Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 7, 2021


Nancy Churnin’s picture book CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT, HOW CHARLIE SIFFORD BROKE THE COLOR BARRIER IN GOLF, illustrated by John Joven and published by Albert Whitman in 2018, is coming out on September 15th in paperback. 

 Nancy has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner in the U.S. mailing territory. 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 Nancy and John.


Charlie Sifford loved golf, but in the 1930’s only white people were allowed to play in the Professional Golf Association. Sifford had won plenty of Black tournaments, but he was determined to break the color barrier in the PGA. In 1960 he did, only to face discrimination from hotels that wouldn’t rent him rooms and clubs that wouldn’t let him use the same locker as the white players. But Sifford kept playing, becoming the first Black golfer to win a PGA tournament and eventually ranking among the greats in golf.


Charlie Takes His Shot, like so many of my stories, began with a question.

There are many picture books about the same people who broke down barriers. I’ve long admired Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, but I didn’t feel I needed to add to the many books about him.

So I wondered: who broke color barriers in other sports? Since my brother Marc Churnin loves golf, I wanted to know who broke the color barrier in his favorite game.

That’s how I found Charlie Sifford. Who? How was it that I never heard of the man who broke the color barrier in golf?

I looked up everything I could find about Charlie Sifford. There wasn’t much. Yes, he was in newspaper articles and had written a 1992 autobiography called Just Let Me Play that was, at that time, out of print. But there was no picture book for kids. Why?

The more I found out, the more perplexed I became. Charlie Sifford is among the most admirable, courageous heroes I have ever researched. He was so deserving of a picture book biography. I turned to a World Golf Hall of Fame golf writer I admired – Dan Jenkins – and shared what I’d learned about Charlie Sifford. Dan corroborated what a great man he was and even ended up writing the blurb for the back of the book.

Dan Jenkins passed away in 2019 at age 90, but I will always treasure the words he wrote to me, words that live on as a blurb on the back of the hardcover book: “I knew Charlie Sifford. I was covering the tournament when Charlie won his biggest title, the 1969 Los Angeles Open…He would experience just as great a thrill to see this lovely tribute of a book that Nancy Churnin has written and know that it might help another hard-working kid fight to achieve a dream.”

I reached out to Dr. Tony Parker, historian at the World Golf Hall of Fame; Laury Livsey, senior director at the PGA Tour History and Bob Denney, PGA of America historian for information. They were all great help. I watched videos of Charlie Sifford receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in the White House in 2014 and talking about how much that meant to him. I studied his obituaries and was particularly fascinated by the large role Charlie Sifford played for Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golfers of all time, who referred to Charlie as his unofficial grandfather because without Charlie, Tiger said, Tiger’s dad wouldn’t have picked up the game of golf and taught it to his son. I learned that Tiger Woods named his own son Charlie in honor of Charlie Sifford.

That’s why you can see Charlie Sifford’s photo in the Tiger Woods exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.

Through my research, I was able to provide illustrator John Joven with many photographs. John took those photos and found the feelings that touch the hearts of kids who read the book – from the fear of young Charlie as he sneaks at night onto the golf course where he was forbidden, because of the color of his skin to play, to the older Charlie, whose swing radiates with courage and joy.

It has been my privilege to reach out to and get to know Charlie Sifford’s family, particularly his son Charles Sifford Jr. and daughter-in-law Annie Sifford and their daughter Julia Sifford-Poindexter. It was very important to me that the family felt I got the story right and did honor to the man who should be revered for the way he used his skill with golf to fight for civil rights.

The final irony of my journey is that even though I set out to write about a lesser known but deserving hero – someone who had been left out of the national conversation – my research spun me back around to a very familiar worthy person – Jackie Robinson.

That’s right. I discovered that Jackie Robinson was a friend of Charlie Sifford’s. Even better, their friendship revealed a side of Jackie Robinson I hadn’t been aware of – Jackie’s dedication to helping others achieve their rights. Jackie, who spoke up for Charlie’s right to play, ended up playing a key role in the book. Just when Charlie may have been getting discouraged by the Caucasian clause that didn’t allow any person of color to play on the PGA Tour, Jackie wrote an article in the New York Post making a powerful case for Charlie’s right to play.

Among the most treasured parts of my book journeys are the friends I meet along the way. I’m so happy that Charlie Takes His Shot has led to a friendship with the Sifford family. I am so honored that Charlie’s great-grandson, Gregory Poindexter, loves to share this story.

Charlie Sifford died in 2015 at age 92. Next year, 2022, marks what would have been Charlie’s centennial year. Many events are being planned by his family and by WME Legends, a management company focused on estate and brand management for late entertainment artists, to honor him. I hope that Charlie Sifford’s 100th year brings him the recognition he has long deserved. I hope that the low-priced paperback edition of the book that my publisher, Albert Whitman & Company, is launching Sept. 15, will help make the book more accessible to kids everywhere.

