Sunday, March 31, 2024

It's an Empowerment & Health Literacy Moment, and You're invited!

     The application period for the Valorena Online & Cocoa Kids Collection Scholarship has ended. We're excited to announce that we've received an impressive 165 applications from talented young women from across the country, representing 30 states and the Virgin Islands. Over four weeks, our distinguished panel of judges, which includes Sharon Ching, Leslie Fields-Cruz, Lorena Jones, and Sandra Montañez-Diodonet, Ph.D., will carefully review each essay to select a winner. 

     With such a diverse array of submissions, reflecting various voices and experiences of American youth today, the judging process is no small feat. Our judges come from diverse backgrounds themselves, ensuring a thoughtful evaluation of every entry. Throughout the judging period, we'll introduce one judge each week via Linkedin, allowing you to learn more about the accomplished women who will determine the winning entry. 

     To culminate this activity, you are invited to join us when we take a moment to honor our Valorena Publishing & Cocoa Kids Collection Books' 2024 Scholarship Winner, finalists and judges. You'll learn more about our reading and health literacy mission, meet some our nation's most promising young women, and hear their inspiring stories during this informal, online gathering. 

The Valorena Publishing & Cocoa Kids Collection® Books
Virtual Scholarship Reception 
Thursday, April 25, 2024, from 8-9PM EST

SATURDAY, APRIL 27, 2024, from 3-4PM EST

Tickets are available through Eventbrite:

We’re virtual this year, asking for donations that will support next year’s scholarship award, which is anticipated to be in-person event. Until then, we hope to see you and ask that you please help spread the word!


P.S. To support us in another way, please sponsor and/or donate a ticket. You can sponsor a ticket to be shared with one of our finalists or other guests by simply clicking the link above. On the Eventbrite page, select “Get a ticket.” Follow prompts to make a donation, then return the ticket to the organizer through the portal. We’ll pass it along to one of our finalists to use. This is in case there isn't simply someone you'd like to host to whom you would simply pass the ticket along. However you do it, thanks for supporting a great cause.

Dr. Valerie~

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Creating a Beautiful Black Future and Black History

This year's Black History Month theme: "African Americans and the Arts" really resonates with me, as does the HBO Documentary "Black Art: In the Absence of Light." An alumnus of The Studio Museum Harlem program "Books, Authors & Kids," I was fortunate enough to receive the support of The Studio Museum Harlem community. It made a difference in my work and efforts, a difference I am working to honor as I continue in my artistic practice.

Today, I do this in many ways. First, I continue my broad efforts in multimodal formats, including the picture books space, and work through my rebranded enterprise, Valorena Publishing. Second, I pay that support forward by supporting young Black artists like the illustrator of my second edition, Miss Tosin Akinwande, an incredible talent who works with me from her native Lagos, Nigeria. Third, and most recently, giving back looks like the Valorena Publishing & Cocoa Kids Collection Scholarship that is open through March 12th to aspiring students of the arts doing creative writing and illustration for use in the picture book genre. With more than 100 amazing and talented applicants to date, the sheer number of applicants lets me know the need for this kind of support is real.

More broadly, the need to support Black Art is critical because Black Art has the power to educate and inspire. It provides a window into the lives and experiences of Black people, and it helps to deepen our understanding of the world. Through Black Art, we demonstrate the beauty, resilience, and strength of the Black community and the struggles we have faced and overcome.


Black artists and artisans have shown us in beautifully striking ways how our culture has made a way when there was none. We’ve seen and created beauty time and again out of what others saw as scraps and garbage and reached new heights of transcendence when afforded opportunity. Black artists and artisans "show and prove" our cultural and collective exceptionalism, technicolor dreaming, in Black.


Black Art is American Art. It holds a wholly unique role in our culture, not only showcasing talent, but telling the stories of a people in a nation where they are often overlooked and undervalued. And African American practitioners, both celebrated and quotidian, have been at the forefront of cultural moments and movements advocating for our identity, civil rights, and social justice.


Overall, the contributions of African Americans to American art and culture are deeply woven into the fabric of the nation's identity, influencing not only artistic expressions but also societal attitudes and perceptions. Black Art is the heart, soul, face and fabric of the Culture. For me, Black Art and creativity is life.


This year as we celebrate Black History Month, let’s step up our collective support of the arts in the Culture by taking a moment to give back to the community. Visit an artists' space, support an aspiring artist on social media, or buy a piece of art created by a Black maker. When we support our artistic community, we support ourselves and help to create a beautiful and meaningful Black future and Black History.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Meet the Judges: Introducing the Cohort for the 2024 Valorena Publishing & Cocoa Kids Collection Scholarship

Valorena Publishing is pleased and honored to introduce the judging cohort for the inaugural Valorena Publishing & Cocoa Kids Collection Scholarship. 

Our esteemed panel will review and evaluate the more than 100 applications we've received to date to determine this year's winner. Please read on to learn about this amazing group of women to see how they have made impactful contributions to the world of publishing and media. These trailblazing and overall badass women are truly inspiring! 

The pages shown are from the Scholarship Program Media Kit. For more information or to get the full media kit, please contact me at

(Click the image to see each of the two full-sized pages) 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Dive into Diversity: Exploring 2024's Multicultural Children's Book Day Gems (Part 2)

Embark on a literary adventure with our spotlight on the 2024 Multicultural Children's Book Day. Explore three captivating gems: "Please Don't Give Me A Hug!" by Judi Moreillon, navigating the delicate balance of consent; Deedee Cummings' whimsical odyssey "In the Nick of Time Too," weaving themes of friendship and empathy; and Dr. Tee-Tee's "Together til' the End: Ife's Incredible Friends," a tale of enduring companionship.

These reviews are your passport to a vibrant literary landscape where multicultural voices resonate, and where unity is fostered among young readers. Join us on this journey through diverse narratives, contributing to the tapestry of children's literature. Enjoy and #Read your world!


"In the Nick of Time,Too"

by Deedee Cummings
Illustrated by Charlene Mosley
Publisher: Make A Way Media, LLC Published: 2022
ISBN of 978-1-95-1218-33-1 Pages:40

This heartwarming holiday yarn centers around the endearing characters of Nick Saint and his steadfast friend, Cooper. This sweet narrative delves into the wonder of Christmas, revealing a surprise visit that evolves into a journey of self-discovery and an experience that reveals the true essence of the holiday spirit.

Breaking away from the typical Christmas story, Cummings crafts a narrative brimming with festive charm, imparting a compelling message of kindness and hope. Nick and Cooper embark on a mission to spread these virtues in their daily lives, providing readers with a poignant reflection on the significance of these values during the holiday season and beyond.

In this way, the book appeals and resonance with children of all ages and backgrounds. Through the relatable characters of Nick and Cooper, readers are encouraged to embrace the challenge to spread love, hope, and kindness. More than an entertaining read, the story is a call to action, motivating young minds to make a positive impact in their communities.

Important to MCBD, "In the Nick of Time Too" beautifully captures the diversity of love and kindness, underscoring that these virtues come in various forms and colors. With a timeless message that extends beyond the festive season, the book leaves readers with a heartwarming sense of joy and a renewed understanding of the universal values that bind us all. This holiday tale, adorned with acts of kindness and compassion, is destined to become a cherished favorite, inviting families to revel in the magic of Christmas.