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I participated in the "Are we doing it white?" conversation at Read Roger (Roger Sutton's blog at Horn Book; Sutton is the executive editor at Horn Book; The Horn Book is highly regarded in children's literature). His 'we' is white people and the 'it' is reviewing. He references a conversation he had with librarian Nina Lindsay in which she asked if it is time to "shake up our standards" in reviewing.
At one point in the 'Are we doing it white' conversation, Roger said he would love to have more reviewers at Horn Book that aren't white, and that he is "intensely devoted" to "getting out information about cultural diversity--who's out there, what's out there, and what's NOT out there" (see his comment at 12:28). I reviewed for Horn Book in the 1990s.
I responded (at 1:56) with this:
Question for Roger:
Remember when you decided it was inappropriate for me to use the word stereotype to characterize a kid playing Indian? You decided to give the review to someone else. Later, in a review of a nonfiction book about California missions, I said the author was ignoring new research on the missions, and that review got reassigned, too.
Those were terse moments for me. I was furious. All the power was yours, and it dictated what I could or could not say as a HB reviewer. Because of those two experiences, it was not hard for me to decide to move on and focus on my dissertation. I think if you hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have left.
Would it be different if I submitted those reviews today?
His reply (at 2:29):
Debbie, how could I forget?
Actually, i *do* forget what happened with the book about the missions but remember the playing-Indian question very well. In this book, THE BIRTHDAY BEAR, two contemporary white children and their grandfather, among other activities, put on fake headdresses and pretend to be Indians.
In regard to your review of this book, nothing would be different today. You criticized it not for inaccuracy or stereotyping but because the characters in the book engaged in an activity you found objectionable. We can’t knock a book because we morally disapprove of its fictional characters’ actions. What I said then I’ll say now: I take the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights very seriously, and I believe “materials should not be proscribed because of doctrinal or partisan disapproval” with all my heart.
I haven't been able to find the review I submitted (it was written and submitted in the 1990s). I'll keep looking. Perhaps there is one in Horn Book's files. I probably gave it a 6 in my overall rating, which is "unacceptable in style, content, and/or illustration."
I wrote an article based on the rejection of that review. It includes some of the emails that were exchanged by me and Roger.
If you'd like to get a more in-depth look, I'm sharing the article as a pdf: Contesting Ideology in Children's Book Reviewing.
It was published in 2000 in a Studies in American Indian Literatures
, the journal of the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures
As readers of AICL know, I don't recommend books where kids are playing Indian. They invariably do that in a stereotypical way. During the time I was reviewing for Horn Book, they were sending me books with Native content because they believed I had the expertise to review those books. In the case of The Birthday Bear
, Roger also felt that it should not have been sent to me because the kids playing Indian was "peripheral" to the story. It may have been to him, but it wasn't peripheral to me.
As the article and the on-going discussion at Read Roger
show, neither Roger or myself have shifted in our views on this particular incident.
Roger titled his post "Are we doing it white?"
My answer to Roger?
Yes, you are. Indeed, you do it with glee, as evident in your reply to Sarah Park Dahlen (see his comment at 3:37) where you say that you "happily recommended" a book in which kids are playing Indian.
Please read the conversation at Are we doing it white
. I appreciate the personal notes of support I've received, and I especially appreciate the work we're all doing to push back on the power structures that use that power to affirm the status quo. We're all doing it for young people who read. What they read matters.
It's Duck's third starred review after PW and Kirkus.
Bunting and Ruzzier team up again (Tweak Tweak, rev. 5/11), this time with rhyme and rhythm and imaginative illustrations that will bring inevitable comparisons to Dr. Seuss. [...] The reader or lap listener will enjoy pointing out the socks, as Ruzzier has hidden them in plain sight. The best way to experience this droll book is by reading the jaunty rhyme aloud. “I will ask my friend the fox. / ‘Have you seen my new blue socks?’” Later, Mr. Ox says, “Did you look inside your box? / Did you ask your friend the fox? / I may have seen your new blue socks— / I saw some socks down on the rocks.” It’s hard to resist, especially when the cartoon illustrations are so captivating in their absurdity. Duck’s expression is all in the eyebrows—such angst over a pair of socks has never been conveyed so well. Blues, teals, and greens are the background for the child-friendly, offbeat details Ruzzier has planted in the illustrations, including underwear, dog bones, and a painting ox. An accessible vocabulary and easy-to-sound-out words make this a perfect book for the newest reader, especially one with a grand sense of humor. - Robin L. Smith
It's time to VOTE! The 2013 Mock Caldecott polls are open.
