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1. Eventbrite Survey: conventions have achieved gender parity but some still feel unwelcome

EventBrite, the ticketing agency, caused a lot of talk last year when they released the results of the first survey of convention attendees with breakdowns on gender, spending and more.

They’ve done another survey this year, and the results are even more detailed. Rob Salkowitz has done a round-up over at ICv2 but the Beat has also been given an exclusive preview of some of the data on safety at the con.

The survey was done to provide greater insight into the multi-billion dollar fandom events and convention business, and surveyed 2165 total respondents over two weeks in May. Respondents were drawn from Eventbrite users, with a few from external respondents via social media. 94% of respondents attended a fan event or convention in the past 12 months, While the poll did not cover sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, it delved into gender, and the news is that as far as men and women go it’s now even steven. Also, there is far more gender diversity among purchasers of indie/alt.comix than among regular comics. And that attendees of Tabletop/role-playing games felt less safe than any other kind of event — perhaps because fans of these are actually USED to acting out? Just a guess there.

 

SO MUCH TO CHEW ON. For breakdowns read on:

 

 

Fandom Overall Has Achieved Gender Parity

eventbrite1.png

• Last year, in a survey using the same methodology and roughly the same sample size, the overall gender breakdown across all fandoms was 46% female, 54% male, but was 50/50 under age 30. (the survey did not provide a non-binary/other option in 2014)
• This year, gender identity breakdown across all responses was 48.9% female, 48.7% male, , 2.4% non-binary/other
• Fandom as a whole is trending female, with women very slightly outnumbering men in our overall sample.
• Under age 40, it’s 50.8% female/46.1% male/3.1% non-binary/other
• There are hardly any significant attitude or behavior differences expressed between male and female fans across most topics polled.





…but gender gaps remain across specific fan interest areas.

• Despite the overall trend toward women across all fan interest areas polled, no individual fandom is close to 50/50
• Tabletop and role-playing gaming and comic book fandom are where the boys are, clocking in at over 62% male.
• Female fans flock to anime/manga, science fiction and genre/comics-based media.
• Fans identifying as “non-binary/other” are most likely to be found in Alt/small press and anime/manga fandom.

Cosplayers are Intense Fans, Spenders, Frequent Con Attendees




eventbrite2.png

• 499 respondents, or around 23% of our sample, identified themselves as serious cosplayers and/or people who attend shows just to engage in cosplay
• The highest percentage – 29.4% – identified themselves as primarily manga/anime fans. 21% are fans of comic and genre-based media, and 17.7% science fiction and fantasy fans.
• More than 85% of cosplayers are under 40, with nearly 60% between the ages of 23-39.
• Cosplayers are predominantly female (62.5%), with 32% male and 5% non-binary/other
• Only 30% of cosplayers report spending less than $100 at shows. Most (42.7%) spend between $101-250, consistent with the spending patterns of non cosplayers.
• Cosplayers go to more cons than practically any other group. 64% of serious cosplayers attend 3 or more fan events per year. More than 27% attend 5 or more fan events per year.




Cons Generally Make Fans Feel Safe and Welcome
• When asked “In general, do you feel the fan events you attend do enough to make all attendees feel safe and welcome,” 7.2% of respondents (143 total)  said no. 92.8% said yes.
• Anime/manga and toy/collectible fans seem to feel their events do best, with fewer than 5% feeling unsafe.
• By far the worst fandom for safety is Tabletop/role-playing games, with around 17% of fans in that category answering “no.”
• Videogaming fans (mostly male fandom) response is at about 10%; comic and genre-based media (the most female fandom) is around the same.
• There were few statistical differences between how men, women and non-binary/other genders answered this question.




• Among those who feel unsafe and unwelcome:
o 53.5% are female, 45.1% are male, 1.4% are non-binary/other
o 20% are serious cosplayers. 44% do not cosplay at all.
o 40% have been going to cons for more than 10 years
o 35% spend $250 or more
o 85% go in groups of two or more, including family




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2. Empathy and Oscar the Grouch: Sonia Manzano #alaac15

Sonia Manzano

Sonia Manzano, Auditorium Speaker

If you ever wondered who Sonia Manzano’s (“Maria” from Sesame Street) favorite Muppet is, here’s her answer: Oscar the Grouch. “He’s negative.” He acts anywhere from age 80 to 8. He stirs up conflict in an otherwise harmonious neighborhood, and this conflict leads to stories.

In fact, Manzano’s new memoir, “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx” (Scholastic) is all about conflict–her tumultuous childhood in the Bronx, her Puerto Rican roots, and her longing for a “Leave it to Beaver” type of stability. With Maria, she was able to act out (and later, write scripts about) a character that children in inner cities could relate to, and provide them with storylines that offered satisfying resolutions–something they may seldom get in real life. She could be a mirror for these kids, an escape from a hard home life, and a role model.

Manzano thinks her difficult childhood lead to her success. Not in spite of her challenges, but because of her challenges, she was able to become a great actor, writer, and humanitarian.

She spoke quite a bit about the importance of empathy. Sure, people tell their kids to “Be nice.” But what about going beyond that? She questions why some people are afraid to let kids read sad stories. In books, readers are able to connect with characters and feel the deep emotions that dwell within them. It’s the perfect avenue for building empathy, and she believes we should consciously instill this value in children.

Manzano was a fabulous speaker. Many of us in the audience grew up watching her on television, and looked to her as one of the really inspirational and comforting adult figures in our lives. Manzano advocated for television; she pointed out that sometimes TV is a much-needed escape for some children, and that, like a book, it’s just the jumping off point for the imagination: What happens to characters when they’re not on TV, how does the story continue when the set is off? Kids with the freedom to imagine can, and will, grow up to be resourceful and successful adults.

The post Empathy and Oscar the Grouch: Sonia Manzano #alaac15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Pura Belpré Celebración #alaac15

Sunday’s Pura Belpré 19th annual award ceremony featured a vibrant mix of illuminating speeches, laughter, and entertainment that celebrated Latino Children’s Literature.

Highlights included:

  • Yuyi Morales’s acceptance speech in which she vividly recounted her positive and life-changing experiences as a young mother and new immigrant visiting the San Francisco Public Library’s Western Addition branch. Ann, a librarian at the branch, put The Watsons Go to Birmingham in her hands and it was the first English language chapter book she loved, that she shared with her son.
  • Duncan Tonatiuh invited civil rights leader Sylvia Mendez, the subject of his award-winning book Separate Is Never Equal, to address the audience.
  • United States Poet Laurete Juan Felipe Herrera’s speech chronicled his research and writing that documented the extraordinary achievements of Hispanic-Americans.
  • Heartfelt speeches by Susan Guevara, John Parra, and Marjorie Agosín.
  • A fantastic performance by by Quenepas, a Bomba youth song and dance ensemble.

This fantastic event was hosted by the dream team Reforma and ALSC, and is always one of the highlights of ALA conferences. Next year will mark the 20th Anniversary of the Belpré Award and it promises to be a huge occasion. See you in Orlando!

The post Pura Belpré Celebración #alaac15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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4. Nim and the War Effort by Milly Lee, pictures by Yangsook Choi

It's 1943 in San Francisco's Chinatown and young Nim and her classmates are all competing to see who can collect the most newspapers for the war effort.  So far, Nim and Garland Stephenson are in the lead.

One morning, Nim takes her wagon to her aunt's house to pick up some papers tied with a red string, but when she gets there, the papers are gone.  Disappointed, Nim decides to look around the neighborhood to see if she can find other papers to add to her pile at school.  Along the way, she runs into Garland, who not only has a pile of papers tied with a red string, but he is taking the new ones that were just delivered to the newspaper stand that morning.  When Nim confronts Garland about both piles of papers, he tells her they are his now and Mr. Wong shouldn't have left his lying on the sidewalk.

Garland's wagon is so overloaded, that the papers spill all over the sidewalk when he tries to turn a corner.  While he is picking them up, he tells Nim she can't win the contest, that they are in an American war and that only an American should win the newspaper competition and "not some Chinese smarty-pants."

