{books} listings…

 

book collageI love book lists. With back-to-school season at its peak, lists recommending reads for different age groups and occasions are ubiquitous. What is a rare treat, however, are lists that house a fair number of contemporary books. Picture book and chapter book lists remain pretty current, but have you noticed how many novels for juvenile fiction readers or the family read aloud are those same-‘ol-oldies-but-goodies? Their original publishing dates are at least 20 years old.

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932), The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937) , The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950), or Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952), Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (1960) or A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962), Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (1983), Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985), The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993), Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (1995) or Holes by Louis Sachar (1998).

The list can become lengthy and shaving any off to include more contemporary titles or authors can seem traumatic. I am all for having the staples, but I am starting to wonder if we aren’t being daring enough. With Diversifying lists, we need to revisit lost gems of the 15+ years ago. And I wouldn’t mind revisiting the buzzed-about books of their year who could become staples given time and, well, room. I still recommend Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge (2005) and its brilliant sequel; and the May Bird series by Jodi Lynn Anderson (2005). I wish more people knew about Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress (2007). –All of which are great for the read-aloud.

Do we keep to lists by decades? Refine them by genre or award-winners or, like the above image, by fantastically-transportive heroine? Do we every once in a while recommend ‘the next 50 after you’ve finished the first 35-or-so?’

How about this:

25-50 Novels Young People Could Read that Never Seem to Make the Lists because We’d Feel Guilty (or Embarrassed) for Not Including Tolkien, Wilder, Carroll, White, Lewis, Rowling, Lowry or DiCamillo?

ANOTHER: 50 Potentially Timeless Novels (for Young People) Published in the Last 10 Years.

[Let us keep another sub-list for series, however, if a particular book of a series is the only one worth mentioning...]

*

What would you add to the list of 25-50 Novels Young People Could Read that Never Seem to Make the Lists because We’d Feel Guilty (or Embarrassed) for Excluding Tolkien, Wilder, Carroll, White, Lewis, Rowling, Lowry, DiCamillo, etc.? (include title, author, year)

I’ll begin:

–The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge (2009). I actually found this on a list the other day & it made my week; mostly neglected though, and it is genius writing/storytelling!

–Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress (2007). for lovers of language, the absurd, truly creepy villains, and desiring a better Alice in a Wonderland…

–same goes for Un Lun Dun by China Mieville (2007), she’s no Alice either!

–A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott (2009).

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986).

*

under series:

–May Bird series by Jodi Lynn Anderson (2005)

–Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy (2007). I’ve yet to complete the series and am slowly collecting these, but he is just too hilarious to miss.

{book} imagine Beekle

beekle coverThe Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend

by Dan Santat (Little, Brown & Co. 2014)

On a magical island, a creature is born and left to imagine the friend made especially for them. Nameless, the creature waits in increasing despair while the others meet their matches.

The creature in Dan Santat’s The Adventures of Beekle is from the point-of-view of a yet-named Beekle, but the reader can easily imagine the perspective of the child awaiting Beekle’s realization. Beekle’s perspective is easily understood to be felt and experienced not only by itself, but the the human child as well.

Beekle_Int_HiRes2Santat dreams up the origins of unimaginary friends, and sends one of them on an adventure. Beekle dares to not be forgotten or left unimagined, braving the enormity of nature and adulthood to find where childhood resides. Though smaller in scale, the vibrantly imagined stands out against cold, dark hues of a contemporary urban landscape, walking among renderings of industry and isolation. The shift back to the warmth rendered in that magical island occurs when Beekle enters a playground. Even so, Beekle is alone, everyone else occupied with their unimaginary companion. Santat draws out the tension, the hopefulness that our new friend will find a pairing, and that the adventures will be less lonely. Either kind, alone or in the company of a child, Beekle’s adventures are familiar and moving.

