What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(from Mitali's Fire Escape)

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 30 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
<<May 2015>>
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
     0102
03040506070809
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31      
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: Mitali's Fire Escape, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 1,332
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
The author of Monsoon Summer, The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen, Rickshaw Girl, Secret Keeper, and the First Daughter books, keeps an eye on reading, writing, and life between cultures.
Statistics for Mitali's Fire Escape

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 47
1. 2015 Jane Addams Book Awards

JANE ADDAMS CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARDS ANNOUNCED

Recipients of the 2015 Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards were announced today by the Jane Addams Peace Association. Since 1953, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award annually acknowledges books published in the U.S. during the previous year. Books commended by the Award address themes or topics that engage children in thinking about peace, justice, world community and/or equality of the sexes and all races. The books also must meet conventional standards of literacy and artistic excellence.
Winner in the Books for Younger Readers Category

Separate is Never Equal, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers. When Sylvia Mendez and her siblings enrolled in a new school system, they were told they must attend an inferior “school for Mexicans” because they were dirty, uneducated, and didn’t speak English –despite that all of these things were demonstrably untrue. Sylvia’s family worked tirelessly to unite the Latino community and bring an end to the segregation. Separate is Never Equal brings the story to life with illustrations done in a style meant to echo Mayan codex figures.

Winner in the Books for Older Readers Category

The Girl From the Tar Paper School by Teri Kanefield, also published by Abrams Books for Young Readers. Sixteen year old Barbara Rose Johns, a high school student, led a student walk out to protest racial inequality in the school system. It was the first public protest of its kind, and one of the cases that helped end segregation as part of Brown vs. the Board of Education.

Honor Books in the Younger Reader Category


Whispering Town, written by Jennifer Elvgren, illustrated by Fabio Santomauro, and published by Kar-Ben Publishing, tells the story of a young child in a small town in Nazi-occupied Denmark that united to smuggle Jews out of the country. Perfectly balancing the dread of the situation with the heroism of the townspeople, this book is an excellent introduction to the subject matter for young children.

Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914, by John Hendrix, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, tells the story of the Christmas Truce in the trenches of WWI. The powerful story conveys the futility of war and the powerlessness of individual soldiers who are nonetheless united in eking out a moment of shared humanity amid chaos.

Honor Books in the Books for Older Children category

Revolution, by Deborah Wiles, published by Scholastic Press, uses a unique format that incorporates primary source documents and song lyrics from the 1960’s with more conventional novel narration to tell the story of Freedom Summer through the eyes of young people whose worlds are turning upside down. Primarily told through the voice of Sunny, a young white girl, depth and perspective are added to the narrative through Raymond, a black boy, and a third-person narrator.

Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal, by Margarita Engle, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is a complex book that uses free verse poetry to give a voice to the many lives touched by the creation of the Panama Canal including the workers from the Caribbean, indigenous people, employees from the U.S., and even the jungle itself, conveying a story of profound injustice and inequality – and a fight for basic human rights.

A national committee chooses winners and honor books for younger and older children. Members of the 2015 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Committee are Marianne Baker (VA), Kathryn Bruce (TN), Ann Carpenter (chair, MA), Julie Olsen Edwards (CA), Susan Freiss (WI), Lani Gerson (MA), Jacqui Kolar (IL), Lauren Mayer (WA), Beth McGowan (IL), Mary Napoli (PA), Heather Palmer (MN), Ilza Garcia (TX), Sonja Cherry-Paul (NY). Regional reading and discussion groups of all ages participated with many of the committee members throughout the jury’s evaluation and selection process.

The 2015 Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards will be presented on Friday, October 16, 2015 in New York City. Details about the award event and about securing winner and honor book seals are available from the Jane Addams Peace Association (JAPA). Contact JAPA Executive Director Linda B. Belle, 777 United Nations Plaza, 6th Floor, NY, NY 10017-3521; by phone 212.682.8830; and by email japa@igc.org.
For additional information about the Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards and a complete list of books honored since 1953, see www.janeaddamspeace.org.

0 Comments on 2015 Jane Addams Book Awards as of 5/13/2015 8:17:00 PM
Add a Comment
2. Children's Publishers Donate Books to Prison-Nursery Libraries

In honor of Mother’s Day, the last day of Children’s Book Week 2015, the Children’s Book Council (CBC) partnered with The unPrison Project — a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to empowering and mentoring women in prison, while raising awareness of their families’ needs — to create libraries of books for incarcerated mothers to read with their babies at prison nurseries in 10 states: California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska, New York, South Dakota, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

17 of the CBC’s member publishers donated copies of 45 hand-picked titles for children ages 0-18 months for each library. I'm excited, because four of the publishers are mine!

The books will be paired with simple interactive reading guides— fostering mother-child dialogue and bonding — and will be hand-delivered and organized in the nurseries by Deborah Jiang-Stein, founder of The unPrison Project and author of Prison Baby. Jiang-Stein was born in prison to a heroin-addicted mother, and has made it her mission to empower and mentor women and girls in prison. 15 additional titles have also been donated by these publishers to stock visiting room libraries for inmates and their older children.

CBC members participating in the effort are:

  • ABRAMS Books for Young Readers
  • Candlewick Press
  • Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
  • Creston Books
  • Disney Publishing Worldwide
  • Finding My Way Books
  • Five Star Publications, Inc.
  • HarperCollins Children’s Books
  • Holiday House, Inc.
  • Kane Miller, a division of EDC Publishing
  • Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • National Geographic Kids
  • Nobrow (Flying Eye Books)
  • Penguin Young Readers Group (Nancy Paulsen Books)
  • Random House Children’s Books
  • Scholastic, Inc.
  • The RoadRunner Press

“Of the 200,000 women in prison in the United States, 80% have children. Reading together can be one of the most powerful ways for mothers and their children to stay connected during a prison sentence, but visiting rooms in prisons are vastly underserved and books are hard to come by,” says Deborah Jiang-Stein, founder of The unPrison Project. “These prison-nursery libraries will fill that void for mothers and their babies.”

About the Children’s Book Council (CBC)

The Children’s Book Council is the nonprofit trade association for children’s book publishers in North America. The CBC offers children’s publishers the opportunity to work together on issues of importance to the industry at large, including educational programming, literacy advocacy, and collaborations with other national organizations. Our members span the spectrum from large international houses to smaller independent presses. The CBC is proud to partner with other national organizations on co-sponsored reading lists, educational programming, and literacy initiatives. Please visit www.cbcbooks.org for more information.

About The unPrison Project

The mission of The unPrison Project (UP) is to empower, inspire, and cultivate critical thinking, life skills, self-reflection, and peer mentoring for women and girls in prison as tools to plan, set goals, and prepare for a successful life after their release, and at the same time bring public awareness about the needs of incarcerated women and their children. The unPrison Project is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. Learn more at www.unprisonproject.org.

