book review: March Book One

marchbookone_softcoverTitle: March Book One
Authors: John Lewis, Andres Aydin and Nate Powell
Date: Top Shelf Productions, 2013
graphic novel; nonfiction

March Book One describes John Lewis’ early interest in equality and civil rights. The first hand account relates how Lewis found his voice and became connected to the formal Civil Rights Movement.

March is told in graphic novel form and is written by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. The three collaborated to combine text and images to tell a striking story. The story begins with Lewis not wanting to leave the warmth of his bed or his soft slippers. Surely, this parallels the struggles he had in giving up the comfort of his family to fight for the rights of strangers, leaving behind the warmth and security for the sake of a call to duty. Matching word to text allows the authors to underscore meanings in a vivid, emotional and wordless way. This young man who cared and preached to the absolute lowest of the low, his family’s chickens, could not help but be overwhelmed with concern for the his black brothers and sisters, those white society saw as their least.

While at the office, two young boys, Jacob and Esau happen to stop by with their mother to visit the congressman’s on what seems to be the day President Obama is being inaugurated. Lewis takes the opportunity to tell them his story and March unfolds. Jacob and Esau? Biblical names of twins who fought inside their mother’s womb. Their story is one of birthrights.

I don’t read graphic novels often and some of the standard visual references were lost on me. I’m not sure what open panels mean. I did catch that crucial moments were displayed in much larger panels, providing more room to convey meaning. I was provided ‘aha’ moments as I uncovered meanings in passages, thus making personal connections to John Lewis and his story. Not only because it’s written in graphic form, but because of how these past events are contextualized into the future, I think young readers will relate to John Lewis and his message of answering the call. The last scenes in the book move from a ringing landline to a ringing cell phone. Who is calling and why are answers for Book Two.

I enjoyed this book. The most memorable scene for me was on page 27 when Lewis states ”by the time I march_book_two_72dpi_copy1was five, I could read it [The Bible] myself, and one phrase struck me strongly, though I couldn’t comprehend its full meaning at the time” and the words are written on the character’s back. Some of the frames confused me when I couldn’t relate the text to the image. I would love to have had an author’s note on what inspired this book or telling whom Lewis consulted with to jolt and clarify his memories but as it stands, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to young readers.

Coretta Scott King Honor Book
ALA Notable Book
YALSA’s Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens
YALSA’s Outstanding Books for the College Bound
2014 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Special Honor

Saturday Trailer: Zeroboxer

516U4fN7kuLZeroboxer by Fonda Lee
Flux, 2015
360 pages
ages 12 and up
Carr “the Raptor” Luka is an athletic phenom, a rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing. Training and competing aboard the lunar orbiting city-station of Valtego (where It’s More Fun on the Dark Side TM), all he’s ever wanted is to win the championship title.
His talent and marketability don’t go unnoticed by the top brass of the Zero Gravity Fighting Association. They assign him a brandhelm; after all, anyone who wants to be anyone needs a dedicated personal marketing strategist. Beautiful and ambitious, Risha is one of the genetically engineered Martian colonists that Earth dwellers view with resentment and suspicion. It isn’t long before she’s made Carr into a popular celebrity, and stolen his heart along the way.
But success could be the worst thing that happens to them. As his fame grows, Carr must come to terms with the fact that he’s become an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet now angry at falling into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. When Carr learns of a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating personal secret. Not only will his choices place into jeopardy everything he holds dear, they may spill the violence from the sports arena out into the solar system.
An action-loaded story of celebrity, competition and personal responsibility, ZEROBOXER is now available from Flux.

Fonda Lee is a 2015 debut author.

We’re the People: Summer Reading 2015

I’m currently working with Debbie Reese, Sujei Lugo, Lyn Miller-Lachman, Sarah  Park DahlenNathalie Mvondo and Eboni Elizabeth Thomas to create a summer reading list. We’d like to include picture books, chapter books, middle grade and young adult written by authors of color. The YA list could include adult books with teen appeal.

What have you read recently or what are some books that you might not ever forget? While we’d like to promote new titles, we also want to include affordable titles and those would more likely be older books that have gone to paperback. But, we really want to include good, solid fun reading to recommend to young readers for the summer. We’d like to have your recommendations now through 10 May.


