What’s up?!

Hi!

Perhaps you’ve recently tried to access CrazyQuiltEdi only to get the message that the blog was no longer available. I know I was shocked when I tried to access my blog and had a hugely embarrassing messaging stating that I violated Terms of Service. I was forced to carefully read those terms (if you’re a blogger and haven’t recently you should. Many of those books tours are a violation!) It took about a day for WordPress to send me this message on Twitter.

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In the meantime, I’m going to be more than a little bit overwhelmed in November. I’m presenting on diverse nonfiction in the Social Studies curriculum at Sycamore Educator’s Day this weekend; Brain Based Library Instruction at Brick and Click in Missouri next weekend and holding a diversity round table at the Indiana Library Federation annual conference in a few weeks. I’ll be be at ALAN at the end of the month and in DC for Thanksgiving.

Yes, this is my #57yearoftravel. Huh?? I was born in 1957 and to help with the math, I turn 57 this year. I’m claiming this as my #57yearoftravel. Since October, I’ve been to Sacramento, Indianapolis and Rogers, Arkansas. The Grand Canyon is my big wish (I missed it when I turned 50, opting rather for a typhoon in Taiwan) and I’d really like to throw in a trip to look at information seeking habits in India or teaching material collections in universities in South Africa or just go to Mozambique and explore children’s literature published there.

For now, for November, this blog may be a bit quiet and I’m sure you can see why. I’m still in business, just working hard elsewhere. I do intend to get up a list of November releases. Please let me know of any titles you’re aware of that I shouldn’t miss. Thanks!

Black Speculative Fiction: The Hunger of Imagining

I was just speaking with a colleague about the need to incite curiosity as the basis for research. Questioning, wondering and south-africa-tribes-e28093-south-african-cultureimagining are essential real life skills that are certainly nurtured in speculative fiction.

Earlier this year, authors Zetta Elliott and Ibi Zoboi  published part of a conversation about race and representation in The Hunger Games and YA speculative fiction. Their conversation, which continued on Zetta’s blog brought out significant points on the critical importance of brown girls being seen in worlds of flight and fantasy.

 

IBI: My first contact with speculative fiction was the stories I would hear my family tell. They

Ibi Zoboi

Ibi Zoboi

happened in Haiti—political stories intermingled with loogaroo stories, which is like a vampire-type figure in Haitian folklore. There was always a sense of magic and darkness and fear in those stories. There was always somebody who didn’t come home and it was usually associated with the tonton macoute (a bogeyman with a sack), or a loogaroo who came to get somebody’s child. I had two mystical, folkloric figures woven into these political stories about family and friends, so that line between what was real and what was not was never clear.

ZETTA: In my childhood, that line between fantasy and reality was very clear because I was reading British novels in Canada—C.S. Lewis and Frances Hodgson Burnett, which isn’t

Zetta Elliott

Zetta Elliott

exactly fantasy. But her work featured these wealthy, white children living on the moors in England and was so far removed from my reality. And because those books didn’t serve as a mirror, fantasy was very much something that happened to other people. I didn’t really imagine magical, wonderful things happening to me because everything that I read said it only happened to kids of a certain color or a certain class. In terms of gender, at least girls were having adventures, too, so that was a good thing.

You and I are both writers and we’re obviously trying to generate our own stories. Is there a way for us to make an intervention in the field of YA fantasy? How do our stories reach our kids?  MORE

A short list of great resources for racial diversity in young adult sci-fi

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Eboni Elizabeth

Eboni Elizabeth, writing at the Dark Fantastic positions the following regarding people of color  and Native Americans and how YA lit fails in this regard.

