1977-1980 · Austin, TX
Complete set of Simond's Let's Pretend: Mae Dee historical children's novels. Illustrated with historical black and white photographs courtesy of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority's Black Heritage Exhibit, and line drawings by Sarochin Shannon. Written in the late '70s and early '80s, the Let's Pretend series follow a young girl and her family living in Austin, Texas at the turn of the 20th century; they began as an extension of Simond's work on the Black Heritage Exhibit's Reading Outreach Committee. The books' intended readers were African-American children in Austin's newly integrated public school; desegregation in Austin was a lengthy and embattled process not fully achieved until 1979.
Simonds presents a lightly fictionalized treatment of historical events, drawn from local archive research and her own childhood memories (explained in the preface to each novel.) Each story is additionally followed by an appendix, "Did You Know This? Some Words and Customs of Mae Dee's Times," glossing both historical events and figures (Emancipation Day / Juneteenth, James Weldon Johnson, Jack London) and complex or unusual vocabulary words (privy, tarpaulin, refectory, matriarch.)
Simond's work as a writer followed a long and impressive career as an educator and public health representative: Forced to retire in 1967 because of her age, she found new employment with the Texas Department of Health; forced to retire again, she turned to volunteer work until the beginning of her new career as writer and historian. Simond was recognized for her accomplishments by the Austin City Council, the Texas Historical Commission, and the NAACP, and was inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame in 1986.
Each of these books is uncommon, scarce as a set. (Inventory #: 23336)