Showing posts from January, 2007

You're Invited: Bon Voyage, Rickshaw Girl!

I'm glad you stopped by. Please stay a while, find out more about my writing, or check out some other great sites in the "places to go" list of links in the sidebar. I'm madly revising book two of the First Daughter series, but I'll be back out on the fire escape to celebrate the launch of Rickshaw Girlon 2/1/07.

In the meantime, you're welcome to download a classroom discussion guide, an excerpt, and a Q&A about why I wrote Rickshaw Girl, as well as read a bunch of reviews. Also, if you're near Boston, Massachusetts or in the San Francisco Bay Area, you're cordially invited to one of my book launch events:
Saturday, February 3rd at 3 p.m. at Wellesley Booksmith, 82 Central Street, Wellesley, Ma (781) 431-1160.

Saturday, February 10th at 10:00 a.m. at Towne Center Books, 555 Main St., Pleasanton, Ca (925) 846-8826.

Sunday, February 11th at 4 p.m. at Cody's Books, 1730 4th St., Berkeley, Ca (510) 559-9500.I’ll be reading from and signing copies of …

American Born Chinese Wins The Printz!
Higher Power of Lucky Wins the Newbery!

Had to come out of my seclusion to shout out the good news! Go, Gene Yang! And ... The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (which I loved) has won the Newbery!

ALA News: Notable Books For Children 2006

The American Library Association has just posted a list of (potentially) notable books for children published in 2006 that will be up for discussion during the upcoming ALA midwinter conference in Seattle January 19-24th: Notable Children's Books Discussion List - Midwinter 2007 (Excel file).

Authors of between-culture novels on the list include Grace Lin (The Year of the Dog), Jennie Lombard (Drita My Home Girl), Lenore Look (Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything), Mike Lupica (Heat), and Vandana Singh (Younguncle Comes To Town ).

The ALA will also provide a live webcast of the top children/teen literary awards announcements on January 22nd 8-9 a.m. PST. This includes the Newbery, Caldecott, Carnegie, King, Batchelder, Geisel, Sibert, and Wilder Awards.

Poetry Friday: Benediction

The ancient spruce in stately stillness receives it.
Flagstones glisten like copper platters, rinsed from a day's use.
Hostas, glossy and open-palmed, quiver in delight.
Weeping, a Japanese cherry bows even lower.

— Mitali Perkins

It's Mitali's Download Day!

Hot off the presses, here are some .pdf files for your reading pleasure:

1. A Q&A about how and why I wrote Rickshaw Girl (Charlesbridge, February 2007).

2. Page one and page two of an interview conducted by 11-year-old Emily (see photo) of G9 Girls Magazine.

3. Page 35 in Penguin/Putnam's Spring Catalogfeaturing my forthcoming novel, First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover (Dutton, June 2007).

And please feel free to visit (and comment on) an early version of Sparrowblog, an on-line journal featuring posts from Sameera, the main character in this two-book series.

Ethnic Book Awards: Discriminatory or Necessary?

Maybe it's because of my involvement with the Cybils, or maybe it's just anticipating watching the Amazon sales rankings of the soon-to-be-announced Newbery books go nuts, but I've been thinking about the whole awards machine lately. That's why I was fascinated to read that in the UK, a watchdog group has threatened legal action against a book award that excludes white authors (source: Galleycat). Such ethnic book awards, like PEN USA's Beyond Margins awards, are designed to encourage writers from underrepresented communities and bring overlooked literary gems into the light. But do they accomplish their goal?

In the children's lit world, we have our fair share of ethnic book awards. We have the Pura Belpré medal and the Coretta Scott King award, for example, for which entries are limited by the racial heritage of the authors. We don't yet have an Asian-American children's book award that is awarded only to people of Asian descent. (The APALA award is gi…

Title Poll Results

Over the last three weeks, I ran a title mini-poll on the Fire Escape for my young adult novel coming from Random House in 2008. Forty-one people chose between three possibilities without knowing anything about the subject matter of the book, and here are the results:

Asha Means Hope20 49% 2.
The Secret Keeper16 39% 3.
Family Secrets5 12%

I've now eliminated Family Secrets, with apologies to the five who liked it (maybe one of you should write that book.) I'm toying with the idea of a series, with a first novel titled The Secret Keeper: Asha Means Hope, and the second one titled The Secret Keeper: Shanti Means Peace or something like that. But we'll see what happens. Anyway, thanks for voting! I was surprised by how many of you liked Asha Means Hope, and will pass that news on to my editor. There's still time, so feel free to opine if you're so moved ...

New Yahoo Group For Middle School Book Folk

If you tuned into last week's discussion about books for younger YAs, you might want to join a new group for people interested in focusing on lit for middle schoolers -- that's middle school, not middle grade -- intiated by former bookseller and teacher Richie Partington.

Poetry Friday: Wordsworth, Bengali-Style

Dinner party in our Flushing apartment. Six or seven heavy saucepans simmering on the stove; three rice cookers stuffed with biryani made the day before. Ma, bedecked in a banarasi saree and bejeweled in her bridal gold, stuffing tomato halves with egg salad. The apartment, spotless, chairs borrowed from a neighbor waiting in semi-circles for guests to claim. Baba, buzzing people into the lobby, throwing open the door and greeting friends with jokes and compliments.

Loud laughter fills the hallway as people wait to take off shoes and kids head into our bedroom to play Carrom, Scrabble, or 29 with cards. Inevitably, someone pulls out Ma's harmonium, and a Tagore song's sinuous, minor-key melody saddens my nine-year-old soul, even though I don't get the high Bangla lyrics.

Then Baba calls for quiet. It's time to recite the poems he's been helping us memorize over the past several weeks. He picked a Tagore poem for Sonali, Have You Not Heard His Silent Steps?, and s…

Hey! A Librarian's Being Meme To Me!

Thanks to Librarian Liz at A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy, I get to share five surprising things about myself on the Fire Escape today. So gather around, my precious, it's time to tell some secrets (which reminds me, if you haven't voted in my book title poll yet, please contribute your opinion in the sidebar to the right as it's neck and neck between two of the possibilities).

1. Once upon a time (the sixties), in a galaxy far, far away (India), a globular baby reluctantly entered the atmosphere three weeks past her due date, shattering the hospital's weight record at almost eleven pounds.

2. That baby just didn't like being hurried. She finally "bloomed" at age fourteen, lost her last baby tooth at age eighteen, and crept into the children's section of the Palo Alto Library every college final exam week for a kid read stress reliever.

3. Still plodding along as a writer, she published her second book twelve years after the first.

4. The doctor me…

A South Asian Cab Driver? Surprise, Surprise!

Will someone puh-leeze write a South Asian part for the small-screen that doesn't involve wielding a gun or driving a cab? I already griped about this in my post about Heroes, but obviously the terrorist-or-taxi motif isn't irritating anybody else but me, as it's happening again tonight in a new show called The Knights of Prosperity: Back home in India, Gourishankar "Gary" Subramaniam (Maz Jobrani) was a superstar lawyer, but here in New York City he drives a cab to make ends meet. Reluctant to join the group at first, Gary has a change in heart when Eugene reminds him that, although he was a winner at home, here he chauffeurs old ladies to Broadway matinees. (Source: SAJA)Jobrani's not even Indian to begin with, so now we have an Iranian-American actor forced to fake a generic Indian accent. Yippee. Meanwhile, my son's just used part of his iTunes gift card to download The Office's Diwali episode. I'm hoping that watching with him might help me …

Is a Sixth Grader a Young Adult?

Here's my peeve about writing for middle schoolers (ages 10-14): when it comes to library budgets, review space, and award competitions, our books have to compete with hefty (thematically and word-count-wise) reads targeted for high schoolers. You gotta wonder if adult gatekeepers favor older YA novels because they read more like adult literature, as evidenced by the interesting discussion on author Justine Labarlestier's blog (source: Chicken Spaghetti) and the adbooks listerv.

Exceptions abound of course, but there's a big difference between an eleven-year-old and a seventeen-year-old when it comes to literary appetite, maturity, and attention span. I thought the books nominated for the Cybils in the middle reader category, for example, were perfect for most 8-12 year olds. But in the YA category, it seems odd that Hattie Big Sky (classified by School Library Journal as a middle school read) has to compete with Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (which Booklist consi…

Cybils Finalists Announced!

Our job as a nominating committee is done, and the lists of possible Cybil winners have been narrowed to five finalists in each category. Congratulations to the final five middle grade novels, and many thanks to all the authors who were nominated -- I've been reveling in good reads over the holidays thanks to you!