Showing posts from March, 2011

2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature

I'm thrilled that Bamboo People has been named the Children's Literature Honor book by the APALA arm of the American Library Association. Here's the full list of winners—congratulations, one and all, and thanks to the librarians who selected the books:
Picture Book Winner
Malaspina, Ann. Yasmin’s Hammer. Illustrated by Doug Ghayka.  New York: Lee and Low, 2010.

Picture Book Honor
Thong, Roseanne. Fly Free! Illustrated by Eujin Kim Neilan.   Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2010

Children’s Literature Winner
Preus, Margi. Heart of a Samurai. New York: Amulet Books (Abrams), 2010.

Children’s Literature Honor
Perkins, Mitali. Bamboo People. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2010.

Young Adult Literature Winner
Senzai, N. H. Shooting Kabul. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010.

Young Adult Literature Honor
Bazaldua, Barbara. A Boy of Heart Mountain. Illustrated by Willie Ito.  Camarillo, CA: Yabitoon Books, 2010.

Shubo Boi Jonmodin, THE SECRET KEEPER!

"Shubo Boi Jonmodin" means "happy book birthday" in my mother tongue, Bangla. Today I'm celebrating the release day in India of THE SECRET KEEPER, published by HarperCollins India.
It's fitting that I visited a school this morning in Concord, Massachusetts and drove past the home of Louisa May Alcott, since THE SECRET KEEPER was partly written in homage to LITTLE WOMEN. Godspeed in South Asia, my little book!

Notable Books for a Global Society 2011

Curious about how to share books set in other countries or cultures with kids? This slideshow prepared by Karen Hildebrand of the Notable Books for a Global Society commitee demonstrates the rich resources available online to enrich the reading of these books (flip past the first two ad slides to get started.)
Notable Books for a Global Society 2011

BAMBOO PEOPLE is a 2011 White Raven Book!

Each year, the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany selects noteworthy, newly-published books from around the world and compiles them into the annual White Ravens Catalogue, introduced each year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in Italy.

This year's collection contains 250 titles in 36 languages from 52 countries, and I'm thrilled that Bamboo People is one of the titles representing the United States. Here are the eight 2011 White Raven books from the United States, with the IYL's annotations:

DiCamillo, Kate, McGhee, Alison, and Fucile, Tony
Bink and Gollie
Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

Small, wild-haired, vivacious peanut-butter addict Bink and tall, lean, neat pancake baker Gollie are an odd pair of friends. Yet, even if their opinions on lots of matters diverge considerably, e.g. on whether “outrageously bright socks” are great or on whether a fish can be a marvellous companion, the two girls always find some sort of compromise in the end. This encha…

Tropes, Myths, and Racism in YA Books: What Can Be Done?

Don't miss this brilliant post by YA author Nicola K. Richardson in which she eloquently addresses some commonly held misconceptions about race in young adult literature. For example, when it comes to the claim that young white readers won't cross borders of race to read, Ms. Richardson has this to say:
Kids of color give white writers a chance all the time. But white kids won't do the same for a writer of color? The same kids that buy a CD cover with a black artist with no problems would hesitate over a book cover? The same kids that go to school with and have friends of all races would refuse to be diverse when it comes to reading? I firmly believe that this is just as wrong as the assumption that blacks only read urban fiction. Again, MANY believe this and it shows in the heinous whitewashing of book covers. It shows when bookstores won't carry books with characters of color on the cover. It shows when salespeople swear they can't sell these books. The problem w…

My Writers for the Red Cross Auction Item

Today's Writers for the Red Cross Auction swag bag is from me. It includes a signed hardcover of Bamboo People, a bamboo bookmark with pewter elephant from Thailand, a signed hardcover of Secret Keeper, and an alabaster candle holder from India. Browse the other items up for bidding—there are some generous donations.

Meanwhile, let's keep praying for Japan. In 1948, Nobel prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck published a children's book about a tsunami in Japan called The Big Wave. In 2005, NPR's Jacki Lyden read an excerpt from that "famous story of a Japanese boy who must face life after escaping the tidal wave destruction of his family and village." Has anybody read it since the recent tragedy? What are your thoughts?

I Grew Up Maple Sugaring in March

The title of this blog post isn't true. Not really, anyway. I grew up as an immigrant kid in New York City and wouldn't taste maple syrup until college. But thanks to the power of fiction and my imagination, every spring I escaped by book to the countryside and went sugaring. Maybe that's why this time of year in New England always feels like a homecoming. Here are three of my favorite reads (and re-reads) about maple sugaring.

