No Foolin’!

My excuse for not blogging is typically that I’m so busy at work. But really I think it’s because I’m not reading other blogs like I used to. I amaze myself with my ability to be surrounded with so many intelligent, productive and energetic people and many of them are bloggers. I get so much information and ideas from blogs. I still use Feedly to aggregate all my RSS feeds, so getting to what I want to read is not difficult. I’ve even been placing feeds for journals in there and can easily pull up any journal to which my library subscribes and read online.

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The garden opened last weekend and I’ve started m plants.

I’ve been busy with research, too.

I’m looking at concepts like multiliteracies, critical literacy and information literacy. Information literacy is what libraries teach about how to find locate, evaluate, create information and it’s way more complex that that makes it sound. It incorporates things likes copyright and citations and using databases and keyword searching and when/how to use Google Scholar…

Multiliteracy is, so far as I’ve seen, completely unrelated to information literacy but I don’t know that it should be. Multiliteracy is a concept that was developed by the New London Group and essentially tells us that literacy is about more than being able to read printed words. Its about being able to read and acquire information from emoticons, hairstyles, the interplay of words and images in a book, the use of colors in different cultures, signage… And, in reading this wide variety of text, in realizing the cultural variances in these texts, we then get into literacies such as critical literacy that requires us to enter a literacy experience on a peer to peer level with an author rather than viewing them as an expert. We question the choices they’ve made in what to include, or not include and look at the structure of power. Who is voiceless? How does one person or one group maintain power? Consider that in the book you’re currently reading and see how much more you get out of the story.

Since the late 1990s, educators have been incorporating these strategies into their classrooms and critical literacy is

I'm trying to get my 10K steps in everyday, trying to keep up with bloggers Zetta Elliott, Evelyn Alford and Kathy Burnette. Those ladies are rocking it!!

I’m trying to get my 10K steps in everyday, trying to keep up with bloggers Zetta Elliott, Evelyn Alford and Kathy Burnette. Those ladies are rocking it!!

still being taught. What I’m noticing is that typically, it’s taught in classrooms with high Latino and African American populations. I have to believe that for critical literacy to truly be relevant, white students have to be included as well. All citizens in a democracy need to understand who is entitled, who is disenfranchised, how those roles play out in society and what responsibilities we all have.

Wouldn’t in be interesting to develop a critical literacy lesson based upon an event on Twitter?

Books, images, texts, Tweets, blogs… INFORMATION is powerful!

News from USBBY’s March Update

NEWS ABOUT GLOBAL BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS:

IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Regional Conference, October 16-18, 2015 in NYC:  The call for proposals to present a poster session at the IBBY Regional Conference in New York is now available on the USBBY (United States Board on Books for Young People) website.  The deadline for submission is May 1.  Details about the conference and registration material are also on the website (www.usbby.org).

International Children’s Book Day is April 2:  The USBBY website (www.usbby.org) has information about this year’s day and a resource guide with many ideas for ways to celebrate it.  The poster is available as a download on the site.  Some ideas for ways to celebrate include:  create a display of global children’s literature or books from the Outstanding International Books list;  feature a global author in a display; organize a book discussion of a global book; invite a local author or storyteller who has written a global book or is knowledgeable about global literature.

Toronto International Storytelling Festival Mar. 19-29 (www.torontostorytellingfestival.ca/site/)

Among the storytellers are international authors Bob Barton, Elizabeth Laird, Emma Donoghue, and Itah Sadu.

NEWS ABOUT GLOBAL BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS:

IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Regional Conference, October 16-18, 2015 in NYC:  The call for proposals to present a poster session at the IBBY Regional Conference in New York is now available on the USBBY (United States Board on Books for Young People) website.  The deadline for submission is May 1.  Details about the conference and registration material are also on the website (www.usbby.org).

International Children’s Book Day is April 2:  The USBBY website (www.usbby.org) has information about this year’s day and a resource guide with many ideas for ways to celebrate it.  The poster is available as a download on the site.  Some ideas for ways to celebrate include:  create a display of global children’s literature or books from the Outstanding International Books list;  feature a global author in a display; organize a book discussion of a global book; invite a local author or storyteller who has written a global book or is knowledgeable about global literature.

Toronto International Storytelling Festival Mar. 19-29 (www.torontostorytellingfestival.ca/site/)

Among the storytellers are international authors Bob Barton, Elizabeth Laird, Emma Donoghue, and Itah Sadu.

