January 2008 Archives

An Exciting Weekend Ahead- SCCRC Asilomar Reading Conference

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I can't believe I didn't think to post this earlier! I'm very excited about this upcoming weekend because Virginia Kroll, the author of Selvakumar Knew Better and many, many other titles, is coming out to California to be a keynote speaker at the Santa Clara County Reading Council's annual Reading Conference at Asilomar. I'm picking her up at the airport tomorrow, and we are going to the Monterey area for the weekend.

We'll have a table there selling our books on Saturday, so if you're going, stop by and say hello.

SCCRC Asilomar Reading Conference 2008
January 18, 19, 20
Asilomar Conference Center
Pacific Grove, CA

2007 Notable Book for a Global Society

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Selvakumar Knew Better has been chosen as a 2007 Notable Book for a Global Society by the International Reading Association. What a great honor, considering it is among such notable choices as The Book Thief, Freedom Walkers, and Moses.

Here's the complete list of winners:

Historical Fiction


Boyne, J.  (2006). The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. New York:  David Fickling.

Draper, S. (2006).  Copper Sun. New York:  Atheneum

Holm, J. L.  (2006). Penny From Heaven. New York:  Random House.

Lee-Tai, A. (2006). A Place where Sunflowers Grow.  Illustrated by Felicia Hoshino. San Francisco, CA:  Children's Book Press. (pb)

McCutcheon, J. (2006).  Christmas in the Trenches. Illustrated by Henri Sorensen. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree. (pb)

Raven, M. T. (2006). Night Boat to Freedom. Illustrated by E. B. Lewis. New York:  Melanie Kroupa. (pb)

Tingle, T. (2006). Crossing Bok Chitto:  A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom. Illustrated by Jeanne Rorex Bridges. El Paso, TX:  Cinco Puntos Press.  (pb)

Winthrop, E.  (2006). Counting on Grace. New York:  Wendy Lamb.

Weatherford, C. (2006). Dear Mr. Rosenwald. Illustrated by Gregory R. Christie. New York: Scholastic. (pb)

Weatherford, C. B. (2006). Moses:  When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom.  Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. New York:  Jump at the Sun. (pb)

Zusak, M. (2006).  The Book Thief. New York:  Alfred A. Knopf.

 
Nonfiction


Freedman, R. (2006). Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. New York: Holiday House.

Goldman, S. R. with Ela Weissberger. (2006).  Cat with the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin. New York: Holiday House.

Hopkinson, D. (2006). Up Before Daybreak:  Cotton and People in America.  New York: Scholastic.

Shoveller, H.  (2006). Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press.  (pb)

Zalben, J. B. (2006). Paths to Peace. New York: Dutton. (pb)

 
Poetry

Greenfield, E.  (2006). When the Horses Ride By. Illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. New York: Lee & Low (pb)

Myers, W. D.  (2006). Jazz. Illustrated by Christopher Myers.  New York:  Holiday House. (pb)

 
Realistic Fiction

Diakite, P.  (2006). I Lost My Tooth in Africa. Illustrated by Bab Wague Diakite. New York: Scholastic.(pb)

Hobb, W. (2006). Crossing the Wire. New York:  HarperCollins.

Kessler, C.  (2006). Best Beekeeper of Lalibela:  A Tale from Africa. Illustrated by Leonard Jenkins. New York: Holiday House. (pb)

Kroll, V.  (2006). Selvakumar Knew Better.  Illustrated by Xiaojun.  Fremont, CA: Shen's. (pb)

McCormick, P.  (2006). Sold. New York: Hyperion.  

 
Traditional Literature

Campoy, F. I., & Ada, A. F. (2006). Tales Our Abuelitas Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection.  Illustrated by Felipe Davalos, Viva Escriva, Susan Guevara, Leyla Torres. New York:  Atheneum. 

McKissack, P.  (2006). Porch Lies:  Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and Other Wily Characters. Illustrated by Andre Carrilho. New York:  Schwartz & Wade.

