When Misty Copeland made history after being named principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, everyone seemed to become fascinated with ballet, particularly Black ballerinas. And on that end, children’s author Dr. Linda Sturrup decided to write a book to inspire other Black girls and teens. “Up on My Tippy Toes” aims to encourage the next generation to take their spot at the barre. It’s the second children’s book from Dr. Sturrup, who practices general dentistry in Houston. She also owns a multimedia production company, Minna Mae Productions, with offices in New York City and Houston, Texas.
“The entire book series was inspired by my niece, whose real name is Natalie Jean—the same as my main character. The books are designed to relate to the normal growing pains arising out of challenges and obstacles young children encounter. My first book was ‘A Sugar Bug On My Tooth.’ It was about a young child’s fear of her first dental appointment. ‘Up On My Tippy Toes’ was written to show the importance of young children persevering in the face of challenges that arise in trying new things,” explains Sturrup. “I believe in, and support the importance of fine arts being integrated in the lives of children. My niece also takes ballet classes and really admires and is inspired by the achievements of Misty Copeland.”
The bigger aim is to create positive images for young readers.
“Additionally, it is very important for our young people to read books with Black characters and to have real-life and fictional role models who look like them. With their dedication to their craft, Black ballerinas are themselves shining examples of excellence. I would be delighted if my book helped inspire the next generation to embrace, and excel in, the art form as a profession,” says Sturrup. “With all of the negative images seen in the media, our goal with all of our projects is to always reflect and show people of color in a positive light. It’s important for us as business and creative entrepreneurs to support the arts on all platforms (TV, theater, digital and publishing). To that end, I’m working on my third installment of the Natalie Jean Book Series, which I hope will be published in the spring. I’ll also be executive producing a Web series featuring a group of dynamic women who will share personal stories and reveal the power of their resiliency.”
Sturrup’s books can be used as a teaching tool. “‘Up On My Tippy Toes’ can teach children that trying new things for the first time can be difficult, but also encourages them not to give up. Natalie Jean learns that with hard work and practice, one can achieve anything. This is a lesson people young and old can use,” says Sturrup.
Sturrup has hit on something–and readers are responding. “The response has been great! Readers are excited about the Natalie Jean Book Series. All of the book installments have topics that are important to young children and their parents. Children and parents alike love the book!” says the excited author.
There seems to be an upswing in books targeted at Black children even though the publishing path had many obstacles, something Sturrup has taken note of. “I have met several Black authors by participating in local book conferences. We all agree there are challenges in terms of the exposure and access to publishing resources. However, we all agree that writing is a passion that we enjoy,” she says.
Sturrup has gone the self-publishing route. “My books are developed and produced by Minna Mae Productions, in which I am the co-founder and managing partner with my brother, Randolph Sturrup, the television and Broadway producer (BET Networks’ ‘Harlem Heights,’ ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ and the Tony Award-nominated ‘The Trip to Bountiful’). Our company’s mission is to produce content that uplifts and inspires,” says the writer.
Sturrup and her team are working hard to market her latest book. “I am working with Cheryl Duncan & Company Inc. for publicity. They are amazing and have worked so hard to build my Natalie Jean Book Series Brand by securing media coverage in newspapers, websites and blogs, and by doing social media,” she shares. “We’re reaching out to my membership organizations, participating in book webinars and reaching out to public libraries to place the book. Schools and other nonprofits can purchase the book at the Booksellers Program through Author Houses and sell it as a fundraiser. People can also purchase buy the book on Amazon, Authorhouse .com, Booksamillion .com and at Barnes and Noble,” she adds.
Sturrup enjoys pursuing writing. “There is an overwhelming sense of accomplishment in seeing your first book published. Selecting the right publisher to publish your work is the key. Whether you choose to self-publish or if you are fortunate enough to work with a traditional publishing company, it’s important as the author that you have the right fit and that you are satisfied with your work,” she says.