By diversity, they mean “books by and about all kinds of people… boys, girls, all different colours, all different races and religions, all different sexualities and all different disabilities and anything else you can think of – so our books don’t leave anyone out.”
Benjamin Zephaniah whose Terror Kid is the Guardian Teen Book Club choice says:
“I love diversity. I love multiculturalism… It makes Britain´s music interesting. It makes our food interesting. It makes our literature interesting and it makes for a more interesting country … To me it’s not about black, white, Asian; it’s about literature for everybody.”
And there you have it: the criterion must be the quality of the literature. I see little value in writing or publishing books to satisfy some sort of quota to reflect the percentages of ethnic or racial populations or other minorities.
The Guardian published a list of 50 books
chosen to represent all manner of cultural diversity, from the amazing Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman to Oranges in No Man´s Land by Elizabeth Laird.
Here are a few of my favourite books that are outstanding in every way and that also open windows on to different ways of seeing the world.
The Arrival, by Shaun Tan, is a wordless book about the experience of emigration/immigration, following the lonely journey of a man to a new country where everything is different and inexplicable. (He signed my copy when he spoke at a Children´s Books Ireland conference a few years ago and it is one of most treasured possessions.)
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, is a graphic novel based on her experiences during the cultural and political upheaval of the Iranian revolution after the overthrown of the Shah. This is a real eye-opener from the first pages showing tiny girls swathed in unfamiliar and unwanted veils in their school playground.
My Dad´s A Birdman, by David Almond, illustrated joyfully and colourfully by Polly Dunbar, is a terrific book about a young girl and her dad who is so overwhelmed with grief that he goes off the rails. It is suffused with love and tenderness and faith in the act of flying as Dad and daughter take part in a madcap and magical contest to sprout wings and fly across the river.
by R.J. Palacio is the story of Auggie, a boy with a shocking facial disfigurement who is
grade after years of home schooling: imagine how he is dreading it - “I won´t describe what I look like. Whatever you´re thinking, it´s probably worse.
I would like to add two more joyful books to the mix:
From Tangerine Books, a wonderful picture book
, Larry and Friends, by Ecuadorian illustrator Carla Torres in collaboration with Belgian/Venezuelan writer Nat Jasper celebrating the modern melting pot that is New York.
Larry, the New York dog, holds a party for all his amazing immigrant friends among them Magpa the pig from Poland who became a tightrope artist, Laila the Iranian entomologist, Edgar the Colombian alligator street musician, Ulises, the Greek cook and a host of other talented and tolerant newcomers to the city – all apparently based on real people and how they met up.
The book project was successfully funded by kickstarter – see more about it here
As you can see, the illustrations are divine - this is Layla, the Iranian entomologist who works at the museum.
And finally, another great classic is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (1963), possibly one of the earliest American picture books to feature a young African-American hero – although this is never mentioned in the text. It simply tells the story of a young four year old boy discovering snow in the city for the first time.
You can also find me on Twitter @MaeveFriel
I consider myself a big nerd and comics seem to go hand in hand with the social status. I never really got into comics (or graphic novels) and when I did attempt I never knew where to start. There are millions of reboots and story arcs for the thousands of different superheroes out there but which ones are good and where do I start? It was Scott Pilgrim that started my journey into graphic novels and with Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds recent release, I thought now would be a perfect time to talk about the graphic novels I love.
As an easy way to distinguish between comics and graphic novels, I call single issues (30-40 pages) a comic and a graphic novel is the anthology that contains a full story arc (normally 4-5 single issues). What I find really interesting about a graphic novel is that it is simply a new way to tell a story. It is not always about the superhero, graphic novels can explore high concepts in a whole new way.
Take the only graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize, Maus by Art Spiegelman. In this story we read about Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, it is biography of living and surviving Hitler’s Europe. The graphic novel not only addresses the holocaust and life in a war torn country it does it in a unique way. Exploring the reality and fears of surviving in a visual way, the Jews are depicted as mice and the Nazi’s hunting them as cats.
