Summertime And The Living Is Easy

Hiking the hills, sipping icy lemonade, swinging on a hammock with the new Harry Potter book, late, slow sunsets, chasing fireflies -- I'm taking a break from the Fire Escape until 9/1/07. Sparrow (who's a teen and thus must stay connected) will be posting sporadically throughout the summer, but apart from that, I'm going to read, write, pray, listen to my iPod, and hang out with the hubby, kids, and labs. My only book-related event is a West Coast Book Launch and Bhangra Party for First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover hosted by the San Jose Public Library on Wednesday, August 1st from 1:30 - 5:30. Stop by if you can. Otherwise, I'll be checking my email if you need me. ¡Que vaya con Dios!

Name That Bollywood Blogger

Presenting ... the video from my book launch party for First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover at the D.C. public library during ALA. I recognize Fuse, Mother Reader, and Judy O'Malley (editor at Charlesbridge) in the front row, but can anybody identify the other hip-shaking, wrist-twisting beauties?

Poetry Friday: Contest Winners

I'm delighted to present the winners of the Fire Escape's 2007 teen poetry and short fiction contests. Congratulations to the writers, and to all who entered. The 2008 contests open 9/1/07. Feel free to browse through the best poems from 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, and prize-winning stories from the past.

Sparrow Gets Skewered on Slate

Columnist Bruce Reed portrays my main character as a fawning Romney groupie ... so Sparrow offers her rebuttal here. Meanwhile, Galleycat's Ron Hogan seems a lot more comfortable with my attempt at a character blog.

Kent Brown on Authenticity

La Bloga interviews publisher Kent Brown (Boyds Mill Press, Highlights for Children) about multicultural literature.

Cover Design: My Peeps Have Spoken

Sparrow and I both asked which cover you liked better for book two in the First Daughter series (White House Rules, Dutton, January 2008), and you responded: sixteen of you picked Sparrow in green (22%), and fifty-seven of you picked Sparrow in red (78%). Thanks for all the comments and votes! I'll tell my editor Margaret Woollatt, and she'll voice your opinion as they make the final cover decisions.

APALA Children's Book Awards

The Fire Escape is delighted to announce the children's literature winners of the 2007 Asian Pacific American Literature Awards:
Grace Lin's Year Of The Dog (Little Brown) received an honor in text, and Brothers (Philomel), written by Yin and illustrated by Chris Soentpiet, received an honor in the illustration category. Hooray for these wonderful books, writers, and artists! Also, congratulations to Alvina Ling, who edited both of the award-winning books in the text category.

Mitali and Justina celebrating at ALA

Starred Reviews: A Writer's Whine

A good review comes in, and I'm thrilled. In fact, I've been so fortunate that I can't remember a single horrible review of any of my books. Oh, sure, a line or two (or three) have made me wince and even gasp in dismay, but on the whole, reviewers (in print and on the web) have liked my novels. But it seems the gatekeepers have never ADORED anything I've written, because I've got no stars on my writer's belt. None. Zilch. I tell myself, "It doesn't matter. What really counts is the reader who connects with your characters." Or, more pragmatically, "Who cares about stars? What really matters is sales."

At ALA, I heard other sparkle-free writers murmuring wistfully about how starry authors are wined and dined by publishers and driven here and there in hired cars. I can't complain much because nowadays Charlesbridge spoils me rotten. My big worry about being constellationally challenged is that it might keep libraries from buying my books. Which means a kid who might have connected with Jazz, or Sunni, or Naima, or Sparrow won't know they even exist. Anyone else have a take on stars in this crazy business?

Libraries Win Free Books!

I promised five free books to libraries who linked to Sparrow's blog before pub date, and I'm delighted to announce the winners:
I'll be sending signed copies addressed to the YA departments, posting the winners of my contests, and then, at the end of this week, the Fire Escape is emulating the fabulous cyber-diva Cynthia Leitich Smith and going on hiatus for two months. Sparrow will still be posting, though, as she'll be traveling (with me) across the country and back in a rented RV.

Bollywood Bloggers, Librarians and More

A HUGE thanks to the D.C. Public Library for hosting my First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover book launch party last Saturday during the ALA Convention, and to all the friends who came and danced and showed me the love. We missed those of you who couldn't make it. A few first photos (YouTube video coming soon):

The bhangra lesson:

Yun-hee reads my book for the camera:

Name that blogger:

Name the blogger who owns the purse:

Off to D.C.!

