Tonisha Kimble

Bookseller and publishing consultant, Tonisha Kimble is the creator of the Tampa Bay Black Authors Expo. A mother to one son, Tonisha is from Ocean Springs, MS but lived in Tampa Bay, FL where she started Wonders of the World (WOW) Book and Toy, an online book and toy store that sells several forms of children’s media, all of which either are for or by people of color. WOW Book and Toy also offers merchandise with the goal in mind to engage young minds and provide a solid foundation for growth.

What do you create?

Memories. Opportunities for folks to find themselves, lose themselves, educate themselves.

Why do you create?

I realized how blessed I was to have some of the opportunities that I had when I was a kid, and so I want to pass that on to the next generation.

Who is your audience?

All the Black and Brown kids out there! I love the babies!

What prompted you to start the bookstore?

I’d always loved reading as a child and I was fortunate enough that not only did my parents have books in the house, they took us to the library and encouraged us to read. And they made sure we had Black books by Black authors. So when I became a parent, I wanted to share that same experience with my own child. I found that it was sometimes quite difficult to find culturally reflective books for him.

I started sharing my finds just casually on social media among my friends. Then one day I realized I could do more and reach more by turning it into a business, and I decided to try it and see how things would go.

What characteristics does a book normally have that attracts you to review for your blog?

I review books for lots of different reasons, but what attracts me to a book is, of course, a great cover. Also interesting storylines get me, particularly if it’s a situation that we don’t normally see Black or Brown kids in. I’m always drawn to interesting perspectives on classical themes. 

What is something you’d love for shoppers to know about or find at your shop? 

I love creating, so it really means a lot to me when folks buy something that I actually created with my own hands or my own artistic vision.

When I look back I want to be able to say that I did the absolute best I could do. I just want to make my mom proud.

Tonisha Kimble

Who or what inspires you?

I’m a Virgo, so I guess I’d have to say the fear of failure. When I look back I want to be able to say that I did the absolute best I could do. I just want to make my mom proud.

How do you balance creating with the rest of your life?

I try not to force ideas. I also try to plan out time specifically to work on my creative endeavors so I can try and fit people and other things into my life where they need to be.

What is your favorite piece of work you’ve created?

Right now my favorite piece is my latest puzzle design. I really love how it turned out, and the response hasn’t been too shabby either, so that made me feel good.

What is your favorite creation by a Black person, and why?

The song “It’s September” by Johnnie Taylor. Not only is the title my birthday month, but it’s a beautiful expression of the pain of loving and waiting on someone.

Any advice for new creators?

Just keep at it. Keep creating, keep living, keep learning, keep experiencing. And also be patient with yourself. I think it’s much easier for us to give others grace, but we need to give ourselves grace as well. 

What are your current or future projects you’d like to plug?

Juneteenth is coming up, so let’s turn up and show out for that! For the folks in my area, I invite them out to the Gulfport Juneteenth celebration that I’m serving on the planning committee for. And summer is coming up, so let’s also plan some summer reading for the babies! Just a little bit of effort makes a really big difference in the long run. We’re most definitely here for any resources or questions that anyone has towards achieving that goal.

Be sure to follow Tonisha and WOW Book and Toy Store on Twitter and Instagram to stay updated on their amazing work!