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Ramblings of an urban highschool librarian. Single. Old. Very old. On a good day, I even wear the traditional library bun.
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1. Blog Tour: Scar of the Bamboo Leaf

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Scar of the Bamboo Leaf by Sieni A.M.

View scar of the bamboo leaf.jpg in slide show

Genre: Young Adult fiction, Contemporary Romance

“Her heart wept when she realized that the hardest part about loving him was the idea that his love was never meant for her.”

Walking with a pronounced limp all her life has never stopped fifteen-year-old Kiva Mau from doing what she loves. While most girls her age are playing sports and perfecting their traditional Samoan dance, Kiva finds serenity in her sketchbook and volunteering at the run-down art center her extended family owns.

When seventeen-year-old Ryler Cade steps into the art center for the first time, Kiva is drawn to the angry and misguided student sent from abroad to reform his violent ways. Scarred and tattooed, an unlikely friendship is formed when the gentle Kiva shows him kindness and beauty through art.
After a tragic accident leaves Kiva severely disfigured, she struggles to see the beauty she has been brought up to believe. Just when she thinks she’s found her place, Ryler begins to pull away, leaving her heartbroken and confused. The patriarch of the family then takes a turn for the worse and Kiva is forced to give up her dreams to help with familial obligations, until an old family secret surfaces that makes her question everything.

Immersed in the world of traditional art and culture, this is the story of self-sacrifice and discovery, of acceptance and forbearance, of overcoming adversity and finding one’s purpose. Spanning years, it is a story about an intuitive girl and a misunderstood boy and love that becomes real when tested.

Available on Amazon

About the Author:

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Sieni A.M. is a coffee addict, Instagram enthusiast, world traveler, and avid reader turned writer. She graduated as an English and History high school teacher from the University of Canterbury and is currently living in Israel with her husband and two daughters. “Scar of the Bamboo Leaf” is her second novel.

Website: http://sieniam.blogspot.co.il/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/illumineher

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/illumineher/

Enter to win one of five copies of Scar of the Bamboo Leaf via Amazon.

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Filed under: New Books

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2. book review: Shieldwolf Dawning

title: Shieldwolf Dawning516+sRTYYpL._AA160_

author: Selena Nemorin

date: Astraea Press; 2014

main character: Samarra

Shieldwolf Dawning is the first in a new speculative fiction series by Selena Nemorin. Samarra and her brother, Cassian, have been moved to Gaia, a planet with a deteriorating natural environment and are being raised by the Sairfangs after the death of the children’s parents. Their step-parent’s wealth protects them from the pollution and scarcities and provides Cassian with the best education money can buy. Samarra is stuck at home cleaning and doing chores. As sexist as this situation seems, it has more to do with Cassian’s future position in life rather than the fact that he’s a male. Samarra despises her situation. She’s impetuous and curious. Given the opportunity to leave her situation, she talks her brother into escaping with her. And so begins their adventure.

The book rattled my attention the mention of ‘all-terrain aircraft’!  Written in third person, the author still confines herself to the limited perception of the main character. That annoys me! Use that voice to fully develop a story with multiple character’s perspectives and with rich settings or stick to first person. Cassian is poorly developed which is tragic given how important he becomes at the end of the book. Time sequences were unequal in length and there were too many detailed situations that were never developed.

Shieldwolf Dawning is unique in two ways. First, it gives us an adventurous female of color  with blue dreads who often saves herself in situations. Second, it’s steeped in philosophy. Where knowledge of the field could provide a stronger appreciation for the book, I had none. I suspect that most teens without this knowledge will be as frustrated as I was with Samarra and never really invest in the story. She repeatedly wanders into situations that end up with negative consequences. Maybetwo-thirds of the way into the book when I was really tired of her doing this over and over again and I began to think that these wanderings might have something to do with stages of intellectual or moral development and that these curiosities were purposeful in her growth. This seemed to make sense to me when Samarra reasoned about moral judgment, truth and honestly.

Sheildwolf Dawning is an ambitious book that doesn’t quite reach it’s potential.


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: fantasy

1 Comments on book review: Shieldwolf Dawning, last added: 9/19/2014
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3. book review: Shieldwolf Dawning

title: Shieldwolf Dawning516+sRTYYpL._AA160_

author: Selena Nemorin

date: Astraea Press; 2014

main character: Samarra

Shieldwolf Dawning is the first in a new speculative fiction series by Selena Nemorin. Samarra and her brother, Cassian, have been moved to Gaia, a planet with a deteriorating natural environment and are being raised by the Sairfangs after the death of the children’s parents. Their step-parent’s wealth protects them from the pollution and scarcities and provides Cassian with the best education money can buy. Samarra is stuck at home cleaning and doing chores. As sexist as this situation seems, it has more to do with Cassian’s future position in life rather than the fact that he’s a male. Samarra despises her situation. She’s impetuous and curious. Given the opportunity to leave her situation, she talks her brother into escaping with her. And so begins their adventure.

The book rattled my attention the mention of ‘all-terrain aircraft’!  Written in third person, the author still confines herself to the limited perception of the main character. That annoys me! Use that voice to fully develop a story with multiple character’s perspectives and with rich settings or stick to first person. Cassian is poorly developed which is tragic given how important he becomes at the end of the book. Time sequences were unequal in length and there were too many detailed situations that were never developed.

Shieldwolf Dawning is unique in two ways. First, it gives us an adventurous female of color  with blue dreads who often saves herself in situations. Second, it’s steeped in philosophy. Where knowledge of the field could provide a stronger appreciation for the book, I had none. I suspect that most teens without this knowledge will be as frustrated as I was with Samarra and never really invest in the story. She repeatedly wanders into situations that end up with negative consequences. Maybetwo-thirds of the way into the book when I was really tired of her doing this over and over again and I began to think that these wanderings might have something to do with stages of intellectual or moral development and that these curiosities were purposeful in her growth. This seemed to make sense to me when Samarra reasoned about moral judgment, truth and honestly.

Sheildwolf Dawning is an ambitious book that doesn’t quite reach it’s potential.


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: fantasy

0 Comments on book review: Shieldwolf Dawning as of 9/16/2014 10:06:00 PM
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4. Fitness and Reading

I’m so excited about presenting at this year’s KidLitCon!

1:30-3   Getting Beyond Diversity and Getting to the Story

Edith Campbell Crazy Quilt Edi
Hannah Gómez  sarah HANNAH gómez
Jewell Parker Rhodes

While gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, or ability add to who we are, they do not define who we are. And these differences do not define our stories. How do we teach, discuss, or describe diverse books without making diversity the issue? Should we? How do we respond to the perception that ʺdiverse booksʺ are only for ʺdiverse peopleʺ and deliver book reviews and essays that highlight what makes books universal for those disinclined to think diversity is for them while acknowledging readers who need and deserve to find themselves in literature? Presenters Edith Campbell, Hannah Gómez, and author Jewell Parker Rhodes will deliver an interactive session with talking points, booktalks, strategies and much honest discussion.

IMG_2966

I garden! Isn’t kale gorgeous?

It’s an important opportunity to share my diversity message along with Hannah Gomez and Jewell Parker Rhodes. I am too outdone by these ladies!

It’s also an opportunity to meet folk in real life that I have known for years online, but never met in person, like Mitali Perkins, Natalie Mvondo, Charlotte Taylor and Laura Atkins. Will you be there? If so, please let me know!

I have several book reviews to write, some good, some not so much. I’m getting a lot of my reading done on the treadmill, elliptical and stationary bike these days. The better the book, the faster the time goes. Today’s read was Love Is The Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson. I went for an extra 10 minutes because of that book. It helps if the book is good, but some books, like some music are better for walking than others. The language in Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidier is so creative and expressive and the action so passive that it’s not a good read for the treadmill.

Fitness gurus generally say that treadmills and stationary bikes don’t provide the best exercise out there, but

Today!

Today!

I’m pretty sure they’re better than sitting on the sofa and reading.

It’s tough having reading and quilting as hobbies. They’re both time intensive and both require sitting and that’s not good for someone with a weight problem! Ebooks make reading easier to accomplish while working out, as I don’t have to find ways to hold pages down and books open. I suppose audiobooks would free me up

Two varieties of sweet potatoes; hundreds of those critters to harvest.

Two varieties of sweet potatoes; hundreds of those critters to harvest.

even more, but listening to a book is a completely different experience than reading.

My ereader of choice these days is my Nook reader. If at home, I’ll use my Surface. It has a very nice page display that will include images. However, turning pages can be tricky on it and, the Nook app doesn’t work requiring me to read through Adobe Digital Editions (ADE). I took the device to the gym once, accidentally left it and decided not to take it again.

I have read on my phone (the BlueFire App syncs to ADE) and would have no problem doing that again if I didn’t have another device available. It’s just too small for sustained reading. My Nook is a 1st generation that was giving to by my son and daughter in law. No color, horrible formatting, no images… but there is just something about that old thing that makes me love reading on it. I’ll upgrade it one day, but I’m certain I’ll probably have a dedicated ereader for occasional reading such as when traveling, exercising or if no other format is available.

I do have so many posts that come to mind, but now they seem more appealing as journal articles rather than blog posts. I know that some people do post on their blogs about their article ideas and they generate in-depth conversations that probably enhance the article when it is written. There’s also the possibility, though of someone snagging your great idea! I have mentioned some things here that I consider writing about, but it rarely (never!) turns into a conversation. Perhaps I’ll try again in the future. For now, I think I’ll get back to Love Is The Drug!

 

 


Filed under: Me Being Me Tagged: ebooks, gardening, nook, walking

3 Comments on Fitness and Reading, last added: 9/11/2014
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5. Fitness and Reading

I’m so excited about presenting at this year’s KidLitCon!

1:30-3   Getting Beyond Diversity and Getting to the Story

Edith Campbell Crazy Quilt Edi
Hannah Gómez  sarah HANNAH gómez
Jewell Parker Rhodes

While gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, or ability add to who we are, they do not define who we are. And these differences do not define our stories. How do we teach, discuss, or describe diverse books without making diversity the issue? Should we? How do we respond to the perception that ʺdiverse booksʺ are only for ʺdiverse peopleʺ and deliver book reviews and essays that highlight what makes books universal for those disinclined to think diversity is for them while acknowledging readers who need and deserve to find themselves in literature? Presenters Edith Campbell, Hannah Gómez, and author Jewell Parker Rhodes will deliver an interactive session with talking points, booktalks, strategies and much honest discussion.

IMG_2966

I garden! Isn’t kale gorgeous?

It’s an important opportunity to share my diversity message along with Hannah Gomez and Jewell Parker Rhodes. I am too outdone by these ladies!

It’s also an opportunity to meet folk in real life that I have known for years online, but never met in person, like Mitali Perkins, Natalie Mvondo, Charlotte Taylor and Laura Atkins. Will you be there? If so, please let me know!

I have several book reviews to write, some good, some not so much. I’m getting a lot of my reading done on the treadmill, elliptical and stationary bike these days. The better the book, the faster the time goes. Today’s read was Love Is The Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson. I went for an extra 10 minutes because of that book. It helps if the book is good, but some books, like some music are better for walking than others. The language in Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidier is so creative and expressive and the action so passive that it’s not a good read for the treadmill.

Fitness gurus generally say that treadmills and stationary bikes don’t provide the best exercise out there, but

Today!

Today!

I’m pretty sure they’re better than sitting on the sofa and reading.

It’s tough having reading and quilting as hobbies. They’re both time intensive and both require sitting and that’s not good for someone with a weight problem! Ebooks make reading easier to accomplish while working out, as I don’t have to find ways to hold pages down and books open. I suppose audiobooks would free me up

Two varieties of sweet potatoes; hundreds of those critters to harvest.

Two varieties of sweet potatoes; hundreds of those critters to harvest.

even more, but listening to a book is a completely different experience than reading.

My ereader of choice these days is my Nook reader. If at home, I’ll use my Surface. It has a very nice page display that will include images. However, turning pages can be tricky on it and, the Nook app doesn’t work requiring me to read through Adobe Digital Editions (ADE). I took the device to the gym once, accidentally left it and decided not to take it again.

I have read on my phone (the BlueFire App syncs to ADE) and would have no problem doing that again if I didn’t have another device available. It’s just too small for sustained reading. My Nook is a 1st generation that was giving to by my son and daughter in law. No color, horrible formatting, no images… but there is just something about that old thing that makes me love reading on it. I’ll upgrade it one day, but I’m certain I’ll probably have a dedicated ereader for occasional reading such as when traveling, exercising or if no other format is available.