0 Comments on Children's Publishers Donate Books to Prison-Nursery Libraries as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. TIGER BOY East Coast Book Launch and More!

After I launched TIGER BOY in the San Francisco Bay Area, I headed to the coast I used to call home for the New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference, several author visits, and a book launch party at Newtonville Books. What a joy to see old friends and meet new ones. Travel along with me.

My NESCBWI workshop for fellow writers:
"12 Questions to Help us See Race and Culture in our Stories"
Signing with author friends: From L to R, Me, Debi Mishiko Florence (Japan: A Kaleidoscope Kids Book), Mike Jung (Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities), Grace Lin (Starry River of the Sky), and Padma Venkatraman (A Time to Dance).

Delightful to see a bunch of brown faces at the conference (From L to R: Sona Charaipotra, Visi Tilak, Nandini Bajpai, me)
Book Launch Party at Newtonville Books!
Author (me), illustrator (Jamie Hogan), editor (Yo Scott), baby (belongs to Yo), tiger, book: what else do you need for a bookstore party?
"Buy this book, please."
Illustrator Jamie Hogan captivates the crowd with stories about research and technique.
Next came five school visits in three days, starting with writing workshops for fifth-graders at Willard School in Concord, Massachusetts.
Several of these fourth-graders at Zervas School in Newton started following me on Instagram after I visited. They are nine.
Haggerty School in Cambridge is full of mini-mes like this one.
New England seemed shell-shocked from the winter, as though bracing for a next snow. But the daffodils and crocuses were in bloom and the lilacs were budding. Happy Spring, Boston! I miss you!

0 Comments on TIGER BOY East Coast Book Launch and More! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
4. TIGER BOY West Coast Book Launch and More!

It's been a busy week in the Bay Area launching my new book, TIGER BOY. Tomorrow I head to Boston for festivities on the other coast. Here's a taste of what's been going on this week in California — school visits, booksellers' conferences, and a happy launch party.

Linden Tree Books in Los Altos created this lovely display.
I visited Chabot Elementary School in Oakland. Not a bad place to sign books.

At Malcolm X. Elementary School in Berkeley, we learned about Bengali culture and Bengal tigers.
Kids never make me nervous.
This was the first time I got to talk about both books!
The actual book launch party was at Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore in Berkeley. Thanks, Mrs. Ds, and thanks to all the friends who joined me.
Parties are fun! Plus I got to read lovely notes from the fourth-graders at Malcolm X.
"Dear Ms. Perkins. Hi Ms. Perkins. I want to see you again Ms. Perkis. I love you Ms. Perkins"
Next stop: Pasadena, for the American Booksellers Association Children's Institute, where I signed and met many enthusiastic booksellers committed to connecting multicultural books and children. I also took a brief detour to wander around the Huntington Library and Gardens (photos below.)





0 Comments on TIGER BOY West Coast Book Launch and More! as of 4/24/2015 2:51:00 AM
Add a Comment
5. On Preaching and Self-Censorship in Writing for Young Readers

I sat on a library panel this week with four other YA authors. I'd had a busy day, and was irritable already. I probably should have sat back, listened, and shut up, but of course I did no such thing.

"Do you purposefully put messages in your books?" someone in the audience asked.

"Do you feel you must censor yourself to any extent because you're writing for young people?" another attendee asked.

A few of the other panelists responded, and the consensus seemed to be a rousing no to both questions. They talked about the freedom we need to create good art, the disaster of didactic fiction, and the mandate to trust our young readers. They sounded so cool, and so right. But I've already told you I was feeling contrary. Without much thought, I leaped into the conversation.

I've been ruminating on why I erupted with such fervor and decided to air my responses out here on the Fire Escape. I'd love your comments and thoughts. Do you resonate with any of these statements/questions—all of which popped into my head, and some out of my mouth (more inarticulately than below)—and if so, which ones and why?

On putting "message" in our books:

"Aren't all stories containers for worldview, messages, and morals, even if it's the view that the world is morally uncertain? A belief that there are no definitive answers is a particular philosophy. An author's reluctance to convey any morals or ideologies doesn't mean a story isn't saturated with them. And if the head isn't in charge of weaving your worldview into a story, the gut will do it for you."

On writing more carefully for children than for adults:

"Children's stories are more powerful conveyers of worldview because a child is in the process of formation. Don't we have a responsibility as adults to discern the hidden as well as overt messages in children's stories, even our own? Shouldn't we steer them away from the 'danger of a single story,' for example, about certain kinds of people?"

"Is there a right 'age of consent' for young people to roam freely in the world of stories? Is a parent solely to decide or are we in the wider community of adult writers, publishers, and educators also called to defend young minds and hearts? If so, shouldn't we pay closer attention to our stories and perhaps limit our freedom more than artists who produce works for adults?"

Wow, was I cranky. But what do you think?  I don't mind you showing me why and how I was off. Or on. Or both. Don't hold back.

0 Comments on On Preaching and Self-Censorship in Writing for Young Readers as of 4/16/2015 10:23:00 PM
Add a Comment
6. Happy Bengali New Year! It's also TIGER BOY's Book Birthday!

Happy Book Birthday to my new novel for young readers, TIGER BOY, set in the Sunderbans region of West Bengal, India! The publication date was picked months ago, and we had no idea that it would release on Bengali New Year's Day. It's the year 1422, people! Congratulations also to Jamie Hogan, the book's illustrator.
The Bengal tiger is even more breathtaking up close. This was taken in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in the Tiger Preserve.
Even the binding of the book is beautiful. Thank you, Charlesbridge.
Introducing Neel and his sister Rupa. Illustration courtesy of Jamie Hogan.
If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area 4/18 or in the Boston area 4/26 , you're invited to a book launch party.

0 Comments on Happy Bengali New Year! It's also TIGER BOY's Book Birthday! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. TIGER BOY Launch Parties: You're Invited!

You're invited to the launch of TIGER BOY, a new novel for upper elementary readers by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Jamie Hogan. We'll celebrate all things tiger as we travel (via imagination) to the Sunderbans region of West Bengal, India. 

West Coast: Saturday, April 18, 1 p.m., Mrs. Dalloway's Books, 2904 College Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705

East Coast: Sunday, April 24, 4 p.m., Newtonville Books, 10 Langley Rd, Newton Centre, MA 02459


★ (School Library Journal) Gr 3-6–Set in the lush Sundarbans natural region of Bengal, this quiet, gripping tale emphasizes the deep but often fragile connection that exists between humans and nature ... Perkins avoids black-and-white characterizations and compassionately illustrates how dire circumstances affect a person’s choices. Young readers will revel in the vivid action and suspense surrounding Neel and his sister Rupa’s quest to locate the tiger cub. Adults will likely praise the novel’s simple and clear narrative, which belies its complexity around issues related to climate change, poor economic conditions, class structure, and gender discrimination.

