Danual Berkley

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Author and Firefighter Hopes to Change the Face of Children’s Books After getting out of the military, I self-published my first book Wonderful Magical Place. I did not know anything about publishing and marketing, so it didn’t do too well. I eventually gave up writing for several years until my wife encouraged me to get back into it. She thought it would be nice to read the poems to our boys at night. As a result, Wonderful Magical Place is in the process of being completely redone and was given the new title, One More, then Goodnight. As I began getting more serious about my writing, I started creating stories from playing around with my boys. It occurred to me that as a kid I never saw, or was exposed to, adventure books (or many books in general) with black families or black characters. I decided then that what I wanted to do for my sons was write another book, but in this book, it would have all black characters. That way when my sons read it, they could say, “Hey, that kid looks like me!” or “That dad looks like my dad!” I felt that it was important that they had something that represented them. It says a lot when a child can see a reflection of themselves, or their culture, in a book. It’s a good feeling to know that there are other people out there like you. I also wanted to provide a positive example that would go up against some of the stereotypes out there about Black men. Black men are hit with several stereotypes, including that we don’t raise our kids or get married. Those stereotypes obviously aren’t true, and my hope is that my books will help to disprove that. Additionally, I wanted to tap into my culture a little. I am a Black man that uses earrings and tattoos as a way to express myself, and there are many more like me. We call it swag. It’s our style. Some people see that and may assume that I’m a thug or a drug dealer, and they fear me. Having tattoos, dreadlocks, or anything that represents myself, or my Black culture, shouldn’t automatically equal fear. By having characters like myself in the children’s books that I write, I hope to show that it’s just a way of expressing one’s originality. This is my culture, and my culture isn’t anything to be afraid of. In my book, Davy’s Pirate Ship Adventure, I try to represent all these things within the illustrations themselves. Amariah Rauscher, who has illustrated the Princess Truly series, has done the illustrations for Davy’s Pirate Ship Adventure. We had a lot of fun creating this book, and we believe this will be not only a game changer, but the first of many more books just like it. My goal is to get more representations for people of color in children's literature, as well as show the world that black men are not people to be afraid of. My blackness, and culture is just a way of expressing myself, and should not be misunderstood as fear. Thanks for giving me your time.



BY Danual Berkley • POSTED ON April 10, 2018

A boy leads his family through an imaginative adventure in this children’s book debut from Berkley, illustrated by Rauscher (Princess Truly in My Magical Sparkling Curls, 2018).

A sea monster attacks a pirate ship that Davy built. But the youngster—whose crew includes his mother, father, and younger brother, a small bear, and a space alien—isn’t afraid. His cannon is well-stocked, and when little brother fires, the monster is blown into the distance. Next, Davy and his crew face a terrible storm, but the ship can turn into a submarine. After the family finds treasure, the final illustration reveals that the imagined adventure actually took place during the brothers’ bathtime. Davy and his family, all of whom have brown skin and dark, curly hair (except Dad, who’s bald), work together to defeat their imagined obstacles, coming up with creative solutions. Berkley’s rhyming text never misses a beat, and even pairings that don’t quite rhyme (“gold”/”patrol”) work well for the overall rhythm. Rauscher’s engaging illustrations combine watercolor backgrounds with cartoonish main characters, creating action sequences full of kid appeal. Notes at the end provide ages and descriptions for each character, and readers will likely be hopeful that their adventures will continue in future books.

A charming ode to imagination, problem-solving, and family fun.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-09218-7

Page count: 36pp

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

Awards, Press & Interests


Jacksonville, IL

Favorite author

Shel Silverstein

Favorite book

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss

Day job


Favorite line from a book

Davy's Pirate Ship Adventure: Zip,zing, ring-a-ting, flippity, zippty, zop

Passion in life

Always trying to push myself to the next level of a better me.

Live Radio Interview , 2018 Firefighter Writes Children's Book, 2018 The Children's Book Review, 2018 The Source , 2018