Booklinks

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booklinks.jpg

Selvakumar Knew Better, by Virginia Kroll and illustrated by Xiaojun Li has been reviewed by Booklinks:

"The realistic pictures, decorated with an abundance of fine pen-and-ink details, set close-ups of the boy and his pet against the "enormous wall of water" that chases them... The story is neither sentimental nor sensational; it depicts the escape and the family's sobbing reunion without denying the horror of what is lost."

Holly Thompson Interview in January's The Edge of the Forest

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January's issue of The Edge of the Forest features an interview with our own Holly Thompson talking about The Wakame Gatherers, Japan, and writing. (She even mentions me and Shen's Books-- yay!)

Here's an excerpt that I found particularly interesting, as it pertains to some of the issues we covered in our "Crossing Cultural Borders" series of posts.
 
The Edge of the Forest: In workshops you've conducted you've spoken about some of the mistakes writers make when attempting to write multicultural fiction. Could you give a couple of examples?

Holly Thompson: Perhaps the most serious mistake writers make is not knowing a culture deeply enough; this can result in a book full of clichés--in setting, characterization, and dialogue. Another mistake is not doing enough research and relying on rather narrow personal experience. A writer doesn't need to be a native of a culture to write about a culture; research with primary resources, substantial direct experience and interviews with experts can enable a writer to create an authentic story.

NCCBA Otter Dinner Announced: March 22, 2008

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If I do say so myself, I think the Otter Dinner is the biggest shindig for children's book lovers this side of the Mississippi. Don't miss it. Contact your local NCCBA member bookstore for tickets (or email me and I'll put you in touch with one).

Here is the press release with all the dirty details:

NCCBA's 21st Annual Otter Awards Banquet The Northern California Children's Booksellers' Association's well-loved Otter Awards Banquet, the premier children's literature and literacy event in the San Francisco Bay Area, is coming up on March 22, 2008 at San Francisco's elegant Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason Street.

This year marks the beginning of our third decade presenting the Otter Award, which honors an individual or organization for an ongoing and unique role in bringing together children and books. The Otter winner for 2008 is Stephen D. Krashen, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California. A highly acclaimed linguist, educational researcher, and activist, he is best known for his contributions to the fields of second language acquisition, bilingual education, and reading. He is, in addition, a tireless advocate for access to books and the right of children to free reading time.

We're also thrilled to announce our keynote speakers for the evening: Mark Teague and Ying Chang Compestine. Mark is the well-known illustrator of the How Do Dinosaurs...? picture book series with Jane Yolen, and the author/illustrator of the hilarious LaRue books, Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School and Detective LaRue: Letters From the Investigation. Local author Ying has written several cook books and picture books, including The Real Story of Stone Soup and D is for Dragon Dance, and also an acclaimed first novel, the semi-autobiographical Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party.

This same evening, we will announce the winners of our grants for community-based literacy projects.

No-host cocktails start at 6 p.m.; dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets, available through you local, independent bookseller, are $75 until March 1, $85 thereafter.

This event often sells out, so be sure to order your tickets soon.
NCCBA 21st Annual Otter Dinner Saturday, March 22, 2008 Cocktails at 6:00pm, Dinner at 7:00pm Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason Street, San Francisco $75 prior to March 1, $85 thereafter

The Multiracial Child Resource Book

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I was poking around the web the other day and ran across this book, published by an organization called the Mavin Foundation. It's called The Multiracial Child Resource Book, and here is the description from the web site:

As America experiences a multiracial baby boom, parents, teachers and child welfare professionals must be equipped with resources to help raise happy and healthy mixed heritage youth. Published in 2003, this groundbreaking, 288-page volume edited by Maria P. P. Root, Ph.D. and Matt Kelley, offers 35 chapters to assist the people who work with children to serve multiracial youth with compassion and competence. Providing both a developmental and mixed heritage-specific approach, the Multiracial Child Resource Book provides a layered portrait of the mixed race experience from birth to adulthood, each chapter written by the nation's experts and accompanied by first-person testimonials from mixed heritage young adults themselves.

I haven't seen it myself, but it sounds like a great resource. If anyone has seen it or owns it, please let us know how it is in the comments.