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen. In the Spring 2007 Curriculum Connections edition of School Library Journal, I wrote an articlecalled "No Place Like Home" that included a description of this all-about-sugaring Newbery Award winner:
(A journey to sugaring country) in winter parallels (the characters') bleak emotional landscape, and when their car wheels spin uselessly on a snowy hill, we intuit how stuck the family has been feeling. Eventually, the flowing of the sap and the excitement of sugaring brings spring to the land…

Looking for Funny YA About Race? Here's One.

No, this is not oxymoronic: I recently enjoyed a humorous contemporary YA novel that adeptly handles race. Latte Rebellion (Flux, January 2011) by Sara Jamila Stevenson is a funny, poignant debut novel narrated by a protagonist you'd love to meet for coffee and conversation in real life. I loved the window this novel gives into growing up "latte" amidst the craziness of racial politics in America. But thanks to witty dialog, vivid characters, and a spot-on depiction of bittersweet endings and beginnings, Latte Rebellion is also a mirror for anyone who remembers or anticipates the roller coaster ride of senior year.

Diversity Discussion for Share A Story | Shape a Future

Bloggers and children's literature advocates here, there, and everywhere are promoting the powerful connection between books and kids in an effort called Share a Story | Shape a Future. This week, from March 7-11, we focus on "Unwrapping the Gift of Literacy."

As part of the conversation, Terry Doherty of The Reading Tub is hosting a roundtable discussion of diversity in children's books, inviting award-winning author Tanita Davis (MARE'S WAR), Hannah Ehrlich of Lee and Low Books, and me to share our thoughts.

Here's an excerpt from Tanita's contribution:
Play and romance and the trivialities that form everyone’s life have to be written about by YA authors, otherwise we fall prey to that 'single story' trap, as if minorities and immigrants have only one facet, and only one experience to offer.Read the rest here, and please leave comments.

3 Excellent Border-Crossing MG/YA Books for 2011

In a poignant, funny, and unforgettable middle-grade novel called Inside Out and Back Again (HarperCollins, March 2011), Thanhha Lai remembers how her family escaped Vietnam before the fall of Saigon. American and Vietnamese characters alike leap to life through the voice and eyes of a ten-year-old girl—a protagonist so strong, loving, and vivid I longed to hand her a wedge of freshly cut papaya. This tenderly told tale transports readers to the time immediately after the Vietnam War and  sheds light on the life of young people displaced by war.

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy (Scholastic, January 2011) is the perfect example of why we can't set up apartheid-like rules in the realm of fiction. The author is a white guy writing from the point of view of an Afhani girl, crossing fairly significant borders of race and power to tell this story. But thanks to the diligent use of an empathetic imagination and an ability to listen, Reedy's middle-grade novel opens windows into a worl…

In Which Skype Takes Me To School Without Walls

I've been enjoying an increasing number of Skype visits into classrooms and libraries this year, during which I sit in my study and chat with students hailing from all corners of the country ... and sometimes the world.

For example, here are some thank-you notes from exchange students studying at the School Without Walls in D.C. (published with permission, sic). When do adult writers of fiction get to (a) converse virtually with such a savvy, global group of readers, and (b) receive fabulous notes like these? If you wonder why I prefer writing for young people, read on.

Dear Mitali,

I wanted to thank you for the Skype conversation. It was amazing to talk with the author of the book that we had to read. Thank for gave us a little bit of your time, it was such a great experience.

I really liked the book and the story. I have learned a lot about Burma, a country that I absolutely did not know before, and what is going on over there. The story was well imagined and I really enjoyed …

Thank You, Independent Booksellers!

Returned home from winter break to delightful news: Bamboo People is shortlisted as a Book of the Year finalist in the Young Adult Novel category of the 2011 Indies Choice Awards. Here are the nominees (in alphabetical order):

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins (Charlesbridge)Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins)Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (Knopf)Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (Atheneum)Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (Delacorte)Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan (Dutton)
And, as if that's not enough, I'm a finalist in the "Most Engaging Author" category, given to an "author who is an in-store star with a strong sense of the importance of indie booksellers to the community."

Don't know about the first part of the description, but the second is certainly true: I'd be nowhere as an author were it not for my indies. Being in the company of the other nominees is a huge part of thi…