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Showing posts from August, 2013

Children's Books For and About Syrian Children

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Looking for children's books featuring Syria? So am I. Fiction, especially, seems scarce. I managed to find one novel for teens written two decades ago, and another newer one which I discussed on the Fire Escape in 2007. (If you know of any other titles, please leave them in the comments section of this post.) 

A Hand Full of Stars (Dutton, 1990) by Rafik Schami, translated by Rika Lesser, Winner of the Batchelder Award.

"This unusual novel, written in the form of a diary, tells the story of four years in the life of a Damascan boy. When he begins his account, the narrator spends his days playing with his friends and dreaming of becoming a journalist. Like many American boys, the diarist worries about his schoolwork and his girlfriend, but he must also cope with difficulties unfamiliar to his American contemporaries. Military coups are frequent occurrences and many of the neighborhood men have been sent to jail on the slimmest of pretexts. Taken out of school to work in his …

Children's Books in Iran: A Chat with Ali Seidabadi

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I'm delighted to invite my (Facebook) friend, Ali Seidabadi, to the Fire Escape to chat about the current state of children's books in Iran. Before you read the interview, pause to reflect on what comes to mind when you think of Iran. Then read on. Is anything in the interview surprising to you? (For example, that The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is sometimes banned here, but not in Iran ...)

Ali, thank you so much for joining me. Here's my first question: What is the climate in Iran for the creation of children's stories?

Most people in the world have a political/media-formed image of Iran in mind, but there are many cultural, artistic, and literary activities going on in Iran. There are a great number of authors and illustrators for children’s and young adult’s books. All the same, due to political obstacles, it has unfortunately become impossible to establish cultural and literary relationships with most other countries. People in Eng…

OPEN MIC in 25 Days! Reviews, ARC Giveaway, and More ...

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Our anthology releases September 10th from Candlewick, and the reviews are beginning to come in.

From The Horn Book, where it was the review of the week:

"...Naomi Shihab Nye offers an eloquent poem about her Arab American dad, whose open friendliness made him 'Facebook before it existed.' David Yoo, Debbie Rigaud, Varian Johnson, and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich also contribute stories to this noteworthy anthology, which robustly proves Perkins’ assertion that 'funny is powerful.'”

From ALA Booklist:

"...David Yoo’s excellent 'Becoming Henry Lee' is the one that will probably elicit the most laughs. But all invite sometimes rueful smiles or chuckles of recognition. And all demonstrate that in the specific we find the universal, and that borders are meant to be breached."

From Publisher's Weekly:

"...will leave readers thinking about the ways that humor can be a survival tool in a world that tends to put people in boxes."

The boo…

Congratulations to the Winners of the 2013 SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grants

If you're an aspiring writer of books for young readers, my first piece of advice would be to join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. This 22,000-member strong group will provide opportunities to hone the craft, meet editors and agents, and become part of our supportive community of writers and illustrators. I've been a card-carrying member for twenty years.

Today, SCBWI announced the winners of their annual work-in-progress grants, given to unpublished authors.
Contemporary Category  Mary Ann Scott | The Unfolding of Ripley Kent Runner-up: Margo Rabb | Kissing in AmericaGeneral Category Jocelyn Leigh Rish | The Drama Queen Who Cried Wolf Runner-up: Rebecca Louie | Tru U Multicultural Category Suzanne Linn Kamata | Indigo Girl  Runner-up: Natasha Tarpley | Alchemist Bread Nonfiction Category Patrice Sherman | The Vitamin Sleuths: A Tale of Mystery, Medicine and Nutrition Runner-up: Suzanne Slade | The Music in George’s Head Anna Cross Giblin Award Car…

CBC Diversity: Our Industry Cares About Kids on the Margins

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One of the most encouraging signs of change since I've been in this vocation was the establishment of the Children's Book Council Diversity Committee in January 2012.

Here's their mission statement:
The CBC Diversity Committee is one of five committees established by the Children's Book Council, the national nonprofit trade association for children's trade book publishers. We are dedicated to increasing the diversity of voices and experiences contributing to children’s and young adult literature. To create this change, we strive to build awareness that the nature of our society must be represented within the children’s publishing industry.  Many of us have been yipping and yapping about these issues for years, so to watch movers and shakers within the industry gather to advocate for young people on the margins has been nothing short of thrilling. Here's a list of the editors and marketing folk currently serving on the committee:
Alvina Ling (Chair), Executive Ed…