Nakai and the Red Shoes 

Cooper's first novel is an easy-to-read, seriously fun, coming-of-age history mystery set in the Civil Rights Era south. He wrote 77 Jackson Street Rear for adolescent males, but it is an engaging read for anyone of almost every age. 

The adventure plays out in and around Montgomery, Alabama at the beginning of the 1955 bus boycott.  In the opening chapters, 12-year-old hero Denmark

and his portly best friend Odi have

been kidnapped for ransom by three

men who think they are the sons of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

From the action-packed opening the

story plays out through brushes with the “Klu-Kluckers”, Denmark'’s search for

his estranged father and concern for the

health of his beloved grandmother;

and growing up lessons in camaraderie. 

"I had the kind of childhood that gave

me a lot of material, in terms of the

things that we did and saw. I figured I had enough to write a children's book," the late Cooper said.

 

Snappy dialogue, endearing characters and a savvy plot line convey with wry humor both the brutal reality of life in

the Jim Crow South and the levity necessary to survive the Jim Crow life. 

 

“ I tried to make it plausible. I figured I would build the story around the life of kids at that time.  I hope that it will inspire kids to read more and get the connection that kids had a part in the whole Civil Rights Movement.'”

The Artist as Author

"I hope that it will inspire kids to read more and get the connection that kids had a part in the whole Civil Rights Movement.'”

77 Jackson Street Rear

The Mopane Tree is a saga of love and intrigue.  An American finds love in

West Africa with a breath-taking

Ghanaian woman who, unknown to him, is involved in a deeply dangerous smuggling game.  With one foot in Washington, DC, and the other on the paradise island of Goree, Lt. Reynolds spreads his tentacles to Goree to harass and charge Joel with the murder of his wife, Lylie, in the States. .

The Mopane Tree 

As a painter, Cooper fills broad canvasses with richly colored, intricately constructed imagery of the African in America experience. With the pen as his brush, he creates the same vivid portrait.

Nakai is a bright, curious and ambitious nine-year-old girl who lives with her parents in Labadi, a small village in Ghana, West Africa.  She has never owned a pair of real shoes beyond the makeshift ones     her father crafts for her at the start  

of the school year.

 

One day, while selling her mother’s nut bread at the market to help support her family, she finds a surprising treasure that inspires a quest:  a Sears catalog from the United States.  She is absolutely mesmerized by the American fashions -- especially a dazzling

pair of red shoes. 

 

Undaunted by her parents, who

sadly admit that they cannot afford

to buy the shoes for her, Nakai becomes more determined than

ever to solve her problem.  She quickly decides to find a way to

buy them for herself.  With the

help of her independent-minded

pet goat, Bongo, she embarks

on a series of adventures and

plans -- some more successful

than others -- to raise the money

she needs to buy her very first

pair of shoes.

 

The Artist as Illustrator 

© 2017 by outside the box