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If this is how the year is starting out, it's going to be a banner year for middle-grade books. First, Gordon Korman's Masterminds (more on that fantastic new thriller another day) and now Echo: A Novel.
Ryan, Pam Muñoz. 2015. Echo: A Novel. New York: Scholastic.
I received an Advance Reader Copy of Echo from Scholastic and was intrigued that it was wrapped in musical notation paper and had a smartly-boxed Hohner Blues Band harmonica tied to it.
I was happy to see an apparently music-related book, and what somewhat surprised to find that Echo begins with a fairytale, "The Thirteenth Harmonica of Otto Messenger," a fairytale replete with abandoned princesses, a magical forest, a mean-spirited witch, and a prophecy,
"Your fate is not yet sealed. Even in the darkest night, a star will shine, a bell will chime, a path will be revealed."
Though brief, I became enthralled with the tale and was surprised and taken aback when I reached Part One and found myself not in the fairytale forest, but in
Trossingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, 1933, home to the world's oldest harmonica manufacturer. I couldn't wait to find out what became of the abandoned princesses, but soon found myself wrapped up in the story of young Friedrich Schmidt, a German Jew during Hitler's ascendance to power. This kind-hearted, young boy of a musical family was surely destined to be gathered up in the anti-Semitic wave sweeping through Germany. I became engrossed in Friedrich's story, anxiously hoping that things would work out for him and his family, and was again surprised when I reached Part Two and found myself in
Philadelphia, 1935, home of the then-famous Albert Hoxie and the Philadelphia Harmonica Band, and of the Bishop's Home for Friendless and Destitute Children, where I found myself in the company of piano-playing orphans, Mike and Frankie Flannery. Their story was no less heart-wrenching than Friedrich's, and I found myself desperately rooting for the young boys when I suddenly arrived
in a migrant worker's community in Southern California, 1942, where young Ivy Maria Lopez was about to play her harmonica on the Colgate Family Hour radio show, but her excitement was short-lived. I fell in with this hard-working, American family and hoped, along with Ivy, for her brother's safe return from the war.
Of course, there's more, but this is where I will leave off.
Pam Muñoz Ryan has written a positively masterful story that will take the reader from the realm of magic through the historical travails of the infirm, the oppressed, and the poor in the midst of the 20th century. Through it all, music gathers the stories together in a symphony of hope and possibility. In music, and in Echo, there is a magic that will fill your soul.
It may only be February, but I predict that praise for Echo will continue throughout the year.
The headline reads: “Border State Governor Issues Dire Warning about Flood of Undocumented Immigrants.” And here’s the gist of the story: In a letter to national officials, the governor of a border state sounded another alarm about unchecked immigration across a porous boundary with a neighboring country. In the message, one of several from border state officials, the governor acknowledged that his/her nation had once welcomed immigrants from its neighbor, but recent events taught how unwise that policy was. He/she insisted that many of the newcomers to his/her state were armed and dangerous criminals. Even those who came to work threatened to overwhelm the state’s resources and destabilize the social order.
Indeed, unlike earlier immigrants from the neighboring nation who had adapted to their new homeland and its traditions, more recent arrivals resisted assimilation. Instead, they continued to speak in their native tongue and maintain attachments to their former nation, sometimes carrying their old flag in public demonstrations. Worse still, the governor admitted that his/her nation seemed unwilling to “arrest” the flow of these undocumented aliens. Yet, unless the “incursions” were halted, the “daring strangers,” who are “gradually outnumbering and displacing us,” would turn us into “strangers in our own land.”
Today’s headline? It could be. The governor’s fears certainly ring familiar. Indeed, the warning sounds a lot like ones issued by Governor Rick Perry of Texas or Jan Brewer of Arizona. But this particular alarm emanated from California. That might make Pete Wilson the author of this message. Back in the 1990s, he was very vocal about the dangers that illegal immigration posed to his state and the United States. As governor, Wilson championed the “Save Our State” ballot initiative that cut illegal aliens from access to state benefits such as subsidized health care and public education. He campaigned on behalf of the initiative (Proposition 187) and made it a centerpiece of his 1994 re-election campaign.
Wilson, however, was not the source of the letter cited above. In fact, this warning dates back to 1845, almost 150 years before Proposition 187 appeared on the scene. Its author was Pio Pico, governor of the still Mexican state of California.
The unsanctioned immigrants about whom Pico worried were from the United States. Pico had reason to be concerned, especially as he reflected on events in Texas. There, the Mexican government had opted to encourage immigration from the United States. Beginning in the 1820s and continuing into the 1830s, Americans, primarily from the southern United States, poured into Texas.
