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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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“Applications are now being accepted for the Annual Virginia Hamilton and Arnold Adoff Creative Outreach Grants for Teachers and Librarians. Two grants up to $1,000 each will be given. One grant will be given to a teacher and another to a librarian for proposals to develop new classroom or library programs that raise awareness of multicultural literature among young people; particularly but not exclusively through the works of Virginia Hamilton. The application deadline is Feb. 28 for that year’s award. Complete instructions and proposal guidelines are available on the Grant Application.”
Filed under: Diversity Issues
, Virginia Hamilton Conference
“’They’re so hard to find’ is no longer a valid excuse when you teach.” ~Zetta Elliott.
All over the blogosphere this week, you’re going to find the following action list created by Sarah Hamburg that delivers charges throughout the kidlit industry on what we can do to promote books by and about people of color and to amplify our demand for more books. The list is the result of a month long conversation on CCBC-net. This listserv routinely discusses issues that face the children’s and young adult book community but this past February, decided to focus on the issue of diversity. Highlighting the month were online discussions of When I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle and If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth. Debbie Reese did a wonderful job of framing the entire discussion.
From this discussion, I added material to my resource page.
I’m amending the list to add what has been provided by others that have posted this online. Continue to add to the list, continue to be part of the movement. DO SOMETHING!!
- Many of the ideas focused on personal activism: actively buying books representing a diverse range of voices; committing to ongoing challenges (Crystal Brunelle mentioned The Birthday Party Pledge, Diversity on the Shelf Challenge, and Latino/as in Kids’ Lit. Challenge); recommending and promoting diverse books to others when and wherever possible; asking for them at bookstores, schools and libraries; using social media in those efforts and to draw attention to issues of representation; writing reviews on Amazon, B&N and Goodreads; and stepping out of personal comfort zones to make connections and advocate on these issues.
- For writers and illustrators, people also suggested personal activism would include: stepping out of artistic comfort zones; consciously considering questions of representation, audience and perspective in one’s work (including whether the perspectives and voices of people of color tend to be explored/presented in a heavy context); soliciting and listening to feedback from members of the communities one is writing about when going outside one’s own culture; and also considering questions of cultural bias and representation while conducting research and evaluating sources.
- The same considerations hold true for those publishing, buying and using books with children, promoting books to parents and teachers, creating library and bookstore displays… etc. including whether those books receive the same quality and quantity of promotion, and whether they are somehow held apart from other books.
- Many came back to the importance of smaller presses in making space for new voices. This included Tim Tingle’s publishers Cinco Puntos Press and RoadRunner Press, and Lee & Low Books. (Would it be helpful to create a list to share here of independent publishers who are actively publishing “multicultural” books?) Lyn Miller-Lachmann talked about visiting smaller presses at conventions to order books and create buzz. Jason Low talked about “liking” Lee & Low on Facebook and using social media to promote them and their titles, and purchasing their books through independent bookstores. Are there other ways people can actively support small presses, or that smaller children’s publishers can perhaps share resources to further cross-promote with one another? (Some consortium, such as an umbrella website?)
- People also mentioned the importance of writers’ events and conferences, such as the Native American Literature Symposium, VONA Voices, the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, the Muslim Voices Conference, the Comadres and Compadres Writers’ Conference, and the Carl Brandon Society. [I have additional annual events on my Resource Page]
- Along with such conferences, people talked about the possibility for individual outreach to writers/ artists who are working in other areas, but who seem like they might be suited to the children’s book field (like Debbie Reese introducing Eric Gansworth to Cheryl Klein.)
- It’s exciting to see new businesses forming, like Cake Literary and the Quill Shift Literary Agency (where you can sign up to be a reader.)
- People have also started an amazing array of blogs, websites and tumblrs that focus on aspects of diversity in children’s books. These include Diversity in YA, Rich in Color, American Indians in Children’s Literature, The Dark Fantastic, CBC Diversity, Lee & Low’s blog, Cynsations, CrazyQuiltEdi, BookDragon, Latinas for Latino Literature, Latin@s in Kitlit, All Brown All Around, Into the Wardrobe, Shannar Reed Miles-A Blerd Girl Writes, Bad NDNs, Miss Domino, Miss Domino’s FireEscape, Disability in Kidlit, Visibility Fiction, I’m Here I’m Queer What the Hell Do I Read?, The Naughty Book Kitties, Kristi’s Book Blog. This list in is not all inclusive, but it’s a start. It does not include the multitude of authors of color who blog or allies who don’t devote their entire blog to diversity, but are there for the cause.
- In addition, people asked that “diversity” be an inclusive idea, and not limited to one group or set of groups.
Uma Krishnaswami has added several thoughtful additions to this list.
I’ll add just one other thing.
This is the season for state library associations to issue their calls for proposals. Getting to the big conferences is expensive. Librarians don’t have the funds nor do authors of color who often can’t get the backing from their publishers. Attending state library conferences is an important and often overlooked way authors can reach readers. Authors can proposal sessions, and librarians can reach out to authors to creative fun, interactive and informational sessions that get bring important resources (i.e., local authors) into local schools and libraries. Simply Bing your state’s library association (eg, Indiana Library Association) and find out what they’re looking for and when it’s due.
Filed under: Sunday Reads
Tagged: action list
Blog: Crazy Quilts
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Title: If I Ever Get Out of Here
Author: Eric Gansworth
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books; 2013
Main character: Lewis Blake
Lewis is a smart kid who tested out of the Indian school on the Tuscarora Reservation and is now attending the nearby all white school. He wants to go to college and to have a better life so, he wants to know how to maneuver a world that is new to him. As a result, he’s trying to figure out how to come of age both on the rez and in the white world. Up until now, Lewis has been pretty much a loner; it’s difficult making friends when you live in two worlds. Then, along comes George. A new kid who’s literally been around the world. His father’s military career has taught him how to fit in, how to live by a code and probably how to recognize enduring qualities in others. George reaches out to Lewis and they bond over Beatles music. This bond extends to George’s family who immediately takes to Lewis.
In return, Lewis is embarrassed to bring his friend’s home because his home, indeed his reservation, appears so lacking. These two settings, the home and the reservation are central places in Lewis’ life. While they’re places he wants to get out of, they’re also places he cannot and will not leave behind. Gansworth does an excellent job of creating these spaces in our minds, both their physical presence and their cultural elements. We know these places are central to his identity. We understand why these places embarrass him on a physical level but we are not embarrassed for him because we knew their greater importance. Nonetheless, we want him to get out of there. We hope he find some of the wisdom that Uncle Albert has found.
Gansworth’s writing has a rhythm that builds in the nuances of planets, music and friendship and in the way all these elements all blend together. This is a book about being an Indian, a much needed book about being an Indian because most Americans know so little. At the same time, it’s just a very well written book about a kid who wants to be accepted for who he is and isn’t that something we all want out of life?
Filed under: Me Being Me
Tagged: American Indian
, book review
, Eric Gansworth
Blog: Crazy Quilts
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I’ve been complaining for the past couple of years about the shrinking numbers of books written by authors of color. The CCBC’s number came out not too longer ago, only to validate this complaint. The number of books by African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos and American Indians has been steadily decreasing since 2008, while the numbers of children of color in this country steadily increases. Zetta Elliott said it better than I can.
Despite this downward trend, Malinda Lo’s numbers indicates that BFYA continues to grow in its ability to embrace all teen readers.
The Feral Librarian speaks to the number of some of the gatekeepers, specifically librarians. Has anyone seen numbers on diversity in the gatekeepers in publishing?
Cynthia Leitich Smith speaks her mind on “Writing, Tonto & The Wise Cracking Minority Sidekick Who is the First to Die”.
My inspiration for this post was a Jan. 17th article in Indian Country Today, reporting that the real “Lone Ranger” was an African American who lived with the Muscogee Creeks and Seminoles. It made me to think about the Hollywood version of the story, about my own stories for young readers, and, in turn, the body of youth literature more globally…
While writers can (and increasingly do) successfully write beyond our own identity markers, life experience does matter, and voices from underrepresented communities should be nurtured, sought out and held up as models.
Cynthia’s mention of the minority sidekick immediately led my mind in two different directions. First, to Knockout Games by G. Neri where in the pages I just read, the main character, Erica (a white girl, red-head) was schooled by Kalvin (a very tall black male) on the realities of characters of color in movies: they’re expendable and die first.
I also thought about one of the best Twitter convos I’ve ever witnessed: #imnotyourasiansidekick
Librarians try to be more inclusive.
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Society of American Archivists (SAA) are now accepting applications for the second cohort of the ARL/SAA Mosaic Program. This program promotes much-needed diversification of the archives and special collections professional workforce by providing financial support, practical work experience, mentoring, career placement assistance, and leadership development to emerging professionals from traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups. An important objective of the program is to attract and retain individuals who demonstrate excellent potential for scholastic and personal achievement and who manifest a commitment both to the archives and special collections profession and to advancing diversity concerns within it. More information at: http://e2.ma/message/5i40f/x4rnfo
Please, don’t miss my review of Yacqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass! at Latin@s in Kidlit! Have you read this multiple award winner yet?
In a listserv reply, Crystal Brunelle reinforced that the forces that change what’s published in YA, that change anything, occur at the micro level. It’s like what I learned as a classroom teacher. Like many, I became a teacher to make a difference. What I soon realized was that to make a difference, I needed to define my corner of the world and make a difference there. The effects will ripple out. I’m glad you’re reading this blog, but please do some real work to make a real difference.
One of the most important events during BFYA occurs on the Saturdays of the ALA conferences when students who have read the books recommended for the list come to share their opinions. There were two striking comments in Philadelphia. While most of the students commented several times during the afternoon, there was one black girl (and there were very few black students at these events) who only commented on one book. It was one of only two books recommended this year with a black female protagonist. (Neither made the final list.)
I also noted several students who commented on the authenticity in what they’d read. Students remarked how spot on books set in foreign countries, past decades and even in the future were.
Yes, we have a real responsibility in what we make available to young readers.
I’m going out with an article I’ve just begun reading. Leave your thoughts if you get a chance to read it. Maybe we do a little discussing right here!
Filed under: Sunday Reads
Tagged: Birthday Party Pledge
, Cynthia Leitich Smith
, Latin@s in Kidlit
, sunday morning reads
Blog: Crazy Quilts
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author: Crystal Chan
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January, 2014
main character: Jewell Campbell
12 year old Jewel is growing up in a house where people don’t talk to one another. They probably stopped when her grandfather caused her brother, John, to die. He nicknamed John ‘Bird’ and convinced him that he was in fact a bird. At the age of 5, Bird attempted to fly off a cliff. Grandfather never spoke again and her mother and father seemed to stop speaking about things that mattered.