There is also the autobiographic story of Marjane Satrapi in Persepolis, a coming of age story of a girl living in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. The whole concept of cultural change works really well in this graphical depiction. There is even an animated adaptation which is worth checking out (even if it is exactly the same). If you prefer a more quasi-autobiographical story maybe try Ghost World by Daniel Clowes or even something by Chris Ware like Jimmy Corrigan or Building Stories.
Finally, if you prefer your graphic novels to be about superheros or people coming to terms with their new found powers, I have some suggestions for you as well. Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction is the first story arc in this new Hawkeye series and explores a life of a superhero outside fighting crime and saving the world. Also by Matt Fraction, with the help of Chip Zdarsky is the weird and wonderfully dirty Sex Criminals. This is a story of a woman that discovers that time freezes after an orgasm and the shenanigans she can get up to with so much quiet time. This graphic novel will not be for everyone; if you want something very different that is full of dirty visual puns then I would recommend it.
I would love to recommend more comics but some of my suggestions are not yet released as a complete story arc yet. If you are interested in more graphic novel suggests let me know in the comments below. I hope this will give you some suggestions if you have never tried a graphic novel before. I’m also happy to take more recommendations in the comments below. Happy reading.
As we suspected when the news broke, the removal of Persepolis from the seventh grade curriculum at a Chicago high school turned in to a minor media circus pretty quickly, with school officials saying different things all over the place. If you missed all the confusion, the Chicago Tribune
has the authoritative round up and Claire Kirch covers it for PW. Basically it emerged that the book was not being removed from school libraries or all schools, but it is being removed from the 7-10 grade curriculum where it is is currently being taught. The person who seems to have decided that is at the very top: Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennnet who wrote:
“It was brought to our attention that it contains graphic language and images that are not appropriate for general use in the seventh grade curriculum. If your seventh grade teachers have not yet taught this book, please ask them not to do so and to remove any copies of the book from their classrooms.”
Another spokesperson has more to say at PW:
Even though Persepolis currently is included on Chicago’s common core curriculum for grades 7 and 11, it will not be taught to students in grades 7-10 in the nation’s third largest school district until, CPS office of teaching and learning chief Annette Gurley told PW by phone Friday afternoon, a training guide for teachers wanting to use Persepolis in their classrooms can be drafted by the CPS curriculum department and set in place. Persepolis will continue to be taught in grades 11 and 12 and in Advanced Placement classes.
“We want to make sure that the message about inhumanity [is what] kids walk away with, not the images of someone with exposed body parts urinating on someone’s back or someone’s being tortured,” Gurley said, “We are not protesting the value of this book as a work of art. We just want to make sure that when we put this book into the hands of students, they have the background, the maturity to appreciate the book.”
Just to be clear, here is the torture scene in question:
Author Marjane Satrapi was reached for comment by the Trib, and expressed dismay:
“It’s shameful,” she said. “I cannot believe something like this can happen in the United States of America.”
Regarding the district’s concerns about the depiction of torture, Satrapi said:
“These are not photos of torture. It’s a drawing and it’s one frame. I don’t think American kids of seventh grade have not seen any signs of violence. Seventh graders have brains and they see all kinds of things on cinema and the Internet. It’s a black and white drawing and I’m not showing some
While it’s clear that the ban or removal isn’t as widespread as initially feared, it sparked a statement from the Chicago Teacher’s Union pointing out that “the only place the book is banned is Iran”, a protest
and a read-in at Social Justice High School
And this morning, students at Lane Tech High School, where the teaching ban originated, staged a sit in that was broken up by authorities after about 20 minutes.
Lane Tech students organized today’s 8 a.m. sit-in in the school’s library on Facebook and other social media platforms, however faculty broke it up about 20 minutes later, according to student reports on Twitter.
Multiple students reported on Twitter that the library was locked and up to 400 students flooded the surrounding hallways.
One student Tweeted shortly after 8 a.m., “The lack of keys at the library was pre-orchestrated librarians, teachers, staff knew well in advance what we were doing.
