, Vacaville and Sacramento, the couple described the path they’d each taken to their professions.

Brian Pinkney talked about how as a little boy, he never left home without his sketchbook.

“When I was in school, I sketched on everything,” he said, including his schoolwork and homework.

He sketched so much, in fact, that he had trouble completing all his assignments on time, he said. Fortunately, his teachers recognized him as a visual learner, and guided him appropriately.

At home, Brian had his very own art studio.

“Actually, it was a closet,” he said, which his parents had cleaned out and set up a workspace in.

Later he would take art classes and eventually attend an art college. After graduating, he told the students, he became an illustrator.

But even as an accomplished illustrator, he’s still learning, describing for the students how he took a dance class in order to figure out how to illustrate his wife’s story about dancer Alvin Ailey.

And he even started writing stories himself, including his favorite, “Max Found Two Sticks,” about a boy who loved to drum.

“It took me two years to write it,” he said.

His wife, meanwhile, started writing stories in second grade — carrying a notebook with her wherever she went and writing everything down.

In sixth grade, Andrea said, she entered and won her school’s writing contest.

“That made me want to be a writer for the rest of my life,” she said.

Andrea now swims laps every morning and told the students she keeps a notebook beside the pool because so often it’s while she’s swimming that stories come to her.

She described backstroking through the pool when suddenly a voice came to her — “Scat Cat,” who began telling the story of Ella Fitzgerald.

“I was so happy I had my notebook by the pool because I could write down everything he said,” she told the students, each of whom had been given a notebook and pen when they arrived in case they wanted to do the same.

In addition to describing how they go about writing a story or drawing a picture, the Pinkneys also answered students’ questions, which varied from what their inspiration was to how many books they’ve written.

For the record, Andrea has written more than 30 books and Brian has written seven and illustrated 43.

Learn more about Brian’s work at and Andrea’s at

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy



Anne Ternus-Bellamy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Exchange students bring the world to Davis

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Pastor has many plans for CA House

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Transit survey: 47 percent ride bikes to UCD campus

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Goats help recycle Christmas trees

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Playing Santa

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Special holiday gifts

    By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A3

    Woodland-Davis commute bus service expands

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Learn fruit tree tips at free class

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Davis Bike Club hears about British cycling tour

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Pick up a Davis map at Chamber office

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Sierra Club calendars on sale Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Explorit: Get a rise out of science

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4

    NAMI meeting offers family support

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Yoga, chanting intro offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8



    How much for the calling birds?

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    Blamed for her sister’s rage

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    Steve Sack cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

    Many ensured a successful parade

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Thanks for putting food on the table

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10



    Two more for the road for 9-1 Aggie men

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Patterson is college football’s top coach

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Clippers get a win over Golden State

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    NBA roundup: Heat beat Cavs in LeBron’s return to Miami

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery





    ‘Unbroken': A bit underwhelming

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Folk musicians will jam on Jan. 2

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11



    Passat: Roomy, affordable sedan with German engineering

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery



    James J. Dunning Jr.

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Floyd W. Fenocchio

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Friday, December 26, 2014 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7

    Comics: Thursday, December 26, 2014 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: A9