0 Comments on TIGER BOY Launch Parties: You're Invited! as of 2/20/2015 1:53:00 PM
Add a Comment
8. First reviews for TIGER BOY!

With TIGER BOY releasing in April, I've been waiting nervously (as usual) for first reviews. My family and friends seem to like it, but there's a mysterious power either to uplift or devastate in responses written by experts in the field. That's why I was delighted when Kirkus said this last week:
The Kolkata-born author visited the remote Sunderbans in the course of her research. She lovingly depicts this beautiful tropical forest in the context of Neel’s efforts to find the cub and his reluctance to leave his familiar world ... the sense of place is strong and the tiger cub’s rescue very satisfying. Pastel illustrations will help readers envision the story. A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders.
Today I was thrilled when Charlesbridge told me School Library Journal is giving the book a STARRED REVIEW (all-caps, hooray, yippee) in their February issue. The reviewer beautifully captures my hopes for the book:
Gr 3-6–Set in the lush Sundarbans natural region of Bengal, this quiet, gripping tale emphasizes the deep but often fragile connection that exists between humans and nature ... Perkins avoids black-and-white characterizations and compassionately illustrates how dire circumstances affect a person’s choices. Young readers will revel in the vivid action and suspense surrounding Neel and his sister Rupa’s quest to locate the tiger cub. Adults will likely praise the novel’s simple and clear narrative, which belies its complexity around issues related to climate change, poor economic conditions, class structure, and gender discrimination."

0 Comments on First reviews for TIGER BOY! as of 1/21/2015 7:19:00 PM
Add a Comment
9. TWENTY-TWO CENTS: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank by Paula Yoo

"If you were living in another country and heard that lots of Americans were hungry, would you leave behind your own safety and comfort to return here and serve?"

"If you asked a lot of people for help once you got here and they all said no, would you give up?  Or would you try and come up with a way to solve the problem without their help?"

"What's the difference between a celebrity and a hero?"

Before reading TWENTY-TWO CENTS: MUHAMMAD YUNUS AND THE VILLAGE BANK by Paula Yoo (Lee and Low) to a group of fifth-graders, I might start by asking questions like these. Then I would launch into the story, letting their eyes linger on the beautiful paintings by Jamel Akib. I agree with Publisher's Weekly's review: "In detailed and inviting prose, Yoo shares the story of activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Yunus, beginning with his childhood ... Akib’s grainy, jewel-toned chalk pastels contrast a sense of scarcity and deprivation with one of warmth and humanity. Yoo makes the significance of Yunus’s contributions understandable, relevant, and immediate."

Without overstating Yunus' humble and yet not impoverished background, Yoo and Akib make it clear that this world-changer didn't come from privilege. Children in all circumstances will be inspired by Yunus' life and by the difference he has made throughout the planet. I pay attention to cultural details about my own Bengali heritage, and Akib didn't disappoint with his accurate depiction of practices like giving and receiving with the right hand, squatting to chat, and sitting cross-legged to learn. In the final pages, he paints a panel of proud young brown women whose faces and postures speak volumes about empowerment and hope.
It's been a while since I read a biography aimed for children, but after enjoying this one so much I'm going to look for more. I remember discovering a series in the library when I was in fourth or fifth grade called “The Childhood of Famous American Series” from Bobbs-Merrill. Looking back, I'm surprised by how many world-changing women were featured: I read about Clara Barton, Susan B. Anthony, and Louisa May Alcott.  All the books began with a person my age or so who went on to change the world, and as I devoured them I began to imagine trying to make my own mark.

I invited Paula to chat with me on the Fire Escape about creating the book and about the power of biography to inspire and inform. Read on to enjoy her brilliance.

Welcome, my multi-talented friend. Your website is a dizzying display of diverse talent—music, children's books, television writing. You're a celebrity in your own right. Okay, let's start with an easy question: why did you want to write this biography?

Jason Low of Lee and Low Books first approached me about the life of Muhammad Yunus as a possible children's picture book biography. He suggested I read Professor Yunus' autobiography, BANKER TO THE POOR: MICRO-LENDING AND THE BATTLE AGAINST WORLD POVERTY (Public Affairs, 2008). I read this book in one day—I was mesmerized by Professor Yunus' passion and dedication towards helping others left fortunate. His colorful childhood and awakening as an activist inspired me. I agreed with Jason that Muhammad Yunus would make for a great biography to inspire children to learn about compassion and generosity.

What kind of research did you do for the book?

I read several more books and newspaper/magazine articles about Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank. I also interviewed historians and professors who teach college courses about the history and culture of Bangladesh. Most importantly, I had the honor of meeting and interviewing Muhammad Yunus himself when he visited Los Angeles. It was such a privilege to sit down with Professor Yunus and hear his thoughts on how to eradicate world poverty.

He has a wonderful sense of humor, doesn't he? I met him briefly years ago when I was living in Dhaka at the book launch party of a dear friend, Alex Counts, the author of Small Loans, Big Dreams: How Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and Microfinance Are Changing the World. Alex is the President of the Grameen Foundation, which based in Washington D.C.  Okay, moving on. Why do you think that it's important/fun for young people to read biographies?

A good biography is not dry and boring. A good biography is a compelling and engaging story about a person's life and what events inspired him or her to follow a certain path in life that would change the world forever. I love a good plot, but I love a good character even more. To me, a strong biography is one that embraces its main subject as a CHARACTER who faces obstacles and overcomes them with his or her clever initiatives, passion and drive. It's important for young people to read biographies so they can learn how one person CAN make a huge difference in our world. It's also fun for young people because they also are entertained by a suspenseful storyline that shows HOW that one person changed and grew as a result of overcoming their obstacles in life.

Could you sum up for us the dream response of a reader who knows little or nothing about Bangladesh's history and culture?

For me, a dream response of a reader who knows little or nothing abut Bangladesh's history and culture would be their admiration and respect for a country that has never given up, even in the face of war, famine and natural disaster. I would hope readers would be inspired to read more about Bangladesh and its beautiful and complex cultural history as well. And of course, to visit a restaurant and eat the awesome food, especially the many different kinds of pithas that Muhammad loved to eat as a child! :)

Now let's move to the journey of getting the picture book published. What was a high point? A low point?

I researched and wrote several drafts of this book that Jason Low read and critiqued. I revised it quite a bit before it was deemed submission-worthy. The high point was getting the email announcing the exciting news that it had been selected for publication. No matter how many books you write and publish, every new book that is accepted for publication always feels like your first book! It's an exciting feeling that never gets old. I also know picture books can take awhile because you also have to wait for the illustration/art to be completed. So the "low" point was me impatiently waiting and checking my emails obsessively for a sneak peek of the art work! But it was worth the wait - Jamel Akib's art work was phenomenal.