Jewel was lost in this silence until John appeared. John, skin as dark as midnight, was sitting in her tree. But who was he, really?
Bird is rich in its Iowa setting. Jewel knows the ancient history of the land while John knows about space. Together, they climb trees and find arrowheads.
Bird is a story of mixed raced identity. John was adopted by a white family and struggles to find self-acceptance while Jewel is ½ Jamaican, ¼ White and ¼ Mexican. Her family mixes cultures, stories and magic and does not fit into this Iowa town. They don’t even fit into their own home. Chan writes not only about the superficial ways cultures blend, but she digs into the belief systems that deeply affect the ways people live together.
With identity as an overarching theme, readers want to know who this John really is. The name can’t just be a coincidence, can it? Jewel notices right away that something with John may not be as it seems and she asks on question too many.
The tension in the air suddenly grew so thick we didn’t need tree limbs to sit on anymore, we could have set on one of those words that just crawled out and got huge.
“Want to keep climbing?” I asked, scooching over to the trunk of the tree and standing up. “I can show you this squirrel’s nest.”
He looked at me, and his face shifted. Softened, no longer stone.
Jewel wants a friend. As she unravels her family’s truths, she also unravels John’s.
From Crystal’s bio page:
Crystal Chan grew up as a mixed-race kid in the middle of the Wisconsin cornfields and has been trying to find her place in the world ever since. Over time, she found that her heart lies in public speaking, performing, and ultimately, writing. She has published articles in several magazines; given talks and workshops across the country; facilitated discussion groups at national conferences; and been a professional storyteller for children and adults alike. In Chicago, where Crystal now lives, you will find her biking along the city streets and talking to her pet turtle.
Filed under: Book Reviews
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Courage has been my word for 2013. I can’t remember the signs that told me this would be my word, but I do remember that I didn’t want it. It wasn’t glamorous enough. Probably in thinking I didn’t want the word, I realized I needed to embrace it.
People rarely, if ever, admit to their own courage. I think that’s because they don’t recognize it. I though I’d invite a few people who are much better with words than I am to write about various aspects of courage.
My first post is from author G. Neri. His most recent book is Ghetto Cowboy. Hello, I’m Johnny Cash comes out in September ’14 and his next YA novel, Knockout Games will emerge in August ’14.
This was Greg’s prompt:
In your research of Johnny Cash, where did you find he exemplified courage in his life? Was it as much in his day to day life as it was in the larger ways that helped him maintain his career? How were you able to relate his courage in your writing? On a completely different note, how did you find the courage to write a story that most would not expect you to write?
Courage. Now there’s a word. And when it comes to Johnny Cash, he had more than most. Though I don’t think he would see it that way and I certainly don’t think it took any courage on my part to write about him. It was one of the first things I ever really attempted to write, back in 2003. It just took 10 years to realize his truth and see it come to life. But his story was unforgettable and inspiring to me in deeply profound ways. Not only for his music (particularly, the last decade) but more for the way he wrote about his childhood growing up in cotton country. From the poverty of the Great Depression to the hope of the New Deal, to overcoming the tragic death of his closest brother and the solace he found in music—it was all incredibly intimate as if he was talking straight to me, revealing his innermost secrets.
Courage? He found courage in his family and how they gritted it out when many gave up. He found courage in his brother Jack , who was wise beyond his years and sacrificed (and died) for a few dollars so his siblings could eat. He found courage in a crippled boy who was shunned by most but could play guitar like no other. He found courage in God. He found courage in the songs he listened to and the lonesome tales that they weaved. Then he gathered that courage and spread it far and wide when he gave voice to millions who had no voice: the working poor, veterans, prisoners, native Americans, the disenchanted, the forgotten ones. He gave them courage by telling their stories and letting America know what was going on in the heartland. He did it with grace and humor and plenty of attitude, just in case you weren’t paying attention.
Johnny Cash lived the American Dream because he was American in every way: bigger than life, honest, funny, flawed, devout, a sinner, cavalier, a deep thinker, rich and poor. His life mirrored the complex history of the 20th century and he actually lived many of its most vital moments. What he took away from those times and how he viewed the shifts in the American psyche forged a resilient mind that turned him into a true maverick. To this day, his example inspires the way I approach my own art: from the gut, always walking the line.
His story might seem unexpected in my oeuvre but it fits perfectly from my point of view. All my stories concern outsiders, people who are misunderstood, maligned, cast out, who have to fight back to make their own way through the jungles of life. That is Johnny Cash in a nutshell. That is Yummy and Cole and Marcus and Logan and Erica and all the characters I write about. Johnny’s life may be a million miles from my own but we all share a universal struggle to have our voices heard and our stories told as only we can. Johnny Cash had a voice for the ages and he spoke out and sang to the end. He gave me the courage of conviction.
G. Neri is the Coretta Scott King honor-winning author of Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty and the recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award for his free verse novella, Chess Rumble. His novels include Surf Mules and the Horace Mann Upstander Award-winning Ghetto Cowboy. His work has been honored by the Museum of Tolerance and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Antioch University, the International Reading Association, the American Library Association, the Junior Library Guild and the National Council for Teachers of English. Neri has been a filmmaker, animator, teacher and digital media producer. He currently writes full-time and lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida with his wife and daughter. source
Filed under: Me Being Me
I didn’t post my usual rambling post yesterday, so here it goes today!
I’m working from home this week, working to get an article completed and ready for submission. I’ve got to clear my mind and my ‘to do’ list so I can concentrate on what I need to get done.
I’ve been stalling.
My mind was struck by wanderlust forever ago and I think of writing in small European city where I can visit markets for fresh meats and cheeses and sip hot beverages at a bistro while working late. Or take a long afternoon walk in a tropical hillside to refresh my thoughts after hours of working. These four walls aren’t working for me right now!
I’ve found other, short projects that might get me started.
It doesn’t help that I’m writing about places in YA lit! Or, does it?!
Around this time of year, I work with Zetta Elliott to complete a list of YA fiction books written and published by African American authors. So, far I’ve identified all of 22 books. We do typically identify books that were missed throughout the year, however, that’s a frightfully small number.
Dr Jonda C. McNair release the current edition of Mirrors and Windows newsletter which features informational texts and a profile of author/illustrator Steve Jenkins. I’ve placed the pdf in Google Drive to make it available, however if it is not accessible, email me at crazyquilts at hotmail dot com and I’ll be glad to forward a copy.
A completely separate publication that came out this week is Windows and Mirrors: Reading Diverse Children’s Literature by Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen in the online publication Gazillion Voices.
Despite the statistics, today’s diverse children have more options to see their experiences reflected in children’s literature. White children, too, have many more opportunities to learn about experiences other than their own. In this essay, I primarily (but not exclusively) discuss Asian American children’s literature to highlight principles for meaningful multicultural content, as well as point out some of the persisting problems, with the ultimate goal of encouraging you to pick good books for young people, especially during this coming holiday season. Given that 3,000-5,000 children’s books in many different genres for a range of reading levels are published each year, I hope to provide you with some principles and guidelines for critically evaluating children’s literature and thinking about our role in supporting and promoting diverse, high-quality stories for all young people.
I recently wrote about the impracticability of expecting students to express their desire for books with characters of their own ethnicity. This is anecdotal statement is something I hope to research further. Why are some young children able to indicate an interest in a book based upon the race of the character while others are not? How and when do children develop racial awareness? My interest deepened when I read an article shared by @WritersofColour on Twitter. The article written by @hiphopteacher posed a much more reflective analysis into why children of colour are less likely to write about their own ethnicity.
In her essay ‘Playing in the Dark’, Toni Morrison argues that “the readers of virtually all of American fiction have been positioned as white.” (Morrison 1992:xiv) We might ask if the same is true of children’s literature and how that might affect children’s relationship to story-writing.
All in all, giving the young people in your life a book (or books!) written by authors of color this holiday season sounds like a gift worth giving. It would be a great time to donate books by authors of color to your local school or public library, too. Young adult books perfect for giving can be found on my annual booklists and books for all ages of children can be found on the BirthdayPartyPledge.
Teachers and students will equally appreciate learning apps for those tablets Santa places under the tree this year. Consider these 10 (mostly free) apps for documenting learning.
#NPRBlacksinTech continues on the Tell Me More blog through 20 December. The series is well worth following because there are continuous ‘day in the life’ posts giving readers insights into real life experiences of Blacks in technology. This is so valuable to young people who need to see real life role models! This linkwill take you to the postings on Twitter and you do not have to have an account to read them.
I have another recent post which lists young adult literature from South Africa. In looking at the list you may wonder why J. L. Powers was included as the only non African on the list. Reading her recent post will help you understand why.
… my classmates and friends were the children of recent immigrants or immigrants themselves–some documented and some undocumented. Migrant workers followed the power lines next to our house to go work in the chile fields of southern New Mexico. I witnessed firsthand the injustices of our economic system that encouraged migrant labor, did not pay migrants sufficient wages to support their families, and made it necessary for those who did bring their families to live in our country in poverty and without the protection of legal rights despite working back-breaking jobs every day. These were people I knew. These were people I went to school with, young men I had crushes on, girlfriends I shared secrets with.
I’ve been getting a lot of blogging done in the past week, however that trend isn’t going to continue. BFYA makes its final selections at ALA Midwinter in January and I have more books to read than I have days to read them. No, I will not be blogging much at all! I will take a break on 21 January for Cookies and Cocktails with my sister. Hopefully, the weather will be mild enough for me to drive over to spend the day cooking, eating, drinking and making merry!
You may remember that my word this year is ‘courage’. I have a better understanding of this virtue and I’ve become more aware of times when my courage fails me. I’m more unwilling to let myself be a coward. I’m a bit more likely to speak up, lean in and move forward. Yet, I still struggle with picking up that phone. I don’t know what it is about the phone, but using it takes a special kind of courage for me!
I’ve found several people including writers and publishers who are going to write about courage in a series that will appear here beginning 21 December. It’s definitely something you won’t want to miss!
For now, I have some researching to do!
