Friday, July 31, 2009

Soccer Chick Rules Dawn FitzGerald

Soccer Chick Rules by Dawn FitzGerald If Meg Cabot wrote book with a sports chick it would read something like Soccer Chick Rules. 13 yr old Tess is a great athlete and loves soccer. Tess doesn't care about politics but she becomes active when school athletics are threatened. If a levy doesn't pass there will be no more team sports. Tess works with other athletes to get the word out to voters to vote yes, for the levy. This is serious business but Soccer Chick Roles is still a laugh out loud read. Tess is great and so are her friends Bo and Ibby. Fitzgerald's writing is wonderful all around, this story doesn't live or did with soccer. Though it is some great soccer. I was happily surprised by the ending. I highly recommend Soccer Chick Rules This is a must read for girls who love Meg Cabot and playing on their field of choice. Ages 10up

I didn't do this book enough justice, so

FitzGerald has another book Getting in the Game (ice hockey)

btw, If I am linking to two previews in one post, that is some serious reader love. So check out at least one.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Diversity Roll Call Part B

This week's Diversity Roll Call is being hosted by Ali @ Worducopia. Its been a very busy week within the children's blogger world. There's the cover controversy with the upcoming YA release Liar by Justine Larbaleister's. The main character is Black, yet there is a White girl on the cover. That didn't go over to well. Another hot topic (look out Whoopi, here I come) was books for boys. Do in part to an open letter from an educator to the School Library Journal. Which so much going on Ali's given us a choice this week. Topic A- Talk about the cover controversy
Topic B Talk about or list books that appeal to both genders.
I've already done A - here it is, now here's B

Books with female protagonists that are good for boys and girls

Early readers - I think this is the hardest reading level to find good books for boys. Publishers, no more fairies, horses or anything pink Not every girl wants to read those stories, so more choices please.

The Dragon's Child by Jenny Nimmo my review

Araminta Spookie #01: My Haunted House by Angie Sage- I love this series

Lunch Walks Among Us by Jim Benton

I've watched teenage boys shop YA. After the third lap around, they go back over to the parent/adult they came with. If I am approached for a suggestion, I will not suggest titles with female protagonist first. They've just walk through the section that is filled with female protagonists so my first few sections will be male leads. If that's wrong I don't want to be right. I know I can't be too off because, I have a difficult time selling male protagonist novels with girls on the cover a la John Green's Paper Towns. I loved Paper Towns but after a while I simply gave up trying to sell it. It wasn't worth the trouble trying to convince people that guys would enjoy it. I am looking forward to the paperback release of Paper Towns, a girl free cover.

The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower by Lisa Graff my review I really liked this book The main character gets caught up running cons during the summer. There is a strong male protagonist but you can't tell from the cover. The cover limits the audience, boys will walk right pass this.

I Put a Spell on You: From the Files of Chrissie Woodward, Spelling Bee Detective
by Adam Selzer. my review. I loved this book, so much so I didn't edit the long title. The cover is perferctly gender neutral and still fun.

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass my review, and you'll notice I said it would be perfect for boy/girl book club - This is a very nice cover but it limits the audience.

First Light by Rebecca Stead

The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies my review story alternates between a brother and sister, and again I am loving the gender neutral cover.

Exodus by Julie Bertagna

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Order of Odd-Fish by James Kennedy my review I loved this book

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez my review I loved this book

Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go by Dale E Basye my review Reading the sequel now, Basye is throwing down all over again. Didn't think it was possible but I am loving it more than the first one. Great both the female and male leads are pictured.

Poisons of Caux #01: The Poisons of Caux: by Susannah Appelbaum my review

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor my review I really enjoyed this one, and there is a strong male protagonist.

Shooting the Moon by Frances O'roark Dowell my review I loved this book

Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park my review The reader's chromosome make up doesn't matter, they just have to enjoy baseball, to love this book.

The Comeback Season by Jennifer E Smith my review where I said guys will also enjoy this book

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - I didn't put this on at first because I thought it was so obvious but should be on the list. Loved it and the sequel is just as good. The covers are enticing and gender neutral

Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia by Cindy Pon- Really enjoyed this one.
my review You can tell by the cover but I think guys would like this.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Diversity Roll Call Part A

This week's Diversity Roll Call is being hosted by Ali @ Worducopia. Its been a very busy week within the children's blogger world. There's the cover controversy with the upcoming YA release Liar by Justine Larbaleister's. The main character is Black, yet there is a White girl on the cover. That didn't go over to well. Another hot topic (look out Whoopi, here I come) was books for boys. Do in part to an open letter from an educator to the School Library Journal. Which so much going on Ali's given us a choice this week.

Topic A- Talk about the cover controversy
Topic B Talk about or list books that appeal to both genders.

I am doing A & B. I want to do B but I feel I can't ignore A. I would hope that since I tend to review books featuring characters of color, writing this unnecessary, but I don't want to skip over A and give the impression that I don't care. I don't want it to appear as if I am not making myself heard with regards to this cover controversy. I didn't do a post on my blog, because I don't get enough traffic, so I decided to make myself heard on other blogs. Where I spoke out - The Brown Bookshelf Chasing Ray Color Online Taste Life Twice
Larbaleister's blog (comment # 98, top 100, sweet). There were a few others.