Head over to The Horn Book blog before January 22nd and get your vote in. They have a link to the Calling Caldecott Ballot. It's easy! Just takes a minute. But remember, the polls close at 9am tomorrow.
Vote for Your All-time Favorite Caldecott Winner.
In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott head over to @ Your Library and vote! Your name could be drawn to
receive a copy of the 2013 winning Caldecott title and a $25 Amazon gift card! Contest will remain open until 2:00 p.m. Central time, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.
If you need help remembering your favorite Caldecott Medal-winning title, just follow these links from @ Your Library
, and you will find book covers, grouped by decades, of all the past award winners.
By: Gail Maki Wilson
Blog: Through the Studio Door
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100 Scope Notes
, John Rocco
, Horn Book
, Publishers Weekly
, Fuse #8
, Brian Selznick
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With all the Newbery and Caldecott
talk and predictions out there I thought it would be nice to take a look at not only what may be the next winner, but what has won in the past. If you have a favorite title you are rooting for post it in a comment. I would love to hear about it! Next week I will post my favorite book of the year that I think is Caldecott deserving in every facet of picture book brilliance.
From Publishers Weekly, with great interviews of winners from the past 5 years.The Call That Changes Everything- or Not.
From The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC
) a look at the past.Newbery Honor and Medal Books, 1922- PresentCaldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938-Present2012 Newbery-Caldecott Awards Banquet
From Through the Studio door, an interesting look at what PW dubbed in 1963 "...a pointless and confusing story." Before They Were Classics
For predictions for this years award winners check out:ShelfTalkerA Fuse #8 Production100 Scope NotesThe Horn Book- Calling Caldecott Country Bookshelf Random Acts of Reading
|75th Anniversary Logo by Brian Selznick|
Mark your calendar for the Caldecott Medal 75th Anniversary!
all the awards at 8 a.m. PT
on Jan. 28 from the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. The awards include the esteemed John Newbery Medal, Randolph Caldecott Medal, Coretta Scott King Book Awards and Michael L. Printz Award.
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC
that John Rocco
will participate in a Caldecott 75th Anniversary Facebook Forum at 1 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. Rocco won a Caldecott Honor in 2012 for his picture book Blackout
Want to learn more about the logo 2008 Caldecott Medal winner Brian Selznick
created especially for the 75th Anniversary celebration and the characters in it? Just click here
And for a little more fun, read Brian's acceptance speech for The Invention of Hugo Cabret here
and watch the illustrated sequence that played on huge video screens during the speech here
By: Kathy Temean,
Blog: Writing and Illustrating
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, need to know
, Gwen Connolley
, Horn Book
, Katia Raina
, Newbery Medal
, Shelly Tanaka
, Vermont College of Fine Arts
, Add a tag
This Christmas card was sent in by Gwen Connolley.
Even before the recent nightmare in Connecticut, the spirits of many seemed a bit dampened for the holidays this year. Sometimes it can require effort, at least for us grown ups, to see beyond our troubles and discover that simple joys can be found even in dark or stressful times. I think most holidays were created by and for those who need to find reason to be joyful in otherwise dire times. I would like to encourage others to seek and to find that life and light and love perpetually surround us. You can find more of my illustrations at www.gwenconnolley.com
Best wishes to you for the holidays and in the coming new year!
Names All Children’s Writers Should Know How To Spell: A Tribute to Kidlit Greatness
Though the below descriptions/explanations are mine, this list is from a lecture by Shelley Tanaka, an award-winning nonfiction children’s author, Canadian children’s book publisher and editor (link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelley_Tanaka).