There is an imagination gap when we can’t imagine a little Black girl as the symbolic Mockingjay who inspires a revolution in one of today’s most popular YA megaseries.
There is an imagination gap when one of the most popular Black female characters on teen television is stripped of agency, marginalized within the larger story, and becomes a caricature of her literary counterpart.
There is an imagination gap when a Korean-Canadian woman’s critique of J.K. Rowling’s character Cho Chang in the Harry Potter novels is seen as more problematic than certain aspects of the character herself.
There is an imagination gap when a Nambe Pueblo critic’s perspectives on a pre-Columbian America “without people, but with animals” are seen as more problematic than the worldbuilding itself.

This is taken from “The Imagination Gap in #Kidlit and #YAlit: An Introduction to the Dark Fantastic“, her initial blog post. In addition to pulling readers into spaces of deep conversation, Eboni highlights numerous Dark Fantastic/Black Speculative Fiction resources in her side bar.

 

Black Speculative Fiction Month

Speculative fiction contains writings of science fiction, fantasy and horror or, those stories the bend what is and ask readers to speculate about what could be. Editors Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade have set aside October to celebrate works that transport us to new worlds; worlds of adventure; of terror; of war and wonder; of iron and steam and are authored by Black writers. If you’re unable to attend any of the events they’ve planned, do visit the blog page that announces the events so that you can build your background

Chronicles of Harriett by Balogun Ojetade

Chronicles of Harriett by Balogun Ojetade

knowledge in the history, seminal works and authors, both classic and contemporary.

Speculative fiction allows both readers and writings to explore issues such as race in ways other genres do not. At times, these writers create creatures and situations that go beyond race, as do other authors. However, the attraction to spec fic has more to do with the worlds created in the writing. One will read them because they read zombies, sci fi or high fantasy. Milton Davis speaks to this complicated issue.

Scowering my blog, I found a few titles you should consider picking up this month.

Promise of Shadows by Justine Ireland; Simon and Schuster, 2014

The Zero Degree Zombie Zone by Patrick Henry Bass and Jerry Craft; Scholastic, 2014

Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson; Arthur A. Levine, 2014

Mesmerize  by Artist Arthur; Kimani Tru, 2009

The Agency 3: Traitor in the Tunnel by Y. S. Lee; Candelwick, 2009

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn; St. Martin Press 11 2009

The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards; HarperCollins, 2012

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010

Awake by Wendy McNair Raven; 2010

Shadow Walker by L A Banks; Sea Lion Books, 2010

47 by Walter Mosley; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2006

Bayou by Jeremy Love; Zuda, 2009

Sweet Whisper Brother Rush by Virginia Hamilton; Philomel, 1982

Black Powder by Staton Rabin; Margaret McElderry Books, 2005

Ship of souls by Zetta Elliott; AmazonEncore, 28 Feb

Shieldwolf Dawning by Selena Nemorin; CreateSpace, 2014

Do yourself a real favor and visit Twinja Book Reviews. Guinevere and Libertad dedicate their blog to black e0d5adf2356a76ea82d72158eb3b79cc_400x400speculative fiction and are a much better source on that than I am. And, check them out on Twitter, too! @Dos_Twinjas

 

 

 

SundayMorningReads

In case you were wondering, I don’t make a penny blogging. I have a day job that all too often has nothing to do with diversity or young adult literature. Literacy, yes. Information literacy. When I first learned the IMG_3109term, it described the skills necessary to locate, share, evaluate, access and present information. What it means to be information literate is growing and changing over time as our interactions with electronic media has expanded. Metaliteracy is one example of this change.

This literacy is what school librarians teach and this is why we need them.

My day starts tomorrow with me teaching searching skills to high students and ends after my regular hours with instruction to grad students, again on searching skills. Teaching the same thing at these two very different cognitive levels. I would say I’ve figured out teaching research to high schoolers, but giving it to strangers in a one shot sessions with not enough time to deliver a fully developed lesson is more than a challenge. Grad students? They should be able to digest a rather lectured delivery. I’ll go for that 20 minute max of ultimate brain attention.