Undaunted by Garland, Nim decides she has some time after school to search for more papers before she has to go to Chinese school, which her Grandfather has always been adamant she not be late for or miss.  But when she approaches the doorman of a big building in Nob Hill and asks if there are any newspapers she can have for the war effort, he is more than obliging.  To Nim's amazement he opens the door to a room full of newspapers, stacks and stacks of them.  Surely, Nim would win the competition with all those papers.  After all, Garland said it should be won by an American and Nim is as American as he is.  But how can she get all those papers to the school and still get to Chinese school on time so she doesn't anger her Grandfather?

Nim's solution will surprise readers but her reasoning is sound and she is only doing what she was taught to do - call the police and ask for help.  But, she comes home late, greeted by an very angry Grandfather who says she has disgraced the family by being seen riding in a police paddy wagon.  Can she win back her Grandfather's respect and trust when he learns the truth about what happened?

Nim and the War Effort is one of those picture books for older readers that packs in a lot of information about kids and WWII.  Kids did a lot to help the war effort, and really throw themselves into it, just a Nim and Garland do for the scrap paper contest.

Garland's cheating is a sad note about needing to win the contest.  There was nothing at stake for him, except to show her up.  Garland's behavior reminded me of the saying I was taught as a girl:
"Winners never cheat, and cheaters never win" and that's just what happened.

Cheating is one issue, but Garland also enables Milly Lee to quietly but effectively take on issues of racism and misplaced patriotism in her debut children's book.  Garland only sees Nim as Chinese, his attitude towards her, that she isn't a real American, was common after the US entered the war.  A lot of Chinese people were ostracized during WWII by those who lumped all Asians together and felt it gave them the right to mistreat them.  Lee adds a nice touch of reality when she shows grandfather wearing a pin with the American and the Chinese flag, something many Chinese people did to differentiate themselves.

Lee also takes the reader inside Nim's home, where Chinese American family life is thoughtfully depicted.   Young readers may find the relationship between Nim and her grandfather a little stiff and formal, and probably more realistic for the 1940s than in today's world.  He is a real patriarch, with Nim's mother and grandmother firmly in the background.  I thought it interesting that there is no mention of Nim's father.  Was he away fighting the war?  Another interesting note is that her grandmother has bound feet, something that most of today's young readers might not know about.

The muted realistic illustrations give the readers a true feeling of the past by using a palette of yellows and browns, making Nim's white shirt and red wagon really standout.  Like Lee, this is a debut children's book for Yangsook Choi and the two really seem to have been on the same thought-wave, producing a thoughtful, thought-provoking picture book that no doubt generates all kinds of questions and observations among young readers.

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was borrowed from the Bank Street College of Education Library

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5. I’m Your Neighbor #alaac15

I spent the first part of my morning at the session New Immigrants, New Approaches: Serving Your Communities Deep Diversity with Programming and Aquisitions and it was a great way to start the day!  One of the best parts for me was learning about the resource I’m Your Neighbor which is a database of children’s books about the experience of new arrivals.  I’m really excited to find more books on this topic to share with my community: books that reflect the experiences of some of our children and introduce some of our children to new experiences. Especially, because I just heard Anne Sibley O’Brien discuss research that actually demonstrates how sharing books about different cultures can positively impact how cultural groups feel about each other.  (This is something that we all feel, but it’s always so inspiring to see the research!)

 

 

The post I’m Your Neighbor #alaac15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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6. Exhibits Power


ALA is many many things to librarians - a place to effect solid innovative change for librarianship; an opportunity to work on behalf of all librarians to fight the good fight on legislative issues, universal access, bridging the digital divide, IF and advocacy. It's a place to learn, to share and to network. Warm greetings and hellos from colleagues old and new, a chance to discover a little more IRL than we have time to on our social media accounts. There is time for committee work and attending Notables, leadership opportunities and division board meetings. Informal lunches, after hours get-togethers and hallway convos keep the crazy days interesting.

One of my favorite parts of the conference is always the exhibit floor. While some spend time queuing up for author's signatures or advanced reader's copies - and I've snagged my share - I like to spend some quality time really looking at everything children's publishers have out AND up and coming in the next publishing cycle.  I like looking not just at the large publishers but also smaller publishers that publish for a smaller niche market or larger publishers that publish primarily in countries outside the US. This is where you can often find hidden gems of diversity that celebrate different cultures and countries.

In the past,  these presses and publishers were often relegated to the last two or three rows at the end of the exhibit floor. But this year at ALA, there is a welcome change. The small press tables can be found at the end of rows - rows that put them next door to some of the biggest names in publishing, ILS systems and other national vendors. You won't have to go far to find a first time exhibitor like Karadi Tales, a publisher in India who has two books recently honored by the South Asia Book Awards - The Rumour won the young people's award in 2013 and in 2015 A Pair of Twins was on SABA's Highly Commended list. The books that are on exhibit from this publisher are delightful and easily open up our collections to needed diversity.

This new juxtaposition of large publishers near smaller or more diverse publishers means that it will be easier than ever to take a few steps and discover presses outside the mainstream houses we know and love. So if you are coming to ALA, take some time to chat with these publishers from smaller presses or publishers from different countries and discover the true richness of our publishing world. Your community will thank you!

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7. Pride Month: Fifteen LGBTQ-Themed Books for Readers of Every Age

June is Pride Month!  Pride Month commemorates the Stonewall Riots, which happened June 1969, and was a starting summer deals!point for the Gay Rights movement. The Stonewall Inn, where the riots took place, in New York City recently gained landmark status.

To celebrate, we’ve put together a list of fifteen books that celebrate different gender identities, sexual orientations, families, and ways to be!

Picture Books

Antonio’s Card by Rigoberto Gonzalez – Mother’s Day is coming up. Antonio searches for the right words to express his love for his mother, and Leslie, his mother’s partner.

Call Me Tree by Maya Christina Gonzalez – In this completely gender-neutral story, Maya Christina Gonzalez empowers readers to reach … and be as unique and free as trees.

I am Jazz by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel – Based on the life of transgender activist Jazz Jennings. Jazz has known she was a girl since the age of two, even if everyone around her doesn’t know it yet.

Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman – This classic is one of the first lesbian-themed picture books. Heather is being raised by her mother, Jane and her mother’s partner, Kate.

Middle Grade

George  by Alex Gino – Everyone thinks George is a boy, but George knows that she’s a girl. After her teacher announces that the class play is Charlotte’s Web, George hatches a plan with her best Kelly, so that everyone can know who she is once and for all.

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle – Nate has always wanted to be in a Broadway show. But how is he supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in a small town in Pennsylvania?

Wandering Son by Takako Shimura – Shuichi Nitori and Yoshino Takatsuki are two friends at the start of puberty sharing a big secret: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. First graphic novel in a series.

 

Young Adult

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin – Six transgender and gender-neutral teens share their stories.

Ash by Malinda Lo – In this retelling of Cinderella, Ash must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio– In this debut novel, Kristen, has a seemingly ideal life. She’s just been voted homecoming queen and is a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college. Everything unravels when Kristen and her boyfriend decide to take it to the next level, and Kristen finds out she’s intersex. Somehow her secret is leaked to the whole school.

Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez – Sanchez’s debut novel follows three boys, Jason Carrillo, Kyle Meeks, and Nelson Glassman, as they struggle with their sexualities and their friendships.

 

Books for Adults

Autobiography of My Hungers by Rigoberto Gonzalez – Rigoberto Gonzalez takes a look at his life through the lens of hunger.

Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima – Kochan is unlike other men; he is homosexual. In post-war Japanese society, Kochan must keep this fact hidden under a mask of propriety.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker – This book focuses on the lives of several poor African American women in rural Georgia.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson – The rich and privileged have left Toronto for the suburbs. Now, the people with money need bodies, so they prey upon the helpless people on the street.

 

 

 

 

 

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8. Dynamite gets the Homies for art book and more

HOMIES Dynamite deal intro.jpg

The Homies are coming back to the comics! This hugely popular line of small collectible figures depicting various Latino characters started as a an underground comic strip by David Gonzales before morphing into a huge line of merchandise. Now Dynamite has signed a deal for all kinds of Homies publishing, including a “HISTORY OF THE HOMIES” comprehensive retrospective hardcover art book, with information on all of the toys ever released. They also have the license for original comics and graphic novels in all sizes, as well as reprints of existing comic material.