BEEKLE_10

Prepare to be utterly charmed by the creatures Santat renders for the story. Fans of Santat will have already anticipated excellence in color and texture. And the pencilled text is hand-lettered reminding the reader yet again that the author/illustrator is invested in a story about friendship and imagination. After all, the book sitting on its shelf is waiting for a reader to join it in an adventure. I certainly hope that audiences will be inspired to illustrate their own imaginable creatures and adventures; or perhaps play them out. It would be a heartening way to portray the world with childhood portraits (think school pictures) with an equalled attempt to represent an unimaginary friend.

b/w image of the endpages

b/w image of the endpages

Santat is known for his humor and imagination, but this one is less silly than I had come to expect. It brushes close to Shaun Tan’s work. Santat renders the overlap of the rich inner & outer life beautifully. The sweet hopefulness resides just this side of the melancholic, not yet ready to surrender to the disillusionment of childhood in modern life. Fears of being left out, last-to-be-picked, loneliness are buoyed with the optimism of youth and the experienced voice of a wiser and practiced storyteller.

The Adventures of Beekle is sure to be classic, and one to stay on the shelves well beyond childhood and its unimaginary friendships.

————————————–

santatCheck out this Interview by Minh Le for Book Riot in which Santat answers the book’s dedication is Alek: “Alek is my oldest son who is eight years old. Years before he was born, the idea of an imaginary friend who couldn’t be imagined was something I was tinkering with for years. [...] When Alek was born, and when he could finally speak, his first word was Beekle, which was his word for bicycle. At the time, my wife mentioned that it would be a great name for a children’s book character and I immediately realized that I had a name for my new character. Once I named the character the rest of the story flowed right out of me naturally and because of that the scene where Beekle learns his name is especially precious to me.”

Dan Santat is the author/illustrator of Sidekicks and the winner of the Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators for Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) by Mac Barnett. He is also the creator of the Disney animated hit, The Replacements. Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, and various pets.

{images belong to Dan Santat}

Beekle is my 5th Santat-illustrated book reviewed here (thus far): Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds; Crankenstein by Samantha Berger; Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show by Michael Buckley; & The Guild of Geniuses by Dan Santat. I can easily recommend them all.

 

{summer writing} prompts

Why, L, is there a wintery scene with pandas in a post about summer writing? I found it amusing. The search for an image to accompany a post on prompts included this adorable photograph. Do you think the panda is trying to get up or down off that platform?…or is there a third option. Just what is the prompting here?

In her post for  Anca Szilagyl includes an image of a painting titled Summer and offers a few questions/prompts relating back to the painting (“Ten-Minute” #9). A quick search yields no shortage of writing prompts. Search results offer a breadth in age, application and difficulty. Some are more creative or challenging than others, and those are the ones I cull. Okay, I do not seek out many, because one particular exercise is being able to come up with writing prompts. But I like Anca Szilagyl’s “Summer Inspired Writing Prompts” at Ploughshares.

I appreciate the sectioning off prompts by time. I’m going to steal this. We do timed writing, but to set it out with that kind of intentionality is good.

I dig encouraging the summer theme for adult writers. Natalya is summer prompted out, dreading and groaning about those return to school projects and essays (in which she usually manufactures a bunch of hooey; in which I am jealous to have not thought to do that myself at her age, yet remind myself is not too late).

From the “Summer Inspired Writing Prompts:”

“Write a scene using the words lobster, melon, and urine.”

“Write a scene using the words snorkel, flummox, kale, and dendochronology.”

Summer Writing” prompt WI 3 recommends the random selection of words before using them in a story or poem. Szilagyl selection for prompts encourage the incorporation of [these] words also recommends that the writer try to use words they probably found in a dictionary or textbook. It also encouraged me to go ahead and include a word-list in the program aimed at incorporating words the writer may have to research–terms deliciously complex in meaning, or easily available in one context but exciting to try in another.

Natalya and I find it of value to have a variety in types of prompts; Szilagyl appears to feel the same. A lot of prompt lists/posts are organized by questions or sentences and the result can breed feelings of limitation. A question can provoke thought, but may not inspire a point of entry (which may be what you need at that moment). We should keep a variety pack around to remind ourselves that there are multiple entrances into a story, areas of focus, perspectives, words to implement. It is good to be reminded that writing is not a linear process. Writing is a multi-faceted craft, the muse is difficult to anticipate, and often prompts are there to create opportunities for growth in the discipline. Sometimes they pull us out of a rut, and the ruts we slip into vary.