His pastels are gorgeous! I went to his website and want to buy all of his paintings. Okay, next question: what was the biggest change you made in response to an editorial suggestion?

The biggest change I made in response to an editorial suggestion was figuring out how to increase the presence and influence of both Muhammad's mother and father on his growth as a child learning how to become more compassionate and generous. I had focused more on his mother and then was asked to research his relationship with his father more. As a result, I feel the parents' portrayal is much richer and add more depth to what drove Muhammad to become such an advocate for the poor.

Yes, I completely agree. Could you describe a fear you have about this picture book that can keep you up at night?

As a Korean American, I wanted to make sure the portrayal of Muhammad Yunus and his country of Bangladesh were portrayed in the most accurate and authentic way as possible. I channeled into the universal themes that connected me as a human being to Muhammad's life—focusing on the universal themes of his life and his country's history helped me as I triple fact-checked everything. I also found it quite challenging to sum up the history of Bangladesh in such a short amount of text because this was written in the genre of picture books for children, which requires much brevity. Bangladesh has a complex and rich history and I did not want to cheat that historical depth or write anything that was too short and out of context. So I wold say my fear was really more of a concern to make sure Muhammad Yunus and Bangladesh were portrayed in the most authentic light possible.

This book proves without a doubt that authenticity doesn't depend on having the "right" ethnic credentials (whatever that means), but I'd like to explore how much Jamal's Malaysian heritage informed his gut about life in a Muslim country. I'd love to find out what kind of research he did about Bangladeshi cultural practices before finalizing the art. Maybe I'll invite him out here someday. Last but not least: what's next for Paula Yoo in the creative realm?

I'm working on a bunch of manuscripts-in-progress, from a new YA novel idea I have to a couple adult novel ideas, as well as some new picture books (researching new biography topics). I'm also working on a special children's book project that I can't announce yet but stay tuned! :) I also am a TV producer so I'm currently writing for SyFy's DEFIANCE. As for picture books, I host the very popular NAPIBOWRIWEE (National Picture Book Writing Week) event every May 1-7 in which I challenge writers to write 7 picture books in 7 days to help defeat procrastination. (That way everyone has 7 rough drafts they can then pick and choose to revise for the rest of the year!) I feature fun Q and As with published picture book authors and writing advice, plus a fun contest featuring some awesome autographed books from myself and others. The next event takes place May 1-7, 2015.

Thanks so much for spending time out on the Fire Escape with me, Paula, and for writing this book. God bless you and your work in 2015!


0 Comments on TWENTY-TWO CENTS: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank by Paula Yoo as of 1/7/2015 10:59:00 AM
Add a Comment
10. D.C. and NCTE, Here I Come

I'm heading to the National Council of Teachers of English's annual convention in Washington D.C., and am also teaching a writing workshop at Ballou High School for An Open Book Foundation.

At the NCTE Convention, I'm speaking on a panel in the main ballroom at 8 a.m. during the General Session on "Reshaping the Landscape of Story: Creating Space for Missing and Marginalized Voices" (see below), and then signing TIGER BOY from 12:30-1:30 at Anderson's Bookshop's booth (#153) and from 1:30-2:30 at Charlesbridge Publishing's booth (#226). Stop by and say hello if you'll be there.

0 Comments on D.C. and NCTE, Here I Come as of 11/19/2014 3:43:00 AM
Add a Comment
11. TIGER BOY Final Cover

I'm delighted to share the final cover art for my forthcoming novel for upper elementary readers, TIGER BOY, coming 4/14/15 from Charlesbridge, illustrated by the amazing Jamie Hogan.


0 Comments on TIGER BOY Final Cover as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
12. A Checklist to "See" Race/Culture in Kid/YA Books

I was honored to present at the Kidlitosphere's 8th Annual Convention in Sacramento, California, where I shared ten tips for adults interested in messages about race and culture that might go unnoticed "under the waterline" in books for children and young adults. I've offered these in other contexts, but here they are for bloggers and reviewers. As always, I welcome questions, corrections, and clarifications.
  1. Look for overused tropes like an older magical negro or a noble savage.
  2. Notice a smart/good peer of color whose only role is to serve as a foil for a flawed hero. 
  3. Check the cover art for whitewashing or overexoticization.
  4. Pay attention to when and how race is defined, if at all.
  5. Notice if the setting, plot, and characters are in charge of the casting.
  6. Pay attention to how beauty is defined.
  7. Notice outsider “bridge” characters and generic versus specific cultures.
  8. Check for a “single story” that underlines a stereotype about another culture.
  9. See who has the power to make change and who has the power to be changed.
  10. Ask questions about the storyteller’s authenticity, privilege, and power. 

0 Comments on A Checklist to "See" Race/Culture in Kid/YA Books as of 10/12/2014 2:25:00 AM
Add a Comment
13. Displaying Multicultural Books: The Magic of Windows and Mirrors

I've often suggested that booksellers and librarians play around with "windows and mirrors" when it comes to displaying multicultural books. They can place such a title on a shelf of diverse reads for readers looking for windows into another world, or for children hoping to see their particular ethnic/racial experience reflected in a story. In the past, this kind of display was the only way I might see one of my books face out in a library or bookstore, or featured online.

These days, in a practice that's becoming more common, a multicultural book is displayed with other titles around a "mirror" theme common to all children.

For example, my novel Rickshaw Girl might be placed on a shelf beside other fiction for children with Asian settings and protagonists. It might also be displayed as it is here, at Graves Memorial Library in Kennebunkport, Maine, as part of a collection called "Young at Art: Picture Books and Novels Featuring Young Artists." This display about art includes several other titles that may or may not be "multicultural."  Any reader who wants a story featuring a protagonist who is a young artist will be offered my story. That reader may or may not find her ethnicity reflected in my book, and it may or may not provide her with a first window into Bangladesh. An adult gatekeeper has guided her to a list of books where she will see her love of art reflected, but the rest of a story's mirror/window magic will be between her and the book, where it belongs.

Another example is my book Secret Keeper, which in the past has been featured as a title about India. Recently, however, I found it on a Minnesota's Hennepin County Library list called "YA Books For Tomboys: young adult novels featuring characters that love sports, love to get dirty, hate pink, and don't want to be 'ordinary' girls." There's my "multicultural" novel, rubbing elbows with the likes of Little Women, Hunger Games, and Island of the Blue Dolphins. Again, a reader who likes strong female protagonists will be offered my book, and the other mirrors and windows offered in the story—if she chooses it—is up to her.

Gatekeepers, take a look at your lists and displays with fresh eyes. Then have some fun playing around with new windows and mirrors themes to lead young readers to multicultural books. I'd love to hear about your creative lists and displays.

