Saturday, April 30, 2011

Diversity in YA Book Tour

Diveristy in YA blog was started by YA authors, Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon. To celebrate diversity in Young Adult literature. The Diversty in YA Tour begins, Saturday May 7th. It will be stopping in five cities. San Francisco, CA, Austin, TX, Chicago,IL, Cambridge, MA, New York, NY and San Diego, CA. The full tour schedule. Each city has a great line up of authors.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same - Grace Lin

Ling&Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin
Everyone thinks Ling and Ting are exactly the same. They do everything together just never the same. In the six stories the sisters show just how different they are.

In the first one Ling and Ting get their haircut. Ting sneezes and the barber takes too much off her bang. After that it's easy to look at Ling and Ting and tell them apart. In all the stories the sisters do everything together but in their own way.

This is a great early reader. The stories are very sweet and flow into each other nicely. I love how Lin's illustrations make the stories that much more engaging. I have my fingers crossed that there will be more Ling&Ting stories in the future.

A few starred professional reviews via author's site.

An excerpt

My Bilingual School Library Contest

April 30th is the 15th anniversary of Children's Books Day/El Dia de los ninos (or simply Dia) At School Library Journal, I came across a great contest in honor of Dia.

Spanglishbaby has announced My Bilingual School Library Contest

"While our children are not yet school-aged, we’re aware of the huge need dual language elementary schools, schools with ELL programs and those that teach Spanish to their students at the elementary level have in terms of reading material in Spanish (or bilingual). We’ve heard from many teachers in these schools that they have such small budgets that they end up bringing their own bilingual or Spanish books to share with their students. We believe so strongly in the importance of literacy when raising bilingual children that we decided to help change this by stocking one bilingual school’s library with as many books as we could get.

To that end, we’ve joined forces with some of the major bilingual/Spanish publishing houses we’ve been working with in the last two years and they’ve graciously agreed to donate a total of $500 worth of books to ONE very lucky bilingual school library"

Accepting entries until May 8

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Okay for Now - Gary D. Schmidt

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
I loved Wednesday Wars so I was very excited to hear there was a sequel coming out. The main character from Wednesday Wars does make a quick appearance but that's about it. I was expecting something very different but I still really enjoyed what I got.

Doug's family is moving to a new town in Upstate New York where his father found work. Doug's father is has a very quick and violet temper, which is aided by his drinking. Doug is the youngest brother of three. The oldest, Lucas was drafted and is his fighting in the Vietnam war. Doug is treated badly by both brothers.

Doug shares only when he's ready, slowly revealing everything that's going on at home. Doug is fascinated by Audubon's work which is on display at the local library, though he would never admit it or maybe he simply doesn't have the words yet Mr. Powell, the librarian is smart enough to realize this and never questions Doug about this appreciation for Audubon's work. Mr. Powell simply gives Doug drawing lessons.

At the beginning of each chapter there are Audbuon's bird drawings. Schmidt is seamlessly introducing Audobon to young readers. Doug interest feels natural as does his need to hide it.

Doug's voice is close to perfect. From the beginning, it's honest, sincere and vulnerable. Okay for Now is a well layered story. I wouldn't even know where to begin to break it down. And to do so might take away from some of its beauty. I highly recommend it.

Read chapter one

Okay for Now received a starred review from, Kirkus, Booklist and School Library Journal

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Horton HalfPott - Tom Angleberger

Horton HalfPott or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor or The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset by Tom Angleberger

This title is a mouthful. At first I was simply going to put Horton HalfPott, but in the end I simply enjoyed this book too much to shorten it. Plus I it be wrong since this is a 2011 Newbery contender.

The Luggertuck family lives in Smugwick Manor with many many workers on the premises, from cooks, to maids to stable hands. The family treats the staff horribly M'lady Luggertuck, the lady of the house is the worse. Everything changes when M'lady's corset is loosened. The very strict rules of the manor are no more. Now that M'lady can breathe, see agrees to let her nephew Montgomery stay for the summer and host a ball.

Horton Halfpott is a lowly kitchen boy. He's kind, quiet and honest. When valuable things start missing from the Manor all the evidence points to Horton. Horton's very good friends, Bump, Blight and Blemish are determined to uncover the truth of the missing items.

I loved Horton and wanted him to have his happy ending. Angleberger does a beautiful job flipping things around. Usually its the poor honest hardworking girl who needs some luck to change her fortune.Horton is surrounded by some great characters. Horton Halfpott was a very fun and entertaining mystery, with a few close calls.

