Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On Sale Now : New Releases

Side by Side/Lado a Lado by Monica Brown illus. by Joe Cepeda - This is really good its the story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez working together. As far as I know this is the first children's book about Dolores Huerta.

Time to Pray by Maha Addasi illus. by Ned Gannon.
This is a late addition. Usually when I miss a book, I'll add it to next weeks new releases. However, the Holy month of Ramadan is being observed until September 9th. This picture book is about a young girl visitng her grandmother in a middle eastern city and learning the proper way to pray. The reason I know about this book and when Ramadan is celebrated is thanks to Jama Rattigan

Amazing Faces edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins I found about this one @ Literate Lives

Swing Cafe by Carl Norac - Amazon has the release date as Sept. 14th, it was listed as Sept 1st somewhere else. I decided to still include because it looks really good. And I have no qualms about listing it again the week of amazon's release date.

Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn

Roberto's Trip to the Top by John B. Patterson

Kindergarten Cat by J. Patrick Lewis

Invisible Girl by Mary Hanlon Stone - One of the characters, Amal is an Egyptian muslim. I know this thanks to Ms. Yingling

Not a Good Look by Nikki Carter

Monday, August 30, 2010

Interview with Erica Perl (Blog Tour)

When I first saw Erica Perl's new picture book Dotty I had to stop what I was doing and read it. My review. I loved it. So, I've happily agreed to participate in a blog tour.

Hi, Erica. Congratulations on a great new picture book. I love the Julia Denos’ cover. There was something about it that said "pick me up and read me now." I did and was rewarded with a wonderfully different story.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover diversity amongst Ida's classmates. (Yet another reason to love Dotty).

Thanks so much. Diversity in the classroom was really important to me and Julia when we discussed how the book would look. I was particularly thrilled that she also made Ida’s beloved teacher, Ms. Raymond, such a stylish and savvy African-American woman.

It's nice to hear that you and Deno's made a conscious decision to embrace diversity. I noticed Ms. Raymond right away, since there aren't many teachers of color featured in picture books.

Tell us about Dotty?

Dotty is a big, cozy imaginary creature who tags along with her best friend, Ida. As the school year continues, kids begin to outgrow their imaginary friends. All except for Ida, whose friend Dotty has no intention of leaving.

Who came first Ida or Dotty?

Dotty came first because when I was little I had two imaginary friends named “Sahti” and “Dahti.” They were twins but they weren’t the same age (a detail that always made my parents smile). So “Dotty” definitely came from “Dahti.”

Sahti and Dahti are great names.

When Ida starts school, everyone has an imaginary friend. In a few months they all disappear except Dotty.

Dotty sees no reason to go – she loves being with Ida. Yet Ida feels conflicted… should she say goodbye to Dotty, even though she really doesn’t want to.

What did you want young listeners/readers to take away from Ida and Dotty's relationship?

I wanted to whisper to readers that imagination can – and should – be a part of your life that you don’t need to outgrow. I don’t know about you, but my imagination is still a great friend to me… it makes me smile, keeps me from getting bored, and takes me to all sorts of unexpected places.

Although Dotty is about imaginary friends, I also see it as a book about the pressures kids sometimes feel to give up "babyish" things, especially when they start school. I firmly believe that growing up doesn't have to mean letting go of all the things that comforted you when you were little. In fact, I still have my old dog-earred teddy in my office.

Ida feels some of that pressure when her classmates begin to tease her about Dotty. Ida's dilemma, to stay true to herself or listen to others is one of my favorite parts of this story.

How does a child hold onto the belief in imagination?

I think adults need to be role models in terms of imagination. Just as we show children by example how to be kind or how to be careful, it is important to show them how to be creative. For me, this often manifests itself in silliness. I make up rhymes and reinvent songs with new lyrics and encourage kids to do the same. Writing and drawing games like Mad Libs and making three-panel creatures encourage imagination as well. It’s part of my general outlook as well. My kids have gotten to the age where they claim they don’t believe in things like fairies any more. But I tell them I do and I always keep an eye out. Because if you’re not looking for them, you’ll never see them. So – just to humor me, you understand – they end up keeping an eye out, too.

Erica, your lovely text and Denos’ beautiful illustrations complement each other so well. Thanks for writing a story that makes me smile every time I look at it.

