Shelf Essentials: Diversify your bookshelf!

What is Shelf Essentials?

Shelf Essentials is a backlist publishing initiative presented by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group to highlight picture books from beloved BIPOC Creators. With this program we lift up critically acclaimed stories, authors, and illustrators, and will encourage readers everywhere to celebrate different cultures and make storytime more inclusive. From tender family stories to important conversation starters, no bookshelf is complete without these essentials reads. Each season we will showcase five backlist picture books, all available in paperback, some for the first time.

To learn more about Shelf Essentials, check out our brochure on Issuu here
and keep reading to preview our Fall 2020 Shelf Essentials selections!

Learn more about our
Fall 2021 Shelf Essentials:

Mixed Me! by Taye Diggs, illustrated by Shawn W. Evans
Ages 4-8
Paperback Available Now

PB ISBN: 9781250769855

The team who brought us Chocolate Me!, Taye Diggs and illustrator by Shane W. Evans, return with an upbeat story about a mixed-race boy in this heartfelt picture book. Mixed Me!.

Mom and Dad say I’m a blend of dark and light:
“We mixed you perfectly, and got you just right.”

Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them. Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.

About the Author and Illustrator:

Taye Diggs is an actor whose credits include motion pictures (How Stella Got Her Groove BackChicago), stage, (RentWicked), and television (Private PracticeMurder in the FirstEmpire, and All American). He is also the author of Mixed Me!, Chocolate Me!, I Love You More Than. . . , and My Friend!, published by Feiwel and Friends. He lives in Los Angeles and New York City with his son.

Shane W. Evans is the illustrator of numerous award-winning (NAACP Award, Coretta Scott King Award) books for children, including We MarchUndergroundMixed Me!Chocolate Me!I Love You More Than. . ., and My Friend!. He is based out of Kansas City, Missouri, and travels extensively to gain inspiration. Shane can be found in Dream Studio LLC where he creates and serves the community.

From author Taye Diggs:
What is the core message you hope young readers and their families will take with them from Mixed Me?

“Unity, self-love, family love, and personal self-expression, all wrapped up in a super-colorful package with rhythm and flow that brings it ALL the way home, ‘full circle’ from beginning to end,” says Taye.


Black Magic by Dinah Johnson; Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Ages 5-9
Paperback On Sale September 28, 2021
PB ISBN: 9781250822697

A moving celebration of Black identity that encourages self-love with a singular poetic spirit, perfect for fans of Black Is a Rainbow Color and Woke Baby.

Black is a look, a taste, a speed, an emotion. It’s the surprising stripes on a zebra, the taste of dark chocolate, the scary, exciting feeling of going inside a tunnel, and a mother’s voice as her daughter falls asleep.

In this celebration of the African American spirit, Dinah Johnson and R. Gregory Christie paint a picture of “black” that is vivid, varied, and proud.

About the Author and Illustrator:

Dinah Johnson has written several books for young readers including Hair Dance!Quinnie Blue and Sunday Week. A professor of English literature at the University of South Carolina, Ms. Johnson lives with her daughter, Niani, in Columbia, South Carolina.

R. Gregory Christie has illustrated many picture books, three of which won a Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustrator: The Palm of My Heart: Poetry by African American ChildrenOnly Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth; and Yesterday I Had the Blues. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

From Ann Marie Wong, Editorial Director:
“Dinah Johnson and R. Gregory Christie’s Black Magic is a joyful tribute to the diversity of Blackness. Johnson’s prose is both playful and powerfully imaginative, layering accessible concepts with emotionally rich themes. With his bold, exuberant brushwork, six-time Coretta Scott King Award finalist Christie celebrates Blackness in all its forms, inviting the reader to discover the magic in their own lives.”


Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi
Ages 4-8
Paperback On Sale September 28, 2021

PB ISBN: 9781250822710

Draw the Line is a powerful picture book about forgiveness from Kathryn Otoshi, author of the bestselling book One.

