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A Child is Born in Philadelphia: The Story of Serenity

This a story about a bi-racial baby born to a couple living within inner-city Philadelphia.

Photo of Kelly Douglas
3 1

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Serenity’s Mommy and Daddy rode a bus from the Deep South to start a new life. 

It was a sunny day when Serenity was born.                                                       

The birds were singing. The flowers were blooming.

 

“You are the most beautiful baby in the whole world.” said her Mommy and Daddy. 

We love you Serenity. XO

 

The family lives in a small apartment. 

Serenity’s Mommy takes care of sick people - and their dogs and cats too.

While Serenity’s Mommy works, Daddy takes care of Serenity.

 

Serenity likes to walk, run, and jump at the playground. 

One day, Serenity saw a red balloon.

 Up, up, into the sky Serenity went! 

Serenity’s curly black hair blew in the wind until Daddy brought her back into his gentle arms.


At home, Grandma’s chicken soup is on the table. 

Mmm - It smells so good!

“Soup please” said Serenity. 

 

Serenity and her Grandpa then danced to the music coming from Senor Hidalgo’s store basement. 

Mommy and Daddy laughed and clapped. 

 

Just before bedtime, Serenity had a bubble bath. 

Mommy read her favourite storybook and then kissed Serenity: 

“Good night!  Buenos Nochas!”


On Serenity’s third birthday, her family went to Washington Square Park for a picnic. 

Mommy and Daddy said, “Surprise! Our family is growing!” 

Everybody got a hug! 

 

Soon Serenity had a baby brother named Caleb.

Serenity was the best big sister ever.

 

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

I endeavor to engage both parents and very young children with this story. I offer it as a love letter to parents struggling everywhere to hopefully ignite their own interest in reading based on being motivated by words and illustrations whereby they can truly see themselves

Share your suggested book title

A Child is Born in Philadelphia: The Story of Serenity

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

Serenity’s Mommy and Daddy rode a bus from the Deep South to start a new life. It was a sunny day when Serenity was born. . The birds were singing. The flowers were blooming. “You are the most beautiful baby in the whole world.” said her Mommy and Daddy. We love you Serenity. XO The family lives in a small apartment. Serenity’s Mommy takes care of sick people - and their dogs and cats too. While Serenity’s Mommy works, Daddy takes care of Serenity. Serenity likes to walk, run, and jump at the playground. One day, Serenity saw a red balloon. Up, up, into the sky Serenity went! Serenity’s curly black hair blew in the wind until Daddy brought her back into his gentle arms. At home, Grandma’s chicken soup is on the table. Mmm - It smells so good! “Soup please” said Serenity. Then Serenity and her Grandpa danced to the music coming from Senor Hidalgo’s store basement. Mommy and Daddy laughed and clapped. Just before bedtime, Serenity had a bubble bath. Mommy read her favourite storybook and then kissed Serenity: “Good night! Buenos Nochas!” On Serenity’s third birthday, her family went to Washington Square Park for a picnic. Mommy and Daddy said, “Surprise! Our family is growing!” Everybody got a hug! Soon Serenity had a baby brother named Caleb. Serenity was the best big sister ever.

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

My hope is that if this story resonates with parents, and captures their own hearts and minds, then there is a greater chance they will read it to their young child. I endeavored to balance Tier One and Two words with a story-line that would could be revisited, further intellectually explored, as the child grew older. My vision is that the illustrations can be at the same time, beautiful, simplistic, yet powerfully evocative.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

UnfortunatelI have not lived in, or visited Philadelphia. However, I possess a fairly good understanding of the barriers that families face since I once was a struggling single parent. While I am not of African-American heritage, I offer this manuscript to my American neighbors, particularly to the inner-city families of Philadelphia, as a love letter how people can persevere through adversity and their babies and toddlers can be raised in a loving home filled with books, music, cooking, adventure and intergenerational care and support. If my manuscript was chosen, I would donate 50% of my proceeds to a non-profit agency in Philadelphia that serves, and advocates for its inner-city children.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

The story’s setting in an inner-city neighborhood of Philadelphia. The couple live in a low-income apartment building. I wanted to portray a couple where the mom works and the father stays home. Perhaps the father is unemployed due to his own personal struggles i.e depression, addiction or systemic barrier, or because the couple can’t afford childcare - or simply this was their own choice to have the father stay home. The theme of caring & feeling safe is very important and woven throughout this story. I envisioned a hard-working mom employed in an chaotic inner-city health clinic. The playground and Washington Park illustrations portray diversity ie. child in wheelchair, same-sex parents

Location: Country

Canada

Location: State or Department

British Columbia

Location: City

Surrey

Tell us more about you / your team

I raised my children partially as a single parent. I have a fairly good understanding of the struggles of parents who are highly motivated to be loving, caring parents even though they may face barriers. I hope to illuminate and pay homage to the struggles that South Philadelphia parents when facing barriers such as poverty, attaining education, discrimination and personal struggles. Since I place high value on cultural diversity, I envision Serenity to be bi-racial - with a mother of African-American heritage and her father being of Mexican heritage - perhaps an undocumented immigrant. Also, not all children are told they were a beautiful baby. This is a crucial personal part of the story for me as the writer. Universally, all children deserve to know that they are loved. These feelings of security and comfort stay with us all our lives. A parent and child reading together is a powerful tool to show a parent's love which empowers the child.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

Unfortunately I don't possess illustration skills. I also don't want to upload an illustrator's work without permission. When I did my research online, I found two amazing illustrators. If my manuscript was chosen, I would feel very privileged if either 1) Shadra Strickland i.e. "Bird", or another illustrator such as 2) Aida Salazar. who exemplifies the same realism and compassion within her illustrated portrayal of children's lives i.e "The Moon Within".

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

I was a contributing writer in the anthology: Sustenance: Writers from BC and Beyond on the Subject of Food

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • Twitter

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • Social justice advocate/freelance writer

3 comments

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Photo of Dawnnbooks .
Team

Interesting little story.
Good luck to us all.

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