Saturday, March 30, 2013

Girls of Color in Dystopia Blog Series at bitchmedia

Over at bitchmedia, Victoria Law is guest blogging a two-month series about race and gender in YA dystopian lit called Girls of Color in Dystopia.

In Do Girls of Color Survive Dystopia?, Law talks about the difficulty she has had finding dystopian YA that features a girl of color protagonist for her 12-year old daughter. She mentions Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson and the short story collection Diverse Energies as two exceptions in a sea of dystopia featuring white female protagonists.

Cover of The ChaosDiverse Energies 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Recommendation: On the 5th Night of Passover

Okay, here is our second Passover book recommendation. This time we've got a silly one for you!

written by Leslie Kimmelman and illustrated by Paul Meisel

Thursday, March 28, 2013

2013 Rainbow List

We're a bit late on this, but in January the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) of the American Library Association (ALA) released the 2013 Rainbow List. The GLBTRT strives to serve "the information needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender professional library community, and the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender information and access needs of individuals at large" (from this website). We're only posting the Top Ten, but you can see the full list here.

Below are the Top Ten of the 2013 Rainbow List (in alphabetical order by author last name):

Take The Birthday Party Pledge!

We recently came across something amazing that we wholeheartedly support called The Birthday Party Pledge! When you take The Birthday Pledge you are committing to these three things:
  • To give multicultural books to kids in your life as birthday presents for a year.
  • To encourage the kids in your life to read about and appreciate diversity in all its forms.
  • To help build a new generation of readers!
We love that the pledge not only encourages kids to read (which is great), but encourages adults to intentionally help kids become more aware of diversity through books (even better!). You can read more about The Birthday Pledge (and find lots of book recommendation lists) by following this link. We hope you'll take the challenge and actively help to promote diversity and reading!

Monday, March 25, 2013

NYPL Panel Discusses Diversity and Children's Books

Earlier this month, the New York Public Library's (NYPL) Children's Literary Salon hosted a panel called Diversity and the State of Children's Books. Moderated by Betsy Bird, the panel consisted of Zetta Elliott (author), Connie Hsu (editor at Little, Brown), and Sofia Quintero (author). Unfortunately, none of the Ink & Penners were able to attend, but here are some of the topics we've learned were covered at the panel.

Zetta Elliot examined:
  • What she sees as a direct correlation between the lack of diversity in people working in the children's publishing industry and the lack of diverse books published for young people.

Book Recommendation: Happy First Night of Passover!

Tonight marks the first night of the Jewish holiday of Passover, or Pesach. Over the course of the eight nights of Passover, we'll be posting a few book recommendations, good for those who celebrate Passover and those who want to learn more about the holiday. Our first recommendation:

written by Doreen Rappaport
illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

PW Podcast Interview with Alaya Dawn Johnson

Over at Publisher's Weekly KidsCast there is a great audio interview with Alaya Dawn Johnson, author of The Summer Prince, a YA dystopia set in future Brazil. In the podcast, Johnson talks about her connection to Brazil, the germination of the idea that became The Summer Prince, technology, how she became a novelist, and her next project, among other things.

If you've read The Summer Prince, or are considering picking it up, this interview is full of great insights. If you're still undecided after listening to the interview and reading our review, see what NPR had to say (but beware, there are minor spoilers!).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Five True Stories About Daring Girls and Women

written by Pam Muñoz Ryan
illustrated by Brian Selznick
Here is the true story of the night Amelia Earhart and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt went for an unsanctioned nighttime plane ride--and all while still attired in their evening wear. Having similar courageous hearts, Roosevelt and Earhart were friends before the flight chronicled in this book. When Roosevelt heard Earhart would be in Washington D.C. to make a speech, she invited Earhart and her husband to The White House for dinner. When the dinner conversation turned to the joy of flying at night (at the time, only a few pilots--including Earhart--had attempted night flight), the two friends make a spontaneous decision to skip out on dessert in favor of a quick trip to Baltimore and back.

Ryan and Selznick celebrate the independent spirit of two of the most famous and inspiring women of their time. Selznick's illustrations are as superb as ever and capture the magic of their night flight. An author's note sifts fact from fiction.

