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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. Black Speculative Fiction: The Hunger of Imagining

I was just speaking with a colleague about the need to incite curiosity as the basis for research. Questioning, wondering and south-africa-tribes-e28093-south-african-cultureimagining are essential real life skills that are certainly nurtured in speculative fiction.

Earlier this year, authors Zetta Elliott and Ibi Zoboi  published part of a conversation about race and representation in The Hunger Games and YA speculative fiction. Their conversation, which continued on Zetta’s blog brought out significant points on the critical importance of brown girls being seen in worlds of flight and fantasy.

 

IBI: My first contact with speculative fiction was the stories I would hear my family tell. They

Ibi Zoboi

Ibi Zoboi

happened in Haiti—political stories intermingled with loogaroo stories, which is like a vampire-type figure in Haitian folklore. There was always a sense of magic and darkness and fear in those stories. There was always somebody who didn’t come home and it was usually associated with the tonton macoute (a bogeyman with a sack), or a loogaroo who came to get somebody’s child. I had two mystical, folkloric figures woven into these political stories about family and friends, so that line between what was real and what was not was never clear.

ZETTA: In my childhood, that line between fantasy and reality was very clear because I was reading British novels in Canada—C.S. Lewis and Frances Hodgson Burnett, which isn’t

Zetta Elliott

Zetta Elliott

exactly fantasy. But her work featured these wealthy, white children living on the moors in England and was so far removed from my reality. And because those books didn’t serve as a mirror, fantasy was very much something that happened to other people. I didn’t really imagine magical, wonderful things happening to me because everything that I read said it only happened to kids of a certain color or a certain class. In terms of gender, at least girls were having adventures, too, so that was a good thing.

You and I are both writers and we’re obviously trying to generate our own stories. Is there a way for us to make an intervention in the field of YA fantasy? How do our stories reach our kids?  MORE

A short list of great resources for racial diversity in young adult sci-fi

bde3b60f5b88f236b3a5a07ca2c0b3a4_400x400

Eboni Elizabeth

Eboni Elizabeth, writing at the Dark Fantastic positions the following regarding people of color  and Native Americans and how YA lit fails in this regard.

There is an imagination gap when we can’t imagine a little Black girl as the symbolic Mockingjay who inspires a revolution in one of today’s most popular YA megaseries.
There is an imagination gap when one of the most popular Black female characters on teen television is stripped of agency, marginalized within the larger story, and becomes a caricature of her literary counterpart.
There is an imagination gap when a Korean-Canadian woman’s critique of J.K. Rowling’s character Cho Chang in the Harry Potter novels is seen as more problematic than certain aspects of the character herself.
There is an imagination gap when a Nambe Pueblo critic’s perspectives on a pre-Columbian America “without people, but with animals” are seen as more problematic than the worldbuilding itself.

This is taken from “The Imagination Gap in #Kidlit and #YAlit: An Introduction to the Dark Fantastic“, her initial blog post. In addition to pulling readers into spaces of deep conversation, Eboni highlights numerous Dark Fantastic/Black Speculative Fiction resources in her side bar.

 


Filed under: Causes Tagged: Black Speculative Fiction Month

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2. Black Speculative Fiction Month

Speculative fiction contains writings of science fiction, fantasy and horror or, those stories the bend what is and ask readers to speculate about what could be. Editors Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade have set aside October to celebrate works that transport us to new worlds; worlds of adventure; of terror; of war and wonder; of iron and steam and are authored by Black writers. If you’re unable to attend any of the events they’ve planned, do visit the blog page that announces the events so that you can build your background

Chronicles of Harriett by Balogun Ojetade

Chronicles of Harriett by Balogun Ojetade

knowledge in the history, seminal works and authors, both classic and contemporary.

Speculative fiction allows both readers and writings to explore issues such as race in ways other genres do not. At times, these writers create creatures and situations that go beyond race, as do other authors. However, the attraction to spec fic has more to do with the worlds created in the writing. One will read them because they read zombies, sci fi or high fantasy. Milton Davis speaks to this complicated issue.

Scowering my blog, I found a few titles you should consider picking up this month.

Promise of Shadows by Justine Ireland; Simon and Schuster, 2014

The Zero Degree Zombie Zone by Patrick Henry Bass and Jerry Craft; Scholastic, 2014

Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson; Arthur A. Levine, 2014

Mesmerize  by Artist Arthur; Kimani Tru, 2009

The Agency 3: Traitor in the Tunnel by Y. S. Lee; Candelwick, 2009

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn; St. Martin Press 11 2009

The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards; HarperCollins, 2012

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010

Awake by Wendy McNair Raven; 2010

Shadow Walker by L A Banks; Sea Lion Books, 2010

47 by Walter Mosley; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2006

Bayou by Jeremy Love; Zuda, 2009

Sweet Whisper Brother Rush by Virginia Hamilton; Philomel, 1982

Black Powder by Staton Rabin; Margaret McElderry Books, 2005

Ship of souls by Zetta Elliott; AmazonEncore, 28 Feb

Shieldwolf Dawning by Selena Nemorin; CreateSpace, 2014

Do yourself a real favor and visit Twinja Book Reviews. Guinevere and Libertad dedicate their blog to black e0d5adf2356a76ea82d72158eb3b79cc_400x400speculative fiction and are a much better source on that than I am. And, check them out on Twitter, too! @Dos_Twinjas

 

 

 


Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Black Speculative Fiction Month

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3. SundayMorningReads

In case you were wondering, I don’t make a penny blogging. I have a day job that all too often has nothing to do with diversity or young adult literature. Literacy, yes. Information literacy. When I first learned the IMG_3109term, it described the skills necessary to locate, share, evaluate, access and present information. What it means to be information literate is growing and changing over time as our interactions with electronic media has expanded. Metaliteracy is one example of this change.

This literacy is what school librarians teach and this is why we need them.

My day starts tomorrow with me teaching searching skills to high students and ends after my regular hours with instruction to grad students, again on searching skills. Teaching the same thing at these two very different cognitive levels. I would say I’ve figured out teaching research to high schoolers, but giving it to strangers in a one shot sessions with not enough time to deliver a fully developed lesson is more than a challenge. Grad students? They should be able to digest a rather lectured delivery. I’ll go for that 20 minute max of ultimate brain attention.

I had an interesting revelation regarding this literacy recently regarding cultural relevance. It basically involved a Middle Eastern student who was assigned to research information on a certain car by evaluating information on a U.S. government website, the manufacturer’s site and one other. A student from a country where leadership is never questioned and the of questioning of authority is just not done. How then, do you teach these students to evaluate the information they find in the media?

