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Viola Davis' First Children's Book Was Inspired By This Iconic African-American Character

Powerhouse actress Viola Davis has achieved success in a variety of fields. She's won an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award for her acting; she's played iconic roles including Rose in Fences and Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder; and she has also made a name for herself as a boundary-breaker and an advocate for causes such as the Time's Up movement. And now, she's venturing into the world of writing. Davis is currently working on writing a children's book called Corduroy Takes A Bow. The story behind Viola Davis' first children's book is sure to empower young African-American girls who don't always see themselves reflected in books.

Corduroy Takes A Bow is inspired by the 1968 children's book Corduroy by Don Freeman, as noted by People. The book made waves when it was released, because one of its main characters, Lisa, is African-American. As explained by PB Works, the original book tells the story of Corduroy the teddy bear meeting Lisa. Corduroy, who is missing a button, lives in a department store. Lisa, a young girl, wants to buy the bear, but her mother says no, due to the missing button. That night, Corduroy comes to life, makes his way to the mattress department, and he yanks a button off of a mattress. A security guard finds him and puts him back with the toys. Lisa returns the next day with money of her own to buy Corduroy, and she sews the mattress button onto him after bringing him home.

“When I was a little girl, it wasn’t often that I found myself reflected in the pages of a book,” Davis said in a statement for People. “Corduroy was an exception, and I adored flipping through it. To be able to introduce a new generation, including my daughter, to this character that was so special to me in my childhood is an incredible honor.”

Davis and her husband Julius Tennon adopted their daughter Genesis when she was a newborn in 2011, as per People. Davis has spoken about Genesis on multiple occasions, and it's clear that Davis is an incredible inspiration for her daughter.

News that Davis was working on the book broke in October, according to BuzzFeed. At the time, the actress said in a press release:

Corduroy has always held a special place in my life, first as a child paging through it, and then again with my daughter, introducing her to the adventures of that adorable teddy bear. I am honored and excited by the chance to continue the story that Don Freeman started 50 years ago.

The press release also further explained the plot of the book, which draws from Davis' experience working as a theater actress. According to BuzzFeed, the press release read:

Using her own experiences as a Tony Award-winning Broadway actress, Viola Davis writes the story of Corduroy and Lisa's first trip to the theater. Corduroy adventures off on his own, and readers follow his escapades as he explores all over—from the orchestra pit to the costumes rack to the props table and ultimately on to the stage itself, before being reunited with Lisa.

Davis' Corduroy Takes a Bow, illustrated by Jody Wheeler, is scheduled to come out on Sept. 4, 2018, and it's already available for preorder on Amazon. As Amazon notes, the book is being released to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the first Corduroy book. There have been several other Corduroy books written by a variety of authors over the past half-century, including Corduroy Lost and Found, Corduroy’s Shapes, and Corduroy’s Seasons. It's clear that Corduroy means a lot to Viola Davis, and her retelling of the teddy bear's story is sure to inspire future generations of African-American children.

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