Talking About "The Latte Rebellion" & Directions to the Blog Blast Tour

At Chasing Ray, Colleen Mondor talks to Sarah Stevenson, who wrote The Latte Rebellion (Flux, 2011). Stevenson's young adult novel features characters of mixed race. The author says, 

From the beginning I wanted to make this a fun story with a healthy dose of humor, not just an "issue book." Not that the issues it covers aren't important to me, but I feel very strongly that there need to be more books that have race/ethnicity/culture as a theme but which are not pigeonholed into being "ethnic books" or even problem novels...

The interview is part of the Summer Blog Blast Tour, a top-notch annual series focusing on books for children and teens. The entire schedule is here.


"Diversify Your Reading!"

Here's a fun summer reading challenge: Diversify Your Reading!, sponsored by Diversity in YA Fiction. From that blog, 

This summer, we’re challenging readers to read books that feature a diverse world, to read beyond their comfort zones, and to just plain dive into some wonderful stories. Our challenge will have two components: one for libraries, one for readers and book bloggers. At the end of the summer we’ll be giving away some wonderful book prizes donated by publishers.

For more information, click here.

via Crazy Quilts


The Latest Book: Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading
by Nina Sankovitch
HarperCollins, 2011

I admire Nina Sankovitch, although I've never met her. Every day for an entire year, she sat down and read a book, and blogged about it all.  She even wrote her own book, afterward. I just finished the resulting Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading, a lovely collection of personal-and-literary essays. The author began her year as an antidote to the overwhelming sadness she was still feeling three years after the death of a beloved sister, and her conclusions about the value of memory and the backward glance inform every chapter.

Books like Sankovitch's always give me additions to my wish list. I wrote down these titles: The Open Door, by Elizabeth Maguire; The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon; A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines; Hannah Coulter, by Wendell Berry; Little Bee, by Chris Cleve; Indignation, by Philip Roth; The Sunday Philosophy Club, by Alexander McCall Smith; and Pastoralia, by George Saunders.

Not surprisingly, Sankovitch was an avid reader as a child—Harriet the Spy was especially beloved—and she does include some children's and YA books on her list of 365. Among the titles are American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang; Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card; Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke; The Picts and the Martyrs, by Arthur Ransome; Silverwing, by Kenneth Oppel; Twenty Boy Summer, by Sarah Ockler; Wizard's Hall, by Jane Yolen; and The Wright 3, by Blue Balliett. 

If you need some lit-blogging inspiration, or just like to read about reading, don't miss Tolstoy and the Purple Chair.


Chickens, Gardens, (sub)Urban Homesteaders

"But the things I flat-out enjoy the most [about owning chickens] are not about virtue or use—they are about having them. Naming them, feeding them, talking to them (which is stupid I know, and I don't care) and just plain watching them."

Laura Cooper, as quoted in The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City, by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen (Process Media, 2010)

As someone who tells her hens good night, I can totally relate to the the "stupid I know, and I don't care" part. Chicken keeping is increasingly popular around here. We went to a ribbon cutting for some friends' big beautiful new coop recently, and one of the hens looked exactly like our Queenie. Exactly! She turned out to be Queenie's sister. Small chicken world.

We live in the suburbs, not the heart of the city, but there's plenty of practical advice in The Urban Homestead no matter where one lives. I've spent the better part of May (when it wasn't raining) in the yard with J., planting tomatoes, herbs, okra, flowers, radishes, and other things. He is going to saw down some of our abundant bamboo for poles for Kentucky Wonder Beans. 

Meanwhile, the Harry Potter audiobooks have taken us through a school year's worth of car rides. What a gift! We're now on #5. The Goblet of Fire, #4, was my favorite so far. So much is happening. I also noted how J.K. Rowling paints an absolutely awful portrait of the journalist Rita Skeeter. She lies, sneaks around, misquotes. Ouch. The Goblet movie is waiting for us at the library, so I'd better run and pick it up.

Happy Memorial Day to all.