Our world is diverse indeed.

Celebrated this weekend in at the Madison public library, The South Asian Book Award winners.

Elizabeth Suneby
Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education
(illustrations by Suana Verelst)
Kids Can Press, 2013

Jennifer Bradbury
A Moment Comes
Atheneum Book, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2013

2014 Honor Winner

Farhana Zia
The Garden of my Imaan
Peachtree, 2013

Librarian Amy Cheney has announce openings for In the Margins Book Award and Selection committee (ITM) for next year –  January 2015 – January 2016 for the 2016 list.  Click here to fill out an application of interest: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1gan284mn-KQskRYN5syGSpFbCDJx2ObBiJj6arZ8Hwk/viewform?formkey=dDZqR1RIQ0FQOGJkVTRJcmZoVWVfN1E6MQ We will be conducting interviews in December. In the Margins serves those young adult readers who are certainly in the margins, those who are incarcerated. Her recent SLJ article reviews recent books that fit her young readers needs.

YALSA has submitted a grant proposal to help disconnected youth, those who are with jobs, skills or knowledge that allows them to develop skills to prepare for the workforce. YALSA needs you to support their application by sharing what your library does to help disconnected your.

Please don’t take the work of school librarians/school media specialists for grant. 40% of the elementary school is Los Angeles have no librarian. No information literacy instruction, no skilled professionals to build capacity for a lifelong love of reading. KC Boyd fearlessly fights on behalf of students in Chicago to have librarians/media specialists in their schools. Here in Vigo County, the schools that still have librarians pull them out to teach science.

What’s going on in the schools near you? Who is teaching and advocating for your children to be truly literate in the 21st century?


Filed under: Me Being Me Tagged: Librarianship

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4. KidLitCon

In all that I’m going to tell you about KidLitCon, know that the highlight of my weekend was seeing my DIL, SweetPea’s mom, in LA. And I didn’t even think to get a pic.

Stephanie Kuehn (Complicit, St Martin's Griffin, 2014)

Stephanie Kuehn (Complicit, St Martin’s Griffin, 2014)

Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments author, Emily Jiang

Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments author, Emily Jiang

Those KidLitCon ladies were wiped out at the end of things on Saturday. I applaud not only their hard work, but the fact that they stepped out there and planned a conference on the theme ‘diversity’. As necessary as diversity is, as much as the call for more diverse books has become in the world of children’s lit, using that term will still have you preaching only to the choir. The attendance numbers were small, I’m sure much smaller than previous years. No doubt, those who needed to be there were.

This issue of not enough brown faces in children’s literature has been around since Langston Hughes published the Brownies’ Book magazine in the 1920s. Damn near 100 years ago. And, we still think we can get publishing companies to produce more books for, about and with children of color, and queer children; those with exceptionalities those of varying income levels. You think it makes perfect economic sense, but please realize how empowering books are. They plant ideas.

KidLitCon reminded me of the power of networking. I’ve been hanging out here pretty much on my own for quite a long time. I miss the days of Reading in Color, The HappyNappyBookseller and Color Online. Maybe that’s why it has been so hard for me to get back into this. Maybe I need to change things up.

“Diversity” dilutes the need for representation for people of color, for queer teens and those with exceptionalities. We then devolve into diversities based upon size and

Nathalie, Laura Atkins and Zetta Elliott

Nathalie, Laura Atkins and Zetta Elliott

location and handedness and on and on because it’s just too hard to focus on queer, brown, different people. Friends, we have to.

A mediocre cry for diversity will give us a mediocre response: a limited run of a few more books with no real changes inside publishing houses, with authors of certain backgrounds being boxed into writing certain kinds of books (such as Latinos being stuck writing reality fiction) and no books by authors of color

Teen Blogger @missfictional

Teen Blogger @missfictional

that continually will win the National Book Award or the Newbery.

This movement began over 100 years ago. I’ve been doing this blog since 2006, so I have to bow to those who came before me and are still at it and yea, I even have to bow to those who came in after me who are really getting some things done. There’s room for all because there’s no single story that’s going to get this done. There is, however no room for status quo or mediocrity. We’re at a point in history where so many resources exist to change how books are financed, created and distributed. We’re at a place in time where our children can no longer afford to be left behind. No, not today; not in the information age. Not when it is critical to have the literacy, the power, to maneuver one’s world.

I didn’t get a chance to talk to a lot of people to find out what they’d gotten out of the conference. Will we as bloggers find new ways to collaborate for books and literacy causes? Will some look that much harder for books with characters of color? And, will we be more critical of those writing outside their own experience?

I’m rambling. I thought things would come together for me as I wrote, but they’re not. I think I’m thirsty.

I’ll stop here and add some photos. I hate that I didn’t get any of my co-presenters, they are such amazing and adorable ladies. Next time!

 

Nathalie Mvondo of Multiculturalism Rocks and Mitali Perkins (Tiger Boy, Charlesbridge 2014)

Nathalie Mvondo of Multiculturalism Rocks and Mitali Perkins (Tiger Boy, Charlesbridge 2014)

Jewell Parker Rhodes (Sugar; Little Brown Books, 2013) and Maya Gonzalez who creates more than will fit this space, so click this image to visit her site.

Jewell Parker Rhodes (Sugar; Little Brown Books, 2013) and Maya Gonzalez who creates more than will fit this space, so click this image to visit her site.

Libertad & Guinevere of Twinja Book Reviews with Tanita Davis (Happy Families, Knopf, 2012)

Libertad & Guinevere of Twinja Book Reviews with Tanita Davis (Happy Families, Knopf, 2012)


Filed under: Me Being Me Tagged: kidlitcon

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5. review: Love Is the Drug

51lxVTCB9uLtitle: Love is the Drug

author: Alaya Dawn Johnson

date:Arthur A. Levine; September, 2004

main character: Emily Bird

 

Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC’s elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.

Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus–something about her parents’ top secret scientific work–something she shouldn’t know.

The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

I can’t give as detailed a review as I’d like to on this one because I read it on NetGalley and it’s no longer available to me to refer to.

I read Johnson’s first YA book, Summer Prince, and was looking forward to whatever she’d write next. She did not disappoint. As with Prince, Johnson writes an intelligent book that places us in the midst of her world rather than step by step building it for us.  He female leads are strong, social issues are real and situations creative yet plausible.

Emily Bird is an upper middle class high school senior with college educated parents and a favorite uncle who is a high school dropout. As the flu epidemic spreads, the haves receive what the have nots don’t. Inequity abounds and is up close in Emily’s family. Sure, we know Emily is Black, but the issues here are about class, not race. What really stood out for me with this one was that no male saved Bird, she was able to save herself in a variety of situations.

