September Releases

updated 10 Oct 2015

Inker’s Shadow by Allen Say; Scholastic Press
As the school’s first and only Japanese student, he experienced immediate racism among his fellow cadets and his teachers. The other kids’ parents complained about Allen’s presence at the all-white school. As a result, he was relegated to a tool shed behind the mess hall. Determined to free himself from this oppression, Allen saved enough money to buy a 1946 Ford for $50 – then escaped to find the America of his dreams! In this follow-up to Drawing from Memory, Allen continues to reinvent himself as an author and illustrator. Melding his paintings with cartoon images and archival photos, Allen Say delivers an accessible book that will appeal to any reader in search of himself.

Untwine by Edwidge Danticat; Scholastic
Giselle Boyer and her identical twin, Isabelle, are as close as sisters can be, even as their family seems to be unraveling. Then the Boyers have a tragic encounter that will shatter everyone’s world forever. Giselle wakes up in the hospital, injured and unable to speak or move. Trapped in the prison of her own body, Giselle must revisit her past in order to understand how the people closest to her — her friends, her parents, and above all, Isabelle, her twin — have shaped and defined her. Will she allow her love for her family and friends to lead her to recovery? Or will she remain lost in a spiral of longing and regret?

Untwine is a spellbinding tale, lyrical and filled with love, mystery, humor, and heartbreak. Award-winning author Edwidge Danticat brings her extraordinary talent to this graceful and unflinching examination of the bonds of friendship, romance, family, the horrors of loss, and the strength we must discover in ourselves when all seems hopeless.

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon. Delacorte.
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster. (ages 12 and up)

The Suffering by Rin Chupeco. SourceBooks Fire.  When an old friend disappears in Aokigahara, Japan’s infamous ‘suicide forest,’ Tark and the ghostly Okiku must resolve their differences and return to find her. In a strange village inside Aokigahara, old ghosts and an ancient evil lie waiting. (ages 12 and up)

Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith. Clarion Books.
Magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can’t seem to cast a simple spell. When a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. The entire town is at risk from the Stranger’s black magic, and only Hoodoo can defeat him. He’ll just need to learn how to conjure first. Set amid the swamps, red soil, and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s,Hoodoo is infused with a big dose of creepiness leavened with gentle humor. (ages 10-12)

Connect the Stars by Marisa de lost Sontos and David Teague; HarperCollins
From Saving Lucas Biggs authors Marisa de los Santos and David Teague comes a heartwarming middle grade adventure about two misfits discovering the importance of just being themselves.

When thirteen-year-olds Aaron and Audrey meet at a wilderness camp in the desert, they think their quirks are enough to prevent them from ever having friends. But as they trek through the challenging and unforgiving landscape, they learn that they each have what it takes to make the other whole.

Luminous and clever, Connect the Stars takes on some hefty topics of the day—bullying, understanding where you fit in, and learning to live with physical and mental challenges—all in a joyous adventure kids will love! (ages 8-12)

Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney; Roaring Brook Press
Berry Gordy began Motown in 1959 with an $800 loan from his family. He converted the garage of a residential house into a studio and recruited teenagers from the neighborhood-like Smokey Robinson, Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Diana Ross-to sing for his new label. Meanwhile, the country was on the brink of a cultural revolution, and one of the most powerful agents of change in the following decade would be this group of young black performers from urban Detroit. From Berry Gordy and his remarkable vision to the Civil Rights movement, from the behind-the-scenes musicians, choreographers, and song writers to the most famous recording artists of the century, Andrea Davis Pinkney takes readers on a Rhythm Ride through the story of Motown.

The Green Bicycle by Haifaa Al Monsour; Dial
Spunky eleven-year-old Wadjda lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with her parents. She desperately wants a bicycle so that she can race her friend Abdullah, even though it is considered improper for girls to ride bikes. Wadjda earns money for her dream bike by selling homemade bracelets and mixtapes of banned music to her classmates. But after she’s caught, she’s forced to turn over a new leaf (sort of), or risk expulsion from school. Still, Wadjda keeps scheming, and with the bicycle so closely in her sights, she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

Set against the shifting social attitudes of the Middle East, The Green Bicycle explores gender roles, conformity, and the importance of family, all with wit and irresistible heart.

