Tuesday, April 30, 2013

We're on Pinterest!

Ink & Pen is now on Pinterest! Please take a moment to check out our boards and follow us!

We'll be pinning links to our posts, as well as pins about diverse authors and illustrators and various diverse books for children and young adults. Make sure to stay in the loop by following us! And if you Pin about diverse children's and YA books, be sure to let us know in the comments so we can take a look at your boards!

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Five YA Novels Featuring Protagonists with Asperger's and Other Forms of Autism

To compliment our previous post about five middle grade novels with protagonists with Asperger's or another form of autism, here are five YA novels in the same vein. We were glad to find one with a POC protagonist (Marcelo in the Real World), but found less YA books with autistic protagonists than middle grade. Another interesting observation: four out of the five protagonists have Asperger's Syndrome--there is only one character with another form autism (as opposed to the middle grade books which had a broader range of representation of the autism spectrum). We don't know what this means, if anything, but thought it was noteworthy nonetheless. Blurbs from Goodreads.

The Half-Life of Planets(Asperger's)
written by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halprin
The Half-Life of Planets The Half-Life of Planets
"Lianna is an aspiring planetary scientist and also a kissing addict. This summer, though, she plans to spend every kiss-worthy hour in the lab, studying stars. Hank has never been kissed. He's smart and funny and very socially awkward, because he's got Asperger's syndrome. Hank's plan for the summer is to work at a music store and save enough to buy his beloved Fender Jazzmaster. What neither Liana nor Hank plan for is their fateful meeting...in the women's bathroom at the hospital. But their star-crossed encounter could be the very best kind."

Marcelo in the Real World
written by Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo in the Real World
"Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear--part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify--and he's always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm's mailroom in order to experience "the real world." There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it's a picture he finds in a file -- a picture of a girl with half a face -- that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight."

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Five Middle Grade Novels with Protagonists with Asperger's or Another Form of Autism

In addition to being National Poetry Month in the U.S., April is Autism Awareness Month. It took us a while but here are five titles we found with protagonists who have autism. Not all texts explicitly state whether a character has Asperger's or is somewhere else on the autism spectrum, so please forgive us if we have miscategorized any titles (but do let us know!). The blurbs on each book come from Goodreads.

The Reinvention of Edison Thomas (Asperger's)
written by Jacqueline Houtman
The Reinvention of Edison Thomas The Reinvention of Edison Thomas
"Eddy Thomas can read a college physics book, but he can't read the emotions on the faces of his classmates at Drayton Middle School. He can spend hours tinkering with an invention, but he can't stand more than a few minutes in a noisy crowd, like the crowd at the science fair, which Eddy fails to win. When the local school crossing guard is laid off, Eddy is haunted by thoughts of the potentially disastrous consequences and invents a traffic-calming device, using parts he has scavenged from discarded machines. Eddy also discovers new friends, who appreciate his abilities and respect his unique view of the world. They help Eddy realize that his "friend" Mitch is the person behind the progressively more distressing things that happed to Eddy. By trusting his real friends and accepting their help, Eddy uses his talents to help others and rethinks his purely mechanical definition of success in this Tofte/Wright Children's Literature Award Winner."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rest in Peace, E.L. Konigsburg

E.L. Konigsburg 
E.L. Konigsburg
February 10, 1930 - April 19, 2013

Last Friday, two-time Newbery medalist E.L. Konigsburg passed away. Konigsburg's career as a children's book author spanned over half a century and her books are beloved by generations of readers. Many of her books are modern classics and she was a pioneer of diversity, including characters of different races and abilities in her stories. We're sad to loose such an amazingly talented writer, but so grateful for the stories she left us. You can read more about E.L. Konigsburg's life and work at BBC News and the Huffington Post.

For Earth Day and Arbor Day: Four Books about Wangari Maathai

In honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day (later on this week here in the U.S.), we have four recommendations for books about Wangari Maathai, the environmentalist and activist who curbed Kenyan deforestation by planting trees. For those of you unfamiliar with Maathai, here is a short summary of her life and work:

Born April 1, 1940, Wangari Maathai grew up in the central highlands of Kenya. Taught from a young age to respect trees and the world around her, she eventually moved to the U.S. to study biology in college. When she returned to Kenya as a college professor (a particularly noteworthy accomplishment for a woman at the time), Maathai found the government was allowing big foreign companies to deforest her homeland, leading to problems like soil erosion and lack of food.  Maathai took action; gathering other mothers, they began planting trees to ensure the world they passed on to their children and future generations would be a good one. In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement--now a worldwide movement--promoting the planting of trees, recycling, and alternative energy sources.