This is an intelligent book with a black female lead. She knows about contemporary politicals, will be going to college (but which one??) and despite her teen angst and conflictions, is truly her own person. While there are too, too many black girls clamoring for a book of these sensibilities, Johnson’s world is broad and will appeal to all teens who like thought provoking books.

Honestly, as I listen to reports about ebola and watch as it spreads, I see conspiracies all in this mess, thanks to my reading Love is the Drug.

Johnson actually takes readers to black hair issues, actually writes about hair relaxers! Now, I don’t get why Bird applied/s these caustic chemicals to her head with such a severe gash along her hairline and I don’t know why her hair was nappy afterwards, but to go there! to write about the relaxer was something with which I could really identify. And this is why we need writers of color developing characters and stories for all readers. We need intellectual stories, hi/lo books, humorous, adventurous, romantic, mysterious, sporty books that fully represent the growing number of brown children in America. Here, race is authentic while the story is universal.

Once again, Alaya Dawn Johnson crafts a world with numerous problems. She’s not out to solve them, just to keep us on our toes. And that she does!


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: Alaya Dawn Johnson

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6. New Releases: October

On Pinterest

Complete list of 2014 Releases (more or less)

Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan; Algonquin 

“Both personal and universal, this is a compelling story about high school, family and owning up to who you really are. Farizan is just the voice YA needs right now. Trust me, you’ll be glad you listened.” –Sarah Dessen Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. As an Iranian American, she’s different enough; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when beautiful new girl Saskia shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.
On The Other Side of the Bridge by Ray Villareal; Arte Publico Press

Lon Chaney Rodriguez is a typical thirteen-year-old boy. He loves horror movies. His bedroom is a mess. He doesn’t like to read boring books. And he likes to skip church and hang out at Catfish Creek during services. But his life changes completely when his mother is shot and killed at the apartment complex where she worked as a security guard. Life without her is unimaginable, and he’s haunted by the feeling that he let his mom down. He didn’t prioritize his schoolwork, so he’s on the brink of failing. And worse, he lied to her. Why didn’t he tell her the truth? Why didn’t he make better grades and help her more?

Lonnie’s life is turned upside down, both at school and home. The school counselor is determined to get him to talk about his mom, and the preacher’s daughter is insistent that he read scriptures to bring him comfort. His unemployed father turns to drinking excessively. He struggles to pay the bills and put food on the table. It doesn’t seem possible, but … will they really end up on the street like the homeless guy that panhandles at the freeway underpass?

Dreaming in Indian: Contemorary Native American Voices edited by Mary Beth Leatherdale; Annick Press 

A powerful and visually stunning anthology from some of the most groundbreaking Native artists working in North America today.

Truly universal in its themes, Dreaming In Indian will shatter commonly held stereotypes and challenge readers to rethink their own place in the world. Divided into four sections, ‘Roots,’ ‘Battles,’ ‘Medicines,’ and ‘Dreamcatchers,’ this book offers readers a unique insight into a community often misunderstood and misrepresented by the mainstream media.

Emerging and established Native artists, including acclaimed author Joseph Boyden, renowned visual artist Bunky Echo Hawk, and stand-up comedian Ryan McMahon, contribute thoughtful and heartfelt pieces on their experiences growing up Indigenous, expressing them through such mediums as art, food, the written word, sport, dance, and fashion. Renowned chef Aaron Bear Robe, for example, explains how he introduces restaurant customers to his culture by reinventing traditional dishes. And in a dramatic photo spread, model Ashley Callingbull and photographer Thosh Collins reappropriate the trend of wearing ‘Native’ clothing.

Whether addressing the effects of residential schools, calling out bullies through personal manifestos, or simply citing hopes for the future, Dreaming In Indian refuses to shy away from difficult topics. Insightful, thought-provoking, and beautifully honest, this book will to appeal to young adult readers. An innovative and captivating design enhances each contribution and makes for a truly unique reading experience.
In the Forbidden City by Chin Kwong-chiu, translated by Ben Want; China Insitute

Serving as the seat of imperial power for six centuries, the Forbidden City is one of China’s most famous and enigmatic landmarks. Accompanied by a mischievous cat, readers will tour this colossal architectural structure, discovering the secrets hidden inside the palace walls. They will encounter the people who have walked through its halls and gardens, including emperors, empresses, and rebel leaders, and hear exciting tales about the power struggles and intrigues of everyday life.

This large format book conveys the grandeur of the Forbidden City through highly detailed line drawings of its buildings, gardens, and courtyards with numerous fold-out spreads. Each page is populated by a large variety of characters and peppered with entertaining anecdotes. Every book includes a plastic magnifying glass for looking at the drawings more closely.
Talon by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin Teen)

In Julie Kagawa’s groundbreaking modern fantasy series, dragons walk among us in human form.

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey—and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him—and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina by Michaeline DePrince and Elaine DePrince (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Michaela DePrince was known as girl Number 27 at the orphanage, where she was abandoned at a young age and tormented as a “devil child” for a skin condition that makes her skin appear spotted. But it was at the orphanage that Michaela would find a picture of a beautiful ballerina en pointe that would help change the course of her life.

At the age of four, Michaela was adopted by an American family, who encouraged her love of dancing and enrolled her in classes. She went on to study at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre and is now the youngest principal dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She has appeared in the ballet documentary First Position, as well as on Dancing with the Stars, Good Morning America, and Nightline.

In this engaging, moving, and unforgettable memoir, Michaela shares her dramatic journey from an orphan in West Africa to becoming one of ballet’s most exciting rising stars.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon (Henry Holt)

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.

Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake (Tor Teens)

As ancient immortals are left reeling, a modern Athena and Hermes search the world for answers inMortal Gods, the second Goddess War novel by Kendare Blake, acclaimed author of Anna Dressed in Blood.

Ares, god of war, is leading the other dying gods into battle. Which is just fine with Athena. She’s ready to wage a war of her own, and she’s never liked him anyway. If Athena is lucky, the winning gods will have their immortality restored. If not, at least she’ll have killed the bloody lot of them, and she and Hermes can die in peace.Cassandra Weaver is a weapon of fate. The girl who kills gods. But all she wants is for the god she loved and lost to return to life. If she can’t have that, then the other gods will burn, starting with his murderer, Aphrodite.

The alliance between Cassandra and Athena is fragile. Cassandra suspects Athena lacks the will to truly kill her own family. And Athena fears that Cassandra’s hate will get them all killed.