Have a look at Szilagyl’s prompts. I am just going to excerpt a few of my favorites to share:

List all the scary things you associate with summer.

List all the textures you associate with summer.

In as much detail as possible, describe the physical sensation of sunburn.

Write a story around the ideas of ripening and rotting.

List all the books you associate with summer. Use the words from their titles to write a story.

obviously I am attracted to list-making…

I do like prompts that encourage a shift in perspective (“Twenty+ Minute” #3), and I know a lot of people who would like the option that begins: “Do you like to write stories based on historical research” (“Twenty+ Minute” #7)?

Do you have a favorite prompt? Do you have a favored type of prompt?

 

 

{film} Guardians of the Galaxy, 5 Reasons.

I’m sure someone will decide their means for being relevant will require them to pan James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). They’ll claim some disconnect with the director’s work in general as their opening disclaimer or some such entry wound into their “review.” I am fine–relieved, actually–to be absorbed into the clamoring for an encore. Was the film perfect? no. Was it AWESOME? yes. Look for the early-bird special if you need to, and take a friend.

5 Reasons to see Guardians of the Galaxy (in no particular order).

gotg crew

Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket Raccoon (voice Bradley Cooper), Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Groot (voice Vin Diesel), Drax (Dave Bautista)

# : You are a fan of mischievous heroes in space and the silliness that is sure to prevail aka Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Gamora and Nebula have siblings, can one future casting call be Gina Torres (Zoe in Firefly)? But, really, the comedy, much of which was unanticipated and then subjected to the long-joke, was fantastic. Its a film that doesn’t rely on the energy of the audience to keep you laughing. Too, that the film is based on an under-read, lower-tier-developed comic has some appeal. While this may frustrate those who like to debate which characters get cast and how terrible the reboot was, I liked going into the film with the notion that we were not wading through a lot of backstory and bickering. It is fun feeling like you are discovering a hero for the first time with a theater geeked on the SFF genre alone.

gotg pratt

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star Lord

# : Chris Pratt, and not only to witness the musculature. The comparisons of Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly) and Han Solo (Star Wars) to Peter Quill are accurate and appealing.He is hilarious and charming, and you never once doubt his abilities to play an action star. When he plays the goofball, it isn’t because he lacks intellect or strategy. Pratt has range, and bless it, but they do not push the romancing Gamora line too far. Pratt’s comedic timing is golden. Natalya cites Quill’s dancing (near the beginning) as her favorite scene: she always thought heroes should carry their soundtracks with them. I actually like his troubled looks, like when he is subdued in the prison (just after the shirt went back on). Pratt does not suffer from the lackluster nor the over-the-top. I’m not sure the casting could have more perfect.

gotg gamora

Zoe Saldana as Gamora

# : Gamora (Zoe Saldana) as kick-ass, smart-ass, and vulnerable. Saldana finds and uses complexity in a character that could be just one idea of a female in comics or another. Yes, we were still subjected to the “male gaze.” I’m thinking of the opportunities for her to show she is not unaffected by the world around her. She isn’t a strong character because she is invulnerable, in fact, her circumstances make her courage and capability all the more impressive. The fight choreography is spectacular, though the quick cutting and cross-cutting during her fight with Nebula was frustrating in it’s lack of spectacle. Love how smart yet charmed Gamora is by Quill–and we are still laughing about the “Kevin Bacon” scenes.

gotg groot

Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel)

#: Groot. Yes, all the fuss is warranted. A bit of humor is floating around about how the production staff really only needed Vin Diesel to read a few variations on his one line. Digital manipulation would manage the actual reading for the film. Vin Diesel insisted, in what is taken as a lug-headed fashion, on reading the scripted lines as they would sound in the scene. I am having a hard time imagining what the results would have been with the original plan, but between the effects and Diesel’s reading, Groot was a flawless presence on screen.

