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About Karen E. Dabney
Karen E. Dabney, a native Detroiter, possesses a BFA from The University of Michigan, and a BA from the University of Detroit Mercy. She is the CEO of Dabs & Company, an organization dedicated to increasing literacy and instilling a love for literature.
She has always been involved with youth as a speaker, mentor, teacher, recreation supervisor, "cheer leader" and friend.
Karen's publications as author, artist, and producer include: Splendor for your Vendors; Unhappiness Is ...; Jenga; The Elephantom in the Room: a psychological tail by Nuru; I Said It...And I Meant It!, Detroit Unity Poets and Authors Society (DUPAAS) anthology; I am a YoungStar and I Love Me Some Me! Positivity Poems for Young Adults; I am a YoungerStar and I Love Me Some ME Too! Positivity Poems for Children; StarLeader Guidebook!; The Magic Pencil Black Language Glossary; The Magic Pencil Curriculum Guide; The Magic Pencil novel; 44th Barack H. Obama The Commemorative Edition anthology; To the Poet in You, Creative Press anthology; Dreaming, poetry by Chicara Brassell; and Necessary Roughness, by Safi.
Her most recent book is I WAS Raped & I ReMEmber! True Stories by Survivors of Sexual Assaut. She is also working with her colleague Nuru on another "help yourself" book entitled Recognize & Revoke Passive Permission.
Karen attended writing workshops with the Voices of Our Nation's Arts Foundation (VONA) and The Hurston/Wright Foundation. She is/has been a member of Detroit Writers Guild, Gifted in Michigan, the International Reading Association, National Association of Teachers of English, National Conference of Artists, The Southern Poverty Law Center, Motown Writers' Network, Broadside Poets' Theatre, Concept East, Project B.A.I.T., and Urban Theater Magazine. She is also an Operation Crossroads Africa alum where she spent over six weeks in Africa and has assisted and recruits others to do the same with the program - begun in 1958 - the precursor of the Peace Corps.
The Magic Pencil is Karen's first novel for young adults. Although the book is geared toward the "tween" crowd, it is enjoyed by people of all ages.
Through the story, Karen has inspired, uplifted, and captivated reluctant and uninspired readers. Her intentions have always been to stem the tide of youth falling through the cracks in life. The Magic Pencil imparts means and methods to increase their skills for successful navigation and mastery through self-determination and self-reliance. These qualities are fostered within the story by its empowering effect on the reader/listener.
Karen feels she was born with a pencil in her hand. She wrote, illustrated, and "published" her first "real" book, Unhappiness Is, at 14 years of age. The book sheds a comedic light on everyday situations and challenges and is appreciated by all who read or listen to it. The latest version is written as captions for the reader to illustrate!
Dabs & Company promotes literacy and keeping minds 'lit'. To that end, The Magic Pencil Series was born!
From the Author:
My reasons for writing The Magic Pencil
To encourage the uninspired, reluctant and discouraged reader to develop the desire to read for pleasure.
To develop the desire to read for greater knowledge.
To increase self-esteem; especially within African American/black youth.
To remove the stigma applied to African American/black people when they use colloquial language. To recognize all people engage in this behavior. To understand that there are special and new words used when one is a part of a particular group (the language among computer technicians, for example) which may or may not become known among the general population.
To increase vocabulary by creating a desire to know exactly what a particular word means and how it relates to what is occurring.
To demonstrate the opportunities available by learning how to effectively navigate unfamiliar territory through education.
To honor the "community/home" language of the speaker and to realize s/he may be articulate within that language. To, thereby, foster a willingness in the person to adopt other ways of speaking while retaining his or her present mode of speech -- if needed and desired.
To encourage respect and tolerance of the differences in others. To focus on the commonalities between self and others.
To foster self-respect, self-determination and self-reliance.
To encourage constructive debate over preferences and beliefs.
To foster empathy towards another's problems.
To learn to work together for the greater good.
To become hopeful about the future.
"Promote Literacy! Keep Minds Lit!"
~Karen E. Dabney
#LITERACY #GIFT #READ #MULTICULTURAL #AFRICANAMERICAN #CHILDREN #TEENAGER #EDUCATION #ENTERTAINMENT #HOLIDAYS #BLACKHISTORY #YOUNGADULT #KWANZAA
While compiling this glossary, I found myself amused at the language and spellings and expect you may be, as well. However, I want you to know I am very serious regarding this endeavor. I feel The Magic Pencil will reach even the most recalcitrant of learners. The book is “sneakily didactic” wherein many life lessons will be imparted in an entertaining way. My overall intent is to get youth engaged by providing characters with whom they can identify.