I do have so many posts that come to mind, but now they seem more appealing as journal articles rather than blog posts. I know that some people do post on their blogs about their article ideas and they generate in-depth conversations that probably enhance the article when it is written. There’s also the possibility, though of someone snagging your great idea! I have mentioned some things here that I consider writing about, but it rarely (never!) turns into a conversation. Perhaps I’ll try again in the future. For now, I think I’ll get back to Love Is The Drug!

 

 


Filed under: Me Being Me Tagged: ebooks, gardening, nook, walking

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6. Book Reviews: Non-fiction

I’ve recently read two nonfiction books that are completely unrelated in topic, location and even the time period in which they’re set yet, they’re very similar in that they’re well written books that address the intellect of young adults.

 

The Compassionate Warrior: abd El Kader of Algeria by Elsa Marston (Wisdom Tales, 2013)

FC9781937786106summary: A brilliant military strategist, superb horseman, statesman, philosopher, Muslim hero . . . Emir Abdel Kader (1808-1883) was an international celebrity in his own time, known for his generosity and kindness even towards enemies. Today he is recognized as one of the noblest leaders of the 19th century and a pioneer in interfaith dialogue. This fascinating biography of the heroic Arab who led the resistance to the French conquest of Algeria, endured betrayal and imprisonment, and in 1860, in Syria, saved thousands of innocent people from mob violence brings a vital message for our times.

Marston combines her love of scholarship and of young adult literature as she writes about Emir Abdel Kader. At times, she speaks directly to her audience in a tone that guides them as they learn more, not only about this brilliant and compassionate leader but, also about Algeria. France’s relationship with the country was just beginning as Algeria struggled to eventually become a unified nation. Their relationship was complex and interpreted differently through the lens of each of the cultures. Marston provides only what she could document, resulting in a book that is a rare historical document. I think young adults would be more engaged in a story that included more about the Emir’s personal and family life, however this books focuses more on his political accomplishments along with the country’s development. Readers gain insights not only into a country we here tend to ignore, but also into the complex arena of international relations. Nothing is as simple as it seems!

 

Up for Sale: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery by Alison Marie Behnke (21st Century Books; August 2014)

+-+805560493_140summary: Up for Sale takes a hard look at human trafficking, identifying perpetrators and telling the stories of victims through their own words. You’ll discover why some people become vulnerable to trafficking and you’ll read about what their lives are like on a daily basis. You’ll also meet some of the courageous individuals and organizations working to free people from lives in bondage so that, in the words of US president Barack Obama, each person can “forge a life equal to [their] talents and worthy of [their] dreams.

I enjoyed this book. I appreciated its effective use of color, images and layout in telling a multidimensional story. Yes, multidimensional. Human trafficking has no single definition, no single place or location. At its core, it is an horrendous abuse of those with no power: children, women, the poor, the uneducated, homeless… Up for Sale brings to light many of the ways this crime against our humanity is perpetrated today. I liked that the book made sure readers understood this global crime isn’t just committed ‘over there’, but that it happens here in America everyday. The author treats the young adult readers as if they’re aware enough to need to know about human trafficking and without being exceptionally graphic, she provides a dose of reality. Teen readers will appreciate the numerous examples of how this crime is committed over and over again. As the faces and situations change, readers develop a heightened sense of compassion, a greater sense of social justice.

 

 


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: alison marie behnke, Book Reviews, elsa marston, nonfiction

1 Comments on Book Reviews: Non-fiction, last added: 9/5/2014
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7. Book Reviews: Non-fiction

I’ve recently read two nonfiction books that are completely unrelated in topic, location and even the time period in which they’re set yet, they’re very similar in that they’re well written books that address the intellect of young adults.

 

The Compassionate Warrior: abd El Kader of Algeria by Elsa Marston (Wisdom Tales, 2013)

FC9781937786106summary: A brilliant military strategist, superb horseman, statesman, philosopher, Muslim hero . . . Emir Abdel Kader (1808-1883) was an international celebrity in his own time, known for his generosity and kindness even towards enemies. Today he is recognized as one of the noblest leaders of the 19th century and a pioneer in interfaith dialogue. This fascinating biography of the heroic Arab who led the resistance to the French conquest of Algeria, endured betrayal and imprisonment, and in 1860, in Syria, saved thousands of innocent people from mob violence brings a vital message for our times.

Marston combines her love of scholarship and of young adult literature as she writes about Emir Abdel Kader. At times, she speaks directly to her audience in a tone that guides them as they learn more, not only about this brilliant and compassionate leader but, also about Algeria. France’s relationship with the country was just beginning as Algeria struggled to eventually become a unified nation. Their relationship was complex and interpreted differently through the lens of each of the cultures. Marston provides only what she could document, resulting in a book that is a rare historical document. I think young adults would be more engaged in a story that included more about the Emir’s personal and family life, however this books focuses more on his political accomplishments along with the country’s development. Readers gain insights not only into a country we here tend to ignore, but also into the complex arena of international relations. Nothing is as simple as it seems!

 

Up for Sale: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery by Alison Marie Behnke (21st Century Books; August 2014)

+-+805560493_140summary: Up for Sale takes a hard look at human trafficking, identifying perpetrators and telling the stories of victims through their own words. You’ll discover why some people become vulnerable to trafficking and you’ll read about what their lives are like on a daily basis. You’ll also meet some of the courageous individuals and organizations working to free people from lives in bondage so that, in the words of US president Barack Obama, each person can “forge a life equal to [their] talents and worthy of [their] dreams.

I enjoyed this book. I appreciated its effective use of color, images and layout in telling a multidimensional story. Yes, multidimensional. Human trafficking has no single definition, no single place or location. At its core, it is an horrendous abuse of those with no power: children, women, the poor, the uneducated, homeless… Up for Sale brings to light many of the ways this crime against our humanity is perpetrated today. I liked that the book made sure readers understood this global crime isn’t just committed ‘over there’, but that it happens here in America everyday. The author treats the young adult readers as if they’re aware enough to need to know about human trafficking and without being exceptionally graphic, she provides a dose of reality. Teen readers will appreciate the numerous examples of how this crime is committed over and over again. As the faces and situations change, readers develop a heightened sense of compassion, a greater sense of social justice.

 

 


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: alison marie behnke, Book Reviews, elsa marston, nonfiction

0 Comments on Book Reviews: Non-fiction as of 9/4/2014 7:18:00 PM
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8. From the Heartland: Kekla Magoon

Indiana has proven to be such a rich state for authors who address ethnically diverse characters that I cannot image what I’d find if I looked for authors in Florida, Ohio, Texas or Rhode Island. These authors are among our hometown heroes because they document our local lives. When brought into classrooms and libraries, they prove that someone right here, right in this town can be a successful writer.

I actually first met Kekla Magoon in Philadelphia. I was excited that she had lived in Cameroon for a while and I’d visited there several years ago but could not believe that she has also lived right here in Indiana. What a small world!

Kekla is the author of the award-winning The Rock and the River; Camo Girl, Fire in the Streets, 37 Things I Love middle(in no particular order) and the nonfiction book, Today the World is Watching You: The Little Rock Nine and the Fight for School Integration 1957. Her forthcoming How It Went Down has received a starred review from Kirkus. “This sobering yet satisfying novel leaves readers to ponder the complex questions it raises.”

In January look forward to X:A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon.

I’m glad this busy lady had time for an interview!

 

Do you have any pets?

I have a pet turtle, named Tiffany.

What were some of the first books you found as a child that turned you into a reader?

I don’t know if it was the very first books that turned me into a reader. My parents read to me as a child, and there were many picture books that I loved. Some of the ones that jump to mind are Where the Wild Things Are, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, and The Snowy Day. I loved the wordplay in Amelia Bedelia. My mom took us to the library every week, and I could get as many books as I could carry. I think it was the repetition of experience that turned me into a reader, along with the escapism and adventure I always found in stories. As a mid-grader, I mostly read series books like The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley. I liked the episodic nature of those stories, and returning to familiar characters. The first stand-alone book I remember feeling really “Whoa!” about was Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor.

Meat or vegetables?

Meat, with a side of vegetables. I want it all. If I can’t have it all: MEAT!

Which writers have most influence you?

Ooh, I feel most influenced at this point in life by my close writer friends. Not only are they talented authors whose work I enjoy diving into, but they also provide a lot of support and inspiration to me in the real world. I constantly recommend books by Laurie Calkhoven, Josanne La Valley, Bethany Hegedus, Wiley Blevins, Rita Williams-Garcia, Coe Booth, Tami Lewis Brown, Pablo Cartaya, Sharon Darrow, Helen Frost….and many other amazing writers and books out there who inspire me both on and off the page. As far as influences from books I read, though, I learned a lot from Stephen King’s memoir of his writing life: On Writing. When I read Jennifer Egan or Benjamin Alire Saenz I am torn between being sucked into the vivid worlds they create, and wanting to rush to the computer to write something myself!

What three things would you like to add to a list of national treasures?

1: All the libraries!!!!

2: All the independent bookstores!

3: The voices of our young people, thereby empowering them to begin sharing their own stories with the world in whatever medium feels right to them.

Why would you be up at 3am?

I am usually up at 3am. I write, or I watch TV, or I read. I might also be eating potato chips or ice cream.

 

What book(s) are you currently in the middle of reading?

In fiction, I am reading Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King. Next up is If You’re Reading This by Trent Reedy. In non-fiction, I am reading Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone and essays from Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.

What obstacles did you face when you began your writing career?

Interestingly enough, being a relatively young writer was a bit of an obstacle, even in the children’s literature market. It is happening a little bit less now that I am in my thirties, but when my first book was published, I was mid-twenties, and I heard a lot of “Oh, what a special achievement for someone so young.” Which it was, in a way, but it tended to be said in a patronizing tone. People might as well have been patting me on the head, which is somewhere short of a backhanded compliment, but it is not exactly uplifting either. The sentiment often seemed less than genuine, as if the person was pointing out that I was actually TOO young to make a meaningful contribution. The fact of the matter is, publishing a book is a special achievement at any age, and I never thought it should be considered more or less significant because of my age.

Why write for young people?

I write about young characters. Probably partly because that is what I knew best at the time I started writing. My first book was published when I was 25, and so the natural things for me to write about were teenage things because that was my experience. I do intend to keep writing for teens, and I hope to retain the connection that I feel to that time period in my own life. I don’t think it will be hard to retain, especially since even in my thirties I have yet to reach an age where there isn’t someone older than me looking down on my relative youth. That feeling of being underappreciated helps drive my work. Young people have a lot to learn, sure, but we also have a lot to contribute. There is always plenty of talk about “when you’re older…” and “what do you want to be when you grow up?” but who is asking kids and teens, “what do you want to be right now, today?” As a writer for teens I get to ask those questions, of my characters and of my readers.

Where is your favorite place to write?

On my laptop. (Haha!) Honestly, I can write pretty much anywhere. I prefer coffee shops, where there is a low-grade hustle and bustle in the background, and maybe some soft jazz or indie rock playing. Some place with just enough sound that my mind has to do a little bit of work to tune it out, but not enough to actually distract me from working. The result is a special kind of focus that works well for my writing.

Your books have required a lot of research! Are you an Internet researcher or hands on?

I do both internet research and “hands on” hunting for more information. I typically use the internet to get an overview of what material is out there, and I look for articles in reputable magazines, newspapers, and journals published online. There are plenty of library databases online, too, and I use those to find resources in other cities that I might not be able to access otherwise. But for my type of historical research, the best resource is books! I use the library or I special order and purchase the things I need. I have also spent a fair amount of time traveling to visit museums and library archives around the country. Many institutions preserve archival materials from the time periods I study, and you can make an appointment to go in and view the objects. I have looked at old newspapers in hard copy, flyers and posters, hand-written journals and letters, photographs, personal items that belonged to historical people, and much more.

HowItWentDown5-206x300What can you tell us about How It Went Down?

How It Went Down is my newest novel, which centers around the controversial shooting of a young black teen by a white man passing through his neighborhood. The novel comprises multiple viewpoints, through which members of the community react and respond in the days after Tariq Johnson is gunned down. Amid the media firestorm that descends, a family has lost a son and brother, friends grieve, and an entire community reels from the personal loss of one of their number. These characters share their struggles to cope with the loss and the decisions they each face over how to move forward.