I had an interesting revelation regarding this literacy recently regarding cultural relevance. It basically involved a Middle Eastern student who was assigned to research information on a certain car by evaluating information on a U.S. government website, the manufacturer’s site and one other. A student from a country where leadership is never questioned and the of questioning of authority is just not done. How then, do you teach these students to evaluate the information they find in the media?

Our world is diverse indeed.

Celebrated this weekend in at the Madison public library, The South Asian Book Award winners.

Elizabeth Suneby
Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education
(illustrations by Suana Verelst)
Kids Can Press, 2013

Jennifer Bradbury
A Moment Comes
Atheneum Book, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2013

2014 Honor Winner

Farhana Zia
The Garden of my Imaan
Peachtree, 2013

Librarian Amy Cheney has announce openings for In the Margins Book Award and Selection committee (ITM) for next year –  January 2015 – January 2016 for the 2016 list.  Click here to fill out an application of interest: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1gan284mn-KQskRYN5syGSpFbCDJx2ObBiJj6arZ8Hwk/viewform?formkey=dDZqR1RIQ0FQOGJkVTRJcmZoVWVfN1E6MQ We will be conducting interviews in December. In the Margins serves those young adult readers who are certainly in the margins, those who are incarcerated. Her recent SLJ article reviews recent books that fit her young readers needs.

YALSA has submitted a grant proposal to help disconnected youth, those who are with jobs, skills or knowledge that allows them to develop skills to prepare for the workforce. YALSA needs you to support their application by sharing what your library does to help disconnected your.

Please don’t take the work of school librarians/school media specialists for grant. 40% of the elementary school is Los Angeles have no librarian. No information literacy instruction, no skilled professionals to build capacity for a lifelong love of reading. KC Boyd fearlessly fights on behalf of students in Chicago to have librarians/media specialists in their schools. Here in Vigo County, the schools that still have librarians pull them out to teach science.

What’s going on in the schools near you? Who is teaching and advocating for your children to be truly literate in the 21st century?

KidLitCon

In all that I’m going to tell you about KidLitCon, know that the highlight of my weekend was seeing my DIL, SweetPea’s mom, in LA. And I didn’t even think to get a pic.

Stephanie Kuehn (Complicit, St Martin's Griffin, 2014)

Stephanie Kuehn (Complicit, St Martin’s Griffin, 2014)

Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments author, Emily Jiang

Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments author, Emily Jiang

Those KidLitCon ladies were wiped out at the end of things on Saturday. I applaud not only their hard work, but the fact that they stepped out there and planned a conference on the theme ‘diversity’. As necessary as diversity is, as much as the call for more diverse books has become in the world of children’s lit, using that term will still have you preaching only to the choir. The attendance numbers were small, I’m sure much smaller than previous years. No doubt, those who needed to be there were.

This issue of not enough brown faces in children’s literature has been around since Langston Hughes published the Brownies’ Book magazine in the 1920s. Damn near 100 years ago. And, we still think we can get publishing companies to produce more books for, about and with children of color, and queer children; those with exceptionalities those of varying income levels. You think it makes perfect economic sense, but please realize how empowering books are. They plant ideas.

KidLitCon reminded me of the power of networking. I’ve been hanging out here pretty much on my own for quite a long time. I miss the days of Reading in Color, The HappyNappyBookseller and Color Online. Maybe that’s why it has been so hard for me to get back into this. Maybe I need to change things up.

“Diversity” dilutes the need for representation for people of color, for queer teens and those with exceptionalities. We then devolve into diversities based upon size and

Nathalie, Laura Atkins and Zetta Elliott

Nathalie, Laura Atkins and Zetta Elliott

location and handedness and on and on because it’s just too hard to focus on queer, brown, different people. Friends, we have to.

A mediocre cry for diversity will give us a mediocre response: a limited run of a few more books with no real changes inside publishing houses, with authors of certain backgrounds being boxed into writing certain kinds of books (such as Latinos being stuck writing reality fiction) and no books by authors of color

Teen Blogger @missfictional

Teen Blogger @missfictional

that continually will win the National Book Award or the Newbery.