The Black Language Glossary is designed to help those who may not understand some of what Malcolm and other characters are saying. At first, I thought it wouldn't be necessary but after imagining a well-meaning “uninitiated” instructor being so vulnerable, I decided to release what I had created before publishing The Magic Pencil novel in 2009.
I call this book Black Language Glossary because there is truly a black language that has been in use for centuries. It has its own rules, sounds, and consistencies. One should not view it as the slang of the times. Slang changes with the times - keeping the language fresh - but it does not change its roots. Not much of the “slanguage” has morphed since I wrote the novel - proving my contention that black language’s roots are traditional, old, and deep.
Keep in mind that many black people choose to use the language and are usually quite capable of speaking otherwise. Just as many choose not to use it but may understand it, regardless.
Inflection, movement and body language play a huge part in the visually, aurally, and emotionally charged use of black language.
Of course, this glossary barely touches upon the vastness of the language but it will get you through The Magic Pencil and perhaps pique your interest to learn more.
It may help to remember Mark Twain's excellent ear for the different ways characters spoke in his stories, or to know that Shakespeare was writing for the 'common folk’, and to pay closer attention to the ways other cultures code switch in the United States as well as around the world.
Black language is as legitimate as any other as long as it is being used by someone. The slang blended with it sets trends and bends into new words that are gobbled up by the mainstream and ‘spit’ back to its creators and others, who continue to develop more…and the cycle repeats.
It is my intention that you are able to make full use of these books. The Magic Pencil novel, its Curriculum Guide, and Glossary are timely and stimulating for the way our world has been impacted by different cultures. Using these three books will allow you, the educator, to discover depths your learners may have yet to reveal.
With mirror books to window books: Help our youth see and soar!
Karen E. Dabney
October 9, 2012
Ain’t no half-steppin!
Nia is "the new girl" at Gillespie School. Malcolm quickly notices she's definitely different from all of the other kids he knows.
Malcolm becomes as mystified as Nia is mysterious.
Many wonderful things continue to happen with Nia on the scene. She challenges Malc to be better than his best and he soon discovers amazing things about himself and the world!
We join Malcolm in his quest to discover the secret to the power of the pencil! And we'll uncover hidden powers within ourselves, along the way.
The Magic Pencil is also for the young at heart and is appreciated by all ages. It is the only book explaining from a young African American boy's viewpoint, that everyone speaks differently depending on their present audience and situation.
I wrote the book especially to attract "uninspired readers" and guide them toward improving literacy, self-esteem and problem solving. There are many ways to teach and everyone must do their part. I don't believe we should be aiming toward producing "cookie cut" children. But we can all be about tailoring toward their varying needs as a COMMUNITY.
The Magic Pencil provides suggestions and effective strategies for positive results in an "edutaining" way!
The sampling of 25 poems inside are for YOU! They are to let YOU know folk LOVE & CARE about YOU & want to help YOU SHINE & SOAR in life! There are so many GOOD people pulling for YOU - even if YOU don't know, can't see or feel them, they are there!
And, we ALL know how sometimes life's easy & other times SO HARD! But YOU can work at feeling better about the struggle when YOU OPEN YOURself to PREPARE for & FIND the LESSONS. Some of these poems are breezy & others are stormy. Dress for the weather & wade in! Allow YOURself to FEEL in order to stay TRUE & FOCUSED! WE NEED YOU TOO cuz WE ALL got a lot of WORK to DO!
BE STRONG & LIVE LONG! Don't give up the fight!
"Together We Will Win”
Encourage OUR YOUTH! They all have gifts to share with the world!
Popular Tameka has a talent for getting along well with all of the girls in class, even those in tight cliques. She doesn't belong to any of the groupings but is always welcome. She's more than a social butterfly; she's a budding executive director of a non-profit.
And, there's Sean. He's prone to doing impromptu, complicated dance moves as he glides through the hallways and plops into his desk. He may be the next Usher or Barry Sanders! Bonita aka "Bon-Bon" has an unofficial sideline job of selling candy throughout the school and has been shut down twice for the infraction. She is now selling hand-made greeting cards. Hello to an entrepreneur!
The 70+ poems in the following books – for which this guide was created – will provide our youth a literary and literacy boost up!
They are intended to stimulate higher ordered thinking in our
This collection includes my intentions for the poems written to Young Adults and Younger Children complementing the books
I am a YoungStar and I Love Me Some ME! and
I am a YoungerStar and I Love Me Some ME Too!
It is my intention these explanations will assist you in deciding which poems to use from either book, depending on the type of groups you are working with.
The poems are meant to be read orally (I suggest not putting unconfident readers on the spot) and followed by discussions where the participants are encouraged to speak their minds in an accepting atmosphere of tolerance. Some may seem a little “downpressing” but we NEED to talk openly about the issues. Seriously! So much of what we adults try to protect youth from – and are not preparing them for – is not allowing them to be their personal best selves!