Read What 6th Graders Think About Whitewashing Book Covers

Last fall, a class of 6th graders in New York City began a study of book covers.  Apparently, it began as an examination of race and book covers, but expanded to consider various other aspects of diversity.
Here is a taste of the students' thoughts regarding whitewashing and the obscuring of characters of color on covers:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Book Review: America the Beautiful: Together We Stand

poem by Katharine Lee Bates
illustrated by Chris Soentpiet, Mary GrandPre, Raul Colon, Sonia Lynn Sadler, Bryan Collier, Jon J Muth, Yuyi Morales, Diane Goode, LeUyen Pham, and John Hendrix

This tribute to the poem and song, "America the Beautiful," features a different illustration for each line of the first stanza of the song from a truly impressive collection of artists. The art in this book displays an incredible amount of diversity which left my heart thoroughly warmed.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book Review: The Summer Prince

The Summer Prince
by Alaya Dawn Johnson

In the future city of Palmares Tres, located in modern-day Brazil, a Summer King is elected every five years. In a city ruled by women, the position holds little power--the main purpose of a Summer King is to reaffirm the right of the Queen to reign for another five years. This affirmation is given as the Summer King dies, sacrificed on an altar, his throat slit by the Queen herself. When June Costa's father takes her to see her first Summer King sacrificed, she is eight-years old and horrified by the bloody practice. However, by the time she is eighteen she is used to the tradition, but everything changes the year Enki, a beautiful, defiant young man, is elected as Summer King. The entire city falls in love with Enki--including June and her best friend, Gil. Like June, Enki is an artist, and together they produce some incredible art that shakes the very foundations of the principles their city is built upon. But unlike June, Enki wasn't raised in privilege, and his willingness to sacrifice his life to be Summer King is rooted in a purpose more radical than June is willing to accept. The closer June gets to Enki, the harder it is to accept his impending death. In the end, June will have to choose whether following the rules to achieve her dream of becoming a successful artist is more important than her principles.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Five Picture Books About Brave and Clever Girls

Beautiful Warrior: The Legend of the Nun's King Fu
written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
During the reign of the last Ming Emperor, a girl was born who was named Jingyong, meaning "Quiet Courage." Scorning a future for his daughter as a lady-in-waiting, her father raised her as a son, having her tutored in the five pillars of learning, including martial arts. Jingyong excelled at Kung Fu and when her city was overtaken by enemies, she journeyed to study with the monks of the Shaolin Monastery. Seeing her incredible skill at Kung Fu, they renamed her Wu Mei, which means "Beautiful Warrior." When a local girl is bullied into accepting a marriage proposal from a thug and comes to her for help, Wu Mei teaches the girl Kung Fu so she can solve her own problems. This is an excellent retelling of the legend of Wu Mei and does a superb job of helping readers understand the principles behind Kung Fu. An Author's Note further expands readers understanding of the art, explaining that there is much more to Kung Fu than what we see in Western movies.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Is This Disney Book Racist?

In my internet perusals, I recently came across the video below. In it, a woman named Angela examines a book published by Disney called Furry Friends! which is a part of their "It's a Small World" series.

With such a series title, one might think Disney is attempting to introduce young readers to diversity--a good thing. However, as Angela points out, there is something very wrong with this offering. Please take a few minutes to listen to Angela's observations.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

With such a seemingly sensational title, I expected this book to be little more than YA fluff entertainment. I couldn't have been more wrong. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (available March 2013) is a well-written, affecting story about a girl dealing with the horrors of bullying.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Resources for Talking to Children About Race Article at the Huffington Post

Over at the HuffPost, they've posted an article on Resources for Talking to Your Children About Race. Though I disagree with the authors contention that at some point all children begin to exclude others based on outside differences (pretty sure this never happened to me), I agree with her assertion that race and racism needs to be discussed with children intentionally. I thought her suggestions for opening dialogue about race, exposing children to racial diversity, and her book recommendations were worth passing along--you can read the article in its entirety here.

Do you agree or disagree with the article? Do you have any favorite books you use for discussing race with children? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Four Picture Books That Celebrate Creativity in Girls

I Had a Favorite Dress
I Had a Favorite Dress written by Boni Ashburn and illustrated by Julia Denos is a fun book about a girl who outgrows her favorite dress. Instead of parting with it, the girl's smart and inventive mother helps her re-imagine the dress into something new. As the little girl continues to grow, they continue to use their creativity to morph the dress into various articles of clothing.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Happy Women's History Month!

March is Women's History Month here in the U.S. We love the above quote and think that teaching women's history is key to ensuring women and girls everywhere are respected as human beings. This March we'll be focusing on celebrating girls and women and hope to introduce you to some new titles that portray strong, smart, and creative female characters. Gloria Steinem once said, "Women have always been an equal part of the past. We just haven't been a part in history," and we at Ink & Pen want to do our part to change that!