National Black Home Educators Book Club

Interview with Sonja Gaddy

Monday, February 28, 2011

March 2011 Book Selections

One of this month's selections is Color Struck by Pamela and Joel Tuck. If you remember my January post, I had a picture of several books I wanted to preview. Color Struck was among my choices for completion. But before I could begin reading, daily life interrupted, and it wasn't until a college road trip with my son that I began to read.

I became so engaged with the flow of Color Struck that I was quite disappointed when my son informed me that it was my turn to drive. Therefore, I had to pull out the midnight oil to complete my reading.

What a magnificent story! The Tucks explore the sensitive issue of skin tone within the Black community which has caused much heartache even among families. Grandma Bell, the central character and storyteller, reveals her family secret to her grand-daughters to preserve the family and expose the pain and suffering caused by being color struck. The story begins on Friday, fish night at Grandma Bell's, after a week of painful confrontations among the cousins. I found myself waiting and clearing the table with the cousins so Grandma could tell what happens next as she unveils the story of her life. I believe you will too.

You may order Color Struck at To learn more about this home schooling family, we are including a portion of an interview with the Tucks. The remainder of the interview will be posted in April. We are allowing time for all to order the book and enjoy the discussion together.

March Selections:

Color Struck by Pamela and Joel Tuck

Odetta, The Queen of Folk by Stephen Alcorn

A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt De La
Pena and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

All of these selections are worthy of individual postings. Look for more details throughout the month of March.

Enjoy and be inspired by the first portion of the interview with Pamela and Joel Tuck.

NBHE: Tell us about your family. (Who are you/ how long have you been homeschooling/etc)

PT/JT: We are a Christian homeschooling family of 12, and live in Boyertown, PA. Our family consists of dad, mom, 6 boys and 4 girls, including a set of twins. Our oldest child is thirteen and our youngest is nine months. We’ve been homeschooling ever since our first child was born: reading, instructing, loving and nurturing. Our children have never attended public school; however we did Cyber Schooling for about three years. It was wonderful, but because of the growing family and needing more flexibility, we reverted back to traditional homeschooling.

NBHE: How long have you been writing?

PT: I would say my writing career started in elementary school, after winning my first poetry contest. I grew up as an only child in Greenville, NC, surrounded by a healthy array of cousins. I loved books even before I learned to read them. As a family member read to me, I would hold the words in my mind, and afterward “read” the book back to them. As I became older, I continued writing poetry, but ventured into short stories and plays. I used my writing as personal gifts or comfort for others or myself.

JT: I am a native of Philadelphia, PA, and unlike Pam, I grew up the youngest of seven. I did writing assignments in school, but didn’t consider becoming a writer. After seeing my wife’s love for writing, I encouraged her to do more with it. Once she became more serious about her writing, and learned more about the world of writing for children, I developed an interest as well.

NBHE: As homeschooling parents, how did you manage your time to write?

PT/JT: When we decided to write the novel Color Struck, we used the project as our “quiet time”. After dinner, we allowed the children to have free time. They entertained themselves for a few hours by reading, playing, listening to music, etc. while we wrote. Since the story is told as a frame story (a story within a story), switching from the contemporary to the past, one of us would work on the contemporary part, while the other worked on the past. We’d bring our ideas together and edit each other’s work. While we didn’t have a lot of time during the day to write, we covered at least two chapters at a time with this process. We continued off and on with this pattern until the novel was complete.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring is Here!

Hello NBHE. March and April have been months of wonderful celebrations for my family. My son celebrated his becoming an Eagle Scout, and my daughter, four days later, celebrated her sixteenth birthday. Both events were like planning for weddings. I hope this is an acceptable excuse for posting late.

April Selections:

Family: Color Struck by Pamela and Joel Tuck

Children: Fort Mose by Glennette Tilley Turner

Adult/High School: American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt by Daniel Rasmussen

We continue this month with the second portion of an interview with authors, Pamela and Joel Tuck. It is not too late to order a copy of their book, Color Struck, a classic for every African American library. Their story sheds light on the damage caused by drawing destinctions between the darkness and lightness of skin color. As difficult as that is to survive when you are the target, we see grace and mercy reflected back through the life of a grandmother who changes the course for her family. Don't miss out on this intriguing read. Order your copy at

Fort Mose: It is the story of Francisco Menendez who built the first free black settlement, Fort Mose (Mo-say) in colonial America just north of St. Augustine. The book is filled with maps, pictures, and drawings to demonstrate what life would have been like for slaves and free black in a Spanish colony. Including an Afterward and Author's Note, the book is forty-two pages of excellent non fiction reading.

American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt: I have this book on hold at our local library. A friend mentioned it to me because of hearing a PBS blurb about it. The book deals with the cover up of one of the largest slave rebellions in New Orleans. I would recommend this read for adult and high school students. I have not read this one, so let me know what you think.

Enjoy the conclusion of our NBHE Interview with authors Pamela and Joel Tuck.

NBHE: What prompted you to tell the story in Color Struck?

PT: I was working on a picture book story about my father. I called my grandmother to interview her about a certain part. Somehow she began retelling me some of the struggles she faced within the family and accounts of her life as the despised, dark-skinned daughter-in-law. I took notes and remained quiet, asking questions only to fill certain gaps. My notes piqued my husband’s interest and one of his first responses was: “Let’s write about Grandma.” In doing so, we ended up with Color Struck. We were touched by my grandmother’s faith and forgiveness, and how she held her integrity, despite her oppositions. We were inspired by her story and hoped others would be enlightened and inspired by it as well.

NBHE: What was the hardest part to write?

PT/JT: We think the hardest part to write was the contemporary part. The notes gave us a start for a lot of the scenes we created for the “past” parts of the novel. We knew each chapter had to support each other, so trying to create contemporary scenes that would pick up from the past scenes and still move the story forward, was challenging. Our goal was to keep the warm, family-time tone of the book by seamlessly weaving the two stories into one.

NBHE: What tips would you offer to others who would like to publish family stories?

PT/JT: Decide what theme/message you want to convey to your readers. Are you writing to enlighten, entertain, inspire, etc. Then concentrate on the events that would work with your theme. A lifetime of stories can’t be told in a single book, however, if you want to write a picture book, focus on one aspect and build around that. If you want to write a longer work, organize your events and write each chapter as if it was a story within itself, making sure each chapter builds toward your theme. Once you have your story/idea..just write! If you don’t’ think you’re a good writer, then record your story on tape (there are people who can put it on paper for you). We would suggest joining a writer’s group, such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), or a local writing group. This will help you polish your writing, along with learning the rules of manuscript formatting and submitting to publishers. There are several reference materials on writing found in your local library and online. Surround yourselves with positive influences and learn to sift criticism: take what will help you become a better writer and let the rest go.

Copyright 2010-2013 Pamela & Joel Tuck. All rights reserved.


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