“From caring comes courage.”Lao Tzu
Filed under: Me Being Me
Tagged: Birthday Party Pledgedge
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ~Nelson Mandela
I remember being in my high school English class and reading a story about apartheid. I’d never heard of this before! I’d never read about it in my history classes and, if this were real wouldn’t it be in my history book? Such a systematic and oppressive regime would be important enough to be in the history books if it were real and South Africa was a real place so, I went home and asked my dad if apartheid really existed in South Africa. I was stunned as much in the fact that it existed as I was in the fact that I’d never learned about it before.
Even today, literature introduces issues related to social justice throughout the world that young people never learn about in history or geography classes. Teens will probably be more likely to read the actual words of Nelson Mandela or Paulo Friere in an English class than in a history class.
They may also be more likely to learn cultural similarities and differences through literature. When studying different themes in English class, including writings by Asians and Native Americans will help students realize we’re all in this together. Choose good, authentic writing by African Americans or Latinos that relates directly to the topic being studied. That’s how I began learning about apartheid. Once I was aware of the conditions in South Africa, I paid more attention to news from this country.
And I learned about Nelson Mandela.
English teachers, librarians and parents can continue to introduce young people to South Africa using literature from this region.
This Thing Called the Future by J. L. Powers (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011 Fourteen-year-old Khosi’s mother wants her to get an education to break out of their South African shantytown, although she herself is wasting away from an untreated illness, while Khosi’s grandmother, Gogo, seeks help from a traditional Zulu healer.
Journey to Jo’burg by Beverly Naidoo (J.B. Lippinott, 1985) Separated from their mother by the harsh social and economic conditions prevalent among blacks in South Africa, thirteen-year-old Naledi and her younger brother make a journey of over 300 kilometers to find her in Johannesburg.
Totsi by Athol Fugard (Random House, 1980) Athol Fugard is renowned for his relentless explorations of personal and political survival in apartheid South Africa — which include his now classic plays Master Harold and the Boys and The Blood Knot. Fugard has written a single novel, Tsotsi, which director Gavin Hood has made into a feature film that is South Africa’s official entry for the 2006 Academy Awards. Set amid the sprawling Johannesburg township of Soweto, where survival is the primary objective, Tsotsi traces six days in the life of a ruthless young gang leader.
When we meet Tsotsi, he is a man without a name (tsotsi is Afrikaans for “hoodlum”) who has repressed his past and now exists only to stage and execute vicious crimes. When he inadvertently kidnaps a baby, Tsotsi is confronted with memories of his own painful childhood, and this angry young man begins to rediscover his own humanity, dignity, and capacity to love. (adult crossover)
Somehow Tenderness Survives: Stories of Southern Africa by Hazel Rochman (Harper and Row, 1988) A collection of ten short stories and autobiographical accounts by authors of various races expose the conditions of racism in South Africa.
Themba A Boy Called Hope by Lutz van Dijk (Aurora Metro Books, 2011). A teenager in South Africa achieves his dream of playing professional football – but the prevalence of AIDS in South Africa, affecting young and old alike, means that he must face tough choices along the way.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ~ Nelson Mandela
Filed under: Diversity Issues
Tagged: South Africa
In 2012, I listed 102 YA books written by authors of color. This year, 81. I’m certain I’ve missed some.
For example, in September I missed Antigoddess by Kendare Blake.
Old Gods never die…
Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health. Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.
These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning. Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out. Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.
The Goddess War is about to begin.
But still, Why are the numbers of books written by authors of color continuing to decrease? Why is it still difficult for parents, librarians and teens to find YA books that feature teens of color?
Cy in Chains by David Dudley; Clarion Books, 17 Dec Cy Williams, thirteen, has always known that he and the other black folks on Strong’s plantation have to obey white men, no question. Sure, he’s free, as black people have been since his grandfather’s day, but in rural Georgia, that means they’re free to be whipped, abused, even killed. Almost four years later, Cy yearns for that freedom, such as it was. Now he’s a chain gang laborer, forced to do backbreaking work, penned in and shackled like an animal, brutalized, beaten, and humiliated by the boss of the camp and his hired overseers. For Cy and the boys he’s chained to, there’s no way out, no way back.
And then hope begins to grow in him, along with strength and courage he didn’t know he had. Cy is sure that a chance at freedom is worth any risk, any sacrifice. This powerful, moving story opens a window on a painful chapter in the history of race relations. (Amazon)
Control by Lydia King; Dial Books; 26 Dec Set in 2150 — in a world of automatic cars, nightclubs with auditory ecstasy drugs, and guys with four arms — this is about the human genetic “mistakes” that society wants to forget, and the way that outcasts can turn out to be heroes.
When their overprotective father is killed in a terrible accident, Zel and her younger sister, Dylia, are lost in grief. But it’s not until strangers appear, using bizarre sensory weapons, that the life they had is truly eviscerated. Zel ends up in a safe house for teens that aren’t like any she’s ever seen — teens who, by law, shouldn’t even exist. One of them — an angry tattooed boy haunted by tragedy — can help Zel reunite with her sister. (Amazon)
Filed under: New Books
Tagged: new releases
Blog: Crazy Quilts
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Today is Giving Tuesday, a day for us all to take a time to remember the non-profits. I’m a bit tired of the gimmicky ways to help me spend money. Cyber Monday is silly because we don’t need to go to work anymore to have internet access for online shopping. Opening stores on holidays defeats the purpose of the holiday. There may be fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the amount of money people have to spend is fixed as is the number of people we have to shop for. So much pressure to spend!!
Maybe someone will get creative and come up with Travel Thursday, a day for deep discounted travel. Perhaps I could then afford a midwinter vacation to Fiji to relax, to Jo’burg to explore or to Kaoshiung to visit old friends.
Do you take advantage of the “sales” on these days? Or use the reminder today to support a non-profit?
There does happen to be a lot of good stuff going on this week that won’t cost you a penny!
In the spirit of Giving Tuesday, YALSA is pleased to announce that from January 1, 2014, forward, all live webinars will be free to YALSA members! To participate in the Jan. 16th webinar, “What’s Next for Teen Services,” sign up at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TBTFQ56. Thank you for all that you do for YALSA and have a great day!
NPR is running #NPRBlacksinTech from 2-20 December to call attention to the small number of Blacks who currently work in the technology field, A mere 5% of America’s scientists and engineers are Black, according to a 2010 study by the National Science Foundation. Follow the discussion on Twitter, on NPR’s Tell Me More Blog or on Flipboard (I follow it here on my cell phone.) Last night, the conversation was about how to raise a coder.
I bet the @BlackGirlNerds are following this convo!! I recently discovered this group on Twitter and was introduced to so many new and interesting activities and events! I searched to see if there was a Latina and Asian girl nerd group. Though I did not see one, I did notice names that would imply not everyone following @BlackGirlNerds is Black. Nerds rock!
I will post a December list of new releases, please be warned that it is EXTREMELY short!! While I don’t post self published on the list (too many, too hard to find them all) I do have to mention that Zetta Elliott has gone back to self publishing and yesterday released “The Deep”. I’ve purchased my copy and I’ll review it here once I’m done with BFYA.
Speaking of BFYA, I’ve received a grant through the Indiana State University Center for Community Engagement that will provide funds for me to distribute over 700 books published from late 2012-2013 to needy high school libraries throughout the state of Indiana. If you are an IN high school librarian/media specialist, please apply! And, please spread the word!
Do you need great learning apps for your children or students? Check out these apps for recording learning.
Lawrence Public Schools is looking for America’s Outstanding Urban Educators.The Sontag Prize in Urban Education recognizes outstanding teaching in Mathematics, English Language Arts (ELA) and other disciplines. Educators chosen for the Sontag Prize will lead classes as part of the LPS Acceleration Academy, a program designed to provide targeted small group support for students. Not only is this an rare way to recognize outstanding educators, it’s also a good way for Lawrence Public Schools to attract quality educators.
A new feature on Google Scholar is Google Library.
You can save articles right from the search page, organize them by topic, and use the power of Google Scholar’s full-text search & ranking to quickly find just the one you want – at any time and from anywhere. You decide what goes into your library and we’ll provide all the goodies that come with Scholar search results – up to date article links, citing articles, related articles, formatted citations, links to your university’s subscriptions, and more. And if you have a public Scholar profile, it’s easy to quickly set up your library with the articles you want – with a single click, you can import all the articles in your profile as well as all the articles they cite.
In the Margins committee will select and review the best books of the year for: multicultural youth (primarily African-American and Latino) from a street culture in restrictive custody who may be reluctant readers. Titles of interest will be unusual, possibly un-reviewed, have multicultural characters, dealing with difficult situations including (but not limited to) street life, marginalized populations, crime, justice, war, violence, abuse, addiction, etc.
Find more information about the committee here: http://www.youthlibraries.org/margins-committee
To nominate a title, nominate here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dERfNlAwOXMxSVJtbWw3amo2RXo0a2c6MQ
To apply to be on the committee next year, sign up here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDZqR1RIQ0FQOGJkVTRJcmZoVWVfN1E6MQ
In the Margins Official Nominations, 2013
Asante, M.K. Buck. Spiegel & Grau. August 2013. 272p. HC $25.00. ISBN 9780812993417. A broken family and community are where he’s from; poetry and music get him to where he wants to be.
Chris, Terry L. Zero Fade. Curbside Splender Publishing. September 2013. 294p. PB $12.00 ISBN 978-0988480438. How’s Kevin ever going to figure out his problems with girls, bullies, friends and the angst of seventh grade if his wise-assed mouth keeps getting him grounded?
Coley, Liz. Pretty Girl 13. Harper Collins. March 2013. 352p.HC $17.99. ISBN 9780062127372. She’s 16 but she can’t remember what happened the last 3 years.
Gagnon, Michelle. Don’t Turn Around. HarperCollins. August 2012. 320p. HC $17.99. ISBN 9780062102904. If you run, they will find you.
Goodman, Shawn. Kindness for Weakness. Delacorte. May 2013. 272p. HC $16.99. 9780385743242.
Greene, Robert and 50 Cent. 50th Law. Smarter Comics. October 2012. 80p. PB $14.95. ISBN 9781610820066. Keys to power and words of wisdom.
Jacobs, John Horner. The Twelve-Fingered Boy.Carolrhoda Books.February 2013. 280p. HC $17.95. ISBN 9780761390077. Jack’s hands aren’t the only things that hold secrets.
Johnson, Albert. H.N.I.C. Infamous Books. July 2013.128p. HC $11.95 ISBN 9781617752322. Will Black let Pappy get out alive?
Jones, Marilyn Denise. From Crack to College and Vice Versa. June 2013. 105p. ebook $9.99. ASIN: B00DH82HIA. The title says it all.
