Modestans create African story, coloring book

February 20, 2009 

Nubiah coloring book cover

In celebration of Black History Month, three Modesto residents have collaborated to publish a book of bedtime stories and coloring pages.

"NuBiAh: Land of African Kings and Queens" was written by Thomas Jones, who works in the Bay Area as an adver- tising executive, and illustrated by Linda Knoll, who's a graphic artist and an art teacher at Waterford High School.

It was published by Valley Ridge Book Publishing in association with Royal Graphics of Modesto, owned by Les Knoll. "NuBiAh" is one of the first mainstream books by Royal Graphics, which typically publishes promotional, industry-specific products, said Knoll, who also owns the Copper Rhino nightclub in Modesto and O'Ryleigh's Tavern in Merced. "This was a pet project because Tommy is a friend and a longtime business associate. We thought the book was timely and something worth doing."

"NuBiAh" is a "great opportunity to connect with our youth and children and help them better prepare to realize their full potential," Jones said in a press release.

The author came from humble beginnings in South Central Los Angeles, attended Morehouse College for a year, then transferred to California State University, Chico, where he earned degrees in business administration, music and sociology. After a stint in radio marketing and advertising, he returned to school and earned his MBA.

"I had to get educated," Jones said. "I had to find out the truth to validate my sense of self-identity. I wanted to believe it when I said, 'I'm black and I'm proud.' "

The 44-page book recounts the history of the royal legends of Africa while encouraging black excellence, Jones said. It highlights the best of African kings and queens and the characteristics, principles and traits that made them great.

The fact is, "many black kids don't know much about their rich heritage," Jones said. "These are the legends of our past prior to our struggle in America. Today, we are losing ground rapidly on a lot of fronts because of our lost history. Without knowledge of self and who we are as a people, we are powerless. I wrote 'NuBiAh' to help communicate this power so children may find their passion, develop a success strategy and go out and achieve it."

The 44-page book includes chapters on griots (African village historians), Queen Yaa Asantewa of Ghana; master military strategist King Hannibal; Queen Makeda, who controlled the second-most powerful dynasty in Africa; King Shaka of the Zulus; Queen Nefertiti, who ruled ancient Egypt; as well as coloring pages of African animals, a "Black National Anthem" by James Weldon Johnson; and quotes from past and present African and African-American celebrities and leaders.

The book also has a page acknowledging President Obama's "Change We Can Believe In" speech in June.

"NuBiAh" has a list price of $9.95. For more information, call Les Knoll at Royal Graphics, 480-0596, or visit the NuBiAh Web site at, where the book is available for purchase.

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