By the mid-1830s, they outnumbered Tejanos (people with Mexican roots) by almost ten to one. Demanding provincial autonomy, the Americans clashed with Mexican authorities determined to enforce the rule of the national government. In 1836, a rebellion commenced, and Texans won their war of secession. Nine years later, the United States annexed Texas. And now, claimed Pico, many officials of the United States government openly coveted California, their expansionist designs abetted by American immigrants to California.
In retrospect, the policy of promoting American immigration into northern Mexico looks as dangerous as Pico deemed it and as counterintuitive as it has seemed to subsequent generations. Why invite Americans in if a chief goal was to keep the United States out? Still, the policy did not appear so paradoxical at the time. There were, in fact, encouraging precedents. Spain had attempted something similar in the Louisiana Territory in the 1790s, though the territory’s transfer back to France and then to the United States had aborted that experiment. More enduring was what the British had done in Upper Canada (now Ontario). Americans who crossed that border proved themselves amenable to a shift in loyalties, which showed how tenuous national attachments remained in these years. From this, others could draw lessons: the keys to gaining and holding the affection of American transplants was to protect them from Indians, provide them with land on generous terms, require little from them in the way of taxes, and interfere minimally in their private pursuits.
For a variety of reasons, Mexico had trouble abiding by these guidelines, and, in response, Americans did not abide by Mexican rules. In Texas, American immigrants destabilized Mexican rule. In California, as Pico feared, the “daring strangers” overwhelmed the Mexican population, though the brunt of the American rush did not commence until after the discovery of gold in 1848. By then, Mexico had already lost its war with the United States and ceded California. Very soon, men like Pio Pico found themselves strangers in their own land.
Featured image credit: “Map of USA highlighting West”. CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
The annual Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) International Arbitration Moot gathers academics and practitioners from around the world to discuss developments and gain a greater understanding of growing international investment, the creation of international investment treaties, domestic legislation, and international investment contracts.
The FDI Moot occurs over the course of six months, and includes regional rounds, which took place in August in New Delhi, Seoul, and Buenos Aires, and concludes with the global finals. Global finals venues rotate each year between Frankfurt, Malibu, Boston, and London.
The 2014 final hearing will be held 24-26 October at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California. In this phase, 48 teams from the South Asia, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa, North America, Europe and the Middle East regions will compete in the global oral argument preliminary rounds followed by the quarter final, semifinal, and final rounds.
Established practitioners and academics in the international arbitration, investment regulation, construction law, and international economic law fields act as arbitrators or memorandum judges throughout the competition. The arbitrators facilitate hearings during the oral arguments while the memorandum judges assess and score memorials one month before the oral arguments. Oxford University Press will be awarding prizes for the best memorial and counter memorial.
With three days of oral arguments, this year’s FDI Moot promises to be a busy and exciting weekend. In addition, Malibu, often described as “27 miles of scenic beauty,” is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Mountains, so don’t forget to take some time to check out area attractions.
Late October, with an average high temperature of 69°F/21°C, is perfect for exploring one of Malibu’s many beaches. Check out the famous Surfrider Beach and the nearby Malibu Pier.
If you’re interested in taking a hike, plan an excursion to Point Mugu State Park, which has more than 70 miles of trails in the Santa Monica Mountains.
If you’ll be joining us in Malibu, stop by the Oxford University Press booth where you can browse our journals collection and take advantage of the 20% conference discount on all books. We’re also offering one month of free access to our collection of online law products for all attendees. Looking to brush up on the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties in BIT arbitrations in time for the Moot? Check out the recording of our recent Investment Claims Webinar session and accompanying slides.
To follow the latest updates about the 2014 FDI Moot, follow us on Twitter @OUPIntLaw and at the hashtags #FDI14 #FDIMOOT14, and don’t forget to like the FDI Moot Facebook page.
See you in Malibu!
Heading image: Willem C. Vis pre moot at Palacky University of Olomouc by Cimmerian praetor. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
496 million. That’s how many women in the world can’t read or write even the most simple sentence. Many women never have the opportunity to reach 6th grade, and some don’t get to go to school at all.
Today, we join citizens around the world in celebrating International Women’s Day, and I want to share the stories of Dinah Mwangi and Katie Hendricks, two special women whose lives exemplify the theme of this year’s celebration, “Equality for Women is Progress for All.”
Dinah makes progress for all in Nairobi, Kenya. While waiting in line at a carwash, Dinah noticed two young boys straining to see what she was reading – a children’s book she had purchased for her niece. When she asked if they would like to join her, the boys lit up.