The samosas have been ordered. Let the games begin.

Poetry Friday: Help Me Choose The Winners!

I've been judging the 2007 Fire Escape Teen Poetry Contests, and am overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of entries. I've managed to narrow the entries to those I think are the four best poems. I've already ranked them in my head, but I'd love your input before I award the prizes. Which of the poems after the polling box deserves first place in the contest?

The House at the Top of the Hill
Anugraha Heights

(View Results)

by Sophia J.

In Chinese folklore, there was a boy who heard
upon his first day of calligraphy study
that one is a horizontal slash. Considering himself clever, he
deduced that each consecutive number
would merit an extra line,
and found no more need for education
not when the stream outside
and all its silver-throated fish enticed him,
and his fingers itched for the hook, the worm, the kill.

My parents, so eager to impound in me the validity of
"try hard, work long, no play"
went on to describe the old man with the cognomen of
"one thousand" who asked for his name
to be written on the creek bed. The character is,
after all, only three strokes long.

I often wondered at the image my mind produced
of this boy, of our similar mistakes,
our similar sorrows. In these dreams, his fingers are my own,
trembling as they complete line after line of meaningless scratch,
ten hundred streaks flooding away in the next day's rain.

The House at the Top of the Hill
by Alessandra S.

Where the grass hangs like hair over
The hot road
We watched the old men sitting in their
Fold out chairs in front of
Their houses, smoking
Like slow chimneys, puffing home made
Italian cigars clenched between
Ruddy-calloused fingers.

Living slower then the
Pace of the shadows moving across the piazza
And breathing lazily like
The monotonous humming of the crickets
We cupped our small hands to our mouths
And giggled when we passed
The deserted house at the top of the hill.

Listening for the ghosts whispering
Around the broken beams
Sounding like blades of grass rubbing
Their palms against each other.
We pulled our claves through the
Wavy grass up to the house.

The front doors hung from the frame
Like an old women’s teeth
Clinging to her gums.
Saturated boards
Felt the underside of our naked feet.

An empty bathtub in the middle of the room
Wondering at the decaying tile falling, falling
From the ceiling into its
White porcelain belly.
Stairs birthed from upper unexplored floors
Breathed dust clouds onto our ankles
As we stepped onto their chipping backs,

We explored wide rooms, where glassless windows
Stared at us like wide-eyed owls.
We wanted to hide behind invisible and non-existent furniture.

The sky began to drip the beginning of
Deaf to
Calling aunties and uncles
Mommies and daddies,
Words that had been born from the rock
And carved out of the crevices
To become Swiss.
The old men folded up their chairs and
The daddies went down to
The piazza to drink.

At the top of the hill
We cupped our small hands to our mouths
And giggled because hiding was fun.
Flash light beams darted amongst the trees
At the top of the hill
When they came looking for us.
When they found us in the bathtub
Bathing in a pile of tile

That house at the top of the hill
Where fiestas were held on sweaty nights
Held memories for my family.
Returning now to the
Town tucked away in the Swiss-Italian Alps
I hear those same ghosts whispering
But they are whispering ancestral secrets
Into the curve of my ear,
Whispers I will remember even when I go back home.

by Claire G.

Clack clack claack
My grandmother jumps like a little brown bird,
whirling, stepping over the hollow poles
bamboo traps snapping
at ochre ankles in rhythmic time.

Clack clack claack
Schoolmates peer from black almond eyes
she hops and twirls to the syncopated braap-brap-brap
of the Arisaka rifles.
She dances the tinikling
to the beat of the firing squad.

The gauzy symphonic overtures of the West
pour frantically from a phonograph’s brassy throat—
but its staccatos and tremolos are too, too thin
to quell the angry spit of gunfire.
Bullets hurry forward, then settle
abruptly in pounding chests of sons of the republic.

Still dancing…
and the morbid percussion ends.
Wisps of anguish escape the lips of mothers and wives,
extinguished by the wails of the phonograph.
One thousand tiny eyes watch as the souls of their brothers
rise into the pink smoke sky.

With an upward glance and a whispered prayer
my grandmother continues to hop and twirl
to the clack-clack of bamboo
and the reverberating beat of the firing squad.

Anugraha Heights
by Runjini R.

