Sunday, October 31, 2010

Carter's Big Break - Brent Crawford

Carter's Big Break by Brent Crawford
I loved the first book in this series, Carter Finally Gets It. In this follow up Will Carter has just finished his freshman year of high school. His plans for the summer are dashed when he finds out he's can't be a lifeguard at the local pool with his friends. Also, Carter's girlfriend Abby, breaks up with after a very stupid move on his part. Carter's summer starts to look better after being cast play the lead roll in the movie Down Gets Out.

Down Gets Out is Carter's favorite book and the only unassigned book he's read. Carter's getting cast in a major movie is very believable, thanks to his starring roll in the school play Guys and Dolls. C.B. Down author of Down Gets Out, loved Carter's performance. Carter's co star is Hilary Idaho, a famous teen star. The movie is being shot in Carter's small town. He must show Hilary around town and what show her what it means to be a regular teenager.

This was an okay follow up. Carter Finally Gets It, was so good it would be very hard to match that. I still loved Carter's honest and funny voice. One of the books many strengths is how realistic Carter's various relationships come across. There is such an ease to Crawford's writing when it comes to these scenes. The author plays Carter and Abby off of each other very well. The same goes for Carter and his group of guy friends.

I don't rate books on my blog, but I must when I place reviews on amazon. At the end Carter's Big Break went from a four to a three. I felt the author hit the reader over the head with lessons. From Carter understanding how lucky he was. To him feeling sorry for Hilary Idaho, the famous teen star with an addiction problem and parents who don't seem to care. All of this took some of the fun out of the reading. Though Carter's voice makes this well worth reading. (I will always want more Carter)

This series is highly recommend for teenage boys. Especially since its so far from required reading. ages 14 up

Me, Frida - Amy Novesky, David Diaz

Me, Frida by Amy Novesky - illus. by David Diaz
This is a lovely story about famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Kahlo was unknown when she married an already famous Mexican artist, Diego Rivera. The couple moves to San Francisco

"They lived at 716 Montgomery Street, in the artists quarter. Beneath a leaky glass roof and dangling globes of light, they drank cafe con leche and ate sliced oranges. Outside, the world was cool and gray. Frida felt very far away from home. Diego was working on a mural for the city. While he skectched, Frida was restless. She strummed a guitar. She sang Mexican folk songs called corridos."

I loved David Diaz's illustrations. As always his use of color is beautiful. My only issue is the fact that Kahlo and Rivera, look about the same age. Rivera was about 20 years olders. Though the age difference wasn't mentioned in the story.

After Frida Kahlo explores San Francisco on her own, she feels more at home. I really liked Me, Frida, because I see a female artist who refused to be left in the shadows by her husband's success.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What Momma Left Me - Renee Watson

What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson
I loved Watson's picture book debut A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, which was released at the end of June, a few weeks before What Momma Left Me. Though I just now got around to reading Watson's middle grade novel debut. I didn't think I would like What Momma Left Me so I didn't seek it out. Thanks to the book description, I thought the story would be heavy on the lessons, the cover and main characters name Serenity, reinforced this idea.

When I finally picked up What Momma Left Me, I quickly realized how wrong I was. I really really enjoyed this story and loved Serenity's voice. Thirteen year old Serenity and her younger brother 12 yr old Danny move in with their grandparents after their mother is dies. The two are trying to find a new home with their grandparents.

To cope with her loss Serenity writes in a journal. At Serenity's new school, her English class will be studying poetry. The students are required to write a poem in whatever style they learned that week on Friday.

Serenity Evans
Mrs. Ross, 1 st Period
Poetry Workshop

List Poem: a form of free verse poetry. Write a list poem about ten things you know

10 things I know
Even Jesus wept
Everything tastes better when it's homemade
Passing notes in class will get you in trouble
Nobody likes to be made fun of
True friends come back to you
Saying "I'm sorry" is never easy
A touch from a boy can set your soul on fire
People who pass away
visit you in your dreams
Sometimes doing the wrong thing
is the only way people know how to survive
death is a sneaky thief,
stealing life when you don't expect it.

Each chapter begins with one of Serenity's poems in its own font. The poems were a wonderful surprise and another way to feel connected to Serenity.

Serenity's grandfather is a pastor and she finds herself going to church more than she ever did before. Serenity makes a new friend at Sunday school, Maria. Watson's seamlessly blends faith into the story. Serenity and Maria gossip, talk about boys and go to church on Sundays. Some young readers will be able to relate to their not so perfect behavior at times, talking a little to loud and passing notes in the pew.

Serenity has a crush on a boy names Jay, even though she knows he's trouble.

"Jay gets up and sits at the table. Mr. Nelson takes his math book and opens it to page twenty-five. "Let's start the year off right, " Mr. Nelson says. When Mr. Nelson turns his back to write on the board, Jay closes his book. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a stack of bills. He counts them. The green is moving so fast in his hands, I can't keep up with how much money he has. He must feel me staring at him because he looks across the aisle at me. I try to play it off, like I wasn't just looking at him, like I don't see all that green in his hands. Our eyes meet. I get hot all over and look away. "

Serenity is very vulnerable and here is this attractive badboy ready to sweet talk her. I really enjoyed watching this storyline play out. Waston doesn't ignore Danny, he's also going through it and getting caught up with a bad crowd.
Serenity's father killed her mother. The author doesn't say that Serenity's mother's was murdered or who was responsible until about midway in. This slow reveal worked very well. The information was held back not to tease the reader but because Serenity isn't ready to share or think about what happened to her mother. The first person Serenity tells is Maria. Serenity's mother loved to cook as does her grandmother. Cooking runs in the family. Serenity has fond memories of helping her mother in the kitchen. What Momma Left Me is well layered and very good. Watson is offically on my read it as soon as it comes out author list. ages 10 up

teacher's guide - I thought this looked very good, so I decided to link to it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dust City - Robert Paul Weston

Dust City by Robert Paul Wilson
Henry Whelp is in a Home for Wayward Wolves for misdemeanor. Any other wolf wouldn't be serving time but Henry's father known as the big bad wolf. The wolf who killed Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. Everyone's worried Henry will be just like his father.

Dust City is filled with popluar fairy tale characters. It populated by hominids, wolves, foxes, ravens, basically all animals living together. Over time all the animals have evolved. Wolves can speak with ease and work on two legs. The mules are the slowest to change.