gillan nebula

via David White interview; Karen Gillan as Nebula

# : The Make-Up and Special Effects. David White is the special effects makeup designer on the film, “he created the tangible, high-concept looks for Gamora, Drax, Nebula, Yondu, Korath, and the film’s numerous aliens.” You can read Scott Pierce’s interview with him on Co.Create (there are images of the process), “‘I’ve been fortunate to have been around the Marvel world for a little while,’ White says. ‘I like to think my own artwork and style has worked well within the universe’.” Indeed it does. The Kree architecture/design produced in the film is noteworthy. The ships are amazing as well. Sean favored the Black Aster, but we agreed that the ships, tech and the battle scenes were frankly marvelous.

{diversity in lit} friday #14

A few links to reviews, articles, sites, etc. of the Diversity in Literature concern from around a small portion the blook blogosphere, accumulated over the past week or so.

——-Review———-

of note: I’ve included a few younger reads and older reviews this week.

Sarah Ellis for The Horn Book reviews a middle-grade novel Dust of Eden by Mariko Nagai (Whitman 2014). “In this verse novel, we first meet Mina Tagawa and her Seattle-based family just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.[...]The sheer volume of issues raised in the slim novel (racism, tensions between immigrant generations, the nature of American identity and patriotism, the liberation of Dachau, the Hiroshima bombing) can overwhelm the personal story, leaving readers somewhat disconnected from Mina. However, Nagai’s writing is spare and rhythmic — it’s real poetry.”

Melissa (The Book Nut) reads Girl in Reverse by Barbara Stuber (Margaret K. McElderry 2014). “Lillian Firestone is an adopted daughter of Chinese heritage. Which makes her a target in Kansas City in 1951, the height of the Korean War. She took the bullying and name-calling when she was younger, but now that she’s 16, she’s taking a stand. [...] I wanted to like this book. I love the cover, I love the ideas, the conflict. But I could never connect with Lily. She drove. me. nuts. Completely. And so I started skimming, skipping ahead just to see what happens. And yeah, everything’s tied up in a nice little bow. It had potential, and I’m sure some readers will really love the art and China elements. But I wasn’t really one of them.”

00 parade—Dolce Bellezza reviews Parade by Shuichi Yoshida (Vintage 2014, 1st pub 2002). “Four Japanese students in their early twenties share Apartment 401 together in Tokyo. They are convinced that the inhabitant of Apartment 402 is up to no good, and they make elaborate plans to disclose his occupation. Yet they are completely unable to face their own flaws, let alone the tragic and horrifying flaw within the eldest. [...] I was so shocked at the conclusion I found myself reading the last twenty pages twice, carefully looking for nuances which could have led to such a surprising revelation. The clues are all there of course, just not laid out in an obvious, 21st century American way.”

Kirkus reviews Trespassing by Uzma Aslan Khan (Metropolitan/Henry Holt 2004). “A contemporary romantic tragedy displays a startlingly fresh voice as Khan illuminates the complex social, religious, and economic mores of Pakistan while offering an outsider’s hard-eyed perspective on American attitudes during the first Gulf War. [...] A rare, wonderful gift of a novel that defies mere plot synopsis: a complex fictional world that illuminates the real one and seamlessly merges the personal with the larger sociopolitical conundrums we all face today.”

BookPage reads An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay (Grove Atlantic/Black Cat 2014). “Mireille Duval Jameson’s idyllic life is ripped apart when she is kidnapped for ransom in her wealthy parents’ homeland of Haiti. [...] An Untamed State is hard to read but impossible to put down. It highlights the fragility of flesh and just how easily our bodies are broken by abuse and pain. Yet it also highlights the remarkable resiliency of the will to survive.”

—“Glow-in-the-Dark Jigsaw Puzzles” uses all the big words in Barry Schwabsky’s review of Arthur Sze’s book of poetry Compass Rose (Copper Canyon Press 2014). “War, love, eating, the indifferent processes of the natural world, the banality of consumer culture, spiritual longing, historical memory commingle. The scope of this poetry is Whitmanesque in its inclusiveness, though its rhetorical modesty is anything but Whitmanesque.”

