Sunday, February 28, 2010
Check out a few recent reviews of books for young readers with characters of color
Edi @ Crazy Quilts - He Forgot to Say Goodbye by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Laura @ Bib-Laura-graphy - One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia
April @ Good Books & Wine - Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
Casey@ Bookworm 4 Life - Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers
Tanita @ Finding Wonderland - 8th Grade SuperZero by Olugbemisola Rhuday -Perkovich
Mary Ann @ Great Kids Books - The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
Mary Ann @ Great Kids Books - Bad New For Outlaws by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Ah Yuan @ Gal Novlety - 8th Grade SuperZero by Olugbemisola Rhuday -Perkovich
Jill @ Rhapsodyinbooks A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott
Not sure which review to click on first - let your mouse decide, or start with the blogger name you like the most, or the book you keep hearing about. If you keep hearing about the same book, there's a reason - it wants you.
Over at Book Smugglers there is a new monthly feature called Covers Matter - first up Whitewashing Its an excellent piece and its obvious a lot of research went into it. They touch on everything from recent YA cover issues to Gerard Depardieu playing Alexandre Dumas.
April of Good Books & Wine is compiling a list of Top 100 Young Adult Titles of all time. You have until March 17 to sumbit Nominate your top 5 YA titles.
Author Zetta Elliott's article @ The Huffinton Post - Demanding Diversity in Publishing
Jill of Rhapsodyinbooks has had some great post for Black History Month. Two of my favorites, the review of Blood Done Signed My Name by Timothy Tyson and the one on Nina Simone. If you have never read anything Jill's written on Paul Robeson, you are seriously missiong out.
The other day when I went over to A Fuse #8 Production and learned that author Tonya Hegamin was the 2010 Ezra Keats Award winner for Most Loved in All the World, I gave a little happy squeal.
Cozbi A. Cabrera is the illustrator of Most Loved in All the World. Hegamin and Cabrera were both featured in TheBrownbookshelf 28days later campaign.
Ali of Worducopia is hosting Diversity Roll Call this week. There's still time to do it.
The assignment is to do one of the following sometime in the next couple of weeks or so:
1) Take a look at the magazines or literary journals you read. If you don't read them, pick one up from the library just for the heck of it. Look at the ads, the photo spreads, the authors and subjects of the articles. Do people of color exist in the world this publication presents to its readers? How about gays, lesbians, or people with physical differences?
2) Do you know of a magazine or journal that does embrace diversity? Be it high brow or low brow, tell us about it. If you don't know of any, do a little digging. They've got to be out there.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I just finished another soon to be released middle grade book, that I loved. How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog) by Corriveau. It comes out in May. This MG debut reminded me of Shusterman's The Schwa was Here
I think the release dates of these two titles are too far away for me to review. It makes sense for bloggers who have professionals like, librarians, teachers, book buyers as followers, to review books three or even six months in advance.
I believe anyone else ( me included) should try to post closer to the release date. Reviews too far in advance might be forgotten by the time the book comes out. Though I do think its okay to review books in a series early. So people can check out the other books before the new one is released.
I would love to hear what others think
A question for bloggers - If you review a book months in advance, do you remind your readers of it when the book is released?
A question for authors - Would you like to see reviews of your upcoming novels months in advance or would you rather they be closer to the release date?
Two questions for readers - Do you add early reviewed titles to your reading list? Do you pre-order?
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
This is Durrow's novel debut and the 2008 Bellwether Prize winner. This is a coming of age story of Rachel Morse, a brown skinned, blue eyed girl. Rachel's dad is a Black G.I. and her mom is Danish. After her parents divorce, the mom moves the family to Chicago.
Its 1982, 11 yr old Rachel is dealing with the tragic loss of her mom and siblings. She moves in with her grandmother (dad's mom ) in Texas. Everything begins to change. Around her parents, Rachel always knew who she was.
Now, Rachel is continuously questioned about who or what she is. People are always comment on her blue eyes. The Black girls in class ignore and threaten her. Rachel's grandmother tells to stay out of the sun, so she won't get any darker.