"I ignore Jack's request. I'm watching a trio of mules play cards at the folding table. From an evolutionary point of view, mules were the last to get wise, so to speak. Their forehoofs aren't anything like those of hominids or wolves. Mules evolved differently, with hooves that became jointed, crablike claws - ebony pincers, offset by a stubby opposbale thumb. They have never been reviled like wolves, or mistrusted like foxes and ravens. As always they are largely ignored. I'm guilty of it myself. I don't even know these guys names."

The nimble and quick Jack (Beanstalk) is a thief. He is also Henry's best friend and the only hominid at the Home for Wayward Wolves. Henry is big enough to impose is power on the smaller animals but that is not in his nature. Right from the beginning this is something very likable about Henry. When Henry comes across some evidence that maybe his father wasn't in his right mind when he committed murder, he is determined to find out the truth. Henry believes fairydust, a drug many crave is to blame. There is a whole underworld that caters to its users. Henry goes undercover to work for his father's old boss Skinner.

There's a lot going on with the creation of Dust City, yet Weston, makes it work, very well. The author made me believe, feel and see Dust City. So much so, towards the end when Henry came across wolves trapped in cages that could only walk on all fours and couldn't speak, I didn't know what to make of them. The novel also as a nice mystery noire feel to it. Thanks to the dark city back drop and Detective White (Snow White). Detective White works alone and always catches the criminal.

It was very refreshing to read a YA novel that wasn't more of the same. This story was some serious fun and well imagined. I highly recommand it. Ages 11 up

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Split - Swati Avasthi

Split by Swati Avasthi
Jace's father has always been physically abusive. His older brother Christian got out by running away. Before that Christian did his best to take the hits meant for their mother. When Christian left Jace stepped into his brother's place as target.

The novel opens with 16 yr old Jace being kicked out by his father for fighting back. With no where else to go he's drive 19 hours straight from Chicago to Albuquerque where Christian lives. Jace hasn't seen or talked to his brother in five years.

I've heard very good things about Split all year. So I had high expectations. I was not disappointed. Jace was a well drawn out character. Jace and Christian both love there mother but she won't leave. Christian came to terms with, their mother's decision years ago. Not Jace, he's still wondering why?
At the same time Jace must comes to terms with looking like his father and having his temper. Jace fears he will turn into his father. When the two brothers meet again it isn't an instant connection. Though, eventually Jace begins again in Albuquerque.

One of the many things I loved about Split, there are no easy answers. There is hope and possibility at the end but no guarantees. I have much respect for an author who refuses to patch everything up nice and neat at the end.

Read an excerpt

More reviews via author's site, and kudos to the author for linking to a critical review

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword - Barry Deutsch

Hereville:How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch
I loved this graphic novel. It has one of the best tag lines of the year -
"Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11 yr old Orthodox Jewish Girl"
The Hirschberg family lives in an Orthodox Jewish community. 11 yr old Mirka dreams of fighting dragons but her step mother insist that she learn how to stitch.

While walking home from school, with three of her siblings, Mirka eats a big grape from someone else's property. Seconds after Mirka finishes the grape this huge pig comes out. The pig is pissed about the stolen grape.

Lucky for us, because watching Mirka run for her life is very funny. The angry pig makes Mirka's life hell for the next few days. At school, Mirka's older sister Gittel wants her to stop talking about the pig out for revenge. Gittel's worried Mirka's "story" will keep her from getting a good husband. Mirka doesn't care want anyone thinks, she just wants to slay dragons.

I loved Mirka and her siblings. There voices were perfect. I think this story works so well because the author took the time to develop Hereville and the Hirschberg family. He seamlessly includes the Orthodox Jewish faith of the community into the story. Without making a big deal about it. Its simply is what it is. I think that's why I appreciated it so much.

Hereville is one of the best graphic novel's I've read this year. I laughed my way through it, yet there were still moments that touched my heart. I love being able to read and see the action at the same time. Deutsch's panels are great.

As much as I enjoyed this book, I know I didn't to it much justice. So check out more reviews via author's site

On Sale Now : New Releases

Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by Sophie Blackall

The Runaway Piggy/El cochinito fugtivo by James Luna, illus. by Laura Lacamara

Some Kind of Love: A Family Reunion in Poems by Traci Dant, illus. by Eric Velasquez - I know about this one thanks to Mary Ann

Takeshita Demons by Cristy Burne, illus. by Siku - learned about this one at Mary Ann's blog as well. Her review

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch - Though this book has no kids of color, I put it one the list because the main character is Jewish, and its not a Holocaust story. I loved it Will review soon.

We Could Be Brothers by Derrick Barnes

Pull by B.A. Binns - This was really good. An excellent YA debut. I will review soon

Monday, October 25, 2010

She Loved Baseball - Audrey Vernick, Don Tate

She Loved Baseball : The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Don Tate

If you've visited my blog before, you know I love baseball. This is the story of Effa Manley the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Vernick first introduces us to a young Effa Brooks in first grade. Effa loved playing baseball with her brothers but wasn't allowed because she was a girl and was lighter in skin tone. In 1932 after finishing high school Effa moves from Philadelphia to New York City.

Upset by the unfair treatment of Blacks. Effa gets involved to make a difference. White store owners were refusing to hire Black workers.

"She organized the Citizens League for Fair Play, a group of community leaders. They urged Harlem's largest department store to hire black salesclerks. The owner said no. Nobody believed a group of Black people could change a White bussinessman's mind, but the league fought anyway. For weeks they marched in the street. They convinced their neighbors to shop elsewhere. The store lost money. But still no Black salesclerks. The league kept marching. Finally they won. Newspapers reported the boycotts success."

In 1935 Effa marries Abe Manley. The couple started the Brooklyn Eagles, in the newly formed Negro National League. Effa played a vital roll in the teams sucess, even after they moved to New Jersey in 1936. She always fought for the rights of her players. In 1970, decades after the end of the Negro Leagues, Effa Manley started a letter writing campaign to get some Baseball Hall of Fame to induct some of the best Negro League players.

When I finished this biography, (which I loved, in case that's not obvious) my first thought was why, am I just know hearing about Effa Manley. As much as I love baseball and its history, Effa Manley is someone who I should know. And now I do.

This was a serious trifecta for me. 1. A woman who loved baseball. 2. a woman who refused to be stop because of her gender or race 3. It bridges the gap between the Negro Leagues and Majors.

Two of the players on the Eagles last team were Monte Irvin and Larry Doby. * Vernick also seamlessly includes 1946 Negro League world series between, the Newwark Eagles and the Kansas City Monarchs. Vernick makes the reader feel the excitement of that last game in the series.