I began working on this book in the spring of 2012, when the Trayvon Martin shooting was big in the news. I was interested in pushing beyond the headlines and soundbites dominating the national media in order to confront the experiences of people closest to this type of tragedy. Now, two years later, the conversation remains relevant and high-profile after the shooting of Michael Brown and the resulting riots and violence in Ferguson, Missouri. It is my hope that this novel and other YA literature can be used to start conversations between teens and adults about the prevalence of these incidents, and how we as a nation can begin to respond and heal from these tragedies, and hopefully minimize or wholly prevent similar things from occurring in the future. How It Went Down hits bookstores on October 21, and my website has links to pre-order from IndieBound or Barnes & Noble: http://www.keklamagoon.com/books/how-it-went-down/

I really enjoy the historical and fact based fiction that you write. What limits do you feel in writing these stories?

ROCK-w-CSK-hi-res1One of the great things about fiction is that it has no limits! I do impose some limitations on myself as a writer of historical fiction, but these are individual choices about which many writers would (and do) choose differently. It’s important to me that readers come away from my books feeling like they really *could* have happened. For example, I carefully research the events surrounding my books and try to stick as closely as possible to the real facts and timelines. I don’t move around real historical events, or make up facts about real historical figures. Generally I choose not to even include real historical figures as actors in my novels. For example, in The Rock and the River, I mention people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, but neither of them appear in the book with action scenes or actual dialogue. I made my first really big exception to this last rule this past year, though. I’ve been working with Ilyasah Shabazz on a YA novel about her father, Malcolm X. The book is about Malcolm living through his difficult teen 9780763669676years, before he became the powerful speaker, faith leader, and international human rights activist he is remembered for being. It was exciting and challenging to work on that project with her, and I’m so thrilled that X: A Novel is about to debut in January 2015.

 

 


Filed under: Authors, Interview Tagged: Indiana YA author, Kekla Magoon

2 Comments on From the Heartland: Kekla Magoon, last added: 9/5/2014
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9. From the Heartland: Kekla Magoon

Indiana has proven to be such a rich state for authors who address ethnically diverse characters that I cannot image what I’d find if I looked for authors in Florida, Ohio, Texas or Rhode Island. These authors are among our hometown heroes because they document our local lives. When brought into classrooms and libraries, they prove that someone right here, right in this town can be a successful writer.

I actually first met Kekla Magoon in Philadelphia. I was excited that she had lived in Cameroon for a while and I’d visited there several years ago but could not believe that she has also lived right here in Indiana. What a small world!

Kekla is the author of the award-winning The Rock and the River; Camo Girl, Fire in the Streets, 37 Things I Love middle(in no particular order) and the nonfiction book, Today the World is Watching You: The Little Rock Nine and the Fight for School Integration 1957. Her forthcoming How It Went Down has received a starred review from Kirkus. “This sobering yet satisfying novel leaves readers to ponder the complex questions it raises.”

In January look forward to X:A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon.

I’m glad this busy lady had time for an interview!

 

Do you have any pets?

I have a pet turtle, named Tiffany.

What were some of the first books you found as a child that turned you into a reader?

I don’t know if it was the very first books that turned me into a reader. My parents read to me as a child, and there were many picture books that I loved. Some of the ones that jump to mind are Where the Wild Things Are, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, and The Snowy Day. I loved the wordplay in Amelia Bedelia. My mom took us to the library every week, and I could get as many books as I could carry. I think it was the repetition of experience that turned me into a reader, along with the escapism and adventure I always found in stories. As a mid-grader, I mostly read series books like The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley. I liked the episodic nature of those stories, and returning to familiar characters. The first stand-alone book I remember feeling really “Whoa!” about was Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor.

Meat or vegetables?

Meat, with a side of vegetables. I want it all. If I can’t have it all: MEAT!

Which writers have most influence you?

Ooh, I feel most influenced at this point in life by my close writer friends. Not only are they talented authors whose work I enjoy diving into, but they also provide a lot of support and inspiration to me in the real world. I constantly recommend books by Laurie Calkhoven, Josanne La Valley, Bethany Hegedus, Wiley Blevins, Rita Williams-Garcia, Coe Booth, Tami Lewis Brown, Pablo Cartaya, Sharon Darrow, Helen Frost….and many other amazing writers and books out there who inspire me both on and off the page. As far as influences from books I read, though, I learned a lot from Stephen King’s memoir of his writing life: On Writing. When I read Jennifer Egan or Benjamin Alire Saenz I am torn between being sucked into the vivid worlds they create, and wanting to rush to the computer to write something myself!

What three things would you like to add to a list of national treasures?

1: All the libraries!!!!

2: All the independent bookstores!

3: The voices of our young people, thereby empowering them to begin sharing their own stories with the world in whatever medium feels right to them.

Why would you be up at 3am?

I am usually up at 3am. I write, or I watch TV, or I read. I might also be eating potato chips or ice cream.

 

What book(s) are you currently in the middle of reading?

In fiction, I am reading Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King. Next up is If You’re Reading This by Trent Reedy. In non-fiction, I am reading Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone and essays from Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.

What obstacles did you face when you began your writing career?

Interestingly enough, being a relatively young writer was a bit of an obstacle, even in the children’s literature market. It is happening a little bit less now that I am in my thirties, but when my first book was published, I was mid-twenties, and I heard a lot of “Oh, what a special achievement for someone so young.” Which it was, in a way, but it tended to be said in a patronizing tone. People might as well have been patting me on the head, which is somewhere short of a backhanded compliment, but it is not exactly uplifting either. The sentiment often seemed less than genuine, as if the person was pointing out that I was actually TOO young to make a meaningful contribution. The fact of the matter is, publishing a book is a special achievement at any age, and I never thought it should be considered more or less significant because of my age.

Why write for young people?

I write about young characters. Probably partly because that is what I knew best at the time I started writing. My first book was published when I was 25, and so the natural things for me to write about were teenage things because that was my experience. I do intend to keep writing for teens, and I hope to retain the connection that I feel to that time period in my own life. I don’t think it will be hard to retain, especially since even in my thirties I have yet to reach an age where there isn’t someone older than me looking down on my relative youth. That feeling of being underappreciated helps drive my work. Young people have a lot to learn, sure, but we also have a lot to contribute. There is always plenty of talk about “when you’re older…” and “what do you want to be when you grow up?” but who is asking kids and teens, “what do you want to be right now, today?” As a writer for teens I get to ask those questions, of my characters and of my readers.

Where is your favorite place to write?

On my laptop. (Haha!) Honestly, I can write pretty much anywhere. I prefer coffee shops, where there is a low-grade hustle and bustle in the background, and maybe some soft jazz or indie rock playing. Some place with just enough sound that my mind has to do a little bit of work to tune it out, but not enough to actually distract me from working. The result is a special kind of focus that works well for my writing.

Your books have required a lot of research! Are you an Internet researcher or hands on?

I do both internet research and “hands on” hunting for more information. I typically use the internet to get an overview of what material is out there, and I look for articles in reputable magazines, newspapers, and journals published online. There are plenty of library databases online, too, and I use those to find resources in other cities that I might not be able to access otherwise. But for my type of historical research, the best resource is books! I use the library or I special order and purchase the things I need. I have also spent a fair amount of time traveling to visit museums and library archives around the country. Many institutions preserve archival materials from the time periods I study, and you can make an appointment to go in and view the objects. I have looked at old newspapers in hard copy, flyers and posters, hand-written journals and letters, photographs, personal items that belonged to historical people, and much more.

HowItWentDown5-206x300What can you tell us about How It Went Down?

How It Went Down is my newest novel, which centers around the controversial shooting of a young black teen by a white man passing through his neighborhood. The novel comprises multiple viewpoints, through which members of the community react and respond in the days after Tariq Johnson is gunned down. Amid the media firestorm that descends, a family has lost a son and brother, friends grieve, and an entire community reels from the personal loss of one of their number. These characters share their struggles to cope with the loss and the decisions they each face over how to move forward.

I began working on this book in the spring of 2012, when the Trayvon Martin shooting was big in the news. I was interested in pushing beyond the headlines and soundbites dominating the national media in order to confront the experiences of people closest to this type of tragedy. Now, two years later, the conversation remains relevant and high-profile after the shooting of Michael Brown and the resulting riots and violence in Ferguson, Missouri. It is my hope that this novel and other YA literature can be used to start conversations between teens and adults about the prevalence of these incidents, and how we as a nation can begin to respond and heal from these tragedies, and hopefully minimize or wholly prevent similar things from occurring in the future. How It Went Down hits bookstores on October 21, and my website has links to pre-order from IndieBound or Barnes & Noble: http://www.keklamagoon.com/books/how-it-went-down/

I really enjoy the historical and fact based fiction that you write. What limits do you feel in writing these stories?

ROCK-w-CSK-hi-res1One of the great things about fiction is that it has no limits! I do impose some limitations on myself as a writer of historical fiction, but these are individual choices about which many writers would (and do) choose differently. It’s important to me that readers come away from my books feeling like they really *could* have happened. For example, I carefully research the events surrounding my books and try to stick as closely as possible to the real facts and timelines. I don’t move around real historical events, or make up facts about real historical figures. Generally I choose not to even include real historical figures as actors in my novels. For example, in The Rock and the River, I mention people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, but neither of them appear in the book with action scenes or actual dialogue. I made my first really big exception to this last rule this past year, though. I’ve been working with Ilyasah Shabazz on a YA novel about her father, Malcolm X. The book is about Malcolm living through his difficult teen 9780763669676years, before he became the powerful speaker, faith leader, and international human rights activist he is remembered for being. It was exciting and challenging to work on that project with her, and I’m so thrilled that X: A Novel is about to debut in January 2015.

 

 


Filed under: Authors, Interview Tagged: Indiana YA author, Kekla Magoon

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10. September Releases

Need covers? They’re on my Pinterest board for this month.

 

Dork Diaries 8: Tales from a Not-So-Happily Ever After by Rachel Renee Russell; Aladdin     Nikki Maxwell’s favorite fairy tales get dork-tastic twists in this entry in the #1 “New York Times”-bestselling series. After a bump on the head in gym class on April Fool’s Day, Nikki dreams that she, her BFFs Chloe and Zoey, her crush Brandon, and mean girl Mackenzie are all familiar classic fairy tale characters.

Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata; Atheneum MG     The new novel from a Newbery Medalist and National Book Award winner. Eleven-year-old Jaden, an emotionally damaged adopted boy, feels a connection to a small, weak toddler with special needs in Kazakhstan, where Jaden’s family is trying to adopt a “normal” baby.

The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond; Scholastic     In a stunning reimagining of history, debut author Richmond weaves an incredible story of secrets and honor in a world where Hitler won World War II. In this action-packed, heart-stopping novel of a terrifying reality that could have been, a teenage girl must decide just how far she’ll go for freedom.

On A Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers; Crown Books for Young Readers     It is 2035. Teens, armed only with their ideals, must wage war on the power elite. Dahlia is a Low Gater: a sheep in a storm, struggling to survive completely on her own. The Gaters live in closed safe communities, protected from the Sturmers, mercenary thugs. And the C-8, a consortium of giant companies, control global access to finance, media, food, water, and energy resources—and they are only getting bigger and even more cutthroat. Dahlia, a computer whiz, joins forces with an ex-rocker, an ex-con, a chess prodigy, an ex-athlete, and a soldier wannabe. Their goal: to sabotage the C-8. But how will Sayeed, warlord and terrorist, fit into the equation?

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney; Scholastic Press     “Amira, look at me,” Muma insists.She collects both my hands in hers.“The Janjaweed attack without warning.Ifever they come run.”
Finally, Amira is twelve. Old enough to wear a toob, old enough for new responsibilities. And maybe old enough to go to school in NyalaAmira’s one true dream.
But life in her peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when the Janjaweed arrive. The terrifying attackers ravage the town and unleash unspeakable horrors. After she loses nearly everything, Amira needs to dig deep within herself to find the strength to make the long journey on foot to safety at a refugee camp. Her days are tough at the camp, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mindand all kinds of possibilities.
New York Times bestselling and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney’s powerful verse and Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist Shane W. Evans’s breathtaking illustrations combine to tell an inspiring tale of one girl’s triumph against all odds.

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis; Scholastic     A bestselling Newbery Medalist delivers a powerful companion to “Elijah of Buxton.” Benji and Red aren’t friends, but their fates are entwined. The boys discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. Both of them have encountered a strange presence in the forest. Could the Madman of Piney Woods be real?

The Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon G. Flake     It’s 1953, and 10-year-old Octobia May lives in her aunt’s boarding house in a southern African-American community. When Octobia starts to question the folks in her world, an adventure and a mystery unfold that beg some troubling questions: Who is black and who is “passing” for white? What happens when their vibrant community must face its own racism?