Diversity in Libraries Wanted

I received the following in an email from the Association for Research Librarians (ARL). Please, feel free to copy or link to this post.

ARL is accepting applications for the Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce (IRDW), a program designed to recruit master of library and information science (MLIS) students from traditionally underrepresented ethnic and racial minority groups into careers in research libraries and archives. The IRDW includes a stipend in support of MLIS education of up to $10,000 over two years, leadership and career development training, a site visit to the Michigan State University Libraries, financial support for skills development, and a formal mentorship program.

The IRDW is funded by ARL member libraries. This program reflects the commitment of ARL members to create a diverse research library workforce that will better meet the challenges of changing demographics in higher education and the emphasis of global perspectives in the academy.

Program Goal and Objectives

The ARL Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce seeks to:
  • Attract MLIS students from underrepresented groups to careers in research libraries and archives
  • Strengthen participants’ leadership and job searching skills via a Leadership Symposium held during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting
  • Develop a network of peers and mentors who will guide and nurture the career development of the participants
Candidates from all academic disciplines are encouraged to apply.

Applicant Criteria

Successful applicants will meet the following criteria:
  • Identify as an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority, based on the categories outlined by the US Census Bureau or Statistics Canada
  • Be a citizen or permanent resident of the US, Canada, or Puerto Rico
  • Be accepted into an ALA-accredited MLIS program
  • Have a strong interest in pursuing a career in a research library or archive

To Apply

All applicants are required to submit the following materials by 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time onWednesday, May 13, 2015:
  • Online application form
  • Résumé
  • A 400-word (maximum) essay describing what attracts you to a career in a research library
  • Two letters of reference
  • Official undergraduate and graduate school transcripts including your last academic semester completed
  • Copy of an official letter of acceptance from an ALA-accredited library/information science program
For more information about the program, visit the Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce (IRDW) website.

Librarians-Part 2

Librarians who choose to make a difference address issues such as net neutrality, the Patriot Act, freedom of information and workplace discrimination. We identify information trends in their nascent stages. I get that we’re called a dying profession. Because we’re information workers and because the nature of information constantly changes, the job of working with information will constantly change. If you don’t understand the core of the profession, if you think we just catalog books and read all day, then you’ll think the profession is dying.

IMG_4315My issues are diversity and literacy.

When I started this blog, I developed the tagline “Promoting literacy in teens of color one book at a time” and I addressed financial, computer, information and reading literacy. These, and other literacies are so important for success, the ability to navigate the world on our own terms.

I’ve been working on an article for the past few weeks that touches upon both metaliteracy and critical literacy. Yesterday, working on a completely different project, I found myself again digging into critical literacy and it really began to feel like I found where I belonged. This is a literacy that branches from critical pedagogy and the works of Paulo Friere. I’ve talked about this recently, about reading text to understand the power dynamics that are present: why did the author make the choices she did in writing these piece and who does it empower? Critical literacy should kick in no matter what we’re watching or looking at. Information is indeed power and that power is conveyed through direct and indirect messages. How librarians teach web searching, evaluating articles, presenting information or any information related skill should consider critical literacy if we want our teens to maintain our democratic way of life. All teens need to be empowered by uncovering all the messages being conveyed to them and they need to realize the responsibility that comes with that empowerment.

As an example, I want to share experiences I’ve had in doctor’s offices. Typically, when we go to the doctor’s office, she asks a list of routine questions, runs a few tests related to our particular ache or pain and tells us how the ache or pain will be treated. Even in a doctor’s office we need to use our critical literacy skills! Let’s disrupt the concept that the doctor is the sole source of information on health! A few years ago, I had a doctor who actually printed out and shared current research with me. We then discussed possible treatments. She spoiled me for all other doctors! I, who at one time would never question authority, will now ask ‘why’ or ‘how’ or ‘what other treatments?’. Did you ever watch House or Grey’s Anatomy? Though their medical practices are farfetched, they do related that doctors don’t always have the correct answer. I’m beginning to like the look I get that says ‘how dare you question me’. Yes, me, this little, old, black woman will question you.

