Book Review: Virginia Hamilton: America's Storyteller by Julie K. Rubini

Title: Virginia Hamilton: America’s Storyteller
Author: Julie K. Rubini
Publisher: Ohio University Press
Year: 2017
Ages: 10 – 18

Written by Julie K. Rubini, Virginia Hamilton: America’s Storyteller is an inspiring, conscientiously researched, and clear-cut biography of America’s most awarded author of children’s literature. Virginia Hamilton grew up in her family’s farm in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Hearing fantastic stories about African American folklore, former slaves, and the Underground Railroad from different family members sparked her imagination as a child. She dreamt of becoming a writer. She attended Antioch College after The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation granted her a scholarship. Later, she transferred to Ohio State University, where she completed a literature major. Looking for independence and an artistic scene, she moved to New York City, where she met the love of her life and future husband, the poet Arnold Adoff. After returning to her hometown and their two children were born, Virginia published her first book, Zeely, in 1967. The book received glowing reviews and was named an American Library Association Notable Book. The rest is history.

Virginia wrote 41 award-winning books, including The House of Dies Drear, M.C. Higgins, the Great, Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush, and The Planet of Junior Brown. The John Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and the Hans Christian Andersen Medal are among the distinguished and numerous awards she won for her stories and contribution to children’s literature. Furthermore, Kent State University honored her by establishing the Virginia Hamilton Conference, which has been running since 1985 and focuses on the significance of multicultural literature for children and young adults.

This Virginia Hamilton’s biography will inspire young readers, particularly young ladies and minorities, to pursue their dreams of becoming successful writers and artists. Her story encouraged me, so I believe it can motivate other adults as well.

I loved the fact that Julie K. Rubini researched Virginia’s life with the beautiful awareness that she was writing about someone whose story could arouse the dreams of aspiring young writers and artists who might think it is impossible to become larger than life because of their background, race, ethnic group, gender, or heritage.

Also, this biography is an excellent resource for students working on a report for school. It includes a timeline of Virginia’s life, a list of her awards and recognition, a chronological list of her works, a glossary, and notes.

I want to thank Samara Rafert, the Publicist and Exhibits Manager at Ohio University Press & Swallow Press, for her kindness and sending me a copy of Virginia Hamilton: America’s Storyteller so that I could write an honest review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day.

Rating: 5 stars


Finalist, 2018 Ohioana Book Award

Where to Find it:


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Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators. 

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!
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Medallion Level Sponsors

Honorary: Children’s Book Council, The Junior Library Guild,

Super Platinum: Make A Way Media

GOLD: Bharat Babies, Candlewick Press, Chickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcito, KidLitTVLerner Publishing Group, Plum Street Press,

SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Carole P. Roman, Author Charlotte Riggle, Huda Essa, The Pack-n-Go Girls,

BRONZE: Charlesbridge Publishing, Judy Dodge Cummings, Author Gwen Jackson, Kitaab World, Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ Languages, Lee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Redfin, Author Gayle H. Swift,  T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s Daughter, TimTimTom Books, Lin Thomas, Sleeping Bear Press/Dow Phumiruk, Vivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie Flett, Mehrdokht Amini,

Author Janet Balletta, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Josh Funk, Chitra Soundar, One Globe Kids – Friendship Stories, Sociosights Press and Almost a Minyan, Karen Leggett, Author Eugenia Chu, CultureGroove Books, Phelicia Lang and Me On The Page, L.L. Walters, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Hayley Barrett, Sonia Panigrah, Author Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing Dreidels, Author Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu Kid, Tara Williams, Veronica Appleton, Author Crystal Bowe, Dr. Claudia May, Author/Illustrator Aram Kim, Author Sandra L. Richards, Erin Dealey, Author Sanya Whittaker Gragg, Author Elsa Takaoka, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Anita Badhwar, Author Sylvia Liu, Feyi Fay Adventures, Author Ann Morris, Author Jacqueline Jules, CeCe & Roxy Books, Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, LEUYEN PHAM, Padma Venkatraman, Patricia Newman and Lightswitch Learning, Shoumi Sen, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci Sorell, Shereen Rahming, Blythe Stanfel, Christina Matula, Julie Rubini, Paula Chase, Erin Twamley, Afsaneh Moradian, Lori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution, Soulful Sydney, Queen Girls Publications, LLC

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TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.


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  1. Love Virginia Hamilton, her book, Her Stories, was my first time realizing diverse characters in children literature.


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