by Edie Ziebel

It's human nature to want to see yourself "mirrored". It validates us, makes us feel part of the greater world. In children's books, it means children want to see characters they can easily identify with, put themselves in a protagonist's place. It's important that ALL children have that opportunity. Too often though, children of color are left feeling there are aren’t enough opportunities to see themselves in the books available in their libraries and bookstores.

The Brown Bookshelf (www.thebrownbookshelf.com) is a website that has worked to highlight the many of African American voices writing for young readers. Their flagship initiative of is 28 Days Later. For the past 5 years each February they present a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by African Americans.

It was established in 2008 by authors Paula Chase and Varian Johnson after they got tired of hearing, ‘There’s no YA out there for African American teens’ . Their hope is that once people familiarize themselves with the listed authors and illustrators and their books, teachers, librarians, and readers will know where to go for more. Now the site contributors also include Don Tate, Kelly Starling Lyons, and Tameka Fryer Brown.

The Brown Bookshelf contains a wealth of information. Great links will take you even further into this issue. Under BBS Library you’ll find not only the past 28 Days Later lists, but also links to publishers that actively publish books featuring children of color.

Note that illustrators are listed in italics and what they terms as "vanguard" authors are in boldface. You may be surprised to see an author or illustrator you know defined as “under the radar,” but until authors of color receive consistent mainstream exposure among librarians, teachers and readers, the Brown Bookshelf is "dedicated to ensuring they are recognized and honored for their literature."

About the Author

EDIE ZIEBEL, Book Designer, Art Director

From baby books, to chapter books, through middle grade readers and young adult books, Edie Ziebel has designed and art directed over 1,000 books. Edie has worked at several major publishing houses and has always been a freelance designer throughout her career. She has collaborated with outstanding, award-winning illustrators as well as newcomers to the field, helping them to create compelling books for young readers. To help nurture talent, Edie volunteers with the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Conference, which she has co-chaired for the past 3 years.

With experience in trade, mass-market, and educational publishing, Edie will bring the appropriate design to your project. Specializing in books for very young children, Edie can help you develop illustrated books, guiding the development of the artwork itself, as well as the layout and pacing to make your story jump off the page. Edie’s also has collaborated on many different types and formats of novelty books, she can really think "outside the box".

Her experience working with licensed properties can help you create a character that stands out in the crowded license marketplace. She can develop style guides to help keep characters consistent whether you continue to create  their books or have others extend your line.

Edie’s time in educational publishing helped develop her informational graphic skills, helping authors bring home their point to readers in a clear, graphic manner. She’s also designed books and materials targeted towards teachers. 

Bringing a sensitivity to typography and layout to all her book projects, Edie Ziebel can bring the best out of you!


"She is intelligent, concise, has a good eye for detail and a great sense of humor."

"Edie one of my favorite art directors ever. We worked on a number of wonderful books together at Cartwheel, a Scholastic imprint. She is imaginative, creative, inspirational and a pure pleasure to work with. I repeat, one of the best!"

"Edie is a phenomenal organizer who’s able to juggle many projects at once, and she manages schedules and people with ease. She was well-loved by her staff, and all the freelance designers and artists she worked with. I was lucky to have her on my team. A strong designer of both upscale trade and mass-market children’s books--a rare combination—I don’t think I ever once saw her lose patience or become flustered."