Shay Youngblood: Mama's Home'
Mama's Home (2022)
Illustrated by Lo Harris

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Kirkus Starred Review

Novelist Youngblood tells a story of a child with seven homes and seven Big Mamas.

A Black child with two puffs goes to a different home every day. The child’s mother works late and sometimes travels for weeks at a time. So the Big Mamas take care of the narrator, and the child has different experiences and dreams with each of them. With Nurse Louella, the protagonist cycles around the airport parking lot and later thinks of being a pilot. With Miss Zikora, the narrator sings in Spanish, French, and Igbo (“I think I want to sing in my own band”). Other Big Mamas braid the child’s hair in a salon or teach them to fish. Finally, when Mama comes home, everyone celebrates together with more delicious food, and the child gets to sleep in their own little room in their own house, glad that Mama is home. This is a joyful, heartfelt celebration of family—born and chosen—and community, of Black womanhood and expressions of love. The variety of people and homes in the child’s life is thoroughly engaging; the details of the women’s lifestyles, from fashion and cars to foods and conversations, immerse readers in each setting. Harris’ bright, warm illustrations use thick blocks of saturated colors to bring the Mamas, the child, and their relationships to life. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Unique and universally resonant, this fascinating tribute is one to share. (notes from the author and from Make Me a World creative director Christopher Myers, recipe for sweet pink punch) (Picture book. 4-9)

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Shay Youngblood: Luna, A Super Shero Comic
Luna: A Super Shero Comic (2019)
Black Womens Health Imperative

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Shay Youngblood: Black Girl in Paris
Black Girl in Paris (2000)
Riverhead Books

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Black Girl in Paris Film Trailer

“ Black Girl in Paris is Shay Youngblood's love letter and her homage to the expatriates who paved the way for those who followed. The poets and musicians and painters and singers: they are present here in fact and in spirit….Along with their thin wallets and the addresses of a few cheap hotels, young writers intending to run away to Paris might be wise to drop a copy of this one in their backpacks. “ —The New York Times

“ [Black Girl in Paris] is the story of Eden, a passionate and poetic twenty-six year-old American who seeks to grow into a writer in the city of her heroes, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and especially James Baldwin. For them and for her, she believes, Paris is the city of education, of freedom, of dreams. Her impressionistic ecstasy is infectious…[The book has] a classic structure, a plucky narrator, a lively, multiethnic cast of characters and an engaging sensual prose style. “ —Chicago Tribune

“ Shay Youngblood grabs us by the collar and firmly leads us into a world totally of her own making. A fictional memoir so textured and emotionally true that we just keep bouncing along, intrigued by the immature and vulnerable narrator until the end….Youngblood's prose is full of poetic moments. And it proceeds at a fast pace, so fast that you might miss some of her rich detail if you read too quickly. “ —Washington Post

“ Shay Youngblood captures much of the crazed joy and drama of the newly minted traveler….Black Girl in Paris assuredly demonstrates the redemptive power that can come with an author's literary invention. “ —The Advocate

“ As stimulating as a stroll down the Champs-Elysee….It's a testament to Youngblood's talent that Eden's inner adventure is as riveting as any exploit in Paris. “ —Atlanta Journal-Constitution


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Paris, September 1986. Early morning. She is lying on her back in a hard little bed with her eyes closed, dreaming in French. Langston was here. There is a black girl in Paris lying in a bed on the fifth floor of a hotel in the Latin Quarter. Her eyes are closed against the soft pink dawn. Delicate maps of light line her face, tattoo the palms of her hands, the insides of her thighs, the soles of her feet like lace. Jimmy was here. She sleeps while small, feminine hands plant a bomb under the seat of a train headed toward the city of Lyon.

James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Milan Kundera all had lived in Paris as if it had been part of their training for greatness. When artists and writers spoke of Paris in their memoirs and letters home it was with reverence. Those who have been and those who still dream mention the quality of the light, the taste of the wine, the joie de vivre, the pleasures of the senses, a kind of freedom to be anonymous and also new. I wanted that kind of life even though I was a woman and did not yet think of myself as a writer. I was a mapmaker.