The war takes them across the globe, searching for lost gods, old enemies, and Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever seen. As the struggle escalates, Athena and Cassandra must find a way to work together. Because if they can’t, fates far worse than death await.

On Two Feet and Wings by Abbas Kazerooni (Skyscrape)

He is in a foreign country, he is alone, and he is just a boy…Abbas Kazerooni is not yet ten, but he’s suddenly forced to leave his parents, his friends—his entire world—and flee Tehran. The Iran-Iraq war is at its bloodiest, and the Ayatollahs who rule Iran have reduced the recruitment age for the army. If Abbas doesn’t escape, it’s almost certain that he will be drafted and die fighting for a regime that has stripped his family of all they have.

On his own in the strange, often frightening city of Istanbul, Abbas grows up fast—with little more than his wits to guide him. He must conquer difficult things: how to live on his own, how to navigate a foreign city and culture when he doesn’t speak the language, and, most importantly, how to judge who is a friend and who is an enemy. Facing the unexpected as well as the everyday challenges of life on his own, Abbas walks a tightrope of survival—yearning to please the demanding father he has left behind, yet relishing his new found independence.

His quick thinking, entrepreneurial spirit, and the kindness of strangers allow him to make the best of his dire situation in surprising ways. Does he have what it takes to not only survive against these challenging odds but achieve his parents’ ultimate dream for him: a visa to England, and the safety it represents?

This compelling true story of one young boy’s courage provides a powerful child’s-eye view of war, political tumult, and survival.

 

Pig Park by Claudia Gaudelupe Martinez (Cinco Puntos Press)

It’s crazy! Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga hauls bricks to help build a giant pyramid in her neighborhood park. Her neighborhood is becoming more of a ghost town each day since the lard company moved away. Even her school closed down. Her family’s bakery and the other surviving businesses may soon follow. As a last resort, the neighborhood grown-ups enlist all the remaining able-bodied boys and girls into this scheme in hopes of luring visitors. Maybe their neighbors will come back too. But something’s not right about the entrepreneur behind it all. And then there’s the new boy who came to help. The one with the softest of lips. Pig Park is a contemporary Faustian tale that forces us to look at the desperate lengths people will go to in the name of community–and maybe love.

 

 


Filed under: New Books Tagged: new releases

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7. Book Review: The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan

cover50965-mediumTitle: The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan

Author: Atia Abawi

Date: Penguin; 2014

main character: Fatima

 

synopsis: 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.

I have to admit that the beginning of the book felt very much to me like it was written by an outsider looking in; someone who was taking the American notion of romantic love to another country. Abawi was simply pulling my American sensibility into Afghanistan. The story felt soft and sweet, didn’t I know how this was going to end? Then, Fatima over hears her father talking to her mother about war time atrocities that he committed. This was not going to be an easy read! I had not idea how it was going to end, but I certainly wanted to know!

Abawi writes a story of contemporary Afghanstan, a country caught in crossroads and cross hairs. Abawi writes chapters in alternating voices, disallowing us from conceptualizing a single story for this perplexing country. Abawi develops complex characters that we despise for their actions, yet we know the conflicted rationale that leads them to behave a certain way.

I don’t know the various cultures in Afghanistan, don’t know the rituals of daily life or the nuances of religion and politics. I cannot review the accuracies in that regard. What I do appreciate is that we’re told a story that incorporates multiple perspectives so that readers will not expect those who live in the country to think, behave or live in one certain way. Not many writers would be able to trust their characters to tell this story, but Abawi did. Readers will develop their own judgments about compelling situations, They will approach the book with ideas about social justice, marriage, love and parental rights, yet as Fatima comes of age, the reader will certainly mature along with her. This book is a tough read; I think an important read for teens in our global society. It brings to life the fact that there are no easy answers.

Atia Abawi works as a journalist with CNN. She was stationed in Afghanistan for over 5 years, leaving that position for one in Jerusalem. Abawi was born in Germany and moved to the US when she was one year old. She is still based in the Mideast and The Secret Sky is her first book.

 


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: Atia Abawi, book review, Middle Eastern YA Literature, new author of color

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8. Saturday Trailer: Lowriders in Space

What better day for book trailers than a Saturday? Lowriders in Space (Chronicle Books)  is written by Cathy Camper and illustrated by Raul Gonzalez III. The book will be released in November Until then, here’s a sneak peak.


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9.

On the heels of her successful young adult novels, Coe Booth recently released Just Like a Brother, a middle grade novel about two foster brothers, Jerrod and Kevon.

Jarrett doesn’t trust Kevon.

But he’s got to share a room with him anyway.

kindalikebrothersIt was one thing when Jarrett’s mom took care of foster babies who needed help. But this time it’s different. This time the baby who needs help has an older brother — a kid Jarrett’s age named Kevon.

Everyone thinks Jarrett and Kevon should be friends — but that’s not gonna happen. Not when Kevon’s acting like he’s better than Jarrett — and not when Jarrett finds out Kevon’s keeping some major secrets.

Jarrett doesn’t think it’s fair that he has to share his room, his friends, and his life with some stranger. He’s gotta do something about it — but what?

KINDA LIKE BROTHERS is the story of two boys who really don’t get along — but have to find a way to figure it out.

I was recently able to connect with Coe to find out a little more about her and her new book!

 

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

I’m always reading a bunch of books at the same time. Right now, I’m reading Pointe by Brandy Colbert, Outside In by Sarah Ellis, I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin, and Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher.

How do you hope your writing engages young people?

More than anything, I hope kids see themselves in the pages of my books. I don’t want them to think of bronxwood hi-resbooks as only being about other people. It’s about them, too. When I was growing up, I rarely saw books about people like myself, especially contemporary books, which is what I wanted to read. So I hope my books can be mirrors for kids.

You just got back from a cruise! I think the last time we chatted on Twitter, you were in Paris. Do you have a favorite destination?

Coe.1A B+WI love traveling, and I do it every chance I can. I’ve been on a bunch of cruises because it’s my family’s tradition to go on one every other year — sort of like a mini family reunion. As for Paris, I try to spend a few months there every year because… well, because it’s Paris! And because it’s a city that just inspires me. However, my favorite place in the world (so far!) is the Amalfi Coast in Italy. It’s the most gorgeous place I’ve ever seen. It’s so beautiful it doesn’t look real! There are so many places I’d like to visit; I have a bucket list that’s out of control!

Your fiction would be labeled ‘realistic fiction’. Has it ever gotten too real, too painful for you while writing?

I don’t really think anything can be too real. I’m always pushing myself to go to those places that are painful Tyrell cover hi resfor me to write because I know there are kids experiencing the things I’m writing about in their real lives. There’s never a reason to hold back. Even though it’s hard to write some of those scenes, I think it’s important to try.