Kirkus Review

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Boyfriends with Girlfriends - Alex Sanchez

Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez.
This is about two groups of best friends. Lance and Allie, Sergio and Kimiko. Lance and Sergio have been chatting on the phone and online. When the story begins the two are meeting for the first time at a mall. Allie and Kimiko go to keep it a stress free first get together.

Lance and Sergio get along very well. Though Lance who is gay doesn't like that Sergio considers himself a bisexual. Lance believe someone is either gay or straight. Eventually, this is worked out. Sanchez does a great job of allowing the characters to explain this point of view. I think the author took a lot of care with Sergio's voice.

Allie has a boyfriend but after spending time with Kimiko she begins to question her sexual preference. Kimiko is a lesbian, she's never had a girlfriend and is attracted to Allie. As with the boys storyline, the girls could be relationship is handled very well. In the beginning I was worried Allie liked Kimiko simply because she was Japanese. Though Allie and Kimiko do get to know each other, so I was okay* with Allie's being into all things Japanese.

It was nice being able to see the characters interact with their families, it helped round them out. There was a lot diagoloue and self reflection both of which fit easily into the story. Sanchez is skilled at creating likable characters.

Boyfriends with Girlfriends is a great story about sexual identity. There aren't many bi YA characters, Sanchez handles Sergio's voice with a lot of care. Same goes for Allie, who is still trying to figure out what label fits her. I do wish that Sergio and Allie got a chance to interact alone and the same goes for Lance and Kimiko.

If someone told me that a GLBT YA novel was coming out with a diverse cast and one of the characters is butch and another is bi. I would've laughed in their face. But Sanchez made it happen.

There were a few things I questioned, like Allie going bra shopping with Kimiko, while still trying to understand her feelings for Kimiko. Overall Sanchez did a very good job was Boyfriends and Girlfriends.

Read the first chapter

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sugar Changed the World - Marc Aronson, Marina Budhos

Sugar Changed The World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos
The authors explore the global influence of Sugar, beginning all the way back in B.C. times. They do a very thorough job of tracking sugars path through every continent and its impact on the slave trade.

The book is filled with various maps, black and white drawings, pictures and photographs. Sugar Changed the World was well researched and inculded several pages of back matter. This was one of my favorite books from last year.

Sugar Changed the World recieved a starred kirkus review which you can read at the wonderful site for the book. Also I highly recommend checking out a few of the music and dance songs of sugar work.

I've linked this post to Non Fiction Monday. Today's roundup can be found at Telling Kids the Truth:Writing Non Fiction for Children

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Children's Book Day/ El Dia de los ninos

On April 30th Children's Book Day/ El Dia de los ninos is celerbrated. It advocates literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and connecting all children to books, languages, and cultures. It was started in 1996 by children's author Pat Mora. - Colorin Colorado, to find out more

In honor of El Dia de los ninos Freda Mosquera recommends a few Latino picture books that were published in 2010 over at the School Library Journal. It's always feels good to have read more than half of the books on a list. It feels even better when to have loved the books read.

One of the recommended titles is Floating on Mama's Song by Laura Lacamara.

Lacamara has a great new post up at Latin Baby Book Club. How My Hair Suffered in Translation from Cuban Latina to Suburban American

I love the Latin Baby Book Club blog, its a great place to find out about Latino picture books. Yesterday, Monica one of the contributors blogged about a new release. Celebrating Cuentos: Promoting Latino Children's Literature and Literacy in Classrooms and Libraries edited by Jamie Campbell Naidoo.

A few new picture books for 2011.

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown, illus. by Julie Paschkis. Its recieved a starred Kirkus review

Abuelos by Pat Mora, illus. by Ameila Lau Carling. This is the only paperback new release but its by Pat Mora and since she started Dia its making the list.

Ladder to the Moon by Maya Soetoro Ng, illus by Yuyi Morales. A great preview Two starred reviews, Booklist and Publisher Weekly

The Cazuela that the farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos illus by Rafael Lopez. It's recieved two starred reviews. Kirkus and School Library Journal

Diego Rivera: His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh. The author's first book Dear Primo was released last year. It recieved four honors,inculding a Pura Belpre honor.

Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown illus. by John Parra

Friday, April 22, 2011

Drum City - Thea Guidone, Vanessa Newton

Drum City by Thea Guidone illus. by Vanessa Newton

This is a fun story that begins with a boy in a yard. All the kids use whatever is handy and procede to drum down the street.