Of course, due to the ages and level of understanding of your learners, some of the poems will require more dissection than others. Please encourage the learners to “use the muscles in your minds!” You will need to have dictionaries handy for their use.
Many of the poems are playful.
Some are “deep”.
Others are sobering.
All are provocative.
Thank you helping our youth elevate!
Peace & Understanding,
~ K. E. Dabney
Keep Our Minds Lit!
With a little touch of Serious Stuff
For Young & Older readers
I created this book when I was fourteen years old. I have always tried to find the silly in a situation and this book does just that. It’s mostly about the funny side of everyday life.
Unhappiness Is … has gone through a few changes over the years, yet it remains timeless!
This version is for you, my readers, to illustrate ‘cause I couldn’t get mine to be what I wanted! And, I think it’ll be great for you to be able to interpret the events your way and put your take on the pages!
The sayings will make you chuckle, laugh and reflect. Most of the time, you will be able to think "Yep. That happened to me."
Illustrating your thoughts may be a surprise to someone else, as well as yourself!
A Note About Illustrations
An illustration for a book is a way of putting an image on paper about the book’s subject. It’s the same as a person turning written words into a song.
Illustrations may be drawn, painted, photographed, or glued – such as a collage.
Therefore, you may illustrate these 150 sentences any way you like!
We all feel things differently so be creative and have fun bringing your imagination to the pages!
"Every Cloud has a Silver Lining!"
Dabs & Company re-releases poems by Safi!
And for you insatiable types...she's supplied even more to nibble & ruminate upon...
A re-issue! September 2019
This is the 3rd edition 2018
THIS IS THE 3RD EDITION.
It will especially appeal to your vendors because some of the simplest suggestions inside are often overlooked.
Business owners must keep in mind that vendors are also in business and help lend credence, entertainment, expertise, and excitement to any event. This is because they are also a part of what is bringing people to your events past, present, and in the future!
Treating your vendors well will help all sell!
Even if your event is free of charge to its attendees, you are “selling” something. It may be an idea, a fundraiser, a reception, or information. The impression your attendees leave with will affect how they view your organization for some time.
Constructive reciprocity is the golden key to a healthy
symbiotic relationship. ~Karen E. Dabney
This book is designed to re-order your mind.
If you are easily led, can you be well …
Embrace the inevitable before it manifests.
Even those who resist are swept forever.
Stabilized; they drift.
Everything changes; essentially remaining the same. Perhaps.
Build. Any way you feel will fit.
Do we perceive our perceptions?
Depending on whose point of view?
I see. You?
The MINE’s eye never blinks.
So, you thought ignorance could be bliss?
No more, sense this!
Now, your brain is prepped and jogged.
You’re ready to astride the words inside.
Let us go!
Thought provoking poems and writings designed to open your mind!
The novel - The Magic Pencil - is intended to increase literacy by attracting and engaging all youth; it is especially targeted toward the uninspired, reluctant reader. The Magic Pencil is a "window book" as it allows the reader to widen her world.
Many issues facing youth today regarding education and socialization are covered in the story narrated by fifteen-year-old Malcolm Bakersfield. Ways to succeed in life by learning ways to navigate through its pitfalls are integral to the plot. The story is uplifting and inspirational!
Synopsis of the novel: "Malcolm Bakersfield's new classmate, Nia Stellar is "not your average girl." Exciting and fantastic events occur, seemingly to do with her and a scruffy, used pencil. Nia challenges Malc in many ways and he discovers new abilities and sides to himself. We join him in his quest to find the truth to to the power of the pencil. And, like him, we just may learn a lot about ourselves. "
The Magic Pencil novel contains something for everyone - young and old - to enjoy. Its deeper secret is to encourage uninspired youth to read and stay in school, especially black male students. The narrator - young Malcolm - is telling the story by "code-switching" and is a character with whom youth will be able to identify. This "mirror book" imparts many life-lessons to help youth discover ways to improve their lives and encourages them on their journey. The language issue is a large part of what is turning young black readers off from school and should be addressed aggressively, yet differently.
There appears to be no other book written for youth where black language (in this case, African American Vernacular English) versus standard English is dealt with in a way to engage - rather than alienate - them from understanding the validity of either way of speaking. The "talking white" issue, the mainstreaming of black language and the differing attitudes towards using either are discussed.The Magic Pencil advocates being able to speak effectively in the preferred way to communicate in our country is best; but not at the expense of leaving behind the rich - and usually necessary - first/home language, when it is not.
The Magic Pencil has - and will - change lives. The book is what has been coined as "edutainment" as multiculturalism, history, vocabulary building and enjoyment are all included within. The book makes a wonderful and effective teaching tool