——Articles——–

—The Dark Fantastic writes “Why is Rue a Little Black Girl?” – The Problem of Innocence in the Dark Fantastic.” “(Author’s Note: This post contains racist images and language. Reader discretion is advised.)” “I believe that Collins’ construction of Rue as the symbol of innocence meant that some readers automatically imagined her as White. After all, in what universe is an older Black tween innocent?”

–“Diversity is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing” is an article posted on BuzzFeed in April (2014), written by Daniel Jose Older. “The publishing industry looks a lot like these best-selling teenage dystopias: white and full of people destroying each other to survive.” “I thought back over the many interactions I’d had with agents – all but two of them white – before I landed with mine. The ones that said they loved my writing but didn’t connect with the character, the ones that didn’t think my book would be marketable even though it was already accepted at a major publishing house. Thought about the ones that wanted me to delete moments when a character of color gets mean looks from white people because “that doesn’t happen anymore” and the white magazine editor who lectured me on how I’d gotten my own culture wrong. My friends all have the same stories of whitewashed covers and constant sparring with the many micro and mega-aggressions of the publishing industry.”

Rich in Color hosts author Gabriela Lee in “Starting the Service: A Glimpse into Creating “The End of Service.”” “Lee [is]one of the many fantastic authors with a story inKaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories. “End of Service” focuses on Aya, whose mother, an overseas Filipino worker, dies while abroad. We are very excited to have Gabriela here at Rich in Color to talk about OFWs, her experiences in Singapore, and writing “End of Service.””

—Linda M. Castellitto for BookPage interviews Carlos Ruiz Zafón, “A Gothic Favorite Comes Stateside.” “One of my ambitions has been to go back to what those great authors were doing then . . . to bridge that sensibility of old Victorian Gothic tales and reconstruct them in a modern way.”

–And BookPage‘s Trisha Ping interviews Diana Gabaldon, “The Heart of a Series.””I have wonderful fans: educated, literate, intelligent, sane (something many of my fellow-authors envy) and amazingly kind.”

——Booklists, sites, etc.——-

The Dark Fantastic (as mentioned above) may be a site of interest. “Ebony Elizabeth Thomas [is] an assistant professor at Penn GSE who loves children’s and YA literature, media, and culture. (I’m also a former classroom teacher, a current fangirl, and will always be a dreamer.)” She maintains lists in her side-bar you will probably want to peruse.

My Little Pocket Books shares some more diverse “shelf approved” reading options here.

Chelsea Hawkins for Arts.Mic shares “9 Works by Indigenous Writers that should be Taught in Every High School.” “High school reading lists are filled with iconic American writers — Ernest Hemingway, Toni Morrison, Mark Twain. Among the list of American literary greats is a striking omission: the presence of Native American writers. It is time to change that.”

Behind the Book posted three (NYC-centric) reading lists of interest: K-12, Elementary, Middle-Grade.

{summer writing} writing utensils

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Bottle Ink via pencils.jp

Natalya added a pinboard for “Writerly things” recently. It had me thinking about what writerly things do I use, need, want.

The want list varies from particular types of paper and pens and software and salaries…

I tried to simplify needs under “the basics,” but do add, clarify or edit where you will:

a writing utensil (pen, pencil, keyboard, paint) and surface (paper, envelope, word doc, wall). time. language (words, symbols, lexicon) and imagination, curiosity, perspective, idea. ego.

I use a spiffy little macbook air, microsoft word, wordpress, box, google drive, InDesign, a dictionary/thesaurus, paper, pen (sometimes pencil), a notes app, and we’ve recently acquired Scrivener. I’ve a small community of writerly folk, my inquisitive nature, education, etc. Not everything I use is portable or even accessible, including my ego. What I can always have is something to write with and something to write on and a means to keep it together (so as to not misplace it).