There is a wonderful smoothness to Durrow's writing style. I loved many things about it, including her ability to get across Rachel trying to come to terms with how the world sees her.
The chapters alternate between Rachel, Brick a boy who witnessed the tragic event in Chicago, and Laronne, the mom's former boss. Through these characters, we learn what led up to the tragic event in Chicago. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is very well done and beautifully sad at times. Rachel Morse is going to stay with me for long time.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
I've heard for years that The First Part Last and Heaven by Johnson are beautifully crafted. With the coming release of Sweet, Hereafter (now on sale), the final book in the Heaven trilogy, it was time I finally read the first two books.
Heaven, was published first but I started with The First Part Last. The order in which these two books are read doesn't matter. Johnson's writing hooked me from the first page. I read The First Part Last in one sitting.
On his 16th birthday, Bobby's girlfriend Nia tells him she is pregnant. The novel looks at teenage pregnancy from the boys point of view. Many things contributed to the beauty of this story, one is Johnson's less is more approach. Only 131 pages and it hits as hard as a book twice its size, maybe more so - there is a reason and a need for every word. And oh my the ending. I was not prepared. No one told me there would be tears. By I time I figured out was going on it was too late, Johnson had already captured my heart.
I picked up Johnson's Heaven a day later. 14 yr old Marley, lives in a small town called Heaven, OH. We get to know Heaven through Marley. Her voice is beautiful, sweet, questioning, and authentic. Like The First Part Last, I read it in one sitting.
Now I am very excited about Sweet, Hereafter , it was released in January. When I saw it in the store, I let out a high happy squeal, because now I know there is some sweet goodness inside.
An excerpt of The First Part Last, an excerpt of Heaven, an excerpt of Sweet, Hereafter. I am not going to take the time to link to three excerpts if I merely liked these books. I got nothing but love for Johnson's Heaven Trilogy.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Checkout Hear Me Sing, a teen who goes by the name Miss Elizabeth Bennett shares her poems. Please delurk and leave a comment because the children are our future.
The first thing I did when I got online tonight, checkout the Cybils winners. I love the Children's and Young Adult Blogger's Literary Award.
I recently interviewed YA author Debbie Rigaud about her debut novel Perfect Shot. She answered a few questions about Haiti as well. Check it out at Color Online. And thanks Debbie and Jennifer Echols author of The Ex Games for quickly signing on to get Sports and Boys or S&B into YA Speak.
I did a guest post at YA author Justine Larbelestier blog. Its about books being television shows. The guest blogger who gets the most comments wins a prize. (just kidding)
Edi, a high school librarian, wrote a critical review of Irene Latham's Leaving Gee's Bend at her blog Crazy Quilts. Its worth reading. Who we are and our experiences influence how we see a book and its characters. Latham's debut novel is a great example of that. There seems to be a blogger racial review divide with this middle grade novel. Before reading Leaving Gee's Bend, I read a lot of positive reviews by White bloggers. Like Edi, I was unimpressed. I hope when people read Leaving Gee's Bend they with consider the critics and praise. When given the opportunity readers should take into consideration other points of view. I think that makes for a stronger more active reader.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Before, I sent off my questions, I did extensive research (author's blog). I learned that Debbie Rigaud is a Haitian American, and wrote an essay in Transculturalism edited by Claude Grunitzky. The collection was published in 2004. Rigaud's essay is about what it meant to have Haitian roots growing up in America. As well as Haiti's fight for independence.
I asked Debbie a few questions about the essay and Haiti in general. I felt talk about Haiti deserved its own space. I will post that soon, either here or at Color Online.
Hi- Debbie. Please tell us, a little about yourself? And Perfect Shot?
:-) Gladly. I am a magazine writer/editor turned YA Author. I was raised in Jersey (born in NYC) and currently live abroad in Bermuda, thanks to my hubby's job. My first piece of YA fiction was a novella published in the Kimani Tru anthology titled Hallway Diaries .