In preparation of starting my studies at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in pursuit of an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults in less than a month from now, I came across a handout from one of my teachers, Shelley Tanaka, which, with her gracious permission, I would like to share with you. This list is more than a checklist of names with tricky spellings – although it’s that too. It is a reminder of our roots as children’s writers. These are the names of the great kidlit warriors, whose shoulders we are all trying to stand on.
(Note: Don’t feel bad if you don’t know all of them. I had to look up a couple!)
- Newbery Medal. Named after an English bookseller John Newbery, the medal aims to recognize excellence in young people’s literature.
- Hans Christian Andersen. Yes, we all know the wonderful andwhimsical storyteller from Denmark – author of numerous fairytales, novels, poetry and more — but some of us sometimes confuse his name with Anderson, as in M.T. Anderson, another name to know in young people’s literature, by the way).
- Noel Streatfield. A Carnegie-medal winning English author.
- Katherine Paterson. The beloved author of many young adult and children’s novels, including my personal favorite, Newbery-winning “Bridge to Terabithia.”
- Stephenie Meyer. Some in kidlit circles like to look down on this author of the wildly popular “Twilight” saga. But she has definitely proved herself a force to be reckoned with, luring millions of girls to her romance with a vampire. Did you know that in addition to writing, Meyer is a film producer? Her production company is behind a movie based on Shannon Hale’s adult work, “Austenland.” (Yes, Shannon Hale’s another great one.)
- Kate DiCamillo. Best known as theNewbery-winning author of sometimes tender, sometimes whimsical fiction for children, DiCamillo has also written picture books, early chapter books and published stories for adults.
- Diana Wynne Jones. Born in London in 1934 and having passed away just last year, Jones was best known for her numerous fantasy novels for children and adults.
- Ursula K. Le Guin. This author of several popular children’s series (as well as standalone stories), was a huge influence on many of the fantasy and science-fiction novels we read today.
- Kenneth Grahame. This Scottish author wrote such children’s classics as “The Wind and The Willows,” and “The Reluctant Dragon,” both of which became Disney films.
- Rosemary Sutcliffe. This British novelist was best known for her exciting historical fiction for young readers – especially her Arthurian stories (some of which were for adults).
- Arthur Ransome. Another Englishman, considered one of the classic children’s authors, best known for his “Swallows in Amazons” adventure series set in between two world wars.
- J. R. R. Tolkien. Though he didn’t write for children specifically, one could easily call him one of the founding fathers of fantasy, influencing such modern works as the “Harry Potter” series by Tolkien’s fellow Englishwoman J. K. Rowling (and yes, I trust we’ve all heard about her, and know her name’s spelling). Though of course fantasy was written before his time, it seemed his “Lord of the Rings” series resurrected the once-dying genre.
- Madeleine L’Engle. Much beloved and missed, this American Newbery-winning author passed away in 2007. In her obituary, the New York Times described her work as “childhood fables, religious meditations and fanciful science fiction” that “transcended both genre and generation, most memorably in her children’s classic ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’”
I love the quote on her website: “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
- Horn Book. This magazine publishes articles about trends in children’s and young adult literature in print and online, including its influential reviews. Each year, the staff chooses a list of what they considered to be the very best titles from among 500-plus books they have reviewed. (link: http://www.hbook.com/2012/12/choosing-books/recommended-books/2012-horn-book-fanfare/)
There are two more I’d like to add to this list:
15. Laurie Halse Anderson. Another great author name with literary spelling, this versatile YA giant writes books on difficult subjects spanning from rape and anorexia, to slavery.
16. SCBWI! Founded in 1971, by several Los Angeles writers, including the versatile Stephen Mooser, author of more than 50 works, including picture books and chapter books, and the middle-grade series author Lin Oliver, our beloved Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators is a source of knowledge and support, organizer of conferences and forger of great ties, and a promoter of children’s literature all around the world.
Of course this list only barely scratches the surface, and if she chose to Ms. Tanaka could probably have come up with a book filled with names of importance. But if there is anything you’d like to add to the list, please post a comment, below.
