Storytime book
© Author Adventures

John Mason Brewer, African-American Folklorist, and Bill Martin, Jr., Children’s Author

Texas A&M University holds impressive archives of John Mason Brewer (1896-1975), considered Texas’ foremost writer and preserver of African-American folklore, and bestselling children’s picture book author Bill Martin, Jr. (1916-2004). Read about its collection here: https://archives.tamuc.edu/repositories.

John Mason Brewer

According to blackpast.org: “Prominent white folklorist J. Frank Dobie recalled that he ‘discovered’ Brewer in 1932 when Brewer brought a box full of slave folk tales to be published. The result was the publication by the Texas Folklore Society of forty tales under the title of ‘Juneteenth‘ in Tone the Bell Down. The next year the society published Brewer’s ‘Old Time Negro Proverbs.’ His fame came primarily from three collections of black Texas folklore published at mid-century: The Word on the Brazos: Negro Preacher Tales from the Brazos Bottoms of Texas (1953), Aunt Dicy Tales: Snuff-Dipping Tales of the Texas Negro (1956), and Dog Ghosts and Other Texas Negro Folk Tales (1958). While in North Carolina he published Worser Days and Better Times (1965) and the award-winning, influential American Negro Folklore (1968). Brewer’s penchant for discovering the lost folk tales preserved many from extinction and revealed another vital source for studying African Americans in United States society and culture.”

Bill Martin, Jr.

Texas A&M University-Commerce features the library of children’s author Bill Martin, Jr. His popular books for preschoolers include Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and Polar Bear, Polar Bear.

Bill Martin, Jr.’s books have been relied upon for storytimes by teachers, children’s librarians, and care givers of children from the day they hit the shelves. His books have also been featured on television series geared toward young children. An example is an episode of Storytime (PBS) where the author made a guest appearance to read his book, The Ghost-Eye Tree, which was co-authored by John Archambault.

Call ahead to view this collection of original manuscripts and sketches.

This is the final stop on Part Two of our Texas Author Adventures Trail!

Patricia Smart