I am going to take this opportunity to say I am sadden but not surprised that many of the teen bloggers, didn't talk about this. I don't know how any blogger could avoid this issue. My not doing a post about the Liar controversy, hurts no one. My reviews speak for me, besides publishers aren't listening to me, hell they don't even know me. But they know the bloggers with over 100, 200, sometimes 400 followers. These bloggers felt this was someone else's issue and decided no talk about. Publishers, hear this silence as loud as our protest of outrage maybe more so. Their silence helps answer the question, why did Bloomsbury decide to put a White girl on the cover of a book with a Black protagonist.

With over 100 bloggers at least, I know these It bloggers (air quotes please) have some teens of color, followers. This next part goes out to those followers. Please teens of color, stop allowing these It bloggers (air quotes) to whitewash your bookshelves. Do you have to limit your reading to author's of the same race or religion? No. But claim and embrace stories with characters that look like you. Embrace stories with characters who don't.

White readers who refuse to discover authors of color may think they have everything they need but they're so wrong. Adult readers of color know this, and we laugh at their colorless reading, we mock their inability to appreciate the artistic beauty of others, we pity them for missing out on - Diane Mckinney-Whetstone, Junot Diaz, Gail Tsukiyama, Christina Garcia, Kim Sunee, Bernice L Mcfadden, Octavia E Butler, Colson Whitehead, and all the others wonderful authors some White readers will never know because they are limited by their excess amount of choices. We don't have the luxury of exculsive reading, and I don't want it because the price is too heavy.

As a reader of color reading versatility is your birth right. You should be able to go from
Jacqueline Woodson - Sarah Dessen -Mitali Perkins - Coert Voorhees - Francisco Stork - Sara Zarr -Julia Alvarez- Dream Jordan - Sheba Karim- Maureen Johnson- Dene Low- Beth Kephart- Tia Williams - Libba Bray like its the most natural thing in the world. As a reader of color you should be embracing the stories some of your peers are so foolishly overlooking. I get it there's pressure to keep up with hot titles (as a blogger I face that as well) but sometimes you have to discover you own hot titles.

The Corner Bk Club/ Free Rock and River Download

I've mentioned The Corner Book Club, started by the artist Common before, though if you're not familiar, they read and discuss a book each month. They've read some very good books so far including Pemba's Song: A Ghost Story by Marilyn Nelson and Tonya C. Hegmin and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I loved both of this novels. At the end of the month the authors stopped by to chat about the books. I loved that all these authors are taking the time out to stop by the Corner. If best selling authors can find the time to stop by The Corner, so can you.
This Month the book is The Rock and the River Kekla Magoon (loved it) Anyone who is a member can access a free digital copy of The Rock and the River. This is no membership fee, all you have to do is register
Download Rock and the River for Free
For those unfamiliar with Grammy Award winning artist Common, check this out

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I Wanna Be Your Shoebox Cristina Garcia

I Wanna Be Your Shoebox By Cristina Garcia I loved this book. Yumi Ruiz Hirsch is Cuban, Jewish and Japanese. She's also surfer/skaterboarder, classical clarinetist, who loves good rock ( Ramones), and she plays a decent bass guitar. Garcia refused to limit who Yumi was and who she could become. The summer is over, Yumi is returning from Surfer's camp, she'll be entering the 8th grade. Yumi's lives with her mother. Her parents have been divorced since she was one. Yumi is very close to Saul her Jewish grandfather. Saul is 92 and dying of cancer. Yumi ask Saul to tell his story and he does. The story alternates between Yumi's everyday life and visiting Saul. Much is going on in Yumi's life. Her mom is dating for the first time in years Due to a lack of funds the school orchestra is being discontinued. To save the orchestra the members decide to put on a rock concert with classical instruments. Yumi is one of the students who takes charge. It was her idea.

"How about a fund raising concert? I suggest. Maybe an all girl punk band. Dad says you can play punk with three chords and lots of attitude, so how hard could it be? I figure we could cover a couple of great Ramones songs, maybe write one of our own. In less than five minutes everyone is already fighting over a name for our nonexistent band. I'm in favor of Don't Call Me Miss. the other contenders are Testosterone Free Zone (TFZ), The Anastasia's, Kisses for a Dollar, the Neo-Cramps, and Nasty Girl. Quincy complains that boys shouldn't be excluded from the band and says he'll play in drag if he has to. Believe me, at six foot two and one hundred seventy pounds, that would not be a pretty sight."

