Margaree King Mitchell

Margaree King Mitchell is the author of the Coretta Scott King Honor Book UNCLE JED’S BARBERSHOP, illustrated by James E. Ransome, Simon & Schuster, 1993, GRANDDADDY’S GIFT, illustrated by Larry Johnson, BridgeWater/Scholastic, 1997, WHEN GRANDMAMA SINGS, illustrated by James E. Ransome, Amistad/HarperCollins, 2012, THE PEOPLE IN THE PARK, 2013, and WOMAN IN THE PULPIT, 2015.UNCLE JED’S BARBERSHOP, Margaree’s first picture book for children, takes place in the 1920s in the segregated South. Sarah Jean’s favorite relative, Uncle Jed, is an itinerant barber with the dream of owning his own barbershop. Twice Uncle Jed sees his savings disappear, once to get his niece medical care and again when banks fail during the Depression. But he doesn’t give up. At the age of 79 he opens the barbershop he has worked for all those years. In addition to being a Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner, UNCLE JED’S BARBERSHOP was also named a Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, an ALA Notable Children’s Book, and an American Booksellers Association Pick of the Lists. The book also won the Living The Dream Award and the Charlie May Simon Honor Book Award and was featured on Reading Rainbow.

UNCLE JED’S BARBERSHOP, Margaree’s first picture book for children, takes place in the 1920s in the segregated South. Sarah Jean’s favorite relative, Uncle Jed, is an itinerant barber with the dream of owning his own barbershop. Twice Uncle Jed sees his savings disappear, once to get his niece medical care and again when banks fail during the Depression. But he doesn’t give up. At the age of 79 he opens the barbershop he has worked for all those years. In addition to being a Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner, UNCLE JED’S BARBERSHOP was also named a Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, an ALA Notable Children’s Book, and an American Booksellers Association Pick of the Lists. The book also won the Living The Dream Award and the Charlie May Simon Honor Book Award and was featured on Reading Rainbow.

UNCLE JED’S BARBERSHOP is on a multitude of school lists of required reading throughout the United States and is reprinted in textbooks by SRA/McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers, Zaner Bloser Inc., and the University of Nebraska Press. It is also used to teach economic education and the challenges of entrepreneurship to students age 9-11 in lesson plans developed by the Federal Reserve Bank.

An award winning musical featuring Broadway veteran Ken Prymus as Uncle Jed has been adapted from UNCLE JED’S BARBERSHOP. The show was a finalist in the O’Neill Musical Theatre Conference and also a finalist in the Richard Rogers Awards presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. UNCLE JED’S BARBERSHOP was a featured show in the 2005 New York Musical Theater Festival and won the National Music Theater Network’s Director’s Choice Award. The show had its worldwide premier in Denver in 2015.

GRANDDADDY’S GIFT, Margaree’s second book, was an IRA/CBC Teachers Choice and received a Skipping Stones Award, an international award for promoting respect and cultural diversity. Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, GRANDDADDY’S GIFT is the story of a black man who insists that his granddaughter go to school so she will have choices he didn’t have when she grows up. He is the first in his community to volunteer to register to vote. His granddaughter witnesses his tireless efforts to achieve the right to vote. She sees him humiliated by angry crowds, but he doesn’t give up until he is a registered voter.

Margaree’s historical fiction books are set in the past and focus on ordinary people who achieve extraordinary things for the time period in which they lived. Her third book, WHEN GRANDMAMA SINGS, is a story about the gift of love, the beauty of music and its power to bring people together, even in the segregated South. Eight-year-old Belle spends the summer touring the South with her Grandmama and a swing jazz band. Belle has never been outside her small town in Mississippi. She helps Grandmama read signs and menus and she becomes absorbed in the music of the era. There are many new things to see but Belle discovers that some things aren’t new. Everything is segregated, just like at home. But Grandmama stands up for what’s right wherever she goes. Grandmama’s singing earns her a recording contract and she has to leave the South and move North. Although Belle will miss her, she realizes that she too was born with a special gift and one day she will go places as she nurtures the song within her. WHEN GRANDMAMA SINGS is a recipient of the Living The Dream Award, marking the 2nd time one of Margaree’s books has won the award; and was named a Best Children’s Book selection, by Bank Street College of Education.

THE PEOPLE IN THE PARK is Margaree’s first novel for teens. Lauren Moffit is privileged and overprotected by her wealthy parents. She is one of few African-American students in a prestigious prep school in a predominately white neighborhood. The world is her oyster. However, nothing can prepare her for the devastating scandal that rocks her world when her father is charged with investment fraud. Spoiled and self-centered, she struggles to keep her head high. But it’s not until she hears the stories of the people in the park, where she takes her daily run, that Lauren realizes she can rise above her family ‘situation’.

Margaree expanded into the adult fiction market with her book, WOMAN IN THE PULPIT. Seminary educated in Boston, enthusiastic, and filled with new ideas, Grace Alexander returns home to Piney Woods, Tennessee as pastor of Hopewell Church. Waiting for her is the old guard Ministerial Alliance, led by Rev. Thomas Haliburton. He has stopped every progressive move in town and he is determined to stop Grace, who is unaware of the sinister plot against her. Grace forges ahead, unwavering in her efforts to bring change to the community. All of the ingredients are in place, soon to boil over: a young woman pastor, local male ministers against her, a fiery accident, scandal.

Margaree is the creator of the EveryBody Has A Dream program, which empowers students in urban and rural areas to shoot for the stars with aspirations for their lives. The program inspires students to dream “Big” and believe their dreams can come true. It also imparts significant life principles and nuggets of history.

In 2002 Margaree was presented with the SCERUS Award at the National Invitational Conference on Educational Research in the Urban South.

In April 2012 Margaree was honored for her commitment to children’s literacy by Texas A&M University.

Margaree was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi and graduated from Holly Springs High School. She received her college degree from Brandeis University. She lives in Kansas City.

 

Margaree’s Books

The People in the Park

Privileged and overprotected, nothing can prepare her for the devastating scandal that ​rocks her world.

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