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Young Palmetto Books

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Young Palmetto Books: Growing S.C. readers

By Megan Sexton

The S.C. Center for Children’s Books and Literacy works every day to grow, educate and shape the next generation of South Carolinians. And what better way to do that than with its own just-launched series – Young Palmetto Books.

Young Palmetto Books, a new series of educational South Carolina-focused books for young readers published by the University of South Carolina Press, introduced its first two offerings this week – “Fragments of the Ark: A Novel,” a reprint of a young adult book by Louise Merriwether that follows the exploits of a runaway slave during the Civil War, and “Greek Revival from the Garden: Growing and Cooking for Life,” a family cookbook by USC First Lady Patricia Moore-Pastides. Four additional books for the series are in the publishing pipeline.

The series will feature books written by a South Carolinian or about a place in the state, said Kim Jeffcoat, the series editor and the executive director of the Center for Children’s Books and Literacy. The center is also home to USC’s mascot-led literacy program Cocky’s Reading Express, an outreach program that offers a perfect vehicle for understanding children’s book needs.

“Cocky’s Reading Express visits schools in every part of South Carolina. We see what the children of South Carolina are reading and we see what they don’t have.

We can see where there are gaps and where there is a need,” Jeffcoat said. “We want great quality books that express what the kids of South Carolina are like. South Carolina has so many great stories to tell.”

Young Palmetto Books, which targets an audience from birth through age 18, was created through a partnership between the USC Press and the Center for Children's Books and Literacy, part of the USC School of Library and Information Science. A series editorial board, led by Jeffcoat, identifies new projects with connections to South Carolina authors and subject matters.

Jonathan Haupt, director of the USC Press, said the collaboration helps “grow our customer base.” “Partnering with SCCCBL is what makes Young Palmetto Books possible for the USC Press. Kim Jeffcoat and the rest of the center staff, along with our Young Palmetto Books editorial board, bring the skills and knowledge to help the Press select, develop and share only the very best books,” Haupt said. “It’s an ambitious idea dedicated to taking a leading role in fostering a more literate, more inspired, more informed and more service-minded generation of South Carolinians.”

And it offers a chance to publish some exciting work by new – and established – authors. Moore-Pastides, author of the popular Mediterranean cookbook “Greek Revival: Cooking for Life,” said she was excited about the concept of a “family cookbook.” Her new book, which will be available at the South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia May 18-19, offers guidance on how to pursue healthy eating, starting from the ground up. It includes gardening tips, recipes and cooking methods that foster a happy and healthy relationship with good food.

Other soon-to-be-published books include the story of how a third-grade cabbage seed project grew into a national nonprofit organization, written by teen Katie Stagliano; a Jonathan Green-illustrated book about Robert Smalls, an African-American hero of the Civil War; and a heartfelt remembrance of Tom Feelings, an award-winning African-American artist and children’s book illustrator, written by his daughter, Niani Feelings.

From Young Palmetto Books

  • “Fragments of the Ark: A Novel,” by Louise Merriwether, a reprint edition of a young adult novel inspired by the life of Robert Smalls
  • “Greek Revival from the Garden: Growing and Cooking for Life,” by Patricia Moore-Pastides

    The books will be available at the South Carolina Book Festival, May 17-19, at the Columbia Metro Convention Center

Coming soon in the series

  • “First, You Explore: The Story of the Young Charles Townes” by Rachel Haynie
    A celebration of discovery and learning found in the inspirational true story of a Nobel laureate in physics from Greenville
  • “Tom Feelings, My Daddy” by Niani Feelings with Dinah Johnson
    A heartfelt remembrance of an award-winning African-American artist and children’s book illustrator
  • “Katie’s Cabbage” by Katie Stagliano with Michelle Martin
     The amazing-but-true story of how a third-grade cabbage seed project grew into a national nonprofit organization offering a kid-based solution to hunger
  • “The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls” by Louise Meriwether, illustrated by Jonathan Green
    A new edition of the story of a slave from Beaufort whose daring escape with a Confederate warship won freedom for his family and made him the first African-American hero of the Civil War 

    Series editorial board

    Helen Fellers, coordinator, S.C. Center for Children’s Books and Literacy
    Karen Heid, USC College of Arts and Sciences, Art Education
    Kim Shealy Jeffcoat,executive director, S.C. Center for Children’s Books and Literacy
    Pamela Jewett, USC College of Education
    Dianne Johnson, USC Department of English and author
    Melinda Long, author
    Michelle H. Martin, Augusta Baker Chair for Childhood Literacy, USC School of Library and Information Science

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