I loved this book from the beginning. Garcia's created a wonderful character in Yumi. The ending reminded me of another book I loved Kephart's House of Dance. I knew Saul was going to die, but its still sad. The authors don't want the readers to linger on death but to look forward and they look to dance as a way to embrace life. This book came out in 2008, I only just heard about it last week. I Wanna be Your Shoebox is a book diamond. I loved this book so much I will be reading Garcia's adult novel Dreaming in Cuban, next. I don't usually read two books by an author so close together but I Wanna be Your Shoebox was so good I am making an exception. Ages 9 up. I highly recommend it. An excellent book club selection. I read the hardcover edition but I like the look of the QP better so that's the one I used. The paperback will be released on Sept 22. though this book is hardcover worthy. Or simply check your local library
Read an excerpt
As an added bonus
Dreaming in Cuban Google Preview
If you're thinking, "oh my an added bonus, I've never seen that before. This book must be extra special" You would be correct. So go get your hands on a copy of I Wanna Be Your Shoebox.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tackling Dad Elizabeth Levy

Tackling Dad by Elizabeth Levy - With my search for sports books featuring girls, I have been finding some real gems, like this one. When Cassie was 7 she was the star of the peewee football team. After the divorce, Cassie's dad stopped going to her games and she stopped playing. Now Cassie is a 13yr old, track star but she still loves football. Cassie's parents have been divorced since she was 9. she's an expert in parent divorce speak.

"Nonsense. I'll be there to cheer you on this afternoon. Have I ever missed any of your games or meets unless I really had to? Her question needed no answer. Mom did go to almost all my track meets. However, I knew what she was really asking me Didn't you notice that I rearranged my work schedule so that I could go to all of your meets, but your dad couldn't be bothered? Haven't I been the better parent? Children of divorced families get to be fluent in a language we wish we never had to learn."

Cassie does her best to keep a happy balance between her parents. After the divorce Cassie's father entered Alcohol Anonymous. This fact was a happy surprise, not many middle grade books talk about parents in AA. Now Cassie's father is remarried and she has a stepbrother.

The middle school team want 2 and 7 last year. Beef the team coach, ask Cassie and another girl, Molly to tryout. For runningback and kicker respectively. Cassie's parents don't like the idea of her playing football. Cassie's mother comes around first. Lucky for Cassie, the football coach is her dad's best friend Beef convinces him to let Cassie play. Cassie takes a lot of grief from the boys on the team. All of Cassie and Molly's friends, athletes as well support their decision to try out for football. I fell for Tackling Dad a little more when I discovered two girls were trying out for football. Cassie didn't have to go it alone. It nice to read a middle grade book filled with female athletes. If its a group of friends there is normally only one athlete. The football's very good. I even learned a new term

"What's a snot bubble? I asked him. "It's when the linebreaker hits you so hard whi his helmet that the snot literally bubbles out of your nose," Dad explained. He stood up, brushed himself off, and wiped his nose.

Levy's created a very likable character in Cassie. Tackling Dad was a real joy to read.

Ages 9up

The Necessary Hunger Nina Revoyr

The Necessary Hunger by Nina Revoyr - 16 yr old Nancy Takahiro is a star forward on her basketball team. It's 1984, Nancy and her dad, Wendell are the only Japanese family living in Compton. The two get stares from a few neighbors this only increases when Wendell's, Black girlfriend Claudia and daugther Raina move in. Now their are two basketball stars in the house. At first the living situation is awkward, more so for Nancy because she has feelings for Raina. Raina already has a girlfriend and has no romantic interest in Nancy. Revoyr does a wonderful with the novel's setting. She makes the reader feel 80's LA. Being basketball playing girl in 80's LA, it's only natural that she follow USC and be a Cheryl Miller fan. There is so much to love about Necessary Hunger. Revoyr's wrote a very beautiful multi layered story. Wendell and Raina (the parents) are being questioned by friends for dating outside of their race. It's Nancy and Raina's last year of school both are being scouted heavily by colleges. When Nancy hangs out with her friends, she is the only Japanese girl. Anyone can relate to a character, who tries to see themselves through the eyes of a stranger and their presumptions on their identity. The author does an excellent job with a lovely job with Nancy's home family and basketball (girls who love girls) family. Nancy and Raina play for different high schools . Though I didn't want it to happen, their teams playing each other was inevitable. It happened towards the end, and I am very happy I got what I didn't want. The basketball is beautiful. Ages 13up

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I revisit Dear Julia, in time for the Julie and Julia Movie

With the upcoming release of the Julie and Julia movie, I have been meaning to repost my review of Amy Bronwen Zemser's Dear Julia But I've been, dragging a bit. Though I decided today was the day. I needed to do something light and fun after reading so much about the cover controversy regrading the upcoming YA release Liar . So Dear Julia it is, my review.
I loved this book. It was passed around the bookstore 3 out 4 people loved it. I am not just saying that so we sound like dentist. I wish I could say it was loved by all.

If you plan on seeing Julie and Julia or you're a fan of Julia Childs, or you want to laugh long and hard, I highly recommend buying Dear Julia for yourself or a young reader you want to share your love of Julia Childs or cooking with.

Forget my review, read this excerpt

Biracial and Multiracial Teen Characters

I don't normally link to Amazon, but this list was too good to change. If AnnainCa ever finds their way to this blog, thank you for such a great list featuring biracial and multiracial teens.