Homies Image #3.png
As you may know, Dynamite typically does not set up at Comic-Con—instead they run a series of announcements before the show, and this is just the first one. Look for more Dynamite news in the next few days.

The HOMIES first began as an underground comic strip created by artist David Gonzales that ran in Lowrider Magazine in 1978 and was based on his friends and lifestyle.  The merchandising of HOMIES began in 1994 when trend savvy retailer Hot Topic offered the shirts for sale, which soon became hot tees in their stores. Following on the heels of a successful T-shirt run, HOMIES was licensed for figurines in the vending machine toy industry, where all sales records were broken, with over 150 million figurines sold worldwide.  The licensing program soon spread to products such as action figures, remote and die-cast cars, notebooks, posters, plush, Halloween masks, video games, music and more, and were carried by specialty and mass retailers, such as Walmart, K-mart, Kay-bee Toys, Spencer Gifts, Walgreens and many others.  Today the HOMIES are enjoying a comeback with new T-shirts, toys and more in the works.        

Homies #5 Images.png

“The Homies started as an underground comic strip back in the 70’s, and it has always been my dream to have them published in a comic book of their own. I have also, always wanted to create a Homies History book of sort, to establish the legacy of HOMIES, and to share the stormy and controversial and wild ride they have taken me on, “ says David Gonzales.  “I am very pleased that Dynamite has recognized something special in my creation, and will champion me and my Homies in this quest.”

“I remember the toys, and how nuts people were in collecting them, back in the 90’s” says Dynamite Director of Business Development Rich Young. “They were a phenomenon, and all the different characters they created were super cool.  I’m very happy that Dynamite is able to be the first publisher associated with the HOMIES and helping bring them to the printed page!”

“We’re not only excited to bring ‘HOMIES’ to the comics and book market, but we also get to kick this off at San Diego Comic Con! For fans who come to our panel Thursday, we’re going to give away a collectible “HOMIE” to each and every fan.  The panel is in room 6DE on Thursday, from 5:45 to 6:45, and we can’t wait to talk more about ‘HOMIES’ and our additional Dynamite projects!” states Dynamite CEO Nick Barrucci

As for the characters themselves, the HOMIES got started
Homies Big Heads set_1.jpg
as a group of tightly knit Chicano buddies, Hollywood, Smiley, Pelon, andBobby Loco, who grew up in the Mexican American barrio (neighborhood) of “Quien Sabe” (“who knows”), located in East Los Angeles. Over time, the Homies have expanded their crew to over 300 characters from all different cultures, genres and even species.  The wide-ranging personalities and characteristics, together, make up a single, composite entity that is the “HOMIES.” In an inner-city world plagued by poverty and oppression, the Homies have formed a strong and binding cultural support system that enables them to overcome the surrounding negativity and allows for laughter and good times as an anecdote for reality. The word “Homies” itself is a popular street term that refers to someone from your hometown or, in a broader sense, anyone that you would acknowledge as your friend. In use in the West Coast Latino community for decades, the word “Homies” has crossed over into the now mainstream Hip-Hop street culture that has taken America’s young people by storm.

“The Homies were a part of my childhood and I couldn’t be more excited to see them offered for a new generation of fans,” says Surge Licensing’s Elan Freedman.  “But even more so, there is nothing more exciting than being able to progress the evolution of the brand by offering a brand new experience to all fans, existing and new, through a publishing program.”

 

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9. ALAAC15: Librarians Assemble For Comics Diversity!


Once again, librarians are meeting for their annual conference, this time in San Francisco!

So what happens when a bunch of librarians come to the city which birthed underground comics? During the Pride Parade? Well, a lot of cool librarians, cartoonists, and allies get together to talk about diversity in comics!

If you’ll be attending the ALA conference on Friday, you should make plans to attend this event!  A stellar group of panelists, many of them award winning creators will be in attendance!

GraphiCon Discussion Forum: Diversity in Comics

WHEN: Friday, June 26, 2015 – 12:00pm to 4:00pm

LOCATION: Moscone Convention Center 3010 (W)

DESCRIPTION: #weneeddiversebooks is the hashtag of the moment, and #weneeddiversecomics is included in that call. This discussion forum will bring together a wide range of creators to take stock of where we stand: how diverse comics are now, where there are gaps, and where we’d all like to see comics go from here. Join us for a series of panels with creators, editors, and librarians to discuss the ins and outs of increasing diversity within the format.

The afternoon will be hosted by two Masters of Ceremony from We Need Diverse Books, Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung.

Each panel will examine different aspects of diversity in the comics community. We will start with a wide view of the industry, then narrow our focus with two panel discussions of gender and queer representation in comics.

His, Hers, and Theirs: Gender and Comics
In the past few years, critical and frequently heated discussions about women and comics have highlighted a range of issues around gender for comics creators and readers. Industry folks and fans alike are debating how genders are portrayed, the visibility of different gender identities, and the lack of representation. Join creators Tony Cliff (Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant), Tania Del Rio i (Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty, Husbands, My Poorly Drawn Life), Brenden Fletcher (Batgirl, Gotham Academy), Jennifer L. Holm (Babymouse, Sunny Side Up), and Trina Robbins (From Girls to Girlz, Pretty in Ink) to take a look at all of the intersections between gender and comics.

Out of the Closet and Into the Library: Queer Comics are Here
Queer characters and storylines have had a turbulent history in comics, but that’s changing as new voices are using the format in pioneering ways. Join moderator Juliette Capra, a comic book fan, retailer and Valkyrie along with creators Ed Luce (Wuvable Oaf, Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever), Noelle Stephenson (Nimona, Lumberjanes), Alex Woolfson (The Young Protectors, Artifice) and Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer, Skim) for this fun and informative panel with an assortment of comic book creators who speak to queer representations in current comics for a variety of audiences and ages.

#WeNeedDiverseComics
Our first panel will be a wide-ranging discussion of diversity in comics: where we are now and where we need to go from here. Have shifts in the industry and audience led to new opportunities for characters and creators? How is the industry changing to meet the demand for increased diversity within the format? Our panelists work on both mainstream and independent projects. Moderator David Brothers will lead the discussion with Becky Cloonan (Gotham Academy), Karl Kerschl (Gotham Academy), Gene Yang (The Shadow Hero, American Born Chinese), Ethan Young (Nanjing) and Jeremy Whitley (Princeless).

Schedule of events
12-12:15 Introductions
12:15-1:15pm #WeNeedDiverseComics
1:15-1:30pm Break
1:30-2:30pm Gender Panel
2:30pm-2:45pm Break
2:45-3:45pm Out of the Closet and Into the Library
3:45-4:00pm Wrap Up






Presented by the Graphic Novels & Comics Member Initiative Group; Special thanks to Viz Media for sponsoring the AV equipment for the Discussion Forum.

HASHTAG: #GraphiCon15
MEETING TYPE: Forum/Update/Assembly
CONTENT AREA: Books & Authors
INTERESTS: Diversity Popular Culture Public Programs Readers’ Advisory
TYPE OF LIBRARY: All
SPONSORS: ALA American Library Association (ALA)
COST: Included with conference registration

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10. The Sound of Life and Everything by Krista Van Dolzer

It's 1953 and WWII has been over for 7 years.  In fact, for most of 12-year-old Ella Mae Higbee's life.  Her older brother Daniel had been killed in the war in Europe and her cousin Robby Clausen died in the Pacific at Iwo Jima.  And while Ella Mae's mother has accepted the death of her son, her Auntie Mildred hadn't accepted that her Robby was gone for good.  In fact, she still holds on tightly to Robby's bloody dog-tags.

So when Auntie Mildred heard about a scientist who could re-create a person with just a few drops of their blood in his laboratory, she was ready to welcome Robby back from the dead.  There was just one problem - the person who was resurrected using Robby's bloody dog-tags was a young Japanese man.  How had a Japanese boy's blood ended up on Robby Clausen's dog-tags?  Hysterical, Auntie Mildred, along with Ella Mae and her mother leave the laboratory.

But the lab wants someone to take custody of the Japanese man, whose name is Takuma Sato, and since Auntie Mildred didn't get the son she wanted, it was up to Ella Mae and her mother to bring him home with them, much to the chagrin of Mr. Higbee.  By now, Auntie Mildred is convinced that it was Takuma who killed Robby and refuses to speak to her sister for taking care of him.