A Kids' Book Site--for Kids

Today the UK's Guardian newspaper launches a new site for children's books—and it's for children themselves, not the gatekeepers. (However, this gatekeeper has already spotted several intriguing titles.)

The site will encourage child-to-child sharing with older children discussing their favourite books and authors with the younger ones.

Guardian Books Editor, Claire Armitstead, views the child-to-child sharing element of the site as vital. She said: "When you think of the resource that older friends or siblings represent, it seems astonishing that child-to-child reading gets so little attention. A sibling or a friend stand outside the circle of school, parent and child: you obey a parent, but you look up to an older sibling and you share enthusiasms with friends. In a culture with many different models of what family means, the resource of other children becomes even more valuable. It's with this in mind that the Guardian is launching a children-only website." 

Read the entire press release here.

One of the many wonderful things that I discovered when I started blogging was the Guardian's excellent online literary coverage. I wish the new venture well. Cheers!


Other Languages (in English)

I'm on a new reading kick. Using Three Percent's longlist of best translated fiction 2010 (for adults), I started with Jenny Erpenbeck's Visitation, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky. Megan O'Grady at Vogue writes, "Infused with an arrestingly immediate understanding of Berlin’s past, it’s the tale of a grand summer house on a lake just outside the city whose inhabitants have much to reveal about the ravages and battling ideologies of the twentieth century." An excellent book. I highly recommend it.

Three Percent is an online resource for literature in translation and international literature. It's part of the University of Rochester's translation program. Words Without Borders: The Online Magazine for International Literature is another good site.

Meanwhile, Zoe at Playing by the Book reminded me of the UK's Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation. Achockablog highlights the shortlist and winner, announced recently.


Good Reading & Happy New Year

Happy Year of the Rabbit! First up, check Wild Rose Reader's archives for some good books on the Chinese New Year. InCulture Parent presents a reading list, and School Library Journal chimed in last year, too. Time Out Kids offers the details on Sunday's Lunar New Year parade in New York's Chinatown and a free lion dance performance at the China Institute on East 65th Street.

At GeekDad, Jonathan Liu shares a few thoughts on the Lunar calendar and new year.

Looking back at 2010 on the Gregorian calendar, I grabbed a few of the newish "best books" lists.

Books for children

Charlotte Zolotow Award. For best writing in a picture book.

Amelia Bloomer Project recommendations. Feminist books for children and teens.

Edgar Award nominations, presented by the Mystery Writers of America. Actually, books for adults and kids are on this list.

National Science Teachers Association: Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12. One of my favorite lists, available earlier than usual this year, in a PDF format.

Sydney Taylor Book Awards, presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries.

Books for adults

Best science books. John Dupuis at Confessions of a Science Librarian has compiled a good master list of 2010 titles.

Best Translated Book Awards: Fiction Longlist,


"The transformation of the foreign into the familiar"

"Translation expands our ability to explore through literature the thoughts and feelings of people from another society or another time. It permits us to savor the transformation of the foreign into the familiar and for a brief time to live outside our own skins, our own preconceptions and misconceptions. It expands and deepens our world, our consciousness, in countless indescribable ways."

from Why Translation Matters, by Edith Grossman. Yale University Press, 2010. A paperback edition comes out next month.

The American Library Association sponsors a prize that honors translation (into English) in children's literature. The 2011 Mildred A. Batchelder Award went to the publisher of A Time of Miracles, written by Anne-Laure Bondoux and translated from the French by Y. Maudet. Honors were awarded to the publishers of Departure Time, written by Truus Matti and translated from the Dutch by Nancy Forest-Flier, and Nothing, written by Janne Teller and translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken.

The most recent kids' works in translation that we've read are probably the middle-grade novels of Cornelia Funke's Ghosthunters series.  In very small type on the copyright pages you'll see that Helena Ragg-Kirkby translated the books from the German. I noted a while back that the Ghosthunter books are good read-alouds, and I'm now more aware, after reading Why Translation Matters, that part of the credit, at the minimum, must go to Ragg-Kirkby. Edith Grossman points out, "[w]hat should never be forgotten or overlooked is the obvious fact that what we read in a translation is the translator's writing."