They read, and laughed and shared stories with Dinah. Then they told her they had no books of their own.
Dinah started buying books with her own salary and recruited volunteers to read and distribute them to kids each Saturday. In less than three months, she had over 500 kids participating. Now she’s pursuing relationships with Kenyan publishers, corporations and funders in order to expand her reach and deepen her impact.
On the other side of the world, Katie makes progress for all by helping girls from low-income families in California’s East Bay bridge the gap between school and home.
As a young teacher, Katie yearned to improve all aspects of her students’ lives, inside and outside the classroom. Her holistic approach led her to create Girls Inc. of Alameda County, a program that inspires girls to be strong, smart and bold. Katie and her team reinforce what their girls learn at school, help them become fluent English speakers, provide them with healthy meals and expose them to subjects girls aren’t always encouraged to study, like science, technology and athletics.
By improving the lives of girls in California’s East Bay, Katie also improves the lives of their family members, teachers, friends and classmates.
Dinah and Katie represent what’s possible when women have the education, resources and motivation to make progress for all. Their immediate impact on the kids they serve is immense. Equally powerful, however, is how their spirit and service ripple through entire communities, transform lives and change the future.
In addition to celebrating heroic women like Dinah and Katie, I invite you to join me in recommitting ourselves to becoming a powerful force for equality.
The gender gap has closed significantly over the past few decades, but we still have a long way to go. In some countries, less than a quarter of women finish primary school; 496 million women around the world cannot read or write a simple sentence; and globally, women only reach 93 percent of men’s educational attainment.
I believe the path to equality is through access to quality education. That’s why First Book is equipping educators like Dinah and Katie with brand-new books and resources for the kids they serve, expanding our network to reach women and girls around the globe and lifting up the voices of an unprecedented community of individuals serving children at the base of the economic pyramid.
Anytime I can find a moment to draw is a good one. Here I had a moment to draw the houses perched on the overlooking California hills before my class. As I was drawing, the title of this post came to mind, albeit misspelled on the top image here. Funny how this terminology, here from a TV western remembered from childhood, comes back with a little more significance.
This place is just up the street from me, so I wondered why I hadn’t gone more often. I thought I’d have to take a breather a couple of times when I was walking uphill, I’m no spring chicken. When I started I realized I’d guessed right. When I arrived I saw I didn’t remember it this way. I didn’t remember this view here too. It was much better. I’m glad I came and glad I walked this time instead of driving. I guess working to get there gave me some perspective to appreciate it more.
The one-hour hop from Phoenix Sky Harbor to Ontario International Airport is always sci-fi. The landscape from Arizona to California is mostly naked desert with scattered signs of civilization, like a colonized Mars. Could my character, Paco Cohen, Mariachi of Mars, be down there? I really have to finish that novel . . .
The fabled Santa Ana winds were kicking up dust storms around the airport as we landed. Didn’t I just leave Arizona? Later I heard that the wind flipped a big-rig truck on the freeway.
Suddenly, I was in the Mission Inn in Riverside, a Mexicorama-looking hotel consisting of improvisations on Spanish colonial roots. It’s a cluster of ornate bell towers, festooned with flowers, ancient Mexican cannons, and squawking caged parrots. There are also supposed to be ghosts. I felt like I was in steampunk alternate universe, waiting for the next Zeppelin to Tenochtitlán.
All for a Day of Latino Science Fiction.
The hotel had cable, which I’ve been unplugged from for a few years. I channel surfed for signs of Nueva California Latina. The news looked like it was from another world -- Planet L.A. -- of and about Hollywood androids -- a lot of them still bleach-blondes, but more leaning toward a white-washed version of the Post-Racial America delusion. They reported the NBA firing Donald Sterling for racist comments as if it were a moon landing.
Reality is hard to grasp in California -- often folks have to settle for some kind of kinky sci-fi.
I was relieved when Rudy Ch. Garcia called. He and Mario Acevedo were in a bar down the street. Soon the cerveza and nachos rituals were running full blast, especially when Michael Sedano joined us. That, along with the breakfast the next morning with Jesús Treviño got us loosened up and ready for the panels.
The University of California Riverside is the fifth most diverse campus in the U.S.A. Lots of Latinos, blacks, Asians. This was the Nueva California I was expecting. The audience for the panels were just as diverse. They were also lively and responsive.
On young woman asked if there are any traditions for writing Latino science fiction. I told her that no, it was all too new. It’s up to you to create Latino science fiction, kids.