2014 Canadian Children’s  Book Centre Awards: 

The TD Canadian Children’s Literature AwardThe Man with the Violin written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dušan Petričić (Annick Press) 

Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award: How To by Julie Morstad (Simply Read) 

Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-FictionThe Last Train: A Holocaust Story by Rona Arato (Owlkids)

Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction For Young People: Graffiti Knight by Karen Bass (Pajama Press)

John Spray Mystery AwardWho I’m Not by Ted Staunton (Orca) 

Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy:  Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow ( Levine/Scholastic)

Tall Tales and Short Tales: The Art of Uri Shulevitz:  The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, will feature an exhibit of the works of Uri Shulevitz in celebration of his 80th birthday,  March 14 – June 14, 2015. This award winning author/illustrator was born in Poland, lived in France and Israel before emigrating to the United States.  Many of his books have international themes and settings.

book review: Can You See Me Now

9781558857834title: Can You See Me Now
author: Estela Bernal
date: Arte Publico; 2014
main character: Amanda “Mandy” Silva

Can You See Me Now is Estela Bernal’s first published novel. It’s the story of Mandy Silva whose father is tragically killed on her 13th birthday. Her mother blames Mandy for her husband’s death and proceeds to shuffle her daughter off to live with her grandmother. Grandmothers are good characters for books with family issues. They have the protagonist’s interests at heart but are far enough removed from the situation for their issues not with weigh down the story.

It seems Estela has always been the victim of school bullies, but a new girl, Paloma enters the school and easily becomes friends with Mandy. Rogelio, a nice enough boy with a weight problem and even more of a problem with bullies seems to become friends with Mandy and Paloma after a house fire. Does this sound like a book with too many issues, or just the way life is?

With a perception that makes her seem much wiser than her years, Mandy decides that the only way for her to heal her wounds is to begin to help others. And, so she does. Her road is a rocky one as we begin to experience the fullness of her character. With so much hurt and pain in this character’s life, Bernal manages to carry a gentle element of hope throughout the story. I almost hate to say that this book would be an excellent tool for counselors working with children who are overweight, being bullied or bullying others or for those experience grief because you’ll think this is an “issue book” filled with the author’s voice that directs young readers toward a more fulfilling life. And, that would be incorrect. Bernal let’s her character’s life play out, let’s her interact and react with other characters in ways that reflect real life situations. OK, Paloma was a bit didactic in explaining yoga to her friends, but it worked coming from this precocious young girl. Adults in the story were supporting characters who did not deliver messages on behalf of the author.

Can You See Me Now delivers a powerful message about taking control of one’s life by making good choices for ourselves, including the relationships we develop and maintain. An important, easy to miss message is how ordinary (i.e., not exotic) Latino life is.

This is a rather quick read that will leave you smiling.

book review: A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson

web-AStrongRightArmtitle: A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson
author: Michelle Y. Green
date: Puffin, 2002
biography

Writing a biography has to be difficult, particularly if the subject is still alive. This only increases the stress to get it right. And, this getting it right is not only about the facts! It means telling the story of this person’s life in a way that echoes the character by rebuilding scenes and scenery, schemes and themes that made the person who they were. Or are.

In writing the biography of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, Michelle Green opted to tell the story in first person, giving readers the illusion that they are in the presence of Johnson and hearing directly from her. This can only add to the pressure to get it right.

She captures us with the very first paragraph.

“Mama never mentioned it, but I’m sure I musta been born with a baseball in my hand, it’s smooth white skin curving into my tiny brown palm. Ever since I can remember, my thoughts flooding back over sixty years now, my life has been wrapped up in that three-inch universe of twine and leather. It’s always been that way with me, and I expect always will be.” 

The story is framed with a phone call to Johnson from a reporter wanting to know how she feels about the County Stadium in Milwaukee being torn down and replaced. Her name is on a wall there that honors the Negro League Wall of Fame. Johnson played in the Negro Leagues with the Indianapolis Clowns.

I’d love to tell you the wonderful history I learned in reading this book, but I don’t want to spoil that for you. I will tell you that in Green’s writing, you experience the work of a gifted storyteller relating an interesting hole in history. It’s these hole’s that Green enjoys writing about.

Johnson’s story is full of acts of discrimination yet she has chosen to live out the good memories. While her early career as a baseball player would have been fraught with issues of sexism, it was actually racism that most often denied her possibilities. Green presents these acts in a manner that is straightforward but not overpowering to the story, one of personal achievement. Johnson’s photos are placed throughout the book, however in the paperback version I read they were small and poorly copied. As with any image, they did add to the richness of the story itself.

March is the time when many thoughts turn to baseball. This month, Mo’ne Davis: Remember My Name: My story from First Pitch to Game Changer by Mo’ne Davis (HarperCollins) is released. I can’t help but see parallels between these two. In looking for a biography of Johnson, I stumbled across an article about Johnson showing up to witness Davis as she planed in the Little League World series. “This girl is the best thing since food,” Mamie Johnson said.

