Jasmine Christopher Data News Weekly Contributor
Black mothers and their young daughters stood patiently in line as the soundtrack to “The Princess and the Frog” played throughout Baldwin & Co. They were waiting for a chance to meet Farrah Rochon, the author of the newest novel in Disney’s Twisted Tale Series that stars Princess Tiana.
Rochon, who is an Edgard, LA native, is a two-time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award. Having written over 25 Adult Romance novels, “Almost There” is her debut in the world of young adult books.
The book signing was held on Sept. 11, 2022, at Baldwin & Co., a bookstore and coffee shop on Elysian Fields Avenue.
“I love just being able to support Black-owned businesses, and of course, a Black Indie Bookstore,” Rochon said.
“When it came time to do a book launch, I knew I wanted to have it here.”
Monica Kelley, the owner of the pop-up bookstore The Roaming Bookstar, shared her story and Princess Tiana’s importance with Rochon.
“When they announced that it was being released on our [Kelley’s and her husband’s] anniversary, we just happened to be in Disney World that year celebrating our five-year anniversary, so we were able to see the movie on the premiere day, which was just fantastic,” Kelley said.
Kelley and the other attendees’ excitement was apparent when Baldwin & Co. ran out of books shortly after the event began and had to go to other bookstores to pick up extra copies.
Many supporters of the original film who attended the event asked questions during the Book-Talk portion of the event about Rochon’s writing process – specifically how she detailed what life would have been like for a Black woman in the 1920s.
Rochon said she did this by showing the difference between Charlotte and Tiana’s characters.
“Charlotte’s eyes are opened,” Rochon said. Unlike Tiana, “She is just this very self-indulgent type, you know, person…her eyes are opened to the world.”
Rochon also shared that she used her book as a chance to correct some of the mistakes made in the original movie concerning Voodoo and, more specifically, Haitian Vodou. She worked alongside a Professor at Rutgers University, known to her as the “authority” on the practice to portray it more accurately and respectfully.
Disney may own this story, but Rochon’s extension of Tiana’s world is a story written for us, by us, the author said.
One 12-year-old, Landrii Thomas, and her mother, Kerri Landry-Thomas, were among the many mother-daughter pairs who attended the event and who shared how they were impacted by Tiana’s original story.
“I grew up with Princess Tiana, and as a young Black female, she was a big inspiration to me,” Landrii said.