Anugraha Heights pulls me into her soft insides; I climb
her foreign steps, the humidity placing pools of perspiration
into the curves of my arms. I want to fly back home,
cry into my Ninja Turtles pillow, where my tears
don’t mix with sweat. But Apu Mami points out the Bay of Bengal –
(the little children splash in her body) buys me an Arun Orange
(the sticky taste erect on my tongue) and flipping through Tagore,
wants me to love my mother’s country.

Under the perfunctory prose of Seaward Road,
the sweating current of sunned children, beside
the pillars of Krishna Koval, around the monolithic
art towards Mahabulipuram, it grew.
Muted obedience leaning
slightly towards interest, in the walk between
India’s gangling history and aggressive peace, I wanted
(first) more Arun Orange, and s l o w l y
more recapitulations.

Later when the thunder rolled, the family
moved upstairs to Meghna’s room; I tossed
my X-Men toys off the bed, so small
in relation to the huge rain. It fell on the house and
exotic plants, but our exotic insides were licked dry
with Ramayana stories and Cadbury Chocolate Crèmes.
As the lights slapped out, we formed
the ethnic lump of family, and
I admired triumphantly for India,
how Texas never saw this kind of rain.

Afterwards , Chennai was wearing pinpricks of light
on her black sari, and I roared passively through her pleats
in the Maruti, inhaling the explicit want
for permanent family.

And when the tears of departure
became tears for return, I couldn’t imagine India
flowering jasmine in the spring without me,
the Amar Chitra Kathas stacked like
cheap napkins in the bookshelf
and the chirping sounds of incensed Indian women
in nightly soap operas
pounding through the six-storied flat.

Sparrow's Site Stats Go Wild!

Thanks to a comment on Sparrow's blog by Mrs. Elizabeth Edwards setting things straight about her daughter Emma Claire's joke, Wonkette, TPM Cafe, Time-CNN, ABC, and others linked to yesterday's post. Lesson learned: these days, luminaries are skimming blogs just like everyone else, which means they're listening to small voices like ours.

Photo Source: Steve Garfield

Elizabeth Edwards and Sparrow Chat

I had no idea how important blogs were going to be to the candidates when I started sparrowblog. This morning, my character's site got hordes of visitors searching for "Edwards' Daughter picks Hillary," or some other such nonsense. Now it looks like someone identifying herself as Elizabeth Edwards stopped by and left a comment on Sparrow's post to clarify. Is it her? Or somebody pretending to be her? Lots of loony imposters stalking the web these days, like me, pretending to be Sparrow ...

UPDATE: Apparently, the comment was from was Elizabeth Edwards, and my site stats are going bonkers!

Roker Picks Swordbird

Thirteen-year-old Nancy Yi Fan's bestselling fantasy, Swordbird (HarperCollins, February 2007), is the new Today Show's children's book pick.

My Character Is Getting Bossy

How bad is it when a fictional character you've created tells you do something and you do it? Yesterday, Sparrow announced that YouTube and CNN want us to submit questions to the candidates before the next set of presidential debates. And so, without further ado (and no rehearsal, obviously), I asked my son to film my 30-second question:

What a great project for teens this summer. If you scroll through the submitted videos (mine didn't seem to make the cut -- must have broken the rules somehow), you'll see plenty of fresh, young faces and ideas from first-time voters.

Can U Bhangra Like Kashif?

Can't wait to watch my kaboodle of librarians and blogger buddies dance like this guy:

If you can't make it to the party, we'll upload a video of our own to YouTube for your enjoyment.

Old World Taste Buds: Mangoes and Lemons

They say that as immigrants mingle and marry and their descendants melt into the American soup, the last identifying sign from their countries of origin is a sense of taste. Could that be why I (and my sons) can't do without various jars of mango and lemon pickle? (Yes, that Taj Mahal imitation is completely made of lemons, courtesy of the Annual Lemon Festival in Menton, France. Source: Sepia Mutiny).

And for those who might be staying in D.C. after ALA, here's an option: check out the first-ever Indian mango tasting festival this harvest season, held June 27 during the Global India summit. India produces 58% of the world's mango crop, but you couldn't find any sign of them in North America ... until now. To really enjoy a Bengali langra, the juices must drip down your chin as you devour every last piece of flesh, discarding the pit only when it's white and bald (nothing personal intended, my white bald readers). Of if you prefer to peel and chop into chunks, here's the way to do it.