Perfect Shot is my solo debut. It's a Simon Pulse romantic comedy about a sporty girl who signs up for a modeling contest just to catch the eye of the cute contest intern collecting applications.
Aside from being about the wacky things we do when under the spell of a crush, Perfect Shot is also about challenging ourselves to step outside of our comfort zones. I had so much fun writing it.
With African American YA novels being pigeonholed, did you ever feel discouraged from writing Perfect Shot?
Not at all. Granted, I am sensitive to the fact that it's not an easy path, thanks to certain publisher's perception that a book featuring Black protagonists cannot be a commercial success.
But the fact is, I felt encouraged because of my desire to offer African-American teens and young readers in general, stories that more closely reflect their multicultural experiences.
Plus, my background in magazine publishing provided the perfect training for pitching diverse stories to mainstream gatekeepers. I remember, and this was 10 years ago-- feeling triumphant when my piece about double Dutch as a competitive sport made it into Seventeen magazine. It was like, YES!
Are you a better turner or jumper?
If I had to choose, I think I'm slightly better at jumping. I just love everything about double Dutch. A few years back, I pulled my car over when I saw a few teens jumping double Dutch in the street. I asked them if they'd let me turn so that I can get to jump next. They did. And it was funny, because a few minutes later, another woman my age also pulled over and asked if she could join in. I recognized that same nostalgic look in her eyes.
I thought you found a great balance between laughter and romance. How much of that was revision and how much was editor input?
I'm so glad you appreciated the humor. I always wonder if I get too carried away with the jokes, but that's the way my mind works sometimes. My editor Michael del Rosario was awesome. But he was more instrumental in encouraging me to rev up the conflict throughout the story.
I admit that I was mindful of being the first African-American author in the series. At first, I avoided writing scenes that I thought might reinforce stereotypes about aggression in our community, and I think this showed in my first draft. Michael helped me strike that right balance.
I didn't just appreciate the humor, I loved it. As much as I enjoy YA literature there needs to be more diverse stories told with characters of color. Sometimes I get a serious urge to lose myself in a contemporary YA novel with characters of color. While I was reading Perfect Shot (and laughing) I couldn't help but think I want more of this.
Debbie, do you think there will come a time, when you will get tired of people referring to you as the first Black author of a Simon Pulse's
romantic comedy novel?
Well, in a perfect world, I'd like to just be known as a good writer for the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies. But I'm aware of the milestone. And if it can make things less difficult for others who follow, than that's a title I accept.
Tell us a little about London't best friend Pam? HDQ, and their friendship.
One suggestion my editor made after reading my first draft was, More Pam! From the feedback lots of readers adore London's bff. Pam is a style blogger who has a flair for the dramatics, thanks to her HDQ or Haitian Drama Queen? leanings. (Spend one evening with my hilariously theatrical family and you?ll understand why I was inspired to create a character like Pam.)
As a friend, Pam is the best road dog a girl can ask for. A healthy risk-taker, she was instrumental in getting London to seize her moment by doing something unexpected to meet Brent. London and Pam make a great team because they accept and support each other wholeheartedl. HDQ tendencies and all.
Pam was great. Many romantic comedies are ruined for me because the bestfriend comes across as annoying, mean or spiteful. Pam was nothing but supportive. When the novel opens, the two have part time jobs at Art Attack. As someone who works in retail I found London's inner monologues at the register very funny. Did you do retail time? If so where?
Yes, I did. Lots of it. In high school I worked at Mandee's, the clothing store. Interestingly enough, after a customer complained that there were no Black girls on register, my manager marched right up to me and said, "You, Debbie--you're on register." I remember thinking, Why me?
London is a very likable and well developed character. I appreciated that you took the time to mention her awkward middle school years, when she wasn't comfortable with her height and was called names like giraffe. How tall are you? Is London's middle school experience mirrored after your own?
You got me. By the 7th grade, I had already reached my full adult height of 5'6", so I was dubbed too tall. So yes, to a certain extent, London's middle school experiences as the awkwardly tall, lanky girl mirrored my own. But as I developed her character, London grew into her own person.