Wind-Up Key Sharpener by SUCK UK

Wind-Up Key Sharpener by SUCK UK

We talked a couple weeks ago about how Writers need to Read. Another tool of the trade is the means to record your thoughts, observations, lists, eavesdropped conversations… You need a catch-all. Skin works in a pinch, as do lip pencils or eye liner. If anyone knows of a good dictation app, let me know. But you need good writing utensils.

It has become kind of humorous to some, but Natalya really does carry some sort of notebook around with her at all times. When there a drill that requires a quick exit of the school building, is Natalya leaving without her notebook? No. Her friends gave her a composition book they bore a hole into so she could tie it to her. She carries a small sling tote to transport her notebook, pens, ipod, headphones, and reading material.

Whether it is big or small, a leather bound journal, steno, a spiral notebook, a classic composition book, moleskine, lined or unlined, loose-leaf or recycled, have it accessible. Same goes for ink, graphite, color, scented, ball point, quill, sharpie, etc. preferences.

Helpful tips for once you have the journal/writing utensil–most of which you’ll have tailor to your lifestyle:

–a means to carry it: pocket, tote, friend’s pocket or tote, ear, sleeve, sturdy waistband or bra…

–supplies of various sizing, weight or quality. Will the pen write on napkins, skin or bathrooms stalls or wherever you like to record your poetry. Is the paper too thin or ink too heavy. Is the journal sturdy enough to withstand your demands.

–consider journals with pockets and/or strong binding for tucking found objects between the pages.

–learn/practice to write legibly while also writing quickly, without looking (or seeing), or taking a bumpy road. Short-hand, self-invented or learned from a transcriptionist’s program is helpful. Not getting motion-sick is also helpful.

It is nice to be organized into keeping x here and y there, and wouldn’t it be precious if there was a uniformity to the handwriting and ink. You can transfer your findings into archival quality journals in the manner that is found most pleasing. What is most important is that x and y wends its way into or becomes your work in some fashion.

Do you keep writing utensils on hand? What do you like to use?

 

{diversity in lit} friday #13: (re)sources

The Circular Ruins by Lilianna

The Circular Ruins by Lilianna

A few links to reviews, articles, sites, etc. of the Diversity in Literature concern from around a small portion the blook blogosphere, accumulated over the past week or so.

—-Review—-

—A brief review (and link in which to read the story) by Dolce Bellezza: In a Grove by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (transl. Takashi Kojima, 1st publ 1922). “This fascinating story is the account of a samurai’s murder given to a high police commissioner from the perspective of a woodcutter, a traveling Buddhist priest, a policeman, an old woman, the man’s wife, and the murdered man himself (through a medium).  As you read, you think that the story will become clear; each person’s revelation should surely uncover the truth about what was found in the grove. Except each person’s testimony only confuses the story further. With every account the blame shifts, the details change, the culprit becomes someone entirely new.” Which makes me think of Jesse Ball’s Silence Once Begun.

17303139—Jessica at Rich in Color reviews (YA novel) Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine (Margaret K. McElderry 2014). “There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.” (goodreads)

“In recent years, I’ve grown weary (and wary) of “Asian inspired” fantasy and sci fi books that end up being 70% cultural appropriation and names straight out of the dictionary. I was relieved and happy to find that Of Metal and Wishes is, as far as I can tell, not one of those books. Research has gone into this book and it shows, through subtle details and solid writing.[...]definitely a book to put on your to-read list.”-Jessica

Kirkus Reviews reviews The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob (Random House 2014). “Jacob’s darkly comic debut—about a photographer’s visit to her parents’ New Mexico home during a family crisis—is grounded in the specifics of the middle-class Indian immigrant experience while uncovering the universality of family dysfunction and endurance. [...] Comparisons of Jacob to Jhumpa Lahiri are inevitable; Lahiri may be more overtly profound, Jacob more willing to go for comedy, but both write with naked honesty about the uneasy generational divide among Indians in America and about family in all its permutations.”