Since it doesn't look like I am just using someone elses hardwork I will add a few titles
Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It by Sundee T. Frazier
Dog Whisperer: The Rescue by Nicholas Edwards - Loved my review
Dread Locks by Neal Shusterman - another title for Sci fi/Fantasy Diversity Roll Call
Jimi & Me by Jaime Adoff
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher Miss Attitude's review
Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa by Micol Ostow

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Girls Got Game II

I am still in the middle of my reading kick of girl sport books. Out of all the books I've read so far, Boost by Kathy Mackel is my favorite. My review I really enjoyed all the softball books I've read but I can't look at another one right now. I was worried this burn out would effect other sport books but it didn't. I recently finished The Necessary Hunger by Nina Revoyr. Basketball is the sport of choice. Set in 84 Los Angeles. Nancy Takahiro and her father are the only Japanese family living in Inglewood. Nancy is a star athlete . Soon there are two star athletes living in the same house, when the father's girlfriend and daugther, Raina moves in. I liked this one alot. Susan I do believe I found another book for your unofficial list of great YA by or about women of color

Books I am looking forward to,
Tackling Dad by Elizabeth Levy
Twenty Miles by Cara Hedley, (Hockey)
The Ring by Bobbie Pyron - (Boxing) An upcoming release (September) by a new YA author. I will also be interviewing the author. After the interview this kick is officially over.

No Cream Puffs Karen Day

No Cream Puffs by Karen Day 12 yr old Madison is very good at sports. She was on the undefeated volleyball team with her best friend Sara. Madison begins to feel like the old girl out when Casey Cunningham moves to town. Casey is all about make-up and boys, and does her best to make Madison feel unpretty. After an incident in the rest room, Madison is on edge when she returns to the cafeteria. Madison gets into a fist fight with Billy. Billy did his best to embarrass Madison in gym class because she was beating him at basketball. Now in the cafeteria, Billy has no problem punching a girl. There is a misunderstanding with Sara, and Madison has no friends by her side. Set in 1980's Michigan, and girls don't play league baseball with the boys. Madison's older brother David, is her coach, he convinces her to try out for a summer league. Madison easily makes the team, named starting pitcher. Its a big deal that Madison is the first girl to play with the boys. Ivy must deal with all the extra that comes with being the first girl. The games are standing room only, people write op ed pieces for the newspaper about whether or not this is good for baseball . Madison doesn't like being called a pioneer or feminist, she just wants to play baseball. Like most good sports novel, this is about more than what happens on the field. Ivy is trying to find her place- does loving baseball mean she can't wear lipstick? I really enjoyed No Cream Puffs. Day writes a great game. Ages 10 up
More Reviews

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Poisons of Caux Susannah Appelbaum

The Poisons of Caux: The Hollow Bettle (Book I) by Susannah Appelbaum - A rep dropped this off at the bookstore. Thank you Random House. I am very happy they did because chances are I would have missed a really good story. Appelbaum's language is so much fun. After the first paragraph I knew I was in for a treat.

" It's an astonishing feat that young Ivy Manx was not poisoned during Mr. Flux's tenure as her taster. There were corrupt times in Caux, the land being what it was- a hotbed of wickedness and general mischief. The odds were stacked against anyone surviving their next meal, unless they had in their employ a half decent, Guild-accredited taster. A taster, such as Mr. Flux maintained himself to be."

11yr old Ivy Manx lives with her uncle Cecil, at the tavern he owns the Hollow Bettie. The other Hollow Bettie, resident is Shoo. A very smart crow who saves Ivy more than once. The city of Caux is a dangerous place, everyone must be on alert or be poisoned. Ivy and her uncle live outside the city. The story opens with Ivy's uncle off to try to cure the king of an aliment. In better times, Cecil was a famous healer. Many people have turned to using herbs and plants to kill. Ivy's uncle is still teaching her the art of apotheopathy, to use herbs to heal. In his place, Cecil's left the questionable Mr. Flux. A year passes, Ivy's uncle hasn't returned. She decides to go see about her uncle. Ivy is accompanied by Rowan Truax. Rowan is a young, just graduated from the taster's guild, unfortunately he's a horrible taster. The first day on the job his charges , men who work for the king are poisoned. Rowan must disappear or lose his tongue. He decides to go along with Ivy to Caux. Poisons of Caux was a delight to read. Appelbaum introduces some nice characters, I look forward to seeing them again. I've left out a lot but it would be wrong not to mention Vidal Verjouce, he runs the tasters guild.

"Yet it was Verjouce's eyes that were by far his most frightening feature- not because his eyes once were now rested only hollow pits and discolored knots of scar tissue. The frightening thng about his eyes was that he was the source of his own disfigurement- having blinded himself with his own hands to devote himself more fully to the sense of taste."

Poisons of Caux is scheduled to be released on August 11. Ages 10
Read an excerpt

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Welcome A New Blogger & Mark What You've Read

I want everyone to take a moment to welcome a new blogger Miss Attitude over at Young, Black, A Reader I hope I am not the only one who is excited by this new addition. Though I must say I am slightly jealous, Miss Attitude's almost hit double digits in comments on her fifth post. Don't let that stop you from going over and saying hello. Its the neighborly thing to do

Susan over at Color Online made a list to see how well read we are when it comes to YA by or about Women of Color. I don't begrudge anyone who makes these well read list because there is no way to include everyone. I love that Susan understands this and expresses her concerns for this list shortcomings allowing people to add more titles in the comment box.

