In 2017, Ronnie Anderson was reading to his then 3-year-old daughter, Kaiyah, when he was reminded that fairy tales weren’t particularly diverse. He wanted Kaiyah and her sister, Eliana, to see more representations of Black characters in the books they enjoyed before bed.
“I couldn’t find what I wanted on Amazon,” Anderson says. “Then I started doing research on fairy tales and realized they hadn’t changed much since Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. So I said, ‘I’m going to write one.’”
Anderson, who grew up in Scotlandville, is now a married father of three girls. He works by day as a clinical lab scientist at Baton Rouge General. It’s a job that demands orderly thinking and attention to detail. But Anderson claims a storytelling side, too, including a casual interest in writing screenplays and plays. Something spoke to him about working on a collection of fairy tales with diverse characters.
“I wanted kids to know we’re all beautiful and we can all contribute,” Anderson says.
In his spare time, Anderson dreamed up new ideas. One year later, he self-published an anthology called 5 Amazing Fairytales. The book features original fables strewn with whimsical characters on the rocky road to self-discovery. Anderson’s heroes embark on journeys filled with fantastical creatures, new friends and frightening enemies, all of which help them learn how to love others and love themselves.
In the story Chasing Beautiful, a young Black princess named Beautiful is turned invisible by witches after she plays recklessly with a slingshot and causes harm to others. She sets off alone, meeting a boy and a wolf. They help her understand that the meaning of life is, in fact, to protect life. Lesson learned, she returns home, her invisibility erased through a final selfless act.
Reading Beautiful’s story provoked a reaction in Kaiyah, Anderson says.
“She said, ‘Daddy, there’s finally a princess that looks like me.’”
This year, Anderson’s book is getting a reboot. He’s republishing it with new illustrations by Turkish book illustrator and character designer Seda Coşkun. Each of the five tales will also be available as individual picture books. And, Anderson is planning to create branded merchandise.
The 39-year-old says he considers himself a peacemaker. He hopes his stories both fill a void in children’s literature and are universally appealing.
“I really wanted to work in this niche, fairy tales,” Anderson says, “and write stories in a way that children from all races could relate to them and enjoy them.” anboran.com
This article was originally published in the May 2021 issue of 225 magazine.