I’m thrilled to that there will be a blurb from Charles Sifford Jr. on the back of the new paperback edition.

I had no idea how rich and rewarding the journey that started with a question would be. I hope my experience inspires others to ask questions and to follow where they lead. Questions may lead to books, to friendships and to happiness in the hearts of children. If you’re lucky, as I was, they may lead to all three.


Nancy is an author of ten\ books. She is a native New Yorker and a graduate of Harvard University, with a master’s from Columbia University. She loves hanging out with friends and fellow children’s book authors as a member of the Ink Think Tank, the Nonfiction Ninjas on, the Nonfiction Chicks organizing the annual and the Book Meshuggenahs, organizing annual Chai-ku and Be a Shamash contests.

Nancy is proud to be a Writing Barn instructor, a member of the Texas Library Association, 12X12 and Rate Your Story, and the PALS coordinator for the North Texas chapter of SCBWI. She enjoys virtual and in person Author Visits. Book her through Authors and More, or on her Contact Page.

She is represented by Karen Grencik at Red Fox Literary

Nancy Churnin is the author of THE WILLIAM HOY STORY, HOW A DEAF BASEBALL PLAYER CHANGED THE GAME (Albert Whitman), on the 2016 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids and Bank Street College Best Children’s Books list, the 2017 Texas Library Association’s 2X2 and Topaz lists, 2017-2018 Kennebec Valley Book Award Books, the 2018 Illinois School Library Media Association’s Monarch Award Master List, Connecticut’s 2018 Charter Oak Children’s Book Awards list, the 2018-2019 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice awards and the 2017-2018 Armadillo Readers’ Choice Awards list.

MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN, on the 2021 Sakura Medal shortlist, 2020 Greenwich Reads Together Elementary School Selection, winner of the 2019 Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award and 2018 South Asia Book Award, a 2018 Children and Teen’s Choice Book Awards finalist, a 2017 Junior Library Guild selection, a Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2018, a Silver Eureka Award-winner, a Little Free Libraries/Children’s Book Council Pick for the Action Book Club and Ezra Jack Keats Award finalist and on the Wisconsin School Library Association’s Picture This list.

CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT: HOW CHARLIE SIFFORD BROKE THE COLOR BARRIER IN GOLF is a Silver Eureka Award-winner, on the Wisconsin School Library Association’s Picture This list and a Ruby Bridges Reading Festival selection at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, featured at International Literacy Association’s Children Literacy Day in Austin.

IRVING BERLIN, THE IMMIGRANT BOY WHO MADE AMERICA SING is a 2019 Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable Book and 2019 Social Studies Notable Trade Book for Children. It was featured in the 2018 GREAT BOOKS FOR KIDS by Elizabeth Bird and the Evanston Public Library, in the 31 DAYS, 31 LISTS: 2018 UNIQUE BIOGRAPHIES by Elizabeth Bird and School Library Journal, in the 31 DAYS, 31 LISTS: 2018 NONFICTION PICTURE BOOKS by Elizabeth Bird and School Library Journal; THE BEST JEWISH CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF 2018 by Marjorie Ingall and Tablet Magazine; the 7 BEST JEWISH BOOKS FOR KIDS by The Children’s Book Review and RONNIE’S AWESOME LIST OF BOOKS that teach about social justice and activism.


MARTIN & ANNE, THE KINDRED SPIRITS OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND ANNE FRANK, a 2020 Books for a Global Society Notable from the International Literacy Association; on the 2020 New York City Department of Education Civics for All list; a 2020 Wisconsin State Reading Association Picture This! pick; a 2020 Wassmuth Center for Human Rights pick; selected for the 2020 Social Justice and Children’s Literature list of The Pirate Tree, a collective of children’s and young adult writers interested in children’s literature and social justice issues; presented at the NYC School Librarians annual conference in NYC and the Museum of Tolerance in LA; on the 2020 PJ Library’s Jewish Books to Read in Honor of MLK Jr. Day; a 2019 March Book Buzz pick for the eMissourian, Children’s Book Council’s Hot Off the Press list and Ruby Bridges Reading Festival selection; 2019 featured book at Tulisoma South Dallas Book Fair at African American Museum in Fair Park, Dallas; a 2019 pick for the Brave Bookshelf, a list of books that build moral courage in children, by ParentMap; a Civil Rights and Race reading list selection by the Jewish Book Council.

BEAUTIFUL SHADES OF BROWN, THE ART OF LAURA WHEELER WARING, released Feb. 4, 2020, a Silver Eureka honoree from The California Reading Association, A Mighty Girl pick on the Mighty Girl 2020 Summer Reading List, a Civic Nebraska selection.