Put an ‘X’ by what you’ve read, “#” by what books are on your tbr and “!” by books you loved. This list in very short and focused on women writers of color. Feel free to add titles in your comments. The list sorely needs works by Native Americans and Latinas for example.

Susan’s Unofficial List of Great YA by or About Women of Color:
1. When Kambia Elaine Flew In From Neptune by Lori A. Williams
x Every Time A Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams-Garcia
3. No Laughter Here by Rita Williams-Garcia
! Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia
5. If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
6. The House You Pass On The Way by Jacqueline Woodson
! Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
8. From The Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson
x Sold by Patricia McCormick
10. Heaven by An Na
! The Parable of The Sower by Octavia E. Butler
# Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
13. Persepolis by Majane Satrapi
x The Rock and The River by Kekla Magoon
x Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins
x Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis
x A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott
! Down To The Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole
19. Don’t Get It Twisted by Paula Chase
x Jason & Kyra by Dana Davidson
21 Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper
x Kendra by Coe Booth
xShine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger
x Does My Head Look Big In This? By Randa Abdel-Fattah
25. Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier
x Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim
27. The Meaning of Conseulo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
28. In The Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
x Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
30. First Part Last by Angela Johnson
! Pemba’s Song by Marilyn Nelson
x Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan
! M + O 4EVR by Tonya Hegamin
x Lucy The Giant by Sherri L. Smith
! The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
36 Throwaway Piece by Jo Ann Hernandez
# White Bread Competition by Jo Ann Hernandez
38. Across A Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande
# Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
40. Ash by Malinda Lo
x The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Throwing Like A Girl Weezie Kerr Mackey

Throwing Like a Girl by Weezie Kerr Mackey 15 yr old Ella will be starting at a new school, in a new city (Dallas) in the middle of the school year. Ella must leave her best friends and the city (Chicago) she knows so well. One day Ella's teacher notices she's a natural athlete and suggest she try out for softball. This is the first time Ella has ever played softball, she's learning the game has she goes. Ella easily takes to softball and is determined to get better. I really enjoyed this book, the story moves very well Mackey's created a believable and likeable character in Ella. Mackey's writes an excellent game. It was a lot of fun watching Ella fall for the game of softball. 12up

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All or Nothing, NOT And Book Giveaway

I was helping a customer last week and we really clicked. She was looking for books for her daughters. I suggested two books I loved Hunger Games by Collins and Eyes Like Stars by Mantchev, she got both. The customer already had a book in her hand for herself, Angel's Game (which is really good btw). While we were walking an talking about books I decided I would show her a book by a Black author. Sometimes Black customers don't like to be shown books by Black writers. They don't say anything, but I've gotten the are you showing me this book because I am Black look. Well, Duh. Yes. But I didn't get this vibe from this customers so I showed her the new Carleen Brice book Children of the Waters (reading now, its so good) She got it. Somehow we started talking about Octavia Butler. She loves Butler's writing. When I found this out right away I told her about The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi -mbachu. I was going to stop there but I decided to go for broke and tell her about A Wish After Midnight by Elliott. As much as I enjoyed Elliott's YA titles I have to sell or suggest titles the store can get because the economy is so bad. I made an exception in this case because it would've felt wrong not to tell this customer about A Wish After Midnight because we clicked so nicely, she loves Kindred, and has two daughters.
Besides showing off my wicked selling skills, this story proves that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I see so many Black customers who either only read Black authors or won't read them at all. Not having to be all or nothing applies to everyone. Yesterday, Susan did a post over at Color Online about being in funk because she couldn't find many reviews featuring characters of color. Our race, gender and all other box checks, shouldn't limit the books we read. I am with Susan, I would love to see more YA books featuring poc reviewed on a regular basis on more blogs.
Finally The Fun - Book Giveaway
Over at Color Online, Susan is hosting a book giveaway. Nine, authors were kind enough to donate a book to the giveaway. Including Brice and Elliott. There are some wonderful books to be won. So check it out and enter. If you commit to writing a review you can get 5 xtra entries (aka a whole hand) If you review books anyway what's one more.
Great Giveaway

CORA Diversity Roll Call

CORA Diversity Roll Call is a bi weekly meme, co- hosted by Susan at Color Online and Ali @ Worducopia. This week, its Susan's turn. The Roll Call : Science Fiction and Fantasy

"Your assignment: spotlight science fiction and fantasy titles where people of color are the leads, works by people of color in these genres or discuss your thoughts about race in these genres. Do you notice the absence of color? In what ways is race portrayed in fantasy and science fiction beyond using traditional racial terms like black and white? If the book covers prominently features people of color, does it affect your perception? Are we more comfortable with imaginary characters versus different race in these works?"