You’re building quite a body of work! Do you think you have an overarching theme or message in the books you’ve published to date?

I don’t think I have a theme, and I hope I don’t have a message! I do think most of my books center around kids who are trying to do the right thing despite the difficult surroundings they’re living in. Their neighborhoods are often tough, and their home lives are complicated, too. They’re basically good kids — not perfect! — just trying to hold it together and make it through.

I think many of us have the perception that writers sit in a spot all day with cold cups of coffee and write, write, write. It seems though, that being a successful writer involves a lot of mixing and mingling both with follow writers as well as with the general public. Can you talk a little about that? How many of these opportunities are created by writers and how many by their publishers? I think I’m asking ‘just how much work is involved in becoming a successful writer?’

Being a writer in New York City is probably a lot different than being a writer in other places. There are so many writers here! So, yes, there are lots of opportunities here to meet up with other writers and spend the Kendra cover hi resday writing in a coffee shop. We do this a lot. We also see each other at book parties and readings, where we get to hang out with readers. And the YA authors in NYC meet up socially every month or so. It’s all very informal, organized by the writers themselves, not the publishers. Writing can be a very lonely career, so it’s nice meeting writer friends for lunch and writing whenever we get the chance. Having said that, there are definitely times when I need to pull away from the “book scene” for a few months. There’s always so much going on here in NYC, it’s easy to get caught up in everything and not spend enough time actually writing!

What led you to Jarrett’s story?

Years ago, before I was writing full-time, I worked as a child protective caseworker in the Bronx. I investigated child abuse and tried to help keep families together after they had gone through traumatic situations. When I had to remove kids from their homes temporarily, I would place them in foster homes where, quite often, the foster parent already had biological children. I was always curious what it was like for those kids. How did they handle these foster kids coming and going? Was it hard for them to avoid attaching to these kids, knowing they were only going to be there for a certain length of time and then they’d be leaving forever?

These are the kinds of questions that sparked the idea for Kinda Like Brothers. My story is told from the point of view of the foster mother’s biological son, Jarrett, a kid who is very used to the fact that babies come and go from his life all the time. But when Kevon, a boy who is around his own age shows up, everything is turned upside down. It’s not so easy for Jarrett to remain detached, especially after he starts learning the difficult circumstances of Kevon’s life.

Kinda Like Brothers is middle grade. How was it different to write for that age group?

Before I began writing it, I thought I would need a different approach or I would have to change the way I write to make this middle grade. But really, I didn’t change very much at all. Obviously, an eleven-year-old boy has different interests and concerns than a sixteen year old, but I didn’t feel the need to change my writing style. And I really didn’t want to water down the story just because the readers would be younger. I wanted my characters (and the story) to be complex, just like the lives of a lot of kids growing up in the inner city.

What does diversity mean to you?

Diversity means accurately reflecting the world — the entire world.

Thanks so much for the interview! I wish you much success and happy travels!


Filed under: Authors, Interview Tagged: Coe Booth; author interview; African American

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10.

On the heels of her successful young adult novels, Coe Booth recently released Just Like a Brother, a middle grade novel about two foster brothers, Jerrod and Kevon.

Jarrett doesn’t trust Kevon.

But he’s got to share a room with him anyway.

kindalikebrothersIt was one thing when Jarrett’s mom took care of foster babies who needed help. But this time it’s different. This time the baby who needs help has an older brother — a kid Jarrett’s age named Kevon.

Everyone thinks Jarrett and Kevon should be friends — but that’s not gonna happen. Not when Kevon’s acting like he’s better than Jarrett — and not when Jarrett finds out Kevon’s keeping some major secrets.

Jarrett doesn’t think it’s fair that he has to share his room, his friends, and his life with some stranger. He’s gotta do something about it — but what?

KINDA LIKE BROTHERS is the story of two boys who really don’t get along — but have to find a way to figure it out.

I was recently able to connect with Coe to find out a little more about her and her new book!

 

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

I’m always reading a bunch of books at the same time. Right now, I’m reading Pointe by Brandy Colbert, Outside In by Sarah Ellis, I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin, and Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher.

How do you hope your writing engages young people?

More than anything, I hope kids see themselves in the pages of my books. I don’t want them to think of bronxwood hi-resbooks as only being about other people. It’s about them, too. When I was growing up, I rarely saw books about people like myself, especially contemporary books, which is what I wanted to read. So I hope my books can be mirrors for kids.

You just got back from a cruise! I think the last time we chatted on Twitter, you were in Paris. Do you have a favorite destination?

Coe.1A B+WI love traveling, and I do it every chance I can. I’ve been on a bunch of cruises because it’s my family’s tradition to go on one every other year — sort of like a mini family reunion. As for Paris, I try to spend a few months there every year because… well, because it’s Paris! And because it’s a city that just inspires me. However, my favorite place in the world (so far!) is the Amalfi Coast in Italy. It’s the most gorgeous place I’ve ever seen. It’s so beautiful it doesn’t look real! There are so many places I’d like to visit; I have a bucket list that’s out of control!

Your fiction would be labeled ‘realistic fiction’. Has it ever gotten too real, too painful for you while writing?

I don’t really think anything can be too real. I’m always pushing myself to go to those places that are painful Tyrell cover hi resfor me to write because I know there are kids experiencing the things I’m writing about in their real lives. There’s never a reason to hold back. Even though it’s hard to write some of those scenes, I think it’s important to try.

You’re building quite a body of work! Do you think you have an overarching theme or message in the books you’ve published to date?

I don’t think I have a theme, and I hope I don’t have a message! I do think most of my books center around kids who are trying to do the right thing despite the difficult surroundings they’re living in. Their neighborhoods are often tough, and their home lives are complicated, too. They’re basically good kids — not perfect! — just trying to hold it together and make it through.

I think many of us have the perception that writers sit in a spot all day with cold cups of coffee and write, write, write. It seems though, that being a successful writer involves a lot of mixing and mingling both with follow writers as well as with the general public. Can you talk a little about that? How many of these opportunities are created by writers and how many by their publishers? I think I’m asking ‘just how much work is involved in becoming a successful writer?’

Being a writer in New York City is probably a lot different than being a writer in other places. There are so many writers here! So, yes, there are lots of opportunities here to meet up with other writers and spend the Kendra cover hi resday writing in a coffee shop. We do this a lot. We also see each other at book parties and readings, where we get to hang out with readers. And the YA authors in NYC meet up socially every month or so. It’s all very informal, organized by the writers themselves, not the publishers. Writing can be a very lonely career, so it’s nice meeting writer friends for lunch and writing whenever we get the chance. Having said that, there are definitely times when I need to pull away from the “book scene” for a few months. There’s always so much going on here in NYC, it’s easy to get caught up in everything and not spend enough time actually writing!

