Showing posts from November, 2011


I was honored this November to serve as one of the pep talkers for the National Novel Writing Month Young Writers Program. Here's the start of my piece (read it in entirety at NANOWRIMOYP):
Dear Writers, By now your hair needs a trim, your room's a mess, and your Facebook friends are worried you're dead or in a monastery. At this point in a story, voices in our heads whisper that we're wasting time.We should be doing something more valuable, right? Why are we spending hours alone in front of our computers? How does that help a hurting planet? Don't listen. Storytelling is a powerful act. Stories have the mysterious power to widen hearts and change minds. The human psyche is never quite the same after receiving a story. In some ways, novelists have even more storytelling power than the best Hollywood directors. Unlike Steven Spielberg or Peter Jackson, we share the direction of our story with our readers' imaginations. Together, an author an…

"My Characters are Better Versions of Me," I Said

The lovely Isha Roy of Global India Newswire interviewed me recently while I was in D.C. attending the South Asian Literary and Theater Festival. I talked about the benefits of growing up between cultures, what Americans think of India these days, my gratitude for other South Asian American writers, and a bunch of other stuff, including my forthcoming projects.

Wisconsin International Outreach Children's and Young Adult Literature Celebration

Last weekend, I was privileged to speak at the tenth annual Wisconsin International Outreach Children's and Young Adult Literature Celebration. Here's my summary of the event on twitter via hashtag #wioc, followed by some photos.
K. T. Horning taking us "Around the World in 80 Days." K. T. Horning discusses initial discomfort with Chinese-Americans sending kids to China in ONLY ONE YEAR | Andrea Cheng | @LeeandLow

Now that she understands the practice, she can share her love of ONLY ONE YEAR @LeeandLow

K. T. Horning raving about Francisco Stork's LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS, a Don Quixote retelling.

Two picture books that sound great: THE MANGROVE TREE by Susan Roth set in Eritrea and RAIN SCHOOL by James Rumford set in Chad.

New multicultural fantasy for ages 11-14 set in Nigeria: AKATA WITCH by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking 2011).

Atinuke's THE NO. 1 CAR SPOTTER is a new chapter book series featuring a Nigerian boy. (The author, who…

Highly Recommended: THE NO. 1 CAR SPOTTER by Atinuke

Used to be that you'd look far and wide in vain to find a funny, heartfelt chapter book set in another continent, especially one featuring a boy. That's why I'm so excited to recommend THE NO. 1 CAR SPOTTER series by Atinuke, the story of a delightful lad growing up in a small African village. First published by Walker Books in the UK, these early readers and fantastic read-alouds are published in the U.S. by Kane Miller.

Oluwalase Babatunde Benson is known as "No.1 car spotter" by friends and family because he can identify every make of car that goes by on the busy road that passes the village. Divided into four self-contained chapters, this first in a series by Atinuke (author of the Horn Book honoree ANNA HIBISCUS series) chronicles No. 1's everyday adventures, from serving customers at Mama Coca-Cola's roadside stand to (unwittingly) helping his father find a new job.

"Atinuke has a Beverly Cleary–esque gift for depicting daily-life details with b…

INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN by Thanhha Lai wins National Book Award!

INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN takes the NBA! I'm so delighted about this win—nice work, National Book Award judges!

When Thanhha Lai was about to debut this, her first novel,  HarperCollins editor Sarah Sevier asked me to write a blurb for the book. Here's what I said after reading the advance reader's copy:
"In this poignant, funny, and unforgettable novel, Thanhha Lai shares in verse 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 also opens hearts to newcomers displaced by war today." Don't miss this beautiful story!

Top Five Children's Picture Books: Your Picks?

What are the top five children’s picture books that you enjoy sharing with children? 

Your choices can help create the United States’ top ten list for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Libraries for Children and Young Adults Committee. The goal of the project is to create a list of picture books from around the world that have been selected and recommended by librarians. These can then be used:
As a way of celebrating and promoting the language, cultures and quality of children’s book publishing from each country.By countries wishing to purchase books from other countries and are looking for ‘favorite’ titles to help build and develop their collections.By “Sister Libraries” as a way of exploring the children’s literature of their ”Sister Library” country.As an opportunity to encourage interaction and growth within IFLA.To develop the list into an exhibition with supporting catalogue that can be exhibited at the IBBY  and IFLA conferences in 2…

Dining with Madam Ambassador (thanks to SALTAF)

Back from an exciting visit in D.C. for the South Asian Literary and Theater Arts Festival, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution. I'm grateful to the Smithsonian, the host of volunteers who took such good care of us, and my fellow presenters. My weekend started at the National Zoo and culminated with a feast at the Embassy of India.

Belly-Banding TINTIN IN THE CONGO with a Warning

With Steven Spielberg's adaptation of THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, the classic graphic novel written and illustrated by George Remi (Hergé), Egmont UK is releasing TINTIN IN THE CONGO for a new audience. This time, instead of letting "colonial" content stand as is or bowdlerizing it, they've decided to pursue a new strategy:
“We took the unusual step of placing a protective band around the book with a warning about the content and also included an introduction inside the book by the original translators explaining the historical context." Already, UK booksellers typically move the novels out of children's areas into the adult graphic novel sections of their stores.

We've discussed the option of bowdlerizing content on the Fire Escape before, and I took a poll, asking visitors to the Fire Escape when, if ever, it would be okay to update a classic children's book to reflect changing mores about race. The results (152 votes) were almost equally spli…



by me

Boredom slithers into the psyche,
hissing demi-truths about decay to come. I fight, then give way, listening, loathing the source. Where is a champion with raised hammer, swooping down to smash the skull of anomie? Who will shout defiance into the dullness? Too dreary for defense, I doze, blind to the dagger on my lap. Double-edged, diamond-studded, it’s sharpened to kill.