ALAN pt. I

Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is? – Frank Scully

2012-11-22 19.09.03

New Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Last year’s ALAN was in Vegas and I was able to stay over for Thanksgiving dinner with my son and DIL at Bob Flay’s Mesa Grill. This year it was in Boston. Although I didn’t stretch my visit into the holiday, I did have some pretty good dining experiences.

Saturday evening, I had dinner at the Parker House Restaurant with Kekla Magoon and Lisa J. of Anali’s First Amendment. While none of us really knew one another, we managed to stretch our evening into a four-hour event! Why not? Not only was it a splurge, but it was an over the top (for me!!) event! I was with Kekla and Lisa!! And, we were in the Parker House Restaurant! We knew this was where the Kennedys preferred to dine in Boston and that Malcolm X once worked here We also knew that both Parker House Rolls and Boston Creme Pie were invented here. But, the immensity of this didn’t hit home until Lisa asked if we could take photos. We meant of the food and we didn’t want to disturb others around us. It was suggested that we wait until the crowd thinned and of course to us, this meant waiting until our food (and the opportunity to photograph it) would be  gone. Yet, we complied.

Edi, Kekla and Lisa

Edi, Kekla and Lisa at Table 40

Prior to delivering the dessert, our waitress asked if we were ready for the photo by table 40 where Jack proposed to Jackie. Kennedy to Bouvier. So, yes!!! Realizing that’s what she interpreted our request for a photo to mean, we happily took photos there!

Lisa wrote a much nicer post about our evening, so do go read it. I’m sure you can relate to little evenings that become such special memories.

As incredible as that was, my visit to Boston got even bigger from there.

I went to NCTE. I went to the exhibit hall and got the first books signed that I’ll be adding to Little Bean’s library. Little Bean is myIMG_1474 first grandchild, due in May. Little Bean is the most amazing kid with an über incredible library! Though not pictured, I also got a book signed by Judy Blume for Little Bean!


Patricia MacLachlin

Patricia MacLachlin

Pat Mora

Pat Mora


E.B. Lewis


I went to ALAN.

ALAN… ALAN started on a downward slope for me. As impressive as the Omni Parker is, I was disappointed that NCTE listed it as a nearby hotel. Traveling as a single lady in a new-to-me town with windchills around -5, it was easy to slip into punk mode and get sucked into $10 cab rides. Not close! The conference room was ridiculously cramped and short on seats.

BUT!! This ALAN had complimentary coffee. There has to be a better way to refer to this beverage as is was a nectar of the goddesses! It took away any reason I had to complain. It let me stand in lines and meet new friends. It took my edge off. I’ve since visited the Au Bon Pain website and see that I can order the coffee online and I sure do plan to do that! It’s so very good!

I’ve waited days to decompress and write my ALAN reflections. When I began writing, I had no idea I’d write so much backstory! I’m going to stop here. Rumor is that people don’t like to read long passages online. I’ll finish posting about ALAN tomorrow.

Enjoy your evening!

Saturday Trailers: Angel de la luna and the 5th glorious mystery

What better day for book trailers than a Saturday?

Angel de la luna and the 5th glorious mystery by M. Evelina Galang; Coffee House Press. Released November, 2013.

Angel has just lost her father, and her mother’s grief means she might as well be gone too. She’s got a book-angel-de-la-luna-mevelina-galangsister and a grandmother to look out for, and a burgeoning consciousness of the unfairness in the world—in her family, her community, and her country.

Set against the backdrop of the second Philippine People Power Revolution in 2001, the contemporary struggles of surviving Filipina “Comfort Women” of WWII, and a cold winter’s season in the city of Chicago is the story of a daughter coming of age, coming to forgiveness, and learning to move past the chaos of grief to survive.  source

Angel de la Luna is a beautifully told, and at times, heartbreaking coming of age and coming to America story. Evelina Galang is a masterful storyteller and through her brilliant voice and craft, Angel and her family become ours too.” — Edwidge Danticat


m.evelina.galang.full.colorM. Eveline Galang has been named one of the 100 most influential Filipinas in the United States by Filipina Women’s Network.