This meme is hard for me since I didn't grow up reading science fiction and fantasy. I asked two of my co-workers who read this genre for titles featuring characters of color, they couldn't help me. My first thought was damn really. Even in an alternate reality color is ignored. If literature was a math problem ignoring color would be the constant variable. IC =X
Here are a few YA Sci fi/fantasy titles featuring characters of color.
Rogelia's House of Magic byJamie Martinez Wood
City of Fire (City Trilogy) by Laurence Yep -(Sept) the author has many books out
The Comet's Curse: A Galahad Book by Dom Testa- This final title made the list because there appears to be an Asian guy on the cover. I am hoping there is actually an Asian character, but I don't know.
The Shadow Speaker Nnedi Okorafor -
Invisible Touch by Kelly Parra
City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende
Dread Locks (Dark Fusion) by Neal Shusterman
Tantalize by Cynthia Leiti Smith
47 by Walter Mosley
Stacy Whitman did the roll call as well with a foucs on MG/YA reads. So if you what more Sci fi/ fantasy featuring poc check out her list. Everything on this list is YA expect Jemisin's title which is slated to come out next year.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wanting Mor Rukhsana Khan

Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan This is Khan's first YA novel. She is an award winning children's author in Canada. Jameela lives in a small village in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Set around 2001, Jameela has grown up surrounded by war. When Jameela's Mor (mother), dies, she is lost. Soon after the funeral, Jameela's baba, (father) sells everything they own and moves them to the city of Kabul. When they first got their, Jameela did her best to figure out the new world she was in. Her baba didn't care too much for her welfare. Without her mor their was no one to answer her questions, all she could do was follow. Jameela's baba remarries, the new wife works her very hard and he doesn't intervene. One day the new wife decides she doesn't want Jameela around. Jameela's baba leaves her in the market. It was very sad to see how trusting Jameela was, standing for hours before she would even sit because she worried her baba wouldn't see her when he returned. Luckliy for Jameela, a kind butcher takes her home with him to his family. Eventually, Jameela is placed in an orphanage. I didn't know if that was a good or bad thing, but it was still upsetting that Jameela was at the mercy of so many people. The orphanage turns out to be where Jameela finds a new home. She finally gets to go to school and make friends. Khan draws out several of the secondary characters to making the novel more interesting. I really enjoyed Wanting Mor and found I couldn't stop reading. When I was away from it I found myself thinking about Jameela. Jameela dreamed of her Mor often. She a practicing Muslim, throughout the book Jameela says her prayers. Khan's weaves Jameela's faith and prayers seamlessly into the story. The author also incorporates a few Farsi, Pushto and Arabic words, from the surrounding sentences it was pretty easy to figure out what the words meant* Nothing miraculous or unbelievable happens and that's part of Wanting Mor's beauty. Its simply the story of a girl from a village, who moves to the city, tethered to no one and how quickly she could get lost and forgotten. Wanting Mor would be perfect book club selection. Ages 11up
*Great practice for the SAT, if a young reader can figure out was a Farsi, Pushto or Arabic words, with the help of the surrounding sentence, than doing it with English words may not seem as hard.

Check out this great interview, over at Writing With a Broken Tusk. It made me want to read the book.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Madcat Kathy Mackel

Madcat by Kathy Mackel 12yr old MadCat (given name Madelyn Catherine Campione), is the catcher for the Sting. The team is pretty good, this year they are going national. Its no longer about just having fun but winning and getting to the Softball Wordseries. Several sting players have been cut to make room for better players. I really enjoyed Madcat. Mackel gives the reader a good sense of the pressure top tier players and teams face. Madcat is a wonderful character, her voice is strong and believable. Though she is one of the best catchers, she dreams of getting some of the glory and pitching in the circle. The action on the field is described very well. Mackel takes the time to developed several secondary characters. Jess, Madcat's best friend and pitcher. She is determined to stay the number one pitcher. Blair, the new ace pitcher. She quiet, shy and naturally gifted. Mugger, though cut from the team she doesn't give up softball. Ivy, another catcher though competing for the same position, Madcat and Ivy become friends. One of the strengths of this book is Madcat's voice and her relationships with her teammates. Ages 10up

Dragonbreath Ursula Vernon

Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon - This was so much fun, I think Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans will love it. Danny Dragonbreath is the only mythical creature at a school of reptiles and amphibians. Danny wants to make his parents proud and learn how to breath fire. He takes his father's advice, and thinks hot thoughts while practicing. Danny is being bullied at school by big Eddy, a komodo dragon. His best friend is Wendell, an iguana. Danny and Wendell, make a great friendship duo. Their verbal give n take is funny and smart. Danny always acts without thinking, taking Wendell, who is a good sport with him. Danny must do a book report on the sea, instead of going to the library, he visits his cousin Edward a sea serpent. Edward gives Danny and Wendell a tour of the ocean. Vernon easily incorporates ocean facts, sharing some very cool ones like when sea cucumbers get nervous they throw their guts at the enemy. Dragonbreath alternates between comic and text format, making this a wonderful choice for reluctant readers. When the sea serpent spits out his guts, Wendell is the unlucky recipient. This part is in comic form, so readers can see the look of disgust on Wendell's face and Danny laughing at his best friend. Danny and Wendell have a great time in the ocean, though there is an incident with a giant squid. I loved Vernon's writing, it was fast, fun, quick and smart. I highly recommand Dragonbreath. Ages 9up
More Reviews
Booking Mama
Kids Lit