You’re so welcome! Thanks for having me over.

Erica and Dotty will be visiting a few more blogs this week. So pick a date at random and enjoy. That's what I plan on doing.
9/1 Alison’s Book Marks
9/2 A Patchwork of Books
9/3 Jean Little’s Library
9/4 Pragmatic Mom
9/7 Links to Literacy
9/8 The Book Bag Blog
9/9 The Hiding Spot
9/10 Bookmark, The First Book Blog

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dotty - Erica Perl, Julia Denos

Dotty by Erica Perl illus by Julia Denos
Dotty is one of those picture books that I couldn't help but want to read at first glance. When Ida goes to school, her imaginary friend Dotty goes with her.

"At morning meeting Ms. Raymond counted noses. Ten, eleven twelve. Ida frowned. She patted Dotty reassuringly. Thirteen, she silently added. "

In the beginning all of Ida's classmates have imaginary friends as well. Soon Dotty is the only one left. Ida is tease for still having Dotty. She even gets into a fight with a classmate. In the end Ida's teacher, Ms Raymond revelation makes Ida feel much better about still having Dotty.

Deno's colorful illustrations are a perfect match for Perl's wonderful text. Dotty is a great story that features a diverse cast of characters. Its one of my favorite picture books of the year. Ages 5 up

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My First Blog Tour, Cyblis And More

So a few weeks back Laura from Amulet books, asked if I wanted to participate in a blog tour for Erica Perl's new picture book Dotty. That same day I had I had just featured Dotty in my on sale now: new release feature and talked about how much I loved it. So this wasn't one of those blog tour invites that makes me wonder has this person ever been to my blog and which I quickly delete.

Even so, I still wasn't sure if I wanted to take part. I love doing interviews but I've always stayed away from blog tours. Though I am starting to come around about how I feel about them I know authors need to promote their work and sometimes this is the best way to go about it.

My problem with blog tours is over saturation. Its turn off to see an author interviewed at several blogs in one weeks time, especially if the questions are standard, boring or both. Or when its obvious the blogger hasn't read the book. Or when the questions and answers are phoned in.

I said yes to, for three reasons. 1. I loved the book. 2. Even though I didn't know which other bloggers would be participating, I assumed there wouldn't be much overlap with mine. 3. I'd still be coming up with the questions.

It will post on Monday I really like how it turned out. It looks like any other interview. I don't know if I will take part in any more blog tours but I am very happy I said yes to this one.

It's Cybils or Children's Young Adult Bloggers Literary Award time again. That makes me very happy. I am already thinking about which books I will nominate. They are looking for judges now.

Recently publishers weekly did an article on two upcoming children's titles about the earthquake in Haiti.

I finally joined NetGalley , now I can receive digital galleys. Since I don't have a kindle will have to read on my laptop. I think its a great idea for titles I am unsure about. The children's and young adult selection is small. Though there are a lot of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt titles available. Including the third book in the National Fludd, Beastologist series by R.L. LaFevers and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.

I have Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston in my inbox. I won't open until I know I have a chance to read it. Once a galley is opened, you have a certain number of days to read it. That seems fair. Net galley is free, all you have to do is register. Publishers must approve your request.

Author Mitali Perkins had a book launch party for her YA novel Bamboo People. I think it would be difficult to listen to Perkins read this excerpt and not want to read the book. Someone will be reading Bamboo People soon and that someone is me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Libyrinth - Pearl North

Libyrinth by Pearl North
Haly lives in a world that populated by two people the Libyrarians, those or love and cherish books and the Eradicant those who hate and fear books. Haly lives in Libyrinth among the Libyrarians She's a clerk for Libyrarian Selene. There are many clerks though Haly is the only one who can hear the books.

Haly can also hear private messages she's asked to deliver. That's how she discovers the Eradicants plan to destroy the Libyrinth. Haly sets off to stop the Eradicants. She's accompanied by her best friend Clauda, a servant, Selene and an imp named Nod.

I really like the fact that Haly and her friends got started on their journey early in the book. Planning and built up is nice but sometimes just going is as good and effective. Plus a quick start got me this sooner

"Beyond the chind of the monster, she saw two human-sized coils of tentacle and a smaller third one lurching ever more more rapidly toward the mouth. She didn't have much time. Clutching the hatchet, she ran across the forehead, leaped over the left eye, and planted her feet on the cheek. She lifted the cleaver up and swung it down on the tongue. It felt like chopping through tough muscle, like the stag she'd helped Clauda butcher once. A metallic shriek pierced the silence of the night and Haly gripped the cleaver thighter, chopping at the monster's tongue until at last she severed it."

