Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 21, 2020

Book Giveaway: BREAD FOR WORDS by Shana Keller

Shana Keller has written a new picture book titled, BREAD FOR WORDS, Illustrated by Kayla Stark and published by Sleeping Bear Press. Sleeping Bear Press has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Shana & Kayla!

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Frederick Douglass knew where he was born but not when. He knew his grandmother but not his father. And as a young child, there were other questions, such as Why am I a slave? Answers to those questions might have eluded him but Douglass did know for certain that learning to read and to write would be the first step in his quest for freedom and his fight for equality. Told from first-person perspective, this picture-book biography draws from the real-life experiences of a young Frederick Douglass and his attempts to learn how to read and write. Author Shana Keller (Ticktock Banneker’s Clock) personalizes the text for young readers, using some of Douglass’s own words. The lyrical title comes from how Douglass “paid” other children to teach him.


Bread for Words: A Frederick Douglass Story (Sleeping Bear Press, illustrated by Kayla Stark) made its debut January 15th and I couldn’t be more excited to share this picture book about Frederick Douglass and how he learned to read and write.

A couple years ago, I came across Frederick Douglass via an old biography I had picked up from my local library. It was the arresting photograph of him on the cover that drew me back into his life. Frederick’s ability to mimic animals and the complicated relationship he had with one of the plantation owner’s sons struck me early on. This led to me requesting and reading more and more books about Frederick Douglass. And soon, this person who I mostly knew of as a great orator and author of three biographies was reintroduced to me as a child. A child who had struggled for years in a hostile environment while he painstakingly learned to read and write.

Sadly, illiteracy is still an issue today. So when the idea hit me to focus on how a great author like Frederick Douglass taught himself to read and write—I jumped on it. The more I delved into his autobiographies, the more I realized how significant this period of his life was.

As I continued my research, I was able to take a trip to Baltimore and meet with Urban Ranger and docent, Bradley Alston. His insight and knowledge not just of Frederick Douglass but of the Baltimore Douglass grew up in was incredible. Touring the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park and museum (a place I highly recommend) rounded out my research.

When I first drafted the manuscript, the tricky part for me was to stay true to Frederick’s voice and his experience while putting this difficult subject in a context that children today can hopefully understand. So how exactly did Frederick achieve his goal and help the children who helped him? Hint: the secret is in the title!


No matter how seamless it is, I think for every manuscript a writer submits the path to publication is a nail-biting experience in slow-motion. In this case (as with my third picture book, Fly, Firefly!), I was very lucky and happy to submit my manuscript to Barb McNally from Sleeping Bear Press. She is the same editor and publisher I worked with on Ticktock Banneker’s Clock (my first nonfiction picture book which received a Best STEM award). Well, I was thrilled when she informed me that it made it through the first round. Then, the second. And, the third! After a few months it went under contract and I was ecstatic!

While Sleeping Bear secured the very talented illustrator, Kayla Stark, Barb and I worked on many, many revisions in which she kindly gave me the freedom and flexibility to get it just right. Writing about such a well-known, profound figure in our history proved harder than I ever expected. I’m very lucky that Barb believed in me and the vision, and that the collaborative efforts with the illustrator and art director helped get this book to where it needed to be.

My journey to share this empowering story and celebrate the launch of Bread for Words: A Frederick Douglass Story begins this February at the Barnes & Noble Mayfaire Town Center in Wilmington, North Carolina.



The day I got my library card was far more exciting than the day I got my driver’s license. Okay, maybe not. But, it was just as liberating!  

I have traveled and moved too many times to count with my husband and children all over the country and some parts of Europe. I now live in North Carolina, a state I can’t wait to explore! I graduated from the University of Miami, Florida with a degree in Communications. 

Despite all the moves, traveling is one of my favorite things to do. Below is a gallery of pictures I took on my trip to visit the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum

“Ticktock Banneker’s Clock” was rated a BEST STEM book by the Children’s Book Council. It is also featured on Booklistonline for Classroom Connections – STEM in the real world.

Shana Keller grew up a middle child in Middle America wondering exactly how clouds stayed in the air. She’s traveled all over the country and some parts of Europe with her family and moved too many times to count. She’s settled in Pittsburgh for now, a city built just for kids and one she finds inspiring.

One of her favorite quotes is from Benjamin Banneker: “Every day is an adventure in learning.” She graduated from the University of Miami, Florida, with a degree in Communications, and from UCLA’s screenwriting program, and she took a course in songwriting from Berklee College of Music. Her goal is to never stop learning. Learn more about Shana at

You can view her guest blog on STEM education here:


Kayla Stark is a freelance illustrator currently living in Nashville, TN, staying up late, and working on numerous fun projects. Most of my work is illustrated using a combination of traditional and digital media. I most often use gouache and colored pencil, but I love experimenting with different media and adding to my toolkit.

I typically incorporate animals and nature into my work one way or another. I enjoy finding humor in the small nuances of life and in human interactions with nature. I love spending my time planning fun trips and game nights, bird watching, camping, hiking, and relaxing by a fire.