The Mavin Foundation, by the way, looks like a wonderful organization itself. Apparently, it is the nation's leading organization dedicated to "celebrate and empower mixed heritage people and families." Hear, hear!

Multicultural Review: Romina's Rangoli

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I just received my Winter issue of Multicultural Review, and was pleasantly surprised to see a review of Romina's Rangoli inside. Besides giving a great summary of the book, the reviewer, Kena Sosa, has this to say:

"Romina's Rangoli depicts the dilemma of many biracial and multiracial children today. We've come a long way, but sometimes we forget about those in the middle who have more than one box to check, none of which includes their entire cultural background... As the population of biracial and multiracial children continues to grow (expecting one soon myself), we must have literature that grows with them as well, books like Romina's Rangoli."

Virginia Kroll Visits

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That's me and Virginia Kroll outside the San Jose airport. I had just given her a copy of The Wakame Gatherers, so that explains why Virginia Kroll would be illogically holding someone else's book. Of course, I wasn't thinking clearly enough to take a picture of us somewhere more beautiful, either, like the Asilomar Conference Grounds. No, we posed at the curb of the departures doors at Terminal A. Brilliant, Renee.

I think Virginia had a great (short) weekend in California. I enjoyed meeting her very much, and because we had a long drive from San Jose to Monterey and back, we were able to talk and talk about whatever-- books, family, weather, animals. She is a wonderful and fascinating lady, but what else would you expect from a woman who has published 67 picture books in the last fifteen years?

At the conference, I spent most of the big day in the exhibitor's hall at our table, but after we packed up, I hurried over to the main hall to see Virginia speak. I was able to catch the last twenty minutes or so of her keynote speech.

You know what she was talking about when I walked in? Nothing less than being a writer who writes outside of her ethnicity. I guess I am just incredibly idealistic at my core, because I was surprised when she recounted stories of how publishers and other authors treated her when they found out that she was a white woman. One publisher who was interested in a manuscript of hers, did in fact ask if she was black. "Does it matter?" was her only reply. And before she knew it, the publisher had mailed back four of her manuscripts with no letter of explanation or even rejection.

Another of her anecdotes that shocked me, frankly, was of her meeting with an African-American author that she admired very much (she did not name names). When Virginia enthusiastically exclaimed how honored she was to meet this author, the author's only reply was, "Who do you think you are, trying to make money off of my people?"

Now, this was perhaps about ten years ago. Virginia says that the racial-political climate is much changed these days. She never gets asked anymore what her ethnicity is, and most publishers were always very open about it to begin with. But she said that though the rebuffs hurt at the time, she is in retrospect glad that she experienced racial prejudice firsthand.

Prejudice is certainly far from gone in this country, but for some reason, I am always, always surprised when I see it. I just can't imagine why the color of one's skin should change anything, but then it does, and I am caught afresh with confusion.

Holly Thompson Interview in January's The Edge of the Forest

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January's issue of The Edge of the Forest features an interview with our own Holly Thompson talking about The Wakame Gatherers, Japan, and writing. (She even mentions me and Shen's Books-- yay!) Here's an excerpt that I found particularly interesting, as it pertains to some of the issues we covered in our "Crossing Cultural Borders" series of posts.

The Edge of the Forest: In workshops you've conducted you've spoken about some of the mistakes writers make when attempting to write multicultural fiction. Could you give a couple of examples?

Holly Thompson: Perhaps the most serious mistake writers make is not knowing a culture deeply enough; this can result in a book full of clichés--in setting, characterization, and dialogue. Another mistake is not doing enough research and relying on rather narrow personal experience. A writer doesn't need to be a native of a culture to write about a culture; research with primary resources, substantial direct experience and interviews with experts can enable a writer to create an authentic story.





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Blog Contributors

Renee Ting is the President and Publisher of Shen's Books. She is the author of The Prince's Diary and the blog, Renee's Book of the Day.

Emily Jiang is a writer of children's and YA literature. She also blogs at TLeaf Readings.

Shen’s Books is a publisher of multicultural children’s literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia.

Through books, we can share a world a stories, building greater understanding and tolerance within our increasingly diverse communities as well as throughout our continuously shrinking globe.

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