Soon after the beginning, chapters alternate between Haly and Clauda. This worked very well for me, since I cared about both characters. Throughout the novel, passages of many books reveal themselves to Haly. They always fits the current situation. I appreciate the time and effort the author took in finding right book quotes to use.

I really enjoyed the Libyrinth. It a wonderful and easy book to lose myself in. Halfway through it I realized I should've listen to my gut and read it sooner. Its always a pleasure to read a YA fantasy book that features a teen of color. Ages 12 up.

Now I am really looking forward to the sequel, The Boy from Ilysies, due out Nov. 9

read an excerpt from Libyrinth

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ghostopolis - Doug TenNapel

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel
I've read a lot of graphic novel this year. Enough to do a best of list, a first for me. Ghostopolis is amongst the best.

Frank Gallows works for the supernatural immigration task force. Hecapturea ghost who sneak back into the world of the living from the afterlife. Frank hasn't been doing such a great job recently. He's fired after accidentally sending Garth Hale, a living boy to the afterlife.

Garth is trapped inside an escaped skeleton horse, Frank sends back to the afterlife. I am always intrigued by an authors interpretation of the heaven or hell. Rumor is, this world for the non living was built by Joe, a mysterious Tuskagee Airman , with his bare hands so ghosts would have a place to live. There are seven kingdoms in the. The Specter, Wisp, Mummy, Goblin, Bone King, (the horse belongs to this kingdom), Zombie and Booeymen. Now things aren't so great in the afterlife. Vaugner rules by summoning bugs from bellow and pinning the kingdoms aganist each other.

Garth must find a way back to the living. Vaugner is determined to stop him. Garth has some help, his grandfather, his new skelton horse friend (Skinny), Frank and his ex ghost girlfriend Claire Voyant.

When the story opens Garth and is mother are on there way to see a specialist. The doctor informs Garth's mom that her son as an incurable disease. Somehow TenNapel managed to make what should've been a sad moment very funny.

The main protagonist of this story (as well as its classification) was a toss up. Since Ghostopolis is considered a middle grade graphic novel, Garth is the main character. This is one of those stories where it really doesn't matter who gets top billing. TenNapel is skillfully attentive to all of this characters and storylines. Including Garth meeting his grandfather, Cecil in the after life. Frank's relationship with Claire. There is obviously something there and its fun watching it play out.

I think adults will love that part of the story. Still not sure how young readers will take to it. Though I am betting some will think its pretty cool that Claire is a ghost. The first time we meet Claire she's nonchalantly flying in garage. That will probably win her and this storyline a few points will the younger set. Also the writing is just plain good. The banter and dialogue between all the characters is hard not to love.

TenNapel's artwork conveys as much as his words. In a few panels when Garth first arrives in the afterlife, there's hardly any text. The author still manages to get across everything that needs to be said.

Ghostopolis has a little of everything, a main character discovering hidden abilites, escape scenes, fight scenes, humor, deception and good vs. evil. I loved it. ages 11up

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On Sale Now : New Releases

This week I found six new releases. I added a three titles that were released earlier in the year, to give the feature a little body.

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgill - illus. by Sean Qualls - my review

Floating on Mama's Song by Laura Lacamara - illus by Yuyi Morales - gracias La Bloga

Doggy Slippers by Jorge Lujan illus by Isol

Brontorina by James Howes - illus by Randy Cecil

They Called Themselves the kkk by Susan Campbell Bartoletti - This is one of the best children's non fiction books released this year. Its also one many adults will appreciate. Will review soon.

Come Fall by A.C.E Bauer - One of the main characters is of South Asian decent. I know this thanks to Charlotte's review

Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala this YA novel features a diverse cast of characters. I know this thanks to author Mitali Perkins interview with the author.

Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill - This has a very nice blurb from Suzanne Collins on the back. Making it a great recommendation for readers who are looking for something new when they finish Mockingjay.*

Saving Sky by Diane Stanley - Can't believe I forgot to include this one. I love this cover and the excerpt.

