2015 Debut Authors of Color

edited 12 january. I love watching this list grow!

I’ve been working all day to get this blog caught up a bit. First, here, I have a list of all the debut authors of color that I could find. Very, very few African American or Latino. Yet and still, a very impressive looking group of authors. And, so few males!

If you’ll be at ALA MIdwinter (I’ll be there!!! Will you??) at 10 am on 31 January there will be a Diverse Debut Panel on the Pop Stage moderated by NYTimes bestselling author Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die).  Panelists include: Sona Charaipotra, I.W. Gregorio, Fonda Lee, Miranda Paul, Adam Silvera, Sabaa Tahir, Francesca Zappia and Nicola Yoon.

Please, let me know who I’ve missed.

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Genre: YA Adventure
Publisher: Putnam

Courtney Alameda – SHUTTER
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genre: YA science fiction/fantasy
publisher: Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan

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Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publisher: Viking/Penguin

Sona Charaipotra– TINY PRETTY THINGS (With Dhonielle Clayton)
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Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: HarperTeen

Dhonielle Clayton – TINY PRETTY THINGS (With Sona Charaipotra)
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Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: HarperTeen

Kelly Loy Gilbert – CONVICTION
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genre: YA contemporary
publisher: Disney-Hyperion

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genre: YA fantasy
publisher: Delacorte Press/Random House

Ilene W. Gregorio – NONE OF THE ABOVE
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Genre: contemporary YA
Publisher: Balzer and Bray

Chris Ledbetter – DRAWN
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genre: YA contemporary
publisher: EvernightTeen

Frances Lee Hall – FRIED WONTON
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Genre: MG
Publisher: Egmont USA

Charlotte Huang– FOR THE RECORD
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Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Delacorte/Random House

Erin Entrada Kelly – BLACKBIRD FLY
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Genre: MG
Publisher: HarperCollins/Greenwillow

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Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publisher: Flux

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Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Random House

Valynne E. Maetani – INK AND ASHES
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Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Tu Books/Lee & Low

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genre: YA contemporary
publisher: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press

Cindy L. Rodriguez– WHEN REASON BREAKS
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Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA

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Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin

Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung – LITTLE MISS EVIL
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Genre: MG
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

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genre: YA contemporary
publisher: Soho Teen

Ronald L. Smith – HOODOO
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genre: YA fantasy
publisher: Clarion/HMH

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Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Razorbill

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Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Spark/Bloomsbury Children’s Books (USA/UK)

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Genre: YA contemporary
Publisher: B+B/HarperTeen

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Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Random House Kids/Delacorte

Saturday Trailer: The Girl From the Well

What better day for book trailers than a Saturday? Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks Fire) was released this past August. Chepeco’s Amazon page states “Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband” and her website states that she read Stephen King’s Pet Semetary at the age of 6 and thought it was a sad book about a cat. It also says that Book 2 of the Unnatural State of Dead Girls in Wells in in progress.

And Dead Girls in Wells?

I am where dead children go.

Okiku is a lonely soul. She has wandered the world for centuries, freeing the spirits of the murdered-dead. Once a victim herself, she now takes the lives of killers with the vengeance they’re due. But releasing innocent ghosts from their ethereal tethers does not bring Okiku peace. Still she drifts on.

Such is her existence, until she meets Tark. Evil writhes beneath the moody teen’s skin, trapped by a series of intricate tattoos. While his neighbors fear him, Okiku knows the boy is not a monster. Tark needs to be freed from the malevolence that clings to him. There’s just one problem: if the demon dies, so does its host.


book review: Madman of Piney Woods

" Curtis deftly makes what might have been simply heart-rending hopeful and redeeming instead." NY TImes

” Curtis deftly makes what might have been simply heart-rending hopeful and redeeming instead.” NY TImes

Title: The Madman of Piney Woods

Author: Christopher Paul Curtis

Date: Scholastic Press; 2014

Main Characters: Benjamin “Benji” Alston and Alvin “Red” Stockard

Christopher Paul Curtis takes readers back to Buxton with the Madman of Piney Woods, the second book in the trilogy. I’ve not read Elijah of Buxton, but if it’s half as good as this book, I’m missing a real treat.

