This weekend ALA President Barbara Stripling sent out an email announcing a joint statement that the BCALA and the ALA cooaboratively developed and was then endorsed by the other ethnic affiliates, AILA, APALA, CALA and REFORMA. Stripling will be appointing a Special Presidential Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to develop strategic atction ideas.

In response to BCALA’s concern regarding holding the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, the ALA Executive Board thoroughly explored the options for moving the conference. ALA started by clarifying the facts underlying conference site selection, the implications of trying to move the Orlando conference, and the prevalence of Stand Your Ground laws across the United States. The contracts for Orlando were negotiated originally in 2000; the Stand Your Ground law in Florida became effective on October 1, 2005. Cancelling the hotel and convention center contracts would result in a minimum fine of $814,000. Conferences as large as ALA must be scheduled for specific sites and contracts signed at least 7–10 years in advance. At this late date, it would be highly unlikely that ALA would be able to find another site with availability during our window of late June/early July 2016.

Most troubling is the growing prevalence of Stand Your Ground laws. Twenty-two states have laws that allow for that self-defense provision to be asserted (as of August 2013). An additional 21 states have enacted laws that allow for self-defense within one’s home (called Castle Doctrines). However, each state has implemented and applied the Stand Your Ground laws differently, and it is the interpretation and application of the Stand Your Ground Law in the Zimmerman and Dunn cases, as well as the Marissa Alexander case, that has heightened the urgency for discussion and action.

With that information in hand, our ALA’s Executive Committee and BCALA’s Executive Board decided that the best way to respond to the Florida situation is by turning it into an opportunity to educate, build awareness, and advocate for equitable treatment, inclusion, and respect for diversity.

Congratulations to Nahoko Uehashi (Japan) on winning the 2014 Hans Christian Anderson Author award.

EH_140325_MoribitoAccording to the IBBY jury chaired by María Jesús Gil of Spain, “Uehashi tells stories that are replete with imagination, culture and the beauty of a sophisticated process and form. Her literary subjects are based on ancient Japanese mythology and science-fiction fantasy that are deeply rooted in human reality.”

Congratulations to Roger Mello (Brazil) for winning the 2014 Hans Christian Anderson Illustrator award.

thAn illustrator, writer and playwright, Roger Mello has illustrated more than one hundred titles, having also provided the text for twenty of them. He works as an illustrator for five different publishing houses and he is also the author of several theatre plays.


The awards were announced at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy. This event first began in 1963 and has become a premier event for children’s publishers around the world. A few trends seemed to develop at the Book Fair this year. There was a growing number of Chinese picture books that originating in China, indicating that imported books to the country will no longer dominate the market. The L.A. Times reports that this year’s Fair had strong interests in middle grade fiction in general and in contemporary realism for YAs.

Marvel Comics announced a female Muslim superhero in November and School Library Journal (SLJ) postedad_119746744 a very informative interview with the creator of the character. While Ms. Marvel is the first American Muslim female character to have her own series, she’s not the first Muslim super hero.

  • Sim Baz, Lebanese American who took over for the Green Lantern “In his debut issue, Baz, who is Lebanese, is watching the events of 9/11 unfold on his TV as a 10-year-old, and dealing with the aftermath that Muslims faced in America. And his first major obstacle isn’t a conventional super-villain, but “a federal agent who deems him a terrorist.” (Marvel)
  • Dust, a young Afghan woman whose mutant ability to manipulate sand and dust has been part of the popular X-Men books. (Marvel)
  • Nightrunner, a young Muslim hero of Algerian descent, is part of the global network of crime fighters set up by Batman alter ego Bruce Wayne. (DC Comics)
  • The 99 created by Naif Al-Mutawa, developed a 6 issue crossover with DC Comics in 2010.
  • Dust, aka Sooraya Qadir, is an Afghanistan-born Sunni Muslim who, when kidnapped by slave traders, uses her mutant power to turn herself into a sand-like substance to flay them alive. (Marvel)

I’m not much into Comics, never read much beyond Richie Rich and Archie. In fact, I wouldn’t have realized Stan Lee’s pattern of same first letter for first and last name if it wasn’t for Raj on Big Bang Theory (video). I was pleasantly surprised to find out how diverse comics are.

I think if I could have super human abilities, I’d be able to speak, read and understand all languages. Or maybe never gain excessive weight no matter what I eat. What about you?

I have a busy week coming up with visitors to the library from Thailand, high schoolers coming to learn about scholarly research and the beginning of the garden season. Wishing you all the super abilities you need to shine this week!



