Marilyn

What a beautiful way to wind down poetry month. 35633294

Follow this: I was ready Tanita Davis’ moving description of Marilyn Nelson’s work which was inspired by Miss Rumphius’ birthday post and interview of said same poet/author.

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She, like Karen Hesse is one who knows how to do the poetic story quite well. Follow the trail and you will recognize her wonderful works, from A wreath for Emmitt Till to Carver: A life in poems to Fortune’s Bones.36766316

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARILYN NELSON!!


A few new Grants for ya

1. Robert Wood Foundation Grant

A national grant opportunity encourages foundations to collaborate and work with community partners to reduce violence.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is offering Local Funding artnership grants to collaborations of local funders and grant makers.  RWJ will award matching grants to partnering foundations to reduce violence including domestic violence, child abuse and gang activity.

Grant range:  $50,000 – $200,000.     Deadline:  September 1, 2009.

More info: http://www.rwjf.org/applications/solicited/cfp.jsp?ID=20781

2. Dollar General Back to School Grant

Plan ahead!  Dollar General provides Back-to-School grants to help schools pay for new programs, new equipment and software or other materials needed for the new school year.

Grant range:  $5,000.     Deadline:  May 22, 2009.
More info: http://www.dollargeneral.com/servingothers/Pages/GrantPrograms.aspx

3. Quaker Oats Funds Go Grants

Hunger relief.  Quaker Oats funds Quaker Go grants for community projects designed to reduce hunger.

Grant range:  $500.     Deadline:  May 31, 2009.

More info: http://quakeroats.promotions.com/gogrants



Book Requests

Two recent books request.  The first appeared in a response to one of my postings from Finola Prescott:

I have a question: I am from St. Lucia and am always frustrated at the complete lack of GOOD books fin shops & libraries or kids to read – there’s a volunteer library in Gros Islet, called the Grow Well Centre – would anyone be interested in posting off a few of their old books to them? email me if you are finolaprescott at gmail dot com

The second is on Reader Girz

Award winning author Nikki Grimes is collecting books for a library in Arkansas that was recently destroyed by tornadoes. Nikki had just visited there days before the tragedy and feels compelled to do something to help. Yes, I called her Nikki! I met her this year in Indianapolis!

Let’s be generous my brothers and sisters!

In General

I’ve got a long post coming. I have a Crazy Colored Summer List to create and such wonderful suggestions to choose from!  I have lots of stuff I’ve been reading on Twitter and more I’ll read when I catch up on my Google Reader. I FINALLY got a new shipment of books and came home with copies of Fly Girl, someday this pain will be useful to you, retaliation, Dark Dude, The Door of No Return, Secret Keeper, Miles from Nowhere and Life is Funny.

But, tonight I’m tired. It’s been such a long week that I’m vegging between the DVR and blogosphere. One very interesting thing I can mention is that our dear Oprah mentioned on today’s show that she and Tyler Perry are now the executive producers for “Precious“. She said there will be a big announcement in the fall, I don’t know that that’s about. I do know that book sales for Push (which was getting more and more difficult to find) will skyrocket (probably with a new Oprah cover). I want to get excited, then I think of all the books by authors of color that are NOT on Oprah’s teen reading list. (Sorry, I’m not linking to it, I’ve done enough to promote it.)

Let’s just chill and get a free comic!

Color Up for Summer

The lists continue to come out and they continue to ignore our children of color. But, that’s alright. We can build a list for our children! I’d like to create a summer reading that focuses on works for teens of color, that’s right: books written for African, Native, Latino and Asian American teens.  Fiction and non-fiction. Poetry and biography.  So, what do you suggest: classics? Fun? Inspirational? Most teens have very little time to read during the school year. If we can put together a truly awesome list that they can connect to and find themselves in, we might have these kids reading all summer!

Ideally, a list of ten is what I’d like to build, we may have a few more. Post the title author and short summary in the comments by Sunday 26 April. And a complete list will be provided shortly after the deadline.  I’m expecting to hear from the usual suspects who support reading for teens of color but I’m challenging “mainstream” bloggers to come out of their comfort zone and make a suggestion or two!  Let’s build a truly awesome Crazy Colored Summer List!

book review: Aleutian Sparrow

book review: Aleutian Sparrow 0689861893

author: Karen Hesse

publisher: Simon and Schuster, 2003

main character: Vera

Karen Hesse is the queen of the free verse novel. When interviewed after the publication of the Newbery Award Winning Out of the Dust, Hesse said she wrote in free verse because the writing style best matched the sparseness of her characters’ lives. The same seems to hold true for the tales she also tells of girls’ lives in Witness and now in Aleutian Sparrow. While there are fewer words, they are rich, well intentioned words that affect us as they describe the setting, bring life to characters and tell the story.

Aleut mothers from five villages sing their children to sleep

From twenty tents rise the good women voices.

Dark eyes slowly shut: Hard wooden floors

Becoming the hulls of boats floating in a sea of lullaby.

Unlike others who have followed her, she doesn’t simply reformat the paragraph and call it verse.

Vera, her family and her neighbors live rather quiet, traditional lives on Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. While her mother has never really valued the traditional ways, even marrying outside her culture, Vera seeks out elders to teach her the ways that have supported and maintained her ancestors. When World War II begins, Unalaska falls into the scope of Japanese invaders and with the (perhaps) well intentioned plan of protecting the citizens who inhabit these islands, the US Government relocates them to the Alaskan mainland where they can be better protected. But, in this new environment, the people cannot rely upon their own skills to protect themselves. Life becomes challenging, even devastating to those whose lives were so closely tied to nature.

On the SS Columbia the wind plucks at us. The sinew of

government laces us to the ship’s rail. “We are moving you to save you,’ the government tells us.

“With your people safely out of the way, our fighting men

will be free from the worry of you.”

Our ancient roots suddenly exposed,

even Alfred’s mother

is scraped raw.


Hesse, with anthropology in her background, researches extensively to tell important, lesser known stories in American history. I was surprised to learn about the Japanese in Alaska at this time and am really surprised that in our quest for manifest destiny, claiming and protecting all things American, there is so little mention of this invasion of American soil during the War. I was also surprised to find how many white Americans were living in Alaska at this time.  Hesse does an amazing job of letting the historic details paint the background while her young heroine seeks to learn her culture, understand her mother, protect both herself and family and fall in love. While this could be a story of benign neglect, it triumphs as a tale of self empowerment.

themes:  World War II; Aleuts; resilliance; internment; Alaska