Saturday, July 31, 2010
This is the true story of 11 yr old Robert "Yummy" Sandifer, last days. In 1994, while shooting at a rival Chicago gang, Yummy killed a girl in the neighborhood. Yummy went on the run. This story was national news. The Time Magazine article via the author's site.
"The mayor of Chicago admitted that Yummy had slipped through the cracks. Just what cracks were those? The sharp crevices that trap children and break them into cruel little pieces. Chicago's authorities had known about Yummy for years. He was born to a teenage addict mother and a father now in jail. As a baby he was burned and beaten. As a student he often missed more days of school than he attended. As a ripening thug he shuttled between homes and detention centers and the safe houses maintained by his gang. The police arrested him again and again and again; but the most they could do under Illinois law was put him on probation. Thirteen local juvenile homes wouldn't take him because he was too young. "
Neri uses, Roger a ficitional narrator to guide us through Yummy's last days. 11 yr old Roger wants to understand how a classmate's life could've gone so wrong. In his search for answers we see many sides of Yummy. There is the young boy who loved sweets. (hence the nickname) The boy who stole cars and ran the streets. The boy who had a teddy bear in Juvenile detention. And finally the boy who after three days of hiding from the police, all he wanted to do was go home.
Guns drugs and violence are talked about throughout. Neri doesn't glamorize or down play the gang activity, he simply tells it as is. Neri's fictional narrator isn't impressed by gangs. Roger, actually worries about his older brother who was in the gang Yummy joined.
This graphic novel is very well crafted. DuBurke's illustrations add another dimension to this biography. Neri and DuBurke capture the powerful and sad truth of Yummy's life and death in Southside Chicago. I found myself lingering on many of the passages and panels. I loved it. Ages 11up
Yummy has received a star review from Kirkus Reviews and ALA Booklist. Read a preview and the professionals reviews via publisher's site.
On Sunday, I will be posting the second part of a three part blogger interview with G. Neri on Yummy. I joined with Edi from Crazy Quilts and Ari from Reading in Color.
Part one can be found at Crazy Quilts
Check out this rap by Solution about Yummy
Friday, July 30, 2010
I will be posting an review and 3 blogger interview of G. Neri upcoming release Yummy lThe other two bloggers participating in the interview are Edi from Crazy Quilts and Ari from Reading in Color.
The group interview was Edi's idea. When she suggested it I was like duh, thats a great idea. Though I was worried how it would turn out. If you have ever read any of my interviews you know I like to ask a lot of questions. This time we all limited ourselves to three questions. And I think it came out really well. Edi had questions 1-3, 4-6 were mine and Ari had 4-6. We saw each others questions before they were sent off to the authors. So there is a cohesiveness to them. Even more so because I wrote my questions after seeing Edi's and Ari's wrote hers after seeing mines.
A picture book biography I loved recently is Seeds of Change by Jen Cullerton Johnson. My review. Johnson was kind enough to agree to an interview will be posting that in the near future.
With school starting soon, I was planning to do a diverse list of picture books in school settings. Like Two of a Kind by Jacqui Robbins and The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi.
Of course there will be more reviews. I haven't forgotten my new release feature yet. Since I missed a week, there are alot of new kids books featuring kids of color to mention. Will post on Tuesday, since that is the day new books come out.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
3 review by bloggers who really enjoyed Crossing
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin - I loved Lin's Newbery Honor book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. I am looking forward to reading her first early reader. There aren't enough early readers that feature kids of color.
Recently many people were upset with the cover change of Cindy Pon's YA debut Silver Phoneix. Because of poor sales the Asian girl on the cover was removed. The paperback cover was Whitewashed. Its not enough to scream after the fact that you will support covers with kids of cover on them. So please go ahead and look for, buy and support Ling &Ting. Speaking with our wallets is the only way diversity will continue. And I want to see more early readers with kids of color.
Around Our Way on Neighbor's Day by Tameka Fryer Brown illus. by Charlotte Riley-Webb
This is Brown's picture book debut. In the description on Amazon oxtail stew is being cooked up. That makes me happy, hungry and very interested. ( I wonder if they had plantains to go with the Oxtails)
The picture book market is not very good right now. So if you want Around Our Way on Neighbor's Day, chances are you will have to order it at your local bookstore. If you want the book, don't let that stop you from buying it.
Mali Under the Night Sky: A Lao Story of Home by Youme Landowne
New Girl in Town (Liberty Porter First Daughter) by Julia DeVillers - This is the second book in the Liberty Porter series. I've gotten around to reading the first book yet. Though I will give this series a go now, after reading the excerpt
Sellout by Ebony Joy Wilkins - Ari's review
What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson Ari's review
New in Paperback
A Perfect Season for Dreaming by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger
Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee
Here are my rules that can change at any moment for this possible weekly feature. Chances are I will miss new releases, when I do I will showcase them the following week. I will also only show the paperbacks of books I loved or author I love. If can't find enough new releases, I will skip a week.