Don Tate's colors and style have a very open feel , making them a perfect fit for this story. Tate paid close attention to details from the clothes to the model of the bus the team used. Towards the end there's a close up of Effa Manley that's simply beautiful.

When I read that in 2006 Effa Manley was the first woman ever to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, I got a little choked up. Thanks to Vernick and Tate, they did such a great job telling Effa Manley's stories. This is a must read for baseball fans of all ages.

I've linked this post to Nonfiction Monday. This weeks roundup can be found at
Write About Now

*Larry Doby and Monte Irvin are some serious baseball names. When I came across them, I did a wow double take. Doby was the first Black player in the American League. Vernick mentions this. Monte Irvin played for the NY Giants along with Willie Mays. Irvin looked out for a young Willie Mays. This is probably more than you needed or wanted to know. Hopefully a few baseball fans will read and enjoy it

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Come Fall - A.C.E Bauer

Come Fall by A.C.E. Bauer
Salman Page will be starting 7th grade at yet another school. He was abandoned as a baby and has been in foster care ever since. Salman doesn't want to make any friends at Springsfalls Juinor High but that changes thanks to his designated buddy. New students are assigned a DB to help show them around. Salman's DB is Lu Zimmer. Lu is a nice, smart and doesn't draw much attention to herself at school. The year before Lu shared a designated buddy with Blos Pease. Many kids make fun of or avoid Blos because he's different. The author never says it directly but I think Blos is autistic. Somehow this trio become friends. Before Lu and Blos, Salman's only friend is a crow.

Salman has never meant his parents. His first foster mother named him after the writer Rushdie because she believed he was of South Asian descent. One thing is obvious Salman is no ordinary boy, a Queen and King in a Faerie Realm are paying close attention to him. The chapters alternate between Salman's school life and the two members of royalty in the Faerie Realm who have an interest him.

I really enjoyed Come Fall, though the ending felt a little rushed. I thought the voices of the three kids were great. Bauer does a great job of developing their individual personalities. Salman, Lu and Blos made this book for me. As far as the fantasy goes, I liked the language, especially Puck, the character caught between the feuding King and Queen.

read an excerpt

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ruth and the Green Book - Calvin Alexander Ramsey - Floyd Cooper

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, illus. by Floyd Cooper
It's 1952 Ruth's dad has just purchased the families first car. They are going on a road trip, to Alabama, to visit Grandma.

When Ruth's family leaves their home state of Chicago, many hotels, gas stations, and restaurants won't take their business because they are black. Finally in Tennessee a friend of Ruth's dad tells them about The Negro Motorist Green Book. It was started by postman Victor H. Green and lists all the places in states where Black business was welcomed.

The family buys a copy of the Green Book the next day for 75 cents and the trip gets easier. Before reading Ruth and the Green Book, I didn't know such a guide book existed. I love reading an historical fiction that's fresh with new information. Ramsey's wonderful text makes learning about this little unknown part of history very enjoyable.

The text and illustrations complement each other very well together. Cooper's artistic style was a perfect fit for this story. The color contrast and shading are beautifully done. There's a lot of emotion in the characters faces, especially Ruth's. There are some great closeups of Ruth and her stuff friend, Brown Bear.

This is a great picture book. With only a few pages, Ramsey and Cooper are able to bring Ruth and her family to life.

We kept on driving through the night. Mama took a turn so daddy could sleep. I fall asleep with Brown Bear as my pillow. We must have pulled off the road in the middle of the night, because when I woke in the morning, we were all curled up in the car. I was stiff and hungry. Mama gave us cold biscuits and jam for breakfast. She said we should sing to cheer ourselves up. We sing a lot that day as we crossed the country. -(my favorite line)

The author includes a page about The History of the Negro Motorist Green Book at the end of the story.

Latino Authors - The End Has Come

When I do a feature I never know how its going to turn out. I loved this one, thanks to the authors.

In cased you missed it,

More Latino Authors Please/necesitamos mas autores Latinos

The Authors

Alex Sanchez
Jennifer Cervantes
Christina Gonzalez
Caridad Ferrer
Francisco X. Stork

And Finally
Who published what
Cincos Puntos Press

Initially one of the authors I asked to take part was Coert Voorhees I loved his debut novel The Brothers Torres. Voorhees got back to me quickly and informed me that he's White. I was surprised and some what embarrassed for getting his ethnicity wrong. Do I think less of The Brothers Torres, because the author isn't Latino? No. Good is good.

I decided to do this feature because I am for people being able to tell their own stories and create their own characters. Not because I am against writers who write as outsiders. Every writer should have the same freedom to create.

If you are searching for Latino authors, adult and children's literature - La Bloga is a must read.

If you made it all the way to the end. Gracias.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Latino Authors - Cinco Puntos Press

When looking for new titles by authors of color or books that feature kids of color, searching the websites of small independent publishers is a must. This year 5 of the 16 Latino authors were published by small independent presses.

For Latino authors when of the first indies I think of is Cinco Puntos Press. This year they published Mr. Mendonza's Paintbrush by Luis Alberto Urrea. They have also published two YA novels by one of the best YA authors out now, Benjamin Alire Saenz.

Lee Byrd is the co owner and co founder of Cinco Puntos Press. After I asked three questions. Byrd was kind enough to share her thoughts.

1. When you started Cinco Puntos Press with your husband, did you know it was going to be a multicultural press?

2. There were 16 Latino MG/YA authors published in 2010. 5 were published by small independent houses, including Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush, which is a CPP title.

Why do you think independent presses have always been responsible for a large percentage of titles published by authors of color?

3. In her article Mayra Lazara Dole mentions the need for more diverse Latino stories. Is CPP receiving diverse submissions from YA Latino authors?

Thanks for coming to Cinco Puntos to ask these questions. They raise a lot of issues. I went back over Mayra's very interesting article and the comments the article evoked. She makes important points, but I also think that writers and readers need to recognize that publishing is an evolving process. I know that every book we've ever published has taken us to new places and new understandings. Publishing is very creative work. These understandings sure weren't there when we first started out. As a matter of fact, when we first started Cinco Puntos Press in 1985 here in El Paso, we really didn't know the first thing about publishing or about children's books or about multicultural literature (I don't think that word was around much in 1985). We knew that we were sick and tired of working for other people and wanted to try our hand at publishing (about which we knew nothing). What we did know was a whole lot of writers and since we were writers ourselves (I write fiction and Bobby is a poet) we knew what we liked and what we didn't like. Because we didn't know what we were doing or what direction we were going in, we just assumed, I think, that we would publish fiction and poetry.

