Trinity Retreat Center Workshop Weekend with Laura James

Looking forward to visiting Trinity Retreat Center again this June and working with their community!


Ethiopian Art and Spirit: Bridging Centuries and Cultures Retreat
June 14, 2024, 4:00 pm to June 16, 2024

Trinity Retreat Center, West Cornwall, CT

Learn more about the retreat and sign up here!

Guardian angels have long been used by the Christian faithful in Ethiopia and other religious traditions. The sacred work of liturgical artist Laura James employs the ancient Ethiopian Christian way of icon-making and expands on the collection of stories traditionally painted in this style. James is pleased to help Black people see themselves in their sacred texts, a place from which racialized people have curiously been excluded in the West. Participants will be guided to paint their own guardian angels.

Led by Laura James.

Dec 13, 2023 | Photos from Brooklyn Public Library Event!

Whew! I am so grateful that I was able to present my book, My Mother Was a Nanny at the Brooklyn Public Library at this event last Saturday. It was a true homecoming.

We also had a great after-party at my house!

Dec 16 at 4PM | Laura James: My Mother Was A Nanny – Our Caribbean-American Story – Talk and book signing event!

RSVP for this free event here.

We welcome you to join us for a book launch and signing event for My Mother Was A Nanny, a children’s book by author, illustrator and visual artist Laura James.

In this new vibrant and spirited picture book, artist Laura James pays homage to her childhood in Brooklyn, Caribbean immigrants, and to her mother, a homemaker who wore many hats. Often relegated to the background, nannies and domestic workers are seldom the topic of children’s stories, yet Ms. James achieves at once a deeply personal and relatable story. 

Audiobook narrator Sharon Gordon will perform a reading of My Mother Was A Nanny and Ms. James will speak about how she came to write this book and what it means to tell a children’s story with big topics including economy, religion, immigration, and love.  After discussion and Q & A, Ms. James will be available to sign copies of the book.

This event accompanies the exhibition My Mother Was A Nanny, located in the Central Library’s Youth Wing.

RSVP for this free event here.

ZACH

A Nanny’s Work Through Pictures and Words by Zach Frater

Zach Frater
September 26, 2023

My Mother Was a Nanny: Paintings from the Book by Laura James
September 25, 2023 to January 28, 2024
Central Library, Youth Wing

While Julie Andrews’ performance as the magical nanny Mary Poppins captured the hearts of viewers in 1964, would you say that today’s real-life nannies, homemakers, babysitters and other domestic workers are as beloved? Sometimes as adults, it’s easy for us to overlook the things we see every day, even if those “things” are actually other people. In 2023, many of us still rely on domestic workers to clean our homes and offices, to watch and rear our children, and to perform a number of miscellaneous tasks that defy easy categorization. And yet, how often do we really look into the face of a nanny? How often do we ask about their own children, personal thoughts, interests and stories?

Self-taught artist and illustrator Laura James dares to ask these questions, bringing her own childhood memories to life in her latest children’s book, My Mother Was a Nanny. Released by the Ontario-based publishing house Groundwood Books on September 5, this is James’ third children’s book and the first to be based on her original writing. The story is inspired by the day-to-day life of her creative and entrepreneurial mother and is told as a series of vignettes illustrating a typical day for Mummy. It follows a nameless child tailing her busy mother as she performs the sacred work of cleaning, sewing, cooking and tending to other people’s children while also taking care of her own. While we might be quick to read the little girl in the story as little Laura, both she and the mother remain anonymous, allowing some room for the reader to insert their own narrative. To me, Mummy can be read as a stand-in for the domestic worker writ large. As such, James gives voice and insight into a person and situation we sometimes choose not to see.

My Mother Was a Nanny is an attempt by James to set the record straight on an often-maligned profession. If not maligned, certainly not celebrated, and one that usually presents a less than ideal situation for employer and employee. She touches on the fact that immigrating from the Caribbean led her mother and other relatives into domestic work in the first place. In the book, the main character’s aunt admits, “If there was work in Antigua, I would have stayed.” James’ straight approach to the reality of the situation is poignant. In our interview, the author remarks, “It isn’t a fairy tale like Mary Poppins. It is a true story by and large.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON THE BPL WEBSITE HERE

Brooklyn Public Library Exhibition!

My Mother Was a Nanny : Paintings from the Book by Laura James

An exhibition of original paintings from the book is currently on display at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library through January 28th, 2024! Stop by the Children’s Wing and have a look if you’re in the area. There are also more paintings from my previous books, Anna Carries Water and Boonoonoous Hair! on display.

Read more here!

New Children’s Book “My Mother Was a Nanny” available September 5th!

 

Order My Mother Was a Nanny on Bookshop.org or AMAZON

 

It was great to finally meet the folks from Groundwood Books in person in Chicago at the American Library Association’s annual conference. I saw the book for the first time, and signed over a hundred copies for librarians! It was a thrill to realize they will share each book with hundreds of kids and nannies! 

We’ve gotten some great reviews so far, including this beautiful on on-point review by Summer Edward!
Read it online here.

10 Picture Books for Caribbean American Heritage Month and Beyond
by Summer Edward
Jun 14, 2023 | Filed in News & Features

My Mother Was a Nanny by Laura James. Groundwood. Sept 2023.

Afro-Antiguan American self-taught artist Laura James shares her childhood experience of growing up in Brooklyn with a mother who was a homemaker, domestic worker, and nanny. James’s first-person narrative debunks harmful stereotypes of Caribbean nannies as tough, lazy, or difficult. Although James’s mother often took a no-nonsense approach to parenting and was too time-strapped to spend as much time with her three daughters as she would have liked, James humanizes her as a woman of many talents, a reliable neighbor, caring friend, and devoted mummy who juggled a demanding set of priorities and gave everything she had for the sake of her children. Complete with warm acrylic illustrations in James’ signature style, this picture book is an unvarnished but compassionate tribute to the complexity of motherhood.