Katia Raina is the author of “Castle of Concrete,” a young adult novel about a timid half-Russian, half-Jewish teen in search of a braver “self” reuniting with her dissident mother in the last year of the collapsing Soviet Union, to be published by Namelos. On her blog, The Magic Mirror, http://katiaraina.wordpress.com Katia talks about writing and history, features interviews, book lists and all sorts of literary randomness.
Katia will start her MFA program in January 2013 at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, pursuing a degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults. (link: http://www.vcfa.edu/wyca)
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, Shelly Tanaka
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The following books will receive starred reviews in the May/June issue of the Horn Book Magazine:
Animal Masquerade; by Marianne Dubuc; trans. from the French by Yvette Ghione (Kids Can)
Demolition; by Sally Sutton; illus. by Brian Lovelock (Candlewick)
The Drowned Cities; by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
Dying to Know You; by Aidan Chambers (Amulet/Abrams)
A Confusion of Princes; by Garth Nix (Harper/HarperCollins)
Code Name Verity; by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)
Forget-Me-Nots:Poems to Learn by Heart; selected by Mary Ann Hoberman; illus. by Michael Emberley (Tingley/Little, Brown)
The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems about the Presidents; by Susan Katz; illus. by Robert Neubecker (Clarion)
A Black Hole Is NOT a Hole; by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano; illus. by Michael Carroll (Charlesbridge)
The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester is on Horn Book's Summer Reading List.
Check out the others.
[...] The pairing of Bunting’s traditional text, powered by an elegant repeating structure, with Ruzzier’s offbeat art is unexpectedly fabulous. The surreal, rather Seussian landscape (check out those hallucinatory flowers and purple hills) makes the transition to the spreads of Little Elephant’s imagined experiences effortless; the spare spikiness is also a salutary contrast to the elephants’ rounded forms and general adorableness.
Martha V. Parravano
Blog: the pageturn
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, Tween books
, book reviews
, Educating Alice
, Heavy Medal
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The school and library world is a-buzzing with accolades for Thanhha Lai’s debut novel INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN! Check out these reviews…and the shiny stars that accompany them:
“In her not-too-be-missed debut, Lai evokes a distinct time and place and presents a complex, realistic heroine whom readers will recognize, even if they haven’t found themselves in a strange new country.” ~ Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“An incisive portrait of human resilience.” ~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Based on Lai’s personal experience, this first novel captures a child-refugee’s struggle with rare honesty.” ~ Booklist (starred review)
“[...] the immediacy of the narrative will appeal to those who do not usually enjoy historical fiction.” ~ School Library Journal (starred review)
“Lai’s spare language captures the sensory disorientation of changing cultures as well as a refugee’s complex emotions and kaleidoscopic loyalties.” ~ The Horn Book
And here is what our teacher and librarian friends are saying:
INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN (ISBN 9780061962783) is on-sale now.
Today we welcome editorial director Brian Kenney (with me above; photo taken by Mitali Perkins at Midwinter), publisher Ron Shank, and the rest of School Library Journal and Library Journal to Media Source, our parent company. Here's the press release:
Ohio-based Media Source Inc. announces today that it has acquired Library Journal and School Library Journal from Reed Business Information-US. The acquisition includes all print and Web products, services, supplements, and newsletters, including Library Hotline. With this purchase, Media Source, best known for its ownership of Junior Library Guild and The Horn Book, Inc., adds substantially to its product offerings in the library market.
“Library Journal and School Library Journal are valuable magazines that deserve a corporate home focused on libraries,” said Randall Asmo, CEO of Media Source. “We respect the history and contribution of LJ and SLJ. Our goal is to build upon those strengths to provide a vital and comprehensive service to the librarian community.”
The Editorial and Advertising Sales groups of the acquired publications will continue operations in New York City. Asmo continues, “Editor-in-Chief Brian Kenney and Publisher Ron Shank are important to the success of SLJ and LJ, and they will remain in their current roles. We believe that the combined businesses of SLJ, LJ, Junior Library Guild, and The Horn Book will create a myriad of new opportunities in the marketplace. At the same time, our plan is to have each business unit continue to operate with complete editorial independence.”
