Showing posts from May, 2007

I'd Be Missing For Sure ...

.. if they could have known a third daughter was on the way. In The Missing Girls: A Society Out of Balance, Neil Katz, a PBS Frontline/World Fellow and his wife, Marisa Sherry, explore the issue of female sex selection:
In 2006, when my wife and I traveled to India to live and work, the one issue that kept grabbing our attention was northern India's deep cultural preference for sons over daughters. The desire for sons can be so great, that some families, after having a girl or two, will abort female fetuses until they bear a son. The practice is called female feticide or sex selection.In Punjab's small farming villages, for example, they found five girls for every ten boys between the ages of zero and six. Watch the 14-minute video here and find links and resources about female sex selection here.

Source: SAJA blog

Shocking Blogospheric News

Haiku-reviewer Emily confesses all, Fuse moves to SLJ (read the 57 comments for a who's who -- or who thinks they're who -- of kid lit bloggers), Miss Snark retires, and Editorial Anonymous comes blazing into the blogosphere. I'll be in Portland, Maine today recovering from all the excitement (and doing an author visit at King Middle School with artist Jamie Hogan).

Connubial Bliss

Today is Ma and Baba's fifty-second wedding anniversary. As I tell kids at schools I visit, my still-in-love parents who met on the day of their wedding are evidence that it might not be about how you get married but about how you are married. Happy anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. Bose!

The Charlesbridge Open House

Parties don't get much better than this. I got to meet a legend (Anita Silvey), and a community organizer (Eisha of 7-imp fame). I got to deck editor Judy O'Malley (don't stop reading the sentence there, please) in a saree — to see us in action, visit Unabridged, Charlesbridge's blog — and draw dragons eating their tails (as instructed by Ralph Masiello). And I got to talk about Rickshaw Girl and sign books with my collaborator, illustrator Jamie Hogan (see below). Thanks, Charlesbridge!

You Guyz R Being Meme 2 Me

Tagged by the likes of Jen, MotherReader, and Camille, I must break my no-meme practice and confess 8 bad habits. First, the rules to this particular cyber-game.
Each player lists eight facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags eight people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.Now, the habits.
bite nailsread LOTR and Harry Potter and Narnia every yearspread mango pickle on bread, top with onions, eat alone
nurse one diet coke a daychew/suck atomic fire ballsobsessively comb retriever furgoogle own books and blog
break meme rules by not tagging anybodyIt does feel nice getting a bit of tag attention, just like it used to on the playground.Sorry I can't pass on the love -- habits are hard to break -- but if you want to meme, meme away, and keep the ga…

First Daughter #2 Cover: Weigh in!

You voted for the title, and we went with your choice: First Daughter: White House Rules (January 2008, Dutton). Now we're in the process of finalizing a cover, and would love to hear your opinion on two works-in-progress. Please use the poll below to pick the one you like and if you have time, leave a comment about your choice.

Eerie discoveries: my editor recently informed me that the cover girl's name is Mitali. Okay, it's a somewhat common Bengali name, but it's not a Jennifer or Emily or Emma, and it means she's not just South Asian, but from the same part of India as me. Second, the cover Mitali's adopted, just like Sparrow -- now what are the odds of that?

Which Cover?

Sparrow in Green
Sparrow in Red

Create a Poll

FYI, here's Sherry Early's Semicolon review of Sparrow's first book, and Jen Robinson's thoughts.

Make "Child Soldier" An Oxymoron

My forthcoming novel from Charlesbridge, The Bamboo People, features a fifteen-year old Burmese boy who's forced to join the army against his will. That country is one of the nine in the world reportedly using children to fight in their armies, and it's the only one not receiving military aid from the United States. The eight governments who do get money from us include:
BurundiChadColombiaCote d'IvoireDemocratic Republic of CongoSri LankaSudanUgandaThis Memorial Day, as we gratefully remember heroes who have defended and protected us, consider asking your elected officials to vote for the Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007, sponsored by Senators Durbin (D) and Brownback (R).

More from World Vision: The Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007 (S.1175) would curtail U.S. military assistance to governments that fail to take steps to demobilize and stop forcing/recruiting children into the armed forces or government-supported militias. Countries that do take steps to disarm, dem…

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword

Scholastic seems to be remembering Woodrow Wilson's excellent advice. The world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books sent more than 7 million translated volumes into schools in the Middle East and North Africa through a new project called My Arabic Library.

Arab educators picked the titles they wanted and suggested changes in cover art, like putting long sleeves on Joanna Spyri's Heidi, one of my favorite children's book characters.

Schools and libraries in the United States are ordering the books too, which doesn't surprise me as Arabic is the fourth most widely spoken language on the planet.

Poetry Friday: Fire Escape Contest Closes June 1st!