This movement began over 100 years ago. I’ve been doing this blog since 2006, so I have to bow to those who came before me and are still at it and yea, I even have to bow to those who came in after me who are really getting some things done. There’s room for all because there’s no single story that’s going to get this done. There is, however no room for status quo or mediocrity. We’re at a point in history where so many resources exist to change how books are financed, created and distributed. We’re at a place in time where our children can no longer afford to be left behind. No, not today; not in the information age. Not when it is critical to have the literacy, the power, to maneuver one’s world.

I didn’t get a chance to talk to a lot of people to find out what they’d gotten out of the conference. Will we as bloggers find new ways to collaborate for books and literacy causes? Will some look that much harder for books with characters of color? And, will we be more critical of those writing outside their own experience?

I’m rambling. I thought things would come together for me as I wrote, but they’re not. I think I’m thirsty.

I’ll stop here and add some photos. I hate that I didn’t get any of my co-presenters, they are such amazing and adorable ladies. Next time!

 

Nathalie Mvondo of Multiculturalism Rocks and Mitali Perkins (Tiger Boy, Charlesbridge 2014)

Nathalie Mvondo of Multiculturalism Rocks and Mitali Perkins (Tiger Boy, Charlesbridge 2014)

Jewell Parker Rhodes (Sugar; Little Brown Books, 2013) and Maya Gonzalez who creates more than will fit this space, so click this image to visit her site.

Jewell Parker Rhodes (Sugar; Little Brown Books, 2013) and Maya Gonzalez who creates more than will fit this space, so click this image to visit her site.

Libertad & Guinevere of Twinja Book Reviews with Tanita Davis (Happy Families, Knopf, 2012)

Libertad & Guinevere of Twinja Book Reviews with Tanita Davis (Happy Families, Knopf, 2012)

review: Love Is the Drug

51lxVTCB9uLtitle: Love is the Drug

author: Alaya Dawn Johnson

date:Arthur A. Levine; September, 2004

main character: Emily Bird

 

Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC’s elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.

Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus–something about her parents’ top secret scientific work–something she shouldn’t know.

The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

I can’t give as detailed a review as I’d like to on this one because I read it on NetGalley and it’s no longer available to me to refer to.

I read Johnson’s first YA book, Summer Prince, and was looking forward to whatever she’d write next. She did not disappoint. As with Prince, Johnson writes an intelligent book that places us in the midst of her world rather than step by step building it for us.  He female leads are strong, social issues are real and situations creative yet plausible.

Emily Bird is an upper middle class high school senior with college educated parents and a favorite uncle who is a high school dropout. As the flu epidemic spreads, the haves receive what the have nots don’t. Inequity abounds and is up close in Emily’s family. Sure, we know Emily is Black, but the issues here are about class, not race. What really stood out for me with this one was that no male saved Bird, she was able to save herself in a variety of situations.

This is an intelligent book with a black female lead. She knows about contemporary politicals, will be going to college (but which one??) and despite her teen angst and conflictions, is truly her own person. While there are too, too many black girls clamoring for a book of these sensibilities, Johnson’s world is broad and will appeal to all teens who like thought provoking books.

Honestly, as I listen to reports about ebola and watch as it spreads, I see conspiracies all in this mess, thanks to my reading Love is the Drug.

Johnson actually takes readers to black hair issues, actually writes about hair relaxers! Now, I don’t get why Bird applied/s these caustic chemicals to her head with such a severe gash along her hairline and I don’t know why her hair was nappy afterwards, but to go there! to write about the relaxer was something with which I could really identify. And this is why we need writers of color developing characters and stories for all readers. We need intellectual stories, hi/lo books, humorous, adventurous, romantic, mysterious, sporty books that fully represent the growing number of brown children in America. Here, race is authentic while the story is universal.

