Jonae attended Dunbar Senior High School when she authored her books. She has written three books with Shout Mouse Press, Trinitoga, The Day Tajon Got Shot, and most recently, Deena Misses Her Mom, when Jonae was a senior in high school.
BOOKS BY JONAE
by Jonae, Jesse, Layonnie, and Kahliya of Reach Incorporated
Lately, Deena has been getting angry. A lot. She acts out in school and keeps getting in trouble. Everyone is surprised because she used to be very calm, but that was before her mother went to jail. Her dad, her grandma, and her best friend Josey all do their best to help her out, but Deena doesn’t want to talk about it. Will a day at the carnival with her Dad help her open up?
Tajon is sixteen and black. He's tall and skinny, and he has dreadlocks. Tajon works hard and tries his best to be good. He does O.K. in school. He has plans. He's determined.
Tajon is the kind of son who cares about his family. He's the kind of brother who stands up for his sister. He's the kind of kid who dreams big dreams to get himself and those he loves up and out of the hood.
Tajon is the one who gets shot.
Meet the Authors
In March 2015, ten teen girls from Beacon House in Washington, DC started writing a novel during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. They began with one central question: What really happens in a community when a black youth is the victim of violence by police? How are those lives affected? Each writer takes on the perspective of a central character – the victim, the police officer, the witness, the parent, the friend, the officer's kids – and examines how it feels to be a human being on all sides of this event. Their stories thoughtfully explore issues of race, violence, loyalty, and justice in a community torn apart but seeking connection.
The examples in the real world just keep coming -- Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray. It’s happening. It’s complicated. One issue is the unnecessary use of force by police against anyone, of any gender or race or age. Another issue is the preponderance of such violence against one particular group: young black men. We ask: Why?
We know this is a highly-charged issue, and our interest is not to fan the flames of anger or division. Rather we want to get beyond the #hashtags and explore the complexity of how it feels to be a human being on all sides of this event. We want to walk inside someone else’s shoes.
by the authors of Beacon House
"Take a step outside and look... You’ll see trash, you’ll see smoking, you’ll see drug dealing, fighting and killing. A lot of people live there, like a whole bunch of vienna sausages in a square can. Some people are bad, but some are good... It’s a roughed up hood, but we all got tough love for each other."
So begins Trinitoga, a novel-in-stories by middle-school authors of Beacon House. These young writers created a fictionalized neghborhood and populated it with an endearing and heartbreaking cast of characters, not unlike people they have encountered in their own lives.
We begin with "Shoota," the gun-wielding "King of the Hood" whose transformation we witness from a sweet and trusting 8-year-old boy to a hardened angry man deserving of his nickname. We meet the mother of his children, Baquisha, who cares about her kids and tells them to do the right thing, but can't set a good example herself. We meet their kids--Rude Boy, Rude Girl, and Tianna--all of whom struggle between love and disappointment and anger in their relationships with their parents and with each other. We meet grandmothers who do right by their grandkids, and friends who stick up for each other, and characters of all ages determined to do better: for their loved ones and for themselves. The result is an emotionally charged and psychologically astute exploration of what it means to grow up in a place like Trinitoga, told from the perspective of highly astute 11- and 12-year-old observers.
This book is powerful. The characters are complex. The conflicts are recognizable and searingly raw. Although these characters face daily stress and trauma that takes its toll, they all want desperately for something better. That yearning is what breaks your heart, gives you hope, and keeps you turning the page.
The teen tutors of Reach Incorporated noticed that few children's books reflected their reality. They decided to do something about that: they wrote their own. Now these teens have written eight original books, and are diversifying children's literature, one smart-fun-real-brave-bold story at a time. Learn more.
Beacon House is a community-based organization in the Edgewood Terrace community in NE Washington, DC. Their mission is to lift as many children as possible up and out of their often difficult circumstances. The Shout Mouse collaboration with Beacon House gives these young people a chance to write novels-in-stories that not only capture and process the challenges of their lives, but also to imagine for themselves and for their characters the futures they deserve. Learn more.
Interview with Jonae about writing Trinitoga and how other students have reacted to the book
This is a powerful and unusual compilation of viewpoints about the intersection of race and criminal justice from the pens of these ten female teen authors. If it is not already, their conversation should be our conversation, as we support this new generation’s fight for civil rights in 21st century USA.
When I opened the envelope and saw the book that I was to review, my immediate response was “yes.” The Young Adult novel, “The Day Tajon Got Shot,” is why I have been involved with Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD) for the past three years. The book was written by ten young women from the Teen Writers program at Beacon House located in Washington, D.C. The mission of Beacon House is to provide quality programs and activities for children and teens living in Ward 5 where violence and poverty is a prevailing issue for them.
So. Over the past few years we’ve had lots of great books come through the pipeline outlining and assessing moments of police violence, including The Hate U Give @angiethomas , Dear Martin @getnicced , Tyler Johnson Was Here @jaycoles, Anger Is A Gift @markdoesstuff, Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes, All American Boys me and @brendankiely and I’m sure I’m missing a few. But this one, The Day Tajon Got Shot, coming through @shoutmousepress has been written BY teen girls! I could go on and on about how cool, honest, and brilliant it is, but I won’t. Read the jacket copy. Lol. But the basic premise is, all the young people wrote a perspective to create a multi-layered view of an unfortunate incident. I know there are critiques about writing pain (in excess), specifically as it pertains to black children. But no one can deny the value of them using writing to work through their own, on their own terms. Shouts to Kathy Crutcher and the good folks at Shout Mouse for putting the pen, and the power in the hands of the kids. All the love.
I think this has been one of my favorite books in the past seven months, because when I picked it up to read, back in September, it was right before grad class and so good, I couldn't stop the sneaky reading throughout class. When class was over, I literally set in the parking garage and finished the story because I probably would have pulled off the highway to finish the book, I was so stoked. The hooks to this story hypnotized me!
I liked the idea of having each of the ten authors take the point of view of a character. The graphics throughout the book added to the story.
This book is written by teens in the DC area who workshopped the first full-length novel published by Shout Mouse Press. I want their workshops and inspirations to continue endlessly, especially if they're going to produce such heartfelt and well-thought-out, emotionally searing works as this one.
While police brutality catches peoples attention, the young girls that wrote this book use the opportunity to get justice and stop police brutality.This is set by 2017 or even this year, The Day Tajon Got Shot is like being a witness of that day being told by these amazing storytellers and just the reality of the gun violence and with the timing like the other day the March for our Lives it puts me in the scene of just seeing something like this happen last year or even yesterday.