Since 2003, the Fire Escape has published poetry and short stories written by teens between cultures. I'm receiving entries for this year's contests until June 1st, and prizes will be announced June 30th. Feel free to pass on the details and rules, enjoy the short story winners here, and browse through the best poems from the past:

2006 Poetry WinnersFirst Prize:Mel? by Amelia, Russia/Illinois, Age 15Second Prize:"Soy De" Means "I'm From" by Pedro, El Salvador/Kansas, Age 15Third Prize:Revolution by Amy, China/New Jersey, Age 16
2005 Poetry WinnersFirst Prize:Two Worlds, Two Dreams by Andrea, Colombia/Florida, Age 17Second Prize:Dynasty or Wang Jo by Katherine, Korea/Georgia, Age 17Third Prize:Lumpia and Cornbread by Billimarie, Philippines/California, Age 17
2004 Poetry WinnersFirst Prize:The Little Line by Cathy, China/Texas, Age 15Second Prize:Choosing Names by Grace, Singapore/California, Age 15Third Prize:Standing Strong by Beatrice, Philippines/Cali…

Yet Another Literary Party!

In this photo taken by Elaine Magliaro-slash-Wild Rose Reader at a Foundation of Children's Books event two nights ago, slim and elegant Charlesbridge editor Judy O'Malley is the redhead in the middle, multi-talented author-illustrator-Blue-Rose-GirlAnna Alter is on the left, and that's non-petite me hogging half the photo space on the right. (Note to self #1: in future photo ops, stand between or behind two size fours).

Judy and I are doing another duet at Charlesbridge's annual open house for teachers and librarians this afternoon. We'll be sharing the process that led to the publication of Rickshaw Girl, and rumor has it that I'll be draping her in a saree. Illustrator Jamie Hogan will be there, too, and she's bringing along the original art she created for the book. (Note to self #2: try and make an offer on one of those gorgeous pastels, but knowing Jamie, she might just hand it over as a gift ... this is going to take some finesse and diplomacy.)

But t…

Grants For Teaching Immigrants

The Ray Solem Foundation is offering one-time grants of up to $10,000 to non-profit organizations using innovative ways to help immigrants in the United States learn English. Applications are due by July 31, 2007; find out more here.

In The Name of God: Interview With Paula Jolin

I tore through In The Name of God (Roaring Brook, April 2007) as a reader first (during yet another crazy time in the history of violence), led effortlessly by Paula Jolin's suspenseful plot, vivid characters, and fascinating details about teen life in Syria. Afterwards, though, the buried high school teacher in me came roaring to life, keeping me up late with ideas about how to use this book like mad in the classroom.

We'd read the book, for example, and then my students would pick three historical events in the last fifty years and describe them first in the voice of Nadia, and then through the eyes of an American teen who joins the Marines to fight terrorism. Or I'd get the kids discussing what they might be willing to die for and why. And so on ... how Jolin manages to create a sympathetic suicide bomber in the making is a literary study in itself.

I invited the author out on the Fire Escape to talk about writing the book (which is yet another class of 2k7 debut), and s…

More Literary Events ...

If you were in New England this past weekend, you could have:

(a) celebrated Grace Lin's birthday and book launch for Lissy's Friends on Saturday (nicely recapped here by Elaine Magliaro, aka Wild Rose Reader).

(b) read an actual print copy of Liz Rosenberg's review of Barb O'Connor's How To Steal A Dog and Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid in the Globe.

(c) participated in NESCBWI's annual conference (check out Charlesbridge editor Yolanda LeRoy and author-illustrator Annie Sibley O'Brien belting out a Broadway-ish song about getting published here).

(d) attended Karen Day's packed-out book launch party for Tall Talesat Newtonville Books on Sunday (which is what I did, as evidenced by Carol Peacock's photo below).

Karen Day and me celebrating the launch of
her novel Tall Tales (Wendy Lamb Books, May 2007)

Spring children's book events in this area continue to abound. Tonight, for example, if you're free and in the vicinity, come hear Jackie D…

Fiesta! Carnival! Chicken Spaghetti!

Susan Thomsen serves up a feast of fabulous links about multicultural literature for kids and more at the fourteenth carnival of children's literature.

They R Coming; R U?

... to Sparrow's book launch party at the D.C. Public Library on Saturday, June 23rd, that is, during the ALA's Annual Convention. Why settle for imagining a crowd of librarians like Zee and Liz flinging their glossy braids around (okay, skip that part, maybe not) as they learn to dance bhangra? Come witness it firsthand; RSVP and get the details here.

Paper Tigers May/June Issue

From our friends at the award-winning Paper Tigers site (edited by Aline Pereira) comes an amazing issue for Asian/Pacific Heritage Month:The celebration of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in May reminds us about the contributions of Asian Pacific Americans to every arena of life in the United States and throughout the world. The experiences that double the richness of their lives are reflected in many children's books... but do we have enough narratives?... Check the interviews, illustrators' galleries, 'personal views' articles, as well as the book reviews, resources and reading lists sections: there's much to add depth and breath to the question.