Rosaura Sanchez and Beatrice Pita, authors of Lunar Braceros 2125-2148 joined us, saving this from looking like an all-boys club. Once again, I’d love to hear from Latinas who are writing science fiction, fantasy, or just far-out fantastico stuff.
I met science fiction writer Nalo Hopkinson, and fellow Mothership:Tales from Afrofutuism and Beyond author Jaymee Goh, and had her sign my copy.
In the afternoon the subject was shifted to media in honor of Jesús Treviño donating his annotated scripts for episodes of Star Trek and Babylon 5 he directed to the university.
As with writing, Latino science fiction in the media is just beginning.
Trailers for two the web mini-series Lost Angeles Ward and Generation Last showed racial conflict in futuristic context and an ecological apocalypse that was shot in Mexico. Both took issues on directly rather than created escapist fantasies.
One difference between Anglo and Latino science fiction is that making it to the future is something that can’t be ignored. The future isn’t a given, it will have to be fought for. And if you don’t fight for it, you might not get there.
Science fiction can be a strategy for survival. When the going gets tough, release that incredible rasquache/mestizo imagination.
Even silly mid-century movies like Santo Contra Los Marcianos and El Planeta de las Mujeres Invasoras are about surviving in the Atomic Age. How are we going to survive in the Information Age?
A grad student mentioned “future-oriented cognitive estrangement” when dropped into a strange, new reality. We need more visions of more futures. That’s futures, plural. Let the Others in, see from their points-of-view.
Latino science fiction can lead us to this -- and beyond.
Yeah, this one-day event was more productive than a lot of three-day conventions that I’ve been to.
And it was well worth revisiting California, that is still like a surreal, artificial construct designed by Frank Zappa and Philip K. Dick, though now Tezcatlipoca seems to be directing.
I realized that I have not posted in a while. With all the shows I have been traveling to, I barely had time to keep up with my blog. Since I have posted, I was writing about the Wild West Fest at the Calico Ghost Town in Yermo, California. All around it was a fun show; we stayed with my in-laws at a nice hotel in Barstow for the weekend of the show. It was also my birthday so we all went out to eat the legendary Peggy Sue’s Diner on Sunday night.
Then it was off to Seattle again for Emerald City Comicon. It was an amazing show, with wonderful people. I have to give a big thank you to Sarah for the help at my booth (allowing me a few moments of rest to stretch my legs). The atmosphere was electric and everyone has my gratitude for making me feel so welcome up there. One of these days I will get Shawn up there so that I can leave him at the booth and go explore the city hehehe.
But that will only happen if the infamous Monsterpalooza does not fall on the same weekend as ECCC, like it did this year. Here is Shawn to tell you more. Shawn here and I have three words: It… was… awesome! I had a great time, though I wished Diana was there so that I could have walked around to check out more things. Oh well, there is always next year. All the fans were amazing and thank you to everyone for supporting Diana. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Beware the Gotham Bunnies
Thank you Shawn, so following those two shows was Wondercon. Oh how I love this show and it is one of my favorites. Not only did I get to see all my regular fans from SoCal, but Shawn being there allowed me to leave my booth from time to time to browse the artist alley. I got to catch up with some friends and meet some amazing artist for the first time. This was also the debut of my latest in the Terrible Trio series… the Gotham Bunnies, so cute, yet so evil.
Then I had a rare weekend off, and then it was time to get ready for Texas Frightmare Weekend. I was excited as I had never been to Dallas-Fort Worth, so this was a great opportunity to reach a new fan base. After a less than sterling start of the day (looking at you American Airlines) I made it to the show with only a half hour to set up. But after that it was one of the best weekends I have ever had at a show. It was intense, amazing, overwhelming at times and I can’t wait to go back next year. I may even bring Shawn along for this trip, I think he would enjoy the show very much.
Back to Southern California the following week for the Bat’s Day in the Park Black Market. This is always a fun show to do where I tend to pick up some great little pieces. It is only a one day show, so a bit more laid back and relaxing compared to the multi-day shows. Though being so close to Disney makes me want to go buy a ticket and go on some rides.
Finally last but not least was another trip up to Seattle (seriously, maybe I need to rent a room out there) for Crypticon. This was a great little horror convention with some pretty cool guests. I am starting to recognize a few people that have seen me at some of the area shows and meet some new fans. Thanks once again to Tamara of The Mystical Apothecary for being my traveling buddy once again.
Whoa, I was a bit more behind on this blog than I realized. Mid year resolution, I shall be better about updating my blog in a more timely manner. I have four more shows to do before I take some time off to do some more art and work on some upcoming projects, one of which is a book.
The Fifth Annual Multicultural World BookFest will be held at the Camarillo Community Center on Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 10am-3pm.