ALA, DC, SBBT, and other Abbreviations

Thanks, thanks, and more thanks to, the D.C. Stanford Club, Sepia Mutiny, MotherReader, Zee, YALSA, Liz, Fuse#8, and others for announcing my book launch party at the D.C. Public Library next Saturday. There's still room to squeeze in, but please RSVP so I can plan the food. I'm ready to bhangra, are you? Politics and Prose Bookstore is providing copies of First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover, but they'll only have a few on hand so mostly we'll be dancing like this:

I'll also be signing copies of Rickshaw Girl at ALA's annual convention in D.C. from 1-2 p.m. on Saturday at booth #2910. Stop by and say hi if you're in the vicinity.

Sameera closed out her blog tour today over at Sara's Holds Shelf. Meanwhile, I had a great time being interviewed by the astute Kelly Herold as part of the SBBT. Here's the full schedule, courtesy of Master Organizer Colleen Mondor:

Sunday, June 17

Gene Yang at Finding Wonderland

Monday, June 18

Tom & Dorothy Hoobler at Chasing Ray
Mitali Perkins at Big A, Little a
Sara Zarr at Interactive Reader
Justina Chen Headley at Hip Writer Mama
Justine Larbalestier at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
Dana Reinhardt at lectitans
Brent Hartinger at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Laura Ruby at Writing and Ruminating
Jordan Sonnenblick by Bildungsroman
Ysabeau Wilce at Finding Wonderland

Tuesday, June 19

Laura Ruby at Miss Erin
Bennett Madison at Shaken & Stirred
Shaun Tan at A Fuse #8 Production
Chris Crutcher at Bookshelves of Doom
Holly Black at The YA YA YAs
Kazu Kibuishi at Finding Wonderland
Christopher Golden at Bildungsroman
David Brin at Chasing Ray
Kirsten Miller at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Sara Zarr at Big A, little a
Sonya Hartnett at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Wednesday, June 20

Mitali Perkins at Hip Writer Mama
Svetlana Chmakova at Finding Wonderland
Dana Reinhardt at Interactive Reader
Laura Ruby at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
Holly Black at Shaken & Stirred
Hilary McKay at Bookshelves of Doom
Kirsten Miller at Miss Erin
Julie Ann Peters at A Fuse #8 Production
Carolyn Mackler at The YA YA YAs
Jordan Sonnenblick at Writing and Ruminating

Thursday, June 21

Eddie Campbell
at Chasing Ray
Sara Zarr at Writing and Ruminating
Brent Hartinger at Interactive Reader
Justine Larbalestier at Big A, little a
Cecil Castellucci at Shaken & Stirred
Ysabeau Wilce at Bildungsroman
Jordan Sonnenblick at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Chris Crutcher at Finding Wonderland
Kazu Kibuishi at lectitans
Mitali Perkins at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Laura Ruby at The YA YA YAs

Friday, June 22

Tim Tharp at Chasing Ray
Justina Chen Headley at Big A, little a
Ysabeau Wilce at Shaken & Stirred
Dana Reinhardt at Bildungsroman
Julie Ann Peters at Finding Wonderland
Cecil Castellucci at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
Bennett Madison at Bookshelves of Doom
Holly Black at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Justine Larbalestier at Hip Writer Mama
Kirsten Miller at A Fuse #8 Production

Saturday, June 23

Justina Chen Headley finishes out the week at Finding Wonderland

International Books For Kids and Young Adults

Want a book of fiction about a particular region or country for a particular age group? Here's another great resource: the University of Arizona's International Collection of Children's and Adolescent Literature.

Summer Blog Blast Tour

Put on some reggae, grab your sunglasses, and head out with us on the 2007 Summer Blog Blast Tour, during which over 25 young adult authors will be hosted by the best kid lit blogs on the planet. I'm going to be interviewed here (Monday, June 18), and here (Wednesday, June 20), and here (Thursday, June 21).

Photo Source: Nicholaus Haskins

Fly, Sparrow, Fly!

First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover releases today! Please smash a champagne bottle against your computer screen and rejoice with me (okay, skip the champagne and stick to the rejoicing). Godspeed, my little novel in the big scheme of things.