Meridian by Amber Kizer. paperback release. my review. This was one of my favorites from last year.

I won't be reading Mockingjay until this weekend. I am not all over social media so I don't have worry about spoilers.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat:Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgill - Sean Qualls

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgill illus. by Sean Qualls.
When, we first meet Ella, she's a young girl singing along to a phonograph with her two sisters and their mother, Tempie. Orgill text is entertaining and informative. Sometimes I am still surprised how many facts authors can smoothly fit into a paragraph, as was the case here.

"Where did Ella live? Anywhere and nowhere. People took her in, gave her a meal and a bed. Or didn't. In 1934, half of Harlem was out of work. Men, women, and children were scrounging in garbage cans for food. At the Baptist church, you could get a bowl of soup for free. They gave out used clothing too. Ella got a pair of men's boots to keep the cold off her dancing feet. She was a half starved raggedy cat of seventeen with no home, but she was free to slip down to new Apollo Theater on 125th street."

I've always been a fan of Qualls artistic style. I love his use of color and Ella's expressive eyes. Orgill and Quall have created a wonderful picture book biography. We get so much of Ella. Its a whole lot of fun to read and look at. It will make you want to dance and sing. A great addition to any library. ages 8up

read an excerpt
illustrator Quall featured at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. I highly recommand checking it out, their illustrator break downs are clinic good.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Duaration 0:00 - How Long is that? And Other Thoughts

Can anyone else with sitemeter, tell me how long 0:00 is? I see Duration 0:00 a lot when I check my stats. That can't possibly be right. Even if someone visits a blog by accident, that's still at least 2 seconds.

I am seriously considering starting to write critical reviews. As it is now, if I don't like something I won't review it. I've always believed different opinions is a very good thing and necessary. I've avoided critical reviews because I don't want to be one of those bloggers who writes ugly critics. Part of the reasons my reviews work is because of the emotion behind them. Which is fine if I like the book. When its something I don't like, I need to learn how to detach myself from it. Stick to the points and write a review that doesn't reek of eye rolling.

This next part will be a little smoking gun -ish. Meaning no names will be given.

I am at a point now when I can tell the different between various publishers. Some I like more than others. I don't like everything any one house puts out ( that would be impossible). When I read a book I feel strongly about I will look to see who the publisher is.

On more then one occasion MG or YA books with kids of color published by one house have not worked for me. Its makes me question who is editing these stories. Some of them have been written by White authors but not all.

In the case of authors writing as outsiders, publishing houses should think really hard about letting another outsider edit the novel.

I don't know for sure when a story written by White authors with kids of color is edited by someone White but since there aren't that many editors of color in publishing, its an easy assumption to make.

Sometimes its the only conclusions I can come to, when an author writing as an outsider misses much of the culture and nuances of their character(s).

Last year when I asked debut* author Bobbie Pyron if I could look have a review copy of her YA novel The Ring, I jumped the gun a bit. Pyron was kind enough to send me it right off her printer. She was also very open to feedback.

In The Ring, 15 yr old Mardie starts boxing when life is not going as it should. Mardie's coach Kitty, has posters of the movies Million Dollar Baby and Girlfight hanging in the gym. When I finished the book, I wondered where was the poster of Laila Ali? There had to be one for two reasons. 1, Laila Ali is the most famous professional female boxer, 2. Kitty was Black.

If posters weren't mentioned I wouldn't have thought twice about it. However, if a Black female trainer is going to have posters in her gym, one of them is going to be of Laila Ali. When I mentioned this to the author she listened and added a Laila Ali poster

Now as a thanks to the author for letting me share that story, a quick break to plug her upcoming release. A Dog's Way Home will be released March 2011 . Blurbed by three Newbery winners who don't so all willy nilly, Pyron's middle grade novel is one to look out for.

I shared that story, to hopefully convey on a very very tiny scale how easy it is for small details to be missed, depending on who is doing the reading. Who we are is the biggest influenced on how we see a story. Editors are no different. An editor working from an outsiders perspective might have a difficult time making suggestions to improve a novel, simply because they can't see what's missing. When the author and editor are both outsiders this can be a problem. Its as if there's no checks and balances. This is the case with this one particular house. I've pretty much given up on books featuring kids of color written by White authors.