What led you to Jarrett’s story?

Years ago, before I was writing full-time, I worked as a child protective caseworker in the Bronx. I investigated child abuse and tried to help keep families together after they had gone through traumatic situations. When I had to remove kids from their homes temporarily, I would place them in foster homes where, quite often, the foster parent already had biological children. I was always curious what it was like for those kids. How did they handle these foster kids coming and going? Was it hard for them to avoid attaching to these kids, knowing they were only going to be there for a certain length of time and then they’d be leaving forever?

These are the kinds of questions that sparked the idea for Kinda Like Brothers. My story is told from the point of view of the foster mother’s biological son, Jarrett, a kid who is very used to the fact that babies come and go from his life all the time. But when Kevon, a boy who is around his own age shows up, everything is turned upside down. It’s not so easy for Jarrett to remain detached, especially after he starts learning the difficult circumstances of Kevon’s life.

Kinda Like Brothers is middle grade. How was it different to write for that age group?

Before I began writing it, I thought I would need a different approach or I would have to change the way I write to make this middle grade. But really, I didn’t change very much at all. Obviously, an eleven-year-old boy has different interests and concerns than a sixteen year old, but I didn’t feel the need to change my writing style. And I really didn’t want to water down the story just because the readers would be younger. I wanted my characters (and the story) to be complex, just like the lives of a lot of kids growing up in the inner city.

What does diversity mean to you?

Diversity means accurately reflecting the world — the entire world.

Thanks so much for the interview! I wish you much success and happy travels!


Filed under: Authors, Interview Tagged: Coe Booth; author interview; African American

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11. Authors Extending Their Reach

Several YA authors of color are adding depth to their repertoire this year by writing in outside the young adult world.

Charles R. Smith teams up with Marc Aronson to edit One Death, Nine Stories (Candlewick). Nine related stories from nine YA authors.

Kev’s the first kid their age to die. And now, even though he’s dead, he’s not really gone. Even now his choices are touching the people he left behind. Ellen Hopkins reveals what two altar boys (and one altar girl) might get up to at the cemetery. Rita Williams-Garcia follows one aimless teen as he finds a new life in his new job — at the mortuary. Will Weaver turns a lens on Kevin’s sister as she collects his surprising effects — and makes good use of them. Here, in nine stories, we meet people who didn’t know Kevin, friends from his childhood, his ex-girlfriend, his best friend, all dealing with the fallout of his death. Being a teenager is a time for all kinds of firsts — first jobs, first loves, first good-byes, firsts that break your heart and awaken your soul. It’s an initiation of sorts, and it can be brutal. But on the other side of it is the rest of your life.

review: Kirkus Complex and emotionally demanding, this collection aims for and will resonate with serious readers of realistic fiction. (Short stories. 14-20)

Juan Felipe Herrera is actually best know as the Poet Laureate of California. A truly talented write, his young adult works include Cinnamon Girl and Downtown Boy. He’s most recently collaborated with Raul Colon on the non-fiction Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes (Penguin/Dial)

This visually stunning book showcases twenty Hispanic and Latino American men and women who have made outstanding contributions to the arts, politics, science, humanitarianism, and athletics.  Gorgeous portraits complement sparkling biographies of Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Ellen Ochoa, Roberto Clemente, and many more. Complete with timelines and famous quotes, this tome is a magnificent homage to those who have shaped our nation.

In this volume: Adelina Otero-Warren, Bernardo de Galvez, Cesar Chavez, David Farragut, Dennis Chavez, Desi Arnaz, Dolores Huerta, Ellen Ochoa, Helen Rodríguez Trías, Hero Street USA, Ignacio Lozano, Jaime Escalante, Joan Baez, Judy Baca, Julia de Burgos, Luis Alvarez, Rita Moreno, Roberte Clemente, Sonia Sotomayor, and Tomas Rivera.

review Publishers Weekly  “The vignettes don’t overwhelm with dates and places, instead providing interesting snippets about the scientists, entertainers, civil rights workers, doctors, artists, politicians, educators, and judges. Readers learn, for example, that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor “read every Nancy Drew novel she could get her hands on” when growing up, and that Civil War naval commander David Farragut’s (“Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”) father hailed from Spain.”

Coe Booth (Tyrell; Kendra; Bronxwood) goes middle grades with Kinda Like Brothers (Scholastic/Push)

It was one thing when Jarrett’s mom took care of foster babies who needed help. But this time it’s different. This time the baby who needs help has an older brother — a kid Jarrett’s age named Kevon.

Everyone thinks Jarrett and Kevon should be friends — but that’s not gonna happen. Not when Kevon’s acting like he’s better than Jarrett — and not when Jarrett finds out Kevon’s keeping some major secrets.Jarrett doesn’t think it’s fair that he has to share his room, his friends, and his life with some stranger. He’s gotta do something about it — but what?

review: Publishers Weekly  Booth offers candid insight into racism, poverty, and the foster care system without becoming heavy-handed; she also sensitively depicts a character’s coming-out moment. Jarrett’s evolution from a position of resistance to an acceptance of circumstances beyond his control is believably subtle. Ages 8–12.

Varian Johnson (Saving Maddie; My Life as a Rhombus) also goes middle grades with The Great Greene Heist (Scholastic).

Jackson Greene swears he’s given up scheming. Then  school bully Keith Sinclair announces he’s running for Student Council president, against Jackson’s former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it — but he knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the presidency no matter the vote count.

So Jackson assembles a crack team:  Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess. Charlie de la Cruz, reporter. Together they devise a plan that will take down Keith, win Gaby’s respect, and make sure the election is done right. If they can pull it off, it will be remembered as the school’s greatest con ever — one worthy of the name THE GREAT GREENE HEIST.

review: Publishers Weekly “Johnson (Saving Maddie) delivers an exciting Ocean’s Eleven–style caper for the middle-school crowd, with third-person narration jumping between the various plotters, who concoct an impressive seven schemes in less than three weeks. While in the big picture, the stakes are low, it’s easy to get swept up in the exploits of Johnson’s entertaining and diverse crew.”

 Greg Neri (Yummy; Knockout Games; Surf Mules) and A. G. Ford published Hello I’m Johnny Cash (Candlewick), a picture book of the singer’s life.

