Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, 2016

The winners and honor titles are now public!!!  Watch the video announcement here!


Fiction/Poetry

Winner

The Lie Tree
by Frances Hardinge

Honor

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Picture Books

Winner

Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Francis Vallejo

Honor

One Day, The End.: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories by Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Fred Koehler
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Nonfiction

Winner

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

Honor

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Having read a host of titles this year, I can vouch for the excellence and brilliance of each and every one of our final selected titles. I couldn’t have been prouder or more grateful to having served on this committee. Hope more readers will discover/rediscover these books!

Below are many other titles that I would also highly recommend to readers, by categories:

Fiction/Poetry:

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Bardugo, Leigh: Six of Crows
Brown, Peter: The Wild Robot
DeStefano, Lauren: A Curious Tale of the In-Between
Fogliano, Julie: When Green Becomes Tomatoes
Lu, Marie: Rose Society
Nelson, Marilyn: My Seneca Village
Oppel, Kenneth: The Nest
Reynolds, Jason & Brendan Kiely: All American Boys
Riordan, Rick: Sword of Summer
Rundell, Katherine: Wolf Wilder
Savit, Gavriel: Anna and the Swallow Man
Selznick, Brian: Marvels
Sepetys, Ruta: Salt to the Sea

Picture Books:

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Atinuke: Double Trouble for Anna Hibiscus!
Barnett, Mac: Leo: A Ghost Story
Buitrago, Jairo: Two White Rabbits
Daywalt, Drew: The Day the Crayons Came Home
Fan, Terry & Eric Fan: The Night Gardener
Goodrich, Carter: We Forgot Brock
Henkes, Kevin: Waiting
Hurley, Jorey: Hop
Jenkins, Emily: Toys Meet Snow
Joyce, William: Billy’s Booger
Light, Steve: Swap
Miyakoshi, Akiko: The Tea Party in the Woods
Miyares, Daniel: Float
Nelson, Vaunda: The Book Itch
Park, Linda Su: Yaks Yak
Smith, Lane: There Is a Tribe of Kids
Stead, Philip C: Ideas Are All Around
Tate, Don: Poet
Weatherford, Carole Boston: Freedom in Congo Square
Yoon, Salina: Be A Friend

 

Nonfiction:

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Bartoletti, Susan Campbell: Terrible Typhoid Mary
Brown, Don: Drowned City
Engle, Margarita: Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
Freedman, Russell: We Will Not Be Silent
Hendrix, John: The Miracle Man
Murphy, Jim: Breakthrough
Pinkney, Andrea Davis: Rhythm Ride
Samanci, Ozge: Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey
Silverberg, Cory: Sex is a Funny Word
Tonatiuh, Duncan: Funny Bones
Turner, Pamela S.: Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune

 

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Last Day of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

It is the last day of the 2016 APA Heritage Month — but it will not be the last time I write about media representation of Asian Americans or about the importance of respect, integrity, diligence, compassion, empathy, knowledge, open-mindedness, inclusion, and collaboration in regards to improving accurate and nuanced representations.

Smoke_and_Shadow_hardcoverToday, I want play an upbeat note and share my adoration to the wonderful Avatar: The Last Airbender series penned by Gene Luen Yang. Currently there are four completed stories, each told in three paperback volumes and also collected in a library binding oversize single volume.  They are: The Promise, The Search, The Rift, and Smoke and Shadow.  Of course, for fans of the Nickelodeon TV show like me, these stories are like lush oases in the parched void left by the ending of the original series.  We get to see Aang and his gang grow up a bit, deal with more complex issues, and find out answers to some questions left unresolved by the show!

avatarthepromiseHowever, I have also observed many young readers encounter these as stand alone series and thoroughly enjoy the adventures, character relationships, humor, and the conflicts.  This is a series that could easily err on the side of “appropriation” because it definitely mimicked the Japanese anime style and the several nations’ customs and philosophies or even “national traits” are loosely and (one might argue) stereotypically based on certain Asian cultures — another potentially incendiary aspect of the show.

avatar___the_search_hard_cover_by_antomori-d6pbo7vInstead, it is accepted and even embraced as appreciation and celebration by viewers from all racial backgrounds, including many Asian Americans — one of the super fans is Gene Luen Yang.

Many factors contributed to why the show worked in building and not destroying positive representations: characters are deftly portrayed as individuals, whether they’re from a specific culture or not, the show creators are always careful when cultural details are represented — all Chinese characters and sentences are correctly written out and composed, and the relationships between characters and nations are complex and nuanced.  Not to mention the artistic rendering of the images and the exciting plot progression through the 61 episodes!

The_Rift_hardcoverThe book series written (not illustrated) by Gene Yang, published by Dark Horse, are equally, if not more, complex, thrilling, and satisfying! Please read them, share them with people in your life, young or not so young, and celebrate everything that works well in these volumes!

For those interested, there are some great questions and answers about the creation of the TV show and the outcry against the casting of the 2009 life action movie based on the show at racebending.com.

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Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards: We Made Our Selections!

For the last many months, Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards Chair Joanna Rudge Long, fellow committee member Betsy Bird, and I, have been reading and communicating electronically about excellent books for young readers published between June 1st, 2015 and May 31st, 2016.  This past weekend, we finally met face to face and discussed our nominated titles for these three categories: Fiction and Poetry, Nonfiction, and Picture Book. For each category, we were to select one winner and up to two honor books.

On Saturday afternoon, we started with 50 nominated titles.  (Selected from more than a thousand submitted titles.)  Discussions went smoothly but like all book selection committees, some compromises must be made — and some strong opinions were shared!

By the end of the evening, we managed to talk about every single title, expressing our appreciations: from superb character development, to excellent presentation of complex historical accounts, to a particularly delightful visual surprise, and also voicing critical evaluations: be it a weak link in the plot progression, a slightly less affecting tone in a nonfiction narrative, or a layout that could have been more fluid and supportive of the text.  We agreed on which titles to eliminate from our final discussions and brought down the number of book for further discussion to below 30.

Sunday was devoted to making tough decisions.

For each category, we figured out a different way to further narrow down our choices.  Once we reduced the number of contenders even more (after careful consideration,) we could allot more time for in-depth and rigorous discourses on each title most likely to receive the award. Professionalism, courtesy, and plenty of humor marked our work together.  By the end of the day, we had our winners and honor titles for all of the categories!

Did we initially all agree on the final choices?  Of course not!  But did we come to consensus and will we support our choices as a team?  You betcha!  I feel grateful to have had the opportunity working with these two thoughtful and knowledgeable literary critics who helped me see certain aspects of many books that I didn’t notice before and who also listened attentively to my views on many titles. All three of us changed our minds multiple times to serve the communal goal.

The perfect team work was made even better by the hospitality of our hosts: Joanna and her husband Norwood.  They opened their home to Betsy and me and cooked every meal for us.  I loved every book discussion, every casual chat, every short hike, and every bite of all the meals this weekend! And I will never forget Brym for being a perfect, quiet, and gentle companion!

Here are a few photos to commemorate this occurrence — (I didn’t take pictures of the books that we discussed but will share some of my favorites after the official announcement is made this coming Thursday – June 2nd.)

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19th Day of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

As we continue to understand and learn about Asian Americans and their (our) histories and cultures, it is also important to keep offering truthful windows to the contemporary Asia and its multitudes of cultures.

Earlier last year, I made a vow to help bridge the U.S. and the China children’s literature fields and because of lucky circumstances, I have been able to work with some dedicated publishing folks in Beijing to bring recent Chinese picture books in bilingual form to US readers.  As seen on Betsy Bird’s BEA round up for some noteworthy upcoming titles, picture books from Candied Plums will be available for purchase later this year!

I’m so pleased that Betsy enjoyed and highlighted this sweet tale:

Haws

and can’t wait to share the other titles with everyone soon!

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18th Day of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

It has become more and more apparent to me that the experience of an Asian person is so drastically different from that of an Asian American’s.

An Asian who grew up in her own country (like myself) didn’t have to struggle to be recognized or represented in books or other media.  In Taiwan where I was born and lived until my late 20s, the demographics were almost 100% ethnic “Chinese.”* Even if, like most young people, I experienced much self-doubt and dark days when constructing my own identity, dealing with my “ethnicity” was never part of that process.

On the other hand, my young Asian American students (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Nepalese, Bangladeshi, Indian) must contend with the fact that their ethnic backgrounds are a significant part of their identity forming process.  Even in a city that is highly diverse, they still belong to only about 12% of the total NYC population (and about 6% of the U.S. population.)  This means that if you evenly spread out all Asian Americans in NYC, there is about 1 person of Asian heritage per 10 people in any room.  We can further break down the population by ethnic groups.  For example, there are about 20,000 ethnic Japanese and 100,000 ethnic Koreans living in New York City (approx pop 8.5 million).  This means that you will have to put about 500 people in a room to encounter a single Japanese person and about 100 people to meet a Korean person.  It is then of little wonder that many things that do not bother me in the least might really offend my Asian American students: I was never under the threat as being “the other” nor would I ever have to explain or defend my culture to my peers.

Since I can only consider Asian American youth experiences,  as an “outsider,” the only way for me to learn is first to not impose my own past experiences onto them and then to keep listening to Asian American friends and students so hopefully I can gain some degree of understanding in order to act as a supportive and effective ally.

* Due to the complex modern history this accounting is not truly accurate: there are those who migrated from Mainland China in 1949 (14%), those who had migrated from Mainland China some 400 years ago (84%), and the aboriginal tribes, who were colonized and have lost most of their cultures and languages (2%).

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17th Day of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Today is for celebration!  Celebrating one of my favorite Asian American authors – Gene Luen Yang.

Gene is generous. Gene is funny. Gene is wise. Gene is brave.

Gene is generous.

In 2013, he came to my school and met with high school students in the Asian Cultures and Science Fiction/Fantasy clubs to chat about graphic novels, Boxers & Saints, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and growing up as an Asian American nerd and answer many many questions — all on his own time, without charge!

Addendum: A friend of mine pointed out to me that such “free” visits are not the norm for most libraries or authors — my school is in NYC where Gene’s publisher is located, this was part of his promotional tour for Boxers & Saints, and I and the school I work for are frequently tapped by the NYC publishers to host informal author events like this.  This is yet another case of how one person’s view can be so influenced by the circumstances and thus limited without the reminder from someone else who has the view from a different vantage point.  That said, Gene’s generosity is not limited to “free visits” but is demonstrated his willingness to engage the students and freely shared thoughts and views.

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Gene is funny.

I had the great pleasure to listen to Gene talking about Graphic Novels on a panel at last year’s USBBY Conference.  He used humor to drive home some serious considerations in a way that the audience would easily accept.

Gene is wise.

As a recently appointed National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene has set up a great campaign for all readers to Read Without Walls with three simply stated but significant goals that will advance the scope of diversity in any young reader’s world:

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Gene is brave.

He spoke the hard truth publicly without skirting around the issues.  One such memorable speech was delivered at the National Book Festival gala in September 2014.  You can read the whole transcript at The Washington Post.  These words were not only wise, almost prophetic, they should be heeded ever more now that so many of us get our news and views from extremely short, often volatile, and sometimes sensationalized sound bites littering the edge-less world of the Internet.

But I have noticed an undercurrent of fear in many of our discussions. We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say.

This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities.

After all, our job as writers is to step out of ourselves, and to encourage our readers to do the same.

I offer three further thoughts inspired by Gene’s words:

First, I think this call for “doing homework” should not be limited to authors, illustrators, or editors and publishers.  The demand of meticulous cultural research must extend to all the critics of books — we must also do our homework before delivering verdicts to praise or condemn a literary work, especially when large swatches of the text contain cultural allusions unfamiliar to us.

Second, I think it is crucial for those who are promoting works about and by diverse creators to remember that simply “of a culture” does not guarantee any book creator having understanding of the multiplicity of the entire history or full scope of that specific culture.  Even those writing “within” a culture must do their homework!

Third, although book creators must heed Gene’s call for NOT fearing of where their creative hearts tell them to go, I feel compelled to call on critics and advocates to educate ourselves on informative and productive ways to critique literature so that we may uplift the whole field.  We must figure out ways to turn our initial anger and frustration into useful and illuminating insights and advices to help improve representation and authenticity in all future books for young people.

 

 

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15th Day of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Starting today, I’ll post here and on other social media some articles and perhaps my own thoughts on media representations of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States.   Here Media include movies, tv shows, books, and games.

Today’s offering from the New York Times, an article by Keith Chow, first published on April 22, 2016.

Why Won’t Hollywood Cast Asian Actors?

The TL:DR version:

Even a modest hit like the “Harold and Kumar” trilogy, starring John Cho and Kal Penn, was able to quadruple its production budget after box office and home media sales. Meanwhile, films with white stars fail at the box office all the time. Chris Hemsworth, who stars in this weekend’s “Huntsman” sequel, has had many more box office flops than successes, yet he is considered a bankable movie star.

Such facts reveal Hollywood’s dirty little secret. Economics has nothing to do with racist casting policies. Films in which the leads have been whitewashed have all failed mightily at the box office. Inserting white leads had no demonstrable effect on the numbers. So why is that still conventional thinking in Hollywood?

And don’t forget to scroll through the

Whitewashing, a Long History slide show, featuring slides such as this one:

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And they didn’t even touch on Tilda Swinton cast as a Tibetan (now Indian?) Mystic (The Ancient One) in Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange or Scarlett Johansson as Mokoto Kusanagi in the American Remake of a Japanese SciFi film, Ghost in the Shell. 

ancientoneghostintheshell

 

 

 

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The 2016 International Children’s Literature Winner: Cao Wenxuan from China! 曹文轩

Cao-300x300So excited to report that Cao Wenxuan (曹文轩) won IBBY’s Andersen Award this year. According to Xinhua news outlet, this award is given only ONCE in a lifetime for an international author/illustrator for “the aesthetic and literary qualities of writing and illustrating as well as the ability to see things from the child’s point of view and the ability to stretch the child’s curiosity and imagination.”

Read about it on this official press release.

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Dear Ellen Oh, You Are Not Me!

I was going to challenge Ellen Oh’s use of “WE”  when I read the first paragraph of her blog post Dear White Writers because I had a knee-jerk reaction and found the use of this collective pronoun problematic. Indeed, I often find sweeping generalization of all kinds problematic.  And because I believe strongly that ANYONE CAN write about ANY topic and create ANY character they are passionate about as long as they have done diligent preparation, her proclamation of “Yes We Need Diverse Books. But that doesn’t always mean that we want YOU to write them” made me feel that I was not included in that general “We.”  My thoughts went immediately to these queries: What did she mean by “We”?  Who are the “We”?  Did she include me, a Chinese American librarian, when she used “We”?  Or did she mean only the people who are officially involved with the #WeNeedDiverseBooks organization?  (By the way, when I submitted my volunteer form through the site, I was informed that too many people were interested in being involved so that my request was denied.)  Or did she mean just the Korean American writers, like herself?   Or all the Asian American writers?  Or anyone that is not White?  Or simply all those who agree with her?  You see — the use of We is too imprecise and too absolute at the same time to not make me think of all the possibilities in one shot!

But I went on and read the entire post and found that I actually agree with most of her points, except perhaps this following accusatory sentiment.  She wrote,

Don’t do it because “you believe in diversity and want to help the cause.” Don’t do it because you think you are helping us. Because you’re not. The truth is, you’re only doing it for yourself. Because you think it is going to help you get published.

I think it is GREAT if all writers believe in diversity and want to help the cause — regardless of their skin colors.  Actually, I think many of such efforts could be very helpful.  In any kind of social movement, ally-ship between the insiders and the outsiders is crucial in its success.  So, I say, please do include diverse characters and address many topics in your books: whether you are white or a person of color and whether you are writing from an insider or an outsider lens.  Just be very aware of which lens you are using and do not presume that you know it all.  You just may be helpful.  I also feel very uncomfortable seeing a universal condemnation to an entire group (white writers, in this case) and accusing them all for wanting something (to be published) that is simply a natural desire for anyone in the field (children’s and YA lit world.)

Aside from this strong disagreement, I want to specifically endorse these following points.

Ellen wrote in her blog post:

We don’t want publishers to say, “Well, we already published a book about that,” and then find that it was a book that did not speak the truth about us but rather told someone on the outside’s idea of who we are.

And I cannot agree more!  “That” refers to topics or characters existing to fill a “diversity quota.”  There should not be a quota.  The publishers of children’s books must start examining their own output and ensure the widest possible diversity in character representations, subject matters, and book creators.  Diversity should not be something that needs policing and reminding.  It should be so natural that no publishing teams would think twice about offering all kinds of books and about all kinds of characters and experiences.  In fact, the publishers themselves should be the frontline champions of diverse books!

Ellen also wrote this paragraph that a white author who has been worrying about whether they are “allowed” to write POC stories should take to heart:

So here’s the truth that needs to be repeated again and again. Don’t write a POC’s story unless you need to tell it with such a burning desire that it will eat you alive and so you will come into our houses and walk in our shoes to get it right, and that way it isn’t written ONLY from a white lens. Don’t do it unless you are willing to invest in a whole lot of time and commitment and get into some heavy conversation about what it is like to live our lives, deal with racism and micro-aggressions and fear and hate. Don’t do it because you think it is a hot trend. Don’t do it because you think it will help you get published. Don’t do it because you just love Kpop and Kdramas and oh wouldn’t it be cool to bring it to an American audience? Don’t do it because your mama is 1/32nd Native American and somehow that gives you a pass to write about the culture (it doesn’t). Don’t do it because it is exotic, mystical, spiritual, etc.

Thank you, Ellen Oh, for proposing these sensible and achievable goals for your fellow writers.  Even though you are not me, WE (two) definitely share a lot of common expectations and aspiration.

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Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Ssimonvshomosapiensimon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
by Becky Albertalli

Listening to this book was a bit like watching a John Hughes movie… actually, it was a lot like watching a John Hughes movie. It is kind of sweet, there might be some heart-breaking moments, some misunderstandings, some bullying, but definitely a lot of friendship, quite a bit of sweet-loving, and totally easy to get hooked on and want to know more and want everything to work out at the end — and boy did EVERYTHING get worked out! Mostly believably so but definitely veering toward the hyper-optimistic end of possibilities: which, we all need from time to time!

I was a little sad that once Simon & “Blue” met up in real life, the author pretty much stopped giving us their exchanges of ideas: no more interesting emails to read of their views on the world around them or the quirky questions and answers. In the last part of the book, the readers are left with just observing their physical (sweet) contacts and first explorations: as if all those emails were just a precursor to what REALLY matters: kissing and other physical relationships…  It would have been more fulfilling an emotional journey for me as a reader if both physical and intellectual aspects of their relationship had been more equally represented during the last part of the story.

(And a potential quibble: I am still baffled why the characters refer to Tumblr as “the Tumblr” — was it that the author does not understand the teen-lingo these days or that it is THAT specific Tumblr page reserved for the kids in that particular town/high school — thus the article?)

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A Picture Book for Newbery! Last Stop on Market Street

laststoponmarketstreetLast Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña
Illustrated by Christian Robinson

I jumped up and down when this book was announced at the Youth Media Awards press conference — after the initial “WHAT? Really?  A picture book text?” Then, it was, “YAY!  Finally.  A real picture book has won the Newbery!”  Great job.  Committee!

However, it was not until today, when I finally re-read the text, blocking out all the illustrations, just paying attention to the rhythm, the word choices, the imagery, the heart and soul of this seemingly simple text for the very young that I realized how marvelous a choice this book is for the award.

By recognizing the text, which allows for so much imagination and chances of deep discussions, especially literary ones, the Newbery Committee has affirmed the significant value of finely crafted text for young children.  I can still recite many passages from Margaret Wise Brown’s The Important Book because I read that book to my daughter when she was still in her crib.  Every night, for months, and no matter how many times I read it aloud, I found myself admiring the genius writing page after page.  I am quite certain that the reason my daughter appreciates poetry and what she calls “good writing” in the adult books she reads now that she’s 16 is her wide exposure to excellent texts like The Important Book,  So Said the Little Monkeys, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Madeline, and many others.

I am ordering copies of Last Stop on Market Street for my Middle School Library and will encourage middle grade teachers to use the book to inspire students to interpret the text as they envision in their mind.  CJ could be anyone.  Nana could be anyone’s grandma.  The boys on the bus with something CJ envies do not have to share ear-buds on their iPod and the imagery of the large tree “drinking through a straw” was never depicted literally in the illustration anyway.  The students in a language arts class will simply bask in the glory of the text like “The outside air smelled like freedom,” and “rain, which freckled CJ’s shirt” and have a rigorous mental workout to understand the implied interactions and emotions.

And ample discussion opportunities for the ending, when Nana does not give her usual deep laugh… now what is that all about?

De La Peña sure wrote a distinguished book!

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I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

icrawlthroughitI Crawl Through It by A.S. King

It was an intriguing and entertaining read — although using the word “entertaining” to describe my reading experience with a book dealing with mental illnesses, abuse, and traumatic events in teens feels a little crass. Nonetheless, I felt that King, as a writer, really revels in designing and playing “games” with her readers.  Mind games, for sure!

Do we really know what actually happened to each of the four main characters?  What’s with the man behind the bush?  What’s with the invisible (or real?) helicopter?  Nothing was really certain — not during and not after reading the book.  And I’m quite alright with that much ambiguity — I only wish that I had liked and/or could have felt more empathetic toward any of the characters.  Because of the stylistic choice and the hyper-reality setting, the main characters all seem to be more guinea pigs in a giant game of maze on stage, masterminded and controlled by the author for the amusement and perhaps even edification of the audience.  Even the cover design with the standardized test answering sheet reminds me of some sort of “whack a mole” holes in an arcade…

Anyway — to sum up — I admired the workmanship and enjoyed the weirdness but never quite got caught up enough to care about any of the characters or how “the story” was going to end.

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Here by Richard McGuire

hereHere by Richard McGuire

I really love the premise: taking one fixed spot on earth, examining the many years of lives (from prehistoric to contemporary) and living by visually presenting the slices in time: one might see a Native American couple making love and a modern American, white family squabbling on the same or adjacent or consecutive pages, all “cut up” and scrambled, seemingly not following rhyme or reason.  But, of course, there are certain patterns and events clustered by the nature of the happening (holiday celebrations, fighting, loss, new births, etc.)  However, aside from admiring the beautiful and pristine, almost too clinical, artwork and having some moments of revelation (finding out on what ground the current house was built, for example,) I was left not all that impressed or emotionally affected which I definitely was hoping for!

 

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The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

The Nest by Kenneth Oppelthenest

If any book should be called Unsettling and Disturbing, this one is a prime candidate.  The last third of the tale got not only extremely dark and dangerous, it is also filled with vividly described, horror film worthy scenes and imageries.  Expertly done.  I probably would have truly loved the entire book if I wasn’t taken out of the narrative flow a number of times when Steve uses highly literary words and phrases that I thought uncharacteristically older than the character’s age and not quite in keeping with the rest of the tone of the very straightforward and effective telling.  I was hoping and fearing a truly dark ending and was slightly disappointed (because of the very twisted-minded adult reader in me) and very relieved and pleased that there’s some hope and a lot of growth for both the hero and the reader. And what a complex and admirable hero we have in Steve!

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Sunday Select, December 13, 2015

FCLSSQuote of the Week

But in our digital conversion of media (perhaps buttressed by application of the popular KonMari method of decluttering), physical objects have been expunged at a cost. Aside from the disappearance of record crates and CD towers, the loss of print books and periodicals can have significant repercussions on children’s intellectual development.

Perhaps the strongest case for a household full of print books came from a 2014 study published in the sociology journal Social Forces. Researchers measured the impact of the size of home libraries on the reading level of 15-year-old students across 42 nations, controlling for wealth, parents’ education and occupations, gender and the country’s gross national product.

After G.N.P., the quantity of books in one’s home was the most important predictor of reading performance. The greatest effect was seen in libraries of about 100 books, which resulted in approximately 1.5 extra years of grade-level reading performance. (Diminishing returns kick in at about 500 books, which is the equivalent of about 2.2 extra years of education.)


— by Teddy Wayne
from Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves
The New York Times

We Need Books

Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves by Teddy Wayne – from The New York Times

NATIVE VOICES ROUNDTABLE PART 1: SHARING STORIES & TALKING BACK (PART 1 OF 2)  — from We Need Diverse Books

NATIVE VOICES ROUNDTABLE: SHARING STORIES & TALKING BACK (PART 2 OF 2)  — from We Need Diverse Books

Children’s Authors Share Their Favorite Childhood Books Compiled by Diane Roback — from Publishers Weekly

Horn Book Fanfare 2015  — from The Horn Book Magazine

How Kwame Alexander Gets Teens Reading and Writing Poetry — from School Library Journal

WSJ’s Best Books of 2015  — from Wall Street Journal

In the Works: SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books 2016 Edition by Monida Edinger — from Educating Alice

We Need Ideas and Opinions

An American Refrain by Libba Bray – from Libba Bray’s Blog

Novelists team up for teen book on race and police by James Sullivan — from The Boston Globe

THE N-WORD AND MY DAUGHTER by Martha Haakmat — from Raising Race Conscious Children

I gathered these entries from various sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and specific sites that I follow such as Educating Alice, Pub Peeps, Book Riot, School Library Journal, The Horn Book, We Need Diverse Books, etc.

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Sunday Select, December 6, 2015

FCLSS

End-of-Year Best/Award Lists Round Up

Some lists were already announced and included in other issues of FCL Sunday Select.  They are not repeated here.  It is always of interest to note the varied opinions from different venues: booksellers vs professional review publications vs popular review platforms.

SLJ’s Best of 2015: Books, Apps, and More — from The School Library Journal

Notable Children’s Books of 2015 — from The New York Times (Sunday Book Review)

2016 Morris Award Finalists — from The Amercian Library Association

The Best Books of 2015 — from The Boston Globe

Editors’ Picks: Books for Children and Teens — from Amazon.com

Goodreads Choice Award 2015 — from Goodreads.com

The Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2015 Edition — from The Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education

Best Children’s Books of 2015 — from The Washington Post

Best Children’s Books of 2015 — from The Guardian

Best Children’s and Teen Books of 2015 — from BookPage.com

 

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Sunday Select, November 29, 2015

FCLSS

Quote of the Week

I can’t change the color of my skin or where I come from or what the teacher workforce looks like at this moment, but I can change the way I teach. So I am going to soapbox about something after all. Be the teacher your children of color deserve. In fact, even if you don’t teach children of color, be the teacher America’s children of color deserve, because we, the teachers, are responsible for instilling empathy and understanding in the hearts of all kids. We are responsible for the future of this country.

So teach the texts that paint all the beautiful faces of our children and tell the stories of struggle and victory our nation has faced. Speak openly and freely about the challenges that are taking place in our country at this very moment. Talk about the racial and class stereotypes plaguing our streets, our states, our society. You may agree that black and brown lives matter, but how often do you explore what matters to those lives in your classroom?

— words from a speech by Emily E. Smith
as reported by Valerie Strauss
 “Teacher: A student told me I ‘couldn’t understand because I was a white lady.’ Here’s what I did then.’
 for The Washington Post

Thanksgiving Weekend — A Single Highlighted Selection

Teacher: A student told me I ‘couldn’t understand because I was a white lady.’ Here’s what I did then by Valerie Strauss — from The Washington Post

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Sunday Select, November 1, 2015

FCLSS

Quote of the Week

It was interesting to hear my White students say that they think that books do a good job of representing diverse characters. My students of color at this time did not say anything. I did not add to the conversation and I ended the conversation at this point.

…….

It was eye opening to my students. My White students seemed surprised by what my students of color were sharing. I then wrapped up our conversation saying that history and books often overlook certain groups of people and that this year we will be learning about many points of view.

— by Sarah Halter Hahesy
 “Transparency About the Lack of Racial Diversity in Children’s Books
 from Raising Race Conscious Children

Viewpoints & Practical Suggestions

Transparency About the Lack of Racial Diversity in Children’s Books by Sarah Halter Hahesy — from Raising Race Conscious Children

Supplement Materials to Top Ten Things You Need to Know About Children’s/YA Publishing in 2015 by Harold Underdown — from The Purple Crayon

YA Authors Talk Social Media, Research Process…and Spill Secrets by Mahnaz Dar — from School Library Journal

‘Tis The Season (to contemplate on best books for young readers)

Calling Caldecott (for potential Caldecott Contenders) moderated by the Horn Book staff  — from The Horn Book Magazine

Heavy Medal moderated by Jonathan Hunt & Nina Lindsay (for potential Newbery Contenders) — from The School Library Journal

Someday My Printz Will Come (for potential Printz Contenders) moderated by Karyn Silverman, Sarah Couri, and Joy Piedmont — from The School Library Journal

The National Book Award Winners 2015  — from The National Book Foundation

CYBILS Awards — from CYBILS

I gathered these entries from various sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and specific sites that I follow such as Educating Alice, Pub Peeps, Book Riot, School Library Journal, The Horn Book, We Need Diverse Books, American Indians in Children’s literature, etc.

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Sunday Select, November 15, 2015

FCLSS

Quote of the Week

While the burden of mistakes can be placed on the author and illustrator, in truth publishers share an equal part of the responsibility in making sure that the books they produce are accurate and do not reinforce harmful stereotypes.

— by Jason Low, publisher of Lee & Low Books
 “Is Staff Training Worth It?
 from The Open Book

The Most Important Industry News of the Week

This week, I am featuring only ONE industry news link herebecause I don’t want to dilute its significance.  Hopefully, we’ll start hearing from other publishers, large and small, that take their staff on this worthwhile journey.  As an educator who partook in similar trainings in recent years, I have to say that I believe everyone in the United States should have the experience of going through such tough journeys: self-examining, questioning, and re-affirming ideologies that will help create a more equitable society for our own future.

Is Staff Training Worth It? by Jason Low — from The Open Book (Lee & Low Books Blog)

Authors, Books, & Book Lists

A Conversation With Philip Pullman by Katy Waldman — from The Slate: Book Review

APALA Author Interview – Gene Luen Yang by by Jaena Rae Cabrera — from APALA (Asian Pacific American Library Association)

Pep Talk from Neil Gaiman by Neil Gaiman– from National Novel Writing Month

The Little Black Fish and other stories: Iranian illustrated children’s books – in pictures by David Almond and Saeed Kamali Dehghan — from The Guardian

Thinking About Thanksgiving by Nina Lindsay  — from Reading While White

Family Ties  by Elissa Gershowitz — from The Horn Book Magazine

OPL 2015 Holiday Gift Guide–Children’s Books by Amy Martin — from Oakland Public Library

I gathered these entries from various sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and specific sites that I follow such as Educating Alice, Pub Peeps, Book Riot, School Library Journal, The Horn Book, We Need Diverse Books, American Indians in Children’s literature, etc.

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Trying to Hold Multiple Sides of the Same Truth

This is the image I hold in my head these days whenever entering a difficult, complex, multi-layered conversation.  I imagine a room where the TRUTH is placed in the center, and I have to make sure that I walk around this virtual room, examining the matter from as many angles as possible, even though of course I have my starting point and an original perspective.  I cannot trace the original maker of this graph (from 2005) but am grateful for his/her help in keeping me from completely unbalancing myself:

truth

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