This story is still developing, and given the much loved nature of the book we suspect some reversals may still be coming. In the meantime, the best thought piece we’ve seen is Julian Darius
on just why it may have been the images of torture that upset someone.
He also points out that Persepolis was previously challenged in a Washington State school.
In 2009, parents tried to get both the book and movie banned in the Northshore school district. At issue were three specific complaints about content:
language that “would not be acceptable over the open airways via either TV or radio” and that students would be disciplined for using;
a brief sequence depicting torture in Iran, including a man urinating on a torture victim; and
the vague claim that the book is “sexually charged.”
In addition, complaints were made about parents not being notified in advance and that an alternative assignment wasn’t available. The district claimed this wasn’t true, and a curriculum review committee for the district rejected the parents’ complaints.
Also, as Darius point out, it’s also good thing superhero comics aren’t taught in 7th grade.
Little Willow sent us this readergirlz opportunity!Here's an artistic way to encourage conservation:The Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition is accepting submissions. Films will be reviewed by a ...
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Although the Tiger’s Choice, the PaperTigers’ online reading group, selects books that are written for children but can be enjoyed by adults as well, National Reading Group Month has brought to mind those books written for adults that younger readers might adopt as their own favorites, and that could launch impassioned discussions between parents and children, teachers and students, or older and younger siblings.
The books on this week’s list are books recommended for teenagers, with content that may be beyond the emotional grasp of pre-adolescents. All of them are available in paperback and in libraries.
1) Ricochet River by Robin Cody (Stuck in a small Oregon town, two teenagers find their world becomes larger and more complex when they become friends with Jesse, a Native American high school sports star.)
2) The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle (Alice is twelve, growing up on a modern-day Wyoming ranch with a mother who rarely leaves her bed, a father who is haunted by the memory of Alice’s rebellious and gifted older sister who ran off with a rodeo rider, and an overly active imagination.)
3) Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen (The author of Hatchet tells the true story of how he raced a team of huskies across more than 1000 miles of Arctic Alaska in what Alaskans call The Last Great Race.)
4) Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (This autobiography of a young girl growing up in revolutionary Iran and told in the form of a graphic novel is rich, original, and unforgettable.)
5) From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe (An amazing odyssey of a boy from the jungles of Burma who became a political exile and a Cambridge scholar, this Kiriyama Prize winner is a novelistic account of a life filled with adventures and extraordinary accomplishments.)
6) In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (The Mirabal sisters were beautiful, gifted, and valiant women who were murdered by the Dominican Republic government that they were committed to overthrow. Their true story is given gripping and moving life by their compatriot, Julia Alvarez.)
As the weather becomes colder and the days grow shorter, find your favorite teenager, choose a book, and plunge into the grand adventure of reading and sharing!
“I think if somebody has to make an artistic work, he will finish it no matter what. It has nothing to do with the money, with the time.” — Marjane Satrapi
Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, the directors of the Oscar-nominated French animated featurePersepolis, are back with a new fantasy-drama Chicken With Plums. Sony Pictures Classics will release stateside on August 17. The live-action film, with minor bits of animation, is based on a graphic novel by Satrapi.
The film is set in Tehran, Iran, in 1958:
Since his beloved violin was broken, Nasser Ali Khan, one of the most renowned musicians of his day, has lost all taste for life. Finding no instrument worthy of replacing it, he decides to confine himself to bed to await death. As he hopes for its arrival, he plunges into deep reveries, with dreams as melancholic as they are joyous, taking him back to his youth and even to a conversation with Azrael, the Angel of Death, who reveals the future of his children. As pieces of the puzzle gradually fit together, the poignant secret of his life comes to light: a wonderful story of love which inspired his genius and his music.
Watch the trailer below:
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Post tags: Chicken With Plums, Marjane Satrapi, Sony Pictures Classics, Vincent Paronnaud
While Persepolis remains one of the most important comics of the graphic novel era, creator Marjane Satrapi seems to have moved on to different avenues for her talents, likebooks and making movies, such as the Oscar-nominated animated version of Persepolis. And now she's having her first showing of her paintings in a Paris gallery.