Monday's links (seriously check them all out and show some love)
Summer Edwards is one of the most amazing bloggers, her blog is dedicated to reviewing children's books by the Caribbean authors and/or set in the Caribbean or featuring Caribbean Americans. She has a post on Historical Fiction Caribbean YA/MG books.
There are so many lost worlds out there. The lost world of women's experiences for example. And definitely the lost worlds of Caribbean people's experiences, the stories of everyday people who lived and loved and fought in our islands centuries ago. What was it like to be a slave girl living in Haiti during the time of the Haitian revolution? What was it like to be a Taino girl coming of age in Puerto Rico during the 1518 smallpox outbreak? What was it like to be an upper-class school teacher in colonial Trinidad? Don't you want to know? Don't you want to imagine? I do!
Although I wish I could provide a longer list, there are a few books that fit the bill in terms of historical YA Caribbean fiction, i.e., historical stories written for teens that are set in and draw upon the Caribbean past. I'm sure I will discover more as I dig through the ether. Two things to note about the list below: 1) The protagonists in the books are largely girls/young women and 2) The authors are largely non-Caribbean people. Interesting no? Please leave me a comment if you know of any historical YA (or children's for that matter) books written by a Caribbean author or featuring a male protagonist.
Neesha Meminger is taking the blogsphere by storm. Over at the YA YA YAs, she talks about the need for An Equal Place at the Table
When I was a teen, all the books I read for fun featured white protagonists. When I think of some of my favourite books in the YA romance genre now, books like those of Sarah Dessen, Megan McCafferty, and Meg Cabot–I doubt that any of the authors were expected to create artful, powerful narratives about social issues. These books are allowed to be pure entertainment because there is a vast plethora of novels showing the full gamut of the white, heterosexual, able-bodied, middle/upper-middle class teen experience. In terms of racial representation, there are white characters in horror, fantasy, romance, historical, and whatever other genres exist on bookshelves, while teens of colour are offered a limited array of options.
South Asian teens rarely see themselves depicted in mainstream media, if at all. They are not all immigrants (though some are), they are not always-all-the-time focused on being “other” (though some are). And they don’t always see themselves as outsiders–especially now, when there are second and third generation teens who are as versed in mainstream American/western pop-culture as they are in their home culture.
Jill has an interview with the indomitable Jacqueline Woodson. Seriously if you don't know who Jacqueline Woodson read the interview and fall in love with her way with words. If you already love Jacqueline Woodson, you will fall further in love.RIB: Describe the ideal reader you would like to reach.
JW: My favorite reader is one that revisits books and gets something new out of them each time. I love slow readers. And readers who think about what I’ve written, think about how it’s written – and copy me!
RIB: As author Neesha Meminger recently wrote, “there is a vast plethora of novels showing the full gamut of the white, heterosexual, able-bodied, middle/upper-middle class teen experience. In terms of racial representation, there are white characters in horror, fantasy, romance, historical, and whatever other genres exist on bookshelves, while teens of colour are offered a limited array of options.” Given that whiteness and heterosexuality are apparently considered “the norm” for marketing purposes, what is your opinion of publishing opportunities for authors of color? Do you see much commitment to diversity?
JW: I actually don’t think of whiteness and heterosexuality as ‘the norm’. Maybe there are people who still do but none of them are close friends of mine. I think the endeavor toward diversity is everywhere – but ‘commitment’ – I don’t know. Because it is a commitment and while I think a lot of people have their hearts in the right place, the work is hard and long and some people give up. I was in the big bookstore here in Park Slope today – (just looking, not buying) and I was surprised to see this tiny Black History Month table –(with books like The Souls Of Black Folks – ‘hello, we’ve written other books since then!!” and a few newer ones on it. Then I went to the teen section and none of the books turned out were by people of color. It was quite a bummer – We can give this situation a thousand reasons, a thousand excuses, but the truth is – something is ‘not’ happening and it would be great to work toward changing that.
A Tale of Two Noras. Angie Smibert, the author of Memento Nora asks Bettina Restrepo, author of Illegal about a 'spit-worthy memory'
I got my first cell phone in 1994. It was a monstrously heavy thing. I travel a lot for business, mostly by car, and I had been in a few precarious positions really desperate for a phone (like on a lonely highway have way between Laredo and San Antonio with a flat tire and no idea how to change it.)
That evening when I showed my ill-fitted boyfriend my new acquisition, he complained bitterly. “Why didn’t you get me one so we could talk to each other.”
Review of The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
Ejii is pretty awesome. She has a lot of passion she tries to keep clamped down within herself, but which keeps bursting free from her. She doesn't want to be weird, she doesn't want her half-status as the child of divorce (boo!), the firstborn (yay!) daughter (boo!) of the former chief (yay!) who was executed for treason (boo!), while she is also a shadow speaker (yay! boo! can't make up our minds!). I've been fourteen, I can sympathize with her desire to keep her head down and stay out of trouble even as her emotions feel out of control. But when destiny knocks, she answers the call. She sets out on her adventure despite not wanting to go, despite knowing what it costs her to leave.
The other pivotal figure in this story is Sarauniya Jaa, the Red Queen. How much did I love Jaa? A warrior queen with a magic sword, ruling her tribe's land with the help of her two husbands. The legends say she was a daydreaming university student before the Change, when the tribe kidnapped her and declared her their queen, and she learned to embrace her destiny. But none of the characters in this story are one-sided; Jaa has her dark side. Ejii is conflicted about Jaa; this is the woman who murdered her father, who in turn may have needed murdering.
Have a great weekend!