Once again, Alaya Dawn Johnson crafts a world with numerous problems. She’s not out to solve them, just to keep us on our toes. And that she does!

New Releases: October

On Pinterest

Complete list of 2014 Releases (more or less)

Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan; Algonquin 

“Both personal and universal, this is a compelling story about high school, family and owning up to who you really are. Farizan is just the voice YA needs right now. Trust me, you’ll be glad you listened.” –Sarah Dessen Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. As an Iranian American, she’s different enough; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when beautiful new girl Saskia shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.
On The Other Side of the Bridge by Ray Villareal; Arte Publico Press

Lon Chaney Rodriguez is a typical thirteen-year-old boy. He loves horror movies. His bedroom is a mess. He doesn’t like to read boring books. And he likes to skip church and hang out at Catfish Creek during services. But his life changes completely when his mother is shot and killed at the apartment complex where she worked as a security guard. Life without her is unimaginable, and he’s haunted by the feeling that he let his mom down. He didn’t prioritize his schoolwork, so he’s on the brink of failing. And worse, he lied to her. Why didn’t he tell her the truth? Why didn’t he make better grades and help her more?

Lonnie’s life is turned upside down, both at school and home. The school counselor is determined to get him to talk about his mom, and the preacher’s daughter is insistent that he read scriptures to bring him comfort. His unemployed father turns to drinking excessively. He struggles to pay the bills and put food on the table. It doesn’t seem possible, but … will they really end up on the street like the homeless guy that panhandles at the freeway underpass?

Dreaming in Indian: Contemorary Native American Voices edited by Mary Beth Leatherdale; Annick Press 

A powerful and visually stunning anthology from some of the most groundbreaking Native artists working in North America today.

Truly universal in its themes, Dreaming In Indian will shatter commonly held stereotypes and challenge readers to rethink their own place in the world. Divided into four sections, ‘Roots,’ ‘Battles,’ ‘Medicines,’ and ‘Dreamcatchers,’ this book offers readers a unique insight into a community often misunderstood and misrepresented by the mainstream media.

Emerging and established Native artists, including acclaimed author Joseph Boyden, renowned visual artist Bunky Echo Hawk, and stand-up comedian Ryan McMahon, contribute thoughtful and heartfelt pieces on their experiences growing up Indigenous, expressing them through such mediums as art, food, the written word, sport, dance, and fashion. Renowned chef Aaron Bear Robe, for example, explains how he introduces restaurant customers to his culture by reinventing traditional dishes. And in a dramatic photo spread, model Ashley Callingbull and photographer Thosh Collins reappropriate the trend of wearing ‘Native’ clothing.

Whether addressing the effects of residential schools, calling out bullies through personal manifestos, or simply citing hopes for the future, Dreaming In Indian refuses to shy away from difficult topics. Insightful, thought-provoking, and beautifully honest, this book will to appeal to young adult readers. An innovative and captivating design enhances each contribution and makes for a truly unique reading experience.
In the Forbidden City by Chin Kwong-chiu, translated by Ben Want; China Insitute

Serving as the seat of imperial power for six centuries, the Forbidden City is one of China’s most famous and enigmatic landmarks. Accompanied by a mischievous cat, readers will tour this colossal architectural structure, discovering the secrets hidden inside the palace walls. They will encounter the people who have walked through its halls and gardens, including emperors, empresses, and rebel leaders, and hear exciting tales about the power struggles and intrigues of everyday life.

This large format book conveys the grandeur of the Forbidden City through highly detailed line drawings of its buildings, gardens, and courtyards with numerous fold-out spreads. Each page is populated by a large variety of characters and peppered with entertaining anecdotes. Every book includes a plastic magnifying glass for looking at the drawings more closely.
Talon by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin Teen)

In Julie Kagawa’s groundbreaking modern fantasy series, dragons walk among us in human form.