Billy Buckhorn Abnormal by Gary Robinson     Book one of the Billy Buckhorn series introduces a Cherokee teen who uses his supernatural abilities to solve mysteries. In this first installment, “Abnormal,” Billy is struck by lightning while fishing with his friend Chigger. He survives the lightning strike but begins to experience an enhanced level of esp. Billy is labeled “abnormal” by one of his teachers after he uncovers an unsavory secret from the teacher’s past. What no one suspects is that the teacher is a shape-shifter who becomes an evil raven that gains strength from his victims’ fear. When Billy confronts the teacher, he must channel his own fear into anger in order to defeat the evil birdman.

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang; Greenwillow     One cold fall day, high school junior Liz Emerson steers her car into a tree. This haunting and heartbreaking story is told by a surprising and unexpected narrator and unfolds in nonlinear flashbacks even as Liz’s friends, foes, and family gather at the hospital and Liz clings to life. This riveting debut will appeal to fans of Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver, and 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.

“On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.” Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? The nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force–Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson; Arthur A. Levine     The privileged daughter of research scientists, Emily Bird attends a party for Washington D.C.’s elite. Days later, she wakes up in a hospital with no memory of that night. Meanwhile, a deadly flu virus has caused a worldwide crisis. Homeland security agent Roosevelt David is certain that Bird knows something about the virus, something she shouldn’t.

The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan by Atia Abawi; Philomel     Fatima is a Hazara girl, raised to be obedient and dutiful. Samiullah is a Pashtun boy raised to defend the traditions of his tribe. They were not meant to fall in love. But they do. And the story that follows shows both the beauty and the violence in current-day Afghanistan as Fatima and Samiullah fight their families, their cultures and the Taliban to stay together. Based on the people Atia Abawi met and the events she covered during her nearly five years in Afghanistan, this stunning novel is a must-read for anyone who has lived during America’s War in Afghanistan.

No Name by Tim Tingle; 7th Generation     nspired by the traditional Choctaw story “No Name,” this modern adaptation features a present-day Choctaw teenager surviving tough family times–his mother left home and he is living with a mean-spirited, abusive father. The one place the teen can find peace is on the neighborhood basketball court. But after a violent confrontation with his father, the teen runs away, only to return home to find an unexpected hiding spot in his own backyard. His hiding spot becomes his home for weeks until the help and encouragement from a basketball coach, a Cherokee buddy and a quiet new next-door girlfriend help him face his father.

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces byIsabel Quintero; Cinco Puntos Press     Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: Cindy’s pregnancy, Sebastian’s coming out, the cute boys, her father’s meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity. Isabel Quintero is a library technician in the Inland Empire. She is also the events coordinator for Orange Monkey and helps edit the poetry journal Tin Cannon. Gabi is her debut novel.

 


Filed under: New Books Tagged: Andrea Davis Pinkney, Caroline Tung Richmond, Cynthia Kadohata, new releases, Rachel Renee Russell

1 Comments on September Releases, last added: 9/2/2014
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11. September Releases

Need covers? They’re on my Pinterest board for this month.

 

Dork Diaries 8: Tales from a Not-So-Happily Ever After by Rachel Renee Russell; Aladdin     Nikki Maxwell’s favorite fairy tales get dork-tastic twists in this entry in the #1 “New York Times”-bestselling series. After a bump on the head in gym class on April Fool’s Day, Nikki dreams that she, her BFFs Chloe and Zoey, her crush Brandon, and mean girl Mackenzie are all familiar classic fairy tale characters.

Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata; Atheneum MG     The new novel from a Newbery Medalist and National Book Award winner. Eleven-year-old Jaden, an emotionally damaged adopted boy, feels a connection to a small, weak toddler with special needs in Kazakhstan, where Jaden’s family is trying to adopt a “normal” baby.

The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond; Scholastic     In a stunning reimagining of history, debut author Richmond weaves an incredible story of secrets and honor in a world where Hitler won World War II. In this action-packed, heart-stopping novel of a terrifying reality that could have been, a teenage girl must decide just how far she’ll go for freedom.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoo; Henry Holt and Co.    When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white. In the aftermath of Tariq’s death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth. Tariq’s friends, family, and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy, and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down.

On A Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers; Crown Books for Young Readers     It is 2035. Teens, armed only with their ideals, must wage war on the power elite. Dahlia is a Low Gater: a sheep in a storm, struggling to survive completely on her own. The Gaters live in closed safe communities, protected from the Sturmers, mercenary thugs. And the C-8, a consortium of giant companies, control global access to finance, media, food, water, and energy resources—and they are only getting bigger and even more cutthroat. Dahlia, a computer whiz, joins forces with an ex-rocker, an ex-con, a chess prodigy, an ex-athlete, and a soldier wannabe. Their goal: to sabotage the C-8. But how will Sayeed, warlord and terrorist, fit into the equation?

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney; Scholastic Press     “Amira, look at me,” Muma insists.She collects both my hands in hers.“The Janjaweed attack without warning.Ifever they come run.”
Finally, Amira is twelve. Old enough to wear a toob, old enough for new responsibilities. And maybe old enough to go to school in NyalaAmira’s one true dream.
But life in her peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when the Janjaweed arrive. The terrifying attackers ravage the town and unleash unspeakable horrors. After she loses nearly everything, Amira needs to dig deep within herself to find the strength to make the long journey on foot to safety at a refugee camp. Her days are tough at the camp, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mindand all kinds of possibilities.
New York Times bestselling and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney’s powerful verse and Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist Shane W. Evans’s breathtaking illustrations combine to tell an inspiring tale of one girl’s triumph against all odds.

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis; Scholastic     A bestselling Newbery Medalist delivers a powerful companion to “Elijah of Buxton.” Benji and Red aren’t friends, but their fates are entwined. The boys discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. Both of them have encountered a strange presence in the forest. Could the Madman of Piney Woods be real?

The Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon G. Flake     It’s 1953, and 10-year-old Octobia May lives in her aunt’s boarding house in a southern African-American community. When Octobia starts to question the folks in her world, an adventure and a mystery unfold that beg some troubling questions: Who is black and who is “passing” for white? What happens when their vibrant community must face its own racism?

Billy Buckhorn Abnormal by Gary Robinson     Book one of the Billy Buckhorn series introduces a Cherokee teen who uses his supernatural abilities to solve mysteries. In this first installment, “Abnormal,” Billy is struck by lightning while fishing with his friend Chigger. He survives the lightning strike but begins to experience an enhanced level of esp. Billy is labeled “abnormal” by one of his teachers after he uncovers an unsavory secret from the teacher’s past. What no one suspects is that the teacher is a shape-shifter who becomes an evil raven that gains strength from his victims’ fear. When Billy confronts the teacher, he must channel his own fear into anger in order to defeat the evil birdman.

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang; Greenwillow     One cold fall day, high school junior Liz Emerson steers her car into a tree. This haunting and heartbreaking story is told by a surprising and unexpected narrator and unfolds in nonlinear flashbacks even as Liz’s friends, foes, and family gather at the hospital and Liz clings to life. This riveting debut will appeal to fans of Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver, and 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.

“On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.” Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? The nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force–Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson; Arthur A. Levine     The privileged daughter of research scientists, Emily Bird attends a party for Washington D.C.’s elite. Days later, she wakes up in a hospital with no memory of that night. Meanwhile, a deadly flu virus has caused a worldwide crisis. Homeland security agent Roosevelt David is certain that Bird knows something about the virus, something she shouldn’t.

The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan by Atia Abawi; Philomel     Fatima is a Hazara girl, raised to be obedient and dutiful. Samiullah is a Pashtun boy raised to defend the traditions of his tribe. They were not meant to fall in love. But they do. And the story that follows shows both the beauty and the violence in current-day Afghanistan as Fatima and Samiullah fight their families, their cultures and the Taliban to stay together. Based on the people Atia Abawi met and the events she covered during her nearly five years in Afghanistan, this stunning novel is a must-read for anyone who has lived during America’s War in Afghanistan.

No Name by Tim Tingle; 7th Generation     nspired by the traditional Choctaw story “No Name,” this modern adaptation features a present-day Choctaw teenager surviving tough family times–his mother left home and he is living with a mean-spirited, abusive father. The one place the teen can find peace is on the neighborhood basketball court. But after a violent confrontation with his father, the teen runs away, only to return home to find an unexpected hiding spot in his own backyard. His hiding spot becomes his home for weeks until the help and encouragement from a basketball coach, a Cherokee buddy and a quiet new next-door girlfriend help him face his father.

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces byIsabel Quintero; Cinco Puntos Press     Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: Cindy’s pregnancy, Sebastian’s coming out, the cute boys, her father’s meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity. Isabel Quintero is a library technician in the Inland Empire. She is also the events coordinator for Orange Monkey and helps edit the poetry journal Tin Cannon. Gabi is her debut novel.

 


Filed under: New Books Tagged: Andrea Davis Pinkney, Caroline Tung Richmond, Cynthia Kadohata, new releases, Rachel Renee Russell

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12. (Re)membering and (Re)living: Probing the Collective and Individual Past

Calls for Papers and Proposals

The ALAN Review
Summer 2015: (Re)membering and (Re)living: Probing the Collective and Individual Past
Submissions due November 1, 2014

Stories are dynamic, told and heard, accepted and revered, rejected and rewritten by readers who draw from their experiences and understandings to garner meaning from the words on the page.  In young adult texts, fiction and nonfiction, historical and contemporary and futuristic, this dynamism can encourage the critique of our collective past, helping us question assumptions about what came before and reconsider our responsibilities to the present and future. These texts can also help us consider the adolescent experience across time and place and explore the similarities and differences that shape reality as young people navigate and draft their own coming of age stories. This universality can foster a connection to others and reinforce our shared existence as members of a human community.  And yet, these texts can give emotional reality to names, dates, and other factual information, letting us imagine the voices of those who lived in other places and times and have sometimes been silenced in official accounts of history, ideally inspiring us honor these voices and generate a better future. Through these stories, we might come to reject a single narrative and develop empathy for individuals we never knew-and those we did and do and will. In this issue, we welcome articles that explore the relationship between young adult literature, history, stories, and readers.  We acknowledge that “every living soul is a book of their own history, which sits on the ever-growing shelf in the library of human memories” (Jack Gantos, Dead End in Norvelt). And that, “If you stare at the center of the universe, there is coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us. That’s why we have to care about each other” (David Levithan, Every Day).  Stories matter in this caring: “I leapt eagerly into books. The characters’ lives were so much more interesting than the lonely heartbeat of my own” (Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy). As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme.


Filed under: Opportunities, professional development Tagged: CFP. ALAN

0 Comments on (Re)membering and (Re)living: Probing the Collective and Individual Past as of 8/29/2014 4:59:00 PM
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13. From the Heartland: Mari Evans

thMari Evans was born in Toledo in 1923. I first encountered her works while in college. I needed a poem and, there she was. Upon discovering that Evans shared my hometown, I tucked her in my memories. After all, who in the world is from Toledo??

Like me, most know Evans as a poet. Her poetry is accessible to almost grown to full grown.

 

Where Have You Gone by Mari Evans
Where have you gone
with your confident
 walk with 
your crooked smile
why did you leave 
me
when you took your 
laughter
and departed
are you aware that 
with you
 went the sun
all light
and what few stars 
there were?
where have you gone
with your confident 
walk
your 
crooked smile
the 
rent money 
in one pocket
and 
my heart 
in another . . .

And, her poetry is timeless

We have screamed
and we have filled our lungs
with revolutionary rhetoric
We sing
the sorrow songs and march
chest tight and elbows
locked
yes
We have learned to mourn
Our martyrs and our children
murdered by our Greater Love
and strewn
like waste before our pious disbelief
What tremors stay our heads?
The monster still contains us!
There is no better time no
Futuretime
      (from “The Time is Now”)

Evans often visited Indianapolis as a child and moved to the city in the late 1960s to serve as writer in residence at Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI). Shortly after her arrival, she became the writer, producer and director of the television show “The Black Experience”. Evans writes about her experiences in and with the city in her essay “Ethos and Creativity: The Impulse as Malleable” (1989).  She describes with vivid examples what it is to be Black in Indiana. She writes of an attitude I’ve heard people from outside Indiana try to explain.

“Many Black folk thought of Indianapolis as urban, “up South.” It was better than being “down South,” but it retained many of the negative propositions of the deep South, and was not yet as enlightened or “progressive” as its West or East Coast counterparts. Conservatism and racism were alive and compatible.

To our discredit there is, even today, an amazing retention of that early sensibility. It is expressed, however, with much more class, much more élan, and many Black folk are so enthralled by the smiles they do not read the eyes nor understand psychological “locking out.”