Kowalski, William. Just Gone. Raven Books. September 2013. 128p. $9.99 ISBN 9781459803275. The world contains strange truths.
Langan, Paul. Promises to Keep. Townsend Press. January 2013. 151p. PB $5.95. ISBN 9781591943037. Keeping his promise just might save his life.
Langan, Paul. Survivor. Townsend Press. January 2013. 138p. PB $5.95. ISBN 9781591943044. Avoiding the past is not an option.
Lewis, John. March Book 1 Top Shelf Productions. August 2013. 128p. PB $14.99. ISBN 978-1603093002. ANNOTATION
Little, Ashley. The New Normal. Orca. March 2013. 232p. PB $12.95. ISBN 9781459800748. No hair, no sisters and stalked by a drug dealer. Where’s the upside to Tamar’s life?
McKay, Sharon E. War Brothers: The Graphic Novel. Illustrated by Lafance, Daniel. Annick Press. 2013. PB $18.95. ISBN 9781554514885. Kidnapped and forced to kill for the Lord’s Resistance Army.
McVoy, Terra Elan. Criminal. Simon Pulse. May, 2013. 288p. HC $16.99. ISBN 978144242622. Dee was everything to her. Until he killed a man for another girl.
Medina, Meg. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. Candlewick. March 2013. 260p. PB $16.99. ISBN 9780763658595. It’s gonna happen.
Miller, Kirsten. How to Lead a Life of Crime. Razorbill. February 2013. 434p. HC $18.99. ISBN 9781595145185. Can Flick stay alive long enough to find out what’s really happening at Mandel Academy?
Nussbaum, Susan. Good Kings, Bad Kings. Algonquin Books. May 2013. 304p. HC $23.95. ISBN 9781616202637. Most of them could make it on their own – if they could get out of lockdown.
Rivera, Jeff. No Matter What. CreateSpace. October 2013. 112p. PB $3.95. ISBN 9781493544141. Will Jennifer wait for Dio? Will Dio get it together?
Shantz-Hilkes, Chloe (ed.). Hooked: When Addiction Hits Home. Annick Pr. March 2013. 120p. HC $21.95. ISBN 9781554514755. PB $12.95. 9781554514748. Living with addiction can be just as painful as suffering from one.
Stella, Leslie. Permanent Record. Skyscape. March 2013. 282p. HC $17.99. ISBN 9781477816394. New School. Will Badi revert to his destructive ways?
Van Diepen, Allison. Takedown. Simon Pulse. September 2013. 288p. HC $16.99. ISBN 9781442463110. How many losses before Darren can takedown Diamond Tony’s organization?
Young, Pamela Samuels. Anybody’s Daughter. Goldman House Publishing. November 2013. 374p. PB $16.99. ISBN 9780989293501 When Brianna gets targeted and tricked into a sex trafficking ring, Uncle Dre using his connections as a former drug dealer fights against time to save her.
Youth Communications. Rage:True Stories by Teens About Anger. Free Spirit. July 2013.176p. PB $11.99. ISBN 9781575424149. How to manage your anger, create a life of control and a future with possibilities.
Wells, Polly (ed.). Freaking Out: Real-life Stories About Anxiety.Annick Press. June 2013. 136p. $12.95. ISBN 9781554515448. From phobias to PTSD, how can you get over Freaking Out?
Zambrano, Mario Alberto. Loteria. Harper. July 2013. 288p. $21.99. ISBN 9780062268549. The cards help Luz remember the hand she was dealt.
Filed under: Causes
, Me Being Me
, Giving Tuesday
, Google Library
, Google Scholar
, In The Margins
, Sontag Prize
Warning: I’ve been working on this for hours. While I know I need to give this 2-3 more read-throughs, I just don’t have time. Please forgive the typos!
I went to ALAN this year because Lyn Miller-Lachmann (Rogue; Nancy Paulsen Books) asked me to moderate a panel with her, Kekla Magoon (The Rock and the River; Aladdin) and Rene Saldana Jr (Juventud! Growing up on the Border: Stories and Poems; VAO Publishing). entitled “It’s Complicated: Diverse Authors Revisit the Classics”. We had a nice turnout and it was great working with these talented individuals, although Rene was unfortunately detained in that terrible storm in Texas and unable to join us.
I was truly disappointed in the lack of diversity at the conference. As a new friend stated “I’m tired of the all White world of YA.” I could count on my hands the number of people of color who were present. While there those who are committed to YA and to the teens who read it, most teachers and librarians of color will choose to come if they see people like them somewhere in the program. It makes you feel welcome, you know?
My criticism is more with the industry and how it promotes authors.
I felt quite welcome at ALAN this year as I always do.
Yea, it bothered me that after all I’d gone through to get there, the room was so packed that it seemed I’d spend the first day standing around the back of the room. But this is a conference where people talk to one another! We talk about the books, the authors, programs we’re planning, students we teach and the shoes we wear. We talk to librarians, authors, editors and university students. While this year we celebrated 40 years of ALAN, we listened to authors as they shared about their writing, their readers and their lives.
I hated that I missed hearing Jacqueline Woodson’s (Each Kindness, Nancy Paulsen Books) poem but I had to get Swati Avasthi’s (Chasing Shadows, Random House) autograph and arrange an interview with her!
Who was it during the Coming of Age session when talking about hope in our stories that said “It’s not the despair that gets you, it’s the hope”?
Alan Sitomer (Caged Warrior, Disney Hyperion) on the same panel postulated that “we all live on hope.” With much passion, he proclaimed that “there’s an assault on kids in urban schools today.” They’re not bright enough, not motivated enough… and this is only said about the urban kids!
Upon receiving the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award, Eliot Schrefer (Endangered, Scholastic) reflected on his visit to the Congo where he spoke to teens growing up in this war-torn country and he wondered why he was there talking to these students about books. But then, they began taking examples from his reading and applying them to situations in their country.
Fellow recipient A.S. King (Reality Boy; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) made even more of a point about why she writes. “I need to write the air. I write because I need to. I believe in compassion and community and I’ve always wanted to live in a world where people really are equals … Writing should make us generous. You have to give up yourself to the book. Writing should change you.”
As someone who has moved over to the academic side and who teaches research to students, I really appreciated what Tanya Lee Stone (Courage has no color, the true story of the Triple Nickles: America’s first Black Paratroopers; Candlewick) had to say about research. She suggested getting young researchers to realize what they are passionate about and then figure out what’s important about that. Passion should drive research.
I loved hearing Beth Kephart (Going Over; Chronicle Books) state that “landscape is character” because it spoke to my passion for geography in literature.
Sharon McKay (Enemy Territory; Annick Press) was amazing as she unfolded her personal story that helps her know how to be an insider when writer. “Outsiders have simple solutions.” They don’t understand life’s complexities.
“We are all writing about people in the end. We’re all writing about love in the end.” Kephart.
But readers need to find themselves in what they read. They need to be able to relate to the characters and situations.
Sara Farizan (If you could be mine: a novel; Algonquin) reflected on growing up uncomfortable with her gay identity. She found solace in reading and writing and she sought out books. While she found some with gay and lesbian characters, she couldn’t find any Middle Eastern or Asian characters who were facing obstacles like her.
Authors with so many provocative thoughts! While so many writers urge us to push the envelope and to be edgy (which we need to do because so many teen’s lives are edgy) Another perspective was presented by Carl Deuker (Swagger; Houghton Mifflin). “They grow close to 6 feet tall but they’re still very close to Charlotte’s Web”.
I wish I knew who said it!!!
“Why are books the last racial barrier where many white kids only read about their own experience”? neighborhoods and schools are integrated. We listen to each other’s music, so what is it about books?
I loved witnessing Paul Rudnick’s (Gorgeous; Scholastic) sheer exuberance about writing; Ann Burg’s (Sarafina’s Promise; Scholastic) commitment to truth, Robert Lipsyte’s plea for literacy over sports (where “character has become less important than characters”); Ken Setterington’s (Branded by the Pink Triangle; Second Story Press) work to preserve the pink triangle of the holocaust and was perplexed by science fiction writings admitting the lack of science in their writing yet managing to redeem themselves in their use of horror.
I was glad to discover a new author of color, Kendare Blake (Antigodess; Tor), a Korean American author.
As is fitting, my take-a-way came from Walter Mayes, librarian extraordinaire and the face of ALAN. Remember, ALAN is part of NCTE, so the majority of people there are teachers. Walter was part of a panel celebrating librarians and media specialists. I think he’s an incredible librarian. Well over 6 ft tall, he’s still close to Charlotte’s Web, still close to what children hold dear. Walter related a story to us.
In his library, the older students are able to speak their mind if no younger students are around. Walter’s students aren’t those urban students but they’re diverse. His library books represent diversity. He’s figured out how to give students what they’re ready for and he knew this particular 8th grade black girl was ready for pretty much the same thing her white classmates were reading until one day, she came in, looked around and said she was tired of all these books with “rich, white bitches”. Their conversation led him to make a selection for her that had her coming back, and coming back and coming back.
Walter, this tall white guy working in a library in an all girl’s school was aware enough to get that not all Black, Latino or Asian kids are able to recognize or articulate their desire for books with characters like them. I can remember Ari, Kekla and even myself being quite satisfied with reading about “rich white bitches”, but once discovering a book with a character like us, we wanted more! For publishers to want students to articulate their desire for ethnic diversity in literature is absurd: they simply haven’t all reached that level of psychological development. Thankfully, librarians get it.
ALAN was stimulating, thought-provoking and irritating. I made wonderful connections in terms of thoughts, ideas and relationships with other people. I just know that a more diverse presentation would have enriched us all so much more. The authors not being there wasn’t because ALAN didn’t invite them, it has to do with who publishers choose to market.
ALAN is very inexpensive to join. The organization is extremely inclusive. Its journal is quite important to the field of YA literature. Let’s not pull away from ALAN. Only by joining such organizations and working with such allies can we get publishers to realize they’ve got to change how they market their authors of color and how they represent YA lit to readers. Next year’s conference will be in Washington D.C..
ALAN is the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English.
Filed under: Programming
Blog: Crazy Quilts
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Me Being Me
, Au Bon Pain
, Kekla Magoon
, Lisa Johnson
, Malcolm X
, Omni Parker
, Add a tag
Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is? – Frank Scully
New Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
Last year’s ALAN was in Vegas and I was able to stay over for Thanksgiving dinner with my son and DIL at Bob Flay’s Mesa Grill. This year it was in Boston. Although I didn’t stretch my visit into the holiday, I did have some pretty good dining experiences.