In 2004, at the age of 64, Wangari Maathai became the first African woman and the first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Until her death from ovarian cancer in 2011, Maathai was active in planting trees, sharing about the importance of preserving our environment, and promoting women's and children's rights, both in her native Kenya and abroad. These books are all great introductions to Maathai's life and work. They can be read individually, but I would recommend they be read together--perhaps over the course of a week or weekend, or sprinkled throughout a day--as they compliment each other and all tell Maathai's story from a unique vantage point. The last two books have lighter text--and so miss out on some of the important and interesting details of Maathai's life--but may be easier for younger readers (4 and younger) with shorter attention spans. All of the books include notes with additional information about Maathai's life and times.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Weekly Roundup: April 14-20, 2013

Every week we come across various article and things that relate to diversity issues in children's and young adult books. Rather than attempting to write individual posts about each one, we've decided to try a weekly roundup. We're just going to link to things we deem most pertinent, but some good ones are sure to slip through the cracks, so if you have anything to add, please let us know in the comments!

 Weekly roundup for April 14-20:

Older articles that may be of interest:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Five Langston Hughes Picture Books

from "April Rain Song" by Langston Hughes

Our celebration of poetry continues! Here are five picture books that feature poems by Langston Hughes, one of America's great poets. Four of the books are created from a single Hughes poem, while the final book is a collection. All are beautifully illustrated and worth checking out. Enjoy!

The Negro Speaks of Rivers
poem by Langston Hughes, illustrated E.B. Lewis

*The thought of reading this book to children might make some uncomfortable given that the word "negro" is no longer socially acceptable outside of a historical context. I would encourage you to read the book anyway and to discuss the word with the children you're reading with. Sharing with children that at the time Hughes wrote this poem "negro" was an acceptable word, that has now been replaced with "Black" and "African American," will teach them not to shy away from uncomfortable words in the future, but rather to learn from them. In this way, we can all still appreciate the beauty of Hughes' poem and Lewis' art without being intimidated by a word that, in this context, is used to celebrate the beauty of the Black experience.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Five Diverse Middle Grade Novels in Verse

Continuing our celebration of National Poetry Month in the U.S., here are five middle grade novels in verse. Enjoy and Happy Poetry Month!

Planet Middle School
written by Nikki Grimes
Planet Middle School
You can read a great review of Planet Middle School at Coastline Books.

Inside Out & Back Again
written by Thanhha Lai
Inside Out & Back Again
This book was showered with praise when it was published, winning the National Book Award, as well a Newbery Honor, and garnering multiple starred reviews. All the praise was well-earned. This semi-autobiographical story follows ten-year old Hà and her family from war-ravaged Saigon to the United States. Though times were hard in Vietnam, Hà was happy with her family, growing her papaya tree, and excelling in her studies. Hà struggles with the harsh realities of life aboard the rescue boat that eventually takes her family to a refugee camp, and with adjusting to her new home in Alabama. Life in the United States is very different than Saigon, and Hà is ostracized, cruelly mocked, and teased in her new school. She struggles to understand not only a new language, but a new culture, foods, and landscapes. The sense of place that Lai evokes in this book is exquisite, making her readers feel they are with Hà on every step of her journey. The poetic form helps readers grasp at least a fraction of the depth and intensity of Hà's emotions as she makes her way through the incredibly tumultuous year chronicled in this book. You can read more about Inside Out & Back Again at Goodreads. 

Article on Gender and Picture Books at A Fuse #8 Production

At the SLJ blog A Fuse #8 Production, Elizabeth Bird has posted an article entitled "Are There Any Girl Bears?": Gender and the 21st Century Picture Book. In the article, Bird examines the picture book 100 Animals on Parade by Masayuki Sebe, specifically noting the spread that asks readers if there are any girl bears. She sites the fact that the author/illustrator is pointing readers to gender markers such as bows and eyelashes and that identifying girls in such a superficial way limits girls. She also uses the example of Legos and their current strategy to color Legos marketed to girls pink and lavender--a far cry from their 1980s gender neutral marketing, seen below:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Article on LGBT Characters in YA at The Atlantic Wire

In The Atlantic Wire's weekly series Y.A. for Grownups, this week's article, A New Way for Gay Characters in Y.A. examines the way in which the portrayals of LGBTQ characters has increased and diversified in recent years.

The author of the article, Jen Doll, examines recent releases featuring LGBTQ characters and celebrates the fact that they are now being portrayed as multifaceted--not defined solely by their sexual orientation. Doll quotes a number of YA authors including David Levithan, Marisa Calin, and Bill Konigsberg, sharing their thoughts on the changes in the industry and problems that still need to be addressed.