0 Comments on Displaying Multicultural Books: The Magic of Windows and Mirrors as of 8/18/2014 8:17:00 PM
Add a Comment
14. Author Visits: Who Enjoys Them More?

I've been doing school visits for a long time, and the children seem to grow more endearing by the year. The University of Wisconsin's School of Education recently invited me to speak to fourth and fifth graders at Emerson Elementary in La Crosse. In this nice writeup describing my presentation, the School of Education's newsletter asks a good question: "It was hard to tell who was enjoying the experience the most: was it the children, the audience, or the author herself?"




0 Comments on Author Visits: Who Enjoys Them More? as of 8/13/2014 8:56:00 PM
Add a Comment
15. Diversity in Children's Books: It's a Question of Power

I've been returning to words like "power" and "privilege" when it comes to the conversation around "diversity" in children's books. Amina Chaudhri of the American Library Association's Booklist Magazine recently interviewed me to clarify my position.  Here's an excerpt:

Books and Authors: Talking with Mitali Perkins

...BKL: What do you think about labels that categorize sets of books by racial or ethnic content?

PERKINS: I would love to see a time soon when we don’t need any of those labels, and all kids will read all kinds of stories and find their own connections. Secret Keeper is set in Calcutta in the 1970s, and I’ve heard adults say that they didn’t have [a Bengali] population in their communities, so the story was not pertinent. Yet I’ve had kids from rural America write me eight-page letters saying that they loved the story and felt as if Asha reflected them.

I almost feel like the adults should get out of the way a little bit. The child reader will surprise you as to how they find their windows and mirrors in every different story. So, if the adult is saying, “This is about this,” sometimes that gets in the way of the child’s imagination. When I was reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I was reading it as a Bengali immigrant child, and what I got out of it were so many points of connection that an adult could never have told me about. The power of stories is that the reader makes his or her own meaning, especially when a child rereads a story; there’s something going on between the kid and the story that maybe adults shouldn’t even look at too closely. Just let the magic work!

You may read the rest online or download the entire interview.

"... [It's] not an issue of race and culture but an issue of power. There are communities in America that have less power and there is poverty, and people have not had many chances to tell their own stories. That’s a different issue than an educated Bengali person who is growing up in the middle class. To lump us all together as multicultural because we’re not white puts too much focus on race and culture and not enough on power."

0 Comments on Diversity in Children's Books: It's a Question of Power as of 8/7/2014 7:48:00 PM
Add a Comment
16. Advance Review Copies of TIGER BOY!

One of the exciting milestones in the birth of a book is the arrival of the Advance Review Copy (ARC) sent from the publisher to the author. This copy is sent to reviewers and some teachers and librarians several months before a book releases. It's the first time you see the story you imagined, then wrote, and then revised in book form, and it's a breathtaking moment.

Yesterday, I got a copy of TIGER BOY (coming April 14, 2015) from Yolanda Scott, my editor at Charlesbridge, along with a lovely note. Now it feels real, friends. My next book! 

"Dear Mitali, How cool is this? We made a book! And a darn fine one, too. I couldn't be more pleased ... Best, Yo"

0 Comments on Advance Review Copies of TIGER BOY! as of 8/5/2014 9:54:00 PM
Add a Comment
17. Widen Your Circle: Join us for KidLitCon 2014

One of the best ways to deepen our commitment to children's and young adult books is by meeting other people who share that passion. And I don't mean just virtually; I mean in real life, too. Well, here's our chance: the 8th annual Kidlitosphere Conference, aka KidLitCon, October 10-11, at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento, California. This is a gathering of people who care about children’s and young adult books, including librarians, authors, teachers, parents, booksellers, publishers, and readers.


Social Media, Blogging, and Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Literature

How might we use our blogs and social media platforms to widen the world of children’s and young adult literature? I'll be there, speaking about how we can change and affect the conversation about diversity, both in the industry and in the wider culture. Author Shannon Hale is going to speak also, via Skype.

Mark October 10th and 11th on your calendar—we'd love to see you there. And consider submitting a proposal by August 1st about how you might contribute to the conversation on children’s and young adult books. Or just register by September 19th.

Conference Organizers

Tanita Davis and Sarah StevensonFinding Wonderland
Jen RobinsonJen Robinson’s Book Page

Please help by spreading the word. Be a fan on Facebook and Follow KidLitCon on Twitter.

0 Comments on Widen Your Circle: Join us for KidLitCon 2014 as of 7/19/2014 6:02:00 AM
Add a Comment
18. New Summer Reading for Anglophiles

Alice's Mad Tea Party
Maybe it's the strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. Or maybe it's that I can't quite get rid of the influence of the Raj in my psyche. No matter—the fact remains that every summer my reader's heart starts to hanker after Brit Lit.

There's nothing quite like a good Susan Howatch novel, tea, scones, and clotted cream (which Whole Foods carries now, leading to the demise of my overly ambitious fitness plans.)

On the hunt for contemporary (still alive and writing) authors, I posted this on my social media yesterday:




I thought I'd compile a list of books and authors as suggested by my friends, in case other anglophiles out there are looking for a new read. Books that are asterisked received more than one mention. (Note: I have neither read nor vetted the titles on this list, so read at your own risk ... but I do have a smart social media set.)

Particular Books
  • The Fire-Eaters by David Almond
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • *The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie and other Flavia DeLuce mysteries by Alan C. Bradley
  • Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan
  • The Children's Book by AS Byatt
  • Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger
  • Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
  • *The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  • The Memory of Love by Armineta Forna
  • *The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith 
  • Old Filth by Jane Gardam
  • Austenland by Shannon Hale
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye by Rachel Joyce
  • Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesy
  • Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel
  • If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor
  • Saffy's Angels by Hilary McKay
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • Rustication and The Quincunx by Charles Palliser
  • Lady Jane series by Deanna Rayborn
  • Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  • *The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  • *Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
  • *Sunday Philosophy Club and Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe
  • Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd
  • A Parcel of Patterns by Jill Paton Walsh
  • Maisie Dobbs series by Jacquelyn Winspear
  • *Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  • The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Other Recommended Authors
  • Rhys Bowen
  • Elizabeth Buchan
  • Margaret Drabble
  • Philippa Gregory
  • Elly Griffiths
  • Nick Hornby
  • Penelope Lively
  • Sarah Maclean
  • Elizabeth Noble
  • Maggie O'Farrell
  • James Runcie
  • Joanna Trollope
Dead Authors and Books People Couldn't Help Mentioning
  • Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
  • Rumer Godden
  • Dora Saint (Miss Read)
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Got other suggestions? Leave them in the comments for the rest of us to discover.