Indeed, Takuma becomes the unwitting catalyst for long held resentments and hatred in Ella Mae's small California town.  While he doesn't remember much about his life before he died, for some who are still coming to terms with family members lost in the war,  he brings up their hostile feeling towards the Japanese in general.  For others, like the Reverend, the fact that Takuma was created in a lab makes him an abomination on the eyes of God.

Even as tempers flare, even as they are ostracized by family, friends and neighbors for taking in Takuma, Ella Mae and her mother stand firm in their belief that they did the right thing.  At school, Ella Mae's cousin and best friend Theo turns his back on her, though when she and Takuma are gone after by the class bully, Theo does get help.

Little by little, Takuma begins to remember his former life, but after a few months, he also begins to physically fail.  As he grows weaker and weaker, he starts to draw pictures from the war.  Soon the truth about how his blood got on Robby's dog-tags become evident in his drawings.  But will Auntie Mildred and everyone else in town be able to accept that what happened on Iwo Jima just didn't happen exactly the way they had thought it had?

The Sound of Life and Everything was an interesting book.  It's not often that I get to read speculative fiction that has anything to do with WWII with the exception of time travel books, so this was a welcomed addition.  The early 1950s was a time when people were becoming aware of DNA thanks to people like Linus Pauling, Francis Crick and James Watson, all mentioned in the novel.  But the science isn't the real focus of the story, merely the means to a way of opening up questions of racism, of forgiveness and of replacing ignorance with knowledge.

I thought Ella Mae was a feisty protagonist in this coming of age story, which is told in the first person by her.  Sometimes, though, she is a little too quick with her fists, and yet, she is also a thoughtful young girl willing to admit when she is confused by events and attitudes.  She willingly takes Takuma under her wing, teaching him English and showing him her favorite spots to hang out.  And when her older cousin Gracie takes over the teaching job, there are some pangs of jealousy.

Ella Mae's mother is wonderful.  A deeply religious woman, yet she doesn't hesitate to take on the minister when he refuses to let the Higbees into church with Takuma.  And though she acknowledges science, her faith will always be in God, even when it comes to Takuma.  But, best of all is how she treats Ella Mae.  It's nice to read about a mother who isn't crazy or distant or mean.  She is right there in Ella Mae's life, and it's clear she loves and respects her daughter, even when she is mad at her.

The Sound of Life and Everything reads so much like realistic historical fiction, I had to keep reminding myself that it is speculative historical fiction - and while that is the best kind of sic-fi, this is a novel that should appeal to almost anyone.

This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL  

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11. INK AND ASHES Blog Tour Round Up

To celebrate the release of her debut novel, Ink and Ashesearlier this month, author Valynne E. Maetani has been stopping by blogs to talk about her writing process, winning the first ever New Visions Award, and much more.

More about Ink and Ashes:

Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away ten years ago. But on the anniversary of his death, she finds a letter from her deceased father to her stepfather. Before now, Claire never had a reason to believe they even knew each other.

Struggling to understand why her parents kept this surprising history hidden, Claire combs through anything that might give her information about her father . . . until she discovers that he was a member of the yakuza, a Japanese organized crime syndicate. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed.

The race to outrun her father’s legacy reveals secrets of his past that cast ominous shadows, threatening Claire, her friends and family, her newfound love, and ultimately her life. Winner of Tu Books’ New Visions Award, Ink and Ashes is a fascinating debut novel packed with romance, intrigue, and heart-stopping action.

Here is a round up of the tour.

YA Books Central – Valynne E. Maetani shares 5 facts you should know about the Japanese mafia, known as the Yakuza, here.

Dear Teen Me – Read Valynne E. Maetani’s letter to her teen self here.

We Are Word Nerds –  Valynne E. Maetani on the inspiration behind Ink and Ashes and her journey to publication here.

The Book Smugglers – Valynne E. Maetani on winning the New Visions Award here.

Teen Lit Rocks! shares why they enjoyed reading Ink and Ashes here.

To find out more about Valynne E. Maetani and Ink and Ashes, follow her on Twitter and Tumblr.

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12. What does Juneteenth Celebrate?

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the abolition of slavery in Texas and more generally the emancipation of African American slaves throughout the Confederate South.

Author Carole Boston Weatherford, author of Juneteenth Jamboreewanted to celebrate this “emancipation celebration that is said to have begun on June 19, 1865, when Union Army soldiers arrived in Texas and informed slaves that they were free.”

juneteenth day
Learning of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation

According to Weatherford’s author note, the news of emancipation took two years, six months, and nineteen days to reach Texas after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

juneteenth jamboreeToday, African Americans come together all around the country to celebrate Juneteenth with traditions from the early days, including parades, picnics, music, speeches, crafts, and African dance. In 1980, June 19 was made a legal holiday in Texas.

Think about Juneteenth as a companion holiday to the Fourth of July. While Independence Day celebrates freedom for our country, it is important to remember that not all people in America were free at this country’s birth. As Dr. Charles Taylor writes:

Juneteenth has come to symbolize for many African-Americans what the fourth of July symbolizes for all Americans — freedom. It serves as a historical milestone reminding Americans of the triumph of the human spirit over the cruelty of slavery. It honors those African-Americans ancestors who survived the inhumane institution of bondage, as well as demonstrating pride in the marvelous legacy of resistance and perseverance they left us.

150 years later (better late then never?), several representatives will push for legislation to make Juneteenth Independence Day a National Day of Observance in America. Currently, 43 states recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday.

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Learn more about Juneteenth Celebrations
12 Facts About the History of Black Independence Day
Purchase a copy of Juneteenth Jamboree, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan

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13. Gracefully Grayson – 2015 Diversity Reading Challenge

Title: Gracefully Grayson Written by: Ami Polonsky Published by: Hyperion, 2014 Themes/Topics: transgender, middle school, orphans, theatre, self-acceptance, bullying Suitable for ages: 8 -12 Opening: IF YOU DRAW a triangle with the circle resting on the top point, nobody will be able to tell that … Continue reading

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14. Top Historical Fiction Books That Sweep Away Barriers Between Then and Now

Any author will tell you that one of the questions we get asked the most is What are your favorite books? When it comes to historical fiction, coming up with a short list is pretty much impossible.

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15. How to Turn a Quiet Author Event into a Big Success

In this joint guest post, librarian Jane Levitan of Guest Bloggerthe Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Libraries and author/illustrator Lulu Delacre give their takes on a quiet event that turned into a great success. 

Librarian Jane Levitan: It was the worst of times; it was the best of times.  I admit it.  It was my fault.  Who would schedule an author visit the day before Easter?  Me.  When I contacted author/illustrator Lulu Delacre and she mentioned that she had a Saturday free, I jumped at the opportunity to host her in our library as part of our El Dia grant.  Realizing my pre-Easter mistake, we spared no opportunity to promote the event.

We had advertisements and the FREE book provided by the grant displayed at the circulation desk (including one that literally hit the patrons in the head when checking out), we also used radio, newsletters, Facebook, websites (ours and Lulu’s), personal contacts (ours and Lulu’s again), etc. Still, when the program started it was ill attended.  Lulu, undaunted, presented an engaging session filled with fun, dance, travel and music.  She signed books and the young participants had their pictures taken at their dream worldwide locations via green screen technology.

Then it happened: we looked out the window and there they were—kids in the plaza across the street greeting the Easter Bunny and a few other costumed critters. Lulu launched a full-on musical parade with staff and patrons and serenaded the Bunny and his young friends with Latin instruments. She introduced herself and her FREE books, and did a surprise encore presentation.  Leading the group back to the library, she sang, danced and traveled the world again for a packed audience.

She did not leave until every child received a signed book and posed with her in front of the green screen.  Her favorite background was her native Puerto Rico. The hour program stretched on to four hours. An ill-fated program was now a success.

We even issued some cards to new members of our community who were coaxed into the library with the promise of diversity and fun.

The moral of the story? Check the calendar.  Second moral, invite Lulu: she will deliver the best program possible, sometimes twice, including rounding up her own audience.  Did I mention that she wanted the El Dia pin to wear proudly throughout the month?  Third moral, DO NOT compete with the Easter Bunny!


