September Releases

Need covers? They’re on my Pinterest board for this month.

 

Dork Diaries 8: Tales from a Not-So-Happily Ever After by Rachel Renee Russell; Aladdin     Nikki Maxwell’s favorite fairy tales get dork-tastic twists in this entry in the #1 “New York Times”-bestselling series. After a bump on the head in gym class on April Fool’s Day, Nikki dreams that she, her BFFs Chloe and Zoey, her crush Brandon, and mean girl Mackenzie are all familiar classic fairy tale characters.

Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata; Atheneum MG     The new novel from a Newbery Medalist and National Book Award winner. Eleven-year-old Jaden, an emotionally damaged adopted boy, feels a connection to a small, weak toddler with special needs in Kazakhstan, where Jaden’s family is trying to adopt a “normal” baby.

The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond; Scholastic     In a stunning reimagining of history, debut author Richmond weaves an incredible story of secrets and honor in a world where Hitler won World War II. In this action-packed, heart-stopping novel of a terrifying reality that could have been, a teenage girl must decide just how far she’ll go for freedom.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoo; Henry Holt and Co.    When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white. In the aftermath of Tariq’s death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth. Tariq’s friends, family, and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy, and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down.

On A Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers; Crown Books for Young Readers     It is 2035. Teens, armed only with their ideals, must wage war on the power elite. Dahlia is a Low Gater: a sheep in a storm, struggling to survive completely on her own. The Gaters live in closed safe communities, protected from the Sturmers, mercenary thugs. And the C-8, a consortium of giant companies, control global access to finance, media, food, water, and energy resources—and they are only getting bigger and even more cutthroat. Dahlia, a computer whiz, joins forces with an ex-rocker, an ex-con, a chess prodigy, an ex-athlete, and a soldier wannabe. Their goal: to sabotage the C-8. But how will Sayeed, warlord and terrorist, fit into the equation?

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney; Scholastic Press     “Amira, look at me,” Muma insists.She collects both my hands in hers.“The Janjaweed attack without warning.Ifever they come run.”
Finally, Amira is twelve. Old enough to wear a toob, old enough for new responsibilities. And maybe old enough to go to school in NyalaAmira’s one true dream.
But life in her peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when the Janjaweed arrive. The terrifying attackers ravage the town and unleash unspeakable horrors. After she loses nearly everything, Amira needs to dig deep within herself to find the strength to make the long journey on foot to safety at a refugee camp. Her days are tough at the camp, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mindand all kinds of possibilities.
New York Times bestselling and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney’s powerful verse and Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist Shane W. Evans’s breathtaking illustrations combine to tell an inspiring tale of one girl’s triumph against all odds.

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis; Scholastic     A bestselling Newbery Medalist delivers a powerful companion to “Elijah of Buxton.” Benji and Red aren’t friends, but their fates are entwined. The boys discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. Both of them have encountered a strange presence in the forest. Could the Madman of Piney Woods be real?

The Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon G. Flake     It’s 1953, and 10-year-old Octobia May lives in her aunt’s boarding house in a southern African-American community. When Octobia starts to question the folks in her world, an adventure and a mystery unfold that beg some troubling questions: Who is black and who is “passing” for white? What happens when their vibrant community must face its own racism?

Billy Buckhorn Abnormal by Gary Robinson     Book one of the Billy Buckhorn series introduces a Cherokee teen who uses his supernatural abilities to solve mysteries. In this first installment, “Abnormal,” Billy is struck by lightning while fishing with his friend Chigger. He survives the lightning strike but begins to experience an enhanced level of esp. Billy is labeled “abnormal” by one of his teachers after he uncovers an unsavory secret from the teacher’s past. What no one suspects is that the teacher is a shape-shifter who becomes an evil raven that gains strength from his victims’ fear. When Billy confronts the teacher, he must channel his own fear into anger in order to defeat the evil birdman.

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang; Greenwillow     One cold fall day, high school junior Liz Emerson steers her car into a tree. This haunting and heartbreaking story is told by a surprising and unexpected narrator and unfolds in nonlinear flashbacks even as Liz’s friends, foes, and family gather at the hospital and Liz clings to life. This riveting debut will appeal to fans of Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver, and 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.

“On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.” Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? The nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force–Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson; Arthur A. Levine     The privileged daughter of research scientists, Emily Bird attends a party for Washington D.C.’s elite. Days later, she wakes up in a hospital with no memory of that night. Meanwhile, a deadly flu virus has caused a worldwide crisis. Homeland security agent Roosevelt David is certain that Bird knows something about the virus, something she shouldn’t.

The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan by Atia Abawi; Philomel     Fatima is a Hazara girl, raised to be obedient and dutiful. Samiullah is a Pashtun boy raised to defend the traditions of his tribe. They were not meant to fall in love. But they do. And the story that follows shows both the beauty and the violence in current-day Afghanistan as Fatima and Samiullah fight their families, their cultures and the Taliban to stay together. Based on the people Atia Abawi met and the events she covered during her nearly five years in Afghanistan, this stunning novel is a must-read for anyone who has lived during America’s War in Afghanistan.

No Name by Tim Tingle; 7th Generation     nspired by the traditional Choctaw story “No Name,” this modern adaptation features a present-day Choctaw teenager surviving tough family times–his mother left home and he is living with a mean-spirited, abusive father. The one place the teen can find peace is on the neighborhood basketball court. But after a violent confrontation with his father, the teen runs away, only to return home to find an unexpected hiding spot in his own backyard. His hiding spot becomes his home for weeks until the help and encouragement from a basketball coach, a Cherokee buddy and a quiet new next-door girlfriend help him face his father.

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces byIsabel Quintero; Cinco Puntos Press     Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: Cindy’s pregnancy, Sebastian’s coming out, the cute boys, her father’s meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity. Isabel Quintero is a library technician in the Inland Empire. She is also the events coordinator for Orange Monkey and helps edit the poetry journal Tin Cannon. Gabi is her debut novel.

 

(Re)membering and (Re)living: Probing the Collective and Individual Past

Calls for Papers and Proposals

The ALAN Review
Summer 2015: (Re)membering and (Re)living: Probing the Collective and Individual Past
Submissions due November 1, 2014

Stories are dynamic, told and heard, accepted and revered, rejected and rewritten by readers who draw from their experiences and understandings to garner meaning from the words on the page.  In young adult texts, fiction and nonfiction, historical and contemporary and futuristic, this dynamism can encourage the critique of our collective past, helping us question assumptions about what came before and reconsider our responsibilities to the present and future. These texts can also help us consider the adolescent experience across time and place and explore the similarities and differences that shape reality as young people navigate and draft their own coming of age stories. This universality can foster a connection to others and reinforce our shared existence as members of a human community.  And yet, these texts can give emotional reality to names, dates, and other factual information, letting us imagine the voices of those who lived in other places and times and have sometimes been silenced in official accounts of history, ideally inspiring us honor these voices and generate a better future. Through these stories, we might come to reject a single narrative and develop empathy for individuals we never knew-and those we did and do and will. In this issue, we welcome articles that explore the relationship between young adult literature, history, stories, and readers.  We acknowledge that “every living soul is a book of their own history, which sits on the ever-growing shelf in the library of human memories” (Jack Gantos, Dead End in Norvelt). And that, “If you stare at the center of the universe, there is coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us. That’s why we have to care about each other” (David Levithan, Every Day).  Stories matter in this caring: “I leapt eagerly into books. The characters’ lives were so much more interesting than the lonely heartbeat of my own” (Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy). As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme.

From the Heartland: Mari Evans

thMari Evans was born in Toledo in 1923. I first encountered her works while in college. I needed a poem and, there she was. Upon discovering that Evans shared my hometown, I tucked her in my memories. After all, who in the world is from Toledo??

Like me, most know Evans as a poet. Her poetry is accessible to almost grown to full grown.

 

Where Have You Gone by Mari Evans
Where have you gone
with your confident
 walk with 
your crooked smile
why did you leave 
me
when you took your 
laughter
and departed
are you aware that 
with you
 went the sun
all light
and what few stars 
there were?
where have you gone
with your confident 
walk
your 
crooked smile
the 
rent money 
in one pocket
and 
my heart 
in another . . .

And, her poetry is timeless

We have screamed
and we have filled our lungs
with revolutionary rhetoric
We sing
the sorrow songs and march
chest tight and elbows
locked
yes
We have learned to mourn
Our martyrs and our children
murdered by our Greater Love
and strewn
like waste before our pious disbelief
What tremors stay our heads?
The monster still contains us!
There is no better time no
Futuretime
      (from “The Time is Now”)

Evans often visited Indianapolis as a child and moved to the city in the late 1960s to serve as writer in residence at Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI). Shortly after her arrival, she became the writer, producer and director of the television show “The Black Experience”. Evans writes about her experiences in and with the city in her essay “Ethos and Creativity: The Impulse as Malleable” (1989).  She describes with vivid examples what it is to be Black in Indiana. She writes of an attitude I’ve heard people from outside Indiana try to explain.

“Many Black folk thought of Indianapolis as urban, “up South.” It was better than being “down South,” but it retained many of the negative propositions of the deep South, and was not yet as enlightened or “progressive” as its West or East Coast counterparts. Conservatism and racism were alive and compatible.

To our discredit there is, even today, an amazing retention of that early sensibility. It is expressed, however, with much more class, much more élan, and many Black folk are so enthralled by the smiles they do not read the eyes nor understand psychological “locking out.”

Not too enthralled though, to not be angry even then at police shootings of young black men and at economic racism.

As a prominent member of the Indianapolis Black arts community, her memories are of a thriving Indiana Avenue, then the heart of the city’s black community and she grieves the impact of the destruction of the surrounding area on the black community. Evans writes of few opportunities for black artists in the city and understands why many leave.

Evans also taught at Purdue, Washington University, Cornell and the State University of New York. Her poetry collections include Night Star, Where is the Music and I am a Black Woman. Her children’s books include Dear Corinne, Tell Somebody! Love, Annie, A Book About Secrets; Jim Flying High and J.D.+-+64527191_140

In 2006, Evans published her first YA novel, I’m Late: The Story of Lanesse and Moonlight and Alisha Who Didn’t Have Anyone of Her Own.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 1.46.51 PM

 

They need something to believe in
the young
a joy exploding an
ecstatic peace to hide them in
a strengthening

They must leap miles into the stratosphere
clicking heels
and a half gainor backwards
free fall
We have taken the gods of Big
Bethel Mount Pilgrim and
Blessed assurance and walked
just part of the Way
with Damballa
Go on and do it Jim, we said
Boogalooing in the other direction

They need something to believe in
the young
That is only part of the truth
They need a map and a guide
to the interior

If we have the Word let us
say it
If we have the Word let us
Be it
If we have the Word let us
DO
They need something to believe in

From the Heartland: Ashley Hope Perez

Some places come into your life, others for a season. These places give us different lessons and memories that often come back to haunt us in one way or another. Will the ghosts of Indiana end up in any of Ashley Hope 2012AuthorPhoto-360x441Perez’s books? Who knows! Perhaps she was too busy during with school work during her time here that she didn’t get to experience Hoosier Hospitality to its fullest. Somehow, I doubt that. As you read through Ashley’s interview, you’ll realize that she engages with people, landscapes and histories. She wasn’t in Indiana very long, but long enough to claim her as an Indiana author. Her books bring the Latino experience to young adult literature. Her books include The Knife and the Butterfly (February 2012) and What Can’t Wait (2011), both from CarolRhoda Lab. Out of Darkness (CarolRhoda Lab) will be out in 2015.

Where did you grow up?

In Kilgore, Texas, which is about two hours east of Dallas and about an hour west of the Louisiana border. It’s an area known for friendly people, lots of churches, and miles and miles of pine trees. Also for its oil fields. My third novel, Out of Darkness, is the first I’ve ever set near where I grew up, and I suppose the seed for it came when I was a little kid. My dad would sometimes take my brother and me on veterinary calls, and I remember him pointing out the place in New London, Texas, where a school exploded killing almost two hundred children in 1937. That historical event is central to the story of Out of Darkness, although I made almost everything else up.

What were some of the first books you found as a child that turned you into a reader?

I was an early and eager reader, so I can’t really remember a time before I loved books. My older brother and I spent most of our summer mornings at the library near my dad’s clinic. Some of my childhood favorites include the original The Boxcar Children novel and Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family stories, which are about a large Jewish family with many daughters. Even after I “graduated” to longer books, I still enjoyed lingering over the beautiful illustrations in Ezra Jack Keats books, and I remember being fascinated and a little scared by Chris Van Allsburg’s books, many of which didn’t have any words at all. One of my favorite things about being a mom is rediscovering the world of picture books. My son’s favorite lately is The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez by René Colato Laínez. El Ratón Pérez is the mouse that collects teeth (like the tooth fairy) in Mexico and many other Latin American countries. Besides the obvious appeal of seeing his own last name on the cover and sharing a middle name (Miguel) with the boy in the book, my son loved the beautiful illustrations and humor of the story.

Meat or vegetables?

Both! I was mostly vegetarian until I was pregnant with my son, but something changed then. Now I have come to enjoy pulled pork, bacon, and carne asada on occasion. I’m still perfectly happy to eat vegetarian most of the time, though, and roasted kale and sweet potatoes are ridiculously close to chocolate on my comfort food list.

Which famous person would you most like to have write a review for your book?

Hmmm… there are some famous people I’d love to have read my books (hi, Oprah!), but I’ve never thought about picking a reviewer.

What three things would you like to add to a list of national treasures?

I’d start with oral histories from “ordinary” black and Latino Texans prior to the Civil Rights Era. I’d also want to preserve gospel and folk music. I got a little silly in the post office recently when I discovered a new postage stamp featuring Lydia Mendoza, a San Antonio music legend who was gaining popularity around the time when my main character in Out of Darkness moves with her twin brother and sister from San Antonio to East Texas.

What book(s) are you currently in the middle of reading?

I am one of those people who always has a few books going at any given time. I just started re-reading The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy, which has long been a favorite of mine. I’m also reading Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, Perfectly Good White Boy by Carrie Mesrobian, and a collection of stories by David James Poissant.

How did your writing career begin?

+-+149293101_70I was fortunate to have several professors encourage me during my college years, but I became a writer because I found my audience. This happened when I started teaching English and ESL at Chávez High School in Houston. Besides meeting all the standards and getting my students ready to have a serious chance at completing college, I wanted them to discover the pleasure of reading, a notion that was pretty foreign to most of my students. As my kids told me about what did or didn’t engage them, I learned that many of them felt “their story” was missing from the library shelves. My first novel, What Can’t Wait, incorporates many of the stories they shared with me, and I finished the first draft just in time to give it to my last group of students (all seniors) for graduation. My students were my first readers, and their excitement still tops every success I’ve had since.  

How do you hope your writing engages young people?

I come at the idea of engagement from two main directions. First, I strive for authenticity, a goal that’s especially important when exploring experiences that have largely been relegated to the sidelines of +-+554058792_70literature. When describing immigrant family life or gang culture, for example, that means walking the none-too-clear line between realism and what might seem like stereotype. I want readers who recognize the world of one of my books to find that how I portray that world rings true. Second, I think about how I can invite all readers into the book, even (or especially) if their life is completely different. That’s been crucial to my efforts to write a novel set in the past. It matters to me that it be gripping to contemporary readers from all backgrounds.

Out of Darkness is due next year from Carolrhoda Lab. You wrote it while completing your PhD. Any tips on time management?

Be sure to sleep. It sounds obvious, but often when we’re overtaxed, we think that stealing hours from sleep will help us get more done. In the end, it only sabotages the next day’s productivity. Also, map out goals week by week and month by month. I also make a semester plan and a five-year plan. Although achieving a goal often takes longer than we expect, putting it down on paper brings us a smidge closer to making the daily choices that will turn the goal into a reality.

Why did you write Out of Darkness? What story did you want to tell?

I already mentioned the school explosion, which is central to the novel. But it’s about much more. At the heart of the novel are questions about who can love whom and how and where certain kinds of love are possible. Quite a bit has been written about interracial romances between white and black characters—Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez offers a fascinating and original take—but there is very little exploration of relationships between black and Latina/o characters during the Jim Crow era. That was one story I wanted to tell, and I also wanted to incorporate glimpses into the tripartite segregation system present in Texas, a system that separated children into white, “colored,” and “Mexican” schools. Hard things happened during these times, and some people would prefer for the sins of the past to remain hidden. It’s a protective impulse, but ultimately we have to face what our community has been if we are to have any hope of forging something better in the future. That said, I hope that my tenderness toward East Texas comes through in the novel.  

There are a few weeks of summer left. I hope you’re able to relax and enjoy them! Thanks!