Galang is the recipient of numerous awards, among them, the 2004 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Awards Advancing Human Rights, the 2004 AWP Prize in the Novel and the 2007 Global Filipino Award in Literature for ONE TRIBE.Galang has been researching the lives of the women of Liga ng mga Lolang Pilipina (LILA Pilipina), surviving Filipina “Comfort Women” of WWII, since 1998. In 2002, she was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in the Philippines where she continued her work with survivors. After former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared there was not enough evidence to prove 200,000 WWII “Comfort Women” were coerced into sex slave camps, she authored the blog, “Laban for the Lolas!” in support of House Resolution 121 and was the Filipino American Outreach coordinator for 121 Coalition. Read more about Galang on her website.

And So It Begins

Yesterday, my nutritionist mentioned that she could not believe we were already in mid November. Time can get away from us can’t it? I like what Zetta Elliott does every December. She creates an annual retrospective pulling information from her blog and FB posts which helps her see all she has accomplished during the previous year. Looking over what we post in blogs or journals, write about in emails or have taken photos of during the year is a much more powerful statement than the book that didn’t get finished (whether we were reading or writing it!), the project that never got started or the trip that got postponed yet again. Let’s look at what was there and see what was accomplished.

I had pretty much the same thoughts earlier this week when I read and commented on a blog post addressed to John Green and the lack of diversity in his books. I wrote a quick impulsive response, thought about it and wrote another one and still don’t think I said it quite right.

I don’t think John Green should have to include characters of color in his writings no more than I think Coe Booth or Malin Alegria should have to include Whites or Asians in theirs. Authors write best when they write what they know. If they know an all white or an all Latino world, then write that. I may wonder how a neighborhood that I know to be rich in diversity can be portrayed as being so very White, but I know people don’t all seek or have the same experience. I know there are Blacks and Latinos who live in monolithic worlds just are there are Whites who do so. The problem I have is that those white readers can easily find books that reflect how they perceive their world while black and Latino readers have a very hard time find books written by those who understand their world and can write about it. While it amazes me that people can continue to live lives that lack diversity with respect to the types of people they interact with, foods they eat or books they read, I have to accept that there are people who question why anyone would want any type of diversity in their lives. Sure, we could argue that books are the perfect arena to introduce people to different thoughts and ideas, there are readers who don’t want that. They read for other reasons than to explore the world around them.

Why do you read?

Publishers Weekly recently released it’s best of 2013. Looking at the list of children’s books, I am wow-ed by the wide variety of literature on the list. The list includes British fiction, GLBT teens, a character with dyslexia, a female action lead character in a graphic novel, 16th century Scandinavia and monsters in Victorian London. Books by or about people of color are the following.

Boxers and Saints by Gene Juen Yang; Lark Pien

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia

The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tonya Lee Stone

These books stand as markers of what was published in 2013. Do you think they’re the best?

Male Monday: Eric Gansworth

AR-130929572Eric Gansworth is a writer and a visual artist. He  is an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation who was raised at the Tuscarora Nation, near Niagara Falls, New York.  He is currently working as a Professor of English and Lowery Writer-in-Residence at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. His latest novel, If I Ever Get Out of Here (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013), has been reviewed by the L. A. Times, Kirkus and by Publishers Weekly. I was recently able to in interview Eric for this blog. Enjoy!

I always start with the same few basic questions.

Where did you grow up?

Tuscarora reservation, Niagara County, New York.

Do you have any pets?

I have a cat who has lived with me for a couple years. She’s a shelter rescue cat, so I’m not really sure how old she is. I would guess, given her size and shape, that she’s easily six years old. My previous cat lived here for 17 years, and slept on my desk for the writing of my first nine or so books. Sometimes, when I’m writing, it still feels like if I look over to the desk, there he’ll be. I have nothing against dogs, though some breeds I avoid, those with the brute power to do physical damage if they’ve gotten that into their heads. You cross a cat, it pees in some unwanted places. Not pleasant but something I’ve dealt with. A Rottweiler, I’ve noted from personal experience, is a different matter. I was at a dinner party years ago and the hosts’ Rottweiler roamed the room, under the table, seeking affection, etc. Though the dog had a generally calm disposition, one guest absently came up on it from behind and patted its head. The dog must not have heard him, and in two seconds, it was in a position of defense/attack. Fortunately, the host was a couple feet away and was able to intervene. I don’t want to have that kind of psychic energy around me very often. I grew up with dogs and cats, but cats suit my adult temperament better.