Sparrow's Amazing Blog Tour

First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover's main character Sameera Righton is taking a whirlwind tour to some outstanding blogs. Here's how she got booked, and here's her schedule:
Monday, 6/11: 5 Minutes For Mom and Jennifer Snapshot
Tuesday, 6/12: Big A little a
Wednesday, 6/13: Semicolon
Thursday, 6/14: Jen Robinson's Book Page
Friday, 6/15: Little Willow
Monday, 6/18: Sara's Holds Shelf

PaperTigers: A Chat With Aline Pereira

With the launch of PaperTigers' new blog, I invited Aline Pereira, editor of the award-winning, resource-rich site, to talk about her vision and vocation.

Q. Tell us about your journey to this land where children's literature is beloved. When did you start reading? How did you end up as the managing editor of the site?

A: I have always loved reading and writing, which I have been doing ever since I can remember. When I came to San Francisco from my native Brasil in 1996, after living in Portugal for some time, the first thing I did was join a writing group of non-native speakers writing fiction in English. To this date those co-writers are my closest friends... But before moving to Portugal and then here, I was working as assistant manager at a bookstore in Rio de Janeiro that specialized in art and children's books. It was the first bookstore in Rio to have a café, readings, music performances... It was a remarkable place to be. Lots of positive, creative energy...

In San Francisco, I worked as a project manager at a web design firm in the South of Market area for 6 years before my daughter was born (I took a 3 year-break after her birth) but I never lost sight of my dream of working with books again. And as it happens with most important things in life, serendipity played a big role in my joining PaperTigers: one day, when I was not even looking for a job, my husband was hired to work on the Pacific Rim Voices family of websites (of which PaperTigers is one of the projects) and heard that they were looking for someone to replace Elisa Oreglia, the person who conceived and started the site, as she was moving to China to pursue other projects. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. Luckily, Peter Coughlan, the Executive Director of Pacific Rim Voices, believed in my skills and enthusiasm enough to give me the reins of the project. It's been a challenging, wonderful and very rewarding ride.

Q. (Note to confused Fire Escape visitors: In the photo, the stony dude with large nostrils is neither Aline's hubby nor Peter Coughlan.) What do you like about managing the PaperTigers site?

A: The most rewarding things are being familiar with the great work of authors and illustrators; letting others know about new books, talents and projects, and providing a type of grassroots overall support to those involved in writing, producing, recommending and reading these great books (authors, illustrators and publishers, and also librarians, teachers and parents) in their attempts to encourage children to become hungry readers and respectful citizens of the world. Knowing that our rapidly growing readership thinks that we are doing a good job feels pretty good, too.

Q. What are your dreams for the site and the blog?

A: I hope that PaperTigers new team blog helps us get closer to our audience, which includes teachers, librarians and parents working with and raising children in different parts of the world. As for the website, I hope for more funding so we can do more of what we do, and better: that is, to promote understanding within and across cultures through children's literature with a particular focus on the Pacific Rim and South Asia. Growing our pool of overseas contributors is also a priority, to make sure we are covering more literature coming out of other important but less talked about parts of the region as well.

Q. Name a couple of reads with bookmarks that are on your nightstand right now.

A: To the horror of many an avid reader, I admit to having a chronic problem with dog-earing my books. My nightstand is almost collapsing under the weight of my dog-eared piles, but their company helps me sleep better. The books don't get moved from my nightstand (or the floor around my bed, for that matter) to the bookshelves until long after I've finished reading them.

Books there now include: Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Lensey Namioka's Mismatch; the YA poetry collection What Have You Lost?, selected by the terrific Naomi Shihab Nye, and several others, including your First Daughter. I'm embarrassed to say Sparrow has been staring at me for a couple of weeks now, with those pretty eyes of hers. "I'll get to you soon," I assure her every evening before falling asleep.

Aline, please don't let Sparrow become a literary nag; it's heartening to know she's on your nightstand in such superb company. A thousand thanks to you and to Pacific Rim Voices for the information and encouragement you provide to those of us in children's literature circles. Até a vista!

Rhode Island Library Conference

I'm off this morning to my last speaking engagement of this academic year, the RILA Conference in Providence, which happens to be about a mile from the nearest Nordstrom's. May have to stop in and pick up a new dress for Sparrow's book launch and bhangra party at the D.C. Public Library during ALA ...

48 Hours of Books: RU Ready?

Grab a juicy peach or two, find the nearest hammock, and read the weekend away by taking Mother Reader's Second Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge. Read the rules here.

