The Birth of a Children’s Book
Martin Luther King, Jr.
When I was an idealistic adolescent, the brilliant and socially conscious lawyer, Terry Francois, was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He was the first African-American to be elected in the city, and all of us who had dreams of a society based on equality and justice were deeply moved by his election. Years later, when I was an adult, a friend brought his daughter, Carol Francois, to a party at my house. We became friends, and later, neighbors.
After some years of friendship, I became Carol’s client as well. She had become a highly skilled acupuncturist, and she cured me of a physical problem that Western doctors said was only curable with surgery. I have since, for the last 17 years, gone to see her regularly so I can stay well.
One day after Obama’s election, I was lying on a table in her office, full of needles, when Carol told me about a dream she had about the President’s daughters. In her dream, they went back in time to help Frederick Douglass deliver the Emancipation Proclamation to Abraham Lincoln. She said she thought it would make a good book for children, and asked me if I’d like to collaborate on writing one.
Together we worked through a plot and a final manuscript, going over and over the text until we both loved it. Carol found a wonderful artist who did the illustrations, carefully working from historical sources to assure their accuracy. It took two years to create a finished manuscript.
And now we have a book, The Adventures of Sasha and Malia at the White House. I look at the cover every day, smiling at the faces of Douglass and Lincoln blending into the clouds over the White House. I think Terry Francois would have been proud.
The Adventures of Sasha and Malia at the White House Teacher’s Guide
Teachers: please feel free to download, print, and make copies of this teacher’s guide for use in your classroom. Please retain the copyright notice shown below the exercises on all such copies. For a pdf version of the exercises, please click here. These questions are more suitable for students in Grades 2-4.
A portion of proceeds will be donated to the Children’s Book Project, an organization founded to help build literacy by providing free, new and gently used books to children who need them. www.childrensbookproject.org
All of New Vision Works products are made in the U.S.A.
About the Authors:
Carol Francois was born in San Francisco, CA in 1962. Her father, Terry A. Francois, was a lawyer and politician; he was very active in the civil rights movement and counted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Julian Bond, Thurgood Marshall and Bobby Kennedy as personal friends. Her mother, Marion L. Francois, was a stay-at-home mom until Carol was about 10 years old, when her mother decided to go back to college and get her degree.
Carol went to kindergarten and first grade at West Portal Elementary School in San Francisco. From second to fourth grade, she attended an experimental school called Multi-Cultural Institute, which was co-founded by her father. MCI, as it was known, was devised to teach children basic subjects like reading, writing and arithmetic, but also to empower children with knowledge about their individual ethnic heritage.
At MCI, Carol learned about Black history in the United States and Africa. She studied Swahili while learning about slavery, and was exposed to Black artists and poets like Langston Hughes and Paul Laurence Dunbar. In addition to the Black studies class, there were classes in Chinese studies, Hispanic studies, Jewish studies and even Irish studies. Once a month, during cultural exchange events, one ethnic group would invite a class of a different ethnic background to their classroom and teach the other kids about their culture. Sometimes they would learn about the different types of foods that other cultures ate and sample their cuisines. Carol liked the cultural exchange days a lot.
Carol really cherished her time at MCI because the teachers not only encouraged the children to learn about their cultural roots, but also fostered their creativity and sought to develop their appreciation for the arts. At seven years old, Carol wrote poems, played in a kid’s band and even co-wrote a play.
Unfortunately MCI lost its funding, so from the second half of the fourth grade to the eighth grade, Carol went to Saint Cecilia Grammar School. It was a bit challenging for her to transition into Saint Cecilia because she was the only Black kid among over 600 students; and since it was a Catholic school, the teachers, particularly the nuns, could be rather strict. At first, Carol was stared at a lot by the other children and felt pretty uncomfortable. Eventually the other kids stopped staring at her so much and she was able to settle in.
Terry Francois was on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors at the time, and sometimes when the real mayor went out of town, he was appointed “acting mayor.” When her father was the acting mayor, he was picked up for work by the mayor’s limousine. Sometimes he would have the driver take Carol to school on his way to work, which she really enjoyed, but it seemed to make the other kids a little jealous. Oh well, she thought to herself.
Carol went to high school at Saint Rose Academy, and then from 1980 to 1984 she attended San Francisco State University. Carol later went on to study at the San Francisco College of Acupuncture and obtained her license to practice Chinese Medicine in 1990. Many people she knew, including her father, thought it strange that she chose acupuncture as a profession, as it was completely foreign to most African-Americans at that time. Her father would sometimes say to her, “Why don’t you become a REAL doctor?” But from Carol’s perspective, she was a real doctor. It would just take time for her father and the majority of Americans to catch on.
As an acupuncturist, Carol worked in a number of different settings. From 1990-1996, she was a staff acupuncturist at the Bayview-Hunter’s Point Foundation’s substance abuse and HIV programs. From 1994-2001, she worked in the San Francisco County jails through a non-profit organization, Acupuncture and Recovery Treatment Services (ARTS), which she co-founded. Since becoming licensed in 1990, Carol has maintained private practices in both San Francisco and Santa Cruz County. She currently practices at The Lotus Center in San Francisco.
Over the past fifteen years, Carol’s passion for creative expression has reemerged. She has studied fabric and surface design, printmaking and image transfer. Two years ago, Carol started a small company called New Vision Works through which she developed a small line of iconic candles. Working in collaboration with professional artists, Carol has been able to create the images that she envisions. The illustrations in The Adventures of Sasha and Malia at the White House are a result of this type of joint effort. Carol’s goal is to continue to create and design beautiful and unusual objects of art in a variety of media.
P Segal was born and raised in San Francisco and received a BA in film studies from UCLA. She freelanced as a journalist and writer for many years, and was part of the vital North Beach literary community. In 1990, she was a member of the small group that organized the first Burning Man Festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert; she remained on staff of the project for ten years. In 1994, she began to write and publish the magazine Proust Said That, the quirky publication that brought her to the attention of the international community of Proust lovers and scholars, and that was the first magazine on the Internet. In 1999, she opened Caffè Proust in San Francisco, which was featured on the front page of The New York Times Living Arts Section. She received an MA in clinical psychology from New College/Argosy University in 2008, and currently works as a therapist and life coach.