I’ve been selected as one of the children’s book authors to present at the event at 11:00 AM, followed by book signings and readings.
• We will have six storytents representing: Asia; Africa; Latin America, North America, Europe, and Australia & New Zealand.
Location: Camarillo Community Center 1605 E. Burnley Street.
Take the 101fwy exit at Carmen Drive. Going north turn right @ light. Going south make 2 left turns; go over fwy. Continue on Carmen past City Hall to 4 way stop which is Burnley. Turn right then left into parking lot. Event will be inside the gated Community Center Room
Please join us for a day of books, readings, food trucks, fun and culture.
Hope to see you there!
Tonia Allen Gould/Author Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore
Yesterday I had 50 minutes to kill so I went to the nearest beach. I looked out to the ocean and saw a whale leaping out of the ocean, blowing it’s spout, flipping it’s tail and flippers alternately. It’s flipper was nearly all white, brought to mind Moby Dick. I noticed people had gathered on balconies and at the far end of the pier to watch. Someone who’d been watching too stopped to talk to me. He said he’s been living here all his life and had never seen one so close before.
……………………… Kathleen Rietz Illustrator, Desert Baths with author Darcy Pattison ……………….. Please welcome to Kid Lit Reviews a prolific children’s book illustrator and fine artist Kathleen Rietz. She is here to chat with us about herself and her new book with Darcy Pattison titled Desert Baths. Hi, Kathleen, let’s start off with what first interested [...]
Lucia is a small seaside town perched on the cliffs of central California. Discovered by Don Gaspar de Portola and his soldiers late in the 18th century, the town is named after the day of its discovery––December 14, Santa Lucia Day.
On a day not too long ago, a local caretaker of an estate just to the south of Lucia, known only as Point 16, received a visitor. The stranger said he was from The Vatican and inquired as to seven caves that The Vatican had listed in its archives from the manifest of the town’s discovery centuries ago. As he further stated that the caves were sure to be located off the coast of Point 16, the caretaker dismissed the man’s strange way of talking but became obsessed by his manner of dress which included a spectacular sword with rubies inlaid in its handle.
The caretaker scratched his head. He’d kayaked up to the caves a time or two and had paddled inside a little ways. The only person the caretaker knew that ever sailed inside the caves any distance at all, and at that only a quarter of a mile, was long dead. Rumor was that the seven caves all met up in the very center of The Santa Lucia Mountains. The mysterious visitor surprised the caretaker when he knew that the caves were the color of blood and shocked him when he spoke of a great temple with treasure inside.
The caretaker told the stranger that the caves were real enough, but that no one he knew had ever been able to sail deep into the caves to discover any temples or treasure.
The stranger thanked the caretaker and went on his way. The caretaker, uneasy about the stranger, decided to follow. The stranger rode his horse to the beach beside the caves and climbed into a simple dugout canoe. Primitive by any standards. Its oars like branches.
The stranger paddled and paddled. The caretaker could only watch from shore. As the surf drew out to sea more of the cave entrances became exposed. When the great swells crashed into the cliffs the waves churned powerfully in the caves and splashed back out to the open sea. Yet, the stranger didn’t veer from his course, one that would soon place him inside the nearest cave.
The caretaker began to sweat. The stranger had paddled his small canoe in an angry sea yet his navigation, indeed the boat itself, seemed unaffected by it. The caretaker searched the coast close by for a kayak sometimes hidden in the brush by the owner of Point 16.
He longed to paddle into the caves. Make that discovery. For, he knew the sea better than most around these parts. Certainly, he would be able to keep up with the stranger. As luck would have it, he found an abandoned canoe. And so he too paddled out to sea.
The sun disappeared behind a cloud and the chill of the fog invaded the caretaker’s bones. A great cloud river of fog moved from north to south over the Pacific, inching to shore. Upon a great break of an early evening wave the stranger disappeared into the first cave.
The caretaker followed.
The next thing the caretaker remembered was fading in and out of consciousness as Search and Rescue revived him. The caretaker asked about the stranger but was told no other body and no other boat was found, not unusual in the rugged depths of the central coast.
The caretaker’s dreams were filled with the stranger and endless trips into the caves, alive with treasure.
When the caretaker came to he was quite inconsolable. Gone mad with a fear of the sea. He tossed back and forth in the sandy soil trying to get away from those that had saved him when he spotted the stranger’s sword, stuck in the sagebrush. The caretaker wrapped his hands around the rubies and pulled the sword out of the brush. Don Gaspar de Portola was engraved in the silver blade, dripping with blood.