Eleanora Tate

2008 SeasonEleanora Tate

Eleanora E. Tate’s middle grade books reveal the hopes and humor, trials and triumphs of America’s families and communities. In addition to being a children’s book author, she’s also a folklorist, short story writer, creative writing instructor and former newspaper reporter. Her eleventh book, Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance, is an American Association of University Women’s 2007 North Carolina Book Award winner in Juvenile Fiction. This novel of historical fiction takes place in Raleigh, NC and in Harlem, New York in 1921. It also is a 2008 International Reading Association (IRA) “Teachers’ Choice Award” winner.

Ms. Tate’s other award-winning books include The Secret of Gumbo Grove (a Parents Choice gold seal award winner and a California Young Reader Medal finalist); Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.! (A Child Study Book Committee Children’s Book of the Year); A Blessing in Disguise (an American Booksellers Association Pick of the Lists); Just an Overnight Guest (made into an award-winning film); Retold African Myths (a Theme Connections Selection); Front Porch Stories at the One-Room School (A North Carolina Children’s Junior Book Award nominee); African American Musicians (a Parents Choice Recommended Award winner); To Be Free (setting, 1858, North Carolina coast); and The Minstrel’s Melody (a Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies.) Her book Don’t Split the Pole: Tales of Down-Home Folk Wisdom is out of print.

Ms. Tate was most recently named to the “twenty-eight days later” Black history celebration of children’s literature sponsored by the Brown Book Shelf in partnership with the National African-American Read-in Chain; the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English; the African-American Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators; and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.  She also is a 1999 Zora Neale Hurston Award winner, the highest award given by the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc., of which she is a former national president; and the Dr. Annette Lewis Phinazee Award from North Carolina Central University (Durham, NC) during its 2000 Charlemae Rollins Colloquium. She was cited by the South Carolina House of Representatives and the South Carolina Senate for her contributions to children’s literature and community activism.

In addition to writing children’s books and stories she is an instructor with the Institute of Children’s Literature, West Redding, CT, and teaches children’s literature at North Carolina Central University (Durham). She is a frequent featured author in schools, conferences and writers’ forums.


Celeste's Harlem Renaissance 

The Secret of Gumbo Grove

Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!

A Blessing in Disguise 

Just an Overnight Guest

Retold African Myths

Front Porch Stories at the One-Room School

African American Musicians

To Be Free

The Minstrel’s Melody

Don’t Split the Pole: Tales of Down-Home Folk Wisdom




Celeste's Harlem Renaissance


“Cece, put that bonnet on!” Aunt Society’s clacker bell tongue followed us. “You don’t need to get any darker from this sun, even if it is chilly!”


I snatched off my red and white cap and slapped the scratchy gray woolen bonnet onto my head while Evalina snickered. Mrs. Bivens grunted. Leave it to Aunt Society to embarrass me in front of everybody. I hated that old bonnet. I’d take it off and put my cap back on after I got out of her sight. Aunt Society would go up to heaven – or down to the Devil’s Pit of Never-ending Fire – criticizing my dark skin color. She allowed that she was tangerine-colored, and was she ever proud of that! To me she just looked wrinkled-up orange.


But this was a special Sunday, and I wasn’t going to let either my aunt or the sun ruin it. I was a winner! Me, Evalina, Angel Mae, and Leon had written winning essays about our state capitol in the annual contest sponsored by our Butterflies Club at school. Mrs. Smithfield, who was a cook for the governor, was taking us winners on a tour of our state capitol here in Raleigh right now. This was a great honor, our teacher Mrs. Bracy kept telling us, because not many Colored children got to see the inside of the capitol up close, like we would. Lands sake, I’d never won anything before. Momma was smiling down at me from heaven, and Poppa was proud of me. Aunt Society hadn’t said a word."