Newbery award winner Cynthia Kadohata talks about her latest book, Cracker!, drawing inspiration from her heritage, and more...

Rose Kent spices up the world of young adult books with Kimchi & Calamari, a coming-of-age tale about a Korean boy adopted to an American family of Italian descent. Read the …

The Edge of the Forest in May

The May issue of The Edge of the Forest is live. Waste no time; read it from cyber-cover to cyber-cover. (I did, and I'm on the road, so if your stats show a visit from a hotel in Jersey, it's probably me.)

BTW, if anyone wants to join Pooja Makhijani, Sandhya Nankani, and me for a last-minute spontaneous lower-Manhattan meet-up after work on Thursday ("drinks" with the three of us probably means cold glasses of sweet lassi), send an email to mitaliperk-at-yahoo-dot-com and I'll reply with details.

My Queens Homecoming Day

The Bose sisters' first snow in Flushing, Queens (Mitali in the middle), circa 1970.

I'm doing several days of visits this week in Morris County, New Jersey, beginning with a dinner presentation Tuesday evening for the media specialists in the district. On Friday, I'll be heading to M.S. 217 (Robert Van Wyck School) in Queens, New York. I'm the first author to visit their school in years, so they're really excited. It's going to be a special visit for me, too; I'll be remembering an immigrant girl reading and writing out on a fire escape with no clue that she'd be back in Queens decades later as a visiting author.

Sparrow Ghost-Blogs On The Weirdness of Race

Note: This was originally posted by Sameera Righton on Sparrowblog Thursday, May 10, 2007.

Here's something else to love or hate about the hunky golfer who refuses to identify himself by race.* Ten years ago, on Oprah, he got everybody riled up by saying, "I'm a Cablinasian." As in Caucasian-black-Indian-Asian. "I'm just who I am," Woods said, "whoever you see in front of you."

It's getting harder to label Americans by race. Take Halle Berry, for example. Or Derek Jeter. And on American Idol, when Jordin Sparks said, "I've got an average family," and a photo of her black Dad and white Mom came up, I found myself wondering if she'd say she was African-American or white, or both, or neither. (Weird note to self: they all have black Dads and white Moms ...)

People are talking race about candidates Obama and Richardson, describing them as black and Latino, but Obama's white American mother fell in love with his Kenyan fathe…

3 Phases of Sparsely Attended Book Signings

Visiting authors at schools can feel like rock stars. Kids ask you to autograph books, papers, casts, t-shirts, skin. You speak to a captive, attentive audience because their teachers won't let them leave or fall asleep.

But bookstore appearances come with no such guarantees. Here I am, for example, at a recent book signing for a fundraiser, feeling some of Gail Gauthier's pain, watching customers sneak past with I-should-talk-to-that-lonely-Indian-lady expressions. At least Mo was nowhere in sight this time.

At an under-attended bookstore signing, I usually pass through three phases:

Phase one: Smile through clenched teeth, think of England, and count the minutes.

Phase two: Browse the bookstore, gather a bunch of interesting reads, and start to enjoy the unexpected solitude.

Phase three: Realize that the few people who buy a book or stop to chat are worth a thousand swords (LOTR-lingo for immensely valuable, if you're Tolkien averse), and that I'm actually having a wonder…

This Is Not Your Mother's Heritage Month

Tall Tales: Interview With Karen Day

Here's the skinny, people: I'm not going to feel like I have to feature an interview with you, even if (a) you're in my writer's group, and (b) you mention me on the acknowledgments page (full disclosure.)

You've still got to write a novel that (a) fills me with hope, as it will for the tweens who'll read your book again and again, (b) gets me choked up with that mix of sadness and joy only a skillful storyteller can induce, OR (c) earns you a two-book contract from a Legendary Master Editor.

Karen Day, author of Tall Tales (Wendy Lamb Books, May 2007), fulfills all five of these requirements. I invited her out to the Fire Escape for a chat about the terrifying, amazing process of writing and publishing her first novel, due out this week.

Tell us about the journey to getting the book published. What was a high point? A low point?

I finished the first draft of Tall Tales in 2000. Almost instantly I had interest from an editor who saw the first 10 pages at an SCBWI c…

It's Asian/Pacific Heritage Month

I'm heading to Esperanza Academy in Lawrence, Massachusetts for school visits today. I leave you with our government's announcement about the month of May:In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed on May 10, 1869.

In 1992, Congress expanded the 10-day observance to a month-long celebration. Per a 1997 Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: "Asian" and "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander."