It's interesting how that happens. You start off having definite ideas about a certain character, then as you write, a different person than you'd imagined takes shape. In the end, London and I are different. If only I could stand up to confrontation or boldly compete in the way that she does.
London was pretty serious on the volleyball court. She also held her own in the modeling competition. If Tyra Banks ever runs out of ideas for Next Top Model challenges, she should give you a call.
Debbie - I need your help. I really want Sport & Boys click lit or (S&B)chick lit to become a part of the YA vernacular. So the next time you talkabout Perfect Shot can you slip that in. Can you ask Jennifer Echols who wrote The Ex Games ,another S&S romantic comedy author to do the same?
I'll be happy to spread the word about S&B lit. And I'm honored to even be mentioned alongside cool S&B chick lit authors like Jennifer Echols.
I like how you slipped in S&B all nice and easy in your answer. Do more of that.
Are you working on anything now?
Yes. I'm working on another YA romantic comedy, as well as a story about a Haitian-American girl trying to break from her sheltered life. I'm really into paranormal stories, so that's a project I also plan to complete this year.
Will we see London and Pam again?
Now that you mention it, revisiting London and Pam would be awesome. It's the perfect excuse to write another S&B chick lit story!
What 2010 novels are you looking forward to?
So many. The next on my (very long) reading list is 8th Grade Super Zero by Olugbemisola Ruday-Perkovich. Looking ahead, there's Mitali Perkins? The Bamboo People, Saving Maddie by Varian Johnson, Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols, and The Mark by Jen Nadol sounds interesting.
Debbie, I wish you much success. Perfect Shot is a wonderful read. I hope it finds it way into the hands of many readers.
Thank you so much, Doret! I am beyond thrilled that you and so many readers appreciated Perfect Shot. It's such a tremendous encouragement.
Monday, February 8, 2010
"This is about the coleslaw. But first, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how much we enjoyed the fine convenience of your food market in Perdido, Florida. Like I said to Bobby James, the coleslaw is probably just an oversight on your part. Still, I thought you'd want to hear about it. Bobby James said not to bother. An important personage like yourself would not take the time to read a letter from a plain out customer, he said. That was when I showed him your color ad in the Perdido News Press. Harris Teeter is waiting to hear from you."
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I had a customer called for a novel by sci fi author Robert Jordan. The customer said he tried amazon first but all of Jordan's titles were coming up out of print. After the customer said that, I looked at the inside flap and sure enough Jordan is published by Tor a Macmillan imprint.
I don't know what the outcome of this will be but Amazon pulling the Macmillan titles is a crappy and bully move. If you want to understand what's going between Amazon and Macmillan I highly recommend reading a few of sci fi author John Scalzi recent posts, like this one (it has great links and updates) Don't miss the comments
I will use this as an excuse to highlight a few children's titles published by Macmillan imprints that I loved.
Zac Power by H.I. Larry -Its so hard to find stories for early readers that feature boys this is great one. Reluctant readers will love it.
Fairy School Dropout by Meredith Badger - I love this title and its a pleasure to handsell because I know girls are going to love it.
My Aussie reader love now extends beyond YA to younger books thanks to H.I. Larry and Meredith Badger
Spellbinder by Helen Springer - This book was oh so good, and I have a serious reading weakness for a main character who can talk to ghost. I loved the friendship between the three main characters. A girl, a boy and a ghost girl.
Six Innings by James Preller - This is one of the best middle grade baseball books out. If its one thing I know its baseball books. A kid who hates to read but loves baseball and plays little league will love this book.
Soccer Chick Rules by Dawn FitzGerald- This was one of my favorite girl sports finds of 2009. Girls who love Meg Cabot and enjoy playing on their field of choice will love it.
The Dog Whisperer by Nicholas Edwards - This was such a great read. I loved the protagonist. You don't often see a character of color let alone a biracial one as the main character of animal story, let alone a series. (hopefully) It feels like its suppose to be a series at the end. I love this cover, look at the pretty born to model dog (aww).