Sparrow's SLJ Review

Here it is:
"...Sameera is a savvy and appealing character, and while teen girls will love reading about her makeover, they will also come away with a sense of the demands made on those who are constantly in the public eye."

Book Trailer: Take One

After following a link from Galleycat yesterday to this post about creating book trailers, I decided to play around in iMovie and see what I could do for First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover. Here goes (all feedback greatly appreciated, you can see a re-tooled version over at Sparrow's blog):

Trailer budget: $0
Knowledge of iMovie before yesterday: nil
Time spent: 6-8 hours while kids were at school
Galleycat link: priceless

Intangibles you might gain if you try this: major leap in respect for trailer storytellers; humility if the video you, a writer by profession, upload contains a major typo (you can still see mine on the Galleycat site's video; I fixed it here after a kind viewer pointed it out.)

Note: permission pending from Emi April Music for 1-time use of 2 minutes of Ms. Key's song.

Announcement: Paper Tigers Blog

PaperTigers (visit the award-winning site on multicultural books for young readers) announces the launch of a fabulous new blog. Note to novice bloggers: stock blog with content before going live and you just might make it on blogrolls everywhere.

L.M. Montgomery Conference: Call For Proposals

June 30, 2007 is the deadline for proposals for the 8th international conference on L.M. Montgomery. "L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables and the Idea of Classic" is set for June 25-29, 2008 at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada.

From the conference organizers:

Imagine Pippi Longstocking, Heidi, Nancy Drew, Tom Sawyer, Tarzan, and Harry Potter at one gathering. What is a classic and what popular books will become classics? In 2008, we invite you to consider Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and the very idea of "classic" itself. What does the word "classic" mean to young readers today and why does this matter? You may want to consider Anne of Green Gables in relation to other phenomenally best-selling books that had or have a cross-generational appeal but did not or may not last through time; you may want to think about Anne of Green Gables readers as part of a "fandom" and how this readership compares with other fandoms. Why has Anne of Green Gables been around 100 years? Will it make it for another 100? What do classics tell us about perceptions of gender and class?

Join us in June of 2008 for an international celebration of imagination and creativity and for a critique of the meaning and power of the (popular) designation "classic."

Please send one-page abstracts (no more, please) and a short, one paragraph biographical sketch to the L.M. Montgomery Institute (address information below) either electronically or by mail.

Deadline for submissions: June 30, 2007
Contact Information:
L.M. Montgomery Institute
University of Prince Edward Island
550 University Avenue
Charlottetown, PE
Tel: (902) 628-4346
Fax: (902) 628-4345

This conference is part of a larger year long celebration. The year 2008 marks the 100 years since Anne of Green Gables was first published in 1908. Imagine celebrating 100 years of Montgomery's "Anne" with us on Prince Edward Island. L.M. Montgomery is a trademark of the Heirs of the L.M. Montgomery Inc. used under license by the L.M. Montgomery Institute.

Boston Globe / Horn Book Awards 2007

Octavian Nothing wins yet another award ....

Books For Latinos and Students of Color

La Bloga interviews author and SCBWI Ventura Regional Advisor Alexis O'Neill (Estela's Swap / Lee & Low) about creating authenticity in picture books from the outside. "The words and images must ring true to people within that culture in terms of syntax, behavior, beliefs and dress," says O'Neill.

And from blogger Crazy Quilts (who describes herself as "an African American female librarian hoping to improve the literacy of urban students") comes news of The Latino Book & Family Festival and a list of '07 School Reads for Students of Color.

This Is Not Your Parents' Arranged Marriage

Two Weeks To Pub Date: Win Free Books!

Contests abound on the Fire Escape (2007 teen poetry and short story entries are due TODAY), and it's not because we South Asian types have a penchant for word-oriented competitions. My novel First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover releases in TWO weeks, and I want to give away ten books to celebrate. (You may read the first chapter here if you'd like.)

Five libraries (school and public) can win free signed hardcovers on pub date by linking to and sending the most visitors to Sparrow's '08 campaign blog before June 14, 2007. Right now, the libraries in the lead are:
THIS SUMMER: Five more libraries and/or schools win free signed books as visitors come to Sparrow's blog and leave the name of a library and/or school they love in the comments from June 15 - September 1.