Martha Ann's parents die of the African fever. Martha Ann decides to make them proud by making a quilt for Queen Victoria. The Queen sent in a navy to try and stop slavery, the quilt was Martha Ann's way of saying thank you. Martha Ann saved her coins and worked on that quilt for years. When Martha Ann was 76 she finally made the trip to see the Queen and present the quilt
Monday, July 12, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
First Round Results. For this second round bracket, I must decide between
Almost Perfect by Brain Katcher
Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee
I will start with Say the Word, since I read it first. I had already read Say The Word and I really enjoyed it. I was looking forward to reading it again. Though this time I read it with a more critical eye.
Shawna is being raised by her father in Ohio. Shawna was seven, when are mother leaves her father for another woman. Now 10 yrs later, Shawna gets a call from, Fran her estranged mother's partner. Shawna's mother had a stroke and is in the hospital. Shawna makes it to NY to see her mother before she dies. Though there is no last conversation. Say The Word is about what happens after. Shawna is caught between her father's demands, his need to always be in control, and Fran's family. There was no updated will. The right thing for Shawna's father to do would be to give everything to Fran and her sons Arye and Schmule. Instead in takes everything out of spite.
Shawna trying to live up to her father's expectations, straight A's, follow in his foot steps and become a doctor. Shawna's father is emotionally abusive always calling her stupid putting her down in front of others. Shawna's best friend Lee Lee is always there for her. Though when Shawna finds out LeeLee, is a lesbian, she wonders what that means about herself and what people will think. When truth comes out that Scumule is Shawna's brother everything gets more complicated. Shawna's father wants full custody and refuses to give Fran visitation privileges. If it sounds like there is a lot going on in this book that's because there is.
Garsee does a wonderful job of balancing the many storylines. I found Shawna likable from the beginning. Shawna is a well drawn out character. Though I found her father to be a little one dimensional, a bad guy with no redeemable qualities. Its true some people are like that, the first time I read Say the Word I was okay with Shawna's father. This time I wished the author would've given us something to like about him, so it wasn't so easy to hate him.
Reading Say the Word with a purpose, took some of the fun out of it. I wasn't able to simply enjoy, I had to question. Besides Shawa's father there were a few other things that didn't stand up too well to a closer look. This time I wondered why Shawna doesn't have a another story about her mother after she moves in with Fran. The one time Shawna visit her mother, things go very badly. So focused on an opening art exhibit, Shawna's mother doesn't realize how sick Shawna is. After that, mother and daughter don't see each other again until Shawna's mother is in the hospital. Without another interaction, I am left wondering what type of mother Shawna had. Was she insensitive and self centered artist or was she a loving mother who for a moment lost her head to her art.
This story really made me think about the rights ( or lack of ) same sex partners have. When Shawna's mother is in the hospital, Fran must pretend they are sisters in order to see her. Even though they've been together for 10 yrs. Shawna's father being able to take over everything including funeral arrangements is just wrong. Though Fran has been raising Scumule since he was born, she has no legal rights to him. I knew this could and does happen, though I've never really thought about it. However, I know there are people who have never considered problems gay and lesbian couples face because they can't marry. While telling a good story Garsee also educates.
Almost Perfect by Katcher - My first time reading, I saw two very positive reviews last year. So I was excited for an excuse to read it. Logan is a senior. He lives with his mother in a small Missouri town. Logan can't stop thinking about his ex girl friend, Brenda. Then, a new girl moves to town, Sage. Logan, is instantly attracted. Sage wants the two of them to just be friends. Logan wants more but accepts being friends. After Logan kisses Sage, Sage confesses to being a boy. Logan questions is sexuality for liking a transgender person.
It took me much longer to get into Almost Perfect than I would've liked. I simply wasn't connecting with Logan. Early on their many references to his ex- Brenda and what they didn't do. They were together for three years, they never did more then kissing. Brenda wasn't ready for more. When Brenda's ready, she has sex with someone else.
When Logan looks back on his years with Brenda he remembers how patient he was. Its nice to see a guy, is willing to wait and not be too pushing. Though I found it difficult to believe Logan wasn't frustrated that his physical relationship with his longtime girlfriend was stagnant. If Logan was, he never expressed it. Logan was simply a little too nice for my liking.
I found myself enjoying this story a little more midway in. When Logan and Sage meet at a cemetery to talk about the kiss. Its the first time, we get to hear Sage's voice. Its a voice I wish would've come earlier in the story. This story is about a teenage boy coming to terms with understanding and falling for a transgender person, so its Logan's story to tell. Still I wanted more of the complex character that was Sage.
One of the Almost Perfect's strengths were the conversations between Logan and Sage, after Logan knew Sage's secret. Logan always does his best to understand. The little we see of Sage is honest and open. Logan has two close friends since grade school, but these friendships aren't drawn out. Katcher is focused on Logan and Sage's relationship.
I found Almost Perfect to be a good read. I think its really hard for a narrator to carry many scenes by themselves. Logan must do exactly that. My not connecting with the main character kept me from enjoying this book as much as I would've liked. Logan's feeling of confusion over Sage were very believable. I think the author wrote this with the intention of getting people be more understanding and accepting of transgendered individuals. I believe he succeeded.
Not More of the Same
Say the Word and Almost Perfect are worthwhile reads. Both deal with subjects that don't get much attention within YA literature.