Not too enthralled though, to not be angry even then at police shootings of young black men and at economic racism.

As a prominent member of the Indianapolis Black arts community, her memories are of a thriving Indiana Avenue, then the heart of the city’s black community and she grieves the impact of the destruction of the surrounding area on the black community. Evans writes of few opportunities for black artists in the city and understands why many leave.

Evans also taught at Purdue, Washington University, Cornell and the State University of New York. Her poetry collections include Night Star, Where is the Music and I am a Black Woman. Her children’s books include Dear Corinne, Tell Somebody! Love, Annie, A Book About Secrets; Jim Flying High and J.D.+-+64527191_140

In 2006, Evans published her first YA novel, I’m Late: The Story of Lanesse and Moonlight and Alisha Who Didn’t Have Anyone of Her Own.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 1.46.51 PM

 

They need something to believe in
the young
a joy exploding an
ecstatic peace to hide them in
a strengthening

They must leap miles into the stratosphere
clicking heels
and a half gainor backwards
free fall
We have taken the gods of Big
Bethel Mount Pilgrim and
Blessed assurance and walked
just part of the Way
with Damballa
Go on and do it Jim, we said
Boogalooing in the other direction

They need something to believe in
the young
That is only part of the truth
They need a map and a guide
to the interior

If we have the Word let us
say it
If we have the Word let us
Be it
If we have the Word let us
DO
They need something to believe in


Filed under: Authors, Uncategorized Tagged: african american, Indiana YA author, indianapolis, Mari Evans

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14. From the Heartland: Ashley Hope Perez

Some places come into your life, others for a season. These places give us different lessons and memories that come often come back to haunt us in one way or another. Will the ghosts of Indiana end up in any of Ashley Hope 2012AuthorPhoto-360x441Perez’s books? Who knows! Perhaps she was too busy during with school work during her time here that she didn’t get to experience Hoosier Hospitality to its fullest. Somehow, I doubt that. As you read through Ashley’s interview, you’ll realize that she engages with people, landscapes and histories. She wasn’t in Indiana very long, but long enough to claim her as an Indiana author. Her books bring the Latino experience to young adult literature. Her books include The Knife and the Butterfly (February 2012) and What Can’t Wait (2011), both from CarolRhoda Lab. Out of Darkess (CarolRhoda Lab) will be out in 2015.

Where did you grow up?

In Kilgore, Texas, which is about two hours east of Dallas and about an hour west of the Louisiana border. It’s an area known for friendly people, lots of churches, and miles and miles of pine trees. Also for its oil fields. My third novel, Out of Darkness, is the first I’ve ever set near where I grew up, and I suppose the seed for it came when I was a little kid. My dad would sometimes take my brother and me on veterinary calls, and I remember him pointing out the place in New London, Texas, where a school exploded killing almost two hundred children in 1937. That historical event is central to the story of Out of Darkness, although I made almost everything else up.

What were some of the first books you found as a child that turned you into a reader?

I was an early and eager reader, so I can’t really remember a time before I loved books. My older brother and I spent most of our summer mornings at the library near my dad’s clinic. Some of my childhood favorites include the original The Boxcar Children novel and Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family stories, which are about a large Jewish family with many daughters. Even after I “graduated” to longer books, I still enjoyed lingering over the beautiful illustrations in Ezra Jack Keats books, and I remember being fascinated and a little scared by Chris Van Allsburg’s books, many of which didn’t have any words at all. One of my favorite things about being a mom is rediscovering the world of picture books. My son’s favorite lately is The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez by René Colato Laínez. El Ratón Pérez is the mouse that collects teeth (like the tooth fairy) in Mexico and many other Latin American countries. Besides the obvious appeal of seeing his own last name on the cover and sharing a middle name (Miguel) with the boy in the book, my son loved the beautiful illustrations and humor of the story.

Meat or vegetables?

Both! I was mostly vegetarian until I was pregnant with my son, but something changed then. Now I have come to enjoy pulled pork, bacon, and carne asada on occasion. I’m still perfectly happy to eat vegetarian most of the time, though, and roasted kale and sweet potatoes are ridiculously close to chocolate on my comfort food list.

Which famous person would you most like to have write a review for your book?

Hmmm… there are some famous people I’d love to have read my books (hi, Oprah!), but I’ve never thought about picking a reviewer.

What three things would you like to add to a list of national treasures?

I’d start with oral histories from “ordinary” black and Latino Texans prior to the Civil Rights Era. I’d also want to preserve gospel and folk music. I got a little silly in the post office recently when I discovered a new postage stamp featuring Lydia Mendoza, a San Antonio music legend who was gaining popularity around the time when my main character in Out of Darkness moves with her twin brother and sister from San Antonio to East Texas.

What book(s) are you currently in the middle of reading?

I am one of those people who always has a few books going at any given time. I just started re-reading The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy, which has long been a favorite of mine. I’m also reading Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, Perfectly Good White Boy by Carrie Mesrobian, and a collection of stories by David James Poissant.

How did your writing career begin?

+-+149293101_70I was fortunate to have several professors encourage me during my college years, but I became a writer because I found my audience. This happened when I started teaching English and ESL at Chávez High School in Houston. Besides meeting all the standards and getting my students ready to have a serious chance at completing college, I wanted them to discover the pleasure of reading, a notion that was pretty foreign to most of my students. As my kids told me about what did or didn’t engage them, I learned that many of them felt “their story” was missing from the library shelves. My first novel, What Can’t Wait, incorporates many of the stories they shared with me, and I finished the first draft just in time to give it to my last group of students (all seniors) for graduation. My students were my first readers, and their excitement still tops every success I’ve had since.  

How do you hope your writing engages young people?

I come at the idea of engagement from two main directions. First, I strive for authenticity, a goal that’s especially important when exploring experiences that have largely been relegated to the sidelines of +-+554058792_70literature. When describing immigrant family life or gang culture, for example, that means walking the none-too-clear line between realism and what might seem like stereotype. I want readers who recognize the world of one of my books to find that how I portray that world rings true. Second, I think about how I can invite all readers into the book, even (or especially) if their life is completely different. That’s been crucial to my efforts to write a novel set in the past. It matters to me that it be gripping to contemporary readers from all backgrounds.

Out of Darkness is due next year from Carolrhoda Lab. You wrote it while completing your PhD. Any tips on time management?

Be sure to sleep. It sounds obvious, but often when we’re overtaxed, we think that stealing hours from sleep will help us get more done. In the end, it only sabotages the next day’s productivity. Also, map out goals week by week and month by month. I also make a semester plan and a five-year plan. Although achieving a goal often takes longer than we expect, putting it down on paper brings us a smidge closer to making the daily choices that will turn the goal into a reality.

Why did you write Out of Darkness? What story did you want to tell?

I already mentioned the school explosion, which is central to the novel. But it’s about much more. At the heart of the novel are questions about who can love whom and how and where certain kinds of love are possible. Quite a bit has been written about interracial romances between white and black characters—Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez offers a fascinating and original take—but there is very little exploration of relationships between black and Latina/o characters during the Jim Crow era. That was one story I wanted to tell, and I also wanted to incorporate glimpses into the tripartite segregation system present in Texas, a system that separated children into white, “colored,” and “Mexican” schools. Hard things happened during these times, and some people would prefer for the sins of the past to remain hidden. It’s a protective impulse, but ultimately we have to face what our community has been if we are to have any hope of forging something better in the future. That said, I hope that my tenderness toward East Texas comes through in the novel.  

There are a few weeks of summer left. I hope you’re able to relax and enjoy them! Thanks!

 


Filed under: Authors, Interview Tagged: Ashley Hope Perez, Indiana YA author

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15. SundayMorningReads

This morning, I began a blog post, reflecting on Ferguson, Eric Garner and other shootings, but then I had to go to my shift at the community garden and my sister came to visit. Isn’t it nice to be able to just walk away from all that violence, racism, hatred and ugliness?

I went to see “The Giver” last night. (Talk about getting away from violence, racism, hatred and ugliness!!) I don’t know what was going on here in the Haute, but the area near the mall was filled with young white boys in their pick up trucks. The trucks were outfitted with loud mufflers, and many burning diesel. Traffic was crazy heavy! No one was paying attention to traffic lights and it took forever to get out of the madness. I can’t remember feeling so unsettled in a very, very long time.

My youngest son has taken to reading the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.

My eldest called me recently filled with anger, confusion and disillusionment after watching the video of Eric Garner being killed when a police officer applied an illegal choke hold. I know my son has been stopped by cops for DWB. I know he lives in a city where 14 young men have been killed by police this year. Perhaps you have words I could have used to comfort him.

Oh! “Arms up”.

My daughter left Indy for a larger city where she could live with a little less fear as she chooses to live out loud, proud and gay. My daughter will never hide who she is, nor should she. Doesn’t matter if I’ve had nightmares about trying to protect her. She has to live her life.

My sister sampled the fish I roasted with yam leaves; an African dish. We did some window shopping, had some frozen yogurt and had a really nice afternoon.

No worries.

I’ve got reviews to post this week, all books written by author of color. That’s my fight, getting more books out there with characters of color so that all young readers can realize there are brown kids who matter.


Filed under: Me Being Me

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16. Book Review: Brown Girl Dreaming

title: Brown 9780399252518Girl Dreaming

author: Jacqueline Woodson

Date: Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin; August 2014

Main Character: Jacqueline Woodson

MIddle Grade Fiction

There are rules to children’s books you know, and Jacqueline Woodson just broke one.

Brown Girl Dreaming is the author’s poetic telling of her childhood and retrospective visits to childhood are supposed to be adult books. Somewhere along when Jackie learned to embrace words and the power they contain, she became entitled to a Poetic License that let this book be produced as a children’s book. Thank goodness!

For me, a Black woman of the same generation who grew up in Ohio with a mother from Mississippi, I quite often found myself pausing and connecting to the story while I daydreamed about my own life. But, this book wasn’t written for me. Will teens relate? Will they find themselves in the spaces Woodson creates when she talks about teeth, not being as smart as, about grandpa’s love and forever friends? I think that they will not only find themselves in these nuances, but they’ll also see how they fit into the larger stories of their family, community and history itself.

In creating a fictional autobiography, Woodson leaves huge spaces that all readers can dive into and find their own meaning. Woodson looks back as adult, but tells the story through the eyes of a child. Her family is her haven whether they’re in New York or South Carolina and even when it looks like things might be going wrong, Jacqueline’s family is perfect in the young girl’s eyes. This girl has a dream to fulfill and we’re going to find out where she gets her strength!

Young Jacqueline is disenchanted with the inaccuracies of memory and the confusion between storytelling and lying.

Keep making up stories, my uncle says.

You’re lying my mother says.

 

Maybe the truth is somewhere between

all that I’m told

and memory.

So, Jacqueline decides to give us her own truths in this story of self empowerment.

I’m so glad Woodson broke the rule!

I reviewed an ARC and am looking forward to adding a final copy to my collection as it will also contain photos.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline Woodson grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She now writes full-time and has recently received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Her other awards include a Newbery Honor, two Coretta Scott King awards, two National Book Award finalists, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. source


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: african american, Jacqueline Woodson, review

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17. From the Hearltand: Elsa Martson

Considering authors who write about African American, Latino, Arab or Muslim Americans, Native Americans in my state of Indiana has uncovered a true wealth of authors. It’s a bit funny to see such richness in this state when Indiana in YA is usually seen as the last place on earth. But, to those teens who live here, Indiana is the center of the universe. 

Elsa Martson is an Indiana writer who expands the universe of all young readers. She’s very active in the world of YA lit, whether she’s hosting a listserv chat, speaking at a local conference or writing another book that focuses on the people and cultures of the Middle East.Elsa has written over 20 children’s and young adult books including Santa The-Compassionate-Warrior-330Claus in Bahgdad And Other Stories About Teens In the Arab World and Figs and Fate: Stories About Growing Up In the Arab World Today.  Her most recent book, The Compassionate Warrior: Abd el-Kader of Algeria won the following awards. 

  • Co-winner of the 2013 Middle East Book Award for best “Youth Nonfiction”
  • Finalist for 2013 Midwest Books Award in the categories “History” and “Young Adult Non-Fiction”
  • Finalist for 2013 Foreword Review “Book of the Year” Award in the category “Young Adult Nonfiction”
  • 2014 Eric Hoffer Award, First runner-up in the “Culture” category
Later this year, she’ll release The Olive Tree. 
A story for all ages, about how an old olive tree in Lebanon caused conflict–and inspired reconciliation. Based on the author’s award-winning and much reprinted short story. With illustrations by Claire Ewart.
Let’s meet Elsa!