18338464Shelf Awareness hosts Justus Joseph’s review of Our Happy Time by Gong Ji-Young (transl Sora Kim-Russell, Marble Arch Press 2014, 1st publ 2005). “Examines the role society plays in creating criminals and explores the price paid when people vilify and dehumanize others. She does not shy from hard truths, revealing her character’s inner conflict and humanity with a deft and practiced hand. This is an emotionally difficult story told gently, but does not leave readers unscathed”

—The same issue of Shelf Awareness shares Bruce Jacobs’ review of The Amado Women by Desiree Zamarano (Cinco Punto Press 2014). “Zamorano, director of Occidental College’s Community Literacy Center, eschews the stereotypical storyline of long-suffering Latina women keeping house for the rich. Instead, her protagonists are middle-class women with contemporary problems developing in the years straddling the turn of the 21st century. [...]A finely rendered story of a multigenerational Latina family overcoming individual setbacks and tragedies.”

Book Addiction shares The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis (Knopf 2012). “Captured here in twelve luminous narrative threads, their lives tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage and the journey of a nation” (publisher’s comments). “While it’s on the slim side, the connected short stories really worked for me and I felt deeply for the main character and her children. I connected with them in a way that was unexpected, given the nonlinear format of the book. Definitely give it a try if you like unconventional story-telling, fantastic characters, and an emotional story.”

——–Articles———

so, the first two are not Literature related per se… but of interest (and somewhat related) nonetheless.

Juana Summer’s Q&A on NPR asks “How is The Native College Experience Different?” Adrienne Keene, a post-doctoral researcher at Brown University, author of the popular blog “Native Appropriations” and a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, answers.

scifi-movie-diversity-gap1—Marissa Lee and Imran Siddiquee visit Lee & Low Blog to discuss this issue: “Where’s the Diversity Hollywood? Sci Fi and Fantasy Blockbusters Overwhelmingly White, Male.” “Marissa Lee: The statistics are certainly striking, especially since sci-fi and fantasy belong to a genre that prides itself on creativity and imagination. These statistics aren’t necessarily surprising, since lack of diversity in Hollywood films is a well-known problem. There have been enough studies and articles, and any moviegoer can pause to notice there is a disparity. . . . Hollywood can’t go on pretending that this isn’t a problem.”

Number Five Bus Presents…Sergio Ruzzier, Italian illustrator. “too often one hears things like “children will like this,” or “children will not like that,” as if all children shared the same tastes. I am also annoyed by the suggested reading levels, or recommendations for specific ages. I remember when I was maybe six or seven, wanting to buy a book, and the bookseller saying: “it’s actually for younger children.” My mother still bought that book for me, because I really wanted it, but to this day I still feel the shame and embarrassment I felt that day, forty years ago. A thing like that is such a subtle violence, if you think about it.”

–The Continental Correspondent Wim for Forbidden Planet features cartoonist Soufeina Hamed, “a 24-year old student from Osnabrück in Germany who has been making comics for quite a while now, first with typical big-eyed manga artwork, but lately in a more personal style, not unlike the art found in many alternative, autobiographical comics. She is also a young Muslim woman who freely wears a hijab as part of her religion.Since this is still predominantly regarded by many in the West as a symbol of the oppression of women by Islam (leading to actual state legislation on religious apparel in public spaces in France), Hamed uses her comics to explain what Islam means to her, and how we should learn to see beyond our differences in order to notice our similarities.”

—–Booklists, Sites, etc.——-

Horn Book’s Katrina Hedeen lists some options for “Cultural Diversity for Middle-Grade Fiction.”

JloCenEu_400x400If I hadn’t shared it before: Book Dragon a blog dedicated to “books for the multi-culti reader” and hosted by  Smithsonian Asian Pacific Center. They’ve a Book Club

Native Appropriations-–“examining representations of indigenous peoples—is a forum for discussing representations of Native peoples, including stereotypes, cultural appropriation, news, activism, and more.

Author Aisha Saeed & the #RamadanReads campaign, shares the booklist for reading and helping support, “features books by diverse Muslim authors, including those who identify as orthodox, cultural and secular.”