I’m thinking about picking up Ari’s Male Monday Meme and I’m going to try it out today by working with my readers to identify POC males who write for middle school boys. It’s turning into a challenging start!  I do find that middle school boys probably have the most eclectic taste in reading on the planet. They’re looking for adventure, humor, sports,  biographies or even romance. Yes, romance! Also, they seem to be more concerned with the action than with the characters.  Wonder why I never see books for boys of color about farts, flying dragons or creepy critters.

What’s your experience with POC boy readers? Who are some of the males you’ve found who write for them?  Perhaps you can think of books by males that have a diverse cast of characters, like Holes by Louis Sachar.

Gary Soto
Facing the Lion Joseph Lemasoliai Lekuton
Walter Dean Myers
Chess  Rumble; Yummy by G. Neri
The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez
Marvelous World by Troy Cle
Sucker Punch by David Hernandez
Christopher Paul Curtis
The Whole Sky Full of Stars by Rene Saldano
Julius Lester
Tony Medina
Joseph Bruchac
Simon Ortiz

book review: Ninth Ward

book review:  Ninth Ward
author: Jewell Parker Rhodes
publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; August 16, 2010
main character: Lanesha
middle grade fiction

synopsis: Abandoned by her peers because of her ability to see spirits, Lanesha longs for connection despite the strong love of her adopted grandmother, Mama Ya-Ya. As hurricane Katrina approaches and her neighbours flee, Lanesha must stay and brace for a storm of epic proportions. As the levees break, Lanesha must find a way to survive the floods on her own…
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published August 16th 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
0316043079 (ISBN13: 9780316043076)
source: Goodreads

Deciding to write about such a devastating event in a fiction for children could not have been easy. How do you combine so many levels of a catastrophe and make it something middle grade children can digest?  And how do you write as if you don’t know the outcome? You tell the story through a child in the ninth ward, someone who will feel the full impact of the event and you make her resilient. LaNesha lives with Mama Ya Ya, an elderly woman raising LaNesha on a fixed income. Although LaNesha thinks she has no friends, she has mama YaYa and a mystical support system so fitting a story in New Orleans.
I’m finding that in writing middle grade fictions, authors can use the limited story devices to either create a snugly built, tight story or they can create a snug story with words that become the base for imaginations to grow. The Ninth Ward is the latter.
I grab the Encyclopedia Britannica. Volume B.

Mama Ya Ya paid $3 a week for three years until she’d paid for the entire encyclopedia set. It was my best present ever. The books have their own special shelf. The only other book on the shelf is Mama Ya Ya’s Bible. She reads it over and over again, and tells me its stories. I like the story of David beating the giant, Goliath. Of baby Moses being rescued from the water.
Atop the bookshelf is a picture of Mama Ya Ya holding my hand when I was two. I look different now. Mama Ya Ya looks the same, wise and beautiful.
I sit on the floor, opening the huge book. The cover is getting worn, but that insides are just fine. Like Mama Ya Ya, the words and pictures keep teaching me.
As it gets darker and darker outside, I ignore the TV and read about bridges, famous builders, and the engineers who imagined the mathematical symbols and signs that people can’t see. I wonder how something that starts off so invisible turns into metal, bolts and wires, connecting point A to point B.

I enjoyed the foreshadowing that allowed me to expect something bad to happen while also letting me know that whatever happened, things would still manage to work themselves out; that we were witnessing the cycle of life. I didn’t care for the vocabulary lessons because I thought they were distracting. While these lessons didn’t work for me, I did enjoy learning about bridges with Lanesha.
Through the story’s characters we come to understand why so many people stayed put before the storm came. Neighbors discuss the information they have about the imminent storm, their own support systems and how serious they expect this to be.  Symbols and bridges are themes throughout the story.
awards and recognitions:
disclosure: I purchased this book for my personal library.


Things that have perplexed me this week:

  • Glen Beck
  • intense coverage of Hurricane Katrina, but not the flooding in Pakistan

    Sample Chapter

  • oil spill? what oil spill?
  • why I cannot win at Words with Friends
  • judging for the Cybils
  • educators who don’t know Powerpoint
  • school restructuring and what really needs to change to create effective urban high schools
  • hair: how short should I cut it this time?
  • why daytime temps are still in the 90s
  • updating my blog feeds. I’ve got to drop some of the 100+ blogs I subscribe to, but which??

My app of the week: MapQuest

Currently reading: Good Enough by Paula Yoo

Read Online

Giving Up!

I’m complaining about 90 degrees again with no rain in site, yet I’ll get my errands done while driving in my air conditioned car to buy whatever food I want to eat and return to my air conditioned home to read, watch television and wash and dry clothes in machines. Perhaps I’ll meet my sister for lunch where I’ll probably find another reason to complain about the job I’ve been fortunate enough to have for the past 13 years and I’ll leave the waiter a small tip for the service. What else will I do? Pretty much whatever I decide, God willing and the river don’t rise too high. Insha’Allah.

Well, in Pakistan the river has risen too high so one other thing I’m doing is texting my financial support. Then, my day will continue on its path. That text, so painless, so quick and so critically necessary. It will give my day a little meaning!

The State Department and U.S. Embassy Islamabad announced a new mobile phone donation campaign that asks mobile phone users to text “SWAT” to 50555. Each text donates $10 to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), whose emergency response teams are delivering supplies in Balochistan and Kyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. The donations support UNHCR’s efforts to distribute humanitarian assistance to an estimated 200,000 people displaced by floods.

organizations working in Pakistan:

World Vision


Charity Organizations in Pakistan:

Al-Khidmat Foundation: Donate here.

Edhi Foundation: Donate here.

TCF Relief Fund for Flood Victims: [contact link]

SUNGI: [Flood Donation Appeal – PDF]

Pakistan Red Crescent Society: PRCS has offices in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and Muzaffarabad. [Contact Information]

Plan International: donation link for Pakistan.

Renowned journalist and anchor person, Syed Talat Hussain has established a relief fund with his colleague Kashif Abbasi. You can donate to them, through the following means:

Title of Account: Syed Talat Hussain/ Kashif Abbasi
Account No: 0516616341000689
Bank: Muslim Commercial Bank
Branch: Stock Exchange Branch, Blue Area, Islamabad
Branch Code: 1390

For further details:

Tel: +92-51-111010010
SMS: +92-347-5023842, +92-301–5473521

Karachi Relief Trust: Working in Nowshera (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Sindh. [donation link]

The Mahvash and Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation (MJSF): collecting donations for flood relief. [donation link].

Shehzad Roy and Zindagi Trust: [donation link]


I think we spend so many years in school that as fall rolls around, we feel like we should be beginning something.  I remember years ago when I stayed at home with my children, I felt that way in the fall. It was unsettling until I realized why I felt the urge to do something new. I’ve heard of retired teachers who plan trips for the fall so that they can have a new experience.

For me as school begins, new projects naturally occur. It’s exciting to talk to students and teachers and have the ideas and possibilities flow. That’s what education is all about! I have to know my limits, though because there is only so much I can do with so much required just to keep a library operational. I have gotten a student helper who is quite reliable so that will help some.

My school is once again facing re-staffing for the upcoming year and this is what happens when schools don’t meet AYP (Annual Yearly Performance). It’s a frightening thought for educators to face, but I’ve always said that if I’m not doing what I need to do, then move me out. Students don’t get a second chance so we have to keep their needs first and foremost in schools.

So, with projects looming, books to be selected, ordered and processed, classes to be scheduled and taught and on and on and on, I’ve faced myself with one guiding question for the year: How do I as a school librarian become indispensable? I don’t mean as an individual because I’m cute and friendly and I don’t mean as a clerk has an efficient facility, but as true librarian professional, how do Iwe make myself seen as a critical component in the school’s mission?  With budget cuts looming again and too many schools cutting librarians, I think finding the right answer to this question is critical.

Critical to looking and feeling successful is getting things done. To me, that means working from a list. I think I’m working from too many locations to use anything other than pencil and paper for my lists.  I don’t know, perhaps evernote on computers? What do you think?

Yasmin Shiraz is someone is has to be organized to perfection! Remember Retaliation? That’s her! She’s also the producer of Can She Be Saved?

Can She Be Saved? features 8th grade girls from Syracuse, NY who’ve been labeled aggressive by their teachers and guidance counselors. “This film gives girls who fight the opportunity to speak up and talk about their anger and their propensity toward violence,” said Shiraz

The film has won awards in North Carolina, Texas and the United Kingdom. KUDOS, Ms. Shiraz!

Communication is becoming less flat. Even with the links, images and embedded videos blogs are kinda flat. Well, mine is. I’ve thought about making a podcast, just haven’t done it yet! Fuse8 recently featured BrainBurps, a blog about children’s books that has evolved into podcasts and now apps!!  Think of the possibilities for your favorite blog! The BrainBurp app costs $1.99, but Fuse8 has a contest…

I discovered Google FastFlip. You enter a search term and your results are current news articles.  I used it to find this article in the NYTimes about the US Government indoctrinating young readers in Japan through manga.  Scholastic is doing the same thing to youngsters in the mideast, they’re just more subtle about it.

If you’re looking for a new project, consider supporting the Prisoners’ Reading Encouragement Project. Thanks for pointing this out, Zetta.

Change is in the air!!

Enjoy your week!

Minority Scholarships

Please contact the school or association if you are interested in any of the follow scholarships as I don’t have any further information on them.

Scholarships for Minority Women
Actuary Scholarships for Minority Students
American Chemical Society Scholarships
American Geological Institute Minority Geoscience Student Scholarship
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
American Political Science Association Minority scholarship list
Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Program
Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation
The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
Engineering for Minorities
Gates Millennium Scholars
International Education Financial Aid
The Jackie Robinson Foundation (high school seniors only)
Jack Kent Cook Foundation Graduate Scholars Program
John L. Carey Accounting Scholarship
Kaiser Media Internships in Health Reporting
LGBT Scholarships
Microsoft Scholarships (for computer related degrees)
Morris K. Udall Undergraduate Scholarship (for environmental studies)
National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART Grant)
Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
Students of Color Scholarship
Unmet Need Scholarship
USA Funds

Scholarships for African -American Women
Herbert Lehman Education Fund
The Jackie Robinson Foundation (high school seniors only)
Ron Brown Scholarship (high school seniors)
Black Excel Scholarship Gateways
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
Dr. James M. Rosin Scholarship
Fisk Premedical Summer Institute / Minority Medical Education Program
General Mills Technology Scholars Award
Law School: MCCA Lloyd M. Johnson, Jr. Scholarship Program
NAACP Earl Warren Shearman and Sterling Law School Scholarship
NAACP Scholarships: Earl G. Graves Scholarship, Agnes Jones Scholarship, Lillian and Samuel Sutton Scholarship, Roy Wilkins Scholarship, and the Hubertus W.V. Williams Scholarship
National Association of Black Journalists
National Black Police Association
National Society of Black Engineers Scholarship List
Sallie Mae Fund American Dream Scholarship
Siemens Teacher Education Scholarship Program
Spieler, Rhea and Louis Scholarship Program
UNCF Merck Science Initiative
United Negro College Fund

Scholarships for Latina Women

Hispanic Scholarship Fund (also for college students)
Adelante US Education Leadership Fund
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (Congressional Internship)
First in My Family Scholarship Program
Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
Hispanic Internship Program
La Unidad Latina Foundation
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
National Association of Hispanic Journalists
Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund
State Farm Hispanic Scholarship


Susan Hanks

Library Programs Consultant

California State Library/Development Services


Not a bad week, not at all! I’ve been reading The Last Summer of Death Warriors. I’ve been reading it real slow as school increases the pace of life around me and I’ve been reading it slowly not wanting to finish it. The books reminds me so much of A Prayer for Owen Meany, one of my all time favorites. Also not a bad week because I won bakeware from a blogger I truly admire! I’d love to promise to bake something wonderful in the pans and post a photo, but I don’t want to break a promise.  
I like that young people of color have so many more opportunities today. Needless to say education is critical in being able to get a foothold and I don’t just mean reading and writing and ‘rithmetic but also being in situations that teach how to build and maintain relationships, how to network. Don’t you think there seem to be so many more ways to do that now? The tools are there but it helps to know the ways to use them effectively.
What I’m really liking is that the opportunities are there for us at any age. Are you doing the same thing you were doing 10 years ago? Are you doing what you thought you’d be doing ten years ago? I’m not and I’m wondering where I’ll be 10 years from now.
It’s all about being ready for the opportunity.
I think Mitali Perkins gave me the first direction to move forward when she posted about vision statements.

If you don’t have a vision statement yet for your vocation, here are some prompts to get you started creating your own:
  1. Describe two pivotal events in your life (one before age 20).
  2. Name two things you LOVE to do with your time other than writing or reading.
  3. Complete this eulogy: “S/he would have done ANYTHING to help …”

What’s your vision statement?
Certainly something anyone who is not stagnant needs to have. Life moves pretty fast and sometimes  you have to stop and take a look at things around you.  I think I’ll call it my Death Warrior Manifesto.