Showing posts from January, 2016

WARNING: This Book Might Be Recalled. Read it Fast. Decry it Even Faster.

I'm all for truth and justice, but I question Scholastic's recent decision to recall a book.

First, the slope is too slippery when it comes to removing published books from our schools and libraries. What about books published last year? Ten years ago? A century ago? Should they be recalled also? Should we protect today's children from the positive depictions of colonialism in TINTIN IN THE CONGO and BABAR by recalling them? What about black Asia and Silas standing in the back of the room in LITTLE MEN and JO'S BOYS? I'm not defending the contents of A BIRTHDAY CAKE FOR GEORGE WASHINGTON, but it was published. Shouldn't it stay in the pantheon of our shared intellectual content? I suppose this raises another question in an age of fuzzy publishing boundaries: is preventing a published book from being read different than stopping a pre-published book from being read? Librarians, defenders of intellectual content, please weigh in.

Second, instead of recalling, the…

When You're Interviewed By A VERY Smart Fifth-Grader

Thanks, Girls Leadership, for selecting RICKSHAW GIRL as a Parent / Daughter Book Club Pick, and for inviting me in to your offices to be interviewed by the brilliant Daliya.

Hunger in Fiction

My Saint Mary's College of California Jan Term students are beginning to consider the consequences of growing up with food insecurity and poor nutrition in our neighboring City of Oakland. This class is a community engagement course, one of Saint Mary's core curriculum requirements, and a distinctive for the school. 

When it comes to hunger, I plan to fill their minds with statistics, research, and facts, and they're using hands and hearts to work with children in the Oakland schools, but I still think there's nothing better than fiction to inform the imagination. I remember hating fictional hunger in the pit of my nine-year-old stomach when reading about the Pepper family in THE FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS, Sara Crewe in A LITTLE PRINCESS, the Hummel family in LITTLE WOMEN, the Brinker family in HANS BRINKER AND THE SILVER SKATES, and the Ingalls family in THE LONG WINTER. 

What other children's books inform the imagination when it comes to the experience of hunger?