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey—and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him—and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina by Michaeline DePrince and Elaine DePrince (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Michaela DePrince was known as girl Number 27 at the orphanage, where she was abandoned at a young age and tormented as a “devil child” for a skin condition that makes her skin appear spotted. But it was at the orphanage that Michaela would find a picture of a beautiful ballerina en pointe that would help change the course of her life.

At the age of four, Michaela was adopted by an American family, who encouraged her love of dancing and enrolled her in classes. She went on to study at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre and is now the youngest principal dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She has appeared in the ballet documentary First Position, as well as on Dancing with the Stars, Good Morning America, and Nightline.

In this engaging, moving, and unforgettable memoir, Michaela shares her dramatic journey from an orphan in West Africa to becoming one of ballet’s most exciting rising stars.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon (Henry Holt)

When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white.

In the aftermath of Tariq’s death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth.

Tariq’s friends, family, and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy, and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down.

Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake (Tor Teens)

As ancient immortals are left reeling, a modern Athena and Hermes search the world for answers inMortal Gods, the second Goddess War novel by Kendare Blake, acclaimed author of Anna Dressed in Blood.

Ares, god of war, is leading the other dying gods into battle. Which is just fine with Athena. She’s ready to wage a war of her own, and she’s never liked him anyway. If Athena is lucky, the winning gods will have their immortality restored. If not, at least she’ll have killed the bloody lot of them, and she and Hermes can die in peace.Cassandra Weaver is a weapon of fate. The girl who kills gods. But all she wants is for the god she loved and lost to return to life. If she can’t have that, then the other gods will burn, starting with his murderer, Aphrodite.

The alliance between Cassandra and Athena is fragile. Cassandra suspects Athena lacks the will to truly kill her own family. And Athena fears that Cassandra’s hate will get them all killed.

The war takes them across the globe, searching for lost gods, old enemies, and Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever seen. As the struggle escalates, Athena and Cassandra must find a way to work together. Because if they can’t, fates far worse than death await.

On Two Feet and Wings by Abbas Kazerooni (Skyscrape)

He is in a foreign country, he is alone, and he is just a boy…Abbas Kazerooni is not yet ten, but he’s suddenly forced to leave his parents, his friends—his entire world—and flee Tehran. The Iran-Iraq war is at its bloodiest, and the Ayatollahs who rule Iran have reduced the recruitment age for the army. If Abbas doesn’t escape, it’s almost certain that he will be drafted and die fighting for a regime that has stripped his family of all they have.

On his own in the strange, often frightening city of Istanbul, Abbas grows up fast—with little more than his wits to guide him. He must conquer difficult things: how to live on his own, how to navigate a foreign city and culture when he doesn’t speak the language, and, most importantly, how to judge who is a friend and who is an enemy. Facing the unexpected as well as the everyday challenges of life on his own, Abbas walks a tightrope of survival—yearning to please the demanding father he has left behind, yet relishing his new found independence.

His quick thinking, entrepreneurial spirit, and the kindness of strangers allow him to make the best of his dire situation in surprising ways. Does he have what it takes to not only survive against these challenging odds but achieve his parents’ ultimate dream for him: a visa to England, and the safety it represents?

This compelling true story of one young boy’s courage provides a powerful child’s-eye view of war, political tumult, and survival.

 

Pig Park by Claudia Gaudelupe Martinez (Cinco Puntos Press)

It’s crazy! Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga hauls bricks to help build a giant pyramid in her neighborhood park. Her neighborhood is becoming more of a ghost town each day since the lard company moved away. Even her school closed down. Her family’s bakery and the other surviving businesses may soon follow. As a last resort, the neighborhood grown-ups enlist all the remaining able-bodied boys and girls into this scheme in hopes of luring visitors. Maybe their neighbors will come back too. But something’s not right about the entrepreneur behind it all. And then there’s the new boy who came to help. The one with the softest of lips. Pig Park is a contemporary Faustian tale that forces us to look at the desperate lengths people will go to in the name of community–and maybe love.