About Media Source Inc.: Media Source, with headquarters just outside Columbus, Ohio, is the parent company of Junior Library Guild (JLG) and The Horn Book, Inc. JLG is a review and collection development service that provides new release children’s and young adult books to more than 17,000 school and public libraries. The Horn Book, Inc. reviews children’s and young adult books in two print publications, The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide.
About School Library Journal (SLJ): Each monthly issue of SLJ includes reviews of children’s and young adult books, audio, and multimedia products, as well as news, features, and columns that deliver the perspective, resources, and leadership tools necessary for its readers to become indispensable players in their schools and libraries. More than 100,000 librarians who work with students in public and school libraries read School Library Journal.
About Library Journal (LJ): Founded in 1876, Library Journal is the oldest and most respected publication covering the library field. Over 100,000 library directors, administrators, and staff in public, academic, and special libraries read LJ. In its twenty annual issues, LJ reviews nearly 7000 books and provides coverage of technology, management, policy, and other professional concerns.
About Reed Business Information-US: Reed Business Information-US (www.reedbusiness.com/us) is a leading business-to-business information provider of publications and web sites, as well as custom publishing, directories and research. Reed Business Information-US is part of Reed Elsevier (NYSE: RUK and ENL), a world leading provider of professional information and workflow solutions in the Science, Medical, Legal, Risk Management and Business sectors.
Reed Business Information-US and Reed Elsevier were represented by The Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc., a New York City-based investment bank that specializes in the media and information
and a fine trip it was. Monday evening I had the chance to meet scads of people from the child_lit listserv including its creator Michael Joseph, whose glasses I want but don't think I could pull off (him or on me). The food was just-okay--wild boar shouldn't be as boring as this one was--but the conversation was lively even before Linda Sue Park showed up with a Colin Farrell story I'll let her tell.
The next day I had a commiserative--and tasty--lunch with FSG publisher Margaret Ferguson which was its own delight and came with the bonus of a gift from editor Wes Adams--Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader, a novella, Wes assured me, that would provide fine entertainment for my bus trip home. Concerning itself with what might happen should the Queen conceive a passion for reading, it did, hugely. I can already see Helen Mirren doing it as a Hallmark Hall of Fame Christmas Special.
I didn't know Lloyd Alexander but he certainly had enough friends without me, many of whom spoke warmly at the celebration in his honor hosted by Cricket's Blouke and Marianne Carus. Did you know Lloyd was "Old Cricket"? Most unexpectedly hilarious was Lloyd's longtime editor Ann Durell explaining why she agreed to publish, in a fantasy-unfriendly era, what would become the Prydain series: Lloyd's agent had plied her with martinis. My old BCCB colleague Kate Pierson Jennings was there, too--she had been exchanging letters with Lloyd since she was ten years old.
Back here to the sad news that Elizabeth Watson--Horn Book Board member, longtime reviewer and past president of ALSC--had died on October 13th. Liz was great--sometimes the conversations at our old reviewer meetings could get a bit rarefied, and cutting right through it all would come Liz's cultured and authoritative contralto: "no child is going to touch that book."
Here is the Horn Book's "Best of" list for 2007. There are now a couple of titles which are starting to appear consistently on this year's lists: Shaun Tan's The Arrival, Peter Sis's The Wall, And Sherman Alexi's The True Story of a Part Time Indian, just to name a few.
Ah, Provincetown, where the Gays meet the Fisherfolk:
photo by Richard Asch
And where Buster met two of Santa's minions:
photo by Richard Asch
But vacation is O-ver. Now I'm busy getting ready for ALA (any late Caldecott hopes, dreams, and fears you care to share?) and hustling up copy for the premier issue of our new publication, Notes from the Horn Book, an e-newsletter for parents and other adults at the consumer end of children's books debuting in March. If you're interested in being a charter subscriber (relax, it's free) write to Sarah Scriver, sscriver, at hbookdotcom.
