Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 2, 2020

Book Giveaway: THE MAGIC IN CHANGING YOUR STARS by leah Henderson

Author Leah Henderson has a new middle grade book titled,THE MAGIC IN CHANGING YOUR STARS, published by Sterling Children’s Books and coming out on August 4th. Sterling has agreed to share a book 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 Leah!


Can you change your fate—and the fate of those you love—if you return to the past? Journey to 1939 Harlem in this time-travel adventure with an inspiring message about believing in yourself.

Eleven-year-old Ailey Benjamin Lane can dance—so he’s certain that he’ll land the role of the Scarecrow in his school’s production of The Wiz. Unfortunately, a talented classmate and a serious attack of nerves derail his audition: he just stands there, frozen. Deflated and defeated, Ailey confides in his Grampa that he’s ready to quit. But Grampa believes in Ailey, and, to encourage him, shares a childhood story. As a boy, Grampa dreamed of becoming a tap dancer; he was so good that the Hollywood star and unofficial Mayor of Harlem, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, even gave him a special pair of tap shoes. Curious, Ailey finds the shoes, tries them on, taps his toes, and makes a wish. In the blink of an eye, he finds himself somewhere that if most definitely no place like home! Featuring an all-African-American cast of characters, and infused with references to black culture and history, this work of magical realism is sure to captivate and inspire readers.

“A fast-paced story about family, bravery, and the arts, this story will have readers wanting to visit Harlem and tap alongside Ailey, Grampa, and Bojangles himself.”–School Library Journal (Starred review)

Leah’s Little dog that lead her to this story


Back in 2014, my dog, Boston, led me to this story. On one of our walks, he brought me to the foot of a very special statue to do his business. When looking up, I saw the feet of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the famous tap dancer and movie star hovering over us. While staring at his shoes, I instantly thought to myself, they have something to say. I studied them and the statue for a while as Boston kept sniffing around like he had something to find as well. Then I thought about Bojangles’ direction in his pose and remembered the story about the space he was stepping towards.

The story goes that the statue was placed at that exact intersection in Jackson Ward (Richmond, Virginia) after Bojangles witnessed a group of Black children trying to cross a busy four-way intersection. He immediately went to the city demanding a traffic light and when the funds weren’t available to add one, Bojangles paid for it himself. And in the statue, he points towards that light. Every time I go by that corner, or think of Bojangles, I think of that act and so many others. He was a generous and proud man, and those shoes of his definitely had something to say.

The view that started it all.

And as if my dog knew that the seed had finally been planted, he looked back at me one more time, snorting, like his work had been done and then carried us on our way. I wish I could say the story you can now read, The Magic of Changing Yours Stars, came to me rather quickly, but nothing could be further from the truth. It was one of those ideas that really needed time to percolate! At first, I played around with it as a picture book solely focused on Bojangles, but that idea always felt like something was missing. So, I put it away for a while and then returned to it, ready to explore the idea of it maybe being a chapter book of some kind with a young boy finding old tap shoes up in an attic. But I quickly discarded that one too. And when I say “quickly” I actually mean about a year or two later, after many failed attempts to find that story.

Then a couple years ago, I found myself back in Richmond, walking around that very same corner with my dog, and I began to think about community and family and Black life. Jackson Ward is a historic and culturally rich neighborhood, and I suddenly wanted to write something that was steeped in Black history, culture, family, and stars!

In everything I write, and all that I do, I am a firm believer of people seeing and experiencing their possibilities and stars and felt what better way to express that than through a book all about just that. Actual stars in the sky, Black people who were stars in their own right, a family bursting with love, grit, promise and possibilities, all told within communities and spaces where Black Excellence abounds!

Bojangles Statue in the Jackson Ward section of Richmond, Virginia

And what came out is a feel-good story about overcoming stumbles and falls, in order to change one’s stars.


Leah Henderson is the author of the middle grade novels One Shadow on the Wall, a Children’s Africana Book Award notable and a Bank Street Best Book, starred for outstanding merit and the forthcoming The Magic in Changing Your Stars. Her short story “Warning: Color May Fade” is part of the YA anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America and her forthcoming picture books include Mamie on the Mound, Day For Rememberin’, and Together We March. Leah mentors at-risk teens in self-empowerment, business, and writing and her volunteer work has roots in Mali, West Africa. An avid traveler, she has explored over 50 countries.  She attended Callaloo Writing Workshop at Oxford University, is on Highlights Foundation faculty, helps with conference planning for Kweli Journal’s The Color of Children Literature and is on a committee for We Need Diverse Books. Leah graduated from Phillips Andover Academy and Tufts University and has an MFA in Writing. She is on faculty in the MFA program at Spalding University and she currently calls Washington, D.C. home.

You can find her on Twitter @LeahsMark or at her website:

Thank you Leah, for sharing your book and journey with us. I love that your dog helped you find Mr. Bogjangle’s statue and spur a book about him. He is beloved by many and deserves to be discovered by the new generations. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I have also been an artist about all my life – and a dancer – so this book is exciting my reading itch.


  2. Congratulations on your book launch! Sounds interesting and I love that you give your dog credit for the inspiration.


  3. Love the concept of this book -congrats!


  4. Love the idea for this book. I always find it interesting to learn what inspires a story. Congratulations, Leah.


  5. I really love seeing Leah getting more stories out to young readers…the best part is that I (an old adult) love them too! As a middle school librarian, I’m looking to make sure my students have access to the very best new books to choose from. The Magic in Changing Your Stars looks like a winner!
    I’ve shared on twitter & pinterest


  6. I really enjoyed this post and look forward to reading The magic in Changing Your Stars. Best wishes for success for this book, Leah! Thank you for writing what sounds like a story that will provide inspiration and guidance
    to children and adults of all races.


  7. I love this story and the dancing and spirit of Bill Robinson. I a ma tweeting, sharing on FB and reblogging this post. CONGRATULATIONS Leah!


  8. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    Couldn’t resist sharing this new book inspired by a statue celebrating the life of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.


  9. This sounds like a great book for kids to learn about the history of Harlem and Bill Robinson. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and pinned an image on Pinterest with a link as well:
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com.
    Thanks again, have a great day everyone!!


  10. Congratulations on writing such a lovely story! I love the statute and the history of “BoJangles”! 🙂 This story is sure to be a hit and to inspire us all. Thanks for the chance to enter the giveaway too!


  11. Sounds lovely 😍


  12. That’s a fun way to be inspired! Congrats on your new book! Great news!

    I will tweet this, Kathy.


  13. This sounds like a great book! Interesting to see how ideas develop!


  14. What a cool idea for a book. I enjoyed reading about Leah’s journey. Thanks for the post.


  15. Love this and glad I’m not the only one who lets stories percolate for years! Congrats Leah 🙂 Shared on Twitter and FB.


  16. I guess I need to read this book. I never knew “Bojangles” was a real person. (Sorry!) I enjoyed hearing how you stuck with the kernel of this story and let it grow. Shared on Twitter too for other clueless folks like me.


  17. I do believe I read this in Connecticut a few years ago. Glad it’s found a home! Congratulations, Leah!

    I left this already, but doesn’t seem to have posted. Hope it doesn’t post twice.


  18. I can’t help singing “Mr. Bo Jangles”….and I just used that song as a tribute to my brother when he passed. Book sounds amazing.


  19. WOW! I love this pitch. Put on the shoes and travel to the past. How exciting. Can’t wait to read this. Will be posting on FB, too.


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