Author’s Corner: Maurice Smith releases children’s book set in Norton

Holly Viers • May 13, 2020 at 5:00 PM

Virginia-based author Maurice Smith is celebrating the bond between children and their mentors in his first children’s book.

Smith, an assistant principal at Prince Edward Middle School in Prince Edward County, released “Uncle Charles and Me” earlier this year. Set in and around the city of Norton, the book is based on his son’s childhood trips to visit his uncle in Southwest Virginia.

“Out of everything I do, I tell the kids, ‘Set goals,’ ” Smith said, “and this has been one of my goals for a long time, at least 10 years.”

What’s your background?

A Virginia native, Smith has spent his career in education. He started out in coaching before becoming a teacher; from there, he earned his doctorate and became an administrator, a role he’s performed for the last 13 years.

Smith also founded a student mentoring program called Young Gentlemen for Life. While Smith has written academically in the past, this is his first work as a children’s author.

What’s the book about?

“Uncle Charles and Me” invites readers to “join along with the joyous wonderment of a boy and his Uncle Charles,” the book’s description reads. “The connection and bond between an uncle and his nephew illustrates a wonderful dynamic in the African American community.”

Smith said the book, illustrated by Jordan Kincaid, is a mix of factual and fictionalized accounts of his son’s time with his uncle in Norton and Big Stone Gap.

“It’s really based on my oldest son, Myles, when he was in fourth or fifth grade,” Smith said, “and it’s coming through his eyes, what he saw, when he went down there and had fun. … He’s 22 now and in the military, but he always talks about those good times that he went down in Norton and that area.”

Where can the book be purchased?

Smith said the book, which was published by Lift Bridge Publishing in mid-February, can be purchased online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smith’s website, DrMauriceSmith.com. It is available in hardback and e-book formats.

What’s next?

While “Uncle Charles and Me” is Smith’s first children’s book, he doesn’t envision it being his last. He plans to write a couple of similar follow-up books about taking trips to visit family members.

“I’m trying to do at least a book every seven or eight months. … I like being an author. I like reaching kids a different way besides my job and besides coaching and the mentoring,” Smith said. “This is just another way to reach students and children.”

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