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Top Five: Great Chapter Books for Black Boys (#2 of 5)

Posted by | October 12, 2013 | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

#2 The Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs / Clubhouse Mysteries books by Sharon Draper

ziggy 1 ziggy 2 ziggy 3

ziggy 4 ziggy 5 ziggy 6

Kyle and Owen love, love, love these books. Of all the chapter book series I’ve read to/with them, this series is my personal favorite. If I were making my own Top Five list, these would definitely be #1 on the list.

I’ll go ahead and make a bold statement here, and I will stand behind it 100%: I think that the children’s section of every library in the country — and definitely every school library — should have this collection. They are amazing books. I just can’t say enough about them. I have come to admire the author, Sharon Draper, in a big, big way (her numerous well-deserved awards and accolades are amazing!), and I can’t wait until Kyle and Owen are old enough to start reading all of her books for teens (check out her website at

When I first discovered the Ziggy/Clubhouse Mysteries books it was very confusing, so I just want to note about that here: These books were originally published with the titles of “Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs.” The covers were illustrated with images of four clearly black boys. But then, at a certain point, the series title was changed to “Clubhouse Mysteries,” and the cover art was all re-done. See the cover images below and note the change. On the left are two examples of the original book covers, which are now out of print; on the right are the re-done book covers which are now for sale. It is a pretty drastic change — look, just for example, at the long locs on Ziggy in the bottom left cover, now missing in the new cover art for the same book:

ziggy original Clubhouse match up

ziggy original space ziggy redone

The “new” books were still published by the same publishing house (Alladin), and had the exact same text, but they were under different titles with different covers. Of course, I don’t know the inside story, but it is a pretty easy guess as to what happened — the publisher and/or the author (my guess is this was probably entirely orchestrated by the publisher) determined that the books would be more marketable to a broader audience if the look/feel/titles were “softened” and made “less black.” Having a little bit of experience with the publishing world myself, it is easy to become very cynical about this stuff. For Kyle and Owen and me, it was hard to see the rebranding of these books, the shift in the appearance of the covers, and the change in the series title. Disappointing, and disturbing. We thought about boycotting them (to protest the re-branding). However, these books are so good (I mean, they are just so, so, so good!), that we stayed loyal, read, and loved them all. Someday I’d love to hear the inside scoop as to what, exactly, happened that resulted in the rebranding. In the meantime, the bottom line is that these books were real page turners for Kyle and Owen. I appreciate how well written, and yet very educational, they all are. In our house, we call these the “Ziggy books” (sticking to the original series title), but in looking for them in your library or online, you might find it easier to search with the current series title “Clubhouse Mysteries.” Either way, and despite this backstory, these are a must-read series of six books:

  • The Buried Bones Mystery
  • Lost in the Tunnel of Time
  • Shadows of Caesar’s Creek
  • The Space Mission Adventure
  • The Backyard Animal Show
  • Stars and Sparks on Stage

This is a stellar series! If you read them, you’ll see exactly what I mean!


  • Asiaha says:

    I LOVE Sharon Draper! I’ve read Copper Sun, Romiette and Julio, The Battle of Jericho, and November Blues. She is an amazing author!!

  • I also LOVE, LOVE Sharon Draper. I started a literary club for my son and 9 of his friends several years ago when they were 8 and 9 years old. They read the Ziggy series as a group and THOROUGHLY ENJOYED each one. We hosted conversations about each book at a local book store, and even had trips to culminate the completion of each title. The boys were enriched greatly by the writing and WONDERFULLY historical and educational story lines. Most excellent!

    I am so hurt about the covers! I know…it is the game. But, I wonder what my son and his friends will think of this. I don’t even think they would have been interested enough to read the books had these new covers been the originals. The “old” character imagery had much more “flavor” in my opinion!

    • Ebony says:

      Lynda, I think it is awesome that you were able to start a literary club for your son and his friends. I am currently starting my own for my sons (7 and 8 years old), which is what led me to this post! I’d really love to pick your brain for guidance on the subject of a book club for boys. Please reply to this post, and I can send you my email. Thank you in advance!

  • Dee says:

    Thank you so very much for this great resource. I too would love to know more about starting a book club for boys. Would you send me details ? Many thanks

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