Saturday evening, I had dinner at the Parker House Restaurant with Kekla Magoon and Lisa J. of Anali’s First Amendment. While none of us really knew one another, we managed to stretch our evening into a four-hour event! Why not? Not only was it a splurge, but it was an over the top (for me!!) event! I was with Kekla and Lisa!! And, we were in the Parker House Restaurant! We knew this was where the Kennedys preferred to dine in Boston and that Malcolm X once worked here We also knew that both Parker House Rolls and Boston Creme Pie were invented here. But, the immensity of this didn’t hit home until Lisa asked if we could take photos. We meant of the food and we didn’t want to disturb others around us. It was suggested that we wait until the crowd thinned and of course to us, this meant waiting until our food (and the opportunity to photograph it) would be gone. Yet, we complied.
Edi, Kekla and Lisa at Table 40
Prior to delivering the dessert, our waitress asked if we were ready for the photo by table 40 where Jack proposed to Jackie. Kennedy to Bouvier. So, yes!!! Realizing that’s what she interpreted our request for a photo to mean, we happily took photos there!
Lisa wrote a much nicer post about our evening, so do go read it. I’m sure you can relate to little evenings that become such special memories.
As incredible as that was, my visit to Boston got even bigger from there.
I went to NCTE. I went to the exhibit hall and got the first books signed that I’ll be adding to Little Bean’s library. Little Bean is my first grandchild, due in May. Little Bean is the most amazing kid with an über incredible library! Though not pictured, I also got a book signed by Judy Blume for Little Bean!
I went to ALAN.
ALAN… ALAN started on a downward slope for me. As impressive as the Omni Parker is, I was disappointed that NCTE listed it as a nearby hotel. Traveling as a single lady in a new-to-me town with windchills around -5, it was easy to slip into punk mode and get sucked into $10 cab rides. Not close! The conference room was ridiculously cramped and short on seats.
BUT!! This ALAN had complimentary coffee. There has to be a better way to refer to this beverage as is was a nectar of the goddesses! It took away any reason I had to complain. It let me stand in lines and meet new friends. It took my edge off. I’ve since visited the Au Bon Pain website and see that I can order the coffee online and I sure do plan to do that! It’s so very good!
I’ve waited days to decompress and write my ALAN reflections. When I began writing, I had no idea I’d write so much backstory! I’m going to stop here. Rumor is that people don’t like to read long passages online. I’ll finish posting about ALAN tomorrow.
Enjoy your evening!
Filed under: Me Being Me
, Au Bon Pain
, Kekla Magoon
, Lisa Johnson
, Malcolm X
, Omni Parker
What better day for book trailers than a Saturday?
Angel de la luna and the 5th glorious mystery by M. Evelina Galang; Coffee House Press. Released November, 2013.
Angel has just lost her father, and her mother’s grief means she might as well be gone too. She’s got a sister and a grandmother to look out for, and a burgeoning consciousness of the unfairness in the world—in her family, her community, and her country.
Set against the backdrop of the second Philippine People Power Revolution in 2001, the contemporary struggles of surviving Filipina “Comfort Women” of WWII, and a cold winter’s season in the city of Chicago is the story of a daughter coming of age, coming to forgiveness, and learning to move past the chaos of grief to survive. source
“Angel de la Luna is a beautifully told, and at times, heartbreaking coming of age and coming to America story. Evelina Galang is a masterful storyteller and through her brilliant voice and craft, Angel and her family become ours too.” — Edwidge Danticat
M. Eveline Galang has been named one of the 100 most influential Filipinas in the United States by Filipina Women’s Network.
Galang is the recipient of numerous awards, among them, the 2004 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Awards Advancing Human Rights, the 2004 AWP Prize in the Novel and the 2007 Global Filipino Award in Literature for ONE TRIBE.Galang has been researching the lives of the women of Liga ng mga Lolang Pilipina (LILA Pilipina), surviving Filipina “Comfort Women” of WWII, since 1998. In 2002, she was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in the Philippines where she continued her work with survivors. After former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared there was not enough evidence to prove 200,000 WWII “Comfort Women” were coerced into sex slave camps, she authored the blog, “Laban for the Lolas!” in support of House Resolution 121 and was the Filipino American Outreach coordinator for 121 Coalition. Read more about Galang on her website.
Filed under: Saturday Trailers
Tagged: book trailer
, M. Evelina Galang
Yesterday, my nutritionist mentioned that she could not believe we were already in mid November. Time can get away from us can’t it? I like what Zetta Elliott does every December. She creates an annual retrospective pulling information from her blog and FB posts which helps her see all she has accomplished during the previous year. Looking over what we post in blogs or journals, write about in emails or have taken photos of during the year is a much more powerful statement than the book that didn’t get finished (whether we were reading or writing it!), the project that never got started or the trip that got postponed yet again. Let’s look at what was there and see what was accomplished.
I had pretty much the same thoughts earlier this week when I read and commented on a blog post addressed to John Green and the lack of diversity in his books. I wrote a quick impulsive response, thought about it and wrote another one and still don’t think I said it quite right.
I don’t think John Green should have to include characters of color in his writings no more than I think Coe Booth or Malin Alegria should have to include Whites or Asians in theirs. Authors write best when they write what they know. If they know an all white or an all Latino world, then write that. I may wonder how a neighborhood that I know to be rich in diversity can be portrayed as being so very White, but I know people don’t all seek or have the same experience. I know there are Blacks and Latinos who live in monolithic worlds just are there are Whites who do so. The problem I have is that those white readers can easily find books that reflect how they perceive their world while black and Latino readers have a very hard time find books written by those who understand their world and can write about it. While it amazes me that people can continue to live lives that lack diversity with respect to the types of people they interact with, foods they eat or books they read, I have to accept that there are people who question why anyone would want any type of diversity in their lives. Sure, we could argue that books are the perfect arena to introduce people to different thoughts and ideas, there are readers who don’t want that. They read for other reasons than to explore the world around them.
Why do you read?
Publishers Weekly recently released it’s best of 2013. Looking at the list of children’s books, I am wow-ed by the wide variety of literature on the list. The list includes British fiction, GLBT teens, a character with dyslexia, a female action lead character in a graphic novel, 16th century Scandinavia and monsters in Victorian London. Books by or about people of color are the following.
Boxers and Saints by Gene Juen Yang; Lark Pien
P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata
Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tonya Lee Stone
These books stand as markers of what was published in 2013. Do you think they’re the best?
Filed under: Me Being Me
, John Green
, Publishers Weekly
, Zetta Elliott
Eric Gansworth is a writer and a visual artist. is an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation who was raised at the Tuscarora Nation, near Niagara Falls, New York. He is currently working as a Professor of English and Lowery Writer-in-Residence at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. His latest novel, If I Ever Get Out of Here (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013), has been reviewed by the L. A. Times, Kirkus and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. I was recently able to in interview Eric for this blog. Enjoy!
I always start with the same few basic questions.
Where did you grow up?
Tuscarora reservation, Niagara County, New York.
Do you have any pets?
I have a cat who has lived with me for a couple years. She’s a shelter rescue cat, so I’m not really sure how old she is. I would guess, given her size and shape, that she’s easily six years old. My previous cat lived here for 17 years, and slept on my desk for the writing of my first nine or so books. Sometimes, when I’m writing, it still feels like if I look over to the desk, there he’ll be. I have nothing against dogs, though some breeds I avoid, those with the brute power to do physical damage if they’ve gotten that into their heads. You cross a cat, it pees in some unwanted places. Not pleasant but something I’ve dealt with. A Rottweiler, I’ve noted from personal experience, is a different matter. I was at a dinner party years ago and the hosts’ Rottweiler roamed the room, under the table, seeking affection, etc. Though the dog had a generally calm disposition, one guest absently came up on it from behind and patted its head. The dog must not have heard him, and in two seconds, it was in a position of defense/attack. Fortunately, the host was a couple feet away and was able to intervene. I don’t want to have that kind of psychic energy around me very often. I grew up with dogs and cats, but cats suit my adult temperament better.
What do you enjoy watching on television?
I don’t watch a lot of TV live, except for some morning news—my schedule is way too complicated to be in front of a television at a given hour every week–but I watch a fair number of series on DVD. It’s pretty broad, from the BBC social-critique zombie drama, “In the Flesh,” to the surreal comedy, “Community,” to edgier drama like “Orange is the New Black,” and “Dexter.” I particularly like a British show that has not made it to U.S. television, called “Trollied,” a nuanced comedy about employees at a grocery store. I avoid certain kinds of shows for personal reasons that have nothing to do with their quality. In fact, many are quite fine but I prefer not to examine their subject matter. I actively avoid shows that celebrate bully culture, but I also discovered that, as well produced as it was, “The Big C” was too emotionally challenging for me and I had to stop watching it. Oddly, though I am the least sporty person on earth, I truly loved “Friday Night Lights,”
and was deeply sad at its loss. It was awesome small town drama, pitched in perfect ways for its ensemble cast and the remarkably epic physical setting.
Mostly, I tend to watch the same few movies and some vintage shows I love, over and over, while doing mundane chores like folding laundry.
Meat or vegetables?
I am largely a carnivore, given my preferences. I could pretend here to be pro-vegetable by claiming that French fries are technically potatoes, but even I know that’s nutritionally a lie. I get a lot of grief for this, and some friends seem too preoccupied with finding that magic vegetable that’s going to convert me. I wish they’d accept that I tolerate broccoli, asparagus, and parsnips, but that I’m never going to love them, no matter how they’re cooked. You can dress up a pepper, but it’s still inherently a pepper. In those situations, I often want to insist to my vegetarian friends that if they’d just put the right seasoning on that steak, they wouldn’t notice the meat at all, hoping the inverse analogy would get them to grasp my fundamental aversion. I’ve always been puzzled by my vegetarian friends’ inability to see that their repulsion to meat is exactly the same experience I have with vegetables. Sorry, I’ve probably gone on too long about this issue, but at 48, I’ve pretty much stopped politely pretending that there’s a difference in those stances.
Are there any books that stand out in your memory from your childhood?