 

Lulu Delacre: I believe that a good-sized enthusiastic audience has a positive influence on a presenter. I also know that public libraries are at the mercy of circumstances beyond their control. Weather, weekend sports and sudden family plans play a role in attendance to a children’s program. Often, library patrons do not feel the consequences of skipping a free event.

So, it did not catch me by surprise when I arrived the Saturday of Easter weekend at the Martingsburg downtown library to find that six librarians and a handful of children were my only audience. Waiting for latecomers, I sensed heavy disappointment in the room. Still, I delivered the liveliest session I could. What could we have done differently? To whom could we now give the free copies of my book?

After the last game-dance, one librarian suggested to go parade outdoors. I led the group up the street singing De Colores to the rhythms of güiro, maracas and palitos. At the corner I saw dozens of families hovering around the Easter Bunny. They were at the plaza right across from us! Suddenly, the thought of rounding up the kids for an encore program at the library crossed my mind. With the librarians on board to do just that we fanned out to invite all the families to the impromptu session.

How marvelous to see our efforts’ success on the smiling faces of the children as we traveled the world in my program! The kids were as thrilled with the autographed copies of How Far Do You Love Me? as I was to see the change of demeanor in the organizers.
What’s sweeter than an Easter chocolate egg? A gift from your public librarian: a beautiful book for your very own library!

 

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16. Toni Buzzeo, Author of Whose Tools? | Speed Interview

Toni Buzzeo is the author of the 2013 Caldecott Honor Book and New York Times bestseller One Cool Friend, as well as many other books for children.

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17. 2015 Diverse Summer Reading Book Lists K-8

June is finally here! Winter is already a long distant memory and students are becoming more and more fixated on the summer vacation countdowns they started in January, daydreaming of exciting and unknown summer plans, camp adventures, and seemingly endless free time.

But just because school year is (almost) over, doesn’t mean reading has to come to a halt. In fact, we are well aware of the importance of having access to books and the harmful effects of the slippery slope that is the summer slide:

To keep our children reading all summer long, LEE & LOW has put together several Diverse Summer Reading Book Lists and printables for grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6-8, which you can freely download and share here or find listed below. Each list contains books that not only highlight different interests, such as sports, music, sci-fi/fantasy, and the environment, but also personally connect with students of diverse cultural backgrounds and traditions.

Diverse Summer Reading ListsLEE & LOW Summer Reading Book Lists by grade:

LEE & LOW Summer Reading Printables:

It is important to remember that diverse books are not only for diverse readers. Reading books featuring diverse characters and communities not only mirror experiences in their own lives, allowing children to see themselves reflected in the stories they love, but also provide windows into other life experiences to understand and be more accepting of the world around them. If you’re still wondering why diverse books then take a look here:

There are many great organizations compiling and creating Summer Reading Book Lists and offering free, exciting programs and challenges. Be sure to check out your local library as well as the following groups for additional summer reading tips, suggestions, and ideas:

veronicabioVeronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.

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18. We need (more) diverse authors

In the Age of Testing, it seems creativity is often left by the wayside. Professional development for teachers these days focuses on practices that supposedly raise test scores. Practice questions. Test-prep software. Data analysis. Incentives.

To make room for these practices, it seems that many high schools no longer teach creative writing. We teach reading and writing to prepare students for college (and tests), which means argument, research, and analysis. Yet, stories remain an object of study, so there’s no denying they’ve retained their cultural value even if we’ve stopped writing them in the classroom.

Just imagine if we stopped going nuts about test proficiency and instead aimed to inspire children to love and value stories so much that they want to create them.

I think there’s a tremendous loss in that many (possibly most) schools do not have this mindset.

Writing fiction is instructive in itself. Writing a story helps one understand plot. Creating a symbol helps one analyze symbolism. Proofreading a piece in hopes of publication motivates one to master Standard English conventions. Writing a story gives context and meaning to skills that are often taught devoid of either.

Beyond the lost opportunity for instruction, I think a more insidious effect is that we lose potential authors. And since test prep reigns supreme in the inner-city, where test scores tend to be low but racial and socioeconomic diversity tends to be high, this equates to the loss of potential authors of color.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing authors of color in the writing community today, both published and unpublished. Yet I don’t think anyone would claim that the publishing world — at any level — has arrived at a place where it accurately reflects the world we live in.

But if we push for more creative writing in schools — especially in schools with underrepresented populations — I think we will eventually see more diverse writers emerge. And more diverse writers will lead to more diverse stories in agents’ submission folders, in editors’ hands, and on bookshelves. And that, I believe, has far more potential to transform children’s lives than any standardized test.

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19. 2015 Glyph Comics Award winners announced, led by Shaft

The 2015 Glyph Awards, recognizing the best in African American comics, were presented over the weekend, and here are the winners:

TNShaft01CovACowan

STORY OF THE YEAR
SHAFT; David F. Walker, Writer; Bilquis Evely, Artist

BEST WRITER
Keef Cross; DAY BLACK

BEST ARTIST
Nelson Blake 2; ARTIFACTS

BEST COVER
OFFSET #1 – THE MAN WHO TRAVELS WITH A PIECE OF SUGARCANE; Tristan Roach

BEST MALE CHARACTER
Bass Reeves; BASS REEVES: TALES OF THE TALENTED TENTH ; Joel Christian Gill, Writer and Artist

BEST FEMALE CHARACTER
Ajala Storm; AJALA: A SERIES OF ADVENTURES; Robert Garrett, Writer; N Steven Harris and Walt Msonza Barna, Artists

RISING STAR AWARD
Alverne Ball and Jason Reeves, Writers; Lee Moyer and Ari Syahrazad, Artists; ONE NATION: OLD DRUIDS

BEST COMIC STRIP OR WEBCOMIC
KAMIKAZE; Alan and Carrie Tupper, Writers and Artists; Havana Nguyen, Artist

BEST REPRINT PUBLICATION
TECHWATCH; Chameleon Creations

FAN AWARD FOR BEST WORK
ONENATION: SAFEHOUSE; Jason Reeves, Writer; Samax Amen and Deon De Lange, Artists

day_blackI had the pleasure of reading some of these as a judge for the Dwayne McDuffie award and all are worth checking out. Shaft has gotten a lot of positive support here there and everywhere. I’d also like to note that Day Black comes out from Rosarium  and it’s a very well written vampire story about a slave who is turned and is a tattoo artist in the present day. It has a very unusual style.

 

Congrats to all the winners!

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20. Why We’re Asking Publishers to Join Our Diversity Baseline Survey

diversity102-logoIf you’ve been following us for a while, you know that over the past few years we’ve released a series of infographics about the diversity gap in different industries including publishing, film, television, theater, and politics. Our infographic studies were designed to give people who were unfamiliar with issues of race and gender a sense of how deep the diversity problem goes in the United States and how entrenched these issues are in every facet of media. Our latest infographic, The Diversity Gap in Silicon Valley, is our first study that reports on a bigger question: What comes after the numbers are established? Once we acknowledge the diversity gap, what can we do to close it?

The Diversity Gap in Silicon Valley
The Diversity Gap in Silicon Valley (click to read more)

The tech industry presents a unique model for this. After Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou asked, “Where are our numbers?” hundreds of companies, both large and small, chose to release the diversity statistics of their staffs in a transparent way. Although the numbers showed a lack of diversity, after they were revealed there was a flurry of activity across the industry to address the problem. We were encouraged to see the brightest and the best minds in technology confronting a decades-old problem with pragmatism, budgets, and goals.

We were inspired to create our own baseline survey in the hopes that it could serve as a catalyst for the same kind of movement within the publishing industryGiven this, we were inspired to create our own baseline survey in the hopes that it could serve as a catalyst for the same kind of movement within the publishing industry. The Diversity Baseline Survey we’ve proposed would be the first of its kind for US publishers. It involves creating statistics that do not yet exist by measuring staff diversity among publishers and review journals in four areas: gender, race, sexual orientation, and disability.

There is precedence for a survey like this, not only from the tech industry, but also from the publishing industry in the United Kingdom. Both industries ran surveys as recently as 2014. Even large publishing houses, such as Hachette UK, HarperCollins, and Penguin Random House UK, were among the publishers who participated in the British survey. Hopefully, this is a good sign that these companies might extend their participation to the US version of the survey.