I haven't had much luck with the authors of color, this house publishes either. I don't know what's going on here. I can only make guesses. Maybe their standards are lower for authors of color. Maybe , White editors fear they don't know enough about the characters or their world to make suggestions. I will continue to read the authors of color this house publishes and hope for the best. However,I don't care who wrote the book or how diverse it is, if the writing isn't there, its not there.

*I've only contacted one other author directly to ask for an arc. Kekla Magoon for The Rock and the River I know asking authors for arcs is a tad uncouth. But one story featured a female boxer the other the Black Panthers, so I am not sorry I did it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French

Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French
I haven't had much luck middle grade fiction this year with male protagonist. Either they start off well, and for some unknown reason turn on me in the middle or writing simply doesn't work for me. So this really good novel, came along at the right time. Though I enjoyed Operation Redwood so much anytime would've been the right time.

12 year old Julian Carter Li is staying with his Uncle Sibley while his mother is in China. Julian's father died when he was young so he doesn't know his uncle that well. Sibley doesn't make it easy for Julian. Sibley Carter is a very busy and very important business man, he has not time for Julian.

Now that he was fully awake, Julian remembered why he was here. It was, of course, because there had been nowhere else for him to go. The assistant principal had been unable to reach Aunt Daphne. When he'd finally gotten through to Uncle Sibley , after being placed on hold for a full five minutes, his already foul mood had grown worse.

"Of course somebody's got to get him," the assistant principal had barked into the telephone. "The kid can't just sit here all day with a fever of a 103!" He's infectious! Excuse Me? No, we don't call taxis!

While in his uncle's office, Julian opens an email intended for his uncle. Sibley's company is planning on getting down all the redwood trees in Red Pine Grove. Out of frustration and hope that her action might help save the redwoods, 11 yr old Robin to sent Sibley Carter an angry email.

Julian has a great best friend in Danny. Soon Julian and Danny are corresponding via email with Robin. I loved the emails. They were are very funny, at times I was reminded of Kluger's YA novel - My Most Excellent Year. Kluger's three characters use email as well. The authors approaches are different . Though they both have embraced their literary aesthetic and execute really well. (someone's been watching project runway). That's were the similarity comes into play.

Soon the three are determined to due their part to save Red Pine Grove. Operation Redwood is good and succeeds on so many levels. A message in a novel is difficult to pull off. French finds a wonderful balance. The redwoods are always important. The reader will learn a few things but it never feels like a lesson. Julian, Danny and Robin played off of each other very well. The diaolgue was spot on good. I loved the fact that Julian was biracial (Chinese and White) didn't come up until halfway into the story. Danny is Latino and again the author doesn't make a big deal out of this. It simply is.
There aren't many contemporary middle grade novels with kids of color as both the main character and the best friend. I highly recommand Operation Redwood. Its a funny, entertaining had to put down adventure story. ages 10up

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nerds: M is for Mama Boy - Micheal Buckley

Nerds: M is for Mama Boy by Micheal Buckley
This is the second book in Buckley's National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society series (or simply Nerds).

Five fifth graders who are bullied and teased are secret agents for the goverment. In the first book new recruit Jackson Jones was front and center. This time its Duncan Dewey. In this mission the team is up against a former agent.

The team is too dependent on gadgets. The former agent exploits this weakness. The team must relearn how to be effective agents without technology. This is especially hard for Duncan.

"He wasn't telling you that you should carry off every device they have in HQ. He was telling you that you didn't need them to do your job. In fact, he was telling you that you are perfectly fine to do this mission and that you should stop blubbering about your upgrades." It's OK, Jackson said. "Everyone gets the man up speech once or twice in their lives. I've just never met anyone who didn't understand it was a man up speech." "Duncan looked at his teammates. They were all nodding in agreement."

This was a wonderful follow up. I enjoyed it as much as the first one, and I loved the first one. Buckley simply has a way with characters and dialogue. As the story progressed it was nice to see Duncan, learn how to trust in his abilities again. Towards the end when there's a car chase its a whole new Duncan. He delivers a great line to one of the bad guys.

