Team work, problem solving and perseverance are the lessons that author Nicolle Brazil wants readers—adults and children alike—to glean from her freshman children’s book, “You Can’t Move An Elephant In One Day.”

The 28-page book tells the story of three boys who discover that they have a problem and they have to work together to find the solution with the help of a very supportive community.

BOOK SIGNING—Nicolle Brazil comes home to introduce her first book, at a book signing in Lawrenceville. (Photo by Erin Perry)

“My boys were playing in the back yard and they were trying to find a solution to a problem and my middle son had the solution and the other kids had to work with him,” said Brazil, a married mother of three boys who was born and raised in the Manchester section of Pittsburgh but now lives in Groton, N.Y., and works at Cornell University.

Watching her children play, Brazil knew she had something special on her hands. Almost immediately she sat down and wrote the story. It took her 20 minutes to complete.

“I have other children’s books that I have written. But this book came to me very quickly. I didn’t think a lot about it. I just did it and sometimes that’s what you have to do,” Brazil said.

Brazil got the manuscript in the hands of her cousins, Tawanda and Kerry G. Johnson. The Johnson’s have been instrumental in helping Brazil’s dream of becoming a published author a reality.

“I had been writing for years and I had been trying to find someone who believed in my stories. I sent the book to Kerry and Tawanda and we entered into a partnership. Both of them are committed to the project. Tawanda knows a lot of people. She is confident in the project and she believes in dreams,” Brazil said. “Kerry illustrated the book.”

Not only does Brazil feel that the book can teach valuable life lessons to readers, she believes the book fills a large void in the publishing industry, which is a lack of reading material for African-American boys.

“When I go into the library, there isn’t a lot of African-American choices for boys. My kids are ages 3, 5 and 12 and choices are very limited. I really didn’t see anything for African-American boys to relate to other than ‘Little Bill’ by Bill Cosby or some stuff by Spike Lee,” Brazil said.

“You Can’t Move An Elephant in One Day” was self-published by create space through TAWKERR Publishing, a subsidiary of, the Johnson’s arts and design company. This is the company’s first published work.

“Nicolle’s story was very creative and it was a joy to help her get her boys into a book,” said Kerry. “As an African-American artist, I think you have to show African-Americans in books. We want Nicolle to be a great success and I know she has more books to come.”

Kerry worked as a cartoonist for The New Pittsburgh Courier for two years and his wife, Tawanda, worked as an editor for the paper. The couple is currently gearing up to publish its second children’s book, which is scheduled to come out in late March. In addition, the pair does a web comic, Harambee, which focuses on an African-American family.

Brazil returned to the ‘Burgh at the end of February for her first book signing at 720 Music in Lawrenceville. She also held a book reading at Angel Academy on the North Side while she visited Pittsburgh.

“I had a good turnout of people. I had about 24 books with me and all of them sold out. I was a little nervous, but it was a good nervous,” Brazil recalled. “The kids at the center asked questions and it was fun to see what lessons they learned. I wrote the book so that the whole family can sit together and read it together.”

“You Can’t Move An Elephant in One Day” retails for $10 and can be purchased at and

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