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Cousinz is about 5 year old Carla and her adventures with her cousins because, a cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.

Photo of Leticia Hunt
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Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

It is my hopes that "Cousinz" will be a series for readers between the ages of 0-6, as it highlights the dynamics of the African American family experience. This project is very special to me, as it recreates many of the experiences I had as a child. In 2016, only 92 out of the 3,400 books reported by CCBC, were written by African Americans. I would like to change those statics, because every child deserves to see their faces on book covers and read their stories on pages.

Share your suggested book title


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).

Page. 1 Title Page Page. 2 This book is dedicated to Robert Earl Hunt, my late grandfather, my black cowboy, my forever inspiration, and my heart. Page. 3 Prologue: Cousinz, is about five year old girl named, Carla. Carla loves art, dancing, but most of all she loves her family. Carla has ten aunts and uncles, which means she has a lot of cousins. Carla spends almost every weekend with her cousins creating memories and going on fun adventures. Content Page. 4 Hi! I’m Carla and the thing I love most in the whole wide world is hanging out with my cousins. Page. 5 I have a lot of cousins, and they are all different! Page. 6 (Art only) Page. 7 Some of my cousins are girls and some of my cousins are boys. Page. 8 (Art only) Page. 9 (Art only) Page. 10 Some of my cousins like to color with me, while the others like to share toys. Page. 11 Some of my cousins have curly hair and some have long locs. Sometimes we have slumber parties with matching P.J’s and silly socks. Page. 12 (Art only) Page 13 No matter what my cousins and I do, we always laugh a lot! Page. 14 I have twin cousins named Joy and Denise, and cousin Nauja has the biggest afro-puffs I have ever seen! Page. 15 My boy cousins are so silly and always chase us through the house. Page. 16 (Art only) Page. 17 While, my cousin Ashley plays on the computer for hours, not making one sound. Page. 18 We always ask my cousin Ticia, “What are you wearing?”, and she hangs out with Neko, who loves to draw like Keith Haring. Page. 19 There is also Elijah, Sara, Na-na, and Kourt! Page. 20 And mom says when I go to Mississippi this summer, I’ll meet more! Page. 21 (Art only) Page. 22 I can’t wait, I love all of my cousins!

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

Based off of research in regards to early childhood development, "Cousinz" is an ideal book. We made sure that the story is relative and engaging for providers and children alike. The book also highlights the diversity amongst black family to include different body types, skin tones, and hair types. "Cousinz" also community rooted and age appropriate. Furthermore, the book uses Tier 1 vocabulary to include but not limited to, objects, people, and emotions. This book can be read and enjoyed by a baby sitter or older sibling reading to a baby/toddler.

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

While I am not from Philadelphia, I grew in the Bay Area and identify heavily with an "urban" upbringing. I also attended an HBCU where I was able to connect and relate to black people from across the nation. Growing up, I remember my book options being limited in a library or book for when it came to looking for books with people who look like me. I believe that every child deserves to see themselves in the books they read. Books have the power to encourage, while at the same time enlighten other readers of the truths about lives they don’t live.

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

This manuscript's main purpose is to highlight and reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts-- as it is filled with my personal experiences. Readers can benefit from "Cousinz" because it is a mirror for every young child who spent breaks at their favorite cousin's house, spent all week planning their cousin sleepovers, or asked their parents if they could stay a little longer. More importantly, this book is beneficial because it highlights the diversity amongst black families which is extremely important as it changes the narrative of what is beautiful and acceptable for print.

Location: Country

United States

Location: State or Department


Location: City

Las Vegas

Website URL (optional question)

Tell us more about you / your team

I am a 28 year old military veteran, content curator, entrepreneur, and fashion activist. I earned my undergraduate degree from the illustrious Tuskegee University in 2012, and my MBA from the University of the Incarnate Word in 2015. In 2016, I decided to explore a deeper calling and began working several side hustles outside of my work as contracting officer for the USAF. In 2017, I launched a podcast entitled "2 Shots & Talk", created a travel/fashion/lifestyle blog, introduced my brand FOREH, wrote a "Cousinz", and begin styling and creative directing. I am a firm believer that with the right balance, passion, and dedication you can do it all. My personal mantra is, "Don't waste your beautiful mind doing ugly things." I value family, culture, and equality. My values are directly reflected in all the work that I do. My community ties run deep as my mother has owned a black business for 25 years and I am apart of several chartable organizations like my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta.

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

"Cousinz" was illustrated by artist, Xavier Payne (, see attached.

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

  • No

If yes, please list titles and publications.


Do you have an agent?

  • No

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

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists

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Photo of Shondra M. Quarles

Great concept of family!

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