What do you enjoy watching on television?

I don’t watch a lot of TV live, except for some morning news—my schedule is way too complicated to be in front of a television at a given hour every week–but I watch a fair number of series on DVD. It’s pretty broad, from the BBC social-critique zombie drama, “In the Flesh,” to the surreal comedy, “Community,” to edgier drama like “Orange is the New Black,” and “Dexter.” I particularly like a British show that has not made it to U.S. television, called “Trollied,” a nuanced comedy about employees at a grocery store. I avoid certain kinds of shows for personal reasons that have nothing to do with their quality. In fact, many are quite fine but I prefer not to examine their subject matter. I actively avoid shows that celebrate bully culture, but I also discovered that, as well produced as it was, “The Big C” was too emotionally challenging for me and I had to stop watching it. Oddly, though I am the least sporty person on earth, I truly loved “Friday Night Lights,”

and was deeply sad at its loss. It was awesome small town drama, pitched in perfect ways for its ensemble cast and the remarkably epic physical setting.

Mostly, I tend to watch the same few movies and some vintage shows I love, over and over, while doing mundane chores like folding laundry.

Meat or vegetables?

I am largely a carnivore, given my preferences. I could pretend here to be pro-vegetable by claiming that French fries are technically potatoes, but even I know that’s nutritionally a lie. I get a lot of grief for this, and some friends seem too preoccupied with finding that magic vegetable that’s going to convert me. I wish they’d accept that I tolerate broccoli, asparagus, and parsnips, but that I’m never going to love them, no matter how they’re cooked. You can dress up a pepper, but it’s still inherently a pepper. In those situations, I often want to insist to my vegetarian friends that if they’d just put the right seasoning on that steak, they wouldn’t notice the meat at all, hoping the inverse analogy would get them to grasp my fundamental aversion. I’ve always been puzzled by my vegetarian friends’ inability to see that their repulsion to meat is exactly the same experience I have with vegetables. Sorry, I’ve probably gone on too long about this issue, but at 48, I’ve pretty much stopped politely pretending that there’s a difference in those stances.

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

Probably some of the same ones for a lot of people. My home was not really a part of book culture, so my exposure came in the form of books my older cousins were assigned in school and didn’t want to read. As such, the stand out volumes that they passed on to me were To Kill a Mockingbird, The Pigman, and The Red Pony. The Outsiders I discovered when a tough girl from the reservation who hated reading loved this novel so much that she stole it from school. That immediately intrigued me. Our elementary school librarian introduced me to a collection of distinctly grotesque folk stories called The Grandfather Tales that I loved. She had a wonderful sense of what we were interested in. This book had a dark sense of humor similar to the prevailing edgy one on the reservation. I think of it now as Flannery O’Connor for kids. I started buying books on my own, (terrible novelizations of horror movies I loved) when I was 12 or so. Around that time, I bought Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, thinking it was another novelization, I discovered the world of beautifully written books about subjects I loved—discovered that there were well written books even about monsters. That was my life changer.

And then the interview begins!

What are some of your best memories of growing up at the Tuscarora Nation as enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation?

I think it’s hard to make a meaningful comparison, as I’ll never know, fully, what a standard, American upbringing at the time was like. I suspect one huge bonus was that the Nation is a pretty insular community. Among its thousand or so residents, everyone knew everyone, and so there is a large sense of belonging to something. I know American culture celebrates the individual, and our culture tends to be more about the group identity. I didn’t necessarily fit that, because I’m kind of a weird person in general, but it was nice to feel as if everyone around you knows you. I don’t imagine that tends to be true in, say, suburban neighborhoods. Do parents know kids from five streets away in suburbia? It seems like that’s only true if there are friends in those families, but on my reservation, not everybody is a friend, necessarily, but there are no strangers.

How has life changed for teens growing up there today?