There’s never been anyone like music legend Johnny Cash. His deep voice is instantly recognizable, and his heartfelt songs resonate with listeners of all ages and backgrounds. G. Neri captures Johnny’s story in beautiful free verse, portraying an ordinary boy with an extraordinary talent who grew up in extreme poverty, faced incredible challenges, and ultimately found his calling by always being true to the gift of his voice. A. G. Ford’s luscious paintings of the dramatic southern landscape of Johnny Cash’s childhood illuminate this portrait of a legend, taking us from his humble beginnings to his enormous success on the world stage.

Review: Kirkus “An exceptional portrait of one of the most recognizable musicians of all time. (author’s note, timeline, discography, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)” STARRED


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12. Authors Extending Their Reach

Several YA authors of color are adding depth to their repertoire this year by writing in outside the young adult world.

Charles R. Smith teams up with Marc Aronson to edit One Death, Nine Stories (Candlewick). Nine related stories from nine YA authors.

Kev’s the first kid their age to die. And now, even though he’s dead, he’s not really gone. Even now his choices are touching the people he left behind. Ellen Hopkins reveals what two altar boys (and one altar girl) might get up to at the cemetery. Rita Williams-Garcia follows one aimless teen as he finds a new life in his new job — at the mortuary. Will Weaver turns a lens on Kevin’s sister as she collects his surprising effects — and makes good use of them. Here, in nine stories, we meet people who didn’t know Kevin, friends from his childhood, his ex-girlfriend, his best friend, all dealing with the fallout of his death. Being a teenager is a time for all kinds of firsts — first jobs, first loves, first good-byes, firsts that break your heart and awaken your soul. It’s an initiation of sorts, and it can be brutal. But on the other side of it is the rest of your life.

review: Kirkus Complex and emotionally demanding, this collection aims for and will resonate with serious readers of realistic fiction. (Short stories. 14-20)

Juan Felipe Herrera is actually best know as the Poet Laureate of California. A truly talented write, his young adult works include Cinnamon Girl and Downtown Boy. He’s most recently collaborated with Raul Colon on the non-fiction Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes (Penguin/Dial)

This visually stunning book showcases twenty Hispanic and Latino American men and women who have made outstanding contributions to the arts, politics, science, humanitarianism, and athletics.  Gorgeous portraits complement sparkling biographies of Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Ellen Ochoa, Roberto Clemente, and many more. Complete with timelines and famous quotes, this tome is a magnificent homage to those who have shaped our nation.

In this volume: Adelina Otero-Warren, Bernardo de Galvez, Cesar Chavez, David Farragut, Dennis Chavez, Desi Arnaz, Dolores Huerta, Ellen Ochoa, Helen Rodríguez Trías, Hero Street USA, Ignacio Lozano, Jaime Escalante, Joan Baez, Judy Baca, Julia de Burgos, Luis Alvarez, Rita Moreno, Roberte Clemente, Sonia Sotomayor, and Tomas Rivera.

review Publishers Weekly  “The vignettes don’t overwhelm with dates and places, instead providing interesting snippets about the scientists, entertainers, civil rights workers, doctors, artists, politicians, educators, and judges. Readers learn, for example, that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor “read every Nancy Drew novel she could get her hands on” when growing up, and that Civil War naval commander David Farragut’s (“Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”) father hailed from Spain.”

Coe Booth (Tyrell; Kendra; Bronxwood) goes middle grades with Kinda Like Brothers (Scholastic/Push)

It was one thing when Jarrett’s mom took care of foster babies who needed help. But this time it’s different. This time the baby who needs help has an older brother — a kid Jarrett’s age named Kevon.

Everyone thinks Jarrett and Kevon should be friends — but that’s not gonna happen. Not when Kevon’s acting like he’s better than Jarrett — and not when Jarrett finds out Kevon’s keeping some major secrets.Jarrett doesn’t think it’s fair that he has to share his room, his friends, and his life with some stranger. He’s gotta do something about it — but what?

review: Publishers Weekly  Booth offers candid insight into racism, poverty, and the foster care system without becoming heavy-handed; she also sensitively depicts a character’s coming-out moment. Jarrett’s evolution from a position of resistance to an acceptance of circumstances beyond his control is believably subtle. Ages 8–12.

Varian Johnson (Saving Maddie; My Life as a Rhombus) also goes middle grades with The Great Greene Heist (Scholastic).

Jackson Greene swears he’s given up scheming. Then  school bully Keith Sinclair announces he’s running for Student Council president, against Jackson’s former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it — but he knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the presidency no matter the vote count.

So Jackson assembles a crack team:  Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess. Charlie de la Cruz, reporter. Together they devise a plan that will take down Keith, win Gaby’s respect, and make sure the election is done right. If they can pull it off, it will be remembered as the school’s greatest con ever — one worthy of the name THE GREAT GREENE HEIST.

review: Publishers Weekly “Johnson (Saving Maddie) delivers an exciting Ocean’s Eleven–style caper for the middle-school crowd, with third-person narration jumping between the various plotters, who concoct an impressive seven schemes in less than three weeks. While in the big picture, the stakes are low, it’s easy to get swept up in the exploits of Johnson’s entertaining and diverse crew.”

 Greg Neri (Yummy; Knockout Games; Surf Mules) and A. G. Ford published Hello I’m Johnny Cash (Candlewick), a picture book of the singer’s life.

There’s never been anyone like music legend Johnny Cash. His deep voice is instantly recognizable, and his heartfelt songs resonate with listeners of all ages and backgrounds. G. Neri captures Johnny’s story in beautiful free verse, portraying an ordinary boy with an extraordinary talent who grew up in extreme poverty, faced incredible challenges, and ultimately found his calling by always being true to the gift of his voice. A. G. Ford’s luscious paintings of the dramatic southern landscape of Johnny Cash’s childhood illuminate this portrait of a legend, taking us from his humble beginnings to his enormous success on the world stage.

Review: Kirkus “An exceptional portrait of one of the most recognizable musicians of all time. (author’s note, timeline, discography, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)” STARRED


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13. A Little Hump Day Shine

My word this year is ‘shine’. It can be so easy catching myself not shining my brightest. Typically, those are times I don’t allow others to shine. I’m too bright too dull the glow of others! (Repeating 3x daily)

Technology helps me, helps us, shine. I recently updated my iPhone to the new IOS and found that I went back to the same ol’ settings I’ve had. While I appreciate Apple making me aware of some of the new functions, I’ve found my comfort zone. But to shine like a new copper penny, when I go for the trade in, I think I’ll go ahead and make some  real changes. I’ve never really used the Passport app so, I plan to explore that and a few other options. Changing the phone around keeps the brain young!

