by Bri Little
Danitra Hunter has declared that after years in the making, 2021 is finally the year of Purrdie Burrdie. Hunter, an illustrator and preschool teacher for the YMCA in West Seattle, has been working on the Purrdie Burrdie brand for nearly a decade, acquiring various copyrights on her logo and her image of the stylish skateboarding bird. Now she’s finally ready to send her delightfully colorful children’s book out into the world.
Purrdie Burrdie I Love Myself, Can You See? helps children, particularly Black and Brown kids, how to love and have confidence in themselves. The book teaches affirmations and a 30-Day Self-Love Challenge — fun activities that encourage readers to treat themselves as worthy and explore what makes them unique.
Purrdie Burrdie was born from a coloring page that Hunter created and shared with children she worked with. As an educator, she realized that there was a need. Children, especially Black and Brown children, were not used to seeing themselves as beings who are worthy of their own love.
“A friend of mine who works in a YMCA program told me that kids, little Black girls, were denying their skin color … That just broke my heart,” said Hunter, “That’s really why I decided to dive deeper into [Puurdie Buurdie’s] story. To represent Black people, to represent us. Because I didn’t have a character as a kid growing up.”
Over the last several years, Hunter shared shorter versions of Puurdie Buurdie with kids across classrooms in West Seattle, receiving acclaim from parents, educators, and children alike. The positive response she saw from kids spurred her to expand Puurdie Buurdie beyond a coloring page. “You could really see the kids responding to these affirmations. Just saying the words, you know. They start thinking, ‘I do love myself.’”
As she pondered creating a full-length children’s book, she was torn between going the traditional publishing route or taking on the task of self-publishing. “I was taking these classes on storytelling and I learned that with traditional publishing, I could wait years for someone to tell me that it’s good enough. I decided to publish it by myself.”
Hunter used IngramSpark to self-publish, a method that gives her worldwide distribution. And she set up a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the effort. Reaching out to her family and supporters on social media, Hunter raised more than she had initially hoped for, likely because she had a wide network of supporters who had been waiting on the book for a few years.
Despite extensive community support for her Puurdie Buurdie art and its message, Hunter admits she pushed off Puurdie Buurdie’s publication due to personal challenges, a big one being her own confidence in the book.
“This book [is] for the teacher who loves it and wants me to come back into their classroom, and of course for the children. And for all the people who don’t yet know me and want to know what I’m about and who Puurdie Buurdie is.”
Even as she struggled with feelings of inadequacy in regards to her book, Hunter did not let her doubts stop her from sharing Purrdie Burrdie’s enduring message with kids. She has continued to work with classes at John Muir Elementary School, doing self-love affirmations with them.
“We do a guided art activity: They make buttons that have mirrors on them. We read a book that says ‘I love myself!’ and they love it. It has been a great response from my community.” Hunter’s hope is that kids everywhere will be able to access Purrdie Burrdie books.
And soon they will. Purrdie Burrdie I Love Myself, Can You See? launches at Paper Boat Booksellers on Sept. 11 at noon.
Bri Little is a DC-raised, Seattle-based writer and editor. She covers Black culture and arts, with the intention of highlighting myriad ways Black people express joy and healing. Her favorite things are thriller novels, pop culture, and sparkling water. Follow her on Twitter @iamaytman.
📸 Featured image courtesy of Danitra Hunter.
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