University City

University City is home to children's book author

The University City area is home to countless talented and accomplished individuals.

Children's book author, Jean Smith Andrews, is one of them.

At 68, her path to her success was diverse, challenging and inspiring.

Andrews recently released her second children's book, "Grandma's Love." It was published by her new company, Memere's Publishing (pronounced me-mare), which is French for mother.

It is illustrated by Charlotte architect and illustrator, J. Stacy Utley. It is a 40-page picture book geared for ages 5-9.

She used a publisher with her first book, "There's No Mouse in My New House."

That experience taught her the importance of having more control over her books and the entire process. Andrews says, "I like a challenge and I'm creative."

She has written throughout her life. At age 9, she wrote her first poem entitled, "Birds Flying High."

Andrews started writing children's books when her son was 2.

"I could not find many books by and for African-American children," she said.

Although she received many rejections, she continued to write and submit her stories.

In 1976, she wrote a biographical sketch of an old man she had met, then entered a writing contest. The story was later published in a Delaware anthology and was entitled, "The Freedom Suit." The following year she wrote, "Fourth of July 1976" for another anthology.

Andrews is proud that she wrote the chapter titled, "In the Limelight," for a book entitled, "Delaware Women Remembered."

Andrews grew up in Glenarden, Md., and is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Norwich University. While serving as a career counselor at the University of Delaware, Andrews wrote a play for a winter session course.

Following a divorce and a number of careers, she started her own human resources consulting business.

Andrews moved to Charlotte in 2006 with her cat after a career development contract ended.

She says she just felt comfortable here after visiting back in 1992. She remarried 2 1/2 years ago. Andrews and her husband, William, are enjoying retirement. While she writes, he sometimes plays his harmonica at Amelie's French Bakery in NoDa.

She has a grown son and daughter who live in other cities. Her daughter is married and has two sons. She is proud her 4 1/2-year-old grandson can read his children's dictionary. He can look up words and read them to her.

Andrews is a proponent of children reading. She believes the earlier children are exposed to reading, the more they value reading and books.

"No child is too young to be read to," said Andrews.

Her books help African-American children to see themselves in books that are positive with a strong focus on family. She has included racial diversity in her two books and her current work in progress.

"The general public should see our lives as more similar than dissimilar," she said.

Andrews volunteers at the Saturn Nursing Home and enjoys photography.