Sunday Morning Reads

Have you been following #WeNeedDiverseBooks on FB or Tumblr? They’ve been coming up with spot on books pairs this summer.

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The WNDB Team has most recently been joined by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. the Cake Literary Ladies!

You know everything is bigger in Texas, including the state’s annual library conference. TLA has got to be the most popular state library conference in the nation. Call for papers is currently open.

The Américas Award created a list of selected Américas Award titles that highlight issues surrounding children and the border.  This and other thematic guides can be found on the Américas website:www.claspprograms.org/americasaward.  Contribute your activities and titles on our Facebook page: Facebook.com/americasaward.

Children’s laureate Malorie Blackman, authors, illustrators, poets in the UK are part of a movement demanding the government insure a presence of good libraries in all schools.

And in the US? Well, the schools in Chicago all have libraries, but half of them have librarians. The Mayor’s CEO says they can’t find librarians to fill the positions. That reminds me so much of publishers saying they can’t find authors of color. Numerous schools around Indiana have lost librarians, most often in elementary schools. I’ve heard of some schools in the state relying upon the public library to come in and provide library services. Not all librarians are created equal! While both a public and school librarian would be familiar with children’s and young adult literature, the public librarian would work more on programming and not be familiar with the curriculum as a school librarian would. Librarians provide technology training for students and staff, often teaching classes and providing professional development. I don’t know how we think schools can do without them.

Kate DiCamillo is our current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

BrownBookShelf continues the “Making Our Own Market” series with an interview of self published author DuEwa Frazier.

 Eventually, I taught myself how to self-publish. There was no one there to hold my hand through the entire process but I did receive support. I took writing workshops with the late, great poet, Louis Reyes Rivera and was mentored by Abiodun Oyewole of the Last Poets. I attended many of the Center for Black Literature’s National Black Writers Conference’s early panels and workshops. I later took children’s writing and non-fiction workshops at other centers in the city. I became a part of a community of writers who had academics and cultural consciousness in their backgrounds.

We’re already talking Back to School. Summer here has been slow to warm and it feels like it hasn’t really started yet. Slow to warm and high humidity here makes me wonder how in the world June 2014 could have been the hottest June on record. Ah! To get out of my little bubble! #WeNeedDiverseBooks

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Crystal Allen!

Crystal Allen writes middle grade/young YA fiction that break the mold of what we too often find in children’s literature.  I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing The Laura Line which was released in 2013.

51O8GYjCtrL._AA160_Thirteen-year-old Laura Dyson wants two things in life: to be accepted by her classmates and to be noticed by baseball star Troy Bailey. But everyone at school makes fun of her for being overweight, and Troy won’t give her a second glance. Until their seventh grade history teacher puts Laura front and center by announcing a field trip to the old run-down slave shack on her grandmother’s property. Heck to the power of no way! Her grandmother insists that it’s more than just a shack; it’s a monument to the strong women in their family — the Laura Line. Something to be proud of. But Laura knows better: if her classmates can’t accept her now, they never will once they see the shack. So she comes up with the perfect plan to get the field trip canceled. But when a careless mistake puts the shack — and the Laura Line — in jeopardy, Laura must decide what’s truly important to her. Can Laura figure out how to get what she wants at school while also honoring her family’s past?

Crystal recently agreed to the following interviewing and I have to say it’s been such a joy getting to know her! I’m sure you’ll understand why I say that as you read her interview.

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What is one of your most clear memories of being a teen?

I loved theater and drama.  I tried out for every play in middle school and high school.  My first role was the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz when I was in the fifth grade.  When the play was over, all of the first and second graders hated me, so I chased them all over the playground.  It was awesome.

I love the opening line on your blog: “Holy Crackers and Cream Cheese! Oh, Mylanta! You’re here!” What are your favorite snack foods?

I love to snack on almonds, fruit, Twizzlers, or Mexican food, not necessarily in that order.

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

Michelle Obama.

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

My definition of “national treasures” is different than what may actually qualify as a national treasure.  But, if I could add three things, it was be these three:

  1. All Senior Citizen Facilities or Nursing Homes. I believe senior citizens are our most beloved National Treasures.
  1. YMCA’s, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and inner city recreation centers .  The importance of these alternatives for youth around the country is invaluable, and has helped deter many from taking wrong paths.
  1. The Houston Astrodome. The Astrodome may already be on the National Treasures list, however, I know there are talks of demolishing it.  The Dome has so much history, and to tear it down would certainly destroy a strong piece of Houston history.

Why would you be up at 3am?  Reflux.

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

Panic – Sharon Draper

The Sweet Dead Life – Joy Preble

(Starting soon)  The Great Greene Heist – Varian Johnson

You write fun, middle class stories with a bit of a lesson that any child can enjoy. What authors have inspired your writing?

Christopher Paul Curtis

Sharon Draper

Donna Gephart

Neal Shusterman

The Laura Line is your newest book. That title is so intriguing! Can you explain it, or will that give too

much away?

The Laura Line is about Laura Dyson, a thirteen year old, overweight girl who has dreams of being a model…or a major league baseball pitcher.  Because of her weight issues, students make fun of her to the point that Laura begins to believe that she is all of the ugly things her classmates say she is.  It’s not until Laura ventures into an old shack on her grandmother’s farm and finds a ledger filled with documents from the female ancestors in her history, (all of them named Laura)  that she begins to stand up for herself.  Now, Laura Dyson not only knows who she is, but has evidence of all the wonderful things she can become.+-+191835251_140

Could Laura and Lamar be friends?  Yes!

I love that you’re a Hoosier! (Once Hoosier, always a Hoosier!) What is it about Indiana that made you decide to set Lamar there?

I grew up in a small town in Indiana and I needed Lamar and Xavier to be small town boys.  Once I began drafting the setting, and adding basketball as Xavier’s biggest talent, it was clear to me that Indiana had to be part of the story, especially since basketball is HUGE in Indiana.

Is setting difficult for you to choose when you begin writing or does setting come right along with the character?

Detailed setting comes with my characters, especially after I understand where they plan on spending the majority of their time.

Finally, what does diversity mean to you?

To me, diversity simply means everybody.

 

call for proposals: REFORMA

The Call for Proposals to present at the Fifth REFORMA National Conference (RNC5) taking place in San Diego, CA, April 1-4, 2015, is now open! REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking


Please visit the website below to get the information and send your proposals for leading presentations, facilitating breakout sessions, or exhibiting posters. The conference’s theme is “Libraries Without Borders: Creating Our Future”. The 2014 REFORMA National Conference Program Committee will evaluate proposals for relevance to the conference theme, as well as clarity, originality, and timeliness.

http://reforma.org/rncv_cfp

 

Deadline is September 1, 2014.

review: Naughts and Crosses

+-+35697920_140Title: Naughts and Crosses

author: Malorie Blackman

date: 2001; Simon and Schuster

main character: Callum McGregor

 

 

Crosses and naughts. Blacks and whites.

Crosses and noughts is the British name for tic tac toe. Malorie Blackman uses the title to describe an alternative universe where Blacks are superior to Whites with Jim Crow type racism playing out in a contemporary setting. Callum is among a small group of naughts selected to attend a prestigious all Cross school. Sephy, a Cross, is Callum’s close friend and also attends this school.

At the same time, there’s espionage and tom foolery as the Cross dominated government works to maintain power. Things come to a head, people are killed and Callum becomes something we could not have predicted at the beginning of the book. He and Sephy begin as such naïve innocents so lacking in motivation that they do little to draw readers into the story. They somehow seem too old and too involved with the world to not understand how race is played out.

Blackman predicates her world on the racism that currently exists but in her world the privilege is reversed. Simple enough job of world building there! As mentioned, I didn’t care for the characters enough to invest in the story. The back and forth ‘lets be friends/lets not be friends’ was fickle and annoying. Labeled as a thriller, suspense was slow to boil. I was surprised that there were so many ‘Britishims’ in the book that left this American often wondering about the meaning. I wonder about the editing that changed the spelling in the title but left so much British in the books.

Naughts and Crosses is an award winning 5 books series that is extremely popular around the world. Malorie Blackman has written over 50 children’s and young adult books and currently serves as the United Kingdom’s Children’s Laureate 2013-15. Her most recent books is Noble Conflict (Doubleday).

Needless to say, I want to read more works by Ms. Blackman. While this book didn’t work well for me, there may be others that will.