Making College Accessible

Someone told me that to be a good librarian, I shouldn’t just read librarian related materials. This makes sense because librarians should be able to guide users to all kinds of information. For example, as a high school librarian, I have numerous conversations with students and staff about college. I was glad to see this series being put together by HigherEdJobs on “Making College Accessible”.   This is the introduction to the first article in the series:

HigherEd Careers will be doing a special series addressing the topic of “Making College Accessible.” Our guests will be discussing critical issues surrounding making post-secondary education open to all who desire it. These individuals include students of minority populations, the unique opportunities and challenges associated with first generation college students, and the issues of financing higher education for economically disadvantaged students. Through these interviews we will also examine how staff and faculty at our colleges and universities manage these key issues today. 

To begin the series with our June HigherEd Careers interview, we are pleased to have Mr. Neil Horikoshi, President and Executive Director of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF). Mr. Horikoshi will be discussing ways to support the Asian and Pacific Islander students in higher education, myths and challenges associated with this population, and advice on how to succeed at working in higher education, specifically within a distinctly multi-cultural community. 

After reading, we invite you to continue the discussion in our LinkedIn group or follow HigherEd Careers on Twitter

True confession

You know how I’m always going on and on about diversity, about the need to expand our reading so we can expand our world? Well, I have to admit I don’t always practice what I preach. There are certain people I don’t like and will not read about. They’re vampires. I don’t like them (or ghosts, werewolves, zombies or other creatures of the dark night) because they give me nightmares. I do not watch scary movies and I’m sure scary books with their vivid descriptions will invade my peaceful sleep just as well. For me, it’s a good thing there are so few such creatures of color lurking through teen books, do they even exist? I’ve found several Latino adult vampires mostly written by Felix Gomez, a few African American and one Asian. There are even gay adult vampires. Some have slipped into manga, and Mario Acevedo and Marta Acosta are creating Latino vampire comics (or are they vampire Latino comics?). So, as far as I can tell, YA fiction isn’t all that dark!

Has anyone read any YA vampires of color?

New and Upcoming

July. Already.

I’ve just added several new titles to my new book list, so why not just post the upcoming POC titles?  Please feel free to add titles I’m missing in the comments.

Silhouetted by the blue  by Traci L. Jones; Farrar Straus and Giroux: Seventh-grader Serena Shaw is trying to keep up at school while rehearsing for the lead role in the spring musical and dealing with a father so “blue” he is nearly catatonic. With the aid of a not-so-secret admirer as well as a growing sense of self-confidence, she faces the challenges of caring for herself and her ball-of-charm younger brother, all while attempting to lead the life of a normal pre-teen. Readers will be drawn into this convincing portrait of a vivacious young person who is on a path to discovering that taking on responsibility   sometimes means finding the best way to ask for help. from the publisher’s site MG

Stolen girl by Yxta Maya Murray; Razorbill;  7 July

Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia; Simon and Schuster, 12 July Brought together each summer at a boarding school in Switzerland, three girls learn a lot more than just French and European culture. Shirin, an Iranian princess; Ingrid, a German-Canadian eccentric; and Vivien, a Cuban-Jewish New Yorker culinary phenom, are thrown into each other’s lives when they become roommates. This is a story of 3 paths slowly beginning to cross and merge as they spend the year apart, but the summers together. Through navigating the social-cultural shoals of the school, developing their adolescence, and learning the confusing and conflicting legacies of their families’ past, Shirin, Ingrid, and Vivien form an unbreakable bond. publishers website

Mayhem (Mystyx #3) by Artist Arthur; Harlequin Jake Kramer never had much growing up, but his biggest loss was that of his mother. Now he’s being raised in a single parent household, growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in Lincoln, Connecticut—not exactly his dream life. Supernatural powers and a group of others just like him didn’t really ruffle Jake’s feathers, but when his powers start to grow in ways he never imagined, he starts to believe there’s nothing he can’t do. Now, with a father who doesn’t understand him, bullies striking hard in Settleman’s High, a grandfather who’s trying to protect him and a growing urge to do things he’s never thought of doing before, Jake finally starts to fight back. But is that only making things worse? With the evil threat bearing down harder on the Mystyx Jake needs to get a handle on his life and the power that may just destroy them all. from author’s website

Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. By Medeia Sharif; Flux  During Ramadan, we’re not allowed to eat from sunrise to sunset, for a whole month. My family does this every year, even though I’ve been to a mosque exactly twice in my fifteen years. My exercise-obsessed mom—whose hotness skipped a generation, sadly—says I could stand to lose a few. But is torture really an acceptable method? I think not.  Things wouldn’t be so bad if I had a boyfriend, but my oppressive parents forbid me to date. This is just cruel and wrong. Especially since Peter, a cute and crushable artist, might be my soul mate. Figures my bestest friend Lisa likes him, too. To top it off, there’s a new Muslim girl in school who struts around in super-short skirts, commanding every boy’s attention—including Peter’s. How can I get him to notice me? And will I ever feel like a typical American girl? from the author’s website  This one was actually released a little early and my copy is on the way!

Sylvia and Aki by Winifred Conkling; Tricycle Press  MG Sylvia never expected to be at the center of a landmark legal battle; all she wanted was to enroll in school. Aki never expected to be relocated to a Japanese internment camp in the Arizona desert; all she wanted was to stay on her family farm and finish the school year. The two girls certainly never expected to know each other, until their lives intersected in Southern California during a time when their country changed forever. Here is the remarkable story based on true events of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu, two ordinary girls living in extraordinary times. When Sylvia and her brothers are not allowed to register at the same school Aki attended and are instead sent to a “Mexican” school, the stage is set for Sylvia’s father to challenge in court the separation of races in California’s schools. Ultimately, Mendez vs. Westminster School District led to the desegregation of California schools and helped build the case that would end school segregation nationally. Through extensive interviews with Sylvia and Aki—still good friends to this day—Winifred Conkling brings to life two stories of persistent courage in the face of tremendous odds.  This is the one I’m most looking forward to reading because it’s about a piece of history we rarely hear about. This important case set the groundwork for Brown v. Board of Education.

Boyfriend season by Kelli London; Kensington 26 July  First boyfriends, first love, first mistakes—and an invitation to the hottest teen society party of the year send three friends into a tailspin. Can they handle the pressure of getting everything they think they want? SANTANA JACKSON is one of the flyest chicks in her Atlanta ’hood. At least until her golddigger mother snags a lawyer, and they move to the other side of the tracks. Worse, Santana’s boyfriend has made a move, too—on her rival. Now Santana’s obsessed with winning him back in time to shine—until she unexpectedly finds herself falling for a brainy nerd… DYNASTY YOUNG has learned about life the hard way, thanks to her drug-addicted mother and MIA father. Then she meets City, a boy with as much money-making potential as swagger—and who could be her ticket to a better life. But when he stands her up, Dynasty realizes that sometimes true love is right next door… PATIENCE BLACKMAN is going to hell. Just ask her father, the famous Bishop Blackman. Torn between what’s good for her and what feels good, Patience just wants to have fun—and a hot date for the party—until she stumbles upon a gorgeous church boy who has her rethinking her bad girl ways…  author’s website

Putting make-up on the fat boy  by Bil Wright; Simon and Schuster,  26 JulCarlos Duarte knows that he’s fabulous. He’s got a better sense of style than half the fashionistas in New York City, and he can definitely apply makeup like nobody’s business. He may only be in high school, but when he lands the job of his dreams–makeup artist at the FeatureFace counter in Macy’s–he’s sure that he’s finally on his way to great things. But the makeup artist world is competitive and cutthroat, and for Carlos to reach his dreams, he’ll have to believe in himself more than ever.  publisher’s website


Just passin’ time

I’m not sure whether the 4thof July or a son turning 29 does more to make me feel the passing of summer and the need to tend

What I'm currently reading

to my ‘to do’ list. At the top of my growing list has been searching for a new job. I haven’t had much luck yet, but I’m hopeful! I realize that having been in the same spot for 14 years gives me that same sense of complacency that Virginia had.

 Doret recently shared a very interesting article on the success often found by authors outside a culture that authors inside a culture cannot find in book sales. The article specifically speaks to the success of non-African authors over African authors and asks whether this is acceptable to readers.

I may not be the one who should try to carry this part of the conversation further as I can be so completely obtuse in oral conversations, often quite oblivious to any and all verbal clues. Nonetheless, I do believe there is something in the culture of written language that leaves those outside the culture feeling like an outsider. There is something about the way African Americans communicate, or is it a subliminal sense of guilt? Does it come across as confrontational? Is the rhythm difficult to follow? I don’t know exactly what it is, has there been studies to address this? I can’t exactly describe it because I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced a sense of dislike for the writing of another culture that would make me want to avoid all authors of that culture.

I was recently reading an arc of Ghetto Cowboy and I remarked to myself that there would have been a time when the educator in me would have really been bothered by the grammar Neri chose to use. Now, I’m simply amazed at the skill it takes to write in the language of Black urban teens. And, I’m equally amazed that my inner voice reads this in my language rather than exactly as written. It’s almost like the same why my mind allows me to read what I meant to write rather than what I actually wrote when I try to proofread my own writing. With Nerei, this writing has a natural rhythm and it flows…to me… but perhaps not to someone less familiar with it’s construction. But what about when an author of color, such as myself writing here on this blog, writes by what they believe to me American English writing norms? What are the difficulties in reading that?

I have not successfully transitioned to reading graphic novels/comics. I grew up reading Archie, Little Lotta and Richie Rich but I guess I didn’t stick with it well enough to take the time to read the images AND the text.

It was recently announced on Twitter that we’ve lost another Black comic creator. Bronx-born artist Gene Colan, co-creator

Gene Colan with his wife Adrienne and Chad Frye.

of the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics, died Thursday. He was 84. Born Eugene Colan on September 1, 1926, he had a career spanning seven decades. Drawing the adventures of Batman and Dracula, he had a style that attracted comic book lovers and critics alike.

At age 18, Colan found a job at Wing Comics. He joined the United States Army Air Corps soon after and was stationed in the Philippines until the Second World War ended.

In 1969, Colan and Stan Lee created the African-American known as the Falcon, a frequent partner of Captain America. Colan drew all 70 issues of The Tomb of Dracula in the 1970s, along with much of the satire Howard the Duck, written by Steve Gerber.  Also at Marvel, he drew Iron Man (in Tales of Suspense), Doctor Strange, and — from 1966 to 1973 — Daredevil.  “He had developed a signature style by the late 1960s that people just loved,” said Meth, the writer of Colan’s biography.  it is said that Colan worked on almost every major Marvel comic book.

Last year, he and writer Ed Brubaker won the Eisner Award for Best Single Issue for Captain America #601, which would be his last published work.


I’ll admit I have really been unaware of the contributions of artists of color in the comic work. This list of Black comic book characters shows I have a lot to learn!

I found a new cooking show on the Cooking Channel and I’m going to experiment with a new recipe this evening. It sounds so simply delicious: cocktail shrimp mixed with corn and black bean salsa and then spooned over lettuce in a taco shell. Bring it on, summer!!

I’m getting things together for a little summer giveaway, so stay tuned!

review: The Queen of Water

The collaboration between Farinango and Resau has resulted in a powerful, well-paced story that will appeal to teen and adults readers alike" ~Lyn Miller-Lachmann

title: Queen of Water

author: Laura Resau and Maria Virginia Farinango

date: Delacorte Press, 2011

main character: Maria Virginia Farinango

Queen of Water is a contemporary tale of Ecuador. It is the age old story of haves vs. have-nots and how the most powerless (mostly  women and children and double so if you are a woman child) get lost in the crossfire. The story began in real life when Laura Resau met Maria Virginia Farinango and Resau realized there was a story to be told. Resau continued to meet with Farinango and even traveled to Ecuador to put this story together. Is if fact based fiction.

At a very young age, Virginia is removed from her family home and is taken to the city to work in the home of an upper middle class/mestizo doctor and her teacher husband. The situation is far less than idea for Virginia but in telling this story, Virginia has the memories of a child which has her questioning her place in her family’s home.  She thinks her mother doesn’t want her, that she was given away. Time after time, Virginia gives up on chances to runaway and to go back home.

We feel so much of her strength in her telling of the story that we can easily miss how beat down she has become, how complacent she is and how she has become physically and emotionally enslaved in working for this family. If her own family had not come to her rescue, she might not have ever found herself. Finding her way back to her real family is as essential to the story as finding herself.

After living with the mestizo couple, she’s given up her Quichua language and dress but when she re-enters the world, she has to figure where she belongs. Her roots are clearly Quichua and she fears that anyone who looks closely will know that she is indegenas. Indegenas are not respected and surely she doesn’t want to be one of them!  But she feels like an impostor in those clothes!

For a girl such as Virginia who teaches herself so many skills necessary to survive there really could only be one hero: McGuyver! I loved the quirky addition of this cult hero and he spoke to Virginia’s ingenuity and how surreal it was for it to still be possible to exert so much control over another human being, yet it continues to happen every day.

I have to say that through this book I’ve come to admire Resau’s sense of integrity for honoring the true telling of this story, for not ignoring the true source of this story and for calling it fiction based in fact rather than trying to sell it as fact.

I think it would be very interesting to pair this book with the Evolution of Calpernia Tate.

Saturday Plans

Here’s how you say “hello” in several different Native languages:

Halito (Chickasaw & Choctaw)

Aya (Miami)
Yá’ át’ ééh (Navajo)
Niit (Tsimshian)
I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow! While ALL my fellow librarians are in NOLA at @ALA11, I plan to go to the Eiteljorg’s 19th annual Indian Market and Festival. In addition to displays and performances that expose Indian cultures, there will be interesting, informative sessions as well.
11a.m. (Inside Museum, Clowes Ballroom)
Indian Art Markets: Authenticity and Self Representation
Take an inside look at five Native American artists’ process of creating their art. Selected artists video taped their process while discussing creativity, authenticity and traditionalism. Artists also discuss how they were taught their craft and what methods they use to create it. A panel discussion will be held in which clips of their work will be shown and discussed.
12noon & 3 p.m. (Main Stage)
The Alaska founded group,Pamyua (Yup’ik Inuit and African American decent), started fourteen years ago as a dream to share ancient stories through music and dance. With enchanting Inuit harmonies, the sound of the didgeridoo and the thunderous roll of the African djembe, brothers Stephen and Phillip Blanchett, joined by Ossie Kairaiuak and Karina Møller, have played all over the world, stealing hearts and gaining listeners with the fresh and unique sound they call “tribal funk.” Pamyua masters the ability to mix world traditions while still holding on to their own Native roots.
As I look through everything there, I see no booths, presentations or sessions on children’s books… hmm… maybe next year?

Diversify Your Reading!

Summer is my kind of reading time! The only thing better? Reading to win books! Thanks so much to Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon for prompting readings to diversify their reading choices with this great summer challenge! Who can enter and what can you win?

Here are a few of the details:

Libraries: We invite librarians to incorporate diverse middle grade and young adult novels into your summer reading programs, whether it’s as a book display, a book club event, or a book list you’ve created to share with your patrons. Please take photos or shoot video of your display or event and share them with us!

Readers and Book Bloggers: We invite readers and book bloggers to read diverse MG and YA books throughout the summer (you choose the books!) and write an essay (at least 500 words) about your experience. You can post it on your website, Blogger, LiveJournal, Tumblr, or on Facebook; we only ask that your post be publicly readable.

What to read: You can read whichever diverse books you like! By diverse we mean: (1) main characters or major secondary characters (e.g., a love interest or best friend kind of character) who are of color or are LGBT; or (2) written by a person of color or LGBT author. If you need some suggestions, check out our Diversity in YA lists of new books, and these book list@Reading in Color  or right here on CrazyQuilts booklists.

Deadline: The deadline for all entries is September 1, 2011.

visit Diversity in YA Fiction for more details!