Saturday Trailers: Leila Rasheed

What better day for book trailers than a Saturday?

Meet author Leila Rasheed!

Rasheed’s most recent book, Diamonds and Deceit (At Somerton series) was released in January.

London is a whirl of balls and teas, alliances and rivalries. Rose has never felt more out of place. With the Season in full swing, she can’t help but still feel a servant dressed up in diamonds and silk. Then Rose meets Alexander Ross, a young Scottish duke. Rose has heard the rumors about Ross’s sordid past just like everyone else has. Yet he alone treats her as a friend. Rose knows better than to give her heart to an aristocrat with such a reputation, but it may be too late.

Ada should be happy. She is engaged to a handsome man who shares her political passions and has promised to support her education. So why does she feel hollow inside? Even if she hated Lord Fintan, she would have no choice but to go through with the marriage. Every day a new credit collector knocks on the door of their London flat, demanding payment for her cousin William’s expenditures. Her father’s heir seems determined to bring her family to ruin, and only a brilliant marriage can save Somerton Court and the Averleys’ reputation.

Meanwhile, at Somerton, Sebastian is out of his mind with worry for his former valet Oliver, who refuses to plead innocent to the murder charges against him–for a death caused by Sebastian himself. Sebastian will do whatever he can to help the boy he loves, but his indiscretion is dangerous fodder for a reporter with sharp eyes and dishonorable intentions.

The colorful cast of the At Somerton series returns in this enthralling sequel about class and fortune, trust and betrayal, love and revenge. (Amazon)

diamonds-and-deceitThe gorgeous cover for this book was created by photgrapher Howard Huang. Part of his creative process has become creating Behind the Scenes videos. Take a look at Behind the Scenes: Diamonds and Deceit.

review: Secrets of the Terre-Cotta Soldier

title: Secrets of the Terre-Cotta Soldier

authors: Ying Chang Compestine and Vinson Compestine

date: Amulet (Imprint of Abrams)photo; January 2014

Main character: Ming

Ying Chang Compestine, author of Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party, grew up in the time of the Cultural Revolution in China and wants to interest young readers in Emperor Qin, ancient Chinese history and the power of friendship. Secrets of the Terre Cotta Warrior was written with her son to explore duty to family, friends and country.

Fourteen year-old Ming has been left home alone while his father goes to once again plead for more time to maintain the village’s archeological office. Ming’s ba-ba believes that they’re close to uncovering the treasures of Emperor Qin and he’s not ready to stop searching. While he’s gone, the Gee Brothers make an incredible find: a complete terre cotta soldier. Though initially comfortable leaving the statue with Ming, they eventually decide they want the statue back.

Ming magically brings the Shí, the soldier to life and the two quickly becomes friends. This friendship is just as quickly tested when the Gee brothers come to reclaim their statue. Ming wants to keep his friend through a sense of duty rather than the sense of greed that comes to destroy so many others in the book. Through interplays between Ming and Shí, text and images and the past and present, readers explore loyalty to country then and now.

Shí shares stories of his life in ancient China as parallel events play out in Ming’s life. As an example, Shí recounts his battle again the Mongols and Mao’s rebels come to Ming’s home. Through is overlap in storytelling, the Compestines create a sense of continuity in the histories they’re telling.


Shí looked impress. “Ha, you paid attention, young man! That’s correct. But they changed their tactics when the weather grew cold. The Mongols desperately wanted to capture our supplies, so they attacked indiscriminately. Believe it or not, I secretly wished they would succeed in getting onto the wall. That way I would have a chance to kop off their heads, claim my rewards, and free my father.”

“Why didn’t you just go down after the battle to collect a few heads?” Ming imagined farmers out in the fields harvesting watermelons.

“We couldn’t.”

“Why not?

Ming heard rough voices outside and then heavy pounding on the gate. He stood up.

We were prohibited from leaving our post,” answered Shí. “The cavalry men knew that too. To mock us, they would wave the heads at us. That was when I vowed to join them.”

There was a sharp crash. Startled, Ming jumped up. The front gate had been kicked open!

Images used in the story are actually historic photos that are placed to reinforce the text. Junot Diaz states that “The more accurate the image, the more ‘ghost’ the ghost becomes.” Indeed, these pictures deepen the sense of history the story provides.

The book I reviewed was an advanced copy. I encountered awkward in-text translations of some of terms that were first presented in English, then Pinyin and then Simplified Chinese.