In the past, publishers have usually put the responsibility on readers for the lack of diverse representation in books. The extremely dated adage that “diverse books do not sell” has become a belief that has reached mythical proportions. While it’s important for readers to support diverse books with their dollars and voices, it’s equally important for publishers to self-reflect on how they can do better on their end. We must acknowledge that one factor contributing to the lack of diverse books is the lack of diversity among the people who edit, market, review, and sell the books. Surveying our staffs and reporting on our The onus is on us to move forward.findings would give us a starting point, not to point fingers or assign blame (especially since most media industries face similar problems) but to bring clarity to the problem so we can understand it better, attempt to correct it, and measure whether or not we are improving.

Publishers, the onus is on us to move forward. Many publishers have said that they support We Need Diverse Books and the movement for more diverse books, but words are not the same as action. If we are serious about increasing the number and quality of diverse books, it is essential for us to be transparent about our own challenges. By surveying our staffs and sharing our numbers, we can work together to put in place sustainable programs that will increase diversity among publishing staffs in the long-term.

Here are some ways you can help:
Sign the petition. We consider transparency in the publishing industry both a social and economic justice cause. If you agree, stand up and be counted. Your name in support of this effort will be used to convince publishers to join this effort.

Place a comment in the comment field of School Library Journal’s article about the survey. Public commentary about this issue from educators, librarians, reviewers, editors, authors, and illustrators helps put a face to this problem. Many of the gatekeepers/decision makers do not understand the problem, but words can make a difference and change people’s minds.

Ask your publishers to sign on. If you are an author or illustrator, contact your editors and other publishing contacts and encourage them to participate in the survey. Your voice in support of this effort can make a difference.

Subscribe to Lee & Low’s blog or social media channels. Understanding the issues is important, but the complexity surrounding issues of race and gender can be daunting. We discuss these issues on a daily basis. Learn through reading and engagement in a safe place to ask questions and stay current on the issues.

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21. Interview: Joey Stern, co-founder of Geeks OUT talks Flame Con – NYC’s first ever LGBTQ comic convention

FlameConCard4x6-PRINT

Back in November, queer nerd organization Geeks OUT launched a kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of a convention by queer nerds, for queer nerds. A month later they’d far exceeded their $15k goal, raising nearly $20,000 to make their con a reality. I spoke with Joey Stern about what led him start Geeks OUT, how that led to Flame Con, and what queer geeks and their allied communities can expect from New York City’s first ever LGBTQ comic convention on June 13.

Edie Nugent: Tell me a little about your role at Geeks OUT and how you got involved with the organization.

Joey Stern: We founded Geeks OUT in 2010 after New York Comic Con.  There was only queer panel that year and it was so packed that you had to stand in the back just to be there.

We wanted to make an organization that connected these fans, and gave them a more than once a year event to gather and see each other. We also wanted to make NYCC a gayer place, so we held events and parties as we fund raised to get enough money for a table.

It was really intense, but a year later, we debuted at NYCC with monthly queer comic/geek events and a table where people could come and find a group for themselves.

Nugent: So how did you decide to make the leap from that to putting on an entire convention?

Stern: We and the board of Geeks OUT felt like it was a natural progression and an opportunity to introduce an existing queer audience to amazing queer and ally artists and creators.

There’s so much out there now, it’s really hard to find a lot of the stuff that’s made for you, and Flame Con offers a connection for people and creators to meet and find new passions.

It also creates connections and empowers queer fandom, which is an important part of what we do.

Nugent: Why do you think comic book fandom appeals to the queer experience?

Stern: There really is no art like Comic Books. It’s not only informative, but it offers a lot more context for the writers’ words than traditional books do (or paintings offer on their own). They also have an indie experience, and like queer culture, were for a long time considered the realm of weirdos and freaks.

Comics in general are often about exploring new worlds and future tomorrows. And I think that idea is really appealing to anyone who has experiences of being on the outer edge of polite society.

For me, the X-men’s construct of creating new family, and finding friendship with people like you was really informative.

Nugent: You really leveraged queer fandom to launch Flame Con, raising almost $20k for the event. Were you surprised by how much support you received?

Stern: Yeah! Oh man, it was terrifying, we were worried the whole thing was going to fail, but people really came out to support us and this effort. It just shows how vibrant and important this community is.

Nugent: Do you think recent media attention on sexual harassment at cons, especially of cosplayers, helped identify a real need for a more progressive type of con experience?

Stern: Sure! But I think a lot of that work has been done by cosplayers coming to the media. It’s been really amazing to see people having that conversation and pushing for safer spaces (and to see cons, like NYCC respond positively to those changes).

Nugent: What are some programming highlights from Flame Con that you’re excited about?

Stern: We’re excited to be putting on all sorts of programming – hopefully something for everyone! A panel about writing for LGBT teens hosted by award-winning author David Levithan, a Q&A with Steve Orlando, writer of DC’s upcoming Midnighter series (DC’s first ongoing title to feature a gay man as a lead character,) a great panel on queer horror with Mark Patton, star of the infamously queer Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and Cecil Baldwin, voice of the hit podcast Welcome to Night Vale, a panel about looking at Sherlock Holmes from a queer perspective, a discussion with some up-and-coming industry pros about costume design, and lots more. We’re really packing something interesting into every minute of this con! There’s also a performance from Sarah Donner!

Nugent: What makes Flame Con different from other cons that aren’t queer-centric?

Stern: It’s tailored to its audience. All Gender bathrooms, queer artists and creators taking center stage, and panels that are not Gay 101, but a bit more focused.

Nugent: How so? 

Stern: Bigger cons have panels focused on Gay Artists, we have panels focused on writing Gay Sherlock Fan Fiction.

Flame Con is a one-day event on June 13 in Brooklyn. Here’s a complete list of guests appearing at the con. For more information check out their website and their Facebook page.

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22. Jessixa Bagley and Laurie Ann Thompson Chat with First Book

Today’s blog post is part of our Stories For All Project series, focused on sharing the latest announcements and impact stories about our effort to put diverse, inclusive books into the hands of kids.

Jessixa Bagley and Laurie Ann Thompson authored two of our 2015 Stories for All Project title selections. The new picture book authors recently joined us for a Twitter chat to discuss their books “Boats for Papa” and ”Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah” and why diversity and inclusion are important in children’s stories.

Here are some of the highlights. You can see full answers to all seven questions and questions from our audience on the Storify for this chat.

Why do you think it is important that diverse books are available to all children?jb2

 

 

 

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How can books featuring diverse voices and experiences contribute to inclusivity?

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 How have you seen your book affect a reader?

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Find out more! View the Storify of this Twitter chat.

 

The post Jessixa Bagley and Laurie Ann Thompson Chat with First Book appeared first on First Book Blog.

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23. Lee & Low's Diversity in Publishing Petition

Diversity is one of the issues we really care about at Finding Wonderland, and our eclectic reading list reflects that, we hope. That's why it's thrilling to see publishers Lee & Low really pushing the issue--not only promoting diversity in a... Read the rest of this post

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24. Denver Comic Con had 16 panels on Women—including one that was a flash mob

201505290245.jpg

Denver Comic Con is a bit of a puzzler. It’s a huge, fast growing show that entertains many people, but it’s also had a lot of problems with crowding, ownership and some eye-rolling over the claimed number of attendees. It also has a strong educational focus, which is good, but a rather chaotic panel schedule, which is bad. Anyway, as I’m sure you’ve heard, there was a blast of outrage last weekend when it was revealed that a “Women in Comics” panel consisted of three fusty male scholars talking about female characters of the 40s. I was off the grid over the holiday and missed joining in the ridicule, but Janelle Asselin-Moore has a great report on the matter here.

She has a subsequent report on what sounds like a positive outcome, as playwright Crystal Skillman, comics herstorian Trina Robbins and others put together a flash mob style “Women in comics” panel that was by all accounts, awesome and fun and washed away the bad feelings over the first panel. The panel was recorded and can be listened to here.

Bleeding Cool’s Hannah Means-Shannon, who has a close relationship with the DCC, has a rather spirited defense of the con, which I’ll get to in a minute, but one of her points is that the DCC was devoted to a spirit of diversity and one bum panel shouldn’t spoil the barrel.

