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The Gordon School

Welcoming Kwame Mbalia and Eric Wilkerson

For the fifteenth year of the Karla Harry Visiting Author program

Author Kwame Mbalia (left) and illustrator Eric Wilkerson (right) are this year's Karla Harry Visiting Author honorees. They are creative team behind the New York Times bestseller Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, which was awarded a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and CABA award. 

About Mbalia and Wilkerson

Along with two Tristan sequels, Mbalia is the co-author of The Last Gate of the Emperor and the editor of Black Boy Joy, a recently published middle grade anthology of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood. He is a graduate of Howard University and currently lives in North Carolina with his family. 

Eric Wilkerson is an illustrator who has worked in film, commercials, video games, and the publishing industry, including with Kwame Mbalia on his Tristan series. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, he has taught in the illustration department at Syracuse University and has guest lectured at Syracuse University’s Visual Communication Symposium, Fashion Institute of Technology, and for classes at the School of Visual Arts NYC. Eric has worked with companies such as Activision, Disney Publishing, Scholastic, Random House, Upper Deck, and Weta Workshop during his nearly twenty years as a professional illustrator. He is passionate about creating work centering people of color in science fiction illustration, and continues to work to keep representation of African Americans at the core of his work.

Their visit

Their work with Gordon students will include a series of visual arts workshops that bring students together with Eric Wilkerson.
On Wednesday, December 8th, 6:30pm, they will join Dr. Thomas López for a Zoom conversation on Black joy, African American representation in children's books, and their respective creative paths. Guests can register, and submit questions in advance, at

On Saturday, December 4th, at 1:30pm, on the Early Childhood playground, there will be an informal discussion based on Black Boy Joy, an anthology of stories curated by Kwame Mbalia on the theme of Black boyhood. This will be an in-person, outdoor event, led by Gordon faculty Marlon Henry, Angela Flynn and Frances Martindale. The conversation is open to all ages, whether or not they have read the entire book.

About the Karla Harry Visiting Author program

The Visiting Author Program provides Gordon students the unique experience of delving into the writer’s craft by working with nationally recognized authors and illustrators. It is supported by the Karla Harry Visiting Author Fund, which was established in 2006 in memory of Karla Harry Gordon’s beloved librarian and adored community member. Previous honorees have included Grace Lin, Kwame Alexander and Julia Alvarez. More on the program at

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