The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski - This is a must for fantasy fans. The writing is simply beautiful. I loved it.
Blessing's Bead by Debby Dahl Edwardson - This one has a quiet beauty
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev - This was one my favorite books of 2009. The book is as good as the cover is beautiful. I love the cover.
Lockdown by Alexander Gorden Smith - This book gave me so much more than I expected. The main character Alex was one of my favorite male protagonist of 2009.
Hot Girl by Dream Jordan I really enjoyed this book and I loved the main character, Kate. A must read fan's of Coe Booth.
Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon - I loved this novel so much. There are only a handful of YA urban fiction I think are well written. Upstate is at the top of that list. As with Hot Girl fan's of Coe Booth will love it.
Claudette Colvin : Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose - One of my favorite biographies of 2009
Letting Go of Bobby James by Valerie Hobbs - I am right in the middle of this book. 16 yr old Sally Jo, has just been hit and left by her husband at a gas station in Florida. Sally Jo voice is very honest, sweet, direct and real.
Ari's waiting on The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle.Its a beautiful cover.
I've linked all of these titles directly to the publisher's site. Excerpts are available for most of these books. So if anything sounds interesting do check it out. All of these titles can be purchased directly from Macmillan. Though you can also shop online at Powell's or better yet spend your money where you feel welcome and support your local bookstore.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Two things I like about Black History Month are the T.V. specials be it interviews, documentaries or Black cinema classics like the Five Heartbeats, and commercials with well to do Black people. Though I would give up Black History Month without a second thought if there were more balance in the everyday. But we are not there yet, so Heritage Months will continue.
Over at Papertigers, a great mutlicutural children's blog, they are launching a new project today called The Spirit of PaperTigers Project
Today we are thrilled to be announcing our Spirit of PaperTigers Project, an initiative of Pacific Rim Voices, whose aim is to promote literacy while raising awareness of our common humanity. The idea is to donate 100 book sets of 7 carefully selected multicultural books to libraries and schools in areas of need across the globe.
The central criterion in the mind of the selection panel was to give special recognition to books that, in addition to meeting conventional standards for excellence, will also contribute to PaperTigers’ broader aims of bridging cultures and opening minds, and of promoting greater understanding and empathy among young people from different backgrounds, countries, and ethnicities. Another criterion was that books selected had to be in English, or bilingual publications where one of the two languages is English.
Over at TheBrownBookshelf its time for 28 days later again. Upcoming and well estalished Black authors and illustrators are interviewed thoughout the month. Its a must see.
One author that will be taking part in 28 days later is M. LaVora Perry. The author is also working on another important project.
Forest Hill Publishing is launching a book of stories from transplant survivors and donors of color. We are well aware that people of color represent a disproportionately high number of patients who need organ transplants—and die because they did not receive them—and a disproportionately low number of people who serve as organ and tissue donors.
Our hope is that our book will inspire many more people of color to become donors and save lives.
One blog that I love to check every Tuesday is White Readers Meet Black Authors run by author Carleen Brice. If you want to start reading more books by Black authors and you don't know where to begin, start here.
Brice has two great novels out now Orange Mint and Honey and Children of the Waters . Part of the beauty in both novels comes from the strength in the characters and their relationship. Both novels are in paperback and would make a great book club selection.
Speaking of book club. Brice's Children of the Waters novel will be Color Online's First Book Club Selection on Friday February 5, hosted by Terri.
Orange Mint and Honey has been turn into a lifetime movie called Sins of the Mother starring Jill Scott - It will premiere Sunday February 21, at 8 pm
I plan to use Black History Month as an excuse to sneak in some reviews of adult fiction by Black authors. I may not like the fact that Black History Month is still needed, but I will use it.
Do check out a list of Black children's books It was made in 2008 but it has been updated and I will do so again soon.
Eva- of A Striped Armchair, did a wonderful on so many levels, 2009 wrap up of books read and where they took her around the globe. Its a must see .If everyone travelled half that much there would be no need for Heritage Months.