Early on, I missed the Hyena, the young hit girl for hire in book one. Though knowing she would be back in future books and after seeing some of the new characters more then made up for it. Once again Nerds is action filled, very funny and entertaining. A must read for fans of book one. This series should be read in order. Book one is out in paperback. ages 8 up

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood

My Havana : Memories of a Cuban Boyhood by Rosemary Wells and Secundino Fernandez illus. by Peter Ferguson

Wells, a bestselling children's author was moved to tell Secundino Fernandez's story after hearing a 2001 radio interview with the architect. When Fernandez was a boy he and his parents had to leave his home in Havana, Cuba.

In 1954, Secundino (Dino) is six years old. He loves Havana and is constantly sketching the city buildings. Oct. 1954, is the first time the Fernandez family leaves Havana. The family moved to Spain for 3 years. Dino's father must look after his brother's family, while he recovers from a rooftop fall. Dino still carries a sketchbook but many times the pages stay empty. Dino misses home. At school Dino is teased for his Cuban accent. It's in Spain, where Dino first hears the word dictator and what it means to be ruled by one.

Abuela buys eggs and butter in secret from a man who hides them under his cloak and comes to the back door at night. Almost nothing from the outside, goods or medicine, ever makes its way into Francisco Franco's Spain. "Franco makes himself and his friends rich," says Abuela Maria "while the rest of us live on bread and water." She says this very softly as if someone might be hiding and listening.

In 1956, the Fernandez family move back to Havana. Dino's parents go back to work at the restaurant they own. In 1959 when Fidel Castro comes into power, its time for the Fernandez family to say good bye to Havana.

The book is filled with many facts and is very readable. I can almost see Fernandez sharing his childhood memories with Wells. I don't know where Ferguson, the illustrator was, but he couldn't have been very far. The gorgeous illustrations perfectly match the text. Also think they make My Havana that much more appealing to young readers.

There aren't many books for the 8 and older set that mention 1. Spain's dictator, 2. Castro and the ruler he overthrew, 3. Latino people come in many different hues and 4 . a look at Che Guevara, not as a good guy.

I feel like I really got to know Dino, the boy who loved to draw the buildings of his home country. My Havana is a wonderful memoir. I highly recommnand it.

Another blogger review @ Where The Books Are
read the first chapter

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On Sale Now : New Releases

I could only find two new releases this week. The second book in the Nerds series by Buckley and Amigas #2, Lights, Camera, Quince by Chambers. The other titles were released earlier in the year.

Carmen Learns English by Judy Cox illus. by Angela Dominquez

Let Me Help/Quiero Ayduar by Alma Flor Alda illus. by Angela Dominquez

Drum City by Thea Guidone illus. by Vanessa Newton

Oprah: The Little Speaker by Carole Boston Weatherford illus. by London Ladd

Frederick Douglass by David A. Adler - I have Edi to thank for this one.

Miss You, Mina (Candy Apple) by Denene Millner

Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez - The paperback release. My review

Nerds: M is for Mama's Boy by Michael Buckley

Amigas #2 Lights Camera, Qunice by Veronica Chambers

Please feel free to let me know of any new or upcoming releases that feature kids of color in the comment box.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Beyond Myers : Recognizing More Black Male YA Authors

The first book I read by Walter Dean Myers was Crystal. I had just started working in the children's and YA section of the bookstore. I was still in the process of getting acquainted with the authors and their books.

When I picked up Crystal, I didn't know Myers was known for his male protagonist or that he was the first YA author to be awarded the Printz for Monster. At the time I was simply in search of a good story. I was attracted to the Black girl on the cover of Crystal and I got exactly what I wanted. A few months later I read Monster and wow. It's an amazing book. After Monster, Walter Dean Myers became a go to author for me. I would highly recommend him to customers and I always looked forward to his next book.

For a long time Myers has been an answer to two YA questions. "Where are all the books for boys?" and "Where are all the books featuring Black boys?"

Its inevitable that someone will say "Walter Dean Myers", and that's how it should be. Myers has written some great books with Black male protagonist. As good as Myers books have been in the past, it was never right for him to be the only Black male author recognized for writing Black male protagonist.

I never questioned this when I liked what Myers wrote though I should have. Now, since the last few Myers novels haven't been good, its all I can think about. The last one I really liked was Dope Sick.

I will always love Monster, Fallen Angels, Sunrise Over Fallujah, Crystal and many other titles by Myers. I like to give authors I love the benefit of the doubt and second chances. "That so -so book was a bad fluke. The next one will be better." Its been difficult but I had to accept what was in front of me for what it was, Myers novels have lost the magic.