I think the book’s strong focus on history distracted from the authors’ ability to build suspense. Historical detail is rich, but I didn’t feel sense of urgency, impending danger or mystery to solve. I did enjoy the history. I liked the authors’ ability to paint verbal scenery, bringing the setting to life. I think this book would have to be classified as historical fiction, but it will appeal to middle grade male readers much more that historical fiction typically does.






Saturday’s Hyphenated Authors

I usually do a ‘quick’ Trailer post on Saturdays and go on about my day. But, on this Saturday, the thoughts have simmered into a different post. I think it came to a boil today at the post office when I read a bumper sticker that stated “American-American”.

Wouldn’t we all love to be able to display such a sticker on our vehicles? Isn’t that the American dream IMG_0606that led Rodney King to ask “Why can’t we all just get along”?

Because, we don’t get along. There’s a lot of pride in hyphenating our Americanism and I say more power to each and every group. This America really is big enough for all that self love.

I prefer ‘Black’ to African American and I like ‘people of color’. I like the inclusiveness of these terms and the new centers they create. I’ve begun to wonder why more and more I see people question the use of ‘people of color’. I do know that it excludes American Indians because you can’t reduce a nation to skin color. Ah! There’s the rub! We cannot reduce nations to skin color. In being “Black” or “people of color” we are no longer tied to a place, we diminish our identity.

Take the time to watch this conversation with Junot Diaz and Toni Morrison.

So, much of my Saturday has been creating better identities on my Author’s Page.

book review: The Deep

Cover_v8.inddtitle: The Deep

author: Zetta Elliott

date: 2013; Rosetta Press

main character: Nyla

The Deep continues the stories of Nyla, Keem and D that began in Ship of Souls. While Ship of Souls was D’s story, The Deep is Nyla’s. We knew something happened to Nyla in Germany and now we find what it was and how that terror stole Nyla’s sense of self. She moves to Brooklyn with her stepmother and begins covering herself in an array of body piercings, spiked hair and black clothing. In appearance, she is oddly matched with Keem, an attractive athlete, but he seemed to give her the space and respect that she needed. She is as impulsive in her decision-making as any 14-year-old would be.

As a character, I found Nyla difficult to like just as I imagine a real life Nyla would be. A smart black girl struggling with so many personal issues, would indeed take some special love if you didn’t know her. This girl managed to build a thick, protective covering around herself that didn’t manage to interfere with her sense of independence or her core values.

Before leaving for Brooklyn, Nyla rhetorically asks if she could indeed belong in Brooklyn. Identity and fitting in are themes in this book and they’re themes that shape the lives of many nerdy black girls who rarely find themselves represented in American media. Nyla finds that she has a special purpose, a unique calling that comes from her mother; the woman who walked out on her and her father when she was 4 years old.

Elliott creates a strong sense of place as the Brooklyn landscape plays a prominent role in Nyla’s fate. Prominent public locations become portals that transport Nyla into the deep and deliver important messages to the characters. As D, Keem and Nyla ride the trains, visit the pizza shops and hangout out in the parks we feel such a strong connection to this place that we want to believe this is where they all belong. But our Nyla is being pulled away.

These three friends are once again confronted by powers from below the ground that  bring many threats, not the least of which is the threat to end their friendships. Nyla struggles with her new-found powers and with so many major elements in the book, yet Elliott lets these teens remain teens. Each of them wants to know how to maintain  relationships with parents, friends and lovers. And, each of them wants to find their place in the world. Well, D and Nyla do. We still need to hear Keem’s story!

Elliott continues to self publish imaginative and provocative young adult speculative fiction. Her commitment to her readers is evident in the honest portrayals that she gives them. Zetta sent me a copy of this book back in December when I was knee deep in BFYA reading. I never committed to when I would read The Deep and honestly, I didn’t want to read it because I didn’t want to not like it. I shouldn’t have doubted her skills.

Librarian Opportunity

ALA seeks candidates for 2014 Google policy summer fellowship

For the seventh consecutive year, the American Library Association is pleased to participate in the Google Policy Fellows program for 2014. Here’s a link to the application:

For the summer of 2014, the selected fellow will spend 10 weeks in residence at the ALA Washington Office to learn about national policy and complete a major project. Google provides the $7,500 stipend for the summer, but the work agenda is determined by the ALA and the selected fellow. The Google Washington office provides an educational program for all of the fellows, such as lunchtime talks and interactions with Google Washington staff.

The fellows work in diverse areas of information policy that may include digital copyright, e-book licenses and access, future of reading, international copyright policy, broadband deployment, telecommunications policy (including e-rate and network neutrality), digital divide, access to information, free expression, digital literacy, online privacy, the future of libraries generally, and many other topics.