Former Horn Book editor Anita Silvey received the Education Publishing Association's Ludington Award "for an individual who has made a significant contribution to the paperback book business." Her confrerees at the award banquet sported the singular Silvey accessory in her honor:
(Anita is second from the left.)
Let us join in the salute. Congrats, A.S.!
Photo by Duncan Todd
The Horn Book will be offering a free monthly newsletter starting in March:
Each monthly issue features interviews with leading writers and illustrators, brief recommendations of noteworthy titles, and the latest news from the children's book world.
Click here to sign up!
(The magazine is well worth the price, too... judging by the issues that float around my house for years...)
Whatever whoever chooses to read is their business, of course, but adults whose taste in recreational reading ends with the YA novel need to grow up.Words of wisdom from Roger Sutton editor in chief of The Horn Book, a literary magazine about books for children and young adults.
The best response in my book?I'm rubber
Whatever you say bounces off of me
And sticks to you!Actually,
I came across this fascinating article about reviewing picture books in the Web Extras section of the Horn Book Guide website. As a reviewer of picture books myself, I was interested in author Karla Kuskin's observations about the difficulty involved in writing a lengthy, intelligent critique of a book which is often shorter than the review itself. I was also impressed with her impassioned defense of the picture book as art, an opinion I hold as well.
The role of the Book Reviewer has been on the wane for awhile now, with high-profile periodicals choosing to do away with review sections. And the influence of the blogosphere (to which I of course happily contribute) cannot be underestimated. If everyone is a critic, many of them are choosing to put their opinion on-line for all the world to see. And let's face it, not everyone wants to read a wordy, high-falootin break down of Nobunny is Perfect. They just want to know if their three year old will want to read it ten times a night. The Washington Post book reviews may not have insight on this, but joreads, a mom, TX, on Amazon.com, will.
We're on Facebook now. Really, I have no idea what this means. But come play with us!
Visit The Horn Book to find out the winners and honor books of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards.
Presented annually since 1967, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards are customarily given in three categories: Fiction and Poetry, Picture Book, and Nonfiction. This year, as happens occasionally, the judges also awarded a Special Citation.
But the Horn Book, Inc. has a new owner. See details on our website.
Lolly took this neat picture of what our book collection looks like during remodeling. I can't quite tell where in the alphabet this is.
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I just finished reading an interesting blog post from Editorial Anonymous (EA), where he/she states that the Coretta Scott King (CSK) Award may no longer be necessary. The CSK award is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and honors African-American authors. EA states this in the post:
Giving an award for creating art about the experience of race is a wonderful thing. But giving an award for creating art and being a particular race? That’s racism in action.
It’s interesting that someone in the comment section said that this post reminded them of a Horn Book essay by Marc Aronson. It reminded me of this essay as well. But there is also a flip side to this argument presented in another Horn Book essay by Andrea Davis Pinkney that also makes valid points.
Honestly, I can see both sides of this argument. Just look at what happened earlier this year with Kadir Nelson’s We are the Ship. If there weren’t a CSK award, would Nelson have won the Caldecott? We can only ponder that answer. Maybe, maybe not.
But then you have other statistics such as the one researched by The Cooperative Children’s Book Center, which stated that in 2007 only 150 of nearly 3,000 titles were by African-American authors.
So, if the CSK award did go away, would any books by African-Americans by spotlighted? What if the award did away with its consideration of race? Would it be okay for non-African-American authors to be honored? If that were the case, Laurie Halse Anderson could been have considered for a CSK award for her book Chains. That speaks of the African-American experience, right?
I can also look at it another way as well. If you look at the CSK award recipients, you see a trend of the same authors wining the award several times. Does that make it harder for unknown African-American authors to break through? I know that this is one of the reasons that The Brown Bookshelf came into existence.
Personally, I’m all about trying to remove the focus of race from children’s literature. It’s easier said than done. Especially when you’re coming for the minority side of the equation.
EA points out in his/her blog post, giving an award only to black people causes a divide. That may be so, but if African-American authors are not on the same playing field with the number of published books and there is a small percentage of editors of color, how large can that divide really be?
There are points made on both sides. I can see that this is a conversation that we will be having for a while.