If you loved EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING and BROWN GIRL DREAMING, then you have to read CALLING MY NAME, a beautiful novel by debut author Liara Tamani. Taja is an African American teenage girl living in a conservative household in Texas. Her mom expects her at church every Sunday, and there’s absolutely no sex before marriage.
But Taja meets Andre—a handsome and romantic guy that that makes her feel good both emotionally and physically, but also makes her feel…guilty.
The illustrator, Vashti Harrison, wanted to capture Taja’s complex emotions when creating the cover.
“Liara Tamani’s writing is so poetic and elegant, I loved the way the protagonist, Taja describes the world around her. I wanted to create something that was an outward expression of her character: blossoming, growing, glowing and changing. But I wanted that beauty to come out of regular girl who wears her hair in a ponytail and likes Chucks and has holes in her jeans. I think there’s so much beauty in that juxtaposition and for me what makes Taja story so special. I love drawing girls in magical landscapes, so this was a great opportunity show the magic coming from within!”
Vashti’s images are truly magical. She’s designed covers that celebrate and embolden black girls, with her specialty in animation, drawing and painting. But her background didn’t begin in design.
“I didn’t study illustration, but I always loved to draw. I stopped for a long time when I began studying filmmaking. I went to graduate school for my MFA in film, but the school I attended, California Institute of the Arts is famous for being the Disney school of animation. It was while I was there that I rekindled my love for drawing and painting and developed a kind of animation-style aesthetic. I really wasn’t very good after not practicing for many years so I made it a personal goal to draw every day after I graduated. Since then I’ve been passionate about practicing, trying out new styles and sharpening my skills.”
About Calling My Name
A striking, luminous, and literary exploration of family, spirituality, and self.
This unforgettable novel tells a universal coming-of-age story about Taja Brown, a young African American girl growing up in Houston, Texas, and deftly and beautifully explores the universal struggles of growing up, battling family expectations, discovering a sense of self, and finding a unique voice and purpose.
Told in fifty-three short, episodic, moving, and iridescent chapters, CALLING MY NAME follows Taja on her journey from middle school to high school. Literary and noteworthy, this is a beauty of a novel that deftly captures the multifaceted struggle of finding where you belong and why you matter.
More Work by Vashti Harrison
Check out more phenomenal work by Vashti!
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Josephine Baker is famous for her singing and dancing and scandalous costumes but she also defied stereotypes and combatted racism. Born in Missouri, she moved to Paris in the 1920s and made a name for herself becoming one of Europes highest paid performers. But did you know during WWII she worked for the French Resistance and smuggled secret messages in her sheet music and in her garments? At the end of the war she was awarded two of Frances highest military honors! #blackgirlmagic #womenshistorymonth #littleladies
You can find more of Vashti’s work at vashtiharrison.com, or on social @vashtiharrison!
What have been some of your favorite covers in YA lit? Are there any in particular that you’d like the inside scoop on? Drop a comment and let us know!