0 Comments on New Summer Reading for Anglophiles as of 7/15/2014 3:53:00 PM
Add a Comment
19. In Which I Chat About Privilege, Authenticity, Apps, Books, Tech, and So On With 3 School Librarians

After 10 days on the road, I'm home again. I presented 26 times in 11 schools and 2 conferences in Boston and Brooklyn, where I got to chat with three brilliant New York independent school librarians (Angie Ungaro, Sarah Murphy, and Kerry Roeder). They create a podcast for librarians called the "Watchers Podcast," and featured an interview with me on Episode 7. They even provide a list of resources for every episode. We recorded in my hotel room in Brooklyn, clustering around the microphone, and it was one of the highlights of my trip.

Angie Ungaro, Middle School librarian at Brooklyn Friends School, is on the right.


0 Comments on In Which I Chat About Privilege, Authenticity, Apps, Books, Tech, and So On With 3 School Librarians as of 5/12/2014 10:20:00 PM
Add a Comment
20. Hats Off to a Legion of Librarians in Boston and Brooklyn!

I had a marvelous ten days visiting schools in the Boston area and in Brooklyn, as well as teaching a few workshops at the annual New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference and the Muse and the Marketplace 2014 conference sponsored by Grub Street.

In case you missed my whirlwind trip via social media, I've gathered a few photo highlights. As you can see below, it took a bundle of librarians to make this trip happen. I returned from my journey even more impressed by these talented cheerleaders of kids and reading. They are truly an American treasure.


I started and ended the trip by presenting with authors David Yoo and Francisco Stork, who both contributed to OPEN MIC. David (pictured above) met with middle schoolers at the Fenn School in Concord, Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Francisco shared with high schoolers and I spoke to upper elementary students.
These days, school librarians must be book experts, tech geniuses, and marketers extraordinaire, like Susan Fisher of the Fenn School.
Chatting with students after my talks is always a joy, especially when school librarians have prepared the kids well for my visit. Students at the Fenn School gathered to chat about the differences between books and movies as story venues and to ask questions about BAMBOO PEOPLE.
Next I headed to Nashoba Brooks Academy to meet with school librarian / diversity champion Sam Kane, who coordinated my presentation to second graders about RICKSHAW GIRL. I had a bit of time so I stopped by the Old Manse in Concord, where Thoreau planted this garden at the Old Manse as a wedding present for the Hawthornes. It's doing fine.
My creative spirit stirred on a raw spring day as I walked the grounds where famous writers used to dwell. But there's little time for writing during an author visit maelstrom. The day after my sessions at the Fenn School and Nashoba Brooks Academy, I visited Zervas and Underwood schools in Newton, Massachusetts, where I was hosted by parents serving on Creative Arts and Sciences committees.
Next stop, Springfield Massachusetts for the New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference, where I taught workshops on dialogue and virtual book launches. I enjoyed this reflection of the Campanile from my  hotel room.
Seeing writing buddies galore (Lisa Papademetriou and Ammi-Joan Paquette are pictured above) is one of the best reasons to go to this marvelous conference.
Tara Sullivan shows off the forthcoming paperback issue of GOLDEN BOY, her award-winning novel about Habo, a Tanzanian boy with albinism.
Trend spotted: cute agents with bangs. (Kaylee Davis on the left and Lauren Macleod on the right.)
After a quick session on crafting place in fiction at the Muse and the Marketplace conference in Boston, I headed to Brooklyn for an assembly at Packer Collegiate School, where Lois Lowry studied as a girl.
The grounds and building reeked of tradition, and the auditorium looked like an old chapel. The students were receptive and engaged, thanks mostly to school librarian Kristyn Dorfman, who welcomed and hosted me.
Next I taught kids at P.S. 230 in Brooklyn how to draw alpanas. Since many of them are Bangladeshi, they're naturals, and the art was amazing. Thanks for this visit goes to Susan Brill, a superb teacher who cares deeply about reading global books in her multicultural classroom.
I knew RICKSHAW GIRL was a "mirror" book for the kids of P.S. 230 when I saw this poster on the gate.
That afternoon I strolled across the Brooklyn Bridge and back.
Stopped to watch handball on one of the playgrounds and was tempted to get in line for a game.
Next stop was Brooklyn Friends School, where I led writing workshops for 8th graders and presented a session for the 5th grade.
Middle School Librarian Angie Ungaro took excellent care of me at Brooklyn Friends. Again, note the superb signage.
Back in the Boston area, I visited Derby Academy in Hingham, established in 1784. Tuition used to be an armful of firewood. I think it might be a bit steeper now. Librarian Barbara Zinkovich arranged my visit impeccably.
I've gotten good at multitasking during presentations. Here I'm teaching one kid to bargain for bananas in an imaginary Bangladeshi marketplace while I wrap a saree around a second volunteer.
After full-day gigs at the two middle schools in Reading, Massachusetts, where school librarians Christine Steinhauser and Robyn Ferrazzani took care of me, public school librarians celebrated OPEN MIC with Thai food. (From L to R: Young Adult Librarian Susan Beauregard, author Francisco Stork, Adult Services Librarian Andrea Fiorillo, author David Yoo, and Young Adult Librarian Renee Smith.)
Reading Librarian Andrea Fiorillo, David Yoo, Francisco Stork, and a lovely bookseller from Andover Bookstore after our Big Read panel on growing up between cultures.



0 Comments on Hats Off to a Legion of Librarians in Boston and Brooklyn! as of 5/14/2014 9:10:00 PM
Add a Comment
21. Notable Social Studies Trade Books 2014


The books that appear in the slides above were evaluated and selected by a Book Review Committee appointed by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and assembled in cooperation with the Children's Book Council (CBC). They were written for children in grades K-12, published in 2013, and meet the following criteria: 
  • emphasize human relations 
  • represent a diversity of groups 
  • sensitive to a broad range of cultural experiences 
  • present an original theme or a fresh slant on a traditional topic 
  • easily readable
  • high literary quality
  • pleasing format
  • where appropriate, include illustrations that enrich the text 
Happy disclosure: OPEN MIC: RIFFS ON LIFE BETWEEN CULTURES IN TEN VOICES (Candlewick) is on the 2014 list (slide #88.)


0 Comments on Notable Social Studies Trade Books 2014 as of 5/16/2014 2:40:00 PM
Add a Comment
22. Kids Will Love These Five Books "Between Cultures"

Waxing poetic about Thanhha Lai's
Inside, Out, and Back Again at
Mrs. Dalloway's Books in Berkeley, CA.
Anne Whaling, children's book buyer at Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore in Berkeley, asked me and a couple of other visitors (Nina Lindsay, Oakland public librarian and author-illustrat LeUyen Pham) to share a few recommendations of books featuring diverse characters for ages 5-10.

I was delighted to introduce a few of my favorites to an audience of eager readers and their parents. Here are my "quick picks," with annotations provided by Anne and a quick description of why I like the books.