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Shay Youngblood: Soul Kiss
Soul Kiss (1997)
Riverhead Books

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“ Intelligent and erotic…immensely engrossing and satisfying…Soul Kiss will make you hungry for more of Youngblood's writing. “ —Washington Post Book World

“ Lyrical, intimate, funny, unsettling, enthralling. “ —Tina McElroy Ansa

“ Youngblood sharply defines the muscle of desire and forces her readers' fingers along its ridges and curves. “ —Providence Sunday Journal

“ Exquisite. “ —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“ A tender, coming of age story. “ —Essence

“ Vibrantly alive with emotion. Soul Kiss is written with a thoughtful dignity that calls to mind Maya Angelou's 1970 autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. “ —Boston Sunday Herald

“ Haunting eroticism, lyrical description, and complex characterization…Youngblood brings an intense sense of hermetic emotion to a powerfully subjective tale of one of African American girl's coming-of-age. “ —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“ Infused with the rhythm of poetic phrasings, music that sings to us lullabies of the heart, and the kind of blues you find in the deepest recesses of your soul. “ —Southern Voice

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The first evening Mama doesn't come back, I make a sandwich with leaves from her goodbye letter. I want to eat her words. I stare at the message written on the stiff yellowed paper as if the shaky scrawl would stand up and speak to me, Mama loves you. Wait here for me. I want her to take back the part about waiting. After crushing the paper into two small balls I flatten them with my fist, then stuff them into the envelope my aunt Faith gave me after Mama had gone. I feel weak as water and stone cold as I sit with my legs dangling over the edge of the thick mattress on the high iron-frame bed, reading by the dim lamplight. I unfold the tiger-print scarf Mama gave me and lay in its center the goodbye sandwich, a small book of rhymes, a biscuit from dinner wrapped in wax paper, and her pink radio that fits in the palm of my hand... After a while I lie down on the bed with the scarf across my face, breathing in the bergamot smell of my mother's hair, tasting bitter tears. I take small bites of the sandwich, careful to taste every word she left me, even the ones I don't understand, then swallowed each with a tear or two.

Shay Youngblood: Big Mama Stories
Big Mama Stories (1989)
Firebrand Books

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If you don't remember nothing else I tell you, baby, you remember this; If you got to dance or dream or anything at all, take it a step at a time and don't let nothing and nobody get in your way when you doing right. I ain't saying it's gonna be easy, but we all got a dance to do. You remember this, you hear?

Shay Youngblood: Hotel Stories Shay Youngblood: Hotel Stories Shay Youngblood: Hotel Stories Shay Youngblood: Hotel Stories Shay Youngblood: Hotel Stories
Hotel Stories, Artists Books

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Hotel Stories: erotica - volume 1

In these series of funny, unsettling, erotic, heart-breaking and sensual stories set in hotels around the world, hotel guests discover private passions, unexpected pleasures, hope, redemption, small pleasures and discover the darkest parts of themselves when faced with four anonymous walls and a bed. Q spends her weekdays working a 9 to 5 in the financial district and her weekends in elegant boutique hotels exploring her fluid sexuality; On hot summer afternoons, a teenager cools down during secret visits to an air-conditioned porn theater; an aspiring opera singer spends her wedding night in a hotel room with her husband and his best friend; and a man loses his wife, but finds her again in his erotic memories.

Selected titles available in English, Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese

Available at Chambers Hotel in Minneapolis, MN

Shay Youngblood: Black Power Barbie Black Power Barbie

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Tabitha X and her younger brother, Jackson Five, the children of murdered African American Civil Rights activists, battle for Black Power Barbie as they relive vivid and frightening memories in therapy sessions in the mid 1990's. As adults, Tabitha remains psychologically wounded, living in the past, while Jackson faces the reality of living with AIDS. They both discover romantic love and struggle to hold on to it while seeking justice for their parents' murder.

Shay Youngblood: Winter Prophet Winter Prophet

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Set in the late nineteenth century, the novel follows Winter Grace, the uniquely talented daughter of former slaves, who is determined to become an opera singer and her best friend, Nathan Fitzpatrick, an undertaker's son, who dreams of becoming a boxer. There is little hope for either of their dreams to be realized in the small Kansas town where they grow into adulthood. Winter's life is transformed when a mysterious Italian voice teacher, La Signora, arrives in town on a morning train dressed in evening clothes, bearing bruises from her abusive husband, a famous tenor. On their wedding day Winter and Nathan runaway together and set out to create the lives they have dreamed about. Winter Prophet was inspired by the life of African American opera diva Sisseretta Jones known as the "Black Patti" (1869-1933).