Probably some of the same ones for a lot of people. My home was not really a part of book culture, so my exposure came in the form of books my older cousins were assigned in school and didn’t want to read. As such, the stand out volumes that they passed on to me were To Kill a Mockingbird, The Pigman, and The Red Pony. The Outsiders I discovered when a tough girl from the reservation who hated reading loved this novel so much that she stole it from school. That immediately intrigued me. Our elementary school librarian introduced me to a collection of distinctly grotesque folk stories called The Grandfather Tales that I loved. She had a wonderful sense of what we were interested in. This book had a dark sense of humor similar to the prevailing edgy one on the reservation. I think of it now as Flannery O’Connor for kids. I started buying books on my own, (terrible novelizations of horror movies I loved) when I was 12 or so. Around that time, I bought Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, thinking it was another novelization, I discovered the world of beautifully written books about subjects I loved—discovered that there were well written books even about monsters. That was my life changer.
And then the interview begins!
What are some of your best memories of growing up at the Tuscarora Nation as enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation?
I think it’s hard to make a meaningful comparison, as I’ll never know, fully, what a standard, American upbringing at the time was like. I suspect one huge bonus was that the Nation is a pretty insular community. Among its thousand or so residents, everyone knew everyone, and so there is a large sense of belonging to something. I know American culture celebrates the individual, and our culture tends to be more about the group identity. I didn’t necessarily fit that, because I’m kind of a weird person in general, but it was nice to feel as if everyone around you knows you. I don’t imagine that tends to be true in, say, suburban neighborhoods. Do parents know kids from five streets away in suburbia? It seems like that’s only true if there are friends in those families, but on my reservation, not everybody is a friend, necessarily, but there are no strangers.
How has life changed for teens growing up there today?
Well, I suspect, as with everywhere, technology has had a huge impact. Our tribal leadership had an impasse with cable communications companies, so when I was growing up, we had the three local channels, a couple independents, PBS, and a few channels from Toronto. The couple times I saw the channels available in suburbia, it was mind-boggling. Now, with the availability of satellite dishes, and their popularity on the reservation, I suspect there are some technological levelers. At the opposite end of the spectrum, formal education on the reservation has also made major strides. A thorough and thoughtful curriculum including classes in our traditional culture, language and history, is in place and ambitious in scope, for young people now. It also includes units involving family so there’s an awesome opportunity for cross-generational teaching and learning. It seems like a good time for young people who want to strike that balance between the traditional and the contemporary.
I loved Uncle Albert. And Bug. Carson wasn’t so nice, but he got the best lines! It seems like character development is easy for you. From where do your characters come?
Thank you. I’m glad you liked them. I had fun with them, as well. For the record, though, character development is not easy, by any means, at least not for me. A writer’s job is to create believable characters who seem like real people, but those final renderings come after much hard work, feedback and revision. My particular upbringing offered a rich growth environment for a writer. An anthropologist who studied my community for many years has suggested that the Tuscaroras live by a code of “forbearance,” a sort of “tolerance of individual choices.” I don’t think that’s exactly the right word, but it’s in the ballpark. While there are many rules within the traditional culture, there is also a lot of leeway for people to become themselves within that context. As such, I grew up in a rich environment of folks–from the most bland to the most eccentric–where differences were not suppressed or pressured out of people. To be respectful to others’ privacy, I don’t write characters drawn from any one person. I invent the characters I need, adding qualities and details borrowed from people I’ve known, mixing and matching as the characters demand.
Why The Beatles?
Pop culture has always informed my work, because it was always a dominant force in my life. The first story I ever published had appearances by The Monkees and The Jefferson Airplane, and they were both meaningful to the story’s ideas. The Beatles are among the major cultural forces of the twentieth century and proving to last well into the twenty-first. They’ve shown up a lot in my poetry over the years, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before they wound up as a dominant force in my fiction.
I am not prone to eye-rolling, as a rule, but I grew up wholly on a reservation. When writers who did not grow up in indigenous communities over-saturate their fictional worlds in some hard core “Native spirituality” culture, totally at odds with any reservation I’ve ever been to, I feel an obligation to document the indigenous experience as I know it. A lot of Indian artists who grew up in communities joke about that exaggerated, performative choice–we’ve all seen it–calling it “The Leather and Feather Show.” The Beatles have always been, and continue to be, a major presence for me, so I’m following the traditional writers’ advice and “writing what I know.”
Was it difficult setting on the title, If I Ever Get Out of Here?
I had a totally different title when the novel was in its earliest formative stage, and then I had a name that was tied to a plot point from the end of the novel, and finally, when it became clear that Paul McCartney was going to be a significant artistic force, that phrase showed up and from the second it did, I knew it had to be the novel’s title. The longer I worked, the more perfect it seemed. The novel is about two guys in middle school, so to some degree, I thought that sentiment would be self-evident. It’s also about the ways we, at that age, are so vulnerable and trapped by circumstance. We’re not really children anymore, but we’re still years away from being able to make meaningful decisions about the directions our lives are going. So, the “Here” isn’t just the physical setting of the school, but also that awkward stage between the formative years of childhood and the freedoms of charting our own courses as adults.
If I Ever is the first YA piece you’ve written after a long line of adult works. What challenged you most about writing for teen readers?
I’ve consistently written about younger life, so that focus wasn’t an issue. My first published short story is about one afternoon in the life of a four year old, as remembered by his adult self. My writing for adults tends to be pretty interior, about the life inside, with a ton of detail, history, and memory. The first draft of this book looked like that as well. The most challenging thing was to strip away a lot of that tonal, interior detail and memory, in order to bring the plot into the forefront, while still keeping it in the ballpark of the kinds of ideas I want to write about.
Finally, what does diversity mean to you?
Perhaps because of my cultural upbringing, I see diversity as a treaty. A treaty is a negotiated common ground between different ideological groups. A number of groups, it seems to me, still try to negotiate a formal separatism, but I don’t really see that as attractive. I have my ruts as much as anyone else does, but I also like to consider new things. I’m an accumulator—I suppose that’s a nice way of saying I’m a hoarder. I don’t drop one aspect of my life when it’s no longer fashionable, or because something else is more exciting. I like the comfort of the familiar and the thrill of the new. If you were to look at my book collection, or film collection, or music collection, you would see a very wide diversity in each. I find they all give me something rich, without taking away from the others, and that, truly, is what diversity means to me—the opportunity to grow with the exposure to new cultural forces, but not at the expense of those with which you’re already familiar.
Filed under: Interview
Tagged: author interview
, Eric Gansworth
The Rainbow Project is a joint committee between the GLBT-RT and the SRRT, and creates an annual bibliography for new books for ages birth through YA with significant GLBTQI material. Today, they announced the follow nominees which will be discussed at midwinter for inclusion on the Rainbow Project Award list. While most of the books are for YA readers, a few are mentioned for younger readers.
Argo, Rhiannon. Girls I’ve Run Away With. 2013. 263p. Moonshine Press. $15.95. (978-0-9894396-0-2).
Barnes, David-Matthew. Wonderland. 2013. 192p. Bold Strokes Books, $11.95 (9781602827882).
Black, Holly. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013. 419 pp. $19.99. ISBN: 9780316213103. Grades 9-12 (YA Fiction).
Black, Jenna. Replica. Tom Doherty Associates, 2013. 368 pp. $9.99. ISBN: 9780765333711. Grades 6-12 (Middle/YA Fiction).
Block, Francesca Lia. Love in the Time of Global Warming. 2013. 240 pp. Henry Holt and Co., $16.99 (0805096272). Grades 9-12.
Bornstein, Kate. My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity. 2013. 312p. Routledge. $39.95. (978-0415538657). Grades 9 & Up.
Clark, Kristin Elizabeth. Freakboy. 2013. 448 p. Farrar Straus Giroux $18.99 (9780374324728). Grades 7+.
Charlton-Trujillo, E.E. Fat Angie. 2013. 272p. Candlewick Press $ (0763661198). Grades 9 and up.
Demcak, Andrew. If There’s a Heaven Above. 2013. 275p. JMS Books LLC, $14.50 (9781611524161). Grades 10 and up.
Dos Santos, Steven. The Culling. 2013. 420 pp. Flux, $9.99 (9780738735375). Grades 9-12.
Egloff, Z. Leap. 2013. 223p. Bywater Books, $14.95. (978-1612940236). Age 14 and up.
Farizan, Sara. If You Could Be Mine. 2013. 256p. Algonquin Young Readers, $16.99 (9781616202514). Grades 9 and up.
Federle, Tim. Better Nate than Ever. 275p. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (9781442446892). Grades 4 and up.
Fishback, Jere’ M. Tyler Buckspan. 2013. 198p. Prizm/Torquere Press, Inc. ISBN:978-1-61040-518-8. YA Fiction.
Georges, Nicole. Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir. 2013. 288p. Mariner Books, $17.99 (9780547615592). Grades 10-12.
Goode, John. End of the Innocence : Tales from Foster High #4. 2012. 298p. Harmony Ink, $14.99. (978-1613724941). Ages 14 and up.
Hartinger, Brent. The Elephant of Surprise. 2013. 222p. Buddha Kitty Books, $12.99. (978-0984679454). Ages 12 and up.
Hartzler, Aaron. Rapture Practice: My One-Way Ticket to Salvation: A True Story. 2013. 400p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99 (031609465X). Grades 9-12.
Hoblin, Paul. Archenemy. 2013. 112p. Darby Creek Publishing, $7.95. (978-1467707213). Grades 9+.
Jackson, Corrine. If I Lie. 2012. 288 p. Simon Pulse, $16.99. (978-1442454132). Ages 14 and up.
Johnson, Alaya Dawn. The Summer Prince. 2013. 304p. Arthur A. Levine Books, $17.99 (9780545520775). Grades 9-12.
Karre, Elizabeth. The Fight. 2013. 128p. Darby Creek Publishing, $20.95. (978-1-4677-0596-7). Grades 6+.
Knight, Lania. Three Cubic Feet. 2012. 137p. Mint Hill Books. $13.95. ISBN: 978-1-59948-363-4. YA Fiction.
Konigsberg, Bill. Openly Straight. 2013. 320 p. Scholastic. $17.99 (978-0-545-50989-3. Grades 7+.
Lam, Laura. Pantomime. 2013. 400 p. Osprey Publishing, $9.99 (9781908844378). Grades 9 and up (YA).
Levithan, David. Every Day. 2012. 336p. Knopf, $16.99 (9780307931887). Grades 9-12.
Levithan, David. Two Boys Kissing. 2013. 208p. Random House $16.99 (978-0-307-93190-0). Grades 7+.
Lo, Malinda. Inheritance. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013. 480 pp. $18.00. ISBN: 9780316198004. Grades 9-12 (YA Fiction).
London, Alex. Proxy. L2013. 384 pages. Philomel, $17.99 (9780399257766). Ages 12 and up.
Mahurin, Paulette. The persecution of Mildred Dunlap. 2013. 202p. Blue Palm Press, $14.95 (9780977186617). Grades 9-12.
Malone, Jill. Giraffe People. 2013. 262p. Bywater Books, $14.95. (978-1612940397). Age 13 and up.
Marcus. Eric. What If? Answers to Questions about What It Means to Be Gay and Lesbian. Simon & Schuster. 2013. 192 pp. ISBN: 9781442482982
Maroh, Julie. Blue is the Warmest Color. 2012. 160 p. Arsenal Pulp Press, $19.95. (978-1551525143). Grades 10 & up.
Moon, Alison. Hungry Ghost (Tales of the Pack, Book 2). 2013. 295p. Lunatic Ink. $11.99. (9780983830931). Grades 8 + (YA)
Moskowitz, Hannah. Marco Impossible. 2013. 247 p. Roaring Book Press $16.99 (9781596437210). Grades 6+.
Moynihan, Lindsay. The Waiting Tree. 2013. 218p. Amazon Children’s Publishing, $17.99 (9781477816424). Grades 9-12.
Ness, Patrick. More Than This. 2013. 480p. Candlewick Press, $19.99. (978-0763662585). Age 14 and up.
Parent, Dan. Kevin Keller 2: Drive Me Crazy. 2013. 104p. Archie Comics. $11.99. (978-1936975587). Ages 12 and up.
Pierce, Tamora. Battle Magic. Scholastic, 2013. 464 pp. $17.99 ISBN: 9780439842976. Grades 6-12 (Middle/YA Fiction)
Ryan, Tom. Tag Along. Orca, 2013. 208 p. $12.95. ISBN:978-1-4598-0297-1. ages 11-18.
Setterington, Ken. Branded by the Pink Triangle. 2013. 158p. Second Story Press, $15.95. (9781926920962). Grades 9-12.
Smith, Andrew. Winger. Simon & Schuster, 2013. 448 pp. $16.99. ISBN: 9781442444928. Grades 9-12 (YA Fiction).
Solomon, Steven. Homophobia: Deal with it and turn prejudice into pride. James Lorimer, 2013. 32 p. $12.95. (978-1459404427). Grades 4-7.
Stiefvater, Maggie. The Dream Thieves (The Raven Boys, #2). Scholastic, 2013. 416 pp. $18.99. ISBN: 9780545424943. Grades 9-12 (YA Fiction)
Sutherland, Suzanne. When We Were Good. 2013. 227 p. Sumach Press. $14.95 (978-7-927513-11-8).
Takako, Shimura, Wandering Son, v. 4. Fantagraphic Books, 2013. 200 pp. $19.99. ISBN: 9781606996058. Grades 6-12 (Manga).
Trevayne, Emma. Coda. Running Brook Press, 2013. 320 pages. $9.95. ISBN 978076244728. Grades 8 and up.
Trumble, J. H. Where You Are. 2013. 324p. Kensington Books, $15.00. (978-0758277169). Grades 9 and up.
Velasquez, Gloria. Tommy Stands Tall. 2013. 108p. Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press. $9.95 (978-1-55885-778-0). Ages 11 & up.
Vitagliano, Paul. Born This Way: Real Stories Of Growing Up Gay. 128p. Quirk Books, $14.95.(9781594745997). Grades 7-12.
Williams III, J. H. and W. Haden Blackman. Batwomn, Volume 3: World’s Finest. DC Comics, New York, 2013. 168 pp. ISBN: 9781401242466. $22.99. Grades 9-12 (YA).
Filed under: awards
, Rainbow Project
“Instead, Mr. Hijuelos chose to build panoramic tales around the messy lives of his characters, with vivid depictions of romance and sorrow and the mood of the times.” The Washington Post
I was stunned yesterday to hear of the passing of Oscar Hijuelos. I knew him through Dark Dude.
In Wisconsin, Rico could blend in. His light hair and lighter skin wouldn’t make him the “dark dude” or the punching bag for the whole neighborhood. The Midwest is the land of milk and honey, but for Rico Fuentes, it’s really a last resort. Trading Harlem for Wisconsin, though, means giving up on a big part of his identity. And when Rico no longer has to prove that he’s Latino, he almost stops being one. Except he can never have an ordinary white kid’s life, because there are some things that can’t be left behind, that can’t be cut loose or forgotten. These are the things that will be with you forever…. These are the things that will follow you a thousand miles away. (Amazon.)Visit their page to read or listen to an exerpt.)
Hijuelos was an internationally know Pulizter Prize winning Cuban American author. He was the first Latino to win the award for his 1989 novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Needless to say, his book opened doors.
Unlike that of many well-known Latin writers, his work was rarely outwardly political, focusing instead on the conundrums of assimilation. And rather than employing a syncopated musicality or fantastical flights of magic realism, Mr. Hijuelos wrote fluid prose, sonorous but more earthy than poetic, with a forthright American cadence. (The New York Times)
While obituaries on CNN, BBC, Chicago Post….. my favorite is on PBS.
Filed under: Me Being Me
Tagged: Oscar Hijuelos; Dark Dude; PBS
Celebrate Latino Children’s Literature & Literacy at the National Latino Children’s Literature Conference in March 13-14, 2014. For more information.
I received the following information in an email today. Do think about proposing a presentation for this conference and share this information with others you know who may be interested in presenting as well.
The University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies is pleased to announce the 2014 National Latino Children’s Literature Conference to be held in Tuscaloosa, AL on March 13-14, 2014. This exclusive conference was created for the purpose of promoting high-quality children’s and young adult books about the Latino cultures and to offer a forum for librarians, educators, researchers, and students to openly discuss strategies for meeting the informational, educational, and literacy needs of Latino youth (children and teens) and their families. Featuring nationally-acclaimed Latino literacy scholars and award-winning Latino authors and illustrators of children’s and young adult books, this exclusive conference is truly an unforgettable experience.
Request for Proposals: In keeping with the recurring conference theme “Connecting Cultures & Celebrating Cuentos,” we invite poster and program proposals that contribute to and extend existing knowledge in the following areas: Latino children’s and young adult literature, bilingual education, Latino family involvement in the school curriculum, Latino cultural literacy, library services to Latino children and their families, literacy programs utilizing Latino children’s literature, educational needs of Latino children, educational opportunities and collaborations with El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), Latino children’s responses to culturally-responsive literature, social influences of children’s media on Latino youth, Noche de Cuentos literacy programs in schools and libraries, creating cross-cultural connections with Latino children’s literature, and other related topics. Presentations and posters can share recent research or provide practical suggestions for current or preservice librarians and educators. The National Latino Children’s Literature Conference is both a research and practitioner conference and proposals are peer reviewed.
Program Proposals: Programs can be a presentation of research or practical suggestions for teachers, librarians, and other educators. To submit your program proposal, please provide the following information: a 250 word (maximum) abstract of your presentation along with the program title; the name of the program organizer; the names of all presenters and their affiliations along with their preferred contact phone, email, and address; and your preferred presentation day (Thursday, Friday, or Either) to conference chair Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Please be sure to put “program proposal” in your subject heading.
Poster Proposals: Posters can be a presentation of research or practical suggestions for teachers, librarians, and other educators. To submit your poster proposal, please provide the following information: the title of your poster; a 200 word (maximum) abstract of your poster; the subject of your poster (choose Literature/Media Studies, Programs & Services in Libraries, Educational & Literacy Strategies, or Exemplary Programs); your name and affiliation; your preferred contact phone, email, and address; and your preferred presentation day (Thursday, Friday, or Either) to conference chair Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo at email@example.com
. Please be sure to put “poster proposal” in your subject heading. Easels will be provided for posters and additional information about poster size will be provided with the acceptance letters.
The deadline for proposal submissions is midnight December 9, 2013 with notification of acceptance on or before December 18, 2013.
Filed under: professional development
Tagged: latino conference
Today was my last day at the garden. It had to be cleared out before the end of the month, so I went over to pull everything out and thus end my growing season. I was once again gifted with little surprises. A few remaining red and green tomatoes, broccoli and tender sprouts that grow from where I removed that large cabbage head earlier in the season.
The garden was just beginning!
The cucumber died out a while ago. They were my first reliable crop, so sweet, juicy and crisp. After tasting how much flavor they had, I realized why I hadn’t previously been fond of the vegetable: they’d had no flavor. My bell peppers didn’t do anything for months, but I left them in the ground to be surprised with a bumper crop of peppers in the past few weeks. I learned this year that turnips greens have been genetically modified so that turnip bottoms grow on separate plants. So, I was quite happy to find the baby turnips when I pulled the turnip greens (tops) from the ground.
I left the sage, basil, catnip and marigolds. They were worker plants and will thrive a bit long.
I’ve learned a lot from all these different plants. Sometimes it was just about the plants and sometimes it transferred to what I can know about people.
The garden today
I’ve learned a lot from the planters, too. The older, retired white Americans, my African American colleagues, the Filipinos, Ghanaians and Kenyans have all shared their harvest, their wisdom and their love of gardening. I started out gardening with my sister and loved the days when we would reminisce about my mom’s and grandmother’s gardens. The drive over got to be more than we realized it would be, but I kept on, probably surprising both of us. I’ve blogged and FBed about this garden way more than I ever thought I would. I think it filled a social, spiritual and creative gap for me. I’ll miss it, but life goes on.
So, I began my morning planning my day, my week and thinking of all the committee work I have in front of me, the growing pile of books I have growing for BFYA and the articles I need to write for tenure. My phone rang and all this seemed rather pointless.
My son and DIL
My son’s brother in law passed away last night. Kyle was in his mid 20s and because he suffered with cystic fibrosis, spent much of his life in a care facility. I have to confess I really didn’t know Kyle so, I’m really not sure why I’ve wilted into a puddle today. Perhaps it’s knowing my son and daughter-in-law are in pain and there is nothing I can do for them. It could be because I can relate to the horror my son’s MIL is going through having now lost her child, or maybe it’s just anger at the American health care system.
Kyle stayed at home as long has his physical needs could be met. Once he needed more care and equipment than could be available there, he was moved and that’s when his nightmares began. There have been broken bones, infections and so many other instances of what I’m going to call neglect. Clothing items, toys and trinkets bought for him often disappeared. They were “lost in the wash”. Now, this is one child with a ferocious mother. This is one child, one human child abused in care facilities right here in the US. There are certainly others all of whom are voiceless.