If you would like to work together, or just want to say “hi”, please email me at

Represented by T2 Illustrators and Authors
For children’s work inquiries please contact Nicole Tugeau |, +1 (216) 513-4047


When my agent, Nicole Tugeau, told me that Sleeping Bear Press wanted me to illustrate this manuscript I was excited but nervous. (They had seen and liked an illustration of Bessie Coleman I had recently done for Bravery Magazine.) I really didn’t want to mess it up and I wanted to make sure the illustrations were accurate/sensitive to the time and story. I had to find a way to do all of that and still remain true to the marks and “style” my hand naturally wants to create.

The first thing that needed to be done were character roughs and in this story character sketches were a little trickier than normal. Not only did I need to make sure I was capturing Frederick Douglass and the time period, I had to capture him at 3 different distinct ages in his life. age 5-6, age 7-8, and age 13-15. After a few rounds we had all three ages and looks nailed down—it was time to move on to the interior sketches.

To help with the mood and visuals of this story we constantly referred back to Frederick Douglass’ autobiography “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”. And my editor sent along great reference photos from the time (showing clothing, hairstyles, homes, etc.).

The sketches were done in Procreate on the iPad Pro. Once they were approved I printed the sketches out slightly smaller than finished size, traced them onto watercolor paper, and did about 3/4 of each illustration with traditional materials. I’d start by using watercolor (and some pan pastels) to lay out larger shapes. Then I would use colored pencil (and some acryla gouache) from there. Once each piece was ready for the finer details, I would scan the piece, bring it up to actual size to increase my textures, and add in the last bits using Procreate on the iPad.

The most challenging part of illustrating this story was coming up with compositions that would show Frederick’s internal challenges/plot in an interesting way. And I needed to ensure I wasn’t repeating myself too much visually when he is practicing his writing and interacting with the neighborhood boys in Baltimore.

I’m happy with how the illustrations and writing work together to tell this story and I hope others enjoy and learn from it as I did!

Shana and Kayla, thank you for sharing your book and its’ journey with us and thank you Sleeping Bear Press with continuing to publish such wonderful books. School and children will love reading and learning more about Federick Douglas and how he navigated his world and over came the obstacles and broke his chains.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Wow! You have definitely put in the work and reaped the reward! I love that you dug so deep into Frederick Douglas’s past that you were able to see what he was like as a child and appreciate, as well as bring to light for others, another side of him. Great job and congratulations!


    • Showing Frederick growing up throughout the book was a challenge but very fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Frederick Douglass is a personal hero of mine, and I can’t wait to get this book and share it with the children in my life! Thanks!


  3. Frederick Douglass was an amazing man, but I knew nothing about his childhood. How wonderful to have a book about his early years! The sample pages certainly spark my interest. The words and illustrations are lovely.

    I shared information about this beautiful book with a link on Facebook. I look forward to receiving this blog daily!


    • Pamela,

      I’m glad you shared this book on your facebook page. Thanks!


      • I’m a former teacher and feel this is an important book to share in the classroom. I want children to know about this amazing man and be inspired. It’s my pleasure to spread the word.


    • Thank you for sharing “Bread For Words” and for your kind comment! There was a lot of research and thought that went into this project before it even came to me. I’m so proud to have been on the team!


  4. Love the book journey and the story behind it. Congratulations Shana and Kayla.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the mystery behind the title – BREAD FOR WORDS. Great concept! Thanks for sharing your writing and illustrating journeys! I shared too –

    Liked by 1 person

    • Manu,

      Thank you for taking the time to share this book on Twitter.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate the comments!! I hope you enjoy the story.


  6. This looks like an excellent story of Douglas’ early life. I’d love to have a copy.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and pinned an image on Pinterest too:
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks for the chance to win, good luck everyone!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carl, Thanks for sharing this with everyone.


  7. Thanks for sharing Frederick’s and the book’s journey! I look forward to reading Bread for Words.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I always enjoy reading about authors’ and illustrators’ journeys. Thanks for this post. I remember getting my first library card, too. It was very exciting for me as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol! Wasn’t that the best? To this day, I still check out books by the suitcase (it would seem). And bring my kids so they can help me carry them all out!


  9. I look forward to reading it. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve read his first autobiography, long ago; what an admirable man. Thank you for telling his story to today’s children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I’m so happy to have been a part of this important project!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I volunteer at the Benjamin Banneker Museum in Catonsville, MD. I use Tick Tock Banneker’s Clock when I tell Banneker’s story to children. Looking forward to the new book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope to see you there at the next Market Fair!


  12. I can’t wait to read it! I am looking forward to learning more about Frederick’s childhood. Thank you for sharing his story and congratulations on the book! I follow the blog and I will be sharing this on pinterest and twitter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad the publisher believed in this project. I’m so glad Kayla illustrated it. And, I’m so glad we’re getting positive feedback. I really hope you enjoy the story and thank you for the support.


  13. Briana,

    Thanks for sharing with everyone.


  14. I would love to get my hands on a copy. Shana Keller do you have a recommended age level or grade level for the book. Is there a reading guide available for teachers? During the month of February I highlight African American children’s and YA literature with a book selection every day on facebook, instagram and twitter including guided reading level, lexile measure, DRA level and Accelerated Reader information as available. I’ve been doing it for several years and typically give a general story overview.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: