BFYA: Done. Done and Done!

I spent much of the day yesterday cleaning my office. I hadn’t planned to do it, but realized it was a necessary to take me from the end of one project to the beginning of another. BFYA is done!

That could have easily been a two year commitment but I just couldn’t do it for another year because I simply didn’t have the time. In the past year, each of the 15 members of the committee read 200+ books. We read some books we didn’t care for and still had to report on them to the committee and we read others that we did like and recommended them, thus requiring that the entire committee had to read them.

For the past few months, I was home reading most evenings and every weekend. I was so relieved this past weekend with not having to read another book that by time Sunday rolled around, it felt like I was having a three day weekend.

I enjoyed talking literature with committee members. I wish we had more online discussions but when we met at ALA and ALA midwinter, our exchanges were productive. Most of the committee’s work is quite transparent, our meetings are open to the public, but we were asked not to review books under consideration during the year. I’ve stated that my interest in being on the committee stemmed from wanting to see a more diverse representation on the list but I do have to say that I am not the only committee member who recommended books by authors of color and not all the books I recommended were written by authors of color. Did I recommend your book? I’ll never tell!

I like seeing lists of best books for teens that are diverse in every sense of the word if it is truly going to be the best.

I learned a lot being on this committee. I think I’ve admitted here before that my background is not in literature and this gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about YA lit! I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the women on the committee. We were a committee of 15 females and I was the only person of color. We came with such different backgrounds and interests that we couldn’t help but create a diverse list.

I keep learning more and more about what stalls the flow of books by people of color. There are so many things that seem specific to publishing, but really they’re not. They’re replicated throughout our society. Still in 2014, they’re pervasive enough to drive a crazy girl sane. We just can’t give up and we can’t burrow in.

So how diverse is this list?

The list totaled 98 books.

31 were written by or with male authors.

23 were placed outside the US and/or written by non US authors.

14 were written by a person of color or had a person of color as a main character.

10 featured characters who are either gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

10 are clearly historical fiction.

8 featured characters who were differently-abled.

2 feature music.

1 features sports.

I considered counting the number that are speculative fiction, but there are so many that blur the line! There are books that are mystical, magical, mysterious, monstrous and those that are so painful that they will bring you to tears.

So, my office is clean. BYFA books are on their way to high school libraries in Indiana. And, I’m digging into writing for tenure.

Woulda Shoulda Coulda and Courageously So!

‘The brave may not live forever, but the cautious don’t live at all.’

– Ashley L.
I’ve had thoughts lately about what I shoulda and what I coulda done.
I have a fantastic plan to distribute books to high schools in IN once BFYA is done, but I shoulda sent them out during the year so that I coulda gotten feedback from teen readers regarding the books. The teens would have known that their opinion matters and they would have been excited about reading these brand new books.
I woulda started a new meme a few weeks ago, something to make it easier to get to the blog and get something posted, but I’ve been too distracted! I simply want to post polls every now and them, sometimes serious, sometimes not. I follow @fakelibrarystats on Twitter and can’t help but think that generating my own numbers can’t be any worse than that, and sometimes perhaps more fun! I do plan to start do a poll every week or so. Plan to join in the action!
I really coulda started a weekly post based upon my word for the year way back in January when I chose it. Or, when it chose me! Courage!! I’ve had so many ideas about what I could post today on courage, but then I saw Cindy Pon’s retweet on Twitter and there it was.

Cindy’s forthright support of her friend and her friend’s forthright explanation of who she is. Her friend is Malinda Lo.  Yep, it’s National Coming Out Day. Today is calling us to be courageous and to get rid of those woulda, should, couldas. Be courageous and live life with no regrets.

Wednesday’s Harvest

It’s really hard to believe it was 97 degrees last week when we’re having 30 degree nights this week.

The garden is definitely winding down. I’m hoping for a red tomato or two but probably will get the last few green tomatoes, some rutabagas and whatever other surprises are left. One draw back to having a community garden is that people from the community wander into our garden and help themselves to the veggies. I’ll just hope I’m feeding someone who really needs it.

+-+757567409_140With sadness, I must mention the passing of Sonia Lynn Sadler, She was a talented artist and designed and recipient of the 2011 Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for Seeds of Change. May she rest in peace.




Malinda Lo (Inheritance, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013) just compiled a very interesting set of statistics on BFYA. Malinda’s analysis addresses several variations of diversity, helping us to realize all the different teens who are reading the ‘best’ books. Her closing:

The question is: Who is this “young adult” reader that this list is supposed to appeal to? Considering race alone, in a US where 37% of the population is people of color, and where “half of all children under 18 are expected to be non-white in five years” (MSNBC), should the BFYA lists attempt to diversify? How does quality — that slippery concept of “best” — relate to race and representation? These questions are further complicated when you bring in sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.

And what about authors of color? What can be done to increase representation in that arena, both in general and in lists and awards that seek to recognize the best of YA? Is that important? Should it be?.

She followed this with an interview with yours truly.

Getting listed in BFYA or other award lists is quite important to authors. Alaya Dawn Johnson (Summer Prince, Arthur A. Levine, 2013) Tweeted this after learning her book is on the National Book Award longlist.

But, getting your book made into a movie? WOW!! The Watson’s Go to Birmingham will premier on Hallmark this wtsonFriday at 8:00 pm.

You do know what day it is, right? HUMP DAY!! It’s all down hill from here!

Summer is ending and the garden is winding down. I’m harvesting fewer veggies and making plans to prepare amend my soil over the winter. Next

Fall Crop: Rutabaga

Fall Crop: Rutabaga

year, I simply want a wider variety of vegetables. I need to move to a plot that gets full sun in the early morning, but I’m not sure how well that will work out.

And, as the garden winds down the library is gearing up for the school year. This week I’ve got classes to teach and a graduate student open house to staff. I’m meeting at CANDLES Holocaust Museum to develop a docent program, finishing up a project with National Geographic to align some of their books to the Core Curriculum and I have this idea for an article that I want to develop. And, my BFYA pile is growing again! I admit it’s still out of control, but I’m planning strategic days at home over the next few months to do nothing but read. And, my weekends are completely and boringly void of everything except books.

I think most people want others to be aware of the work they do and the

Weekly Harvest of Books!

Weekly Harvest of Books!

Internet is the perfect venue for sharing our successes. Have you ever done a search for someone and found nothing on them?

Do you ever search your own name? This morning, I used Google, Bing and Yahoo to search for myself. Using my full name, I got a lot of hits for obituaries of dead white women. I used to find curriculum units I prepared or programs I participated in but now, I suppose those things are just too old.

When I shortened my first name to “Edi” and eliminated “Edie” from my search, I got a few things related to my blog, a video that I think is about a singer in Latin h America and advice on how to dress like Edi Campbell, most probably the other Edi Campbell.

Now, I’m not trying to use the ‘net to claim my 3 minutes of fame but I do know that there is a very good chance I’ll be looking for another job or two. Face it, employers search to see what they can find out about us. is a nice, new tool that allows users to create their own home page and establish their professional image. It would be good for students entering the job market as well as for the seasoned professional who has little else online.

Fall crop: cabbage sprouts

Fall crop: cabbage sprouts

Get your name out there and make a difference in YA: apply to be a CYBILS judge.  Self nominations are due by 30 August.

The winners of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize were recently announced and make wonderful reading choices for young readers.

Don’t leave the young people out of the celebrations of the anniversary of the March on Washington. My favorite post to help bring them into the conversation is Don Tate’s listing of picture and nonfiction books. Throughout the year, educator’s can turn to ALA’s newly released Multi-ethnic books for the middle school curriculum.

We just can’t get around the fact that life is diverse, can we? So many different things to keep us busy!

Back to the Grind


My colleague, Valentine, with illustrator Faith Erin Hicks

About this time last week I was finishing my last Best Fiction for Young Adult committee meeting in Chicago. I met with 14 other libraries and had such good discussions about the best of what is being published in young adult fiction. Despite the lack of age, gender or ethnic diversity in the group, I have to say I was quite impressed with the attention to selecting a wide range of fiction for teen readers and attention to what matters in literature. I just can’t say enough about this group of women and how much I’m enjoying and learning from this process.

I didn’t like missing the entire conference, though! I can only technically say this was my first ALA because I didn’t get to do anything. OK, I did make it to the exhibit hall Friday evening where I was able to meet Laurianne Uy, Kekla Magoon (with whom I’ll be presenting at ALAN this fall), illustrator Faith Erin Hicks and Hannah Erlich (who has been sending me books from Lee and Low for years). I also found Soho Press and Kathie Hanson from Native Voices Books,


John Lewis signing his new book. Photo courtesy of Valentine


Alice Walker. courtesy of Valentine.

But there are so many people I didn’t get to see or meet! So many events I missed!!

ALA is HUGE!! I missed the quilt exhibit, movie previews, parade of bookmobiles, cooking sessions, author readers and signings. While I was in meetings, my colleague was texting me photos of her meeting John Lewis and Alice Walker.

To be honest, I knew I’d miss these things. But mentioning all that went on at the conference gives me the opportunity to share the wide reach of librarians. While there were hundreds of presentations, there were thousands of meetings during the event. From diversity to literacy, ebooks, international libraries, data management anddigital

photo-7 copy

Laurianne Uy

preservation, all that was there! And more!

I’ll be at ALA Midwinter where we’ll once again hear from students who have been reading BFYA books and twe’ll again discuss every book recommended after which we’ll vote on which we’ll add to the BFYA 2014 list. I’m still struggling to get caught up, but I refuse to be as far behind in January as I was in May.

So, now I’m back to work in my little library in Terre Haute. I’m finishing out summer projects and preparing materials for the fall. I’m finally getting a department chair at about the same time the library dean is leaving. Change is inevitable, isn’t it? We’re always surrounded by an abundance of opportunity, the trick is to be prepared. And, to have courage!


I had been neglecting my garden. Before.





Do chefs and other food professionals remain able to enjoy their parents and grandparents home cooking?

I’m watching Guy Fieri cook with his mom today and these are his recipes, he’s in charge. Makes me wonder if he still likes his mom’s cooking.

He’s not the only one with his mom on the show, they’ve been on Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight and many, many other shows. There are the Mother’s Day sales, coupons, flower displays… So much to celebrate the holiday.

Does everyone do that much Mother’s Day celebrating with their family?

I’ve finally come to learn that not so many people do the New Years Eve parties. Most people I’ve talked to actually do quiet evenings at home or church. Yet, we would be led to believe everyone goes to parties. Perhaps it’s only the 10%.

Last Christmas, I brought a friend from Egypt to my sister’s home for the holiday. She was excited as this was her first Christmas dinner and, she was really looking forward to the singing. Singing?? Yes, in the movies everyone does Christmas carols. I don’t know anyone who does that, or who goes Christmas caroling! Oh, sure there are people who do those things, but those practices aren’t as pervasive and Hollywood makes people believe.

I hate to admit how many books I still have to read for BFYA. I should not be writing this post, should not have gone to the store this morning, should not be doing anything other than reading! I’ve received some very interesting boxes lately and see so many books I’d love to pick up, but I am required to have read everything nominated to the committee before we meet in June.

I have to say I’m really disappointed in the lack of ethnic diversity in the books I’ve received. Scholastic has stood out as the company whose selection has been the most multicultural.

While I look for ethnic representation, I am so aware of diversity in the broad sense while reading these books. I’ve seen very few books by male authors or with male protagonists. The numbers of books with autistic characters is growing. There are quite a few mysteries, a lot of historical fiction and paranormal seems to be dwindling. There is always death. There is little religion or spirituality and I find that intriguing considering the searching for meaning that young adults do.

There is a fair amount of LGBT, a surprising amount of animals and surprising few talents (excluding paranormal) or crafts.

There is violence, death, depression, bullying and abduction.  The trend is to deal with the act more than the consequences. Call me a prude, but I can’t bear to live through another mass shooting, stabbing or kidnapping; I don’t think access to guns is the root cause. I can raise this issue, but not let it deter me from recognizing a good book.

Diversity would extend to books that appeal to 13 year olds as well as to 18+, to books that recognize those who are embarrassed to read profanity as much as those who read expecting it. There are low ability readers and those who need complex, intricate story lines. Did I mention there is a lot of death?

Most librarians know this already and work hard to find all these different books, but the ones that are well written? I’ll be reading non-stop through 28 June to find them!



New Releases: April 2013

edited 13 Apr

I’m getting behind! My pile of BFYA books is growing! Still, it’s a pleasure to look at that pile because they all stand a chance of being a really good read. The books in that pile have been nominated by BFYA committee members or by the general public as titles that should be on the annual list. The titles nominated are announced each month and the committee members get busy locating copies of the books so that they can be read before each of the ALA conventions.

What don’t I like about the process? The very few titles by authors of color – or featuring characters of color – that we receive. The number is even smaller than the number of the books that are published.

What do I like? I like broadening my reading selections. I avoid monsters, paranormals, werewolves… at all costs, but I cannot avoid them this year! I don’t like reading about murder as entertainment the darker side of humanity and hate to see that trickle into YA but, I’m reading these books and developing new perspectives. Closing one’s self off from situations isn’t a way to grow. My latest read, Scarlet by Marissa Meyers lacks ethnic diversity but explores the issues of prejudice and immigration,  questioning what we do if these space aliens threaten our lives.

I also like being able to help get teens reading with the books. I’m getting LOTS of them and am looking for good ways to get them where they’re needed. Please email me if you have suggestions. I’ve been thinking about shipping them down to Henryville, getting them to some of the high schools around here or even taking them to ALA to give them to high schools there. One thing I’ve learned is that schools in small communities are quite conservative, so not all will appreciate some of these books.

I put off posting the new  April releases, thinking I might still find a few more titles and maybe I still will. Looking for new books is really getting interesting. I usually go to Amazon to look and every month, struggle with search terms to find new books that have been released by authors of color for teens. I had seen Walter Dean Myer’s latest book, but in searching for it using his name, the title did not come up for me. I had to use the title of the book to find it. I’ve had this happen with other authors as well. Have you?

Last month, I found the following after posting March releases.

Fat Angie e.E. Charlton-Trujillo; Candlewick, March: Angie is broken — by her can’t-be-bothered mother, by her high-school tormenters, and by being the only one who thinks her varsity-athlete-turned-war-hero sister is still alive. Hiding under a mountain of junk food hasn’t kept the pain (or the shouts of “crazy mad cow!”) away. Having failed to kill herself — in front of a gym full of kids — she’s back at high school just trying to make it through each day. That is, until the arrival of KC Romance, the kind of girl who doesn’t exist in Dryfalls, Ohio. A girl who is one hundred and ninety-nine percent wow! A girl who never sees her as Fat Angie, and who knows too well that the package doesn’t always match what’s inside. With an offbeat sensibility, mean girls to rival a horror classic, and characters both outrageous and touching, this darkly comic anti-romantic romance will appeal to anyone who likes entertaining and meaningful fiction.

Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle; Harcourt, March: “I find it so easy to forget / that I’m just a girl who is expected / to live / without thoughts.” Opposing slavery in Cuba in the nineteenth century was dangerous. The most daring abolitionists were poets who veiled their work in metaphor. Of these, the boldest was Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula. In passionate, accessible verses of her own, Engle evokes the voice of this book-loving feminist and abolitionist who bravely resisted an arranged marriage at the age of fourteen, and was ultimately courageous enough to fight against injustice. Historical notes, excerpts, and source notes round out this exceptional tribute.

And, I missed this February release.

Drifting by Lisa R. Nelson; Tiny Satchel Press Fourteen- year-old Jasmine Hinton is leaving home—but not because she wants to. Bags piled high in the rear of their car, she and her father, Darryl, abruptly left their apartment in Richmond, Virginia heading for Raleigh, North Carolina. Jasmine has left her best friend, Rachel, the school she loves, and everything familiar behind. Bewildered, Jasmine doesn’t understand the sudden move and her father will only say that it’s best for them to move on.
But why?
A series of confusing events and strange behavior by her father leads Jasmine to question what’s really going on. Is her father in trouble? She starts to ask questions, but they never seem to be answered, leaving Jasmine baffled and even hurt. Father and daughter have gone from a pleasant suburban existence to living a strangely isolated life in a dilapidated residential hotel.
Disobeying her father’s inexplicable rule that she spend all her days in their hotel room while he searches for work, a bored and lonely Jasmine becomes friends with the daughter of the hotel’s owner, 19-year-old Felicia. Jasmine and Felicia find they have something in common—both their mothers are dead, both of them are only children, both of them are drifting. Soon they discover they have even more in common—a plethora of secrets, lies, and betrayals.
Drifting is an uncommon coming-of-age story about a young girl and her journey to uncover the truth about her life.

April Releases

Darius and Twig by Walter Dean Myer; Harper 23 Apr

Darius and Twig are an unlikely pair: Darius is a writer whose only escape is his alter ego, a peregrine falcon named Fury, and Twig is a middle-distance runner striving for athletic success. But they are drawn together in the struggle to overcome the obstacles that Harlem life throws at them.

The two friends must face down bullies, an abusive uncle, and the idea that they’ll be stuck in the same place forever in this touching and raw new teen novel from Walter Dean Myers, award-winning author of Monster, Kick, We Are America, Bad Boy, and many other celebrated literary works for children and teens.

The witches of Ruidoso by John Sandoval; Arte Publica April

Young Elijah was sitting on the porch of the Ruidoso Store when fourteen-year-old Beth Delilah and her father climbed down from the stage coach. Blond with lovely pale skin, big blue eyes and “dressed from boot to bonnet in black” in mourning for her mother, she was the prettiest, most exotic thing he had ever seen. And when she bent over to pick up a horned toad, which she then held right up to her face in complete fascination, Elijah learned that it’s possible to feel jealous of an amphibian.
In the last years of the nineteenth century, in the western territory that would become New Mexico, the two young people become constant companions. They roam the ancient country of mysterious terrain, where the mountain looms and reminds them of their insignificance, and observe the eccentric characters in the village: Mr. Blackwater, known as “No Leg Dancer” by the Apaches because of the leg he lost in the War Between the States and his penchant for blowing reveille on his bugle each morning; their friend, Two Feather, the Mescalero Apache boy who takes Beth Delilah to meet his wise old grandfather who sees mysterious things; and Senora Roja, who everyone believes is a bruja, or witch, and who they know to be vile and evil.
Elijah has horrible nightmares involving Senora Roja, death and torture. And when the witch enslaves a girl named Rosa, the pair must try to rescue her from her grim fate. Together, Elijah and Beth Delilah come of age in a land of mountains and ravens, where good and evil vie for the souls of white men and Indians alike.

Garden Of My Imaan by Farhana Zia; Peachtree Publishers 1 Apr

Aliya already struggles with trying to fit in, feeling confident enough to talk to the cute boy or stand up to mean kids the fact that she s Muslim is just another thing to deal with. When Marwa, a Moroccan girl who shares her faith if not her culture, comes to Aliya s school, Aliya wonders even more about who she is, what she believes, and where she fits in. Should she fast for Ramadan? Should she wear the hijab? She s old enough for both, but does she really want to call attention to herself?

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa; Harlequin Teen 30 Apr

Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet mRay become her wary ally.
Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.
This synopsis is from GoodReads, which really is Amazon…

Rumor Central by Reshondal Tate Billingsley; Kensington 30 Apr

What is the true price of fame?
The teen reality show Miami Divas made media sensations out of Miami’s richest in-crowd — and Maya Morgan is one of them. Now Maya’s been offered her very own show, and she’ll do whatever it takes to step up the fame – and that includes spilling some secrets her friends wish were left buried. But as Maya gives up the goods, someone will do anything to shut her up. Between backstabbing lies and hard truths, this gossip girl has only one chance to make things right – before it’s too late.

Revenge of a not so pretty girl by Carolita Blythe; Delacorte, 9 April

Faye doesn’t mean to hit the old lady she and her friends are mugging. But she does. The old lady isn’t moving, but Faye has no reason to feel guilty for leaving her there. The old lady might be ancient and wrinkly now. But back in the day, she was as beautiful as they come—a famous movie star. And everyone knows that pretty and mean always go together. But Faye does feel guilty. So she comes back. Slowly, Faye and the old lady form an unlikely friendship, one that pulls Faye out of her life with her abusive mother and destructive “friends” and allows the old lady relief from her loneliness. But in an unfair world in which the pretty girls, no matter how mean, always seem to get everything, while Faye gets nothing, will Faye be able to keep from slipping back to her old ways? Will her mother ever be happy? Will her father ever come home to stay? And what if Faye goes her whole life without Michael Jackson ever loving her back? Faye is an honest, straightforward narrator who is likable even in her most flawed moments and will be cheered on by readers of every age and from every walk of life.

All book descriptions were shamelessly lifted from Amazon who probably would appreciate your consideration when purchasing your books. I do not work for Amazon. I don’t always shop at Amazon!