According to the 2005 American Community Survey, there are 2.3 million people aged 5 and older who speak Chinese in the U.S. today. After Spanish, …

Kid Lit Racism: A Reminder From The Past

The now defunct Council on Interracial Books for Children came up with a list in 1974 called 10 Quick Ways To Analyze Children's Books For Racism and Sexism. Reviewers, take note, the questions are still helpful some 33 years later.

Good News: Jen Likes Sparrow!

Check out her blog review of First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover (Dutton, June 2007).

SLJ Author Visit Sweepstakes Winner

You can see a photo of my visit to Leal Middle School in San Antonio on the SLJ site (scroll down; it's on the bottom right -- it might be gone in a few days).

Poetry Friday: Limerick Contest Winners!

I'm delighted to announce the results of The Fire Escape's First Annual Bilbo Baggins Birthday Limerick Contest, where entrants had to provide the last rhyming line to one of two poems (it's my fault if you think they're terrible, as I provided the first four lines.) First, the limerick from readers to writers, which started like this:

From Reader To Writer

To imagine the best children's book,
You must closet yourself in a nook,
Forget fame and glory,
And just tell the story,

There were several strong contenders in this category, but the winning last line comes from Jennifer, who grasps the fundamental challenge of the writing life.

From Reader To Writer

To imagine the best children's book,
You must closet yourself in a nook,
Forget fame and glory,And just tell the story,
You should hire a maid and a cook.

Next came the blogger to writer category, which started like this:

From Blogger To Writer

I'm not wantin' to put you to shame,
But I see yo…

Reviews, News, Events, Links

Rickshaw Girl's going paperback! Charlesbridge plans to release that version Spring 2008.

Editor Margaret Woollatt sent me the very first review for First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover(Dutton, June 2007). Kirkus says the book has "an interesting premise that provides a detailed and fun glimpse into campaigning's hectic reality and shines a positive light on America's multicultural reality." Nice.

I'll be reading and signing (along with others, including Lizzy the Clown) at the Peabody Barnes & Noble in Massachusetts this Saturday, May 5th from 1:30 - 3:30 to raise money for the North Shore Community Action Programs. Download vouchers from their site and come buy books (they don't have to be mine :>).

My writer's group was featured in the Newton Tab yesterday. Read about how we operate and check out a photo of Oz and Ends, Karen Day (Tall Tales, Wendy Lamb Books, May 2007), and my shoulder.

The San Jose Public Library (Northern California) wa…

Mama's Saris: Interview with Pooja Makhijani

Well, you can stop shopping right now because here's the perfect gift for Mother's Day: Mama's Saris, a new picture book by Pooja Makhijani from Little Brown, gloriously illustrated by Elena Gomez. Don't worry if the mother in your life doesn't know what a sari is — this is a story about every young girl's desire to be as glamorous as Mom, and the tender mother-daughter bond that transcends cultures.

Pooja herself sometimes comes out to chat on the Fire Escape, so I seized the moment to ask her some questions. Here's the scoop on the launch of this fabulous book, her first for kids (she's also the author of the anthology Under Her Skin: How Girls Experience Race in America -- read the introduction here.)

Tell us about the journey to getting the book published.

Such a long journey!

I finished a final draft of my manuscript in February 2004 and began the arduous process of writing query and cover letters. Because I used to work in publishing, I also pulled ou…

California Young Reader Medal

After over 50,000 student votes, here are the California Young Reader Medal 2006-2007 winning titles in each category:

Primary: My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza (born in Japan, now living in Indiana).

Intermediate: Christopher Mouse: The Tale of a Small Traveler, the anti-Despereaux, by William Wise, illustrated by Patrick Benson.

Middle School: Al Capone Does My Shirts, set on Alcatraz Island in 1935, by Gennifer Choldenko.

Young Adult: Shattering Glass, a thriller about popularity by Gail Giles.

Picture Books for Older Readers: Cats in Krasinski Square, a story about the Warsaw resistance in 1942, by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Wendy Watson.

Here are next year's nominees.

2-4-6-8, Go To Prom And Integrate

Anyone else surprised that it's 2007 and some American parents still organize separate proms for black teens and white teens? The black kids choose a prom queen and the white kids choose a prom queen. I suppose I shouldn't be shocked, because Ruby Bridges is only ten years older than me. One high school in Georgia, though, took a risk this year, with 213 seniors voting to have just one official prom, and it sounds like it was a success.

Charlesbridge: The Blogging Publisher

In a culture where "intimacy" and "authenticity" are the buzz words of the day, publishing houses don't have to feel remote, impenetrable, and mysterious. Especially if they follow in Charlesbridge's footsteps and launch a blog. Keep your eye on Unabridged; the first entry might be familiar but I hear there's more to come.

The Horn Book Gets Hip

The Horn Book is staying current by putting even more content on-line than ever before, letting us delve into the history of children's literature, learn about blogging (I'm honored to be on Betsy Bird's list of noteworthy blogs), or discover great graphic novels.