Jamie Schleser, a doctoral student at American University, served as the ALA 2013 Google Policy Fellow. Schleser worked with OITP to apply her dissertation research regarding online-specific digital libraries to articulate visions and strategies for the future of libraries.

Further information about the program and host organizations is available at the Google Public Policy Fellowship website. Applications are due by Monday, April 14, 2014. ALA encourages all interested graduate students to apply and, of course, especially those in library and information science-related academic programs.


Content in this post originated in email from the ALA.

Looking In, Looking On

I remember back in the mid 90s going to buy a car with my then husband. While we were initially impressed with the presence of black sales reps who approached us, it didn’t take more than a couple of visits to realize that the black sales reps were assigned to black customers.

I was reminded of this experience when I read Walter Dean Myers’ recent editorial.

Years ago, I worked in the personnel office for a transformer firm. We needed to hire a chemist, and two candidates stood out, in my mind, for the position. One was a young white man with a degree from St. John’s University and the other an equally qualified black man from Grambling College (now Grambling State University) in Louisiana. I proposed to the department head that we send them both to the lab and let the chief chemist make the final decision. He looked at me as if I had said something so remarkable that he was having a hard time understanding me. “You’re kidding me,” he said. “That black guy’s no chemist.”

I pointed out the degrees on the résumé that suggested otherwise, and the tension between us soared. When I confronted my superior and demanded to know what about the candidate from Grambling made him not a chemist, he grumbled something under his breath, and reluctantly sent both candidates for an interview with the chief chemist.

Simple racism, I thought. On reflection, though, I understood that I was wrong. It was racism, but not simple racism. My white co-worker had simply never encountered a black chemist before. Or a black engineer. Or a black doctor. I realized that we hired people not so much on their résumés, but rather on our preconceived notions of what the successful candidate should be like. And where was my boss going to get the notion that a chemist should be black?

Publishing more books out by authors of color seems like such an obvious solution to so many problems, however the problem of not enough books with characters of color does not exist in a vacuum.

Numerous people have suggested ways to change what is published and many of these people work outside publishing as do I. I’ve never attempted to write a book, never visited a publishing house and have never tried to obtain an agent. My criticisms of this industry are a bit like Sandra Bullock cursing the universe when she realizes her spaceship had no fuel.

But, I see things and it makes me wonder.

I’ve read too many books by authors of color where the author is truly skilled, the story is fresh, entertaining and well developed. Yet there were shortcomings that ranged from flaws in world building, lacking character development, or the lack or a good sense of setting. Who edits these books?

I know that when artwork and teaching materials is needed for a book, the preference is to assign the project to a person of the same ethnic group.  I can’t identify the thought process behind this. Is a book so “Black” or so “Latino” that only people from that ethnic group will relate well enough to the story to develop it correctly? Or, do we just not work together if we don’t have to?

Isn’t it the oddest thing that we see so many creating ways to help Whites write books about people of color rather than identifying and publishing more authors of color and Native Americans? And don’t tell me authors of color don’t exist! Where are the new books by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich? Neesha Meminger? Sheba Karim? Padma Venkatraman? Derrick Barnes? Alex Sanchez? Kelly Parra? Torrey Maldenado?

Creating a culture inside any industry where people understand the advantages to themselves as individuals, their company and even society as a whole is something that no one outside that industry can force.

I don’t believe there will be more books by authors of color until those in publishing understand that they can mentor and edit someone of a different complexion, that they can be as demanding of these authors and have high expectations of them. Or unless more companies like Quill Shift Agency, 7th Generation Press, Cinco Puntos or Just Us Books exist to innovate alternative avenues of success.

When CBC Diversity first formed, I wondered why they didn’t reach out to those outside their industry to build an alliance. There are so many people who address diversity from so many perspectives that it would have to be empowering to bring them all together. But, as I’ve come to believe I understand problems within the industry, I can’t help but applaud these individuals for trying to do something that certainly will not increase their popularity in their own offices. They best know the limitations inside their industry and what changes need to be made.

How can I end this on a positive note? Well, I cannot ignore all the voices (predominantly female, I must add) that continue to fight the good fight. In many different ways and in many different corners, there are people who are passionately trying to make a difference for young readers. Because right there, those pages in the hands of a young child will color their entire worldview. We have to keep hoping because there is no change without hope. We have to keep our ear to the ground and listen for those who are beating a new path. We can move beyond talk and take action. And, we have to continue questioning this industry.