In Journals and Blogs

A couple of journals that focus on children’s and young adult literature have recently had special editions focused on ‘diversity’. It is good to see such significant coverage given to this topic however, people of color, Native Americans, LGBTQIA people and those with disabilities need to be included in journals, conferences, panels and workshops on all topics, not just diversity.

Diversity Issue: Children and Libraries (Fall, 2015) vol 13 issue 3

Diversity Issue: The ALAN Review (Winter, 2015). vol 42 issue 2
CALL FOR SUBMISSION:Rethinking “Normal” and Embracing Differences

Volume 44: Issue 1 (Fall 2016)
 Submissions due March 1, 2016
“To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing” (Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, p. 324). With these words, Sáenz points to the sacredness of language, particularly as we use that language to build up or tear down those we know—and those we don’t. We use language to discriminate differences and to make sense of and give meaning to our perceptions, but being discriminate can result in unfair judgment—both subtle and overt—when we fail to consider the unique stories of those to whom we assign our assumptions.

In this issue, we invite you to consider how language, woven through story, can invite exploration of difference centered on (dis)ability, sexual identity or orientation, gender, race, nationality, culture, age, and/or physical appearance. How might young adult literature help readers consider their own and others’ uniqueness? How might it challenge deficit perspectives of the other that are too often forwarded by the dominant narrative? What difficulties result from such attempts at engagement in educational settings? How can we help adolescent readers understand that “[A] person is so much more than the name of a diagnosis on a chart” (Sharon M. Draper, Out of My Mind, p. 23) and ask themselves, as they grow up in a labels-oriented world: “You’re going to spend more time with yourself than with anyone else in your life. You want to spend that whole time fighting who you are?” (Alex Sanchez, The God Box, p. 139)?

As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme. All submissions may be sent to alan-review@uconn.edu. Please see the LAN website (http://www.alan-ya.org/page/alan-review-author-guidelines) for submission guidelines.

Although, focusing on voting, he fall edition of Teaching Tolerance contains a couple of important articles on diversity ranging from a teaching talking candidly about racial equality to about a wheelchair bound Kenyan who works to beautify the world to an article that rewrites Native Americans into American history. It feels odd to write that sentence, to talk about rewriting the First Americans into American history. How odd. The issue also explores colorism and looks at the growth in anti-bias curriculum across the nation. I just received this journal yesterday and was so excited to see the beautiful illustration of a Native American woman reading to a group of children. That illustration is actually based upon a photograph of Debbie Reese.

Reading the articles in these journals will provide educators, writers and even readers ways to talk  more openly across racial lines with readers. Given that the audience of these journals is White, it’s safe to say they were written for white readers. And that’s a good thing because such conversations are long overdue. Sam Bloom, KT Horning, Nina Lindsay, Angie Manfredi, and Megan Schliesman are smart people who know the conversations are overdue. They’ve just begun a new blog, Reading While White: Allies for Racial Diversity and Inclusion in Books For Children and Teens.

Reading While White is intentionally by, about, and for White people who are interested in anti-racist work in the field of children’s literature.  There is no quick fix to racism, which exists on personal, institutional, and societal levels; but by organizing ourselves and working together, I hope that we can start to answer some of these questions.

Definitely worth checking out!

Dis stress

I’ve pulled back again. For several weeks, I’ve had this overwhelming feeling that is pure stress. I think this feeling is new to me, but perhaps it’s the first time I’m so keenly aware of being stressed. Librarians should not be stressed! Working for my

Growing my own food=destressing!

Growing my own food=destressing!

passions of literacy and diversity should not be stressful.