I admit to not being a fan of middle grade books for many reasons. However, I can admit that when a middle grade book is really good; it’s the makings of a classic. Madman of Piney Woods is really good. If you’ve not read books by Curtis before, you don’t know what a masterful storyteller he is. This gift allows Curtis to use a variety of elements to build suspense, bring characters to life and suspend reality.

I also admit to reading this book several weeks ago and not taking any notes while doing so. I’d love to provide a more detailed review but I more than having you agree with my conclusions toward a particular book; I’d like to have you trust me.

I do remember that The Madman of Piney Woods is told in alternating voices. Benji is a young, black boy who is at home when he is in the woods. He wants to be a journalist and through connections to pioneering African American journalists of the time, he’s able to begin his career. Red (you only need look at him to know how he gets that nickname) is a young white boy and an only child. His mother has passed away and he’s often in the care of his grandmother. Red’s father and grandmother are on extreme ends of the nice spectrum and only through his father’s compassion does Red (and the reader) learn how important it is to learn each other’s stories. There’s a similar underlying message with regards to the Madman.

These children are growing up near the Piney Woods in Southern Canada at a time when race defined people, but, this close knit community, these strong families, give children the positives they needed to grow and rise above defining others simply by the color of their skin. The boys have silly, fun-filled escapes with their friends and siblings doing stuff that kids will do to each other. Both boys love the woods and this is one of the things that brings them together. Their love of the “Madman” is the other.

I love Curtis’ use of language but as a storyteller, words would of course be tools of his craft. I like that this is a book actually written for young people. It’s never didactic or judgmental and it honors their intellect. The young people in this book embrace life and go for all the gusto they can while still maintaining their pride and dignity.

Christopher Paul Curtis is the author of The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 (Newbery Honor Book; Coretta Scott King Award Winner); Bud Not Buddy (Newberry Award Winner; Coretta Scott King Winner); The Mighty Miss Malone and Bucking the Sarge. 

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Ending Out the Year

I know, I know! It’s been a while. Please know that I have no intentions of walking away from this blog. I think promoting literacy for teens of color as well as promoting authors of color and their works is too important. Life sometimes just gets in the way. This is going to be a quick post and it will be my last until well into January. I will post new releases for that month and hope to mention debut authors of color. It would be great if you help me out by taking the time to mention some of them in the comments. I’ve got several authors to interview and even more book reviews to put to paper. I’d like to follow up on some of 2014 debut authors and look at some of the ways YAs are creating and connecting with books. And, I’d like to commit more to self published authors.

January will have me judging the final rounds of young adult non-fiction for the CYBILS. The finalists will be announced soon. I need to update another list on the Birthday Party Pledge. Have you taken the pledge? The pledge is a simple way to act on your commitment to diversity in children’s literature: you simple deciding to give books written by an author of color for children’s birthday presents.

I’ve acted upon my commitment to diversity and social justice by adopting a local classroom. I’m simply donate books to the 3rd grade’s classroom library. In Indiana this is a critical year because 3rd graders are given a crucial literacy test that year. Getting books close to those children will be very important!

Late January will find me in Chicago for ALA Midwinter. In addition to attending sessions and picking up ARCs in the exhibit hall, I’ll be attending and ALSC diversity event and Unknownpresenting during the Ignite Session. My session is “The Kids Are Not All White” and will be presented that Sunday of the conference.

Hmm January is sounding kind of busy! I don’t have any other conferences planned for 2015, so it will all be a surprise to me at this point. 2015 will be the year I buy my domain (no!! I’m not going anywhere!) and get serious with my production of instructional videos. Maybe I’ll even go back to doing book review videos of which there was that one.

The Twinjas are holding it down this month with their second annual Diversity Month celebration. The month is almost over and gives a great opportunity to read back over posts from Maya Gonzales, Hannah Gomez, Zetta Elliott, Justina Ireland, Joseph Bruchac and many, many more.

A special shout out to librarian Amy Cheney who took the time to chase down Fame of Thrones by Amir Abrams (K-Teen). It’s actually the same book as Lights, Love and Lip Gloss and means there was only one book released by an author of color this month. One book.

