Bekki the Fairy meets Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest

Cirles with the face of Bekki the Fairy and Jaden Toussaint
Bekki the Fairy wants to ask Jaden Toussaint all sorts

This interview is a work of FICTION with the authors bringing their characters to life.

Bekki: Hello Jaden.  I am Bekki the Fairy. I am great because I do helpful spells. What is your most greatest, bestest thing about you?

Jaden: I think a lot of people would say my hair. When we went to New York City people stopped me on almost every block to say they liked my hair. Seriously. At first, I was giving people helpful hints on growing their afros, but then Mama kept telling me to just say, “Thank you,” even though that doesn’t seem very helpful at all.

But I wouldn’t say my hair is the best thing about me. I think my ninja dancing is way better than my hair.


Bekki: I can do some of the moves from Single Ladies.  What are your favourite dance moves?

Jaden: It’s probably a tie between the Robot and the Moonwalk. Or a mega-tie between the Robot, the Moonwalk, the Warrior, Ninja on Tiptoe, the Rainbow, and the Dab. On second thought, I’ll just say the Dab. My sister taught me that one.

Bekki: My brother Sam used to be my baby-sitter but he won’t do it anymore because I turned him into a hotdog.  Is your sister Sissy your baby-sitter?

Jaden: No, but she really, really wants to be. I told her if she really wants to convince Mama and Baba that she should make a PowerPoint presentation. PowerPoint presentations are scientifically proven to convince parents of anything. That and petitions.

I even said I’d help her make it because I’m kind of an expert in PowerPoints and all we’d have to do is become experts in the law so we could make a perfect case to convince our parents, but she said, “No, thank you,” for some strange reason. Weird, right?

Three book covers
Jaden has a gift for PowerPoint and petitions

Bekki: You’re from New Orleans? That’s in the United States, isn’t it? I come from London but I am a mixture of Nigeria, Ghana, Brazil, Portugal and Scotland.  Are you a mixture?

Jaden: Um…I’m not sure. But [pulls out notebook] that gives me a great idea for a research project.

Street scene in New Orleans
New Orleans is a big US city with lots going for it

Bekki: Can you speak any Swahili?

Jaden: I know the Nguzo Saba (that means seven principles) from Kwanza, and I know how to say hello now that my cousin Muffin taught me. My mom can speak a lot of French, but Chinese is more my thing.

Bekki: Does your big hair take a lot of looking after?

Jaden: Sometimes. My mom washes it and combs it into my alien hair (my mom calls it twists, but alien hair is just better) and then leaves it to dry like that. Then I either wear my alien hair to school or I pull the aliens apart in an epic battle and free my ‘fro. That’s the best part. After a while my mom makes me get it washed again, though.

Bekki: What is the best thing about your mum?  

Jaden: She gives really good hugs and she makes the best muffins.

a boy and girl face each other with aggressive faces
Not all muffins are sweet. Jaden’s cousin Muffin is a handful!

Bekki: Do you want me to do a magic spell to turn you into a Ladek?

Jaden: So that I can become the most hated creature on the planet and nearby galaxies?!? No thanks.

Bekki:  Hmmmf, suit yourself!   I do skipping and I like rhyming songs.  Have you got any good ones to share with me, please?

Jaden: If you like songs that rhyme you should listen to “My Shot” from Hamilton. It’s epic and it has lots of rhymes in it. Like, a ton.

Bekki: I love that song!  Thanks for telling me about it!  [Bekki dances and makes assertive hand gestures].

That show is coming to London– maybe mum will bring me.  Now, next question, who is your favourite teacher and why?

Four actors in historical costume dancing onstage in the musical Hamilton
Scene from Hamilton the revolutionary musical

Jaden: Miss Bates is the best teacher in the whole wide world! She knows how to do all the best stuff. Like, seriously. She does. One time she even showed us how to slice a banana without peeling it.

Bekki: If you were a toy would you be an action hero, a cuddly plush toy or a paper doll with loads of outfits?

Jaden: All of them. Definitely all of them. Action heroes are good for the tub and science experiments because they can get wet. Paper dolls are cool because I could make tons of ties for my tie collection. And, I mean, everybody likes plushies, right? What else are you supposed to sleep with at night?

Parer doll surrounded by outfits
Jaden and Bekki would like to be paper dolls like Jupiter Storm

Bekki: Jaden , will you go and play for a minute, please.  I am going to talk to someone.  Bekki is asking Jaden’s author, Marti Dumas,  why she wrote a book.

Marti: I write stories about Jaden Toussaint, a character modelled on my own son when he was 5, because I couldn’t find books about kids who loved school and loved learning–let alone brown kids who loved school and learning–that were also fun.

diagram of a boy's brain
Look inside Jaden Toussaint’s brain

I try to make the stories something that my own children and their friends enjoy and can relate to. Something where they can see their best selves reflected, including that your best self isn’t always perfect.

Bekki: Will you be writing more books?

Marti: Jaden Toussaint is the star of five chapter books so far, with a bonus book about the scientific method in the works for this summer. We’re kicking around ideas for a 6th book and, funnily enough, the main idea right now involves a babysitter! 🙂

Bekki: That’s super.  My babysitters love me!  [This is not completely true!] It has been splendid talking to you, Jaden.  Can we be friends?

Jaden: Definitely! Do you play toranpu?

End of Interview – Playtime!

***********

First things first – let’s have a Cool Kid Brain Dance Party!!  

drawings of little boy doing ninja dance moves
Are you ready to dance like a ninja???