I've never reread a novel to judge for a competition. Before I started I thought Say the Word, would have an advantage. However, I quickly realized that wasn't true. This time I would be looking to poke holes in everything I liked about Say The Word the first time.
Though, I was reading Almost Perfect for the first time, my expectations were high thanks to reviews and the premise. So in the end neither book had an advantage. Both had something to live up to .
It came down to one thing for me. Say the Word's multiple story lines vs Almost Perfect's single storyline. Logan is considering life after high school and possibly going to college but this still revolves around Sage.
Single storylines are very hard to pull off, especially if it features one main character. There is nothing else to focus on , every little perceived missed opportunity by the author is noticed. Whereas with a multiple storylines I may not notice or care if something is just little off because so much is going on.
This time questioned a few things Garsee did or didn't do, I still really liked it and thought it was the stronger of the two.
Say the Word moves onWhen this tournament is over, one book will be declared the winner. Though I hope everyone will take a moment to look at the 32 wonderfully diverse shortlisted books.
Friday, July 9, 2010
by Bradbury, which I loved. Horne is able to get across Cass's inner struggles.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Sometimes when I see an issue being discussed at other blogs, I assume others have already heard about it, and I fail to mention it. I am going to try to stop doing that.
On July 1, Jodie talked about another case of Whitewashing a young adult cover. This time it's the paperback of Cindy Pon's The Silver Phoenix . A few other post to check out on this issue Jeannie Lin's , Ari's @ Reading in Color and Tarie's @ Asia in the Heart, World on my Mind
I really liked The Silver Phoenix. However I don't think the cover did it justice. And I said so in my review.
The cover doesn't do the book enough justice. I read Silver Phoenix because I kept reading great reviews about the book. If not for those reviews, I would have missed a great read. The cover simply doesn't entice me. There are two strong male progatonist in the novel, but neither are featured on the cover. Not putting at least one of the male leads on the cover limits the audience.
Two cover's I would have liked better
The three travel most of the way by foot. There is one horse which Ai Lang rides.
Cover option 1- Ai Lang on the horse (dagger visible) with Chen Yong and Li Rong on either side of her (swords visible)
At one point the three must ride a dragon together.
Cover option 2- The three riding a dragon Ai Lang is holding onto the dragon, Chen Yong holds onto Ai Lang, and Li Rong holds onto Chen Yong. When I read that scene I thought it worked very well visually and would make a great cover. Weapons showing of course. There's something about weapons that always makes me pause, unless I am on the street, then I run.
What if Ai Lang was holding a dagger on the cover. What if people passed on Silver Phoenix not because there was an Asian girl featured on cover but because it fails to convey the strength of the female protagonist, or the action within the story. Now we will never know.
I have my fingers crossed that publishers will not start to think Whitewashing middle grade and young adult covers is the way to go if they want a little attention.
The Last Airbender movie was released on Thursday. The movie was adapted from a very popular Nickelodeon cartoon series. On the show the main characters are Asian, however White actors were cast to play all the main parts except the villains. For a better understanding of this controversy check out this wonderful article by Q. Le. on the history of facepainting in Hollywood.
The reviewers have not been kind to The Last Airbender - Roger Ebert gave it a half a star Every time I think about how this movie was poorly casted, reading one of the many bad reviews or thinking about how much money this expensive movie won't be makes me feel much much better.
Q. Le, article got me thinking about when of my favorite biographies from last year Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo and Lin Wang.
If you were thinking about seeing The Last Airbender, I say don't waste your money on what sounds like a very bad movie. Consider buying a great biography instead.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Black Jack : The Ballard of Jack Johnson by Charles R. Smith, illus. by Shane W. Evans
From the excerpt alone, this biography look like a serious TKO. I thought Smith and Evans would create an amazing book, but I am still blown away by the little I've seen. Looking forward to getting my hands on this one. The book received starred review from publishers weekly and school library.
The cover looks gorgeous and the story sounds great
Saltypie by Tim Tingle.
I thought it would be nice to read a non fiction book on an American Indian journey by an actual American Indian. I read Tingle's Crossing Bok Chitto this year and love it. It made me want to read Saltypie even more, as did
Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins
I've been hearing very good things about this one. After reading and loving Secret Keeper by Perkins last year, I am not surprised. Check out a few reviews and read an excerpt
Friday, July 2, 2010
When I think of Sachar, I think of middle grade fiction not young adult. So when The Cardturner, Sachar's first YA novel came in a few months back, I made a mental note of it but that was pretty much it. I've haven't been having much luck finding MG or YA books will male protagonist recently. So I thought why not give The Cardturner a go, especially since I'd read a good review and a co -worker enjoyed it. After finishing yet another book where the ending turned on me, The Cardturner was just what I needed.
17 yr old Alton Richards as a very rich great uncle Lester (Trapp) Ever since Alton was young, his parent's told him Lester was his favorite uncle. Now, Uncle Lester is blind and his health is failing. Uncle Lester doesn't have any children of his own to pass his money on it. So, all immediate are doing their best to get close and be nice. Alton's parents are no different. Somehow Alton gets roped into driving Trapp to bridge and being his cardturner.