Showing posts from August, 2010

Funny Books Featuring Multicultural Protagonists

The number one request from booksellers during our conversation last week about selling multicultural titles was for "less serious books that are more fun."

I put out a call on twitter for Kid/YA books featuring multicultural protagonists, and below are the responses. Feel free to add more suggestions of funny books in the comments and I'll update the list.

Younger Readers

NERDS by Michael Buckley
THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM by Christopher Paul Curtis
BINDI BABES by Narinder Dhami
OPERATION REDWOOD by S. Terrell French
YEAR OF THE DOG by Grace Lin
ALVIN HO by Lenore Look
RUBY LU by Lenore Look
LUV YA BUNCHES by Lauren Myracle
8TH GRADE SUPERZERO by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
DAVID MORTIMORE BAXTER series by Karen Tayleur
ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia

Young Ad…

Happy I Have A Dream Day

Listen to or watch Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving the "I Have a Dream" speech during the Civil Rights rally on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963.

Tips on Selling "Multicultural" Kid/YA Books

I posed this question last week here on the Fire Escape before enjoying a long conversation about the topic with Delacorte editors, Random House sales reps, and several stellar indie booksellers.

Based on that chat and some great comments, here are some practical ideas and encouragement for and from booksellers eager to sell books featuring non-white characters. Thanks to everybody who chimed in, and if you leave other helpful suggestions in the comments, I'll add them to the list.
A younger “global story section” has worked well, calling out titles to people who don’t normally see them.

An around the world display of YA/MG titles, not focused on one particular ethnicity, was popular in our store.

Point: Connecting an in-store display into a nationwide promotion like African American history month helped draw attention to certain books.

Counterpoint: Our display of African American books during that month never sold well. The books compete against each other, and if they were spread …

BAMBOO PEOPLE Book Launch Party!

A thousand thanks to Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Ma and to my publisher Charlesbridge for hosting my Bamboo People book launch party. I always get nervous, so I greatly appreciated everybody who came and sent notes of encouragement from near and far. I've posted a few videos below, and here are some recaps from others who attended:

Walk the Ridgepole Not Just For Kids Britt Leigh's Brain on Books The Papa Post

Introducing the book
Reading an excerpt of BAMBOO PEOPLE

Even More ... Yikes!

Ideas For Indies Who Want to Sell Multicultural Titles?

Random House has kindly arranged a brainstorm meeting tomorrow by phone for some of their staff, several great independent booksellers who want to sell "multicultural" children's and YA titles, and me.

I'm excited and a bit nervous. Seven or eight years ago, I couldn't have imagined being a part of such a conversation. In anticipation, I tweeted this yesterday:

"Chatting this Thursday with some great indies about how to sell books like mine—i.e., lacking paranormality, cleavage, white people. Ideas?"

@dosankodebbie said, "Target international school libraries. There are countless international schools all over the world with non-white and mixed-race kids."

@LisaLOwens tweeted, "You could mention little things like relatable characters, absorbing drama, exciting/fresh settings. Readers like all that!"

@PaulWHankins, a teacher, suggested this: "The stores can show content and curricular connections."

When it comes to a book lik…

Hither, Thither, and Yon

I'm happy to share several recent interviews where I've spouted off on this and that:
Boston Globe
PaperTigersSpilling InkYA BookshelfYoung Adult Review NetworkI've also updated my list of reviews of Bamboo People with much gratitude, hoping to shine a light on Burma, because "in the ethnic areas there is suffering on a biblical scale, in every way comparable to Darfur." (Partners Relief)

And if you're in the Boston area, there's still time to plan to come to the launch party for the book this Thursday, 7 p.m., Porter Square Books, Cambridge.

First Prize Fire Escape Poetry Contest 2010

I'm delighted to present the first prize winner in the Fire Escape's Eighth Annual Poetry Contest for teens between cultures.

CITY IN THE EAST AND CITY IN THE WEST was written by Mirette, who was born in Egypt. "The hardest thing about balancing two cultures is trying to be loyal to both of them simultaneously," she says. "It's hard to follow the traditions of two different cultures as they sometimes contradict each other. The best thing about being an immigrant is definitely the food--nothing beats Middle Eastern cuisine, and I'm glad I can still enjoy it even though I live in America."

City in the East and City in the West

Intolerance, boils under the crimson sun
Captivity, in the hearts of many
A lion's body with a woman's head sits boldly on hot, desert sand
what torture in the sting of a whip
to create such a monument

if you look left
a man wearing a linen gown and turban
becomes one with his doumbek drum
as he smokes tobacco from his ho…

Tigers and Frangipani: Oh, My!

We saw old friends during our two weeks in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but also made a new friend or two.

Here's the view of the Ping River from the old Thai house where I wrote the first draft of Bamboo People. Used to also be able to see Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai's signature mountain.
I love bamboo ...
Floating flower arrangements reminded me of Alpana art.

Fragrant frangipani in the rain.