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Williams (Eerdmans). When relief workers bring used clothing to the refugee camp, everyone scrambles to grab whatever they can. Ten-year-old Lina is thrilled when she finds a sandal that fits her foot perfectly, until she sees that another girl has the matching shoe. Soon Lina and Feroza meet, each wearing one coveted sandal. Together they solve the problem of having four feet and two sandals. (What I particularly love in this story: the exploration of power, and the fact that the resolution brought about by the person with least power.)

Rain School by James Rumford (HMH). It is the first day of school in Chad, Africa. Children are filling the road. "Will they give us a notebook?" Thomas asks. "Will they give us a pencil?" "Will I learn to read?" But when he and the other children arrive at the schoolyard, they find no classroom, no desks. Just a teacher. "We will build our school," she says. "This is our first lesson." Starred review, Booklist. (What I particularly love in this story: the revelation to the North American reader that school is more than just a building, and that it's about a community of learners, and the fact that the children of Chad are the revealers of this truth.)

Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything by Lenore Look (Simon and Schuster). When Ruby's cousin Flying Duck emigrates from China to live with her, Ruby decides the best thing about Flying Duck is that she is a great new friend. BUT the worst thing about Flying Duck is that now, no one speaks English at home. Plus, there's strange food on the table every night and only chopsticks to eat it with. And Flying Duck is deaf, and Ruby doesn't know any Chinese Sign Language. As if that weren't enough, this summer proves to be even more perilous as Ruby faces the dangers of swimming lessons, the joys of summer school, the miracle needed to keep a beautiful stray dog that wanders into her life, and much more. Is it all too much for anyone -- even the Empress of Everything -- to handle? Starred review, SLJ (What I particularly love in this story: the humor and strong characterization make this the perfect book to illuminate Betsy Bird's concept of "casual diversity.")

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Harper). Inspired by the author's childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama, this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child's-eye view of family and immigration. Newbery Honor Book, and a winner of the National Book Award. Starred reviews, Horn Book, Kirkus, PW, SLJ. (What I particularly love in this story: readers will love seeing their own sibling relationships mirrored in the author's depiction of three very different older brothers, plus this is a beautiful "between-cultures" read that is award-winning and accessible.)
The No. 1 Car Spotter by Atinuke (Kane Miller). When a cart breaks down and the villagers can't get their goods to market, Oluwalase Babatunde Benson, otherwise known as the No. 1 Car Spotter in his village, comes up with a brilliant solution. (What I particularly love in this story: it makes me laugh out loud and shatters any "single story" of Africa that might be lurking in the back of the reader's mind.)

0 Comments on Kids Will Love These Five Books "Between Cultures" as of 5/20/2014 12:46:00 PM
Add a Comment
23. 3 YA Novels To Help Us Remember Our Nigerian Girls

I've been reading The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence by Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros, which makes a strong case against the atrocities of gender violence. Yesterday I ran across this troubling article from ThinkProgress explaining how the world quickly stopped caring about the kidnapped Nigerian girls, and this opinion in the Telegraph that hashtag campaigns may fail by giving the perpetrators exactly what they want: global publicity.

There's another way to keep our minds and hearts focused on the true protagonists of this horrible event—through the power of fiction. Here are three great reads that can connect us to the girls themselves as we hope and pray for their release.

 No Laughter Here (Harper) by Rita Williams-Garcia

Even though they were born in different countries, Akilah and Victoria are true best friends. But Victoria has been acting strange ever since she returned from her summer in Nigeria, where she had a special coming-of-age ceremony. Why does proud Victoria, named for a queen, slouch at her desk and answer the teacher's questions in a whisper? And why won't she laugh with Akilah anymore?  Akilah's name means "intelligent," and she is determined to find out what's wrong, no matter how much detective work she has to do. But when she learns the terrible secret Victoria is hiding, she suddenly has even more questions. The only problem is, they might not be the kind that have answers.

"This exquisitely written short novel tackles an enormous and sensitive subject… Unapologetic, fresh and painful." — Kirkus Reviews (Starred review)

"Combines a richly layered story with accurate, culturally specific information ..... [a] skillfully told, powerful story." ALA Booklist (Starred review)

The Other Side of Truth (HarperTrophy) by Beverly Naidoo, winner of the Carnegie Medal.

A shot. Two shots at the gate in the early morning and a car screeches away down an avenue of palm trees. A tragedy - and a terrible loss for Sade and her younger brother Femi, children of an outspoken Nigerian journalist. Now terror is all around them and they must flee their country. At once. And alone. Plans for their journey have to be hastily arranged. Everything must be done in secret. But once Sade and Femi reach England, they will be safe - won't they?

"Totally gripping, somewhat shaming and entirely believable, this is an engrossing and thought-provoking read for 10-years-olds plus." — Sunday Telegraph

"Narrated with exceptional skill in a bracing, unadorned style…" — The Scotsman

"an unforgettable novel." — The Times


Purple Hibiscus (Algonquin) by Chimamanda Adichie

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They're completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home—a home that is silent and suffocating.

As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins’ laughter rings throughout the house. When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.

"Prose as lush as the Nigerian landscape that it powerfully evokes. . . . Adichie's understanding of a young girl's heart is so acute that her story ultimately rises above its setting and makes her little part of Nigeria seem as close and vivid as Eudora Welty's Mississippi." — The Boston Globe

"In a soft, searing voice, Adichie examines the complexities of family, faith and country through the haunted but hopeful eyes of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood. Lush, cadenced and often disconcerting. — Publishers Weekly

0 Comments on 3 YA Novels To Help Us Remember Our Nigerian Girls as of 5/22/2014 6:22:00 PM
Add a Comment
24. 2014 South Asia Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature


The South Asia Book Award (SABA) is given annually for up to two outstanding works of literature, from early childhood to secondary reading levels, which accurately and skillfully portrays South Asia or South Asians in the diaspora, that is the experience of individuals living in South Asia, or of South Asians living in other parts of the world. Up to five Honor Books and Highly Commended Books are also  recognized by the award committee.

 2014 Winners

A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury (Atheneum, 2013)

Before India was divided, three teens, each from wildly different backgrounds, cross paths. And then, in one moment, their futures become irrevocably intertwined. Tariq, Anupreet, Margaret are as different as their Muslim, Sikh, and British names. But in that one moment, their futures become entirely dependent on one another. (Grades 8 and up).

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

Razia dreams of getting an education, but in her small village in Afghanistan, girls haven’t been allowed to attend school for many years. When a new girls’ school opens in the village, a determined Razia must convince her father and oldest brother that educating her would be best for her, their family and their community. Based on the true stories of the students of the Zabuli Education Center for Girls just outside of Kabul (Grades 3-8).