Let’s do the Monkey, Paint the Fence, cool wave, warrior, ninja on tiptoe, robot, crane, mantis.  Listen to Jaden’s cousin rapping.  Do what she suggests!!!

A boy dressed as the book character Jaden Toussaint holds a copy of the Jaden Toussaint book by author Marti Dumas.
This Ghanaian Chinese American kid NAILED it on World Book Day.

Do you like dressing up as book characters on World Book Day?    This cool dude dressed up as Jaden from The Ladek Invasion.  There are many ways to dress as Jaden.

Covers of all five books about Jaden Toussaint The Greatest by Marti Dumas
Pick a look for World Book Day 2019

 

 

Where to buy beautiful black dolls online

Face of an African-American barbie doll with curly hair and big earrings
Fashionista Fancy Flowers doll via Amazon

Anyone who knows me probably knows that I own far too many dolls for someone of my age.  My collection of Christie, Wesley, Madison, Nikki and other black Barbie dolls is a guilty pleasure.  I tried to share  a few with my niece but only managed to set one doll free.

With Christmas coming I thought that now would be a good time to do a round up of some of the sources of dolls of colour.  Visitors to my site come from all over the world so my list of sources will too. I’ll start with a few alternatives to Amazon and then I’ll  do a few guidelines on finding the best Barbies on Amazon.

This website has a mixture of baby dolls, best-friend dolls, boys’ toys, accessories and books. Many of the dolls listed can be bought directly from the site which I think is UK based. Some of the dolls have sold out but this site is all about sharing the info so the listings and picture remain online.

They want black kids to have black toys and nice childhood memories so they seem happy to share info even if it means people shopping elsewhere. Good on them. The photography and descriptions on this site really show off the charms of each doll.

Styling head of black girl with braids and hair accessories
Styling head for Moxie Girl Bria

Taofick Okoya is the Nigerian entrepreneur who created this range of dolls to give African girls dolls that “reflected their culture and heritage” – in other words, dollies rockin’ a Naija look.  The Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba dolls have royal ancestry.  Maybe you do too?

The story is a good one. Local women hand braid the girls’ hair and sew the modern and traditional  outfits. Recently the company was proud to announce the fact that they outsell Barbie in Nigeria! The website – which is full of lively African content – gives links to where the dolls are on sale globally.  There are storybooks too.

A doll in a box, a doll outfit and a children's book
Check out Azeezah’s cool shoes
  • Zolie Zi – the girl who stands up to bullies

Our pals Zolie and her author, Sonya J Bowser,  recently visited London so I’m sure parents and kids , and of course Santa Claus,  will want to know where to get the gorgeous, plush doll.  Girls and boys really bond with Zolie Zi (who is an unusually likeable character) and want to be ‘doll mommies’

smiling little black girl holding a black plush doll
Chizara with her Zolie Zi doll

US doll mommies can head to Amazon.  The doll is not yet on Amazon UK so for now either head to Zolie’s store on her website, ask your friends in the US or try Coloured Goodies in the Netherlands.  More on them below.  Zolie Zi is back in London next year and I am sure the merchandise will become easier to buy.

Not met Zolie Zi?  Our interview with Zolie herself is right here.

This site is a treasure trove of items that kids will love.  After you log in, hit translate as the site is in Dutch.  They have dolls, toys, books, a useful range of greeting cards and clothing.

They make good use of the famous Dutch wax print fabrics and you can buy dresses for Barbie-sized dolls as well as very sweet  head-wraps for baby dolls.  They have a wonderful range of baby dolls.  There are plenty of baby boys in there.  Shanice and Jaylee are not just beautifully dressed but soooo darn cute!!

Two girls in Africa prints hold dolls also in African prints
A treasure trove from the Netherlands

It is easy to feel daunted when you go into Amazon looking for a black Barbie doll.  The prices can be shocking and how on earth do you choose? I’ll give you a few tips. 

Don’t  look for black Barbies Amazon and Mattel who make Barbie dolls  tend not to to use the word black.  Barbies come from California so the terms AA or African American are used instead.

Keep it simple You know that your doll will probably spend most of her life in the bath in her swimming costume.  Don’t overspend on lavish dresses unless you really want to  – or if the doll  is for a collector. I have put a few cash-splashing options at the bottom.

Keep it current The dolls are changing all the time and usually to current dolls are the most affordable.   They tend to have simple outfits and cost around ten British pounds in the UK.

Doll in medical scrubs with two new born babies
Mother and babies and Barbie doing well

At the moment the Fashionistas collection seems to be where the new dolls are.  For the gorgeous doll at the top of this page type in Fashionista Fancy Flowers.  Other dolls of colour are Fashionistas Zig and Zag Curvy Doll, Fashionistas Boho Fringe, Fashionistas Emoji Fun

Outside of the Fashionistas there are other dolls with more accessories that will make great Christmas gifts for around 20 pounds.   Her name doesn’t trip off the tongue but Barbie Careers African American Doll and Play-set is a gorgeous doll who comes with very sweet, tiny babies that she has just delivered successfully.  The Made 2 Move Soccer player is a beautiful  athletic doll.  So is Barbie Endless Moves Doll with Yellow Top.   Mix ‘N Color Barbie Doll (AA African American) has hair colours and salon accessories.

three images of an African American barbie doll playing football or soccer
She’s got moves!

In my day Christie was the name to search for but she is now vintage and priced accordingly.  In the 1990s I would go to Woolworths in Brixton and pay a fiver for a swimsuit Christie on my way to work.  Another doll whose price has risen is My Scene Westley.  Better to try eBay for old dolls.  That will be my next doll post.

Christmas is coming so hurry up and get shopping.