Book Review by Jill Hedgecock – Tamara Shiloh’s “Just Imagine…What if There Were No Black People in the World?” children’s book series is a timely reminder of how much black people contributions have positively impacted our society. In Jaxon’s Magical Adventure with Black Inventors and Scientists (2017, Just Imagine Books, 67 pages, $8.99), fourth grader, Jaxon, reveals historical events, innovations, and discoveries made by Blacks through a fun and entertaining story revolving around the magical powers embedded in his Gran’s necklace. It all starts when our narrator unwittingly makes a wish that has altered everyday home conveniences. Jaxon has said the words, “just imagine there were no black people” right before going to bed. The next morning, Jaxon, awakens to find his laptop, pencil sharpener and tennis shoes are missing from where he left them the night before. In the kitchen, a strange type of refrigerator has replaced the modern one. Things really start to get strange for Jaxon when historical figures behind key components of these inventions magically appear and explain how their legacy has shaped the modern day. Readers are introduced to Dr. Mark Dean who invented a way for the keyboard, mouse and computer to communicate with each other, John Stanard who invented a two-door refrigerator, and Lyda Newman who invented a hairbrush for thick, bushy locks. The book is a fun read but very educational, as well. In addition to interesting content, the book has pictorial depictions of Jaxon in various parts of his home, photographs of the inventors and scientists, and even a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King. The illustrations by Jo Ann Kairys also include drawings of some of the inventions, including a lawn mower, the old-fashioned refrigerator, a theft-proof mailbox and many more.
Author Tamara Shiloh’s goal in writing the series is to educate children about Black history in a fun and informative way and to encourage students to participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs and ultimately pursue STEM careers.
She has also penned her second book of the series, “Jaxon and Kevin’s Black History Trip Downtown” where Jaxon shares his magical adventure with his cousin Kevin and
venture into town to meet Black inventors and scientists who are responsible for many of the things we encounter every day.
The companion workbooks provide entertaining ways to further relay the subject matter. From a coloring book, to Jaxon’s journal to an activity book that includes quizzes, crossword puzzles, word searches and unscramble word challenges, these entertaining supplemental materials are perfect for teachers and parents that are homeschooling children to craft lesson plans around the topic. The books are available for purchase at www.tamarashiloh.com.
“These books are a great way for parents to inspire children to look beyond the norm and tap into their inner genius. It’s there, we just have to help them find it,” she states on her website.
“I do not want children to grow up not knowing their history. I do not want African American children, or any other children for that matter, to think that the major role Black people played in American history is as slaves. Yes, slavery is a part of our history; however, along with the slavery came the birth of some very extraordinary African American inventors and scientists. [who] overcame and persevered through treacherous times and still provided this country with some extraordinary innovations. Some that we still enjoy today. I do this for them,” she says. “It’s all relevant—Black History is HISTORY!”
Other books planned in the series include “Jaxon’s Magical Visit at NASA”, “Jaxon Meets Black Cowboys”, and “Let’s Hear It for Women Inventors and Scientists.”
Tamara Shiloh, a native of Northern California, has two adult children, one grandson and four great-grand sons. She resides in Point Richmond with her husband, Ernest. Tamara is co-owner of the Multi-Cultural Children’s Bookstore located in Richmond’s Hilltop Mall.