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Willis Watson Is a Wannabe

Illustrated by Cheryl Thuesday

About The Book

A young boy discovers there are real, everyday heroes all around him and decides he wants to be one, too, in this sweet and empowering picture book.

Gramps says, “When you grow up, Willis Watson, you can be whatever you want to be, if you wanna be. A real somebody!” But the cool guys in third grade tell Willis there are no superheroes in their neighborhood and hoping to be more than what you see is just “wannabe wack.”

But when Willis’s gramps falls ill and he visits him at the hospital, Willis sees real superheroes all around him: Dr. Collins, who helps Gramps get better; the lady who serves hot lunches to kids; and even a courageous navy officer just like Gramps. Seeing so many of his neighbors take care of one another helps Willis finally believe he can be whatever he wants to be, a real somebody.

About The Author

Photograph by Natalie Kingwood

Carmen Bogan is a children’s author, publisher, and consultant to non-profit organizations. Her picture book Where’s Rodney?, illustrated by award-winning artist Floyd Cooper, was a Kirkus Best Picture Book of the Year and a Junior Library Guild selection, and received starred reviews from Booklist and Kirkus Reviews. Carmen is a member of the Oakland Literacy Coalition and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and she is a board member of Arts for Oakland Kids. An alumna of Stanford University and the University of California, Los Angeles, the mother of two adult daughters lives in Oakland, California, with her husband, Willie. Visit her online at

About The Illustrator

Cheryl “Ras” Thuesday is an illustrator originally from South London, England. At an early age, her family moved to the United States and settled in a small town in New Jersey. Later, she attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where she learned to marry fine arts with commercial artistry. Cheryl’s Caribbean and Asian heritage influences her illustrative color choices. She has created artwork for various companies and publications including The New York Times, NPR, Adobe, and others. Cheryl lives in the New York Tri-State area. Visit her online at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (February 27, 2024)
  • Length: 40 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665930536
  • Ages: 8 - 99

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