2014 was a year for me to ‘shine’. As with other Words of the Year that I’ve chose, ‘shine’ gave me new ways to grow and to perceive the world around me. 2015 will challenge me with diligence. While ‘diligence’ can be seen simply as remaining productively faithful to something or someone, it is a seen as a virtue in three of the world’s major religions. In 2015 I will be diligent and I will travel! Whatever 2015 brings your way, I hope it fills you with, peace, love and good books!

book review: Bad Luck Girl

9780375869402title: Bad Luck Girl

author Sarah Zettel

date: May, 2104

main character: Calliope Margaret LeRoux de Minuit (Callie)

reading level: 5.0


Bad Luck Girl is the third book in the American Fairy Trilogy. Zettel quickly provides background information, making it easy to enjoy this installment without having read the others in the series. (I happened to have picked up this book along the way and really hope I get a chance to pick up the others as well!)

Callie was raised in Kansas by her White, human mother and hadn’t spent time with her Black, fairy father until this book. Consequently, she knew little of her fairy powers including the fact that she had special powers that allowed her to open and close gates between the fairy and human world. In the previous book, Callie accidentally killed a Seelie princess, causing a war. Callie and her family had to find someplace safe to go. Papa is trying to teach Callie how to use her magic, how to read the world around her and where her responsibilities lie, but these prove to be difficult lessons to a 12 year old who doesn’t forsee the consequences for her irresponsibility. Callie, her parents, and Jack (Callie’s friend) try to travel across country to New York City where there are places that they can be safe and along the way they meet situations that prove to be trials for Callie. How will her family escape the Seelies and what will it take to restore order in the fairlyworld? And, who can she trust along the way? Such provocative dilemmas!!

Zettel layers fairy lore upon the life of a mixed race young girl in Depression Era America. Each of these elements adds a richness to the story without weighing it down. Readers will consider what it felt like for Callie and her family to travel together on a train in Chicago as well as they’ll consider the whether the relationship between humans and fairies is ever one of mutual benefit. It’s difficult to critique a third book in a series for character development because much of it probably happens in previous books. Papa was new to the series in the book and he proved to be an exceptionally complex individual. Callie continues to learn about herself (and her powers) throughout this book. She’s a complex, atypical 12/13 year old girl (she has a birthday in the book) and a blast of fun to get to know!

Sarah Zettel is the author of adult and young adult books which include speculative fiction, mysteries and historical books. Her YA books include the Palace of Spies series. Dust Girl and Golden Girl are part of the American Fairy Trilogy.

Golden-Girl-cover1-220x336 Dust-Girl-mmpb1-220x328

book review: The Crossover

title: The CrossoverFC9780544107717

author: Kwame Alexander

date: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2014

Main Character: Josh “Filthy McNasty” Bell

reading level 4-3

Kwame Alexander tells the story of Josh Bell in verse. Josh is 13, has a twin brother Jordan, and by his own account is star of the school’s basketball team. His mom is his school’s assistant principal and his dad is not currently employed. Dad was once a basketball phenom himself and only through his sons’ snooping do we find out what happened to his career.

The short verses employed to tell the story make it appear to be a rather simple story, however Alexander weaves several layers of problems into what is a rather complex tale. There is the issue of the father’s health (he may have high blood pressure but won’t take care of himself), Jordan’s new girlfriend (Josh feels left out and perhaps even jealous) and the state basketball tournament (they’re contenders!). And of course school remains a concern as Josh worries about his academic success. He hopes to use his basketball skills to get into Duke. To illustrate Josh’s scholarly achievements, Alexander strategically plants vocabulary terms throughout the book. I’ve always found this off-putting and can’t say Alexander does better with this strategy than anyone else.

I’m not always a fan of tales told in verse. Too often those lines should be paragraphs and there’s a lack of anything poetic in the writing. However, I think Alexander gets it and flows quite well in this style of writing. While the sparseness of words may attract young readers, they will not get a simple story!

There were a few things I questioned in the story. Toward the end, I really didn’t understand why the boys were at the game rather than with their dad. I also thought Jordan and a teammate named Vondie could have been better developed, but I don’t know that this would matter to a middle schooler reading the book. I think they’d recognize the friction that develops between the boys when one of them gets a girlfriend as well as the love that exuded between the boys and their parents. Which is why I think the boys would have showed up for their dad.

All in all, an enjoyable read!