Selvakumar Knew Better
The bright December morning dawned like any other. The Ramakrishnan family went about their daily business, but their scruffy yellow dog, Selvakumar, felt something in the air.
When a low rumbling noise began to fill the village, Papa climbed on the roof to see what was happening. What he saw was a wall of water rushing toward the shore. “Tsunami! Run!” The family scrambled to outrun the huge wave, but seven-year-old Dinakaran misunderstood. He ran toward his house, where he huddled in a corner for safety.
But Selvakumar would not let him stay there. Barking, nudging, and dragging Dinakaran by the collar, Selvakumar managed to convince him to flee from the house toward the hill. As they reached higher ground, the boy stopped to catch his breath, but Selvakumar knew better. He pushed him even higher to where Mama and Papa had fled and were waiting, worrying about their eldest son.
This true story of a courageous and clever dog who saved a boy’s life during the devastating tsunami of 2004 is sure to touch the hearts of readers of all ages. While the region is still struggling to recover from the disaster and families rebuild what they have lost, Selvakumar reminds us that with our loved ones beside us, no obstacle is too great to be overcome.
Proceeds from every book are donated to Give2Asia's Tsunami Recovery Fund.
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.
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
Here's the complete list of winners:
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.
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)
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)
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.
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.
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."
Best of all? Our very own Selvakumar Knew Better, by Virginia Kroll and illustrated by Xiaojun Li, is one of the featured books. A percentage of proceeds from this book goes to Give2Asia's Tsunami Recovery Fund.
I particularly enjoy this line of Herold's: " Virginia Kroll conspires to break my heart with the last page of this eloquent, touching picture book."
And oh, oh, I also like this part: " Xiojun Li's illustrations are soft, lush, and vibrant at the same time. He focuses on the eyes of Selvakumar and Dinakaran throughout showing the characters knowledge of and sadness at the events of the day."
Read the entire review here.
"...a marvelous volume which should give many children insights into the life of the villagers affected by these natural events."-Frank Hodge, Hodge-Podge Books
Virginia Kroll is the author of over 50 books for children, many of them multicultural. She loves animals and nature and is aware of the deep connection between dogs and humans. Her current companions are Daisy, a gentle, smooth-haired collie, Ying-Yang, an affectionate shih-tzu, and Bella, a spirited chihuahua. Virginia is married to David Haeick and has six children. She lives in the delightful Village of Hamburg, New York, just south of Buffalo.
Xiaojun Li Xiaojun Li is an internationally known children's book illustrator. His illustrations have won him awards from United Nations, China, Japan and United States. Born and raised in Inner Mongolia of north China, Xiaojun Li studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Tianjin and the University of California Davis, he now lives with his wife and son in Davis California.
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.