Sacred Moutain Everest Christine Taylor-Butler

Sacred Mountain Everest by Christine Taylor-Butler Many books, fiction and non fiction have been written on those who have climbed Everest but few on the people who call it home This book is fact filled from the first page. Beginning with the religion of Sherpa's (Buddhist), give a straight forward approach to their way of life, beliefs and customs. The photographs are wonderful. (I always thought I knew what a yak looked like. They are so much bigger) The photographs range anywhere from big, bright and bold or calm and sincere. The photographs, timelines, maps, and side facts in color give this book a lot of visual appeal. Butler gives a great overall history of Mt. Everest, including how it was formed and the challenges the first climbers faced. This is a wonderful book about the Sherpa people and Everest, their sacred mountain. I highly recommand Sacred Moutain Everest. It would work nicely with Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea Young Readers Edition (My review) Ages 6up
click over, to read an excerpt and more reviews inculding a kirkus and horn book magazine review

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pretty Tough Liz Tigelaar

PrettyTough by Liz Tigelaar - Sisters, Charlie and Kirsta don't get along so well. After an incident in the high school cafeteria, Charlie decided to distance herself from her older sister. Charlie gave up soccer for surfing. Krista is going into her senior year, and is one of the better soccer players. There is a new soccer coach this year, and she recruits Charlie. At first Charlie joins the team, to get on her sisters nerves but she soon likes being about of the team. I really enjoyed Pretty Tough. There were one or two pop culture references that dated the book, (pubs 2007) but not enough to take away from enjoyment. The telling alternates between the two sisters. The soccer action on the field was excellent. Pretty Tough is a wonderful sports book. Girls who play soccer will love. Charlie and Kirsta are both three dimensional characters, many girls will be able to relate to one or both sisters. So girls who have never touched a soccer ball will enjoy it as well. Ages 11up

Monday, July 6, 2009

Boost Kathy Mackel

Boost by Kathy Mackel I was very happy I finally got my hands on this and I was not disappointed. 13yr old Savvy is six foot two and a skilled basketball player. Her older sister, Callie is a cheerleader. Savvy's family are forced to move in with aunt Betty in Rhode Island. They lost everything in New Mexico and must start over. The book begins with Savvy trying out for the 16U basketball league. At the tryouts Savvy meets Gonzo, another great player. Gonzo convinces Savvy to go out for the 18U league. The two make the squad and are the youngest on the team. Savvy is a natural but is at a disadvantage size wise. To remain in the game Savvy must get bigger and stronger. She is committed to training and improving her game. Savvy's aunt Betty keeps a sheep farm. She takes on the responsibility of caring for the sheep and keeping the coyotes away when aunt Betty is injured. Savvy reminds me a lot of DJ from Dairy Queen. Like DJ, Savvy, loves her game and will do anything to help her family in tough times, even if it means doing more than what's fair. Also, they both have the same workout regime, farm fitness. Boost is a well rounded story, Mackel doesn't limit it to the basketball court. Savvy has her eye on Marc, an older football player. At school she must deal with all the jokes and stares that go along with being 6 foot 2, in the 8th grade. Her father is starting a life outside of sports. Callie is living with the guilt of ending her father's career and trying to lose weight for cheerleading. As the 18U season continues, Savvy's game gets better, she soon starting. Mackel writes a great game, its easy to see the action on the court. After beating a rival team, pills are found in Savvy's gym bag, and the whispers of steriod use begins. I felt Savvy's fear, confusion and anger at this accusation. Boost was a wonderful read. I highly recommend it, especially for fans of Murdock's Dairy Queen series. Ages 11up

Girls Got Game

A few weeks back Apryl, over at Women Like Sports, mentioned the 37th anniversary of Title IX. After reading this I tempted to talk about the lack of sports books featuring female characters but than I thought thats been done. Why, not try something new. I figured instead of talking about what's not out focus on what is, so I am on a little female athlete protagonist kick. I already had Boost by Kathy Mackel and Pretty Tough by Liz Tigelaar at the top of my reading pile. I am on a little female athlete protagonist kick. I never have a what's coming up next preview because I usually don't know this time I do. I figured I'd give everyone a heads up, so no ones wondering what's up with all the sports books

Books to be Reviewed.
Boost by Kathy Mackel
Pretty Tough by Liz Tigelaar
Throwing Like A Girl by Weezie Kerr Mackey
MadCat by Kathy Mackel
Tackling Dad by Elizabeth Levy
No Cream Puffs by Karen Day

The kick is strong, so I am open to all suggestions.