2011 Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King Awards, and More

The most prestigious prizes for American children's books were announced this morning at the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association. For more details, more awards, and the titles of the honors books, see this press release from ALA.

Here is a partial list of winners:

Caldecott Medal: A Sick Day for Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin E. Stead and written by Philip C. Stead

Newbery Medal: Moon over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

  • Author Award: One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia
  • Illustrator Award: Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Laban Carrick Hill

Geisel Award: Bink and Gollie, by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee; illustrated by Tony Facile

Morris Award: The Freak Observer, by Blythe Woolston

Printz Award: Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi

Pura Belpre Award (author): The Dreamer, by Pam Muñoz Ryan; Pura Belpre Award (illustrator): Grandma's Gift, written and illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Schneider Family Book Award

  • The Pirate of Kindergarten, written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Lynne Avril (ages 0 to 10)
  • After Ever After, by Jordan Sonnenblick (ages 11-13)
  • Five Flavors of Dumb, by Antony John (teens)

Siebert Informational Book Award: Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot, by Sy Montgomery, with photographs by Nic Bishop

Stonewall Book Award: Almost Perfect, by Bryan Katcher

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults: Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing, by Ann Angel


Coffee Talk, 1.6.11: "Culture is a conversation..."

IMG_0117 Susan Wyndham, the literary editor of the Sydney Morning Herald,  compiled a list of ''15 Australian books - and some extra suggestions - that every Australian can enjoy if they want to understand our literature, our country and ourselves. Culture is a conversation and knowing these books enables us to talk to each other." You can read Wyndham's list here.

As a followup to Wyndham's list, journalist and children's book expert Judith Ridge rounds up the "15 Australian picture books that everyone should know." She's planning to do the same for middle-grade and YA books, too. Ridge writes, "It is a list that, if you read them all, would go some way towards an understanding of. [...] the preoccupations Australian children's literature, and what those preoccupations say about Australian childhood and adolescence (or perhaps our adult perceptions of and ideas about Australian childhood and adolescence)."

The prolific children's book author Dick King-Smith died earlier this week. King-Smith's book The Sheep-Pig (published in the U.S. as Babe: The Gallant Pig) was the basis for the movie "Babe." Obituary at the Guardian. (news via @pwkidsbookshelf)

Jason Wallace's debut novel, Out of Shadows, won the UK's Costa Children's Book Award. The Herald Scotland reports that Out of Shadows, based on the author's experiences in post-independence Zimbabwe, was turned down by more than 100 agents and publishers before Andersen Press picked it up. The book will be published stateside by Holiday House in April.

Back to the States, Rita Williams-Garcia's middle-grade novel One Crazy Summer has won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Details at Read Roger, the blog of The Horn Book's editor, Roger Sutton.

Will One Crazy Summer go on to win the Newbery? We'll see soon. The Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, etc., are announced on Monday morning, January 10th. The American Library Association provides more information.

Speaking of the Coretta Scott King Award, author Kyra E. Hicks offers some thoughts on potential winners of the prize  for "outstanding books for young adults and children by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience." See Hicks' blog, Black Threads in Kid's Lit. Good list!

Book Links just published "Lasting Connections of 2010," the magazine's "favorite books of the last year for K–8 classrooms and libraries. The 30 titles...are all outstanding, with a multitude of possibilities for use in the core content areas." (Hat tip to The Miss Rumphius Effect for the link.)

Science-resource alert: Dr. Tricia Stohr-Hunt, who blogs at The Miss Rumphius Effect, has started Teaching Elementary Science, a new blog for this semester's class. The U. Richmond prof already posted links to lists of kids' science books and more.

Happy Three Kings Day! Usually I'd be hanging out with second graders today, but they have the day off of school. For the read-aloud next week,  Miss B's class requested How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Yay for extending the holidays.

Added 1.8.11: don't miss a fantastic roundup of "best book of 2010" lists at SCC English, the blog of the English Department at St. Columba's College, Dublin. Lots of UK links. (via Choice Literacy)