Indeed, I took a quick peek at the Denver Comic Con panels and there were, counting the bad panel and the pop-up panel, sixteen separate panels devoted to “women in [fill in the blank.]” I should note that a “quick peek” isn’t really possible, as DCC is one of the many events that doesn’t put its panel descriptions all in one place where you can see them, but uses one of those “guidebook” apps. I did scan this and I may have even missed a few. (I left out the queer panels.) With two separate panels devoted to “Women in Doctor Who” alone, this was a lot of talk about diversity and women.

Women in Comics – Creators and Characters
May 23rd at 11:45 AM until 12:35 PM
With the female interest in comics increasing lately, this panel discusses many of the popular female characters from the beginning of the superhero mid 1930s comics. Also a focus on some of the women that were able to break in the mostly all male club of creating comics during that time. Includes an introduction to many of the female illustrators/creators attending the convention.

Kevin Robinette – Instructor Academy Art University of San Francisco, History of American Comics
Craig Glassen – Art Instructor, Denver area schools
Jason H. Tucker – The Way Interactive graphic novel app

Native Women in Comics and Pop Culture
May 23rd at 12:55 PM until 1:45 PM
This panel led by Native women comic creators will look at how Indigenous women are portrayed in popular culture, including comic books and graphic novels and the effect that has on real women in the world of today. From the myth of Pocahontas to the Victoria’s Secret runway, we will explore images and stereotypes and how they have been damaging to Indigenous communities. We will also discuss what qualities are empowering for Indigenous women and how Native comic creators are helping to establish stronger representations of Indigenous women.

What Do Teen Girls Really Want to Read?
May 23rd at 1:20 PM until 2:10 PM
Books created for teens can sometimes be shallow and unrealistic. Teens want more! Join an amazing group of teen girls to discuss what they want from books, with real Young Adult authors. Elements we will discuss are: character development, relationships, story line, setting, honesty and the quality of writing. We will also book talk 5 great books from different genres (manga, video game based graphic novels, scifi/fantasy/action, dystopian romance and fanfiction) showing why these books are worth reading based on the qualitites we want in books. Another great presentation from the Teen Librarians at the Anythink Libraries: Genne Boggs, mod., Teen Librarians: Lexxie Clark, Grace Derickson, Kayla Terrill, Jakie Kleuckman, Shandra Chase. Participating YA Authors: Amalie Howard, Amanda Strong, DelSheree Gladden, Gail Wagner, Kristi Helvig, Sue Duff.

Women in the Geek Industry
May 23rd at 2:30 PM until 3:20 PM
Following a career path in the geek world can be one of the most rewarding adventures you ever take. There are many opportunities waiting for those with a passion for this culture. So come to the Women in the Geek Industry Panel and hear from professionals as they share their tips and ideas on starting a career in books, comics, journalism, podcasting, video games, vlogging and much more. This year’s panelists include:
Bonnie Burton – author/actor/co-host of Vaginal Fantasy Book Club
Jen Timms – video game producer at United Front Games
Taffeta Darling – professional cosplayer/artist/ host & producer of The Fangirls of Dallas
Tiffany Wangerin – professional cosplayer Evil Mech Meru/co-host of The Sheekery Podcast
Maureen Elsberry – journalist/UFO researcher/co-host of Spacing Out/Marketing Director at Open Minds TV
The panel will be moderated by Kirei. She is the co-host of The Sheekery podcast.







Great Gaming Paradigm: Where’s Diversity in Games & Comics?

May 23rd at 3:15 PM until 4:05 PM
We will discuss what the typical hero in a game/comic book looks like. We will demonstrate a lack of representation for minorities, women, and LGBTQ people and introduce the audience to characters that are starting to emerge to represent these groups. We will also talk about: the oversexualization of women in comics/video games, unrealistic beauty standards for both men and women, and women supervillains being portrayed as seductresses. This panel will promote diversity in games and graphic novels. Genne Boggs, mod., Lexxie Clark, Kayla Terrill, Lilly Taylor, Iszaiah Lauvergeon.

Strong Women in Film & Fiction
A comprehensive review of some strong female charactes we all love in fiction and motion pictures. Molly Tanzer
Kristi Helvig
Betsy Dornbusch
Sherry Ficklin
Stant Litore
Amalie Howard





She Makes Comics – Presented by the Denver Film Society

She Makes Comics traces the fascinating history of women in the comics industry. Despite popular assumptions about the comics world, women have been writing, drawing, and reading comics since the medium’s beginnings in the late 19th century. And today, there are scores of women involved in comics and its vibrant fan culture.

Women of Whedon – Amy Acker, Jewel Staite, Clare Kramer, Emma Caulfield

May 24th at 10:35 AM until 11:25 AM
The Women of Whedon! Stars of Joss Whedon’s hit series, Buffy, Angel and Firefly – get together and share stories: Jewel Staite, Amy Acker, Clare Kramer… and now with Emma Caulfield. An All-Star Line-Up and a once-in-a-lifetime event!

Diversity in Dr. Who
May 24th at 11:00 AM until 11:50 AM
We just had our first female director and next season will have our first female writer for the television show. How has Doctor Who traversed Diversity and has it been successful? Join our panel as they discuss Diversity in Doctor Who. Giveaways at this event. Moderator: Chris Getzan. Panelists: Heather Maloney, Kerri Sharner and Shad Gray.

Girls and Geekdom: Position Papers and Roundtable Discussion on Finding the Feminine Voice in Comic Culture

May 24th at 11:00 AM until 12:20 PM
· “Muted Group Theory as a Lens for Finding Feminine Voice: A (Dad)cademic Perspective”—Thomas Endres

· “The Her Universe Irony: Voices in TV and Film”—Carleen Endres

· “The Sexual Super(hero)model in Comic Culture—Aundi Rameriz

· “Hers and His: A Couple Compares Perspectives on Gender Roles and Cosplay”—Kellsie Moore and David Moore

· Tracy Bealer (Respondent)

Minority and Women Authors of the Past
May 24th at 11:45 AM until 12:35 PM
Who are the greats that paved the way for today’s authors?

Van Aaron Hughes
Mario Acevedo
Rebecca Moesta
Peter J. Wacks
Panama Soweto
Colleen Watsonto




She Can Do It: Awesome Women in Comics

May 24th at 12:10 PM until 1:00 PM
This reader’s advisory-style panel geared towards teen and adult fans will focus on fascinating women in graphic novels and why this trend is so exciting for fans. Nick Taylor, Alison Slyziuk, Bridget Kiely, Emily Keel, Galina Derevyanko

Changing Times: The Role of Women In the Whoniverse

May 24th at 1:20 PM until 2:10 PM
Depending on which era of Doctor Who you’re watching, women have been portrayed in many different ways, be it headstrong and brave or something “for the dads”. Join us for a discussion in the changing role of women in Doctor Who. Shelley Duncan, Somer Suter, Erica Feather, Trevor Byrne-Smith

Woman of Nerdom w/ King of the Nerds

May 24th at 3:15 PM until 4:05 PM
Join cast members of King of the Nerds as they discuss women in nerdom. Special guest panelists TBA

Beyond Bechdel: Queer Femmes and Women in Comics

May 25th at 10:35 AM until 11:25
From Catwoman to Miss America, Betty (Rat Queens) to Kat Donlan (Gunnerkrigg Court), the range of queer femmes and women in comics is broader than it’s ever been. A conversation with queer femmes and women about representation in comics. Panelists: Audrey Zarr, Emily Smith, Gina Bernard, Melanie Gillman – Comics Creator and Instructor at RMCAD and California College of the Arts, Pam Steele. Moderated by Katie Barak.

Is there Discrimination in Pop-Culture?
May 25th at 12:55 PM until 1:45 PM
A discussion on the perceived and real discrimination in pop-culture toward women, minorities and the LGBT Community. Pros from a variety of pop culture fields will talk about how traditional biases may have affected their careers or those of others in their industry in the past, and how this may or may not be changing. Moderated by Animator Jan Scott-Frazier, with playwrite Crystal Skillman, comics creator and historian Trina Robbins, comics industry editor and historian Jackie Estrada, Flobots musician Stephen Brackett, and TV director Vince Gonzales.