 

Where did you grow up?

I’m a New Englander from way, way back;  I grew up in Newton Centre, Massachusetts; and then my parents moved to a small town on the Massachusetts Dscf0689bw_web-330coast, Duxbury, just north of Plymouth.  It’s a beautiful place, with beaches, marshes, pine woods, and fascinating houses from the 17th-19th centuries.  I still feel steeped in the culture and history of  New England.  One of my current works-in- progress is set on the coast of Maine at the start of the American Revolution.

How did you end up in Indiana?

So I’m not a Hoosier at heart.  But Bloomington has been a great place to live!   I came here with my husband, Iliya Harik, who was Lebanese (I met him when we were students at the American University of Beirut).  He taught Middle East government at Indiana University for his entire career, with occasional leaves overseas. That made it possible for our family to live in such places as Cairo, Beirut, and Tunisia . . . wonderful inspiration for my writing.  But it was always nice to come home to Indiana.  (I have three sons: Ramsay, a secondary-school teacher of religious studies in Austin, Texas—and my first-line reader!  Amahl, proprietor of a fitness-training studio in Providence;  and Raif, a computer guy in Austin.  And grandchildren Savannah, starting health-care studies, and Kahlil, a 2-year-old ball of sunshine.)

What were some of the first books you found as a child that turned you into a reader?

I grew up in a book-filled home—my dad was a professor of English at Northeastern University in Boston—so becoming a reader was as natural for me as loving to climb trees. From my very young childhood I remember Barbar the Elephant, and in grade school I loved the E. Nesbit books and Mary Poppins—delightful blendings of fantasy and realism.

What three things would you like to add to a list of world treasures?

Oh my,  I’ll probably have some brilliant ideas tomorrow—but here’s what I’m thinking today.

The coast of Northern California, for the sheer beauty of its long, wide beaches, golden grass-covered slopes, redwood forests…..

Two or three piano concertos by Mozart—although I dare say he’s already on the list.

The translucent alabaster sarcophagus of Pharaoh Seti I, every inch covered with tiny hieroglyphs painted  a heavenly blue—for the beauty and sheer amazingness of the thing. (It’s in the Soanes Museum in London.)

What book(s) are you currently reading?

One I read recently that made a big impression on me was Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum (Merit Press, 2014).  It’s about a girl in Texas, a compulsive eater, whose dad—a rising politician—has just been hit by scandal;  he abandons the family and they have to move, virtually penniless, to another small town.  So Colby has a lot to feel bad about, and she handles it by gobbling sugar.  What I especially liked  is that Colby is not particularly likable: she’s irritable, irrational.  But we always care about her and hope that eventually she’ll find the strength to become the confident, sympathetic person that’s hiding inside all that baggage. 

When did you realize that you are a writer?

My dad was a writer and a storyteller, who made up bedtime stories for my sister and me.  I think that gave me the idea that I could tell stories, too.   At the age of eight or nine, I started to write two “novels,”  one of them set in ancient Egypt.  Naturally neither got beyond the second page, but I enjoyed them while they lasted.  And discovered, many years later, that my novel The Ugly Goddess, set in a  fascinating period of ancient Egyptian history, was the realization of that very early dream! It may take 40 or 50 years to realize your dreams—but it can happen! 

 

What stories do you most enjoy telling?

I like to tell stories about young people who face challenges or troubles and somehow manage to end up in a better place.  When I started writing, wanting to use the unusual places I’d had a chance to spend time in (Cairo, Carthage, Greek Islands), I wrote rather complicated mystery/adventure stories about young Americans in those settings.  But at a conference the well-known author Avi once told me:  “I think you should write stories that move people.”  I now feel  that the stories in my collection Santa Claus in Baghdad and Other Stories About Teens in the Arab World best express what I want to do and perhaps can do best.  They still have an “exotic” element, being set in a variety of contemporary Arab societies, but my main concern is to depict young people trying to deal with the lives they were given, and make the best of it.

How did you decide to write about the Middle East and North Africa for young adults?

Since early childhood I’ve been intrigued by “other times, other places,” so I always had an international bent.   A Rotary Foundation fellowship took me to the American University of Beirut, and my marriage to the young man I met there—and the combination of his work and my own lifelong interests—led naturally to specializing in that part of the world.

But there’s another reason.  The Arab world is badly misunderstood, rejected, and disparaged in this country—even though Arab-Americans have always been exemplary as an immigrant community.  Since the founding of Israel in the Arab country of Palestine, in 1948, this prejudice has been drastically hardened by political complications, which are harmful not only to Arabs but to the interests of the U.S. and ultimately, I believe, to Israel.  I feel a mission as a writer to counter some of the ignorance and  politically motivated prejudice by presenting the people of the Arab world in ways that Americans can comprehend and relate to sympathetically.

You’ve described the whole Arab/Muslim world as invisible through use of the term “people of of color” and through their lack of representation in children’s literature.  Could you mention a few of the significant events, authors or books in children’s lit relating to books by and featuring Arab/Muslim Americans of which we should be aware?

Until the mid 1990’s there were very, very few books for young people with a positive Arab viewpoint—largely, I firmly believe, because of the prejudice mentioned above.  The door started to open with the publication of two very successful books by an already successful writer, Naomi Shihab Nye:  the novel Habibi and picture book Sitti’s Secrets, both about Palestine.  This showed publishers and writers that it was possible to produce books that give a favorable view of Arabs—without a storm of criticism.  Two other picture books published at about this time, by Florence Parry Heidi and Judith Heidi Gilliland, The Day of Ahmed’s Secret (Egypt) and Sami and the Time of the Troubles (Lebanon), were also important “door openers.” 

Since then, we’ve seen a slow but pretty steady increase in accurate, fair, and sympathetic books about Arabs, by British, American, and Israeli authors.  But very few Arab or Arab-American writers!  Although there are many Arab novelists, poets, and essayists, the idea that literature for children is an important and worthy use of literary talent has been slow to catch on.  Books for kids have been published in Arabic for years in such countries as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Kuwait; but they very rarely attract attention for translation and publication in the U.S.  I keep hoping!

I keep a list of recommended books, mostly fiction, mostly about the Arab world,  which I think is as comprehensive a list as you could find, going back to the 1970s.  I’d be happy to send it electronically to anyone who gets in touch with me  (elsa.marston@gmail.com)   Besides the ones mentioned above, here are some that I especially recommend:

Ibtisam Barakat, Tasting the Sky:  A Palestinian Childhood

Anne Laurel Carter,  The Shepherd’s Granddaughter (Palestine)

Elizabeth Laird, A Little Piece of Ground   (Palestine)

Zeina Abirached, A Game for Swallows  (Lebanon)

Alalou, Elizabeth and Ali, The Butter Man  (Morocco)

Carolyn Marsden,  The White Zone  (Iraq)

Mary Matthews,  Magid Fasts for Ramadan (Egypt)

Jeanette Winter,  The Librarian of Basra  (Iraq)

Randa Abdel-Fattah, Ten Things I Hate About Me;   Does My Head Look Big in This? (Arab-Australians)

Claire Sidhom Matze, The Stars in My Geddoh’s Sky  (Egypt, Egyptian-Americans)

Cathryn Clinton, A Stone in My Hand  (Palestine)

Maha Addasi, The White Nights of Ramadan  (Gulf States)

What does diversity mean to you?

Talking about books, I take diversity to mean inclusion of good books about the Arab/Muslim world!  But of course I would include all cultures and countries—and encouragement of good writing and storytelling, that will hold up well in translation and publication in diverse societies.  I also welcome positive attention to all sorts of human conditions.  It’s wonderful to have books that broaden our understanding and appreciation of different experience—whether social, gender, religious, occupational, or virtually any other walk of life.   

 

 

Previous Posts From the Heartland

DHARATHULA “DOLLY” HOOD MILLENDER

KEVIN WALTMAN-


Filed under: Authors, Interview Tagged: Arab, Elsa Martson, Heartland, Indiana, interview, Middle Eastern YA Literature, Muslim

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18. Meet Crystal Allen!

Crystal Allen writes middle grade/young YA fiction that break the mold of what we too often find in children’s literature.  I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing The Laura Line which was released in 2013.

51O8GYjCtrL._AA160_Thirteen-year-old Laura Dyson wants two things in life: to be accepted by her classmates and to be noticed by baseball star Troy Bailey. But everyone at school makes fun of her for being overweight, and Troy won’t give her a second glance. Until their seventh grade history teacher puts Laura front and center by announcing a field trip to the old run-down slave shack on her grandmother’s property. Heck to the power of no way! Her grandmother insists that it’s more than just a shack; it’s a monument to the strong women in their family — the Laura Line. Something to be proud of. But Laura knows better: if her classmates can’t accept her now, they never will once they see the shack. So she comes up with the perfect plan to get the field trip canceled. But when a careless mistake puts the shack — and the Laura Line — in jeopardy, Laura must decide what’s truly important to her. Can Laura figure out how to get what she wants at school while also honoring her family’s past?

Crystal recently agreed to the following interviewing and I have to say it’s been such a joy getting to know her! I’m sure you’ll understand why I say that as you read her interview.

crystal-allen-220

What is one of your most clear memories of being a teen?

I loved theater and drama.  I tried out for every play in middle school and high school.  My first role was the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz when I was in the fifth grade.  When the play was over, all of the first and second graders hated me, so I chased them all over the playground.  It was awesome.

I love the opening line on your blog: “Holy Crackers and Cream Cheese! Oh, Mylanta! You’re here!” What are your favorite snack foods?

I love to snack on almonds, fruit, Twizzlers, or Mexican food, not necessarily in that order.

Which famous person would you most like to have to write a review for your book?

Michelle Obama.

What three things would you like to add to a list of national treasures?

My definition of “national treasures” is different than what may actually qualify as a national treasure.  But, if I could add three things, it was be these three:

  1. All Senior Citizen Facilities or Nursing Homes. I believe senior citizens are our most beloved National Treasures.
  1. YMCA’s, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and inner city recreation centers .  The importance of these alternatives for youth around the country is invaluable, and has helped deter many from taking wrong paths.
  1. The Houston Astrodome. The Astrodome may already be on the National Treasures list, however, I know there are talks of demolishing it.  The Dome has so much history, and to tear it down would certainly destroy a strong piece of Houston history.

Why would you be up at 3am?  Reflux.

What book(s) are you currently in the middle of reading?

Panic – Sharon Draper

The Sweet Dead Life – Joy Preble

(Starting soon)  The Great Greene Heist – Varian Johnson

You write fun, middle class stories with a bit of a lesson that any child can enjoy. What authors have inspired your writing?

Christopher Paul Curtis

Sharon Draper

Donna Gephart

Neal Shusterman

The Laura Line is your newest book. That title is so intriguing! Can you explain it, or will that give too

much away?

The Laura Line is about Laura Dyson, a thirteen year old, overweight girl who has dreams of being a model…or a major league baseball pitcher.  Because of her weight issues, students make fun of her to the point that Laura begins to believe that she is all of the ugly things her classmates say she is.  It’s not until Laura ventures into an old shack on her grandmother’s farm and finds a ledger filled with documents from the female ancestors in her history, (all of them named Laura)  that she begins to stand up for herself.  Now, Laura Dyson not only knows who she is, but has evidence of all the wonderful things she can become.+-+191835251_140

Could Laura and Lamar be friends?  Yes!

I love that you’re a Hoosier! (Once Hoosier, always a Hoosier!) What is it about Indiana that made you decide to set Lamar there?

I grew up in a small town in Indiana and I needed Lamar and Xavier to be small town boys.  Once I began drafting the setting, and adding basketball as Xavier’s biggest talent, it was clear to me that Indiana had to be part of the story, especially since basketball is HUGE in Indiana.

Is setting difficult for you to choose when you begin writing or does setting come right along with the character?

Detailed setting comes with my characters, especially after I understand where they plan on spending the majority of their time.

Finally, what does diversity mean to you?

To me, diversity simply means everybody.

 


Filed under: Authors Tagged: african american, Crystal Allen, interview

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19. Sunday Morning Reads

Have you been following #WeNeedDiverseBooks on FB or Tumblr? They’ve been coming up with spot on books pairs this summer.

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The WNDB Team has most recently been joined by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. the Cake Literary Ladies!

You know everything is bigger in Texas, including the state’s annual library conference. TLA has got to be the most popular state library conference in the nation. Call for papers is currently open.

