For the past year I have been working on a book about Alvin A. Coffey. This will be the fourth book in my Gold State Biographies series of picture book biographies for young readers. I am particularly excited about this one because it brings attention to African Americans in the California Gold Rush.
I was fortunate to be able to connect with Jeannette Molson, the great-great-granddaughter of Alvin and Mahala Coffey and the author of The Torturous Road to Freedom: The Life of Alvin Aaron Coffey. She has been helpful in giving me suggestions about the text and illustrations.
My inspiration came last February when I read a post by The Society of California Pioneers about Alvin Coffey, who was a proud and loyal member of that organization. I could tell that Alvin’s story was one worth telling. Black pioneers who came to California, both enslaved and free, are not well enough known. Children and adults alike need to know that people of all colors, races, and nationalities made contributions to the Golden State.
Like my other books, the illustrations are done by Steve Ferchaud, a talented local artist. It’s always a pleasure to work with Steve.
The book has taken longer to finish than I was hoping for. It won’t be out in February, but maybe March. I’m eager to share it with you and I’ll keep posting about its progress.