Friday, April 12, 2013

2013 Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpre, Schneider Family, and Stonewall Book Award Winners

Since we began this blog in February, and the ALA awards are announced in January, we decided not to post about the winners. However, there has been a lot of interest in the posts cataloging the Asian/Pacific Heritage Awards and The Rainbow List, so we thought we'd better go ahead and post the Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpre, Schneider Family, and Stonewall Book award winners here, even though we're a few months late!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Review: Not a Chance

written by Michelle Mulder

Dian has been traveling from her home in Canada to the Dominican Republic with her doctor parents every summer since she was five-years old. This year she's thirteen and ready to stay at home, but her parents drag her along anyway. The only bright spot in her summer is seeing her best friend, Aracely, who is fourteen and lives in the small town where Dian's parents set up their clinic. Even this small happiness soon fades though when Aracely tells Dian she is engaged to be married. Dian is flabbergasted--Aracely had planned to move to Canada with Dian's family in a few years, later study to become a doctor, and ultimately return to help the people in her rural village. Learning that her friend has never really wanted to do any of these things is a further blow to Dian, who cannot understand why Aracely would choose what Dian views as a typical village life over the opportunity to study in Canada. She is further concerned by Aracely's fear that she'll never get another chance at marriage, due to the scar she bears on her cheek, relic of an accident when she was four.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Another Resource for Diversity in Children's Books: Latinas4LatinoLiterature

At the end of last month, a new blog launched called Latinas for Latino Literature (L4LL). The blog was started by four Latina bloggers who want to "support and connect Latino authors with the Latino community" (from the website). One of L4LL's goals is to: "Share resources for Latino families who want to find Latino children's literature" (also from their website).

During the month of April,  L4LL is celebrating Dia de los Ninos, Dia de los Libros (Children's Day, Books Day) by hosting a blog hop that will featuring a different article about a Latino author and/or illustrator every day from April 10th through April 30th (which is the actual Dia de los Ninos, Dia de los Libros). They're also having a giveaway of a collection of children's books to a school library or public library. The first featured author is Pat Mora and you can read more about her and her work at L4LL. Below is a schedule for the blog hop:

Five Picture Book Poetry Collections That Feature Diversity

There are so many wonderful diverse picture book poetry collections that it was hard to pick five to feature in this post. We'll do at least one more in celebration of April being National Poetry Month here in the U.S., but for now, here are a few that stood out to us for their inclusion of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity:

Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku
by Paul B. Janeczko and J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Tricia Tusa

This collection is a great choice for fans of humorous poets like Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky. Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku features 23 senryū poems which are each three lines of laughs. Senryū is Japanese poetry form similar to haiku but tends to focus on the human experiences as opposed to nature, and are more humorous rather than their serious. This one is ideal for children who are old enough to appreciate puns as many of the poems require an understanding of word play. Tusa's illustrations are just as funny as the poetry and feature a wonderful array of racial diversity.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Going to a Baby Shower? Seven Diverse Board Books for Babies and Toddlers

When I was a bookseller, I'd get a lot of customers who came in looking for books as gifts for baby showers, newborns, and baby/toddler birthdays. Board books are great for babies and toddlers as they are fairly indestructible and easier to carry in diaper bags, strollers, the car, etc. The books below are all excellently written and illustrated and are also racially and culturally diverse. I won't recap them since they're all pretty short and self-explanatory, but if you're wondering about a particular one, feel free to leave questions in the comments!

1. Girl of Mine
written by Jabari Asim, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

2. Boy of Mine
written by Jabari Asim, illustrated LeUyen Pham

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Read What 6th Graders Think of Gender Marketing on Book Covers

We recently posted a link to a study a class of NYC 6th graders did on book covers and their thoughts on whitewashing. Part II of their study has been posted and you can read what the same 6th graders thought of book covers and gender marketing. We have not yet delved into the wonderful world of gender marketing and stereotyping in books and on book covers on this blog, but rest assured, we will in the future. In the meantime, take you can take a look at what the students--who surmised that, "Some books are marketed specifically to girls and some are marketed specifically to boys" (only too true)--observed about gender stereotyping and representations on book covers.

Book Recommendation: Happy International Children's Book Day!

Today is International Children's Book Day which is celebrated on Hans Christian Andersen's birthday. In honor of this day, we're recommending this lovely version of The Ugly Duckling retold and illustrated by Rachel Isadora. As you can see from the front cover below, the "Ugly Duckling" in this book is a black swan. We love that Isadora decided to include diversity, even in a book about animals. The illustrations for this book are as lovely as what we've come to expect from Isadora, and if you're at all familiar with her work, you will appreciate her ability to create beautiful art in a variety of styles and mediums.

Today is also World Autism Awareness Day and April is Autism Awareness Month, so we will try to have some recommendations on books that feature autistic characters for you soon.