The Américas Award created a list of selected Américas Award titles that highlight issues surrounding children and the border.  This and other thematic guides can be found on the Américas website:www.claspprograms.org/americasaward.  Contribute your activities and titles on our Facebook page: Facebook.com/americasaward.

Children’s laureate Malorie Blackman, authors, illustrators, poets in the UK are part of a movement demanding the government insure a presence of good libraries in all schools.

And in the US? Well, the schools in Chicago all have libraries, but half of them have librarians. The Mayor’s CEO says they can’t find librarians to fill the positions. That reminds me so much of publishers saying they can’t find authors of color. Numerous schools around Indiana have lost librarians, most often in elementary schools. I’ve heard of some schools in the state relying upon the public library to come in and provide library services. Not all librarians are created equal! While both a public and school librarian would be familiar with children’s and young adult literature, the public librarian would work more on programming and not be familiar with the curriculum as a school librarian would. Librarians provide technology training for students and staff, often teaching classes and providing professional development. I don’t know how we think schools can do without them.

Kate DiCamillo is our current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

BrownBookShelf continues the “Making Our Own Market” series with an interview of self published author DuEwa Frazier.

 Eventually, I taught myself how to self-publish. There was no one there to hold my hand through the entire process but I did receive support. I took writing workshops with the late, great poet, Louis Reyes Rivera and was mentored by Abiodun Oyewole of the Last Poets. I attended many of the Center for Black Literature’s National Black Writers Conference’s early panels and workshops. I later took children’s writing and non-fiction workshops at other centers in the city. I became a part of a community of writers who had academics and cultural consciousness in their backgrounds.

We’re already talking Back to School. Summer here has been slow to warm and it feels like it hasn’t really started yet. Slow to warm and high humidity here makes me wonder how in the world June 2014 could have been the hottest June on record. Ah! To get out of my little bubble! #WeNeedDiverseBooks

 

 

 

 

 


Filed under: Sunday Reads Tagged: #WeNeedDiverseBoosk, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, school libraries

1 Comments on Sunday Morning Reads, last added: 7/27/2014
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20. Guest Reviewer: The Laura Line

I recently posted an interview with Crystal Allen (who happens to blog at The BrownBooksShelf) and I felt bad that I hadn’t read The Laura Line and couldn’t review it. So, I reached out to Olugbemisola Amusashonubi-Perkovich (who also blogs at The BrownBookShelf) and she helped me find a most skilled young lady to write a review. Thanks Gbemi and Ms. ARP!  I’d say we all need to rush out and buy this book!

51O8GYjCtrL._AA160_Title: The Laura Line

author: Crystal Allen

Date: Balzer + Bray; 2013

main character: Laura Dyson

guest review: ARP

 

Laura Dyson is a fashionista, she plays baseball, and is good at it too, and she has a crush on the school’s baseball star! However,arpphoto she believes she also has a super embarrassing family history, which she is worried will drive him away. So, she keeps it a secret, and sticks with her best buddy Sage, her only friend at school (besides her teacher, of course.) Just like any other middle schooler, she has a big bully, who apparently thinks that she can’t go a day without a candy. NOT POSSIBLE! She always has a couple of Almond Joys in her pocket, even if they are a little squished, and she tries to keep her special “CHUNKY HUNKY” (a.k.a, her crush, Troy Bailey,) in sight at all times. Unfortunately for Laura, he won’t even give her a second glance.
But then, Laura and her class have to write an assignment, and Laura is pushed on all sides to learn about her long family line of strong, black women. And by doing this, she discovers they might not be so embarrassing after all….
After a few sticky situations like accidentally damaging something important to her family, and more Almond Joys, this funny story comes to an end, and we say goodbye to the wonderful, amazing, baseball player, fashionista Laura Dyson.
This book helped me understand how important it is to stay true to your culture and heritage, and most of all your family. I also liked the way that Ms. Allen showed that appearance isn’t everything.
I would recommend this book to anyone, but if you like realistic fiction, this book is especially for you!

Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: ARP, Crystal Allen, Geust Reviewer

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21. Saturday Trailer: Knockout Games

What better day for book trailers than a Saturday?

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Knockout Games by Greg Neri was released yesterday.


Filed under: Saturday Trailers Tagged: trailers; G. Neri; Knockout Games

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22. From the Heartland: Kevin Waltman

My recent interview with Crystal Allen got me wondering who are the Indiana authors who write about teens of color? This is an important question when you consider how many YA books are set in NYC. Teens in Indiana , or any state, benefit from stories set where they live because setting can provide one more way for young readers to relate to their reading. Stories that mention the Pacers, Fort Wayne or Turkey Run State Park not only resonates with readers, but they also let readers  know that where they live matters and indeed they must, too.

Local authors are also important for teachers and librarians. Little can emphasize the importance of reading and writing more that a visit from these experts! Don’t we all get giddy around these rock stars of words and imagination?

You’ve met Crystal and I have several others for you to meet over the next couple of weeks. While some have lived in Indiana their entire life, others passed through for a few years. “Once a Hoosier, always a Hoosier!”

These are the authors those students I used to teach in Indianapolis would just love to meet!

Kevin Waltman lived in Indiana for his childhood, high school and college years. Indiana is where Kevin developed his love of basketball, partially because, well this is Indiana! But more important, his dad was legendary college coach Royce Waltman. Kevin currently lives in Alabama. Most recently, he’s been writing the D-Bow High School Hoops Series (Cinco Puntos Press). The first book in the series, Next came out in 2013 and Slump releases in October.

Where did you grow up?

            I was born in Bedford, Pennsylvania, where I lived until I was 11. After that, I lived in Bloomington, Indiana, for five years, then in Greencastle, Indiana, where I went to high school and college (DePauw University). After college I lived briefly in Washington, D.C., before moving to Indianapolis for five years before moving down to Alabama, where I’ve lived since 2001.

Do you have any pets?

          Our dog Henry. Technically, he’s my wife Jesssica’s dog, as she adopted him before we started dating—but we’ve been together for 9 years now, so Henry feels very much like my dog, too.

What were some of the first books you found as a child that turned you into a reader?

            As a little child, I read and read, but the series of books that stand out in my memory are the Black Stallion books. I just couldn’t get enough of those. Like a lot of boys, I hit a bit of dead period in my reading in my teens, but The Catcher in the Rye got me jump-started again.

Which famous person would you most like to write a review for your book?

           Roy Hibbert or Mike Conley, Jr. They’re both NBA players with Indiana connections, and they seem genuinely interested in helping young people—my potential readers.

What book(s) are you currently in the middle of reading?

            I just started The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, but I’m only a couple pages in, so it hasn’t taken over my imagination yet. Before that, I read On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee, which is honestly one of the best books I’ve read in some time, at least since The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. And I’m also reading a tale from The Complete Sherlock Holmes in between every other book I read.

Is there much difference between life in Indiana and life in Alabama?

            Alabama’s hotter. Okay, that’s a bit of a joke, but in some ways that underscores other differences. The more rural nature of Alabamians, their relationships to the land, their penchant for comfort food—all of it seems influenced at least in part by the Southern weather. There are, certainly, other differences. Alabama, like other Southern states is more conservative, more religious, and poorer than Midwestern counterparts. However, though those traits are broadly true, the differences on those fronts don’t seem particularly pronounced when compared to Indiana.

                  Then, of course, there’s sports. I sometimes get rather quizzical looks when I tell Alabamians that I’m writing novels that focus in part on basketball, where in Indiana that is rather central to most people’s activities. Down here, it’s football first. And second. And always.

I have noticed that you teach writing at the university level. I would think teaching writing would be so difficult because there are just some things about writing that one cannot teach. What is it about teaching this skill that you enjoy?

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Click to hear a podcast interview with Kevin.

            It depends on what type of writing you’re talking about. I teach a lot of English Composition, which is really about preparing first-year students to write academic essays: how to research information and cite it; how to analyze and develop arguments; how to explore a topic as even-handedly as possible. That seems quite teachable if a student is actually earnest in wanting to learn. Creative writing is trickier, and I think that’s probably what you’re referring to here. In some ways, teaching that is largely telling students to break all the rules that they’ve been taught in English Composition. Rather than one or two accepted styles, there are endless styles. Rather than painstakingly developing “argument,” they can let go of “having a point” altogether. They can fabricate things. They can make up words. They can re-invent themselves over and over again. English Composition is like teaching students how to make a good lasagna, with a few possible variations they might try once they master the recipe. Teaching creative writing is like taking students to a kitchen and pointing out all the possible ingredients, then saying, “Have at it.”

                  In both cases, though, there are times when, as an instructor, you can actually see moments of recognition in students. You’ve maybe told them something a dozen times, but for whatever reason that final explanation clicks for them, and you immediately see a breakthrough in their writing—which also means a breakthrough in how they conceive of themselves as scholars and writers. That’s rather rewarding.

What attracted you to writing about basketball?

            My dad was a basketball coach (in order: Bedford High School head coach; assistant coach at Indiana University; then head coach at DePauw University, the University of Indianapolis, and Indiana State University). Basketball was a part of me from the get-go. Though I played poorly and quit my high school team, I always loved to play—and I was an avid pick-up player until a few years ago when I hurt my knee. But more than playing, I watched endless hours of basketball. When I was a kid, I’d get dropped off after school at the Bedford gym where my dad was running practice. As a teenager, I watched every game on ESPN every single night. I went to hundreds of my dad’s games. I went to Pacers games, to random college games, to tournament games in Indianapolis and Milwaukee and Nashville. To Final Fours in Atlanta and Denver. Alabama games. Summer league games. I once tried to estimate how much time I’ve spent watching basketball—it came out roughly to a full year of my life.

                  So, to answer your question: writing about basketball feels almost as natural as breathing.

How did you decide you wanted to write for teens?

            This is a little trickier. I don’t know if it was ever a conscious decision, as much as it was a happy accident. Sometime in 2000, I met the now-somewhat-famous-y.a.-author David Levithan, and he was busy scouting authors for a new y.a. imprint at Scholastic, where he is an editor. I sent him some material. He liked it. And that’s how my first y.a. novel, Nowhere Fast, began. I followed that up with Learning the Game for Scholastic in 2005, and then after a hiatus where I was working on other projects, I returned to y.a. for Next. It’s good to be back.

Is it difficult to maintain Kevin’s character over 3 books? In what ways does he develop?

            Well, I’m in the middle of writing the third book now. And this is the first time that I’ve ever written a series. So the tricky part has been balancing “maintaining” characters while changing them enough so that there’s real development from book to book. At the same time, I can’t totally reinvent Derrick or any other character when I start a new manuscript—they need to have some consistency. In fact, Derrick—because his basketball goals keep him so focused—has been in some ways the slowest to change. He changes all right, but his end goal stays the same, and as I work on the third book I find that other characters—Wes, Jasmine, Uncle Kid—are undergoing more radical changes around Derrick.

It sounds like there are many generational messages in the D-Bow series. What influenced you to put those relationships into your stories?

            I think there are two forces. The first is that, with sports, it’s hard to separate the player from his parentage (in whatever form that may come). One of the most touching moments in sports over the last few years was Kevin Durant’s MVP speech, particularly his words for his mother. Any player, if he’s honest with himself, owes something. For Derrick, his parents keep him grounded and disciplined, and they keep him from taking an easier—and more questionable—path. Meanwhile, Uncle Kid has been vital to his development as a player. And even if it’s not about growth as a player and a person, the way people experience sports when they’re young is often a way to share an experience with a parent: watching or going to a game together.

                  The other forces are personal. I’ve recently become a parent, and as any parent will tell you that changes everything. There is not a single idea or object in my world that hasn’t been somehow altered and made more brilliant by our daughter’s presence. Her exhilaration at her world becomes mine. So while I’m not consciously putting anything in my books about her, I’m a fool to think that anything I do is left unaffected by her. And, finally, I recently lost my father. Again, that’s not something I’ve consciously worked into the books—in fact, I revised Slump so Derrick’s father’s health problems were less similar to my own father’s. But, again, my own relationship to sports is inextricably tied to my own relationship to my father. So my dad—and my history with him—hovers like a shadow beside every sentence I write in this series.

What does diversity mean to you?

            To me, it means a goal that Americans still need to meet. I don’t mean to deny the progress America has made, not just since the pre-Civil Rights era, but since I was a kid. Most students I encounter now almost reflexively champion the benefits of diversity, though there are still exceptions. That’s great, but I think sometimes it’s lip service. That’s true of individuals who praise diversity publicly because they’re “supposed to,” but who don’t embrace any policies that might actually bring such diversity about. And it’s true of America in general, too. I live just outside of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which was recently featured in The Atlantic in a story about how our public schools are being re-segregated. It makes sense to focus on Tuscaloosa, since it’s in the self-proclaimed “Heart of Dixie,” but the sad truth—and I don’t offer this in any way to acquit Tuscaloosa of the charges that article leveled—is that such re-segregation is happening all over the country. And that kind of segregation creates a persisting “underclass” that Americans—or at least too few of the officials we elect to office—don’t seem to care that much about, no matter how much we extol the virtues of diversity.