 

2014 Honor Books

Bye, Bye, Motabhai! by Kala Sambasivan, illustrations by Ambika Sambasivan (Yali Books, 2013). Pavan, an over-worked camel in the city of Ahmedabad, India, hates his job. He often dreams of being a racing camel in Dubai. But hitched to a heavy vegetable cart and with his owner Motabhai around, how is this possible? (Grades pre-K-3).

Gandhi: A March to the Sea by Alice B. McGinty, illustrations by Thomas Gonzalez (Amazon Publishing, 2013). Mohandas Gandhi’s 24-day March to the Sea, from March 12 to April 5, 1930, was a pivotal moment in India’s quest to become an independent country no longer ruled by Great Britain (Grades 3 and up).

 The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia (Peachtree, 2013). The arrival of a new student, Marwa, a fellow fifth-grader who is a strict Muslim, helps Aliya come to terms with her own lukewarm practice of the faith and her embarrassment of others’ reactions to their beliefs (Grades 4-7).

Mother Teresa: Angel of the Slums by Lewis Helfand, art by Sachin Nagar (Campfire, an imprint of Kalyani Navyug Media, 2013). Mother Teresa knew from a young age that she wanted to become a nun. What she could not envision was where that service to God would take her, until she was sent to Calcutta to teach (Grades 6 and up).

2014 Highly Commended Books

 

The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna written and illustrated by Demi (Wisdom Tales, 2013). Set in a peaceful kingdom in India more than 5000 years ago, this is the enchanting tale of the child Krishna, who is sent by the God Vishnu to aid humanity (Grades K and up).

Gobble You Up! by Gita Wolf, art by Sunita (Tara Books, 2013). In this adaptation of a traditional oral Rajasthani trickster tale, a wily jackal, who is too lazy to go hunting himself, challenges his best friend to catch 12 fish. The narrative unfolds in cumulative rhyme, accompanied by distinctive finger paintings created in the ancient Mandna style (Grades pre-K-3).

In Andal’s House by Gloria Whelan, illustrations by Amanda Hall (Sleeping Bear Press, 2013). As a young boy in Gujarat, Kumar sometimes feels like he lives in two worlds. The old world where people and their choices are determined by prejudice and bigotry; and the modern world: in this world Kumar can be friends with whomever he chooses and his future looks bright (Grades K-3).

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J Freedman (Harry N. Abrams, 2013). Tara’s not sure she wants to have a bat mitzvah. Even though she’s attended Hebrew school, her mother’s Indian heritage has a pull on her, and she wonders if she dishonors her Indian grandparents by declaring her Judaism (Grades 5-8).

Torn by David Massey (Chicken House, 2013). The story follows Ellie, a 19-year-old British medic, during her tour of duty in Afghanistan. Her squad is attached to a small troop of American SEALs who must find a hidden cache of arms and learn about a children’s army that is fighting both the Western Coalition and the Taliban (Grades 8 and up).

The 2014 South Asia Book Award Ceremony will be held in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, October 18, 2014.

0 Comments on 2014 South Asia Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
25. Asian Festival of Children's Content

Earlier in the summer, I was privileged to serve on the faculty of the Asian Festival of Children's Content, which seeks to "provide the world’s children with quality Asian content for education and entertainment." AFCC 2014 focused on India, lasted for six days, and drew 938 delegates from 27 countries. I spoke on several panels but also managed to enjoy the sights, tastes, smells, and sounds of Singapore, the third wealthiest country in the world.

My first panel was titled Young Adult Books as Windows and Mirrors. Here's the description: "Do books serve as a window to a different life or a mirror for your own? Mitali Perkins and Sampurna Chattarji examine why it’s important that young adult audiences have books that not only provide insight to the lives of others but also serve as mirrors of their own lives and cultures."

Next came The Vast Spread of the Sea: Asian Diaspora Writers and the Works, featuring author Gabrielle Wang, Illustrator Il Sung Na, and myself. "In this panel, we ask Asian authors who have worked in the UK, Australia, and the USA to speak on their experiences as creators of Asian descent. What issues, if any, remain universal to the Asian diaspora experience? What challenges have these creators faced and how did they overcome them to get published? Find out!"

Third and last, I spoke on Writing About Different Cultures with Gabrielle Wang. "As our global society embraces multiculturalism more and more, the question of how to tell effective stories that speak to multicultural communities become ever more important. How should writers, illustrators, and other story creators responsibly address writing about different cultures? Join in the discussion in this panel."

Fun to meet online friends in person, like Daphne Lee, Scholastic Asia editor...
... and Sayoni Basu, editor with India's Duckbill Books.
Editors Cheryl Robson (left) of the U.K. and Sayoni Basu (right) of India talked about acquisitions. Stacy Whitman of Tu Books (center) ably represented North American editors and publishers.
My turn to present: "Young Adult Books as Windows and Mirrors."
AFCC staff and volunteers were excellent at spoiling us. Many of our "Makan and Mingle" events took place on the top floor of the Singapore National Library, and featured a glorious 360 degree view.
The Children's Room at the Singapore National Library.
Bookseller Denise Tan of Closetful of Books organized my author visit to the ISS International School of Singapore.
Spoke with 9th graders from many Asian countries about stories between cultures.
I always feel at home in a roomful of global nomads and Third Culture kids.
A sweet-faced Indonesian student asked for a picture. Who could say no to that smile? Not me.
My extracurricular activities included a visit to the National Orchid Garden.  At every turn, you catch your breath and squelch a desire to burst into applause, because what will the other tourists think? Oh, well. Go ahead. They've all become flower and fountain paparazzi.
Perk of solo travel: paying closer attention to the symmetry, detail, and elegance at the National Museum of Singapore. A volunteer docent presented an enthralling 2.5 hours of history, full of unforgettable stories from the nation as well as from his own life. "Confucian families sadly didn't honor girl children as much as boys. During the time of hardship after the war, for example, girls were given to Malay families for adoption. One particular Chinese family had three daughters and two sons. They fought hard and somehow managed to keep the family intact, but the girls were not educated while the sons went to school. How do I know?" He hesitated to check his emotion. "Because I was one of those boys."
How do you know you're in Little India on a Sunday afternoon? By the monsoon rains, spicy vegetable biryani and sweet lassi, painted windows, and hundreds of Indians, strolling, shopping, and people-watching, just like you.
Need a break from the equatorial sun? Nothing better than a good book, a cup of Darjeeling, and biscuits in the Writer's Bar, where Ernest Hemingway and W. Somerset Maugham enjoyed different kinds of beverages.
 Last but not least, don't skip a moonlit riverboat ride. Glorious! Right, Junko (Yokota) and Marjorie (Coughlan)?
AFCC 2015 will be held from May 29 – June 7 in Singapore, and the country of focus is China. My recommendation? Don't miss it!

0 Comments on Asian Festival of Children's Content as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts