Authors Extending Their Reach

Several YA authors of color are adding depth to their repertoire this year by writing in outside the young adult world.

Charles R. Smith teams up with Marc Aronson to edit One Death, Nine Stories (Candlewick). Nine related stories from nine YA authors.

Kev’s the first kid their age to die. And now, even though he’s dead, he’s not really gone. Even now his choices are touching the people he left behind. Ellen Hopkins reveals what two altar boys (and one altar girl) might get up to at the cemetery. Rita Williams-Garcia follows one aimless teen as he finds a new life in his new job — at the mortuary. Will Weaver turns a lens on Kevin’s sister as she collects his surprising effects — and makes good use of them. Here, in nine stories, we meet people who didn’t know Kevin, friends from his childhood, his ex-girlfriend, his best friend, all dealing with the fallout of his death. Being a teenager is a time for all kinds of firsts — first jobs, first loves, first good-byes, firsts that break your heart and awaken your soul. It’s an initiation of sorts, and it can be brutal. But on the other side of it is the rest of your life.

review: Kirkus Complex and emotionally demanding, this collection aims for and will resonate with serious readers of realistic fiction. (Short stories. 14-20)

Juan Felipe Herrera is actually best know as the Poet Laureate of California. A truly talented write, his young adult works include Cinnamon Girl and Downtown Boy. He’s most recently collaborated with Raul Colon on the non-fiction Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes (Penguin/Dial)

This visually stunning book showcases twenty Hispanic and Latino American men and women who have made outstanding contributions to the arts, politics, science, humanitarianism, and athletics.  Gorgeous portraits complement sparkling biographies of Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Ellen Ochoa, Roberto Clemente, and many more. Complete with timelines and famous quotes, this tome is a magnificent homage to those who have shaped our nation.

In this volume: Adelina Otero-Warren, Bernardo de Galvez, Cesar Chavez, David Farragut, Dennis Chavez, Desi Arnaz, Dolores Huerta, Ellen Ochoa, Helen Rodríguez Trías, Hero Street USA, Ignacio Lozano, Jaime Escalante, Joan Baez, Judy Baca, Julia de Burgos, Luis Alvarez, Rita Moreno, Roberte Clemente, Sonia Sotomayor, and Tomas Rivera.

review Publishers Weekly  “The vignettes don’t overwhelm with dates and places, instead providing interesting snippets about the scientists, entertainers, civil rights workers, doctors, artists, politicians, educators, and judges. Readers learn, for example, that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor “read every Nancy Drew novel she could get her hands on” when growing up, and that Civil War naval commander David Farragut’s (“Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”) father hailed from Spain.”

Coe Booth (Tyrell; Kendra; Bronxwood) goes middle grades with Kinda Like Brothers (Scholastic/Push)

It was one thing when Jarrett’s mom took care of foster babies who needed help. But this time it’s different. This time the baby who needs help has an older brother — a kid Jarrett’s age named Kevon.

Everyone thinks Jarrett and Kevon should be friends — but that’s not gonna happen. Not when Kevon’s acting like he’s better than Jarrett — and not when Jarrett finds out Kevon’s keeping some major secrets.Jarrett doesn’t think it’s fair that he has to share his room, his friends, and his life with some stranger. He’s gotta do something about it — but what?

review: Publishers Weekly  Booth offers candid insight into racism, poverty, and the foster care system without becoming heavy-handed; she also sensitively depicts a character’s coming-out moment. Jarrett’s evolution from a position of resistance to an acceptance of circumstances beyond his control is believably subtle. Ages 8–12.

Varian Johnson (Saving Maddie; My Life as a Rhombus) also goes middle grades with The Great Greene Heist (Scholastic).

Jackson Greene swears he’s given up scheming. Then  school bully Keith Sinclair announces he’s running for Student Council president, against Jackson’s former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it — but he knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the presidency no matter the vote count.

So Jackson assembles a crack team:  Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess. Charlie de la Cruz, reporter. Together they devise a plan that will take down Keith, win Gaby’s respect, and make sure the election is done right. If they can pull it off, it will be remembered as the school’s greatest con ever — one worthy of the name THE GREAT GREENE HEIST.

review: Publishers Weekly “Johnson (Saving Maddie) delivers an exciting Ocean’s Eleven–style caper for the middle-school crowd, with third-person narration jumping between the various plotters, who concoct an impressive seven schemes in less than three weeks. While in the big picture, the stakes are low, it’s easy to get swept up in the exploits of Johnson’s entertaining and diverse crew.”

 Greg Neri (Yummy; Knockout Games; Surf Mules) and A. G. Ford published Hello I’m Johnny Cash (Candlewick), a picture book of the singer’s life.

There’s never been anyone like music legend Johnny Cash. His deep voice is instantly recognizable, and his heartfelt songs resonate with listeners of all ages and backgrounds. G. Neri captures Johnny’s story in beautiful free verse, portraying an ordinary boy with an extraordinary talent who grew up in extreme poverty, faced incredible challenges, and ultimately found his calling by always being true to the gift of his voice. A. G. Ford’s luscious paintings of the dramatic southern landscape of Johnny Cash’s childhood illuminate this portrait of a legend, taking us from his humble beginnings to his enormous success on the world stage.

Review: Kirkus “An exceptional portrait of one of the most recognizable musicians of all time. (author’s note, timeline, discography, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)” STARRED

A Little Hump Day Shine

My word this year is ‘shine’. It can be so easy catching myself not shining my brightest. Typically, those are times I don’t allow others to shine. I’m too bright too dull the glow of others! (Repeating 3x daily)

Technology helps me, helps us, shine. I recently updated my iPhone to the new IOS and found that I went back to the same ol’ settings I’ve had. While I appreciate Apple making me aware of some of the new functions, I’ve found my comfort zone. But to shine like a new copper penny, when I go for the trade in, I think I’ll go ahead and make some  real changes. I’ve never really used the Passport app so, I plan to explore that and a few other options. Changing the phone around keeps the brain young!

AND!! I decided to upgrade the Nook! I love playing with new tech toys and finding new ways to locate and share information but I can be frugal, too. If it ain’t broke, why get rid of it? I hate to admit this out loud but I do still have two of the old-fashioned heavy televisions and I drive a 2000 Honda. I was so surprised to hear that cars now tell you when the air is low in your tires! Not only am I saving money by keeping what still works, but it seems like I’m still thinking for myself as well.

René Saldaña Jr. shines brilliantly over at LatinosinKidlit when he firmly states “the books are not hard to find.” I agree, Reñe! It’s old and lame to say you can’t find any Latino books. True, there are not enough, but the ones that are there can be found.

Bringing that real shine to diversity, Kathryn Allan and Djibril al-Ayad discuss their forthcoming anthology Accessing the Future which explores disability and the intersectionality of race, nationality, gender, sexuality and class. They’re raising funds through Indiegogo to get this amazing book published so, check out the interview and shine on them with a little donation to support the cause.

Cyntwe_need_diverse_books_logohia Leitich Smith Shines no matter what! Her recent blog post details the WeNeedDiverseBooks announcement to incorporate as a non-profit and its inaugural advisory board members Grace Lin, Jacqueline Woodson, Matt de la Peña, Cynthia Leitich Smith and Cindy Pon.
“Incorporating will give us the legitimacy and standing we need to move forward with our mission,” says Lamar Giles, VP of Communications. “We have many exciting projects in the works.”

On the BrownBookShelf, Sharon Flake asks about how well you shine. She asks “Are you unstoppable?”unstoppable

On September 30, 2014, my new novel, Unstoppable Octobia May, will hit bookstores nationwide.  On that day I would love you and/or the young people you influence to join me in shouting out to the world that they too are unstoppable by holding up the following sign, words, image:

I AM UNSTOPPABLE

#UNSTOPPABLEOCTOBIAMAY

Shining winners of the 2014 South Asian Book Awards

Elizabeth Suneby

Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education
(Kids Can Press, 2013)

Jennifer Bradbury

A Moment Comes
(Atheneum Book, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2013)

2014 Honor Winner
Farhana Zia
The Garden of My Imaan
(Peachtree, 2013)

Kudos to Walter Mays, president elect of the Assembly of Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE for his efforts to bring more diversity to the ALAN workshop which will be held this November in Washington DC. Among the many outstanding authors on the roster we’ll find

Jason Reynolds

Jenny Han

Kwame Alexander

Pam Muñoz Ryan

C.J. Farley

Coe Booth

Christopher Paul Curtis

Ying Compestine

Vinson Compestine

Atia Abawi

Tanuja Desai Hidier

Patrick Flores-Scott

Kekla Magoon

G. Neri

WOW!!! W0 W!!!! I will be there! You?

 

 

Blog Tour: Scar of the Bamboo Leaf

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Scar of the Bamboo Leaf by Sieni A.M.

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Genre: Young Adult fiction, Contemporary Romance

“Her heart wept when she realized that the hardest part about loving him was the idea that his love was never meant for her.”

Walking with a pronounced limp all her life has never stopped fifteen-year-old Kiva Mau from doing what she loves. While most girls her age are playing sports and perfecting their traditional Samoan dance, Kiva finds serenity in her sketchbook and volunteering at the run-down art center her extended family owns.

When seventeen-year-old Ryler Cade steps into the art center for the first time, Kiva is drawn to the angry and misguided student sent from abroad to reform his violent ways. Scarred and tattooed, an unlikely friendship is formed when the gentle Kiva shows him kindness and beauty through art.
After a tragic accident leaves Kiva severely disfigured, she struggles to see the beauty she has been brought up to believe. Just when she thinks she’s found her place, Ryler begins to pull away, leaving her heartbroken and confused. The patriarch of the family then takes a turn for the worse and Kiva is forced to give up her dreams to help with familial obligations, until an old family secret surfaces that makes her question everything.

Immersed in the world of traditional art and culture, this is the story of self-sacrifice and discovery, of acceptance and forbearance, of overcoming adversity and finding one’s purpose. Spanning years, it is a story about an intuitive girl and a misunderstood boy and love that becomes real when tested.

Available on Amazon

About the Author:

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Sieni A.M. is a coffee addict, Instagram enthusiast, world traveler, and avid reader turned writer. She graduated as an English and History high school teacher from the University of Canterbury and is currently living in Israel with her husband and two daughters. “Scar of the Bamboo Leaf” is her second novel.

Website: http://sieniam.blogspot.co.il/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/illumineher

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/illumineher/

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book review: Shieldwolf Dawning

title: Shieldwolf Dawning516+sRTYYpL._AA160_

author: Selena Nemorin

date: Astraea Press; 2014

main character: Samarra

Shieldwolf Dawning is the first in a new speculative fiction series by Selena Nemorin. Samarra and her brother, Cassian, have been moved to Gaia, a planet with a deteriorating natural environment and are being raised by the Sairfangs after the death of the children’s parents. Their step-parent’s wealth protects them from the pollution and scarcities and provides Cassian with the best education money can buy. Samarra is stuck at home cleaning and doing chores. As sexist as this situation seems, it has more to do with Cassian’s future position in life rather than the fact that he’s a male. Samarra despises her situation. She’s impetuous and curious. Given the opportunity to leave her situation, she talks her brother into escaping with her. And so begins their adventure.

The book rattled my attention the mention of ‘all-terrain aircraft’!  Written in third person, the author still confines herself to the limited perception of the main character. That annoys me! Use that voice to fully develop a story with multiple character’s perspectives and with rich settings or stick to first person. Cassian is poorly developed which is tragic given how important he becomes at the end of the book. Time sequences were unequal in length and there were too many detailed situations that were never developed.

Shieldwolf Dawning is unique in two ways. First, it gives us an adventurous female of color  with blue dreads who often saves herself in situations. Second, it’s steeped in philosophy. Where knowledge of the field could provide a stronger appreciation for the book, I had none. I suspect that most teens without this knowledge will be as frustrated as I was with Samarra and never really invest in the story. She repeatedly wanders into situations that end up with negative consequences. Maybetwo-thirds of the way into the book when I was really tired of her doing this over and over again and I began to think that these wanderings might have something to do with stages of intellectual or moral development and that these curiosities were purposeful in her growth. This seemed to make sense to me when Samarra reasoned about moral judgment, truth and honestly.

Sheildwolf Dawning is an ambitious book that doesn’t quite reach it’s potential.