Green’s book is pretty good, too! She writes a cohesive and engaging biography that gives readers insights into the scenes and scenery and the schemes and themes in the life of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson.

Free Audiobook: X A Novel

I’ve posted before about free summer audiobooks from SYNC. They’re getting an early start this year with a free download of the audiobook X: A Novel by Ilysasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon. Here are the details:

On 5/14/15 a free MP3 audiobook download of the acclaimed YA novel X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz (Malcolm X’s daughter) and Kekla Magoon will be available for one week.
Students who grab that file between 5/14/15 (8 AM EST) and 5/20/15  will be able to keep the spoken word performance of Malcolm X’s teenage years indefinitely.
When you share this news with teens in your circles, you can have them sign-up on the spot to get a text alert when the download file becomes available.  When they text to 25827 and put xnovel in the message field, they will get a prompt to grab an app to handle the download on 5/14/15.
There is more information & tools to share here:

Male Monday: Calvin Slater

Calvin Slater hails from the Motor City, aka Detroit. A lifelong resident, Calvin couldn’t wait to write the Coleman High series and take readers on one of the coolest rides through one of the dopest cities.
source

Slater began writing as an adult author and switch to writing for YAs with the Coleman High Series. The first book in the series, Lovers and Haters, was released in August 2014. Hold Me Down, the second book was just released.

Synopsis:

Xavier Hunter’s dreams of graduation and college are even more crazy-impossible this sophomore year. Flipping on his former BFF has put more than one target on his back. And thanks to vicious baby-daddy lies, his dream girl Samantha Fox has quit him for good. The only person who seems to understand what he’s going through is Nancy Simpson. She’s a gorgeous chance to make things right–but she’s more dangerous drama than Xavier has ever seen.

Samantha isn’t going to let heartbreak break her. Maybe Xavier wasn’t the down-deep-decent guy she thought. And maybe what they had wasn’t as true as she hoped. But there’s something about his new boo, Nancy, that’s screaming bad news. And exposing what’s real means she and Xavier must face some hard truths–and survive.

97816177313279781617731341  9781617731365

New and Upcomings

Two publishers focusing on diverse children’s literature have recently emerged. I’m copying blurbs directly from their websites so I get it right.

Non-profit Valley Artistic Outreach is proud to announce Juventud Press, a sister imprint to FlowerSong Books, both headquartered in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Knowing first-hand how important it is that children of diverse cultural backgrounds have access to books in which they see themselves reflected, Juventud Press will be putting out three to four middle-grade and young-adult titles a year. To be competitive even in the field of independent small presses, we need the initial capital to produce high quality, visually engaging books.

We are asking for pledges through Kickstarter. Each one comes with a fantastic reward, so please take a look: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1780116159/juventud-press-launch

HopeRoad Publishing is an exciting, independent publisher, vigorously supporting voices too often neglected by the mainstream. We are growing a reputation as promoters of multicultural literature with a special focus on Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. At the heart of our publishing is the love of outstanding writing from writers you, the reader, would have otherwise missed.  HopeRoad is located in the UK.

And there are conferences!!

It’s not too late to plan for the International Federation of Libraries’ World Library and Information Congress in Capetown, South Africa. The event will be held from 15-12 August and the theme is Dynamic Libraries: Access, Development and Transformation. The 2016 Congress will be held in Columbus, OH. I haven’t seen CFPs, yet but I’m on the lookout.

IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Regional Conference, October 16-18, 2015 in NYC:  The call for proposals to present a poster session at the IBBY Regional Conference in New York is now available on the USBBY (United States Board on Books for Young People) website.  The deadline for submission is May 1.  Details about the conference and registration material are also on the website.

The 2015 Southern Miss Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival will be in Hattiesburg, MS April 8-10 with Medallion Winner Paul O. Zelinsky!  Keynote speakers include Coleen Salley Storytelling Award Winner Rita Auerbach, Peter Brown, Ezra Jack Keats Lecturer Pat Cummings, Nikki Grimes, David LevithanSteve Sheinkin, de Grummond Lecturer Deborah Wiles and Gene Luen Yang.

The Association of Children’s Librarian’s of Nothern California’s 2015 Institute: ALL DUE RESPECT: A Dialogue about Diversity, Equity and Creating Safe Spaces for All Youth. Speakers include Jacqueline Woodson, Maya Gonzalez, Nina Lindsay, Malinda Lo, Aya de Leon, and the amazing Laura Atkins. Friday 10 April in San Francisco.

I’d love to go to any one of those! Could you pick just one?