Well, I suspect, as with everywhere, technology has had a huge impact. Our tribal leadership had an impasse with cable communications companies, so when I was growing up, we had the three local channels, a couple independents, PBS, and a few channels from Toronto. The couple times I saw the channels available in suburbia, it was mind-boggling. Now, with the availability of satellite dishes, and their popularity on the reservation, I suspect there are some technological levelers. At the opposite end of the spectrum, formal education on the reservation has also made major strides. A thorough and thoughtful curriculum including classes in our traditional culture, language and history, is in place and ambitious in scope, for young people now. It also includes units involving family so there’s an awesome opportunity for cross-generational teaching and learning. It seems like a good time for young people who want to strike that balance between the traditional and the contemporary.

I loved Uncle Albert. And Bug. Carson wasn’t so nice, but he got the best lines! It seems like character development is easy for you. From where do your characters come?

Thank you. I’m glad you liked them. I had fun with them, as well. For the record, though, character develop9780545417303ment is not easy, by any means, at least not for me. A writer’s job is to create believable characters who seem like real people, but those final renderings come after much hard work, feedback and revision. My particular upbringing offered a rich growth environment for a writer. An anthropologist who studied my community for many years has suggested that the Tuscaroras live by a code of “forbearance,” a sort of “tolerance of individual choices.” I don’t think that’s exactly the right word, but it’s in the ballpark. While there are many rules within the traditional culture, there is also a lot of leeway for people to become themselves within that context. As such, I grew up in a rich environment of folks–from the most bland to the most eccentric–where differences were not suppressed or pressured out of people. To be respectful to others’ privacy, I don’t write characters drawn from any one person. I invent the characters I need, adding qualities and details borrowed from people I’ve known, mixing and matching as the characters demand.

Why The Beatles?

Pop culture has always informed my work, because it was always a dominant force in my life. The first story I ever published had appearances by The Monkees and The Jefferson Airplane, and they were both meaningful to the story’s ideas. The Beatles are among the major cultural forces of the twentieth century and proving to last well into the twenty-first. They’ve shown up a lot in my poetry over the years, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before they wound up as a dominant force in my fiction.

I am not prone to eye-rolling, as a rule, but I grew up wholly on a reservation. When writers who did not grow up in indigenous communities over-saturate their fictional worlds in some hard core “Native spirituality” culture, totally at odds with any reservation I’ve ever been to, I feel an obligation to document the indigenous experience as I know it. A lot of Indian artists who grew up in communities joke about that exaggerated, performative choice–we’ve all seen it–calling it “The Leather and Feather Show.” The Beatles have always been, and continue to be, a major presence for me, so I’m following the traditional writers’ advice and “writing what I know.” 


Was it difficult setting on the title, If I Ever Get Out of Here?

I had a totally different title when the novel was in its earliest formative stage, and then I had a name that was tied to a plot point from the end of the novel, and finally, when it became clear that Paul McCartney was going to be a significant artistic force, that phrase showed up and from the second it did, I knew it had to be the novel’s title. The longer I worked, the more perfect it seemed. The novel is about two guys in middle school, so to some degree, I thought that sentiment would be self-evident. It’s also about the ways we, at that age, are so vulnerable and trapped by circumstance. We’re not really children anymore, but we’re still years away from being able to make meaningful decisions about the directions our lives are going. So, the “Here” isn’t just the physical setting of the school, but also that awkward stage between the formative years of childhood and the freedoms of charting our own courses as adults.

If I Ever is the first YA piece you’ve written after a long line of adult works. What challenged you most about writing for teen readers?

I’ve consistently written about younger life, so that focus wasn’t an issue. My first published short story is about one afternoon in the life of a four year old, as remembered by his adult self. My writing for adults tends to be pretty interior, about the life inside, with a ton of detail, history, and memory. The first draft of this book looked like that as well. The most challenging thing was to strip away a lot of that tonal, interior detail and memory, in order to bring the plot into the forefront, while still keeping it in the ballpark of the kinds of ideas I want to write about.

Finally, what does diversity mean to you?