I think about doctors because earlier this week, I visited a new eye doctor who kept given me me a hard time because my eyesight is so bad. I had to remind him about the practice of putting drops of silver nitrate in baby’s eyes in the 1950s and his entire demeanor changed. He talked about how horrid this practice was and I’m certain he had to have realized why my eyesight is so bad. From that point on, he told me more about my eyes than anyone had ever told me before.

Information is power! I love being a librarian!

Librarians–Part 1

What a surprise to see CrazyQuiltEdi mentioned in School Library Journal! Thanks for the recognition!

The Ignite Session videos are up! Imagine being alloted 20 PowerPoint slides that changed every 15 seconds to tell your story. Angie Manfredi presented “20 Kids/Teens Titles to Diversify Your Collection Today”. My session was “The Kids Are Not All White.” (these links will not work on iPads or iPhones)

Don’t miss Nikki Grimes’ Five Question Interview in HornBook.

Lyn Miller Lachmann blogs at Pirate Tree, a blog that focuses on social justice. She recentl wrote a post for Diversity in Kidlit about how humor is written that involves young people with autism.

Respect extends to when one of us tells you something is not funny. Do your homework. If you’re not on the spectrum, don’t assume you know our perspective because you have a niece, a nephew, or even a child on the spectrum. Get several people on the spectrum to read your work and point out potential problems. And when someone identifies a problem, don’t argue. Listen.

Celebrate National Library Week! Libraries across the country are planning events this week to celebrate another year of service to our communities. You know we don’t just wear buns and check out books any more. Nope!

Amy Cheney doesn’t just work diligently to find books her incarcerated teens will read. She is an advocate for them!

Meg Medina doesn’t just gather information to improve the literacy of teens in her school; she writes to tell their story.

K.C. Boyd does more than most librarians to keep urban lit in her school, but she also fights to keep her school library open another year.

Sarah Hannah Gómez doesn’t just love reading YA with her teens; she makes sure diversity is address on the bookshelf and in the workplace.

Librarians I’ve met from all over the country hustle to get books their budgets cannot buy, put their careers on the line because their patrons need/want LGBTQ. Librarians are innovators who are finding ways to publish books written by their teen patrons, teach them financial literacy or how to fill out a job application.

There are the dynamic young ones coming up like Sujei Lugo and Evelyn Alford.

Satia Orange. Nancy Tolson. Pura Belpré. Kathleen de la Peña McCook.

Debbie Reese. Need I say more?

We’ve got a lot to celebrate, don’t we?

review: Moose Boosh

A+Moose+Boosh+coverTitle: A Moose Boosh: A Few Choice Words About Food
Author: Erik-Shabazz Larkin
Date: Readers to Eaters; 2014

I don’t think anyone actually plays with their food in A Moose Boosh. There is a young person with a pet cabbage that disappears but, no one sits and plays with the food in their plate. A Moose Boosh: A Few Choice Words About Food uses the catchy phrase “where there is food, there will be laughter (and crumbs)”. I can’t simply call this a book of poems when it’s actually a creative print project that combines photos, graphics and poems to deliver rather political statements about the food (and pseudo-food) that we ingest. Through these antics, author Eric-Shabazz Larkin celebrates food as a source of nutrition, comfort and family ties. While the plate is indifferent to what it serves, Harlem suffers as a food desert and it’s not easy to eat with braces. While food is a valued commodity, we don’t have to like all of it, particularly chitterlings or beets.

No More Beets

I’d sooner lick the plate
than eat more beets.
I’d sooner kiss the dog
than eat more beets.
I’d rake the lawn
and clean the gutters
for our whole street.
I’d sooner do anything
than eat more beets.

What is a moose boosh? Pick up Buy the book and look inside the cover. (hint: Try use your French.) This delightful book would be an excellent addition to classroom libraries, particularly those that learn about the food cycle, gardening, urban poverty or food issues or with students who enjoy humorous poetry.

I received my copy of the book at ALA Midwinter from publisher of Readers to Eaters, Philip Lee. Readers to Eaters was founded in 2009 “to promote food literacy from the ground up. We want children and families to have a better understanding of what and how we eat.” source
A Moose Boosh is a delightful volume of poems and images that gets young people to think serious about food in fun ways.