AND!! I decided to upgrade the Nook! I love playing with new tech toys and finding new ways to locate and share information but I can be frugal, too. If it ain’t broke, why get rid of it? I hate to admit this out loud but I do still have two of the old-fashioned heavy televisions and I drive a 2000 Honda. I was so surprised to hear that cars now tell you when the air is low in your tires! Not only am I saving money by keeping what still works, but it seems like I’m still thinking for myself as well.

René Saldaña Jr. shines brilliantly over at LatinosinKidlit when he firmly states “the books are not hard to find.” I agree, Reñe! It’s old and lame to say you can’t find any Latino books. True, there are not enough, but the ones that are there can be found.

Bringing that real shine to diversity, Kathryn Allan and Djibril al-Ayad discuss their forthcoming anthology Accessing the Future which explores disability and the intersectionality of race, nationality, gender, sexuality and class. They’re raising funds through Indiegogo to get this amazing book published so, check out the interview and shine on them with a little donation to support the cause.

Cyntwe_need_diverse_books_logohia Leitich Smith Shines no matter what! Her recent blog post details the WeNeedDiverseBooks announcement to incorporate as a non-profit and its inaugural advisory board members Grace Lin, Jacqueline Woodson, Matt de la Peña, Cynthia Leitich Smith and Cindy Pon.
“Incorporating will give us the legitimacy and standing we need to move forward with our mission,” says Lamar Giles, VP of Communications. “We have many exciting projects in the works.”

On the BrownBookShelf, Sharon Flake asks about how well you shine. She asks “Are you unstoppable?”unstoppable

On September 30, 2014, my new novel, Unstoppable Octobia May, will hit bookstores nationwide.  On that day I would love you and/or the young people you influence to join me in shouting out to the world that they too are unstoppable by holding up the following sign, words, image:

I AM UNSTOPPABLE

#UNSTOPPABLEOCTOBIAMAY

Shining winners of the 2014 South Asian Book Awards

Elizabeth Suneby

Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education
(Kids Can Press, 2013)

Jennifer Bradbury

A Moment Comes
(Atheneum Book, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2013)

2014 Honor Winner
Farhana Zia
The Garden of My Imaan
(Peachtree, 2013)

Kudos to Walter Mays, president elect of the Assembly of Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE for his efforts to bring more diversity to the ALAN workshop which will be held this November in Washington DC. Among the many outstanding authors on the roster we’ll find

Jason Reynolds

Jenny Han

Kwame Alexander

Pam Muñoz Ryan

C.J. Farley

Coe Booth

Christopher Paul Curtis

Ying Compestine

Vinson Compestine

Atia Abawi

Tanuja Desai Hidier

Patrick Flores-Scott

Kekla Magoon

G. Neri

WOW!!! W0 W!!!! I will be there! You?

 

 


Filed under: Causes Tagged: #WeNeedDiverseBoosk, ALAN

0 Comments on A Little Hump Day Shine as of 9/24/2014 6:20:00 PM
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14. A Little Hump Day Shine

My word this year is ‘shine’. It can be so easy catching myself not shining my brightest. Typically, those are times I don’t allow others to shine. I’m too bright too dull the glow of others! (Repeating 3x daily)

Technology helps me, helps us, shine. I recently updated my iPhone to the new IOS and found that I went back to the same ol’ settings I’ve had. While I appreciate Apple making me aware of some of the new functions, I’ve found my comfort zone. But to shine like a new copper penny, when I go for the trade in, I think I’ll go ahead and make some  real changes. I’ve never really used the Passport app so, I plan to explore that and a few other options. Changing the phone around keeps the brain young!

AND!! I decided to upgrade the Nook! I love playing with new tech toys and finding new ways to locate and share information but I can be frugal, too. If it ain’t broke, why get rid of it? I hate to admit this out loud but I do still have two of the old-fashioned heavy televisions and I drive a 2000 Honda. I was so surprised to hear that cars now tell you when the air is low in your tires! Not only am I saving money by keeping what still works, but it seems like I’m still thinking for myself as well.

René Saldaña Jr. shines brilliantly over at LatinosinKidlit when he firmly states “the books are not hard to find.” I agree, Reñe! It’s old and lame to say you can’t find any Latino books. True, there are not enough, but the ones that are there can be found.

Bringing that real shine to diversity, Kathryn Allan and Djibril al-Ayad discuss their forthcoming anthology Accessing the Future which explores disability and the intersectionality of race, nationality, gender, sexuality and class. They’re raising funds through Indiegogo to get this amazing book published so, check out the interview and shine on them with a little donation to support the cause.

Cyntwe_need_diverse_books_logohia Leitich Smith Shines no matter what! Her recent blog post details the WeNeedDiverseBooks announcement to incorporate as a non-profit and its inaugural advisory board members Grace Lin, Jacqueline Woodson, Matt de la Peña, Cynthia Leitich Smith and Cindy Pon.
“Incorporating will give us the legitimacy and standing we need to move forward with our mission,” says Lamar Giles, VP of Communications. “We have many exciting projects in the works.”

On the BrownBookShelf, Sharon Flake asks about how well you shine. She asks “Are you unstoppable?”unstoppable

On September 30, 2014, my new novel, Unstoppable Octobia May, will hit bookstores nationwide.  On that day I would love you and/or the young people you influence to join me in shouting out to the world that they too are unstoppable by holding up the following sign, words, image:

I AM UNSTOPPABLE

#UNSTOPPABLEOCTOBIAMAY

Shining winners of the 2014 South Asian Book Awards

Elizabeth Suneby

Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education
(Kids Can Press, 2013)

Jennifer Bradbury

A Moment Comes
(Atheneum Book, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2013)

2014 Honor Winner
Farhana Zia
The Garden of My Imaan
(Peachtree, 2013)

Kudos to Walter Mays, president elect of the Assembly of Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE for his efforts to bring more diversity to the ALAN workshop which will be held this November in Washington DC. Among the many outstanding authors on the roster we’ll find

Jason Reynolds

Jenny Han

Kwame Alexander

Pam Muñoz Ryan

C.J. Farley

Coe Booth

Christopher Paul Curtis

Ying Compestine

Vinson Compestine

Atia Abawi

Tanuja Desai Hidier

Patrick Flores-Scott

Kekla Magoon

G. Neri

WOW!!! W0 W!!!! I will be there! You?

 

 


Filed under: Causes Tagged: #WeNeedDiverseBoosk, ALAN

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15. Blog Tour: Scar of the Bamboo Leaf

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Scar of the Bamboo Leaf by Sieni A.M.

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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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16. 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

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17. 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

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18. 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

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19. 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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20. 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

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21. 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

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22. 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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23. 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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24. 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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25. 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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