Perhaps because of my cultural upbringing, I see diversity as a treaty. A treaty is a negotiated common ground between different ideological groups. A number of groups, it seems to me, still try to negotiate a formal separatism, but I don’t really see that as attractive. I have my ruts as much as anyone else does, but I also like to consider new things. I’m an accumulator—I suppose that’s a nice way of saying I’m a hoarder. I don’t drop one aspect of my life when it’s no longer fashionable, or because something else is more exciting. I like the comfort of the familiar and the thrill of the new. If you were to look at my book collection, or film collection, or music collection, you would see a very wide diversity in each. I find they all give me something rich, without taking away from the others, and that, truly, is what diversity means to me—the opportunity to grow with the exposure to new cultural forces, but not at the expense of those with which you’re already familiar.

2014 Rainbow Nominees announced

The Rainbow Project is a joint committee between the GLBT-RT and the SRRT, and creates an annual bibliography for new books for ages birth through YA with significant GLBTQI material. Today, they announced the follow nominees which will be discussed at midwinter for inclusion on the Rainbow Project Award list. While most of the books are for YA readers, a few are mentioned for younger readers.

Argo, Rhiannon. Girls I’ve Run Away With. 2013. 263p. Moonshine Press. $15.95. (978-0-9894396-0-2).

Barnes, David-Matthew. Wonderland. 2013. 192p. Bold Strokes Books, $11.95 (9781602827882).

Black, Holly. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013. 419 pp. $19.99. ISBN: 9780316213103. Grades 9-12 (YA Fiction).

Black, Jenna. Replica.  Tom Doherty Associates, 2013. 368 pp. $9.99. ISBN: 9780765333711. Grades 6-12 (Middle/YA Fiction).

Block, Francesca Lia. Love in the Time of Global Warming. 2013.  240 pp.  Henry Holt and Co., $16.99 (0805096272).  Grades 9-12.

Bornstein, Kate. My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity. 2013. 312p. Routledge. $39.95. (978-0415538657).  Grades 9 & Up.

Clark, Kristin Elizabeth. Freakboy. 2013. 448 p. Farrar Straus Giroux $18.99 (9780374324728). Grades 7+.

Charlton-Trujillo, E.E. Fat Angie. 2013. 272p. Candlewick Press $ (0763661198). Grades 9 and up.

Demcak, Andrew. If There’s a Heaven Above. 2013. 275p. JMS Books LLC, $14.50 (9781611524161). Grades 10 and up.

Dos Santos, Steven. The Culling. 2013. 420 pp. Flux, $9.99 (9780738735375). Grades 9-12.

Egloff, Z. Leap. 2013. 223p. Bywater Books, $14.95. (978-1612940236). Age 14 and up.

Farizan, Sara. If You Could Be Mine. 2013. 256p. Algonquin Young Readers, $16.99 (9781616202514). Grades 9 and up.

Federle, Tim. Better Nate than Ever. 275p. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (9781442446892). Grades 4 and up.

Fishback, Jere’ M.  Tyler Buckspan.  2013.  198p.  Prizm/Torquere Press, Inc.  ISBN:978-1-61040-518-8. YA Fiction.

Georges, Nicole. Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir. 2013. 288p. Mariner Books, $17.99 (9780547615592). Grades 10-12.

Goode, John. End of the Innocence : Tales from Foster High #4. 2012. 298p. Harmony Ink, $14.99. (978-1613724941). Ages 14 and up.

Hartinger, Brent. The Elephant of Surprise. 2013. 222p. Buddha Kitty Books, $12.99. (978-0984679454). Ages 12 and up.

Hartzler, Aaron. Rapture Practice: My One-Way Ticket to Salvation: A True Story.  2013. 400p.  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99 (031609465X).  Grades 9-12.

Hoblin, Paul. Archenemy. 2013. 112p. Darby Creek Publishing, $7.95. (978-1467707213). Grades 9+.

Jackson, Corrine. If I Lie. 2012. 288 p. Simon Pulse, $16.99. (978-1442454132). Ages 14 and up.

Johnson, Alaya Dawn. The Summer Prince. 2013. 304p. Arthur A. Levine Books, $17.99 (9780545520775). Grades 9-12.

Karre, Elizabeth. The Fight. 2013. 128p. Darby Creek Publishing, $20.95. (978-1-4677-0596-7). Grades 6+.