                  So, yes, we’ve come a long way, but I think there’s a self-satisfaction because we see “diversity” all over our televisions, or at college graduation ceremonies, or even in some board rooms. Those images, important as they are, blind us from the segregation that exists between the haves and the disproportionately minority have-nots. There’s work to be done.


Filed under: Authors, Interview Tagged: basketball, Cinco Puntos, Indiana, Kevin Waltman, series

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23. From the Heartland: Dharathula “Dolly” Hood Millender

Local authors provide teens access to the landscape of local history and geography. They write about stories that include the language, hangouts and routines of local teens. They also visit schools and libraries and remind young adults that reading and writing are important and that anyone right here in this town, in this state, in Indiana of all places, can indeed become a successful writer.

I’ve recently been researching local young adult authors and I’m so amazed by the work they do that goes beyond authoring books. So many authors seem to have a tremendous level of dedication to their community of readers. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find all that they do. We read about the visit Matt de la Peña made to New Mexico to visit schools when students requested his visit after so many books there were banned. We see the letters that Nikki Grimes that shares from the relationships she’s developed with students that span (and inspire) the years. I’ve spoken with Angela Johnson and know of her service to prison communities, but you typically have to dig to find out this kind of information.

And, digging is just what I did to find out about Dharathula “Dolly” Millender. At age 94, Dolly has to be the oldest living children’s and young adult author in Indiana, if not the nation. Dolly is both woman and an African American very much ahead of her times.9780020418108

Nicholas Hood, Dolly’s grandfather, settled in Indian after he became free.

Her mother, Daisy Hood, received a teaching degree from Fisk University in the early 1900s. She was quite active in the NAACP and one of the founders of the Phyllis Wheatley Association in Terre Haute. This organization built the Phyllis Wheatley House that provided housing for African American female students at Indiana State Normal School. (The now Indiana State University.) At that time, the university did admit African American students but did not allow them to live in the dorms or eat in the dining halls.

Her father was every bit as active. Orestes Hood attended Purdue University where he completed a two-year teacher’s course of study in electricity. He taught for a while in the East Saint Louis schools before moving to Terre Haute, IN. Here, he opened the only radio shop in downtown Terre Haute at a time when radios were as important as computers are to us today. Orestes was contracted for work throughout the city for individual and corporate work. When he was hired by Purdue University to repair audio-visual equipment, Orestes became the first African American professional staff member on the campus.

Understand, please this was Indiana in the early 1900s. (Dolly wasn’t born until 1920.) Slavery ended in this country a scant 35 years prior. The Civil Rights movement had not yet begun. The Harlem Renaissance was about to start. Terre Haute was about to hustle and bustle as bootleggers were about to set up camp. Native Americans had been removed years and years before.

30% of the white male population in Indiana belonged to the Ku Klux Klan.

From 1900-1910, the population of African Americans in Indiana was about half of what it was for whites. In fact, in 1900, there were considerably fewer than 100,000 African Americans in the state and most of these settled in urban areas.

Horses were the mainstay of travel and telephones were new on the scene.

So, as I continue to recount details of Dolly’s life, we have to know there’s much that is missing. I don’t believe it came as easy to the Hoods as it seems by reading a list of their accomplishments. As we read on, try to keep in mind when and where this all happened.

Dolly was born 4 February 1920 and had seven siblings. Her parents were of that generation that wanted thimageseir children to have a better life than they themselves did and this certainly required an education. Dolly attend the then Indiana State Teacher’s College (now Indiana State University) in 1941 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English, minoring in music and library science. Dolly lived in the Phyllis Wheatley house because colored students could not live on campus. Her brother, Orestes attended college at the same time as Dolly. He held a one man sit-in to successfully de-segregate the university’s dining facilities in the late 1930s, about 30 years before the sit-ins across the southern United States.

Dolly graduated and worked as a librarian at a junior college in South Carolina, in the Library of Congress and in severa71PD7NPSY2L._AA160_l school libraries. She eventually began working as a school librarian in Gary, Indiana until she retired in 1978. She became the official historian of Gary, a city councilwoman, a school board member and the founder and CEO of the Gary Historical Society. She also received a Master of Science degree in Educational Media from Purdue University in 1968.

Her mother had always told stories about famous Negroes, and very few were present in books. Between the stories she heard and the influence of a former teacher publishing The Child’s Story of the Negro, Dolly was able to publish Crispus Attucks, Boy of Valor as part of Bobbs-Merrill’s Childhood of Famous Americans Series. The company also approached her to write books on Martin Luther King Jr. and Louis Armstrong for the series. The Louis Armstrong millendebook was revised and republished by Simon and Schuster.

Dolly’s motto is “The joy of living is the joy of giving service to others.”

Dolly is passionate about local history. She is local history! She is listed in Who’s Who Among African Americans.

I’m not a 15 year old searching for identity but I have to say that just knowing about Dolly Millender and Kevin Waltman, I feel that much prouder of who I am and where I am. Share these stories with your teens! Dolly and Kevin’s books are still available, so pick up a copy! And, stay tuned because there are more IN YA authors who write about people of color!

 

 

References

Duncan, Hilary. Dolly Millender, ’41, Naomi Millender, 67. State Magazine. Retrieved from http://statemagazine.com/hood-legacy/

Reynolds, Crystal. The Joy of Giving Service Dharathula “Dolly” Millender. Retrieved from http://www.indstate.edu/diversity/docs/The%20Joy%20of%20Giving%20Service%20Dolly%20Hood%20Millender%20Biography.pdf

Visclosky, Peter J. 2010. Dolly Millender. Retrieved from

http://capitolwords.org/date/2010/02/02/E125-4_dolly-millender/

 

 

 

 


Filed under: Authors Tagged: Dharathula "Dolly" Hood Millender, Indiana Authors

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24. August Releases

Although somewhat late, I am so glad to deliver this list of MG and YA releases by authors of color for the month of August. It’s been quite a long while since we’ve seen so many releases in one month. If you prefer a more visual presentation, visit the Pinterest Board. And, the 2014 cumulative list can be found here.

I tried cleaning up my cumulative list, I’m not sure what’s going on with WordPress. I copied the entire list to a Word doc to clean up the spacing and the font. The results were even worse! What I’m left with is a page that looks much better, but no hyperlinks. If you need the links, you can access them on a Word doc from the page with the list. All new postings should have hyperlinks but I’m not going back to add them. I just want to get out of WordPress for now. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Descriptions are from IndieBound except where noted.

Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidier; Push     The long-awaited sequel to Hidier’s groundbreaking “Born Confused”Nan ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Dimple Lala needs a change. She and her boyfriend think they’re heading to Bombay for a family wedding, but really they are plunging into the unexpected, the unmapped, and the uncontrollable.

Knockout Games by Greg Neri; Carolrhoda Books. A disturbing rash of seemingly random attacks occur in St. Louis by a group of teens called the TKO club. Erica is one of a few girls who is down with TKO in part due to her natural skill with a video camera and her ability to make art out of the attacks.

I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached; Graphic Universe     Zeina Abirached, author of the award-winning graphic novel A Game for Swallows, returns with a powerful collection of wartime memories.

Abirached was born in Lebanon in 1981. She grew up in Beirut as fighting between Christians and Muslims divided the city streets. Follow her past cars riddled with bullet holes, into taxi cabs that travel where buses refuse to go, and n outings to collect shrapnel from the sidewalk.

With striking black-and-white artwork, Abirached recalls the details of ordinary life inside a war zone. (Amazon)

Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth; Scholastic MG     Jarrett is used to his mom taking in foster babies, but this time a baby girl has an older brother. Kevon is Jarrett’s age, and Jarrett doesn’t like sharing his room, his friends, and his life with a stranger. The more Jarrett tries to get rid of Kevon, the more he learns about Kevon’s life and his historyNwhich leads to an unexpected understanding.

The Turtles of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye MG     This accessible, exquisite novel shines with gentle humor and explores themes of moving, family, nature, and immigration. It tells the story of Aref Al-Amri, who must say good-bye to everything and everyone he loves in his hometown of Muscat, Oman, as his family prepares to move to Ann Arbor, Michigan. This is acclaimed poet and National Book Award Finalist Naomi Shihab Nye’s first novel set in the Middle East since her acclaimed Habibi.

Aref Al-Amri does not want to leave Oman. He does not want to leave his elementary school, his friends, or his beloved grandfather, Siddi. He does not want to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his parents will go to graduate school. His mother is desperate for him to pack his suitcase, but he refuses. Finally, she calls Siddi for help. But rather than pack, Aref and Siddi go on a series of adventures. They visit the camp of a thousand stars deep in the desert, they sleep on Siddi’s roof, they fish in the Gulf of Oman and dream about going to India, and they travel to the nature reserve to watch the sea turtles. At each stop, Siddi finds a small stone that he later slips into Aref’s suitcase–mementos of home.

Naomi Shihab Nye’s warmth, attention to detail, and belief in the power of empathy and connection shines from every page. Features black-and-white spot art and decorations by Betsy Peterschmidt.

A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen     Shana has always had a blind spot for boys. Can she trust the one who’s right in front of her?
Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it’s time to end the plague of Mr. Wrong, Wrong, and More Wrong.
Enter Quattro, the undeniably cute lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don’t just fly; they ignite. And so does Shana’s interest. Right as she’s about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind. Quattro is quickly forgotten, and Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see. So they travel to Machu Picchu, and as they begin their trek, they run into none other than Quattro himself. But even as the trip unites them, Quattro pulls away mysteriously… Love and loss, humor and heartbreak collide in this new novel from acclaimed author Justina Chen.

A New Beginning: My Journey with Addy by Denise Lewis Patrick, American Girl MG     Readers can enter Addy Walker’s world during the Civil War in this interactive adventure where they can outrun a slave catcher, raise money for soldiers, and search for Addy’s family. Illustrations.

The Problem with being Slightly Heroic by Uma Krishnaswami; Atheneum Books MG     Complications ensue when Bollywood star Dolly Singh premieres her new movie at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC and super fan Dinni and her best friend Maddie present a dance at the grand opening. (OCLC)

The Zero Degree Zombie Zone by Patrick Henry Bass and Jerry Craft; Scholastic    Fourth-grader Bakari Katari Johnson is having a really bad day. Class bullies Tariq and Keisha are mad at him, his best friend Wardell has nominated him for hall monitor, and a pack of ice zombies from a frozen world are demanding he return the magic ring that Keisha has! Illustrations.

The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco; Sourcebook Fire     The Ring” meets “The Exorcist” in this haunting story set in Japan about an American boy whose last hope for protection lies with a vengeful ghost.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson; Nancy Paulsen Books     Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Alvin Ho: Allergic to the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, and Other Tourist Attractions by Lenore Look; Schwartz and Wade   MG     Here’s the sixth book in the beloved and hilarious Alvin Ho chapter book series, which has been compared to Diary of a Wimpy Kid and is perfect for both beginning and reluctant readers.

Alvin, an Asian American second grader who’s afraid of everything, is taking his fears to a whole new level—or should we say, continent. On a trip to introduce brand-new baby Ho to relatives in China, Alvin’s anxiety is at fever pitch. First there’s the harrowing 16-hour plane ride; then there’s a whole slew of cultural differences to contend with: eating lunch food for breakfast, kung fu lessons, and acupuncture treatment (yikes!). Not to mention the crowds that make it easy for a small boy to get lost.

 


Filed under: New Books Tagged: August, new releases

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25. REFORMA National Conference

I received the following in an email from REFORMA, The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking.

Are you doing research on the Latino community and its library needs? If so, please consider submitting a proposal to the Fifth REFORMA National Conference. The Call for Proposals is here:

http://www.reformanationalconference.org/#!proposals/c4dl

Program Track A: Collections & Resources would be a great place for studies of YA literature for Latinos.

Program Track F: Technology & Innovation would be great for discussing Latino teens and their use of ICTs and media.

If, on the other hand, you want to learn more about serving the Latino community (53 million strong and counting!), consider attending the conference. You can find general information on attending — including information about our FREE preconference — here:

http://www.reformanationalconference.org/


Filed under: librarianship Tagged: ALA, REFORMA

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