Our first book was a collection of short stories called Winners on the Pass Line by our friend Dagoberto Gilb. At that time, we really didn't know the first thing about distribution or publicity or contracts, as a matter of fact. Our second book was a poetry chapter book by Joe Somoza. Then Bobby met storyteller Joe Hayes in New Mexico. Bobby was doing poetry in the schools and Joe had several years before set out in the schools to tell stories. Since he was raised on the U.S./Mexico border in Benson, Arizona, Joe is bilingual and loved telling all the stories he heard as a kid. We asked him if we could publish a book of his (he had already published a few of his own) and he said we really needed to publish La Llorona, because the kids loved it, and we needed to publish it in a bilingual format.

La Llorona set us off in a completely different direction. It has actually been our all-time best selling book. It was from La Llorona and subsequent bilingual books that we saw that we would be able to sustain this business by publishing books for kids, mostly bilingual books, but that poetry and fiction were not going to keep us afloat. As our business has grown and changed and as publishing has changed too, we find ourselves looking for books for young adults written by people of color. We've also had good success with non-fiction that deals with issues on the U.S. Mexico border. But, to our sorrow, we do very little adult fiction or poetry. Not only is publishing creative, it's also a balancing act, looking for work you love, that you hope and pray will find an audience.

In ensuing years, we published more biligual books by Joe Hayes, whose instincts with stories we always trusted because he spends so much of his time telling stories to kids. We were lucky to have Benjamin Alire Saenz who lives here in El Paso let us publish his kid's books and we were able to encourage him to consider publishing books for teenagers. His first YA book, wood. Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, was a real success, and continues to be a success. I think it knocked people's socks off and surprised them. Then we bumped into Choctaw storyteller Tim Tingle and he opened our eyes up to Native American work. Now we look for more Native Americans to write for young adults.

Other great and important writer voices we've published are Xavier Garza, from the Rio Grande Valley; Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, from right here in El Paso; David Romo with his important work on the Mexican Revolution; Cindy Weill, the NYC teacher whose passion is promoting folk art through early childhood books; Youme Landowne, the builder of community wherever she goes; Ilan Stavans (another YA title published this year about Cesar Chavez); Luis Urrea; Eve Tal; the Abraham-Gonzalez sisters; Jose Lozano, with his wonderful dry wit; and many others.

We are very proud of the writers we have published and honored by the fact that they bring their work to us. Bobby and I are both writers. We write our of 'place,' out of our lives and out of where we live, and because we live in El Paso on the U.S. Mexico border, we are much more sensitive to work that comes from a Mexican-American background. We don't live in New York (though I'm from New Jersey), so we are not as familiar with Cuban and Puerto Rican cultures. We've lived here for 30 years and are able to sense when a work is a mirror of this culture, when the voice is authentic, so our books seem to reflect the culture here in this part of the world.

I can't really answer the question about why indies have been responsible for a large percentage of titles published by authors of color. At Cinco Puntos, we are very interested in writers of color and in good writing. We also recognize that writers of color may not be seeing what a wonderful and important audience teenagers are and how critical it is for teens to see themselves in books. So if an author of color calls with a manuscript for kids or adults, I try to encourage them to consider writing for young adults as they continue on in their career.

When Sherman Alexie published his first YA novel,The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, he was stunned by the great YA audience out there, and especially how eager teens were to learn more about Native Americans. I think writers of color are not seeing the enormous needs for YA titles.

Actually we are interested in writers of every color. What engages us more than anything is writers writing right up out of their own lives. I think that writing like that interests us no matter what culture we find it in. We just plain love really good writing and, when we see it come in the door, we get really excited.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Latino Authors- Who Published What

So, I am coming to the end of my Latino author feature. Though there are still one or two post left. Below are the 16 MG/YA books published by Latino authors in 2010.

Who published what

1 The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork - Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic)
2.The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle - Henry Holt Co. (Macmillan)
3.The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan - Scholastic Press
4.Mr. Mendonza's Paintbursh by Luis Alberto Urrea - Cincos Puntos Press
5 Secret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado - Putnam Juvenile (Penguin)
6 The F Factor by Diane Gonzales Bertrand - Pinata Books
7.The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez - Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House)
8.Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes - Chronicle Books
9.90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis Roaring Book Press (Macmillan)
10.She's Got Game and Amigas#2, Lights Camera, Quince by Veronica Chambers - Hyperion
11.Efrain's Secret by Sofia Quintero - Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House)
12 How Tia Lola Learned to Teach by Julia Alvarez - Knopf Books for Young Readers (RH)
13 I Will Save You by Matt de la Pena - Delacorte Books for Young Readers (RH)
14 The Good Long Way by Rene Saldana Jr - Arte Publico Press
15.Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia Mccall - Lee & Low Books
16When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer - St. Martin's Griffin (Macmillan)

End tally
5 by Small Independent houses
4 by Random House
3 by Macmillan
2 by Scholastic
1 by Penguin
1 by Hyperion

I am not surprised that small independent houses are responsible for 5 of the 16 Latino authors published this year. Though I am pleasantly surprised with Random House coming in second with four.

It's second nature for me to pay attention to who publishes what. That's why I know it would be unfair to judge a publishers author diversity on this alone.

Take Scholastic for example, not including The Last Summer of the Death Warriors or The Dreamer, off the top of my head I know at least four of the MG/YA titles by authors of color I've read this year have been published by Scholastic.

I think its important to know who publishes what and have the full picture. Since this feature was about MG/YA Latino authors you'll have to get the full picture somewhere else.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How Tia Lola Learned to Teach - Julia Alvarez

How Tia Lola Learned to Teach by Julia Alvarez
Miguel and his younger sister Juanita live in Vermont with their mother and tia Lola. Lola moved from the Dominican Republic to help look after the kids after the divorce. Miguel and Juanita both go to Bridgeport elementary. Miguel is in the fifth grade. Juanita in third.

Lola's English isn't every good but the family convinces her to volunteer at the school, teaching Spanish. I really enjoyed this story, it was such a pleasure to read. All the characters voices are very realistic. I loved feeling connected to whole Guzman family through the short chapters.
Only 132 pages and it's a very well layered story. Besides tia Lola, getting the confidence to teach, Miguel's getting used to his father's new girlfriend, Juanita is discovering the joy of reading. There is much more to this story, including a little unexpected magic of imagination, which I loved.

"Juanita's head is in the clouds. She sits in her third grade classroom, riding a unicorn from medieval times. She tries to add all the numbers on the board and ends up going down a sixty foot rabbit hole. She gets up to anwer a quesiton and is suddenly airborne on a magic carpet, headed for the sultan's court. But wait someone is calling her name."

The chapters alternate between brother and sister. Tia Lola loves Dichos - Spanish sayings. All the chapter's are dichos, written in Spanish and English. Alvarez easily blends in the dichos and the lessons learned by Miguel and Juanita into the story.

This is the second book in the Tia Lola series. I haven't read the first one, "How Tia Lola came to (visit) stay", but I didn't miss a beat. This one works very well on its own. Though I enjoyed it so much I now want to read the first one. Ages 8 up

Check out this great guest post by Alvarez @ Amoxcalli and do leave a comment to enter the book giveaway Three people will win a copy of How Tia Lola Learned to Teach.

Latino Authors - Francisco X. Stork

Author Francisco X. Stork has published four YA novels. His most recent, The Last Summer of Death Warriors is beautiful and tender. The more I reflected on it the more I was wowed by it.

The author was kind of enough to answer three questions. In case you missed it More Latino Authors Please/necesitamos mas autores Latinos

1. What did you think of author Mayra Lazara Dole's article

I agree with her that if a writer wants to write a book with Latino characters, he or she should make sure that the characters represent their particular Latino culture. There is great diversity within the Latino community. I think that good writing is always specific. At the same time it is important for Latino writers to feel free to place their characters in “universal” settings and have them participate in stories that are not “regional.”

There is a difference between telling a story with Latino characters and telling a story about being Latino. I think we need more of the former. The beauty of our culture will still shine through but it will be made even more relevant by the fact that it is not the primary focus of the story.

2. Congratulations you are one of the chosen few. This year you were one of 16 Latino authors to write a MG/YA book. Why do you think this number still so small?

This is a very difficult question and I don’t know if I have the answer. Part of the answer lies in education and the need to encourage our children and young people to aspire to be writers and support them in the arduous training required to be a good one. Then there is the need for editors and publishers to accept meaningful works by Latino authors which do not fall under the category of “bestsellers.” Ultimately, I think it’s up to each one of us to do what we can to open up paths that will make it easier for other Latino authors to follow.

3. I've always thought about the lack of Latino voices in children's literature but not the void in culture distinction. Why are there so many quinceanera novels? I loved Mayra Lazara Dole's YA novel Down to the Bone. Thankfully the only coming out story featuring a Latina teen is a great one.

What will it take for the book industry to embrace more stories by Latino authors?
I think that we need to have Latino authors who are willing to write about the all aspects of the human condition, about themes that are important to all of us as human beings. We need to want to write literature that endures, that lasts for a long time and that speaks to all. We honor our heritage every time we aim high and try to create works of beauty and truth. All we can do as writers is write with integrity.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Latino Authors - Caridad Ferrer

Author Caridad Ferrer's third YA novel When the Stars Go Blue comes out Nov 23. I am really looking forward to it, even more so after reading this sneak peek.

The author was kind enough to answer three question. In case you missed it More Latino authors Please/necesitamos mas authores Latinos

1. What did you think of Mayra Lazara Dole's article?

I think that her opening statement, which respect to how diverse and rich the Latino diaspora is, was especially powerful. Breaking it down into the multiple choice question further illuminated how easy it is for non-Latinos to believe that we all are the same. Which is why the fact that there are traditions and events that many of us do share in common, i.e., like quinceañeras, tends to further muddy the waters and leads to so many misconceptions.

An issue that proved to be major problem with the publication of my first novel, Adiós to My Old Life. In the story, I highlighted several different Latino cultures and I was very careful when writing, to make sure I made the dialects distinctive, even if it was in small slang phrases--mind you, it's not as if I was obvious about it, saying, "Oh, he said in his Argentine slang..." It was more a matter of I knew the distinction was there and anyone from that particular culture who happened to read the book would see the distinctions. I was extremely proud of that work.

So imagine my surprise when I received my final author copies and discovered that the vast majority of my painstakingly applied terminology and slang had been replaced by high school textbook Spanish phrases by an overeager proofreader at the final stage before printing. This was a proofreader whose primary task was to find little mistakes—punctuation, perhaps a dropped word or missing letter. And most importantly, if they had any questions to which they didn't know the answer, they were supposed to convey them to the editor who would then pass them on to me.

In other words, the manuscript the proofreader received was the *final* version as far as I—as author—was concerned. I knew I wouldn't be seeing it again until it was in finished form. Typically, if a proofreader sees so many issues that it would constitute a major change, it's definitely supposed to be put back in front of the editor and author. They're not supposed to make such large, sweeping wholesale changes without approval and trust me, I didn't approve them.

While it stung, yes, that all my carefully used Spanish was what was affected, the situation as a whole falls under the auspices of something that should never have happened, regardless of what language the changes were in.

Going back to Mayra's article, I think for me, what's important to take away from it, is the idea that we must continue to highlight how we're both individuals with respect to our distinct cultures, yet if we're writing from an American point of view (which I often do, as a first generation Cuban-American), where our culture is but an accent, that publishing professionals not assume that cultural references are going to thoroughly permeate the whole.

2. Congratulations you are one of the chosen few. This year you were one of 16 Latino authors to write a MG/YA book. Why do you think this number is still so small?

Publishing is inherently an extremely conservative business. They want the sure thing. I think with the difficulties publishing is currently experiencing any book published has to be good, going in. And I think if you're publishing from outside the current mainstream (meaning what's popular within the market), you must be that much better. Meaning that it's likely that you're going to be able to draw Hispanic/Latino kids to read books about vampires or fallen angels or whatever the current trend is, but it's going to be a harder sell to draw a non-Hispanic/Latino to read a book with multicultural characters unless you show them how it relates to their lives.

That has always been the greatest compliment I've received on my writing—when I have readers send me letters that say, "I never thought I would have anything in common with a Cuban-American teenager, but she was just like me!" We have to make an effort to reach out not only to our obvious audience, but to the unexpected audience. We have to show them they really want us, even if they don't yet know it.

3. I've always thought about the lack of Latino voices in children's literature but not the void in culture distinctions. Why are there so many quinceanera novels? I loved Mayra Lazara Dole's YA novel Down to the Bone. Thankfully the only coming out story featuring a Latina teen is a great one.