Knight, Lania.  Three Cubic Feet.  2012.  137p.  Mint Hill Books.  $13.95.  ISBN: 978-1-59948-363-4.  YA Fiction.

Konigsberg, Bill. Openly Straight. 2013. 320 p. Scholastic. $17.99 (978-0-545-50989-3. Grades 7+.

Lam, Laura. Pantomime.  2013.  400 p. Osprey Publishing, $9.99 (9781908844378). Grades 9 and up (YA).

Levithan, David. Every Day. 2012. 336p. Knopf, $16.99 (9780307931887). Grades 9-12.

Levithan, David. Two Boys Kissing. 2013. 208p. Random House $16.99 (978-0-307-93190-0). Grades 7+.

Lo, Malinda. Inheritance. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013. 480 pp. $18.00. ISBN: 9780316198004. Grades 9-12 (YA Fiction).

London, Alex. Proxy. L2013. 384 pages. Philomel, $17.99 (9780399257766). Ages 12 and up.

Mahurin, Paulette. The persecution of Mildred Dunlap. 2013. 202p. Blue Palm Press, $14.95 (9780977186617). Grades 9-12.

Malone, Jill. Giraffe People. 2013. 262p. Bywater Books, $14.95. (978-1612940397). Age 13 and up.

Marcus. Eric. What If? Answers to Questions about What It Means to Be Gay and Lesbian. Simon & Schuster. 2013. 192 pp. ISBN: 9781442482982

Maroh, Julie. Blue is the Warmest Color. 2012. 160 p. Arsenal Pulp Press, $19.95. (978-1551525143). Grades 10 & up.

Moon, Alison. Hungry Ghost (Tales of the Pack, Book 2). 2013. 295p. Lunatic Ink. $11.99. (9780983830931).  Grades 8 + (YA)

Moskowitz, Hannah. Marco Impossible. 2013. 247 p. Roaring Book Press $16.99 (9781596437210). Grades 6+.

Moynihan, Lindsay. The Waiting Tree. 2013. 218p. Amazon Children’s Publishing, $17.99 (9781477816424). Grades 9-12.

Ness, Patrick. More Than This. 2013. 480p. Candlewick Press, $19.99. (978-0763662585). Age 14 and up.

Parent, Dan. Kevin Keller 2: Drive Me Crazy. 2013. 104p. Archie Comics. $11.99. (978-1936975587). Ages 12 and up.

Pierce, Tamora. Battle Magic. Scholastic, 2013. 464 pp. $17.99 ISBN: 9780439842976. Grades 6-12 (Middle/YA Fiction)

Ryan, Tom.  Tag Along.  Orca, 2013.  208 p.  $12.95. ISBN:978-1-4598-0297-1.  ages 11-18.

Setterington, Ken.  Branded by the Pink Triangle.  2013.  158p. Second Story Press, $15.95. (9781926920962).  Grades 9-12.

Smith, Andrew. WingerSimon & Schuster, 2013. 448 pp. $16.99. ISBN: 9781442444928. Grades 9-12 (YA Fiction).

Solomon, Steven. Homophobia: Deal with it and turn prejudice into pride. James Lorimer, 2013. 32 p. $12.95. (978-1459404427). Grades 4-7.

Stiefvater, Maggie. The Dream Thieves (The Raven Boys, #2). Scholastic, 2013. 416 pp. $18.99.  ISBN: 9780545424943. Grades 9-12 (YA Fiction)

Sutherland, Suzanne. When We Were Good. 2013. 227 p. Sumach Press. $14.95 (978-7-927513-11-8).

Takako, Shimura, Wandering Son, v. 4. Fantagraphic Books, 2013. 200 pp. $19.99. ISBN: 9781606996058. Grades 6-12 (Manga).

Trevayne, Emma. Coda. Running Brook Press, 2013. 320 pages. $9.95. ISBN 978076244728. Grades 8 and up.

Trumble, J. H. Where You Are. 2013. 324p. Kensington Books, $15.00. (978-0758277169). Grades 9 and up.