Books Reviewed.
The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane- A girl pitches on her 8th grade baseball team
A Strong Right Arm by Michelle Green- The story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson the only female pitcher in the Negro Leagues
Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley- The main character is a snowboarder.
Love At First Click by Elizabeth Chandler- The main character is the school photographer and loves football.
Diary Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Love this series. DJ is a football player. The third and final book comes out later this year. If you're waiting on it, you may want to check out Mackel's Boost.
Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park - A girl loves the game of baseball and the art of keeping score
Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson - The main character uses her gymnastics ability to help solve a mystery.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dog Whisperer: The Rescue Nicholas Edwards

Dog Whisperer: The Rescue by Nicholas Edwards- I was straighting books, and came across this book. My first thought was yes, Black girl on the cover. A few pages in I learned that Emily is biracial which was even better. There aren't enough books featuring biracial protagonist. Before I started reading, I did my please let me like this book mantra. There aren't enough middle grade books let alone series featuring characters of color, but I am not going to say I like something simply because the protagonist is a person of color. I don't know if it was the mantra or not, but I really really enjoyed this book. It only took one page to know that this was going to be a very good story. 11yr Emily is having a nightmare, for the third night in a row she's drowning in the ocean. Edwards does an excellent job with this opening scene. The reader can feel Emily's fear and anxiousness. It isn't until Emily's mother wakes her up that she's able to escape the nightmare. Later that night there's a storm, and Emily can't sleep, there's something out there. Without telling her parents Emily goes out in the storm and finds a dog. The dog is in very bad shape, Emily and her parents rush him to the hospital. Emily and the dog, Zack have an unspoken connection. The two can hear each others thoughts. It's only because of their closeness that Zack is able to survive. This story moves so well and the author gives the reader a get feel of the New England setting. I loved Emily, and the fully developed relationship with her parents. The author does a wonderful job of fitting in some of Emily's question and thoughts on being adopted. It never feels forced, simply a natural fit with the story line. As is Emily being a vegetarian and the steps her parents take to support this decision. Emily's given a great best friend in Bobby. I quickly felt the love Emily and Zack had for each other. I look forward to reading more books in this series. I highly recommand this for anyone who loves animal stories. This is a paperback, only $6.99
Read the Google Preview If nothing else click over and read the first 3 chapters, well worth it
Another middle grade book I loved this year featuring a biracial protagnist The Prince of Fenway Park. My review. A must read for baseball fans.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Calvin Coconut Trouble Magnet Graham Salisbury

Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet by Graham Salisbury- This is the first book in a wonderful new series. I loved Calvin. Set in Hawaii, Calvin lives with his mom and younger sister, Darci. Calvin's dad left but not before changing the families last name to Coconut for his singing career. Its the end of the summer, Calvin and his friends Julio and Maya are getting ready to start fourth grade. With his dad gone, Calvin has more responsibilities, he has good intentions but sometimes he forgets. He seems to find trouble, like running into the school bully and ruining his shirt. There is so much to love about this book - the very realistic characters, situations and the fun spot on writing. The first chapter will grab many reluctant readers. Calvin and his friends are at the beach watching someone kiteboard. The man asks the three to watch his board. Calvin takes hold of the bar and it catches wind, dragging him down the beach. I really enjoyed Jacqueline Rogers illustrations. I loved the facial expressions on the characters. One of my favorites is of Calvin and Julio after they've gotten out the the garbage can, they were hiding from the bully. When school starts there's a new kid from California, and he's still learning about Hawaii. As he finds out what kimchee and shave ice are so does the reader. One of my favorite characters is Calvin's teacher Mr. Purdy. He very strict but fair and he listens to his students. I highly recommand Calvin Coconut. Ages 8up

More Reviews

Make Way For Dyamonde Daniel Nikki Grimes

Make Way For Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes- I was very happy when I got my hands of a copy of this book. Dyamonde Daniel, is a super smart,and outspoken 3rd grader who loves even numbers. Dyamonde and her mother moved after the divorce. Dyamonde talks about adjusting to all the changes, like not having her own room and leaving her best friend. I loved the straight forwardness of Dyamonde. Dyamonde's been at her new school for three weeks and is still on a look out for a new best friend. She gets along well with her new classmates and already knows all her neighbors. Only person Dyamonde can't figure out is the other new kid, Free. Free is always angry and scaring the other kids. Dyamonde refuses to watch Free be rude all the time, she finally confronts him. Let me go ahead and add brave to the many things Dyamonde Daniel is, because only a brave person would approach someone bigger, demanding answers and apologises. I really enjoyed this book and I loved Dyamonde Daniel. Grimes draws a wonderful picture of Dyamonde's Brookyln Heights neighborhood. Ages 7up The second book in the series, Rich, Dyamonde Daniel will be released in October

Funny How Things Change Melissa Wyatt

Funny How Things Change by Melissa Wyatt - 17 yr old Remy Walker has just graduated from H.S., most of his friends are planning their escape from Dwyer, West Virginia but Remy is torn, Dwyer is in his blood. I loved that Remy's heart always stayed true to Dwyer. He wasn't embarrassed or ashamed to love a place, many laughed at or simply dismissed. Remy must choose between the girlfriend he loves, or the land he loves. The pace of Funny How Things Change was wonderful, a perfect fit for Remy Walker. Like the beginning of Proud Mary, Wyatt takes it nice & easy. I read this about two week ago, yet Remy and Dwyer are still with me. I highly recommand Funny How Things Change. Ages 16up

Author's interview at ChasingRay (this made me want to read the book)
GuysLitWire Review