What will it take for the book industry to embrace more stories by Latino authors?
I think there are so many quinceañera novels because it's one of the few traditions our cultures tend to have in common. One of the few things that the outside world can look at and declare as distinctly Hispanic/Latina (never mind that there are probably as many variations on how it's celebrated as there are cultures that celebrate it). I think publishers want what they see as "exotic" but they want it packaged in something neat and tidy and that they can relate to.

To start breaking it down into the subtleties of individual customs and language variations is making things more complicated than most publishers believe the average reader tends to want. I liken it to the Jewish culture. For most people, Jewish=lox, cream cheese, bagels, knishes, and Yiddish phrases. Yet all of these things are actually distinct to the Ashkenazic Jewish traditions which originated in Eastern Europe. Most people don't realize that there's a a whole world of variation within the Jewish culture, starting with the Sephardic traditions which are Mediterranean/North African in origins-- (that there are even Cuban Jews, for example). That while Hebrew is a universal language for holy services, there are variations in pronunciation based on which traditions you follow and what country you're from. That the foods of the Sephardim include a lot of olive oil and oranges and figs and foods that are more commonly found in that part of the world. In other words, a major similarity, but many, many differences. I think that can be said for any culture, really. Look at the U.S. as a whole. I just find it frustrating that everyone presumes that Hispanic/Latina can only mean one thing and that's what I work the hardest to change.

As far as what it's going to take for the book industry to embrace more stories? I think for us to continue writing them, with all their distinctions and quirks and unique qualities. To not let ourselves be sucked into the idea of writing a Hispanic/Latino book, per se, but write the books that speak to us, that we must write. Passion and excellence on the page wins out. At least, that's what I have to believe.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

On Sale Now: New Releases

She Loved Baseball :The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick illus by Don Tate. I loved this and will review soon.

Hope for Haiti by Jesse Joshua Watson

Keena Ford and the Secret Journal Mix up by Melissa Thomson illus. by Frank Morrison

Sugar Plum Ballerinas: Terrible Terrel by Whoopi Goldberg illus. by Maryn Roos

Truth with a Capital T by Bethany Hegedus

Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Jumblee by Pamela Keyes

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Break for the Weekend/ My Princess Boy

National Hispanic Heritage Month ended yesterday on Oct 15 though my Latino author feature will continue on Monday @ 9am. I decided to break for the weekend. Also this week, I will be posting my on sale now, new releases featuring kids of color on Sunday, instead of Tuesday. To make room for the ongoing feature.

I had planned to fill this post with a lot of miscellaneous items, aka filler. That was until I checked my email. Author Zetta Elliott, put this wonderful picture book - My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis on my radar. Kilodavis decided this book after she realized her younger son, enjoyed dressing up in girls clothes.

From the excerpt - To all the Princess Boys in the World, You are loved
Thank you for teaching us how to appreciate your uniqueness.
As a community, we can accept and support our children for whomever
They are and however they wish to look

Due watch this great interview with Mother and son. Father and brother are in the audience and are just as supportive.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman - Ben H. Winters

The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman by Ben H. Winters
At Mary Todd Lincoln Middle School, Mr Meville the social studies teacher is know for his special project. They can be given at anytime and have nothing to do with the curriculum. The students love them. For the newest special project- Mr. Meville ask his 7th grade students to solve a mystery in their own lives.

Bethesada Fielding decides to solve the mystery that is Ms. Finkleman, the band and chorus teacher.

Bethesda stood and addressed the other kids at the table as if she were making a big closing argument in a courtroom. "This woman is a part of our lives!" She's a part of our community. We take music with her every single day." (Which wasn't true, since music and art alternated, plus there were weekends and everything, but nobody interrupted. Bethesda was on a rool.) "And yet we don't know the first thing about her! Ms Finkleman is a walking, talking mystery, right in our midst.

Bethesada uncovers a secret of Ms. Finkleman. Word quickly spreads that the band and chorus teacher was a rock star. When Principal Vreeland hears about Ms. Finkleman's musical background, she demands that the seventh grade class put on a rock concert for the All County Choral Corral musical competition. Ms. Finkleman doesn't want to but she has no choice.

Bethesda and Ms. Finkleman share the main character spotlight with Tenny who isn't doing well in school. Ms. Finkleman works out a great deal with the two, so Tenny is producing the show. The only thing that can hold Tenny's attention is rock music.

Tenny's mind always drifted back to rock and roll. By the time Melville had let him off the hook and moved on to the next kid, Tenny was already drawing on his shoe. But then the music started. That girl with the glasses, Bethesda was playing a record on a beat up turntable. Tenny dropped his marker and sat straight up, eyes wide open, trying to figure out what song it was. What band even. It was punk, definitely early nineties punk, but who was it? Whatever it was it was awesome. The song was built on a thundering four-four beat, straight up and down with a galloping, snare-rolling drum figure and a really sweet, slippery eighth note bass line. And the vocal - the vocal was insane. The lyrics were garbled and buried in the mix, further distorted by the record player's tinny old speaker. But it didn't matter what this girl was singing. The way she was singing it was out of control. The vocal was delicious, a serious of mad whoops, passionate and atonal and intense.

I picked up this book because of the great cover. As good as the cover is it doesn't hint at the musical goodness that's inside. It all begins with Tenny though by the end all the seven graders rock out. Even Kevin Mckelvey a classically trained pianist who wears a suit to school.This book was some serious fun. I loved it. Winter's writing is fun and clever. The author even sneaks a little heart into the story.

an excerpt

Latino Authors - Christina Gonzalez

Author Christina Gonzalez middle grade debut The Red Umbrella was very good. I still remember the powerful symbolism of the umbrella.

The author was kind enough to answer three questions. If you missed it More Latino authors please/necesitamos mas autores Latinos

1. What did you think of author Mayra Lazara Dole's article?

I think it highlights an important fact about the Latino/Hispanic culture – that each ethnicity has its own differences/nuances and we shouldn’t lump all of them together just because they speak the same language. As writers we need to research to make sure our characters are authentic to the group they represent (besides being true to themselves) and this means speaking to people of that ethnicity, doing primary and secondary research and having a general appreciation for the culture.

That being said, I would disagree with the stance that only writers from “within” a culture should write about those cultural experiences. I believe and encourage non-Hispanics to write stories with Hispanic characters with one HUGE caveat…be authentic. Don’t do a sprinkling of Spanish words or a minute amount of research into a culture and believe that you’ve done enough. Even “insiders” have to research. I always encourage people to spend time with people similar to the characters they are writing about and ask questions.

