Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Don Tate releases two new picture books

Congratulations to Austin SCBWI member Don Tate on the publication of two new picture books, William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad and Swish!: The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters.  Don is both author and illustrator of William Still and is the illustrator of Swish!

Don Tate author headshot

Don Tate

Cover of 'William Still and His Freedom Stories,' featuring an African-American man in a suit writing with a quill pen at a desk against a blue backdrop with floating faces

William Still and His Freedom Stories, released by Peachtree on November 1st, is the first picture-book biography of the man considered the Father of the Underground Railroad.

Don explains, “While William was born free, his parents had been enslaved in Maryland a generation before. His father had purchased his freedom, his mother had escaped with two children—leaving two young boys behind. William grew up hearing his parents’ stories about their enslavement and the painful story of his brothers. When William grew up, he took a job in Philadelphia at the Anti-Slavery Society Office. He also opened his home as a ‘station’ on the Underground Railroad—becoming one of its top ‘conductors.’ As freedom-seeking people passed through his line of the railroad (a secret system of hiding places from slavery to freedom), William recorded details about them and their stories, with a goal to help families torn apart by slavery to be reunited. Little did he know that his work would reunite him with one of those long-lost brothers.”

Don stumbled across William Still’s name unexpectedly in a biographical dictionary of African Americans. “I was inspired by his story of helping African Americans who had been enslaved but had escaped and were trying to find freedom. A free Black abolitionist. A conductor on the Underground Railroad. A civil rights activist who eventually became one of the richest Black men of his time. Why had I not heard of this man who funded many of Harriet Tubman’s rescues? I did my research and realized that his story was overdue to be told.”Cover of SWISH, featuring an African-American man with a mustache smiling widely and spinning a basketball on one finger against a yellow backdrop with stars.

Don’s second November publication, Swish!: The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters, written by Suzanne Slade, is set to be released by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on November 20th. This exuberant nonfiction picture book is a celebration of the Globetrotters’ breathtaking basketball moves and a history of their groundbreaking work to integrate professional basketball.

Both picture books have already been well received; William Still and His Freedom Stories has garnered starred reviews from both Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal.