March Releases, 2013

In March 2011 I found 16 MG & YA releases, in 2012 I found 4 and this year, 6. Nonetheless, this looks like a pretty impressive list of books! All are very establish authors.

(clicking the image will take you to a description of the book.)




The Keysha Diaries, Volume One: Keysha’s Drama\If I Were Your Boyfriend (Kimani Tru) (9780373091249): Earl Sewell: Books




Flowers in the Sky by Lyn Joseph




Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina




Panic by Sharon Draper




Hollywood High: Get Ready for War by NiNi Simone and Amir Abrams




Orleans by Sherri L. Smith




Twelve Days of New York by Tonya Bolden and Gilbert Ford

Reviewing: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

While I cannot review books eligible for BFYA, I can describe them and I can still actively promote books written by authors of color. One way I’ll creatively do that is by providing more guests posts this year. I am looking for guest reviewers, so if you have read or are reading any of the (FEW!!) MG or YA books that were written by authors of color and would like to write a review, please contact me at crazyquilts in care of hotmail dot com.

Today, I’m featuring Shadra Strickland’s comments on The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Arthur A. Levine; March 2013).


Click to read the first chapter on NPR

From the publisher’s website:

A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.

The lush city of Palmares Tres shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Tres will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

Pulsing with the beat of futuristic Brazil, burning with the passions of its characters, and overflowing with ideas, this fiery novel will leave you eager for more from Alaya Dawn Johnson.

From Shadra Strickland:

I just really enjoyed the book for it’s daring and unconventionality. The setting really made me use my imagination and create Palmeres Tres in my mind. I felt that all of the rules of the world that Johnson created in this novel made us stretch our imagination. I loved watching our heroine transform throughout the story. I loved the intimate relationships she had with Gil, which read to me less like a romantic infatuation but more like a relationship built through common ideas and support, and then watching her relationship with Enki evolve through art. As an artist who also had to leave her comfort zone and mesh with other artists before fully coming into her own, I can relate to the idea of seeing a reflection of myself through someone who is freer thinking and uninhibited by certain rules and trappings of modern society. I can relate to the excitement and energy she found when she combined her ideas with Enki’s to create something more powerful and daring than she could have imagined on her own until she learned to trust her own voice and create for herself.

I did not focus as much on the rules of the world our characters lived in. I was amused to see a futuristic world where so many ideas about love, sexuality, and freedom were expanded from what we know now, but how difficult it still was for people to embrace change and new ideas.

I think that was the overarching theme for me…transformation.

I enjoyed how Johnson answered many what ifs about society. What if women ruled the world? What if we could live for centuries (if not forever) and choose when we wanted to leave our physical bodies? What if technology merged with art; how would we use it? What if love was love and free from gender restrictions? What if the future really did belong to young people?

headshot_webShadra Strickland studied, design, writing, and illustration at Syracuse University and later went on to complete her M.F.A. at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2009 for her work in her first picturebook, Bird, written by Zetta Elliott. Strickland co-illustrated Our Children Can Soar, winner of a 2010 NAACP Image Award. Shadra is also the illustrator of A Place Where Hurricanes Happen (Random House, 2010), written by Renee Watson: a story of four children in New Orleans before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. Publishers Weekly called Strickland’s illustrations “quietly powerful,” and Booklist said, “In vibrant, mixed-media images, award-winning illustrator Strickland extends the drama, feeling, and individual stories.” from Shadra’s website


Saturday Trailer: Dork Diaries

What better day for book trailers than a Saturday?author2404078_2075496634438197238092626

Rachel Renee Russell is no doubt one of the most successful African American MG authors today. She currently has 6 books in her popular Dork Diaries Series published by Simon and Schuster with a 7th book scheduled for release later this year. I’m not always good about reading  MG books, but every time I announce another Dork Diary I want to get my hands a copy and go sit in a McDonalds and read straight through.

I have two videos for you this morning.You won’t be able to sit still while you watch the first video, a lively Dork Diaries trailer. The second is a brief introduction to the talented Rachel Renee Russell who was also interviewed here on the Graphic Novel Reporter.

Interview: B. A. Binns

Barbara Binns, the award winning author of Pull , (Westside, 2010) has a new book coming out this month. It is one of only four young adult books written by an author of color that is released this month. (Yes, only four because Leitich-Smith’s and Bruchac’s books are both re-releases.) Here’s a chance to get to know Barbara before you go order her new book!


D77S0049 - 300DPIHi Barbara! Let’s start with a few short questions. Where did you grow up?
I grew up on the south side of Chicago and still live in the Chicago suburbs. Even though I have traveled and resided as far away as Washington D. C., I’ve always ended up returning home.

Then winter arrives, and I wonder what in the world is wrong with me, when I could be in Florida or southern California.

Roxi/aka' Dakarai'

Roxi/aka’ Dakarai’

Do you have any pets?
I acquired a dog over Christmas. I say acquired because she was neither a gift nor a purchase. She had been taken from a shelter by my adult niece as a present for her daughter who decided she didn’t really want a dog. After that she was shuffled to several relatives who all decided a dog was more trouble than they had bargained. I met her as they were deciding to return her to the shelter. To prevent, in my foolishness I agreed to take her for a one-week trial basis. She’s still with me. Honestly, she is well behaved, housebroken, doesn’t chew. She does bark a little too much, and pulls on the leash when we walk (she is strooong!) but, I’ve begun buying doggie toys and treats. We are attached and she has to stay.

What do you enjoy watching on television?
I am into the dramas. I loved the first episodes of The Following and I’m already addicted. I think I’m attracted to the show’s villain because there’s something in me that is fascinated by the idea of a super-psychopath against a wounded hero. 

My real guilty pleasure is the restaurant reality show, Kitchen Nightmares. It’s the only reality show I feel required to watch. I think it must be Chef Ramsey and the way he totally tells it like it is. As a side-effect, every time I eat out I worry about what is happening in the back of the restaurant.

Meat or vegetables?
Come on, meat. I need my protein.

Are there any books that stand out in your memory from your childhood?

I was a voracious reader, and I moved to the adult shelves at a pretty young age, so most of my favorites are adult books. I was seriously in love with books by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert Heinlein while still in elementary school.

 What book(s) are you in the middle of reading right now?
I just finished Holly Black’s curse worker trilogy: White Cat, Red Glove, and Black Heart. Its YA, paranormal, noir—a hero who can curse you with a touch having to decide between working for a mob family, the normal life of a curse worker, and the government which in his world isn’t really much better than the mob.

I’ve just started Strong Deaf by Lynn McElfresh, a story about two sisters, one deaf and one hearing, told in both voices.

 What is Being God about?

I have come to realize that almost everything I write is about family relationships. Theme-wise, Being God is about the effects of multi-generational substance abuse. The protagonist is Malik Kaplan who readiers will recognize as Pull’s villain. Pull showed him as a Being God newbully, with no respect for other people, including his parents and his girlfriend. Being God shows how he got that way.


Malik Kaplan is a former victim of bullies who now “gives back” by pushing others around. The Kaplan men have always been the top dogs at Farrington High School, and Malik is determined to make himself the worst of the worst. He also drinks, encouraged by his grandfather and uncle. Malik’s mother became the ultimate stay at home mother after an accident left her disfigured and unwilling to face the world. His father is an ACOA (adult child of alcoholics), who doesn’t understand boundary issues or how to be an effective parent, so he retreats into his work. Secretly, Malik and his father want to be close, but neither of them knows how.

 As Malik’s senior year winds down he is faced with the price of holding down the family legacy. He goes from the basketball court to a legal court after shouldering the blame for someone else’s crime. (He really didn’t think there would be much of a consequence.) Suddenly he loses his car and his place on the basketball team, and is faced with court-ordered community service shepherding an angry ten-year-old who hates the world. Next comes an “offer he can’t refuse” from the boy’s gang leader brother and an opponent he doesn’t want to fight. Barney, the fourteen-year-old girl from Pull is also in this story. She watched her alcoholic father abuse and murder her mother and now, she wants nothing to do with any bad boy, especially not one who thinks drinking is the way to forget his sins. 

Malik, Barney, and Malik’s father all have to come to terms with the meaning of friendship and of family as Malik spirals closer and closer to a bottom that could cost someone their life.

How did you come up with the title?

Some people have speculated that it’s because Malik is half Catholic and half Jewish (Hebrew Israelite). The original title was Badass, after the kind of person he thinks he wants to be. For a few months, that morphed into BAMF(I think I thought adults wouldn’t get the meaning). Then at some point I realized that part of my young alcoholic’s problem was a need to face his own reality, that he isn’t god, but he’s not the devil either. Both he and his father needed to accept the twelve steps of alcoholics anonymous (and of al-anon). Especially the first three steps:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become


2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to


3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we

understood Him.

The Being God title came to me when I realized the story’s epiphany involved both Malik and his father realizing that their attempts to keep control over their lives—to be God, so to speak—were accelerating their problems and destroying their hopes of a family relationship. As I tell people, Malik has to learn that he’s not God, and not the devil either and, the title stuck.

Pull did so well for you, yet you’ve gone the route of self publishing. What happened?

After my first publisher, Westside books, went out of business, my agent was unable to find a home for the next book. I could not even find someone willing to take a chance on re-issuing Pull, a book that won numerous awards and sold out its first printing. At one point an editor even suggested I change what I write about and make my stories more “commercial,” then they might be more interested. I tried, but changing my style did not seem right.  I write to attract reluctant and at-risk readers. Most big publishers want stories designed to attract the widest possible audience. I decided to found my own company, allthecolorsoflove press, and became a tiny, boutique, independent publisher.

I won’t sacrifice quality any more than I would sacrifice story-line and concept.  I hire editors for my projects, and I have worked with three so far. Eventually I may pick one to have a permanent relationship. I need an editor to call me out when necessary, because self-editing takes me only so far.

It’s not an ideal situation. I have limited distribution and exposure. But I did manage to sign with Follett Library Services and books and eBooks are available from both Amazon and my publishing website,

At least this way my books will get out of my head and into print. Even if they only influence one reluctant reader, I feel I have done my job. But I know I have done more than that. I have donated copies of Pull to a number of schools and libraries. I have just sent copies to a juvenile detention facility and to a local therapeutic day school, because I want to make sure that kids who can really use a good book have access to mine. During February I will be donating copies to a number of Chicago Public Schools. Reluctant readers do not make publishers rich, but they do give me great satisfaction.

Can you give examples of some of the more commercial changes you were asked to make?

There were two areas. First, one group wanted the book from the female POV. They felt that would sell better. Another group asked me to remove references to race, especially from the main characters. Their reasoning was that that way anyone could see themselves in more generic characters.  I listened and understood their reasoning. If this is all a numbers game, those are paths that would probably lead to bigger numbers. But my gut said no.

Now, interestingly enough, and it purely my own decision that it is best for this particular story, my current WIP is being told from an alternating male and female point of view.  But my goal is still to reach out to more than just the eager reader, to appeal to kids – especially boys – who normally see no reason to pick up a book for enjoyment. If that makes me less commercial, I have learned to live with that.

Pull was your first book?! What was it that made you sit down and write this story?

Pull was my first published book, but not my first manuscript.  I wrote two others before Pull, both adult books, both meant to be romances. One of those books featured a grown-up Barney and her overbearing and over-protective older brother, David. A number of my reading partners were curious about what made him the kind of man he was. At the same time, I attended the 2009 AWP conference in Chicago, and sat in on a panel of teens discussing why a lot of teen boys avoid reading.  My brain grabbed the opportunity thinking I could write about the forces that shaped David. By letting him tell his own story in his own voice, he helped attract other young men to read about him.

It seems like now that you’ve started writing, you’ve found a passion. What is it about writing that makes it so necessary for you?

I think it’s the same thing that made it necessary for me to devour every book in sight during my childhood and early adult years.  Reading helped me develop empathy and learn to really care about others, and to understand people different from me. Even more, it took me to places I could not get to by myself, showed me that more was possible, and made me want to strive to achieve it.

Retirement gave me the time and energy to actually create as well as consume.  It rurns out I had a load of stories and characters inside me, sometimes they barely let me sleep with their desire to live out their lives. It was either let them rattle around inside my head, or put them on paper.

It really is a passion. I actually tried putting things away, to give myself a break from writing. One month off, I told myself. Everyone deserves a vacation. That “break” lasted two weeks. Two incredibly long weeks during which I nearly bit my fingers off to keep them from writing. I think now I need to write, whether or not anyone ever reads what I create.  But I am determined to let people read it. That’s where the passion comes from, I want to reach kids, let them see themselves in the pages of a book.

Is there a particularly genre that you haven’t written yet, that is somewhat of a stretch for you, but that you might like to try in the near future?

I admit a yen to try a paranormal. I have been researching African mythologies, and would love to make a break from contemporary realistic to do a non-traditional paranormal story involving that pantheon.

Thanks, Barbara! It was a pleasure! I wish you much success with you new book!


I didn’t know until last night that the Harbaughs were born in Toledo, Ohio. No wonder they’re so good! (Yes, Toledo is my hometown.)

When the Colts lost early in the playoffs, all my attention turned to the 49ers. You could call me a fair weather fan of the Niners, thanks to my oldest son. I think he has been a fan of the Niners ever since he knew what football was and, when I think back to him as a boy I vision him in his cardinal red and metallic gold coat, hat, scarf, sweatshirt and/or one of many t-shirts that were part of his wardrobe. It may be just a game, and he may be just a fan but his loyalty to that team is mighty impressive. And, because of that I’m rooting for them, too.

Well, I’ll be rooting for them after I attend the Taiwanese New Year celebration on campus. I met a student who is from the town in Taiwan where I used to live and she was kind enough to gift me with a ticket. I’ll be surprising her with a red envelope. My fingers are crossed for beef noodles.

I really can’t believe there are only 6 books by authors of color released this month. I’m really looking forward to the emails and comments telling me of the titles I’ve missed.

14 February is International Book Giving Day

A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy usually posts a comprehensive list of African American non-fiction in February. She recently posted the winners of the American Indian Youth Literature Award.

The Brown Bookshelf’s 28 Days Later is underway. MG/YA authors will include

Feb. 1 – Malaika Rose Stanley (MG)

Feb. 3 – Alaya Dawn Johnson – (YA)

Feb. 5 – Glennette Tilley Turner – (MG)

Feb. 6 – Traci L. Jones – (YA)

Feb. 8 – Brian F. Walker – (YA)

Feb. 9 – Veronica Chambers – (MG)

Feb. 10 – B.A. Binns (YA)

Feb. 12 – Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams – (MG)

Feb. 13 – Octavia Butler – (YA )

Feb. 15 – Lyah Beth LeFlore – (YA)

Feb. 17 – Arna Bontemps – (MG)

Feb. 18 – Jasmine Richards – (MG)

Feb. 21 – Nalo Hopkinson – (YA)

Feb. 24 – Linda Tarrant-Reid – (MG)

Feb. 26 – Chudney Ross – (MG)

Feb. 28 – Jaime Reed – (YA)

Indeed, another impressive list of vanguard, established and new talents!

If you’re looking for a way to get one of these authors to visit your school or library, you might consider the Amber Brown Grant or a Targets Arts Grant.

Have you read Wasafiri? Wasafiri is Wasafiri is a literary magazine at the forefront in mapping new landscapes in contemporary international literature today. The current issue highlights global youth culture.

YALSA is about to make spring committee appointments. If you’re a YALSA member, do think about getting involved! All I did to get begin working with them was to complete an application.

My term with the YALSA’s Best Fiction in Young Adult selection committee officially began today and it begins with the question: How do you define ‘a good book’? I think it would be easier to agree on a definition of a good book than it will be to agree on a good book itself.

Here’s hoping you (and the Niners) have a good week!


El Día de Los Niños/El Día de Los Libros (Children’s Day/Book Day)

Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature is an organization advocating for multicultural children’s literature which includes
librarians, teachers, parents, caregivers, students, and experts in the field of children’s literature.

Libraries and community organizations that serve children and their families who are having a Día program, El Día de Los Niños/El Día de Los Libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) on or about April 30, 2012, with an African American Focus are eligible to apply.

If interested, you will need to submit an application. Please email me at crazyquilts at hotmail dot com and I’ll forward the file to you.

Deadline Applications must be received by March 15, 2013.
Award will be announced on or about March 30, 2013.

Return/mail applications to

Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s
Literature, c/o Dr. Claudette McLinn, executive director, 8461 South Van
Ness Avenue, Inglewood, CA 90305.

Award Amount
$500 grant in selected multicultural children’s books for your library.

Selection Criteria
Awardees will be selected based upon creativity and originality of the
implementation of their 2012 Día program, El Día de Los Niños/El Día de
Los Libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), with an African American Focus.

The winning library or institution must submit 15 digital photos of the event
by May 15 to verify the event had taken place.