There’s also a lot to be said for having someone of that ethnicity read your manuscript, to make sure you haven’t fallen into stereotypes or have misconstrued a particular part of that person’s heritage. Our Hispanic youth deserves to see themselves accurately represented in books and non-Hispanics should be given an authentic window into the culture of the Hispanic characters they read about.

2. Congratulations you are one of the chosen few. This year you were one of 16 Latino authors to write a MG/YA book. Why do you think this number still so small?

Only 16? Wow, I didn’t realize there were so few. I’m not sure why this number is so small, but hopefully as more publishers see the value of having books with Latino characters the demand for authentic Hispanic characters/books will increase the supply of Latino writers!

3. I've always thought about the lack of Latino voices in children's literature but not the void in culture distinctions. Why are there so many quinceanera novels? I loved Mayra Lazara Dole's YA novel Down to the Bone. Thankfully the only coming out story featuring a Latina teen is a great one.

What will it take for the book industry to embrace more stories from the Latino authors?

I think the realization that a huge segment of future readers will identify themselves as Hispanics, will drive the need for more stories because it makes good business sense. Based on the last census, 25% percent of children under the age of five are Hispanic… with numbers like these growing, publishers that present stories that these children want to read will reap the financial rewards. The key is for publishers to realize that Latino children are like all children…they live in a world that is varied and complex (not just thinking about their quinces)…their stories need to reflect all facets of life, whether those stories are written as picture books, historical fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary or any other genre.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Latino Authors - Jennifer Cervantes

Author Jennifer Cervantes middle grade novel debut Tortilla Sun was wonderful and visually beautiful. I look forward to reading more books by Cervantes in the future.

Jennifer Cervantes was kind enough to answer three questions. If you missed it More Latino Authors Please/necesitamos mas autores Latinos

1. What did you think of author Mayra Lazara Dole's article?

Mayra's article is as much a celebration of the distinct and unique Hispanic cultures as it is a call to the publishing industry. It clearly touched many readers and her passion is evident. Brava!

2. Congratulations you are one of the chosen few. This year you were one of 16 Latino authors to write a MG/YA book. Why do you think this number still so small?

That is the million dollar question. Many factors influence these decisions whether they be financial and market-driven or whether the decisions are based on in-house needs, editorial tastes, etc. Unfortunately, the publishing industry can be a mystery even to authors. It is truly unfortunate that we do not see more voices representing the myriad of Hispanic cultures, and frankly all cultures. What is even more interesting is that in my travels, teachers, librarians, parents, booksellers all seem so hungry for this type of fiction. I have had the wonderful opportunity this year, to present at several conferences with Christina Diaz-Gonzalez (author of The Red Umbrella ) and Guadalupe Garcia Mccall (author of Under The Mesquite)

It has been an eye-opening and fascinating experience as we have discussed the cultural nuances with people in different cities. Each of us had such different experiences within our own cultures and yet there were also so many similarities to be celebrated too. To borrow Maya Angelou's words: "We are more alike...than we are unalike."

3. I've always thought about the lack of Latino voices in children's literature but not the void in culture distinctions. Why are there so many quinceanera novels?

I loved Mayra Lazara Dole's YA novel Down to the Bone. Thankfully the only coming out story featuring a Latina teen is a great one.

What will it take for the book industry to embrace more stories by Latino authors?
I think each publisher is unique and has different needs for their lists. But the bottom line is that these books have to sell. With over 50 million Hispanics living in the U.S., today, I think it's critical that we see more multicultural fiction that is aligned with and representational of the U.S. popuation. Moreover, we need to see not only authentic culturally specific books, but we also need to see culturally generic books where the protagonist is a person of color facing many of the same dilemmas any other teen or kid would face regardless of race.

I just want to say that growing up a bi-racial child had its own unique set of issues and often times, kids can feel like they don't belong to either culture. In today's society, we see more and more chilldren who come from multiple backgrounds, and each deserves to be validated and celebrated.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Latino Authors - Alex Sanchez

Author Alex Sanchez, has published seven YA novels. Is debut Rainbow Boys was published in 2003. His most recent novel Bait was published in 2009.

Bait is the first book by Sanchez that I've read, and I loved it. 16yr Diego is arrested for assaulting a gay classmate. Bait is a must add to any library any time, though its especially relevant now when LGBT teen suicides seem to be on the news nightly.

Alex Sanchez was kind enough to give following response about his writing and personal experiences with publishing. If you missed it - More Latino Authors Please/necesitamos mas autores Latinos

Alex Sanchez Speaks

I thought Mayra’s article was great! As an author, when I create characters and stories,
I strive to be as specific about culture and nationality as the story allows. Details matter.
They make the story real. But at the same time, I need to remember that many Latinos
or Hispanics in the US are often a blend of cultures, nationalities, ethnicity's, and races
rather than one specific nationality.

In my case, I was born in Mexico of a German-Mexican dad and a Cuban mom. My
family moved to the melting pot US when I was five. Later, I lived in Costa Rica for
several years and I now divide my time between the US and Thailand. So, what does
that make me? For the most part I simply consider myself Latino more often than either
Cuban or Mexican because I think that broader term captures more accurately the bits and
pieces of several cultures and countries that form my identity.

Reality is that defining ourselves and others is complex. Faced with that complexity, we
look for ways to simplify. Witness the case of our current president. Obama is black,
white, Kenyan, Indonesian, Pacific Islander, and American. And yet most people tend
to simply label him as “black.” In that case, what does “black” really mean? His cultural
background is vastly different from that of so many other black people.

I struggled a lot with cultural identity growing up, trying to figure out who I was. I often
felt like a “jack of all cultures, master of none.” Many young people today grow up
with similar experiences of joined cultures, mixed races, blended families, combined
nationalities, varying religions. Fortunately for them, the US has become amazingly more
accepting of diversity than when I grew up.

And in spite of current media-fueled anti-immigrant voices, our country will continue to
become more diverse. Cultural globalization is a wave that can’t be stopped, driven and
facilitated by rapidly changing technologies.

How do Latino authors fit into this? If we want more publishers to publish more of our
stories, we need to get beyond the stereotypical “poor immigrant moves up from the
barrio” story. Although that’s an important story, we’re much more complex and diverse
than that one story. We need to move out of that ghetto we’ve bought into and write all
sorts of stories in all sorts of settings in which the characters just happen to be Latino.