When two boys draw their own lines and realize they can connect them together—magic happens! But a misstep causes their lines to get crossed. Soon their line unravels into an angry tug-of-war. With a growing rift between them, will the boys ever find a way to come together again?

About the Author and Illustrator:

Kathryn Otoshi is an award-winning author/illustrator, best known for her character-building number/color book series: OneZero, and Two. She is also the co-author of Beautiful Hands, a book about possibilities and reaching your dreams. She travels across the country to encourage children to develop strong character traits and to help readers find creative methods to engage and connect with their students through the power of reading, art, and literature. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

From Kathryn Otoshi:
Why do you think your book resonates with readers now?

“In today’s world, things might feel very ‘black and white’ and it becomes harder to see the other person’s point of view. This was happening in my own life between my father and me. We didn’t agree with what needed to happen in the world, and I saw that it was beginning to really strain our normally loving relationship. We both realized that if we wanted to improve and heal the relationship, we needed to focus on our commonalities—like our love for each other, family, music—instead of expending all our energy on our differences,” says Kathryn.


Rosa by Nikki Giovanni; Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Ages 4-8
Paperback Available Now

PB ISBN: 9780312376024

Fifty years after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, Mrs. Rosa Parks is still one of the most important figures in the American civil rights movement. This tribute to Mrs. Parks is a celebration of her courageous action and the events that followed.

Award-winning poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni’s evocative text combines with Bryan Collier’s striking cut-paper images to retell the story of this historic event from a wholly unique and original perspective.

About the Author and Illustrator:

Nikki Giovanni is the author of Lincoln and Douglass, Spin a Soft Black SongThe Sun Is So Quiet, and the Caldecott Honor Book Rosa. Her autobiography Gemini was a finalist for the National Book Award, and several of her books have received NAACP Image Awards. She was the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, and has been awarded the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry.

Bryan Collier is the author and illustrator of Uptown, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award and the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award. He is also the illustrator of the Caldecott Honor Books Martin’s Big Words (Doreen Rappaport) and Rosa.



From Laura Godwin, VP, Publisher:
Rosa is the story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, written by the beloved poet Nikki Giovanni, who knew Rosa personally, and beautifully illustrated by Bryan Collier. Since its publication in 2005, Rosa has received a Caldecott Honor, won a Coretta Scott King Award, and sold 250,000 copies. This Booklist starred review says it best: ‘Paired very effectively with Giovanni’s passionate, direct words, Collier’s large watercolor-and-collage illustrations depict Parks as an inspiring force that radiates golden light.”


The Twins’ Blanket by Hyewon Yum
Ages 3-6
Paperback On Sale September 28, 2021
PB ISBN: 9781250825223

These look-alike twins have always shared everything—their room, their toys, a crib, and, since the day they were born, a blanket. But as they grow into new beds, they need new blankets, too. Now they face a new dilemma: they don’t know how not to share.

Told from the perspective of two five-year-olds, The Twins’ Blanket playfully illuminates squabbles and affection between young siblings. Yum’s minimalistic art astutely captures these twins’ emotions as they toss, turn, and tug their new and old blankets—and embrace their growing independence.

About the Author and Illustrator:

Hyewon Yum is the author and illustrator of several acclaimed books for children, including This is Our HouseThe Twins’ BlanketThere Are No Scary Wolves, and Last Night. Her book Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! received the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.

From Hyewon Yum:
1. The Twins’ Blanket is celebrating its tenth anniversary! What themes in the book do you think still resonate with readers?
“I hope kids can think that it’s better to have someone to share things with than to have it all to themselves,” says Hyewon.

2. Can you share some favorite memories of readers’ reactions to the story over the years?
“Many people told me that they get to hold their kids’ hand when the twin girls in the book reach out for each other. I was deeply moved that my book could make readers express their love to each other,” says Hyewon.