Happy Book Birthday: FOLLOW ME DOWN TO NICODEMUS TOWN Plus Giveaway

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to FOLLOW ME DOWN TO NICODEMUS TOWN!

Follow Me Cover


Written by Alexandria LaFaye

Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell

Published by Albert Whitman and Company

I am so excited! I truly love picture books that uncover hidden gems of history…and both author (one of my amazing Storm Literary Agency teammates) and illustrator have done a magnificent job of bringing this story alive for young readers and listeners.

Here are just a few of the kudos the book has already received:

“That the many all-black settlements on the prairie have been whitewashed out of U.S. history makes this book an important one. Visually charming, enjoyable, and educational.” —Kirkus Reviews


STARRED REVIEW! “The historic town of Nicodemus, Kansas, springs to life through expressive artwork done in softly fluid lines and hues, conveying all of the hope and joy of the movement.” —Foreword Review


“An appealing picture book exploring a part of pioneer history that deserves to be more widely known.” —Booklist



WOW! We’ll be finding out more about this must-have book when I feature it for Perfect Picture Book Friday and then on Saturday, Alexandria is stopping by to chat for Will Write for Cookies. And today, my lovely friends, Nicole Tadgell, the illustrator, is sharing her process.

ME: Welcome, Nicole! Thank you so much for stopping by to share some of your illustration process for this beautiful book. The cover alone makes me want to grab it off the shelf! And maybe you can let us know how you researched for this.

NICOLE: I’ve been fascinated with the Great Plains and frontier life in the 1800’s since about 8 years old. I read voraciously as a child, and felt an affinity to Laura Ingalls Wilder; the second daughter in a family of girls, moving around frequently, having adventures outdoors. I enjoyed sewing and cooking, calico dresses, As I grew older, my interest in that time period grew to exploring Native American life and culture.


My process follows three phases: Rough pencils, final pencils, final color. Research and lots of deep thinking are at the core from the start. With this book, I am grateful that I was free to travel to the Nicodemus National Historical site to see the land with my own eyes! Trip planning is often stressful, so to alleviate that I decided to just get out there and not have plans other than just see the site. I was lucky enough to meet descendants of the original settlers, including local historian, author, artist, and all-around creative force Angela Bates! She also is an amazing chef and runs Ernestine’s just up the road from the historic site. They have an enormous family reunion – homecoming – every year in June. I did just miss it as my trip was in August!


I got an iPad pro to draw on, and some of the sketches I did on the iPad, rough thumbnail sketches only, the finals were are hand-drawn. After the drawings are completed and approved with editorial, I scan and print them directly onto watercolor paper. That way, if I make a mistake painting, I can simply print it again and don’t have to redraw. This helps keep everything loose and experimental. After I’m satisfied with the paintings, I make high resolution scans with my scanner and upload them.bee

ME: Oh my goodness…Nicole, it sounds like you were the perfect person to illustrate this book. And I know everyone loved hearing about how you actually proceeded with this project. Thank you so much for sharing…and for creating this magnificent window on an important moment in history that has been all but ignored.

Dear friends, it’s a New Year…one that holds joys and sorrows, pleasure and pain, good times and bad for all of us. How fortunate we are to have each other to lean on and listen to and learn from. (you know me…I love to use the element of three)

Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of this wonderful book. thanks to author LaFaye. Also, consider doing one or more of the following which are the best gifts we can give our favorite authors and illustrators.

  1. Buy the book.
  2. Request your local library purchase a copy for their collection.
  3. Tell a friend how much you enjoyed it.
  4. Leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other review sites.

And come back on Friday and Saturday to find out more about FOLLOW ME DOWN TO NICODEMUS TOWN and author Alexandria LaFaye.

27 thoughts on “Happy Book Birthday: FOLLOW ME DOWN TO NICODEMUS TOWN Plus Giveaway

    • Beth,
      I hope you do get a chance to read it and that you enjoy the book. Ms. Tadgell did an amazing job with the illustrations!


  1. I love to read picture books in which I can learn historical facts while enjoying the gorgeous illustrations. This is a topic I never thought about before and can’t wait to learn more. Happy New Year!


  2. Congratulations Alexandria! As an elementary librarian, having worthy historical books in my collection is a must. Thank you for writing this book.


  3. A very interesting book with beautiful illustrations! I can’t wait to read it to my little Reading Partner friends who don’t see enough characters who look like them!


    • Thank you, Mary! And isn’t it true that there aren’t enough books that show the depth and breadth of the cultural history of your Reading Partner friends? That’s why I wrote this book and these days I like to say YET because more and more great books are published every day. Let’s keep them coming.


    • Thank you, Mary! And here’s to the publication of more and more books that reflect the life and history of your reading partner friends!


  4. I’m a huge fan of Alexandria’s historical novels. Now she’s written a picture book! She’s also a marvelous lecturer and critiquer. Quite an interesting person. Can’t wait to read her book & the illustration on the cover just grabs you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy New Year, Eloise! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such a lovely comment. How are you doing? I often think of our time at the writing retreat in Georgia…it was awesome getting to know you!


      • Dear Vivian,Lovely to hear fr you!Yes, I totally enjoyed spending time with you on the bus, you cheerful woman, you.I so miss Kristen’s conferences. Can’t wait to read your Sweet Dreams, Sarah!!!I’d love to talk to you on the phone.If you have time, can you send me yr tel. no.Big hug,Eloise


  5. I look forward to reading this book. You are right. I frequently recommend purchases to my library, and so far over the years, they have purchased everything I’ve suggested! Good way to get a book seen. If I know about a book months in advance before they do, I put in the request and have gotten they have the book for me the week it is released. So, it is worth the effort!


  6. I do have a review copy of your book. I may wait a bit to review it, since Vivian and I are in similar groups. And, your book is in my library already. I saw a copy there today in the NEW ARRIVALS. Am happy for you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.