I loved Charles R Smith's YA novel Chameleon . Its one of the best coming of age stories I've read in awhile.. I got very lucky and stumbled upon it. There was no buzz around it, which is a shame My review, Edi's , Jodie's and Ari's

Author Derrick Barnes has a YA novel coming out in November called We Could Be Brothers I am a fan of Barnes work. I am looking forward to reading We Could Be Brothers. I have my fingers crossed that it doesn't have a quiet release like Chameleon.

Its time other Black male YA authors who write Black male protagonist are recognized and praised for the work they do. One author should not be expected to pen the voices of many.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fairy School Dropout Undercover Meredith Badger

Fairy School Dropout Undercover by Meredith Badger
This is the second book in the Fairy School Dropout series. I loved the first one Fairy School Dropout, my review. This is a wonderful follow up. Elly is finally getting her wish. She will be going to human school not fairy school. While Elly's parents are out of town, she will be staying with her next door neighbor and best friend Kara.

It takes Elly a few days to adjust to human school and her mistakes are very funny. Like wanting to stand on the desk to greet the teacher. After an incident in gym class, Elly realizes she is not the only fairy at the school.

Elly and Kara are going to try to figure out who the other fairy is. I loved that this book as a little bit of a mystery it. The two girls decide to go undercover at a fairy party. Before, this Kara's always avoided the girls who love pink and fairies. Kara loves science and has no interest in that stuff.

When the Elly and Kara get to the party, they realize its has nothing to do with fairies. The girls are into science and inventing as much as Kara. This part of the story was unexpected and really appreciated. There are so many early reader books that have to do with girls love of fairies. Its nice to see a little change of pace. Bonus points for the interest in science and electronics.

Readers will have to wait until the next book to find out if there's another fairy at the human school. There is no resolution at the end of the book. Since the first book wrapped up nicely the semi cliffhanger was unexpected. I do wish the ending wasn't left so open. Though overall Fairy School Dropout Undercover was very good. Elly and Kara have great friendship chemistry. There were a lot of laugh out loud moments ( those Aussie children's authors know how to work it in any age group) ages 7up

Read an excerpt Book one is available in paperback

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Tooth Fairy Meets El Raton Perez

The Tooth Fairy Meets El Raton Perez by Rene Colato Lainez illus by Tom Lintern
When Miguelito's tooth falls out he puts in under his pillow and goes to sleep. The Tooth Fairy and El Raton Perez fight for tooth while Miguelito is sleeping. Both feel they have a right to it.

"The Tooth Fairy smiled, shaking her wand. "I am the Tooth Fairy, and here in the United States, I collect children's teeth." She tugged at the tooth. "No, no, no," said El Raton Perez, tugging back. "This is Miguelito's house, and I collected his papa's, mama's and his abuelitos teeth. Miguelito's tooth is mine."

The two go back and forth until they eventually agree to work together and share the tooth. I loved this story. It reads very well aloud and the illustrations are beautiful. Colato Lainez's text and Lintern's illustrations are spot on perfect together.

In the author's note, Colato Lainez tells readers a little about the history of The Tooth Fairy and El Raton Perez. I really appreciated this since, El Raton Perez who collects the teeth of children in Latin American countries was new to me.

Read an excerpt or check out the trailer

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On Sale Now : New Releases

Children's and Young Adult titles that came out this week and a few (I missed from last week) with kids of color. If I've forgotten a release please free feel to let me know in the comment box. Also let me know about any new releases with a diverse cast of characters.

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey illus. Floyd Cooper. A review @ Literate Lives

My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood by Rosemary Wells and Secundino Fernandez

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes. My review

The Wonder of Charlie Anne by Kimberly Newton Fusco

A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes

The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee Ari's review @ Reading in Color

Plus by Veronica Chambers I got this cover from powells. There's a different one at amazon I like the powells cover a lot more.

White Crane by Sandy Fussell

Keena Ford and the Field Trip Mix up by Melissa Thomson. My review. The next book, in this series Keena Ford and the Secret Journal Mix up will be released Sept. 16

Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda. My review. The next book in this series Dark Goddess comes out Jan 25. Though if you can't wait ( I would completely understand) it is available in the UK.