Who speaks for the mentally and physically challenged? They’re not in YA fiction or children’s picture books, not on CNN, not in Starbucks commercials and not in Steven Spielberg’s latest movie. My, god, who would want to see about that? The thing is, we all have people with special needs in our families!
We do hear about the tremendous blessings felt by those who love and care for the less abled, but we never hear about the challenges they face finding or affording care or the abuse they face at the hands of their providers. Silly me, I thought people who worked with those who are disabled did it because of a special calling.
I would like to hope Obamacare with alleviate some of this, that it will get prenatal care to women so that many debilitating illnesses can be cured in vitro and so that better long term care can be there for those in need. I want to hope.
Kyle is gone. Kyle was a special one here in this garden of humanity. The sun shined on his smile. Some of the crap thrown on him was fertilizer, too much of it wasn’t. The best part of him lives in full bloom.
Filed under: Me Being Me
, Sunday Reads
I am merely posing for a photograph.
Remember, when the Nomenclature
stops you, tell them that—“Sirs, he was posing
for my camera, that is all.” . . . yes, that may just work.
Poet. Artist. Teacher. Activist. Writer. Poet Laureate of California.
“Your friends, and your associates, and the people around you, and the environment that you live in, and the speakers around you – the speakers around you – and the communicators around you, are the poetry makers.
If your mother tells you stories, she is a poetry maker.
If your father says stories, he is a poetry maker.
If your grandma tells you stories, she is a poetry maker.
And that’s who forms our poetics.”
~Juan Felipe Herrara
Filed under: male monday
Tagged: Juan Felipe Herrera
, Male Monday
, Mexican American
The Tomás Rivera Mexican American Book Award was developed by the Texas State University’s College of Education to honor authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican American experience. Tomás Rivera, a native of Crystal City, Texas, is the first Mexican American to have been selected Distinguished Alumnus at Texas State University–San Marcos. He is known as the Dean of Mexican American Literature.
The award is given each year to the authors and illustrators of outstanding children’s and young adult literature that most authentically reflects Mexican Americans in the United States.
Past winners include Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s Under the Mesquite, Sylvia and Aki by Winifred Conkling, Diego Rivera His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh and What Can You Do with a Paleta by Carmen Tafolla. The first winners of the award in 1996 were Chatos Kitchen by Gary Soto and Farolito’s Christmas by Rudolfo Anaya.
Nominations must be submitted by 1 November and winners are announced on 15 February.
Criteria for the award are
- The book will be written for children and young adults (0-16 years).
- The text and illustrations will be of highest quality.
- The portrayal/representations of Mexican Americans will be accurate and engaging, avoid stereotypes, and reflect rich characterization.
- The book may be fiction or non- fiction.
Filed under: awards
Tagged: book award
, Mexican American
, Tomas Rivera
Oh, I’ve thought about blogging. I had a great post prepared last Friday and it disappeared when I clicked ‘publish’. Twice it did. I hope this one saves!!
It’s crunch time with BFYA and that is my #1 priority over the next few months. Well, that and the Indiana Council of Social Students and ALAN/NCTE presentations I’m doing this month. And laundry, grocery shopping and keeping up with General Hospital.
I’ve got a few great posts in mind. I won’t be completely gone, but I will be posting even less than I have been. I’ve got a few good interviews that I’m working on. I’m enjoying doing interviews, giving a little more exposure to authors and their works. I’m always looking for new authors to interview. I’m also working on a post about how librarians contribute to diversity as it applies to literature for young adult readers. I was reading a very interesting piece which Jason Low published interviewing literary agents on the issue of the ethnic diversity gap in children’s books and it caused me to look inward. I have to ask what librarians can and should be doing.
In the meantime, it’s November and I have new books to post!
A Translated from Arabic by the Lebanese author, the rapid present-tense narrative is a powerful take on the Cinderella story. Never simplistic, the story’s twists and turns are surprising.
Ash escaped THE SAVAGE FORTRESS . . . but can he survive THE CITY OF DEATH?
As I was leaving my apartment this morning, I picked up a package that contained The Servant by Fatima Sharafeddine (Groundwood/House of Anansi). Sharafeddine was born in Lebanon and raised in Sierra Leona. In the past 10 years, she’s written over 95 books. The Servant was released in April, 2013.
I also managed to miss Sarwat Chadda’s City of Death (Arthur A. Levine) which was released in October. This is book #2 in Chadda’s Ash Mistry series and it is on the current BFYA list.
And what about November, you ask? Here they are. All FIVE of them.
Angel de la luna and the 5th glorious mystery by M. Evelina Galang; Coffee House Press, Nov. As a baby in her mother’s womb, as a schoolgirl in Manilla, and as a reluctant immigrant to Chicago at age sixteen, Angel burns with a desire to be an activist, but learning truths about her mother and grandmother help her find peace.
True Story by NiNi Simone; KTeen/Dafina, 26 Nov. That’s the plight of eighteen-year-old Seven McKnight. Her freshman year at Stiles University turned out to be a tug of war for her heart and her sophomore year promised more of the same. Just when she’d sworn off her ex-boyfriend, Josiah Whitaker, and thought she’d never love him again, he boldly stepped back into her life, with no regard that she’d moved on with Zaire St. James, her new boyfriend.
Champion by Marie Lu; Putnam Juvenile, 5 Nov. June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has. With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.
The Trap by Andrew Fukuda; St. Martin’s Griffin; 5 Nov. After barely escaping the Mission alive, Gene and Sissy face an impossible task: staying alive long enough to stop an entire world bent on their destruction. Bound on a train heading into the unknown with the surviving Mission girls, Gene, Sissy, David, and Epap must stick together and use everything they have to protect each other and their only hope: the cure that will turn the blood-thirsty creatures around them into humans again. Now that they know how to reverse the virus, Gene and Sissy have one final chance to save those they love and create a better life for themselves. But as they struggle to get there, Gene’s mission sets him on a crash course with Ashley June, his first love . . . and his deadliest enemy.
He Said, She Said by Kwame Alexander; Amistad, 19 Nov.
Sparks will fly in this hip-hop-hot teen novel that mixes social protest and star-crossed romance! He Said, She Said is perfect for fans of Walter Dean Myers and Rachel Vail alike.
He says: Omar “T-Diddy” Smalls has got it made—a full football ride to UMiami, hero-worship status at school, and pick of any girl at West Charleston High.
She says: Football, shmootball. Here’s what Claudia Clarke cares about: Harvard, the poor, the disenfranchised, the hungry, the staggering teen pregnancy rate, investigative journalism . . . the list goes on. She does not have a minute to waste on Mr. T-Diddy Smalls and his harem of bimbos.
He Said, She Said is a fun and fresh novel from Kwame Alexander that throws these two high school seniors together when they unexpectedly end up leading the biggest social protest this side of the Mississippi—with a lot of help from Facebook and Twitter.
Filed under: Me Being Me
, New Books
Tagged: new releases
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The time book mom and blogger, stepped up: Jenny at Babies, Books and Bows couldn’t believe
In simple rhyming text a young Muslim girl and her family guide the reader through the traditions and colors of Islam.
the fear and didn’t want to see the gorgeous picture book Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns (American Library Association Notable Children’s Bk 2013; Notable Children’s Trade Book/Social Studies 2013) removed from the Scholastic bookfair at her daughter’s school after a parent protest about the book. Jenny spoke up. In her letter to the bookfair rep, she stated
[O]ne of the reasons we love the school is the diverse population. She goes to school with kids from different cultures, that speak different languages, and have different beliefs. We have raised our daughter to be kind and empathetic to her classmates, to learn from them, to listen to them with an open heart instead of shunning them away with fear. It is the fear that drives the request to have the book removed.
As a book fair volunteer, I watched as the children searched the shelves for books that were interesting, that were fun, and to which they could relate. Our school population has many Muslim students, and the students should not be taught that a book about their culture in a beautifully illustrated children’s book is akin to terrorism, as [was] inferred from [the] comments [cited] in the paper. Also, there were many books about other religions and cultures available at the book fair, including books about Christmas, Hanukkah, and Greek Mythology, just to name a few. So [the] comment that there was not any representation from other cultures or religions is baseless.
I think Judy Blume put it best when she said, “Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear.”
She then bought a copy of the book to giveaway on her blog.
The post in which she writes about Latina representation in YA and the responses are from authors who struggle to diversify their writing: she makes a valid point. YA fiction for any teen who is not White can be a challenge to find. Blacks and Latinos had been relegated to “urban” fiction which often focused on gangs and violence but not even that can’t even be found now. Cambodian American, Guatemalan American and Puerto Rican authors know how the language flows, power structures and celebratory practices. Sure, there have been authors who have written outside their culture and gotten it right, but it’s not because they read a book about how to do it. It’s because they’ve been immersed in other cultures. “Some of their best friends are Black”. Their list of favorite books is as diverse and the music they listen to and the food they eat. Otherwise, they’re pretty much just faking it. If you don’t know it, you probably shouldn’t write about it. If your world is all White, then write your book! If it’s good, authentic story it will sell!
I scratch my head when I think about all the authors of color I haven’t seen on the shelf in a mighty long time while at the same time white authors are trying to expand their repertoire. Coo Booth. Varian Johnson. Mitali Perkins. Neesha Meminger. Paula Yoo. Torrey Maldonado.
I’m about to get back to my book stack. Two months left. A book a day, my friends; a book a day! Before I get back,
The day my daughter was born: I have to wish my daughter the happiest of birthdays. I honestly don’t know how she got so old, but she’s celebrating her 29th (for the first time). Kristen is the person who first made me realize how difficult it is for teens of color to find books about teens like themselves. Kris attending a high school with close to 2000 students and it’s a high school that has long been known for it’s diversity. I guess diversity was all in the student population, but not in the library. I was a social studies teacher then and could find her a few books I’d read, but being that teen struggle for independence, she didn’t want books I’d read. I remember finding Coldest Winder Ever for her. I think the most recent book I gave her was City of Glass, which she enjoyed enough to read the series. We read and discussed books while we lived in Taiwan, but our reading interests are not quite the same. That doesn’t matter. What matters is simply that she reads. And, that she is a beautiful young lady with a vibrant energy who is making a difference exposing human trafficking with her camera.
Saturday. 9 November. Wishing you all memories of today that are as good as mine.
Filed under: Me Being Me