Stepping to the stage is: Rickey Teems II
Sits upright and smiles big. Hello, I’m Rickey Teems. Many of you may know me from my crazy and controversial novels where I kill all the characters, revoke civil rights from African-Americans, or narrate a man’s porn addiction. But there is a softer side, because like the late Whitney Houston (or Sexual Chocolate depending on your favorite version), I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.
Okay. That was bad. True, but bad. To put it in context, all of my novels are faith filled and real, dealing with issues Christians are not immune to. But in late 2012 I followed my heart and God’s direction, and dove into the bright and imaginative world of children’s literature. It made good sense. Being a writer, that now has a menace, er, toddler running around the house, it was only a matter of time before my daddy duty and writing rhythms inevitably crossed paths and exploded into the educational and engaging children’s book, You Can’t Eat Toes for Breakfast, which has already been used in multiple classrooms and submitted for two of the most prestigious children’s book awards. Now I have an itching to make an even bigger splash in this genre.
To be honest, my children’s book journey started decades before 2012. Probably 3 decades to be exact. But Rickey, you say, you’re so young and vibrant, you couldn’t have possibly been alive three decades ago. Well, thank you. But please, please don’t stop with the compliments. Unfortunately this old tire does have a little mileage and wear on the tread. Sigh. But I digress. Yeah, in 3rd grade we did a book project where we wrote a short story, bound it between two pieces of stiff cardboard, put a cover around it, and Voila. Self-publishing meets child labor laws (but it wasn’t coal mines so nobody cared). My story was titled Lost in the Woods. It was about a young boy who didn’t listen to his mother and was sent on a scary journey trying to find his way back home after wandering off. Not to brag, but I won best book in the class. Ok, maybe to brag a little. There may have been a lot of authors born that day, but the world was introduced to one future superstar, for sure.
Growing up a reader, I was obviously heavily anchored in children’s literature, so it just seemed to come natural. Believe it or not, You Can’t Eat Toes for Breakfast isn’t the first children’s book I have written. A few years ago I was visiting my oldest daughter (she was nine at the time) in New York, and while riding the E train back to Queens to take her home, she began crying and asking how come I had to go back to California, and why her mother and I couldn’t be together again. This literally tore my heart apart. As I held back the tears, I decided to put my emotions to good use and wrote a book on my phone about the positive aspects children can focus on when their parents are no longer together. Although I don’t plan on releasing that book until 2014, at the time, it sparked an interest to a) help address various topics that children need to learn about and b) promote literature at an earlier age, in hopes of reducing illiteracy rates as kids grow older. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the beginning of a slightly epic turn.
After You Can’t Eat Toes for Breakfast was completely finished (which didn’t happen anywhere near as fast as the statement you just read, but I won’t bore you with those details), I felt like I hit it out the park. The illustrator had been great to work with for my budget. The story was creative and rhymed (yeah, I used to spit a freestyle or two back in the day. LOL), but I knew there was only one true way of getting an unbiased assessment and knowing if it was as great as I considered it to be. So I did what any real writer does. I contacted the harshest, fiercest, tell-it-like-it-is critic I could think of to test the book on. I called my 17-month-old daughter, Christiana, over to the couch and read it to her off the computer. I’ve never felt so much pressure in my life! The iPad and her favorite toys were only a few steps away. Dora the Explorer was on the flat screen. There were more toddler distractions than a Toys R Us, but I knew if I couldn’t keep her attention in the face of war, then it would be back to the drawing board. Needless to say, she laid on my chest for the duration of the story. Pointing at the screen, repeating words, pointing to her own body parts that corresponded to the story; I ran and popped a bottle of champagne and started spraying everybody with it like I had just won a championship!
After the book was released, readers seemed to agree. It wasn’t long before people were sending me pictures of their children reading the book or holding it up in the air. What a blessing! But it didn’t stop there. One of my friends posted a video of her reading the book to her students, and using it as part of the lesson plan. I was in awe. You want to talk about God being good! Who would have ever thought the cute third grader with the best book in class would go on to write a real children’s book that would be used back in the classroom! It wasn’t long before a few other teachers were sharing similar accounts of incorporating my book into their lesson plans. Meanwhile, parents were expressing their “disgust” at having to read the book multiple times, every night to little ones across the United States because it was a favorite. I am so humbled. Who would have ever thought I’d have a literary catalogue that includes favorites for adults all the way down to toddlers. Only the power of God. It makes me wonder if twenty years from now the next big author will talk about reading when he or she was a kid, and mention You Can’t Eat Toes For Breakfast as one of their childhood favorites. Hey, an old man can dream, can’t he!
Now I’m working on expanding my children’s book library going into 2013. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I wrote not one, but two more kids’ books. And while there is much editing that needs to happen, the concepts and vision are as on point as ever! Twenty-four hours ago I celebrated wrapping up a commercial shoot for You Can’t Eat Toes For Breakfast and I’m hoping you guys will find it as adorable as I think you will. Shout out to my boy James for making it happen. And you want to talk about a mind that never rests, during the course of that celebration last night, I solidified the game plan and resources to make an audio book to help expand the brand and reach! I’m excited. I wish I could share everything else that I have on deck, but OOSA might not let me pick up the mic again if I keep you guys another second! But please believe me when I tell you, God made me a promise, and you know he doesn’t do failure! So I pray that all of you continue to rock with me like you have. Thank you all for your continued support! If you haven’t already, be sure to grab an autographed copy of You Can’t Eat Toes for Breakfast for the little ones in your life by visiting the purchase page of noguilebooks.com.
Blessings and Happy Holidays loved ones!
Acclaimed author Rickey Teems II is a man of God and community. Teems likes to push social, religious, dramatic, and emotional boundaries with every story he tells. With a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy, he spends a lot of time working with youth to ensure the men of tomorrow understand the fundamentals of success. For more information on Rickey Teems II and his works, be sure to visit: www.noguilebooks.com