Women in Comics NOW!
May 25th at 3:00 PM until 4:00 PM
Some of DCC’s many female comic creator guests come together in a roundtable discussion about their careers, their passion for comics and their places in the industry. Come support DCC’s Diversity Mission with this guest-led discussion. With Trina Robbins, Crystal Skillman, Joelle Jones, Amanda Conner, Marguerite Bennett.

Now I wasn’t at the con, and haven’t conducted a thorough investigation, and have been mad busy all week with Book Expo, but I think we can learn a few lessons here:

• One fuck up is all it takes to ruin everything. Obviously the topic of “women in …” was covered at the show, but all anyone cared about was the dumbass “men talking about women in comics” panel, which, if it had had a different name, would have escaped without notice, like the other 14 panels. I don’t have the time to click on all he “comics” panels, but I’m HOPING they were mixed as to gender and ethnicity, because that’s ultimately what diversity actually is.

• While I’m not the biggest fan of “Women in Comics” panels, it sounds like the flash mob panel was a great healing experience for everyone who participated, as the accounts quoted in the second Comics Alliance link attest.

• A larger problem, from the bits and pieces I heard, is that the programming for DCC was very ambitious (12 tracks, nearly 400 panels) and it was not very well organized. Means-Shannon kind of alluded to this in her defense of the con:

But Denver overreached in their programming, clearly, because the checks weren’t in place to prevent this panel from happening. If Denver Comic Con is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the geek community (and they are), this was their youthful pratfall. One panel out of 300-400 went wrong. I think we can talk about it, use it as an example, but also forgive them and stop acting like this mishap was somehow intentionally organized by Denver Comic Con. How do I know that? Because one of the con’s earliest supporters, who has a great deal of influence over the tone and content of the convention, now the con’s Director, is Christina Angel, a woman in comics who I have known for a few years now and it’s hard to imagine meeting a professor and con organizer more passionate about diversity and “doing things right” at conventions. She’s a major part of why the charity that launched the con began, and of why there is so much programming at the convention. I know that had she realized there was a Women in Comics panel at DCC with no women, her head would have nearly exploded and the panel would not have gone forward. But people who don’t know Denver Comic Con, and only read about it online, don’t know the personality of the con and how far from intentional this event was.


As I mentioned above, I kind of hate “Women in Comics” panels and I won’t do them any more! I will do panels that discuss the issues of diversity and gender, which often end up being the same thing, but at least the focus has shifted. If there is one thing I think almost every “Woman in [fill in the blank]” can agree on, it’s that being asked “What is it like to be a woman in [fill in the blank]?” is tiresome and needs to be put to rest. But I can guarantee that it won’t be. Obviously, the fact that women and girls like comics and read them is still a matter of some astonishment to people who haven’t been paying attention for the last few years, so there will always be inappropriate wonderment and curiosity about these strange creatures, these…women in comics.

Personally, I would like to see more panels like this:

Hat Making Basics
May 25th at 11:45 AM until 12:35 PM
A crash-course introduction to the materials, techniques and intricacies of traditional hat making. We’ll begin with basic hat vocab and materials and move into discussing materials and fabrication of both the basic fabric covered hat and the pulled felt hat. We’ll end with an open Q and A. December Wynn


We need more hats in [fill in the blank] panels. The world is waiting.

And just to reiterate what I said above, to any potential con organizers, heed this tale. ONE FUCK UP IS ALL IT TAKES.

1 Comments on Denver Comic Con had 16 panels on Women—including one that was a flash mob, last added: 5/29/2015
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25. Student Book Review: Seeds of Change

In this guest post, Ruben Brosbe’s third-grade students from P.S. 368, Guest BloggerThe Hamilton Heights School in New York, NY demonstrate their critical thinking skills and share their reviews of the book Seeds of Change, a picture-book biography of the first African woman-and first environmentalist- to win a Noble Peace Prize (in 2004), on their class blog We Read Diverse Books. As a teacher, Ruben was inspired by the WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign to make his read alouds represent the diversity in his classroom and the broader community.

“To begin the school year, I shared the campaign with my students and asked them if they would take part by reviewing books with diverse characters. Since then we’ve talked about about diversity in kids’ books and our blog is a way of sharing stories we love that feature diverse characters. It is also my hope that it can serve as a resource for teachers like me who are looking for great stories to share with their students.”

Do you like books about people who work hard? If you do you willmain_large love Seeds of Change. I would recommend this book to a friend because some people like to grow trees. The main idea of the book is planting trees because people were cutting them down. My favorite part in Seeds of Change is when Wangari planted 30,000,000 trees. Another book that is similar is Grace for President. How they’re similar is Wangari is a change maker and Grace is a change maker because Wangari planted 30,000,000 trees and Grace was the first lady president. In conclusion that’s why you would love Seeds of Change.
Kasime

The main idea of Seeds of Change is when Wangari moved to a
different city and cared about her environment. Another main idea is she cared about women fairness. I recommend you read this book because it teaches you not to cut down trees. Another reason not to cut down trees is to do nice things for the trees. My favorite part of Seeds of Change is when all the women planted 30 million trees. Wangari is a hero because she saved the plants and wasn’t afraid to do the work.
Lester

I would recommend this book to a friend because if someone in my class would like to plant. Also it is about how trees are so important. The main idea is that she was moving. Wangari was being a hard worker and helping nature. My favorite part was when she went back and planted a lot of trees. I think that Wangari is a brave person. Also she is a hero because in the book she was brave to plant all of the trees to help nature. She dug in the dirt planting seedlings and shared ideas with people.
Melina

Hey do you like people who don’t give up? If you do then you will WANGARIlike Seeds of Change! I would recommend this book to a friend, because maybe somebody likes seeds and likes science. And also somebody can learn how important is trees. The main idea of this book is that trees give us life and also that you should not cut down trees because then it looks like a bad place and when you grow trees it looks like a good place. My favorite part of the book was when Wangari planted 30,000,000 trees. I think Wangari is a brave person, because they cut down trees and she still made trees. One other book that is similar is Grace for President. This is why I recommend you to read Seeds of Change.
Octavio

My favorite part of Seeds of Change is when Wangari stopped the men from cutting down the trees and also from the men making plantations. Wangari was a brave person because she went to 3 places and got women to care about trees. If I were going to introduce Wangari I would tell my family what made her brave.
-Anthony

You should read Seeds of Change. I would recommend this book to a friend because the lesson of the book is to not cut down trees because it hurts nature. The main idea of the book is that Wangari helps her country. My favorite part of the book is that Wangari plants over 30,000,000 trees and when Wangari went to school, because she gets friends to be with. In conclusion, that is why you should read Seeds of Change.
Randy

Hey you there have you heard of Seeds of Change? It’s a great book!! My favorite part is when she got in jail. And then got out. And planted more trees and made the forest green. Also my favorite part is when she saved the trees. I recommend this book to a friend because I think this book can teach my friends how to take care of our world. The main idea is that Wangari saved the trees. Also Wangari went to school and it was not common for girls to go to school. I think “seeds of change” is when Wangari used seeds to change.
Phoenix-I think that Wangari is a brave person.

I would recommend this book to a friend because it’s amazing and it has an important lesson. The main idea of the book is that women can do anything they set their mind to. Also, about how trees are important to the world. My favorite part of the book was when Wangari and the other women planted trees. I think Wangari is a hero, because she helped her environment to be a better and great place. When Wangari says “Young people, you are our hope and our future” she means that kids shoudl plant a garden and help our community.
Karen

I would recommend this to a friend because if my friends like seeds they’ll probably give the book to my friends and I like planting seeds. The main idea of this book is not to cut down trees and let women have equal rights and to let women do anything but not anything bad and another thing that was the main idea was help people with anything.  My favorite part of the book was when Wangari planted 30 million trees it was really helpful to the world. I think Wangari is a brave person because when people said stop doing this she ignored them and she is also brave because she went to jail but people said let her free! So they did. I think the purpose of this book is not to cut down trees and to is help to the world. In closing this was about keeping the world green.
Carlos

*all posts edited slightly for spelling and punctuation by Mr. Ruben

To find resources for teaching or reading Seeds of Change, visit the book page here.

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