Global Literature: Educating the Head While Touching the Heart

If you're attending the International Reading Association Conference in Chicago, join us in room CC11A, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, on Tuesday, May 1 from 9:00 – 11:45 am for a panel discussion of "Global Literature: Educating the Head While Touching the Heart," Tuesday, May 1, from 9-11:45 a.m. Here's the event description:
This special interest group session seeks to celebrate the depth and breadth, the infinite and ever-growing variety of global literature. By highlighting 25 of the best recently published books for children and teens that explore issues of diversity, the panelists will raise audience awareness and offer teaching suggestions so the books may be used in the classroom. Author Mitali Perkins whose books Rickshaw Girl (2007), Secret Keeper (2009), and Bamboo People (2010) have all explored elements of culture in a moving fashion will share her thoughts about her storytelling process and the importance of making sure that everyone's story is told.

Co-Presenter(s): Karen Hildebrand, Delaware City Schools, Mitali Perkins, Charlesbridge Publishers, Jennifer Sanders, Oklahoma State University, and Deanna Day, Washington State University Vancouver.
I'll also be signing on the exhibit floor, so please top by and say hello:

1:00 – 2:00 pm  Charlesbridge Booth #1544
2:00 – 3:00 pm  Random House Booth #1420

Twitter Book Parties: A Reprise

It's hard to believe we're about to throw our 250th book birthday party on twitter, and even more amazing to realize that the first one took place almost three years ago. If you're an author with a children's or teen book releasing from a traditional publisher, feel free to sign up. Here are the details:

The release of a new book is something to celebrate. Each story winging out into the world deserves a communal "HURRAH!" We're tapping into the power of Twitter, a social network, to spread the buzz about new books for kids, teens, and tweens.

Each author or illustrator who wants a party agrees to spread the news about the other books (do your best, no stress), and we welcome any and all bookies, booksellers, or bloggers to celebrate also. It's easy to set the party up to happen automatically in your twitter stream or you may hand-tweet your kudos as well. Join us on Twitter to get started -- you'll find us at @bookbday.

Photo courtesy of pasotraspaso via Creative Commons.

Kid/YA Book News and Notes

For those who don't follow me on Twitter, here's a roundup of interesting links I shared recently:

Literacy, Reading, and Education

You gave away one million books to low-income young readers in just 10 days? Congratulations, First Book!

"Share your love of reading to help us get books in the hands of kids who need them most," says Reading is Fundamental, launching Book People Unite

“Why do we have to read poetry?” whines a 9th-grader. A wise English teacher responds in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

What makes a children's book a classic?" asks the Guardian


"Has Kindle Killed the Book Cover?" The Atlantic explores how designers are responding to e-readers.

"Amazon's weaknesses. What can publishers and ebook retailers do? What should Amazon do?" asks Baldur Bjarnason, a UK resident researching eBooks and interactivity.

Book Awards

In the UK, the newly-launched Guardian Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize seeks the "next generation of writers of children’s fiction."

Minnesota Book Award in YA Fiction goes to Brian Farrey for WITH OR WITHOUT YOU (Simon Pulse).

Minnesota Book Award in Children's Fiction goes to Laura Purdie Salas for BOOKSPEAK! POEMS ABOUT BOOKS (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).


David versus Goliath: a children’s book publisher pulls titles from Amazon.

“Amazon is squeezing everyone out of business. I don’t like that. They’re a predator. We’re better off without them," declares Randall White, CEO of Educational Development Corporation.

DEAR TEEN ME: Authors Write Letters To Their Teen Selves

I’m happy to be a contributor to Dear Teen Me along with 70+ other authors who wrote letters to our teenage selves. Some of us provided diary entries, others submitted letters, and a few graphic novelists turned their stories into visual art. The anthology, edited by Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson, was inspired by their blog and releases October 31, 2012 from Zest Books. Check out the participating authors:

1. E. Kristin Anderson—Want. Take. Have
2. Jessica LeeAnderson—Contents Under Pressure
3. Tom Angleberger—Shhhhhh!
4. Sean Beaudoin—Frame Me and Nail Me to the Wall
5. CharlesBenoit—Reinventing Me
6. Robin Benway—9 Things You Need to Know
7. Ilsa J. Bick—The Knife
8. Marke Bieschke—Dance Dance Revolution
9. Joseph Bruchac—First Kiss . . .ish
10. Jessica Burkhart—Trust Is as Important as Love
11. Josh A. Cagan—Thank You, Oily Pizza
12. Riley Carney—Nothing’s Impossible
13. Tera Lynn Childs—The Future Isn’t Everything
14. Jessica Corra—The Principal’s Office
15. Heather Davis—Raising Me
16. Daniel Ehrenhaft—Getting Stood Up
17. Laura EllenLosing Your Sight Shouldn’t Mean Losing Your Rights
18. Beth Fantaskey—I Hope You Dance—to the Theme from Bonanza
19. Caridad Ferrer—Jekyll & Hyde
20. Michael Griffo—Be Honest with Yourself
21. Janet Gurtler—The Skinny Girl
22. Kersten Hamilton—It’s About to Get Worse
23. Bethany Hegedus—Going All the Way
24. Geoff Herbach—You Are the Electric Boogaloo
25. Faith Erin Hicks—No Calls from Spielberg Yet
26. Nancy Holder—When Dance Was Your World
27. K. A. Holt—Lois Lowry and the Space-Time Continuum vs. Boys
28. P. J. Hoover—Seeping Through the Cracks
29. Ellen Hopkins—Finding Your Voice
30. Stacey Jay—Who Needs Luck?
31. Carrie Jones—Seizures
32. Mike Jung—Regarding Your Commendable Decision to Live
33. Stasia WardKehoe—Getting Past the Fear
34. Tara Kelly—Bad Girl
35. Miranda Kenneally—Pick Up the Phone and Call Him Back. Right. Now.
36. Stephanie Kuehnert—He Broke More Than Your Heart
37. Mary Lindsey—Hope Until the Last Second
38. Nikki Loftin—The Ramifications of Mouthing Off to Cute Boys
39. Katherine Longshore—The Best Days of Our Lives? Really?
40. Ken Lowery—Winging It
41. Kekla Magoon—The Balancing Act
42. Mari Mancusi—What the Bully Stole
43. Gretchen McNeil—All the World’s a Stage
44. Jodi Meadows—The Pursuit of (Moments of) Happiness
45. Saundra Mitchell—This Is Not Your Story
46. Hannah Moskowitz—Get Better
47. Jenny Moss—What I Really Want
48. Sarah Ockler—Dancing with the Dead
49. Lauren Oliver and Elizabeth Miles—Best Friends Forever (for Real)
50. Stephanie Pellegrin—Just Be Yourself
51. Mitali Perkins—First Kiss
52. Cheryl Rainfield—Keep Hold of Your Strength
53. Dave Roman—Special Delivery from Your Excellent Future
54. Jess Rothenberg—Stop Obsessing, Kiss That Guy, and Party Like It’s 1999
55. Jennifer Rush—All Roads Lead Somewhere
56. Amy Kathleen Ryan—Smile!
57. Tom Ryan—Sing It Out
58. Leila Sales—I’m Not Going to Give You Any Good Advice
59. Cynthia Leitich Smith— Friends in Dark Places
60. JessicaSpotswood—Finding Him
61. Erika Stalder—Boys, Boys, Boys…
62. Rhonda Stapleton—Chunky
63. Mariko Tamaki—Keeping Quiet
64. Don Tate—Stolen Jeans, Smoke Rings, and Self-Esteem
65. Melissa Walker—You’re So Right But So Wrong
66. Tracy White—100% True, Guaranteed
67. Jo Whittemore—All Kinds of Sexy
68. Sara Zarr—What Is a Friend?
69. Jennifer Ziegler—Facing Facts: Makeovers Don’t Change a Thing

Lent Reads 38, 39 and 40: I Did It!

A zesty story about roti-making and the joys of intergenerational storytelling, written by F. Zia and illustrated by Ken Min (Lee and Low).

The joy and grace of a peaceful, worshipful Sunday (with a sweet, understated interracial friendship) are perfectly portrayed in this picture book written by Michael McGowan, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (Random House).

It felt right to end my 40 days of reading with Nikki Grimes' beautiful collection of poems telling the story of Holy Week, illustrated by David Frampton (Eerdman's Books for Young Readers). My favorite? The heartrending lament of Mary, letting her son go into God's arms with The Last Goodbye: "You gave me some sway in his beginning | Why not his end? | Look at him. | I could never kiss away | half those bruises."

Lent Read 37: ORCHARDS by Holly Thompson

Holly Thompson masterfully offers two of my favorite distinctives in an excellent literary novel: a rich sense of place and a protagonist so real you've acquired her as a friend by the end of the story.

In ORCHARDS (Delacorte), we're transported to an orange grove in rural Japan with all five senses engaged. We explore layers of grief, anger, courage, and hope in a world shattered by suicide through the sometimes funny, sometimes heartbroken, always honest voice of half-Japanese, half-Jewish American eighth-grader Kana Goldberg.

I enjoyed the confidence Kana displayed when describing her mixed cultural heritage: "They seem to think | I can just switch | one half of me | on | and leave the other | half of me | off | but I’m like | warm water | pouring from a faucet | the hot | and cold | both flowing | as one." Thompson isn't Japanese but has lived there for years, so the novel's take on the culture from the perspective of an outsider with insider relationships and privileges rings true.

I read through this lovely novel in verse in one setting, and so will most teen readers. I wasn't at all surprised to discover in the author's note that the novel reflects the nuanced, culturally-savvy editorial skills of Random House's Fran├žoise Bui (who edited my own Monsoon Summer and Secret Keeper). ORCHARDS won the 2012 APALA Asian/​Pacific Award for Literature and received a starred review in School Library Journal.


In BEN AND THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION (Eerdmans), Pat Sherman and Floyd Cooper transport readers straight into the days of slavery with the true story of Benjamin Holmes, a boy who teaches himself to read despite that fact that reading is a forbidden activity for slaves. When Holmes reads the words of Lincoln's proclamation to other freed slaves, hearts are bound to be stirred.

From the UK's Frances Lincoln Children's Books comes this pictorial story of a family in Ghana by Ifeoma Onyefulu. Children growing up with stereotypes about life in Africa will be pleasantly surprised by the similarities between their own homes and families and the home and family of three-year-old Stephanie, who eagerly awaits the visit of her beloved grandmother.