In her new work, a McDowell County author seeks to take children on a fantastical journey while also bringing forth an important lesson about unity, tolerance and fellowship.
Oneida Gilbert of Marion, who writes under the name O.L. Gilbert, recently published a three-part series of children’s books called “The Color People.” The first book in “The Color People” series is “A Touch of Unity” while the second book is “Bernie Crosses the Colorful Line.” The third installment of “The Color People” is titled “We’re Not All Greenlees.”
“It’s a children’s fantasy is what it is,” said Gilbert.
These fantastical works are aimed at children ages 4 to 8 but older children and adults can enjoy them too, she said. But the lesson Gilbert is trying to convey is ageless. In fact, this message is more important now than ever for young and old to understand and take to heart.
“My message I want to promote is unity, diversity and fellowship,” she said to The McDowell News. “Years ago, my dream as a child was hoping all people no matter what color could all live in peace and that childhood dream manifested itself into a book or a children’s book.”
Her series takes the reader to a place called Color Land where the residents are divided into two groups. In Color Land, the yellow people are called the Yellowees and the blue people are called the Bluedees. In this place, the Yellowees and the Bluedees are not friends and live separate from each other. The Yellowees think their color is the best and the Bluedees have the same opinion about blue. The Yellowee and the Bluedee children do not attend the same school and are not allowed to play with each other. The two groups even have separate hospitals.
That is the setting for Gilbert’s “The Color People” series. Through these three short volumes, the reader experiences how Color Land is turned upside down.
“Have you ever dreamed about living in a world where all the people, no matter what color they are, lived in harmony?” reads the description on the back of the first installment. “In ‘The Color People,’ there might be such a place; however, the people who live in Color Land must follow the example of two brave children whose friendship causes something strange and magnificent to happen. Will this unusual event cause the people in Color Land to finally become united?”
Gilbert’s series has been released by Yorkshire Publishing. This firm was begun with “a passion to represent both new and established authors alike,” according to its web site.
“Yorkshire Publishing’s desire is to positively impact the lives of the people we touch—from the author to the reader,” reads the site.
Gilbert said she hopes her work will have a positive impact on the lives of whoever reads it. She’s trying to promote “The Color People” series through local churches and businesses. She would like to hold book-signing events here in McDowell.
All of “The Color People” books have vivid and colorful illustrations that were provided by the publisher.
“They actually conveyed exactly what was in my imagination,” she said.
A native of a small town in West Virginia, Gilbert studied music and elementary education at Concord University in Athens, W.Va. A resident of Marion, she is a retired nurse with a grown son, four grown step-children and six grandchildren. She enjoys nature and a quiet life in the mountains and foothills of western North Carolina. She also enjoys singing, listening to jazz and classical music and her model trains, according to her online profile.
Gilbert said to The McDowell News she is working on some other writings and may continue “The Color People” series. She’s donated three books to the Marion branch of the McDowell County Public Library and three more to the Old Fort branch.
Each installment of “The Color People” opens with a quote from Isaiah 11:6: “And a little child shall lead them.”
In a way, that Biblical quote captures the essence of her work. Through the actions of children, the grownups learn a valuable lesson that leads to a better life for all.
“These books are universally appealing and they would entertain and delight children of all cultures,” said Gilbert.