By James Wright, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
Dr. Kelsi Bracmort was bothered that many of the children’s books that she read to her young mentees were so divorced from real life that she decided to do something about it.
Bracmort, a native of the District of Columbia who resides in Ward 7, made a decision to become an author. Her first book, Simone Visits the Museum, is a story about a young girl living in Southeast.
“Too many times the people who know very little about Southeast have the loudest microphone,” Bracmort said. “Uninformed rhetoric hurts people. This book shows a side of D.C. that few people outside of Southeast are aware of such that Black family life in this city is real and it is beautiful.
“The book goes beyond the news headlines, and digs deeper into everyday happenings of family life.”
Bracmort holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and bio-systems engineering from North Carolina A&T University and a master’s of science and doctorate in agriculture and biological engineering from Purdue University. She is a reading mentor for Everybody Wins! a District program that promotes literacy.
Simone Visits the Museum is the first in a series about Simone, an inquisitive and vibrant fourth grader who lives with her parents, her older brother, Scott, and their dog, Sophie. The book follows Simone through an exciting day with her mother with the highlight being visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, where she misplaces an item of value.
Bracmort said Simone Visits the Museum is about responsibility, paying attention to her surroundings and the importance of family, the type of children’s book that she rarely came across.
“I wanted to do a book on an angle that is fresh and a story not told before,” she said.
Bracmort said it took two years to complete the book and worked closely with the illustrator, Takeia Marie. She named the main character “Simone” after famed entertainer and activist Nina Simone.
Bracmort said she wanted to show the bonds and interactions that African American children often have with their families and present a Black child that was well-behaved.
“I wanted to reflect the conversations that curious young girls in D.C. have,” she said. “I want girls to take advantage of all that D.C. has to offer.”
Bracmort will have readings and book signings on “Ward 7 Day” on Sept 8, Sept. 22 at the East City Book Shop near Capitol Hill and Sept. 23 at Mahogany Books in Anacostia. Her book already has generated positive reviews.
“Simone Visits the Museum is an awesome book,” Melissa Bradley, managing director at Project 500, a business development group in the District, said. “As a parent, I am thrilled to find a book whose character resonates with my children. As someone who has been in D.C. for over 30 years it is refreshing to see a story that reflects a positive experience of a young brown girl.
“The book depicts the city and all it has to offer in a realistic and engaging way. As an entrepreneur, I am so proud of Kelsi for her persistence, commitment and integrity throughout the process.”