However, learning by definition is stressful. That process of building new pathways in the brain, realigning thoughts, beliefs and actions is nothing but stress. Being literate and continually learning is stressful. I’ve been researching critical information literacy and constantly thinking of ways to implement it into curriculum. I have a professor who wants me to talk to her a class about ‘scholarly literature’. While she expects a benign definition, I think about the complexities of scholarship. Scholarly literature is communication among, well scholars. There’s a certain style and protocol involved that when followed indicates that one belongs. Who is included in this community and who isn’t? For whom are these scholars writing? Is if for each other? How does one gain access? Can blogs be scholarly? Must we categorically exclude wikis? Can scholarly communication occur on Twitter or Facebook? When must one rely solely upon ‘scholarly literature’ and why? I don’t think most of these questions have definitive answers, but how do I present this in a class where the professor has not considered these questions? As the ways we find, access, share and evaluate information changes I do believe we have to make users of information aware of these issues to keep their work relevant. Stress!

And what about the class of undergraduates that I get to see one time for instruction? Do I take the time to expose them to library services, only services relevant to their needs that they won’t remember 3 weeks later when they actually begin researching or do I address overarching concepts from the information literacy framework, such as ‘research is a process’. Novice research don’t know the process or even how to begin! I’m surrounded by expectations of delivering a skill based session that doesn’t meet the point of need. Stress.

Diversity. Stress.

Over and over the same discussions. Wait, they’re not discussions because if they were, someone would listen. Someone would be heard. Who can write in whose voice? We’ve reached a point where publishers want to publish white authors who write people of color and people of color who write white and we’re calling that diversity. Publishing cannot create a new homogenous American where everyone has the same culture, same lifestyle and same way of achieving their wants and needs. I think we’d say that expectation comes from a point of privilege, believing everyone is like or wants to be like Me.

If left alone, what would these writers write? What if white authors honestly wrote how whites conceptualize race? Do white teens notice the table of Asians in the cafeteria? Do they like the natural styles black girls wear? Do they hear the stereotypes that are repeated about Native American youth or wonder why there are no people of color in the latest blockbuster movie? Why not help your readers analyze their own privilege? There are some books that do this and the only one I can think of right now is The Jacket by Andrew Clements, but I know there are others. Many are historical fiction. But would publishers publish it?

We argue ‘stay in your lane’ where African American issues are meant to be represented and discussed by African Americans because Latinos don’t understand our pain. We don’t take the time to learn our collective history, neither the political history nor social history, not even the literary history. I so look forward to the work of the Joint Council of Librarians of Color. When I put together a group for We Are the People Summer Reading List, I didn’t look for one from each category. I looked for friends I like working with. Friends who are smarter than I am and who are dedicated to diversity. No one marginalized group achieves any justice unless we all do. If authors of color aren’t getting published, have we truly achieved diversity because more books have characters with brown skin, ethnic names and “American” culture? Is there diversity unnamedwhen marginalized children still cannot find themselves in books? We continue to see marginalization at conferences, publishing, in MFA and MLIS programs, technology programs, in areas where individuals are in control of information.

These arguments, discussions and proclamations become personal when they speak to the essence of your identity. Stress. They become personal when you know your voice isn’t heard because it’s Black and because it’s Black it will not be understood or taken seriously. Stress. Don’t raise your voice, don’t be that angry black women but do be scholarly, enter the defined communication zone and footnote your speech.

They become the opposite of personal when squabbles are via Twitter or FB, where the parties concerned don’t speak directly to each other and well meaning ‘friends’ divert necessary conversation from its essential points with personal attacks. The diversity movement has outspoken voices but there is no single clearinghouse for activities, thoughts or plans. The diversity movement has no single voice. The diversity movement practices what it preaches and there in lies its strength and its weakness. Complexity is stressful; it gives us all a lot to learn.

I have deadlines and too many projects. Too much passion! I haven’t posted my September booklist yet!

I’ve stepped back to find and build in support systems. I’m trying to ignore how much I hate where I live and am building in work-arounds and that includes finding enjoyment (if you read that quickly it looks like I’ve said ‘employment’) that isn’t built around my passions. Peace of mind is priceless.

Maybe librarians should be stressed. Information is power.