Velasquez, Gloria.  Tommy Stands Tall.  2013.  108p.  Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press.  $9.95 (978-1-55885-778-0).  Ages 11 & up.

Vitagliano, Paul. Born This Way: Real Stories Of Growing Up Gay.  128p. Quirk Books, $14.95.(9781594745997). Grades 7-12.

Williams III, J. H. and W. Haden Blackman. Batwomn, Volume 3: World’s Finest.  DC Comics, New York, 2013. 168 pp. ISBN: 9781401242466. $22.99. Grades 9-12 (YA).

Birthdays and Blogs

The time book mom and blogger, stepped up: Jenny at Babies, Books and Bows couldn’t believe

  In simple rhyming text a young Muslim girl and her family guide the reader through the traditions and colors of Islam.

In simple rhyming text a young Muslim girl and her family guide the reader through the traditions and colors of Islam.

the fear and didn’t want to see the gorgeous picture book Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns (American Library Association Notable Children’s Bk 2013; Notable Children’s Trade Book/Social Studies 2013) removed from the Scholastic bookfair at her daughter’s school after a parent protest about the book. Jenny spoke up. In her letter to the bookfair rep, she stated

 [O]ne of the reasons we love the school is the diverse population. She goes to school with kids from different cultures, that speak different languages, and have different beliefs. We have raised our daughter to be kind and empathetic to her classmates, to learn from them, to listen to them with an open heart instead of shunning them away with fear. It is the fear that drives the request to have the book removed.

As a book fair volunteer, I watched as the children searched the shelves for books that were interesting, that were fun, and to which they could relate. Our school population has many Muslim students, and the students should not be taught that a book about their culture in a beautifully illustrated children’s book is akin to terrorism, as [was] inferred from [the] comments [cited] in the paper. Also, there were many books about other religions and cultures available at the book fair, including books about Christmas, Hanukkah, and Greek Mythology, just to name a few. So [the] comment that there was not any representation from other cultures or religions is baseless.

I think Judy Blume put it best when she said, “Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear.”

She then bought a copy of the book to giveaway on her blog.

The post in which she writes about Latina representation in YA and the responses are from authors who struggle to diversify their writing: she makes a valid point. YA fiction for any teen who is not White can be a challenge to find. Blacks and Latinos had been relegated to “urban” fiction which often focused on gangs and violence but not even that can’t even be found now. Cambodian American, Guatemalan American and Puerto Rican authors know how the language flows, power structures and celebratory practices. Sure, there have been authors who have written outside their culture and gotten it right, but it’s not because they read a book about how to do it. It’s because they’ve been immersed in other cultures. “Some of their best friends are Black”. Their list of favorite books is as diverse and the music they listen to and the food they eat. Otherwise, they’re pretty much just faking it. If you don’t know it, you probably shouldn’t write about it. If your world is all White, then write your book! If it’s good, authentic story it will sell!

I scratch my head when I think about all the authors of color I haven’t seen on the shelf in a mighty long time while at the same time white authors are trying to expand their repertoire. Coo Booth. Varian Johnson. Mitali Perkins. Neesha Meminger. Paula Yoo. Torrey Maldonado.

I’m about to get back to my book stack. Two months left. A book a day, my friends; a book a day! Before I get back,

The day my daughter was born: I have to wish my daughter the happiest of birthdays. I honestly don’t know how she got so old, but she’s celebrating her 29th (for the first time). Kristen is the person who first made me realize how difficult it is for teens of color to find books about teens like themselves. Kris attending a high school with close to 2000 students and it’s a high school that has long been known for it’s diversity. I guess diversity was all in the student population, but not in the library. I was a social studies teacher then and could find her a few books I’d read, but being that teen struggle for independence, she didn’t want books I’d read. I remember finding Coldest Winder Ever for her. I think the most recent book I gave her was City of Glass, which she enjoyed enough to read the series. We read and discussed books while we lived in Taiwan, but our reading interests are not quite the same. That doesn’t matter. What matters is simply that she reads. And, that she is a beautiful young lady with a vibrant energy who is making a difference exposing human trafficking with her camera.

Saturday. 9 November. Wishing you all memories of today that are as good as mine.

grad siam PIC-0163 London1 061