On April 1, 2020: FOR SPACIOUS SKIES, KATHERINE LEE BATES AND THE INSPIRATION FOR ‘AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL’ A Mighty Girl pick on the Mighty Girl 2020 Summer Reading List.

In Fall 2021: A QUEEN TO THE RESCUE, THE STORY OF HENRIETTA SZOLD, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg, published by Creston Books/Lerner Books

In Fall 2021: DEAR MR DICKENS, illustrated by Bethany Stancliffe, published by Albert Whitman

She lives in North Texas with her husband, a dog named Dog and two cantankerous cats.


John grew up in Bogotá, Colombia and studied graphic design at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. He still lives there with his wife Ana and 2 children, Avril and Ian. He is fortunate enough to work in his home studio, where he is able to share his passion of drawing and painting with his children while working on projects. He started drawing at an early age and when he was six year old, his parents enrolled him in his first painting, sculpture, and character design class. He remembers his first attempt at illustration drawing Transformers and “Condorito” (a comic character based on anthropomorphic condor from a Chilean cartoonist). He was hooked. John continued to study art with plastic artists. When not illustrating, he enjoys spending quality time with his children, playing soccer with his friends, watching movies and traveling. He has recently visited Argentina, Cuba, and Peru.

Below are some of the titles he recently illustrated, Glasses: Eureka! The Biography of an Idea by Lori Haskins Houran (Kane Press), A Little Bit of Dinosaur by Elleen Hutcheson & Darcy Pattison (Mims House), The Benchwarmers by Raymond Bean, An Aesop’s Fable series (Usborne Publishing), Christmas Activity Book by Karl Jones (Penguin Workshop), Hillel Takes a Bath by Vicki L. Weber (Behrman House), Preschool, Here I Come! by David J Steinberg (Grosset & Dunlap), El patito feo (Planeta), The Magic of Sharing by Ruben Lora and Ksenia Startseva-Lora (Ruben Lora Echavarria), How the Crab Got His Claws and Just So Stories for Little Children by Rosie Dickins (Usborne Publishing Ltd), Digging for Dinosaurs by Jaye Garnett (Cottage Door Press), Charlie Takes His Shot by Nancy Churnin (Albert Whitman & Company), Bulldozer Dreams by Sharon Chriscoe (Running Press), How the Leopard Got His Spots and How the Camel got his Hump (Usborne), How The Whale Got His Throat by Anna Milbourne by Anna Milbourne (Usborne), The Elves and the Shoemaker (Usborne), and many more.


Charlie Takes His Shot:



On Twitter:

On Instagram:

Nancy, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. It was fun to learn about Charlie and how he broke through the color barrier in golf. And it help understand the past and see how far we have come. Charlie provides a good role-model for all of us. John’s illustrations are rich and wonderful. He was a good choice to bring your book alive. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Another wonderful book by Ms. Churnin! I’ve started playing golf, so this is particularly interesting to me. I love the story and love the illustrations! Congrats! 🙂


  2. Congrats, Nancy and John! We need more stories like these. (I’m signed up for the emails, too.)


  3. I had never heard of Charlie Sifford either. So glad his story is coming to light. Congratulations Nancy & John!


  4. I love hearing the wonderful book journeys Nancy writes about. This one is no exception. Congratulations on bringing Charlie’s story so wonderfully out into the world. I tweeted, sh as red to FB, and reblogged this post.


  5. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    Another enriching and fascinating non fiction picture book by Award-winning author Nancy Churnin.


  6. Oh, Nancy, what an amazing journey from idea to published book! I love the fact that you were able to connect with Charley’s family. His story needs to be told and you made that possible. Congratulations!

    I am sharing this wonderful interview on my writing Facebook page under the name Pamela Culshaw Harrison. I subscribe to this marvelous blog.


  7. I checked this book out from the library a while ago and learned so much about this inspirational man and the world he lived in and struggles he endured to open doors. I would love to have a keeper copy. I’m an email subscriber and shared:


  8. Another Nancy Churnin HIT, I’m sure, and a definite hole in one with John Joven’s illustrations ❤


  9. This looks like a terrific book that will help youngsters understand how hard the journey to equality has been and how important it is to protect the rights of all people. Thanks for telling me about this. I follow your blog by email.


  10. Hi Nancy: I am so impressed by your BIO and your ability t write across so many cultures. This is very inspiring. I work at the Boys and Girls Club as a STEAM Tutor and integrate sports into my math lesson to motivate the children. This book will be so helpful for my students. I will post on FB with link and on my Twitter Page.


  11. What a lovely book & how wonderful that it will be out in paperback. Thank you for sharing it with us.


  12. This book looks amazing!


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