"Drum Jump to the sound, dance all around, loud on the tubs and the tins that they found."

Guidone's rhythmic text will have readers wanting to get up and move. Newton's colorful and beautiful illustrations depicts a diverse city and brings all the characters to life. Guidone and Newton have come together to create a wonderful story.

An excerpt

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Something Like Hope - Shawn Goodman

Something Like Hope by Shawn Goodman
17 yr old Shavonne has been living in juvenile detention centers since junior high. When the story begins Shavonne is getting in trouble for fighting with one of the guards. She's also meeting her new counselor, Mr Delpoplo for the first time. It takes time but Mr Delpoplo but is the first adult Shavonne as trusted in awhile.

Shavonee is dealing with a lot, including regret and loss. Her mother is addicted to drugs and her fathers in jail and that's why she isn't with her parents. I simply don't remember the author stating why Shavonne was sent to JDC in the first place.

When Shavonee describes the hardships she has or is facing it simply feels like she's going through the motions. When she or one of the other girls cursed, the words didn't fit in their mouths. It felt as if choice words were added because it was expected. A few of the guards abuse their power, Ms. Choi is the worst offender. I found many of these scenes unbelievable.

This came at the end of last year. I knew I wouldn't read it until I could borrow it from the library. I was simply not in a rush to read a YA novel featuring a Black protagonist living through a struggle. It didn't add anything new to what's already out.

Read an excerpt

Bindi Babes - Narinder Dhami

Bindi Babes by Narinder Dhami
14 yr old Geena, 12 yr old Amber and 11 yr old Jazz are sisters and very close. The sisters are very popular at school with the other students and the teachers. At home their dad says yes to whatever they want, ever since their mum died. Everything is about to changes, their Auntie moves to England from India to help look after the sisters.

Geena, Amber and Jazz want nothing to do with Auntie and try to figure out ways to get rid of her. The sister tried really hard (with their I love Lucy schemes) but Auntie was always one step ahead of them. It was fun watching the sisters attempt to out smart Auntie.

I really enjoyed this story and the sisters. The one thing I didn't like was the sisters little comments about everyone seeing them as perfect and cool. Though thankfully this stopped quickly enough. The Bindi Babes was the right amount of fun and serious. As the sisters try to deal with their Auntie and cope with missing their mom. An excerpt

I will be reading Bollywood Babes very soon.

Reading Bindi Babes reminded me of author Neesha Meminger's wonderful guest post at The YA YA YA's, called An Equal Place at the Table

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream - Jenny Han, Julia Kuo

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han, illus by Julia Kuo
8 yr old Clara Lee wants to be Little Miss Apple Pie for the Apple Blossom Festival. Clara Lee is scared about going for Little Miss Apple pie until her Grandpa interpret her dream, to mean good luck.

The next day everything goes right for Clara Lee. But too soon, good luck is gone. Clara Lee, gets in trouble at the dinner table and into a fight with a very good friend. Another girl who wants to be Little Miss Apple Pie tells Clara Lee she's not American enough to win.

This story was great I am going to begin bold and say this is a 2011 Newbery contender. (I know that's serious but trust me its that good)

Han's does a wonderful job with all aspects of this story. It's very well rounded. I loved Clara Lee's voice. We get to see all sides of Clara Lee. I loved Clara Lee's relationship with her Grandpa. It's very sweet.

One of the many things I loved abotu this story, its never about identity. Clara Lee embraces her Korean and American heritage. Also the author smoothly incorporates Clara Lee's fear of not being considered American enough (something many can relate to ) without making a big deal about it. Kuo's illustrations are wonderful, fitting the text perfectly and adding to the magic of the story.

There's was just such an easiness to this story that I really enjoyed. Clara Lee is one of my favorite protagonist of the year. 8 up I know I didn't do this book justice, so please read the excerpt.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bird in a Box - Andrea Davis Pinkney

Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney
The story takes place in 1936,during the middle of the great depression. The three main characters, are 12yr old Otis, Willie and Hibernia. At the beginning the three have yet to meet. All of them are fans of Joe Louis. The author enterwines some of the fights throughout the story. With so much going wrong the great fighter gives the three someone to hope and believe in.

Hibernia lives with her father a reverend. Her mother left to follow her dream to sing at the Savoy. Willie is forced to leave home after a terrible incident with his abusive father. Soon Otis must go live at Mercy Home For Negro Orphans as well. That's where the two meet.

The chapters alternate between the three characters. Sometimes this can be tricky, especially when dealing with more then two characters. The author runs the risk of not developing the characters or storylines enough. After one characters scene would end, I'd still have questions. When the story returned to that particular character, it was already onto something new.

After the last awful encounter with his father, Willie goes to live at Mercy. When he arrives Lily, the woman working there, tells him he needs some salve. The next time Willie appears there's drastic change without an explanation. The salve didn't work. This happens more then once. It felt like I was missing important parts of the story. Hibernia's father is set in his ways and very strict. Yet one day he simply decides to open up and talk about Hibernia's mother. Again, I wondered about the why of this.

The characters voices were blending together. I think part of it had to do with the short chapters, but I had a difficult time distinguishing between Otis and Willie.

Pinkney has a great body of work. All the books I've read by her I've loved. I went into Bird in a Box (a book I was really looking forward to ) wondering not if but how much I would enjoy it. So I was surprised, that it simply didn't work for me.

Positive reviews and an excerpt.

Margo's review @ The Fourth Musketeer

Beth's review @ Points West

Starred Kirkus Review

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Zapato Power - Jacqueline Jules, Miguel Benitez

Zapato Power by Jacqueline Jules, illus. by Miguel Benitez
This book was brought to my attention thanks to the Cybils Awards. In 2010 it won the short chapter book category.

Freddie and his mother have recently moved to Starwood Park Apartments. One day Freddie Ramos comes home to find a box with his name on it. Inside is a new pair of purple sneakers. There's no name with the gift, just a note saying Zapato power for Freddie Ramos. With his new shoes, Freddie is very fast, faster than a train. Freddie wants to use his new speed to be a hero. He also knows me must keep is Zapato power a secret.

This was a very fun read. Freddie Ramos is great. He's just an ordinary boy who is given a special gift. This is easily my favorite early chapter books I've read in a while. I love that it features a male protagonist of color.

I checked out the first book from the library. I figured I'd only meet Freddie but now I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series. The chapters are only about eight pages long with illustrations. Jules text and Benitez art, make this a very relucatant reader friendly.

google preview courtesy of Albert Whiteman & Company

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Standford Wong Flunks Big-Time - Lisa Yee

Standford Wong Flunks Big Time by Lisa Yee

Stanford's plans of going to basketball camp for the summer are ruined when he fails sixth grade English at Rancho Rosetta Middle school. Stanford must past English in summer school, or lose his spot on the basketball team.

Published in 2005, this is Yee's second novel. Its also the first companion to the author's debut novel Millicent Min, Girl Genius. (loved it) Standford is a secondary character that is getting tutored by Millicent. This time Standford is telling his story from that summer.

Standford has a lot of pressure to get good grades from his name to his overachieving older sister. This story was easy to get into and I loved losing myself in it.

Yee is very skilled at creating well developed characters and placing them in realistic situations. The story has great balance, we get to see all sides of Standford. The one that's great on the basketball court, the who only wants his dads approval, the one who is trying to figure out if a friend is really a friend, the one who loves is grandmother, the one who realizes English isn't too bad. There are a few more, all add up to a great and whole Standford Wong. ages 10up

Read an excerpt

Yee's most recent release Warp Speed came out in March. It's also set at Rancho Rosetta Middle School.

Read an excerpt

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book Changes & Lisa Yee Ends My Slump

I've made a few changes on my blog recently. I've placed my interviews on the sidebar, so people can actually find them. Still working on making reviews easier to access. I am considering putting up ads as well. Just not sure if a enough people will click on the ads to make it worth it

I also made the switch from shelfari to goodreads. A few weeks ago the shelfari books displayed on my blog, were not the books I was currently reading. I quickly ran a virus scan to be on the safe side. Nothing was found, figured it was just a glitch. So I fixed the shelf, a day later it was wrong again. So, I moved my library to goodreads and lost about 60 books in the transfer but still happy I did it.

I was in a serious book slump last week. I didn't follow all of my rules

1. If I like a book I won't mention what I am currently reading in passing online. After I would say how much I was enjoying a book, it would turn on me. It took me about four or five books to learn my lesson but I finally did. - This is the only one I followed.

2. When starting a new book, I will leave the house with two. I started doing this after being on the train or waiting in line one too many times with a bad book. I've learned that if I have no choice and a long wait, chances are the one book I have is going to be bad. But if I have two, both will be good.

3. Do not pick up books I have high expectations for when in a slump. This is the last time I break this rule. I've learned my lesson.

Thank you to Lisa Yee for ending my bad book run with Standford Wong Flunks Big Time It was so good

Edi recently reviewed Yee's newest release Warp Speed. After reading it I decided to pick up the copy of Stanford Wong, I had lying around. So thank you to Edi as well.

TU Publishing, Japanese Relief Effort

Lee&Low, an independent publisher just announced the first three titles to be released under their new imprint TU Books.

Fantasy, science fiction, and mystery: these genres draw in young readers like no other. Yet it is in these genres that readers of color might feel most like an outsider, given that such a large percentage features white characters (when they feature human characters). It is the goal of Tu Books to publish genre books for children and young adults that fills this gap in the market—and more importantly, this gap in serving our readers. By focusing on diverse settings and characters in fantastic stories, we also open up worlds to all readers.

The three books are coming out in the Fall. - Tankborn by Karen Sandler, Wolf Mark by Joseph Bruchac and Galaxy Games by Greg H. Fishbone. Checkout the summaries and the great covers.

If you place a winning bid you can win all three and support the Japanese relief effort. Japan Auction# 97 From Stacy Whitman.

I just found this today and was very tempted not to mention it to increase my chances of winning. But that would be wrong. The auction ends Monday 4/11 9 AM, Edt. So go bid now.

Spread the word about TU Books. Its success means more diversity. As their author list grows, I hope to see more authors of color. For now I plan talking up TU Books whenever I can. Slipping in a few mentions in comment boxes when appropriate.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fury of the Phoenix - Cindy Pon

Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon
This is the sequel to the author's debut Silver Phoenix which I loved. So I was really looking forward to reading Fury of the Phoenix, and seeing Ai Ling the main character again.

Fury of the Phoenix alternates between the past and the present. In the present, Ai Ling, believes Chen Yong life is in danger. Ai Ling sneaks on the ship Chen Yong taking bound to Jiang Dao, in search of his birth father.

In the past, Zhong Ye a young eunuch, trying to gain standing in the palace. Zhong Ye comes for a poor farming family, he wants to become the kings most trusted advisor. In Silver Phoneix Zhong Ye is the villain, this time we get to see him, before he's corrupted. In the present Zhong Ye is in hell, but he's still connected to and haunts Ai Ling's spirit. She must figure out a way to be rid of Zhong Ye forever.

Ai Ling and Chen Yong still have a chemistry. It's one of the stories strengths. In the past, we get to meet Silver Phoneix the woman who loved a young Zhong Ye. Their love was beautiful. Pon allows the reader to see how much Silver Phoenix meant to Zhong Ye. It's easy to see how Zhong Ye could go bad after losing her.

Fury of the Phoenix is as visually decription as Silver Phoenix. The first book had more action. I loved all the action and was looking forward to more of it in Fury of the Phoenix. Out of the two, Silver Phoenix is my favorite. Though in the end I was happy with Fury of the Phoenix. I also have much respect for an author that challenges themselves to bring something different to a sequel.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Akata Witch - Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
12yr old Sunny was born in New York. When she was 9, her parents decided to move the family back to Nigeria. Sunny's parents and two older brothers were all born in Nigeria.

"You see why I confuse people? Nigerian by blood, American by birth, and Nigerian again because I live here. I have West African features, like my mother, but while the rest of my family is dark brown. I've got light yellow hair, skin the color of sour milk, (or so stupid people like to tell me), and hazel eyes that look like God ran out of the right color. I'm albino"

Halfway into Akata Witch, I realized I've read all of Okorafor's novels. I return for many reasons, one being I love the author's main characters. I always want to follow them on their adventure. Sunny had me at the prologue.

When Sunny's hair catches on fire, she has to cut her hair. When Sunny goes to school everyone laughs, including her so called friends. Soon Sunny begins hanging out with Orlu, a boy in her class. Through Orlu, Sunny meets Chichi. Orlu and Chichi are childhood friends with magical abilities. They are known as Leopard people and it runs in their family.(which is normally the case) With the help of Orlu and Chichi, Sunny discover she's a free agent Leopard.

Orlu and Chichi have always been exposed to magic and are already in the early stages of training. Sunny has a lot of catching up to do. 13yr old Sasha from Chicago joins the group. Sasha misused his abilities at home, so his father sent him to Nigeria to keep him out of trouble.

The four are being taught Anatov, one of eight living people in Nigeria to have passed the last level. Sunny must go to these lessons in secret. Sunny's family can't know about her magical abilities. I thought the author did a good job of balancing Sunny's life.

I really liked the foursome and I hope this is the first of many books. Though for now, I would've liked a little more action less training. There's much to like about Akata Witch., including the Oha Coven. "It's a group of mystical combination, set up to defend against something bad"

An Oha Coven is always made up of four people, two boys, two girls and there are a few other elements. When this came up I was instantly intrigued and wish it was explored a bit more. There are a few more things I hope the author expands on in the future, including Sunny's grandmother.

The four are eventually asked to help stop Black Hat, a serial killer targeting children. The Black Hat storyline didn't play out as well as I would've liked. I was underwhelmed by the final confrontation. The strength of this story comes from the four friends, especially Sunny. As well as Leopard Knocks, the main West African headquarters. The author makes it very easy to envision Leopard Knocks.

I couldn't end this without mentioning one of the first things Sunny buys in Leopard Knocks, book. "from fast facts for free agents, by a well known free agent. Before each chapter begins there's an excerpt from the book. I loved these, since it allows the reader to learn more about the Leopard people with Sunny.

Okorafor has written a good foundation. I have my fingers crossed there will be more adventures to come for Sunny and her friends.

Publishers Weekly Review

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

On Sale Now: New Releases

Below are all the new releases for April, (that I am aware of) that feature kids of color or a diverse cast.

Ladder to the Moon by Maya Soetoro Ng illus. by Yuyi Morales.

Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (paperback) Loved it. My review

You Don't Have a Clue edited by Sarah Cortez

The Break Up Diaries by Ni Ni Simone and Kelli London read an excerpt.

Huntress by Malinda Lo - Loved. My review

Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon - Ari's review

Carmen by Walter Dean Myers

Eona by Alison Goodman

Red Glove by Holly Black

Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez. read chapter 1

Monday, April 4, 2011

Huntress by Malinda Lo

Huntress by Malinda Lo
This is a prequel to Lo's debut Ash. I enjoyed Ash, loved Huntress. Kaede and Taisin are students at the same Academy. Though both 17 yr old and started at the same time, they don't share any classes. Taisin is a very advanced sage in training, skilled at seeing into the future. Kaede is the daughter of the King's Advisor, a talented fighter but not a great student.

The two are suddenly brought together after Taisin has a vision. In it Kaede's life is at risk and the Taisin in the future is in love with her. These feelings disturb the Taisin of now because a sage must take a vow of celibacy. Taisin wants to avoid Kaede but it can't be done.

The Kingdom is in trouble, crops are dying and people are going hungry because of the unchanging weather. The King has been sent a very rare invitation by the Fairy Queen. Everyone believe the Fairy Queen can explain what's going on with the weather.

The King can't go and sends his son Con in his place. Taisin and Kaede must go as well. The kingdom is in turbulence, the three must travel with guards for their saftey.

Kaede and Taisin's characters were very well drawn. Their personalities shine through and I like that they come from different backgrounds. Kaede and Taisin could be romance is at the core of this story but the author never forgets the adventure.

Huntress has a great balance of action, danger and love. I absolutely loved Lo's writing. Sometimes author's drag out an inevitable relationship, and as a reader I am screaming just get together already. That was not the case with Huntress. The author's transitions from the potential relationship to the mission were clinic good. In doing so Lo kept me very much interested in both aspects of the story. Taisin and Kaede's first kiss was worth the wait.

Huntress is one of my favorite books of the year, inside and out (gorgeous cover)

Read an excerpt

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Baseball Season is Here

Author Audrey Vernick was kind enough to answer a few questions about She Loved Baseball, the story of Effa Manley. The first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

1 How many baseball books did you read for research purposes?
I wrote this book so long ago I don't even remember! And I'd be hard pressed to distinguish which ones were really for research and which ones were just about baseball and kind of irresistible

Also, I relied more upon newspaper accounts and recorded interviews than books for this particular project. Though James Overmyer's QUEEN OF THE NEGRO LEAGUES was also a vital research resource.

2 One fact about Effa Manley or the game of baseball that you wished you were able to fit in the book?
There were so many! There was a great scene in which Effa Manley really gave it to Branch Rickey for raiding Negro League teams without any compensation. There were more Newark Eagles players in earlier versions--like Willie Wells, first player to wear a batting helmet (though his was more of a construction helmet). And the fact that Effa made such a lasting impression on her players; Larry Doby asked Effa and her husband, Abe, to be his child's godparents.

3 Picture book authors run the risk of be paired with an illustrator, whose style doesn't enchance the text. Thankfully that didn't happen to She Loved Baseball. Don Tate's illustrations are great and fit the text perfectly. When did you know you'd be paired with Tate?
Over a year after the manuscript was acquired! It took a long time to find the right person, and there were lots of people with lots of opinions involved in the decision-making process. But boy, how lucky was I? I can't imagine this text paired with any other art; Don Tate did a perfect job.

4 What is it about baseball fans and baseball books? ( I am not judging. I also get baseball book fever. Looking forward to reading The Baseball by Zack Hample)
I think that link makes sense. Baseball's a pretty cerebral sport, and watching baseball allows one's brain to roam a bit, time for thinking, considering.

5. Who is your favorite team? Any predictions for this season?
My team is the New York Yankees, despite the fact that I grew up in Queens, not far from the shadow of Shea Stadium. Predictions for this season? Mine is a house divided down the middle. My husband and daughter root for the Phillies. I have to admit, on paper, anyway, that their pitching rotation is nothing short of stunning. (Well, the first four. Sorry, Joe.) I don't know what to expect from my Yankees this year. A lot depends on A.J. Burnett which is a kind of chilling thought.

Audrey, thank you so much for your time. She Loved Baseball is such a wonderful book, I'll forgive for being a Yankees fan. Huffingtonpost on She Loved Baseball

My Review
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.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Today is Opening Day

In honor of the new season, I will be posting a few quick interviews.

Clemente by Willie Perdomo is a great introduction to Roberto Clemente. The author was kind enough to agree to answer a few questions.

How many baseball books did you read for research purposes?
Not many. Most of the sources are listed in the back of the book. I researched the stats and the speech he made in Spanish after winning the world series. Everything else was in the voice of little Clemente.

2 One fact about Clemente or the game of baseball that you wished you were able to fit in the book?
I can't think of any. I didn't want to get too biographical with the text. I wanted to highlight little Clemente's voice and enthusiasm.

3 Picture book authors run the risk of be paired with an illustrator, whose style doesn't enhance the text. Thankfully that didn't happen to Clemente. Bryan Collier is an award winning illustrator and his wonderful illustrations fit the text perfectly. When did you know you'd be paired with Collier?

At this point in my very short children's lit career, I've been lucky in that Collier has been the go-to artist for my work.

4 What is it about baseball fans and baseball books? ( I am not judging. I also get baseball book fever. Looking forward to reading The Baseball by Zack Hample)

Fundamentally, we are always on the lookout for that heroic moment. Baseball provides those moments. Books provide insight and context for those moments.
5. Who is your favorite team?

If it's Mets vs. Yankees, I'm picking the Mets.

Willie, thank you so much for your time. (Go Mets) Clemente is a beautiful biography and perfect for anyone who loves the game of baseball.

My Review
The boy in the story is named after Clemente. His parents tell him about his namesake. The family lives in The Bronx where Roberto Clemente was rey. His father is president of the greatest fans of Roberto Clemente club.

"He'll take out his baseball card collection
and pull all his mint condition Clementes,
and then he'll start calling Clemente,
I mean really calling him,
like he was try like he was trying to talk
to the ghost of Roberto Clemente."

"Clemente! Clemente!
It's us, tu gente!
Clemente! Clemente!
Prince of the baseball diamante,
Canon-arm Clemente,
Puerto Rican prince Clemente,
Hall of fame Clemente"

Perdomo text is informative, lyrical, visual and fun. Sometimes a little flair is expected when talking about great baseball players or plays. Perdomo gives the reader exactly that.

He also lets the reader see all sides of Clemente - the player, the son who when interviewed after winning the World Series spoke Spanish first for his parents, and the man who tried to help Nicaraqua after an earthquake. The author inculdes a great Roberto Clemente timeline in the back

I love Robert Collier's artistic style. It was a perfect fit for this biography. In his notes Collier mentions the medium he used.

"I created the watercolor and collage images of Roberto in action in multiple repeated layers to express the speed, power, impact, and sound he embodied when playing baseball"

Perdomo and Collier have come together to create wonderful biography on Roberto Clemente. Baseball fans of all ages will love it