A Week in the Life of a Tiny Pioneer: Story Time & Black History Month Exhibit Update

Where y’at?!

Last Saturday I had much fun participating in the first Global Families Festival of 2020 organized by the International House in Davis, CA, in partnership with the always inspiring Teacher Can from the Peregrine School, the Homeless Refuge Support and Advocacy Inc., and the kids dance group Afro Mini Vibes. This is a bi-monthly themed event catering to 3–10 years old and their family, filled with music, craft activities, a story time and food. Kids and parents alike love it! I read the Coretta Scott King award-winning book Trombone Shorty, written by Grammy award-winning artist Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, and illustrated by the also award-winning Bryan Collier. What a pair! I brought a trombone (had help!), and had the audience gleefully answer the “Where y’at!” greeting calls sprinkled throughout the story.

We all had fun, and I can’t wait to do it again!

A Black History Month Art Exhibit in the Making

The closer we get to the event, the more excited and joyful I am at the prospect of sharing a glimpse into the stories of so many Black geniuses. As a reminder to readers learning about this Black History Month project for the first time, it is a kid-friendly event that celebrates lesser known brilliant Black minds and bodies who changed the course of history. The exhibit would not have been possible without the early support of Scott Love, our Library Regional Manager of the West Yolo Region. Scott offered the space at the Mary L. Stephens branch in Davis, and shared about the project with the Arthur F. Turner location in West Sacramento as well. What does this means?

1 exhibit, 2 locations!

When will the exhibit take place? It will start on the 1st of February and last the entire month.

What About the Art?

The exhibit will feature portraits of selected but world-wide Voices of the African diaspora, past and present, along with non-traditional haikus inspired by their work, famous quotes, short biographies, and a map showing where each historical figure is from (so kids and adults get to learn a little bit of geography). Next to each portrait, there will be an invitation to check out the available library materials on the that person’s life or slice of history. The book recommendations will be for both kids, and adults.

Some of the Highlights of the Week:

1- We launched a GoFundMe page on Monday, to help cover the costs of printing the posters and the information cards. The fundraising is off to a soft start but is gaining steam! Everything collected will be used toward this cause and nothing else, as it will only make the event better.

2- Four amazing artists since joined the exhibit and will share their work with the audience (there will be both prints and original pieces). The fundraising page will be updated regularly throughout the week, as I add the contributors’ biography and finalize, with the help of an amazing librarian friend, further public announcements. I can already share the participation of the truly fantastic Robert Liu-Trujillo, creator of multicultural and bilingual books for kids and founder of The Trust Your Struggle Collective and Come Bien Books, among other activities.

3- The exhibit opened the doors for three different art workshops, woven with a bit of storytelling, to take place during the month of February. It is my hope to help further highlight Black creators. The details are being finalized.

Stay tuned for more exciting news next week! Don’t hesitate to help us spread the word. Thank you for reading, I wish you a fun and productive week.

PS: Tiny Pioneer. Tiny refers to the Tiny Fellowship, a program that supports projects that aim to improve the education system.

#MCRPop: The Little Bookstore That Could

Humble beginnings. 💚

I didn’t have much money. What I had was the burning desire to fill a big void in my community: the need for multicultural children’s books, including bilingual books. The desire to put the books I love into the hands of the readers looking for them. The desire to support diversity-focused small presses and independent authors of excellent books, but whom I know to have no or little marketing budget. These books are not yet reviewed by big, well-known newspapers, and not carried by big chain bookstores.

I figured I’d start with 10 copies of 10 different titles, and replace sold-out titles by new ones, to keep the customers looking for new items. As you will read below, reality quickly outgrew my vision.

I sold some personal items and emptied my saving account to purchase a business license, a seller’s permit, and to place the required ad in my local newspaper, announcing that I was open for business.

MultiCulturalism Rocks! Pop-Up, my tiny bookstore, was officially born.

First pop-up banner.❣️

I then used my credit card to purchase the first books. I simply contacted the publishers and the independent authors on the list I had made, with the help of Robert C. Liu-Trujillo, a writer/illustrator friend, and I pitched them my idea. I can’t thank enough the first people who jumped onboard. Not only did they enthusiastically welcome the initiative, but they also supported it by accepting to work with me: Robert C. Liu-Trujillo, award-winning author Zetta Elliot, Tiffany Golden, Maya Gonzalez, Justine Villanueva, and publishers Heyday Books, and Just Us Books.

I opened shop at the Davis International Festival on October 1st, 2017. I had clients already lined up while I was still setting up. A friend came to help me, and we were so busy selling that we didn’t have time to pause and be interviewed when asked.

Though I initially only spent a few days every month attending events and selling books, I systematically sold out of at least one title every time. To keep up with the pace of the sales, I increased my inventory, not just by ordering more than 10 books per titles when I saw fit, but also by adding more titles to meet my customers’ demands.

I quickly received more invitations to attend school events and cultural festivals not just outside of my county, but outside of my state as well (hopefully I will be able to honor these one day.). The African Market Place, in Sacramento, CA, whose community gave me a warm welcome, also quickly became a home where customers know to find me twice a month.

The challenge I’m meeting is that I need to increase my inventory again. I don’t do consignments. I pay for the books that I sell, and I believe that this is an essential way of supporting the authors I work with, especially the indie ones. I know my customers. I know what they want, and I know that all the books I carry will sell. So far, they all have. I used to be a bookseller specializing in children’s books, and I was good at it. This isn’t my first rodeo. I know to order just the right amount of items, taking into account the space I have, and the events I have lined up. I’m at a point where I need to rent a small space where I will store my inventory, because it is about to increase. And it will be an even sweeter deal if I could sell books from that location too, while still traveling places to meet the customers — educators, parents and kids, who are most looking for these stories and can’t come either to me or to the closest culturally diverse brick and mortar bookshop. I have a location in mind, in a vibrant community and with a rent within my range. I’ve been doing this, the traveling and transporting the table, banner, chair and books, using my green 2000, slightly beaten up Volkswagen Jetta. It would be amazing to one day have a vehicle with more space, to transport more of these amazing stories.

w/ spoken word artist and fellow pop-up bookstore owner, danté péläyō. 💛

I keep tab of all the fun that happens every time I’m out — which books sell the fastest, anecdotes, pictures, etc. I’ve been asked to share these snippets by several people, and will try to regularly do so in the future. During this literary, nomadic journey, I’ve also had the pleasure to meet other mobile bookstore owners (all heroes to my eyes and, I’m sure, to the eyes of their customers). I would like to give them a big shoutout, and I’m planning on spotlighting them on this blog in the near future. Please help make this a recurring event by adding more names to that list.

Last but not least, one of the ways I look to timely meet the readers’ demands for more titles, before the end of this year, is by applying to small business grants. This month I’m applying to the NAV grant, as well as the Amber Grant, and as such a part of this blog post will also be shared in my applications.

Thank you for reading this far, and thank you for your support. Is there a book you would recommend? Any bookmobile you would like to give a shoutout to? What about your own work: What have you been up to? 🙂

PS: About the play on the colors in the captions: green for hope, red for passion, yellow for friendship. Those three colors are also an ode to my African origins.

First #MCRPop customers! 💜

A dad who told me he was buying these books for his “princess.” 😊👑

On the road again… 🚘

Library in the making for a toddler, global citizen! 🎁 (I need to brush up on my Spanish!)















Edited 08/16/18 at 3:54pm to add link to my NAV application.