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Showing posts from November, 2009

First, California. Next, My Winter Retreat.

I'm heading to Southern California today for CSLA's annual convention. I'll be presenting "Books Between Cultures" on Friday from 2:15-3:15, and then signing in the exhibit hall from 3:30 to 4:30. On Sunday, I'll be at the Author Brunch listening to Bruce Hale's speech and schmoozing with librarians. If you're there in real life, come find me, and I'll be sharing news from the conference virtually on twitter using hashtag #csla2009.

After that, I begin my winter retreat, backing away from the internet to create space for writing and the holiday season. I'll be lightly involved via social media and commenting on other blogs, but won't return to the Fire Escape until 1/8. It's cold out here anyway, right? Enjoy the quieter winter season, and I'll see you out here again in 2010. Peace be with you.

Thanksgiving From The Margins

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Thanksgiving is my favorite North American holiday by far. It doesn't make new or poor Americans feel as left out as some of the other festival days. During winter break, why did the fat dude in red bring presents for everybody in my class except me?

Duck For Turkey Day, a new picture book from Albert Whitman & Co by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Kathryn Mitter, tells the story of Tuyet, a Vietnamese-American girl who worries about eating duck on "Turkey Day." A chorus of classmates reassures Tuyet at the end of the book, describing a diversity of food eaten at their tables as they too celebrated America's day of gratitude with their families.

The book is wonderful choice for classrooms and families this Thanksgiving. School Library Journal says, "This sweet tale is written in straightforward prose and provides a brief glimpse of another culture. Mitter's bright illustrations accented with cozy details draw readers into Tuyet's happy home and enh…

Wordle Your Brand

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Not sure how to describe your blog's "brand" or "niche"? I do an occasional check on search terms or keywords using free tools like statcounter or google analytics. For fun, you can also create a wordle to get a quick snapshot of your blog's brand. Here's one generated for Books With Flair, for example:



Pretty much sums up what I'm up to over at that blog, right?

Could A Story Help This Happen?

I'm bullish on the power of story to inspire and revolutionize acts of justice and peace. So when I read about something as exciting as Bishop Desmond Tutu's simple yet powerful plan of universal birth registration, my mind begins to whirl around plot possibilities. A dystopian YA novel about teens with lost identities? A picture book featuring one of these children to show how important a birth certificate can be? As you watch the video below, what stories come to mind for you?

15 New YA Books Featuring Forgiveness

I put out a call for books published in 2009 that underline the theme of forgiveness, and received several responses in the YA category, listed below in alphabetical order by author's last name.

Thanks to everybody who contributed; if you don't see your suggestion, it's probably because the book wasn't released in 2009. Let me know if I've missed something.

I'm still collecting titles on the theme for tweens and kids, so feel free to add those in the comments, and don't forget to check the list of books honored by the Jane Addams Peace Association.

Note: I haven't read most of these titles yet, so am relying on annotations provided by the publishers. Looking forward to some great reads.

1. Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe

No matter how many times Kyle rewrites the scene, he can't get it right. He tries it in the style of Hitchcock, Tarantino, Eastwood, all of his favorite directors—but regardless of the style, he can't remember what happened that day…

Kid/YA Books About Forgiveness

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My grandfather died a bitter man. He never recovered from the commandeering of our family jute farm in Bangladesh, hating that he'd had to resettle in Kolkata as a dependent, almost penniless old man.

Two generations removed from that loss, I have the freedom and distance to reflect on the shadow of unforgiveness in our family. I've shared the story of a meaningful visit I made to our ancestral property, when two white doves appeared out of nowhere to rest on the doorway of the house. (I was so stunned, I took a photo so I wouldn't think I was dreaming.) One of the reasons I wrote BAMBOO PEOPLE was to explore the possibility and process of forgiveness.

I've been reading stories posted at The Forgiveness Project — stories of those who've suffered deeply and yet managed to forgive the person who caused that suffering.  And what about the other side? How does it work for the perpetrator? Declan Kavanagh's poem "What Kept Us Apart" as featured in this vi…

Curators of YA Lit Keep Us Up-To-Date

In a hurry to find new stories for teenagers? Trying to discover what's hot off the presses? To save time, tune into lists generated by a few excellent curators of young adult literature:
Quick Picks for Reluctant YA ReadersFabulous Films for Young AdultsGreat Graphic Novels for TeensThis Week's New YA releasesAll YA book releases

Poetry Friday: Naomi Shihab Nye

Here's the brilliant Naomi Shihab Nye reading four of her poems, "Please Describe How You Became a Writer," "Fresh," "During a War," and "Truth Serum," at the Dodge Poetry Festival on 9/27/08:




The Poetry Friday round up this week is at Wild Rose Reader.

But What About Your Writing, Mitali?

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I've been doing a ton of author visits this fall, for which I'm grateful, and also enjoying several new adventures with social media. But what's been happening with my primary vocation, you might be wondering? Inquiring Fire Escape visitors deserve to know.


With Bamboo People in the copy-editing stage, I'm getting ready for a Fall 2010 release from Charlesbridge by reserving a domain name and gathering resources (it's not pretty yet, but it's a start.)  Can't wait to see the finished cover art, which I'll be posting there and here soon.

I'm almost done with a chapter book called Tiger Magic that was commissioned by a doll company. It's a set in the Sundarbans of West Bengal and features the endangered Bengal Tiger, one of my favorite creatures on the planet. More on that to come.

On December 1st, I'll be retreating a bit from the virtual world and beginning a new novel. Can't say much about it, but I've been scribbling ideas longhand …

ALA Midwinter Kid/YA Lit Tweetup

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Coming to Boston for the ALA Midwinter conference? If you're a tweeting librarian, author, illustrator, publisher, agent, editor, reviewer, blogger, or anyone interested in children's and YA lit, join us on January 16, 2010 from 4-6 in the Birch Bar at Boston's Westin Waterfront Hotel.



The brilliant Deborah Sloan found a venue that's connected to the Conference Center so we won't have to don winter woolies. We'll chat about books, share program ideas, see old friends, and, if you've been tweeting a while, finally meet the people you've been re-tweeting, listing, and following.

Can you come if you're not on Twitter? Well, if you're reading this blog, you're online, so it'll take about two minutes to sign up for twitter. Here's a newbie's guide to get you started. Do a search for #alatweetup to find news and updates about the event, and if you tweet about it, use that hashtag at the end of your tweet so we can discover you.

Here&#…

Surfing Outside Your Zone

One of the many gifts of new media is an increased democracy in the public square (with thanks to our public libraries, who fight to narrow the digital divide). In her School Library Journal cover story about blogs, Betsy Bird quotes editor Cheryl Klein: “Book blogs have created community—a place where we adults who take children's literature seriously can discuss it seriously and at length, in a forum open to the whole Internet.”

Virtually, as in life, it may be easier to commune with people with whom we have quite a bit in common. The challenge is to tune into voices we might not otherwise hear, listening and learning from people who aren't "like us" at first blush. Good blogs help us cross borders, and sometimes take us to uncomfortable places where we either change our convictions or deepen them through discourse and dialogue. 

Since I don't know how you define your "comfort zone" in the realm of Kid/YA literature, here are a few options to get you …