That’s what I’ve tried to do with the Latino protagonists in my books. And I believe
that’s what will push us into the mainstream. We need to accept that we as Latinos, in all
our complexity and diversity, are steadily becoming the mainstream. Our voices need to
reflect that. For more information about my books, visit me at Alex

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Latino Authors Please/ necesitamos mas autores Latinos (Updated)

After reading Mayra Lazara Dole's article "Authentic Latino Voices" in the Hunger Mountain Journal.
I felt inspired to write something about the lack of middle grade and young adult Latino authors. I found 14 MG/YA books by Latino authors published this year in the United States. Since I originally posted this I have been informed of two more Latino authors published in 2010. Thanks Edi

1 The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork
2.The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle
3.The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan
4.Mr. Mendonza's Paintbursh by Luis Alberto Urrea
5 Secret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado
6 The F Factor by Diane Gonzales Bertrand
7.The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez
8.Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes
9.90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis
10 Efrain's Secret by Sofia Quintero
11 How Tia Lola Learned to Teach by Julia Alvarez
12 I Will Save You by Matt de la Pena
13 The Good Long Way by Rene Saldana Jr
14.When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer

Please take a moment to really think about that,

14 Latino authors

I am willing concede that I may have missed ( I did) or been unaware of a few authors . Even if the number was tripled, that would only make 42, still far from respectable.

16 authors is no where near 42, but hopefully this list will contiunue to grow.

I know this is a silly question, that will only make me angry if I think about it too long. Yet, I still can't help but wonder how this can happen?

In her article Laraza Dole stresses the need for more distinct and diverse stories told by Latino authors.

"Our common Spanish language is a tool that helps Latino kids and teens unite, but they also need to feel proud of their diversity and unique customs. When the media, journal reviewers and publishers list books as “Latino” or “Hispanic,” instead of, let’s say, Cuban-American or Nicaraguan-American, it leads children and teens to believe our culture and celebrations are identical. Once, when an Anglo teen found out I was born in Cuba, she asked me if my family celebrated Cinco de Mayo and El Dia de los Muertos, celebrations that aren’t Cuban."

Quinceanera novels are nice but I can only read so many. I think we are at a point where more diverse stories should be welcomed and encouraged. Though until that acutally happens race based awards like the Pura Belpre will continue to necessary.

Banned Book Week. September 25 - Oct 2 is a very big deal. Much online space is dedicated to it. This year, at the Huffington post there was an article about 15 movies based off of banned books. There was also an article about it at LA Times. . There's so much more. When I see all this it makes me wonder, what if people truly got behind the cause to get more authentic voices in children's literature. What if online media and bloggers spent a week reviewing, talking about and listing books by Latino authors and other underrepresented groups.

Disallowing, a people the ability to tell their own story is a form a censorship. Just because this problem isn't as sexy, popular or easily discussed doesn't mean it should be ignored.

I like my voice well enough but for this I wanted to give a few Latino authors the opportunity to be heard. So I reached out to a few authors, and some were kind enough to answer 3 questions or give a statement. Initially, I had planned to post all the answers as one.

Now I know each response should stand alone, giving everyone the chance to really take them in. I won't reveal which author participated until I post their responses. I will post the first one Wednesday at 9:00am. The next Thursday at 9:00 am, and so on. This should run for about a week. I hope you enjoy and spread the word.

On Sale Now : New Releases (Cybils)

Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of a Young Jimi Hendrix by Gary Golio, illus by Javaka Steptoe ( Cybils nominee)

Me, Frida by Amy Novesky illus. by David Diaz

There are no Scary Wolves by Hyewon Yum

Soup Day by Melissa Iwai

Good Luck, Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke

Fort Mose by Glennette Tilley Turner

Condoleezza Rice : A Memoir of Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me by Condoleezza Rice

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon (Cybils Nominee) The author's guest post @ Carol H. Rasco's RIF blog

Finding Family by Tonya Bolden. I have Edi to thank for this one

Nice and Mean by Jessica Leader - Author Mitali Perkins chats with Jessica Leader -(Cybils Nominee)

Meanicures by Catherine Clark - This looks like it could be some serious click lit fun. I really enjoy Clark's work, so I am putting this one on my list.

Drama High:Pushin by L. Divine

All of these books have been released prior to Oct. 15 and are eligible nominees for the Cybils. Anyone and everyone has until Oct 15, 12am to vote (one book per category) . So if you've read and loved any titles including the ones feature here, please go vote

For YA, I went with Sweet, Hereafter by Angela Johnson. Any author who puts that much emotion into 128 pages gets my nod.

I have my fingers crossed someone will nominate Good Fortune by Noni Carter for the YA catergory. Its a great debut.

I am little shocked that Compromised by Ayarbe hasn't been nominated for the YA catergory yet. It one of the best YA books out this year.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Janis Joplin:Rise Up Singing - Ann Angel

Janis Joplin: Rise Up Signing by Ann Angel
If any one asked me who Janis Joplin was, I could eaily answer a rock singer from the sixties. That's all I knew, until now.

The biography opens with a wonderful introduction by Sam Andrew, a band mate and close friend of Janis Joplin. I was moved by Andrew's words about a talented friend who died too soon. Janis Joplin's musical career was barely three years. Angel begins with Joplins High School years at Port Arthur Texas in the 1950's.

Before reading this I always took Janis Joplin's success for granted. But Joplin wasn't one of many female rock star artist, she was the first. The author does an excellent job of explaining this from the very beginning. She addresses the 1950's culture and everyone's need to fit in. For women that meant getting married right out of high school. Joplin simply wasn't that type of woman.

This great biography gives us a very good sense of Janis Joplin in all the stages in her life. From Joplin's supportive family and friends, to Joplins Big Brother and the Holding Company bandmates,to her Blues musical influence, to Joplins musical talents, and addictions. Angel doesn't gloss over Joplin's drug addiction which ultimately killed her. The author also captures the hippie culture of the 1960's.

I love there are quotes from many, including bandmates, friends and Joplin's sister. Throughout, there are black and white photographs. In the back the author includes several notes attributing all the quotes as well as bibliography. Some teens may find it hard to relate to Joplins lack of choices or freedom due to gender. Though many will be able to relate to her outcast status and Joplins desire to find whatever it was she was looking for.

I linked this post to nonfiction Monday, the round up can be found at Picture Book of the Day.