Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Akata Witch by Nnede Okorafor

Akata Witch

Nnede Okorafor

352 pages

Publication Date: April 14, 2011

Publisher: Viking Juvenile

Source: Library

Age group: MG (Middle Grade)

No matter which way you look at it, Sunny is an outsider. She lives in Nigeria with her family but spent almost the first decade of her life living in the United States. On top of that she’s an albino, used to the stares and taunts from people especially her classmates. But when strange things start happening: visions in a candle’s flames and the revelation that one of her classmates have magical abilities (and she does too), Sunny’s life drastically changes. She’s introduced to magic, people, and places that she didn’t even know existed. There’s a war coming between the forces of good and evil and it seems like Sunny will be in the middle of it.

There is so much to enjoy about Akata Witch. With many novels there’s an introduction into the character’s life before the action starts. Not with this book. Right from the very beginning readers are thrown into Sunny’s story as she sits alone in her room, watching a vision so intensely in the flame that her hair catches fire. Pretty much every chapter in this book is filled with action and readers are able to see Sunny’s growth as a girl who’s already sure of herself become a girl with that same self-confidence but who’s also willing to put herself in danger to help others.

With its setting in Nigeria the magic, myths, landscape, and culture that readers encounter in the book are different and refreshing from the magic that’s usually found in fantasy novels. Learning about the different ethnic groups and languages in Nigeria was slowly embedded in the story and it didn’t feel like an anthropology lesson.

My only gripe with the book is the disappointing ending. Sunny and her friends have to battle an evil wizard to stop an ancient monster from coming back into her world. It’s something they have to do by themselves. The battle happens but there’s almost no build-up of suspense and readers are left with this flat battle in the end. Even with the ending, I’m not going to let that stop me from reading everything else by Okorafor or the next book in this new series once it’s published. Recommended read for middle grade readers.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Crayons

Happy Memorial Day for tomorrow and hope everyone enjoys the extended weekend. Kids are finishing up their school year so, let's make sure we get lots of books in their hands to keep them engaged throughout the summer. Without further ado, here are some new crayons.


Superdaddies Series by Anita Tamara Gibbs
Fathers sometimes get a bad rap. Not all of them are 'deadbeats', and many really do attempt to serve and nurture their children in the way that it was intended. Superdaddies; The Series, touches on many situations from everyday/custodial weekend activities, to normal life experiences. The families' adventures are the same that most ordinary families would experience across racial and socioeconomic lines. "Daddy I broke my Snowball" is the first book of the series that discusses the relationship between a father and his daughters on one of their weekend visits together. This winter visit enables a bonding experience with the girls, the snow, and a 'Snow-woman"

'Daddy, I Can Read It For You' is the sophomore book of the 'Superdaddies the Series' children's book series. This story depicts a middle aged divorced father of two who has a very 'special' relationship with his gifted son, and precocious 'tween daughter. This "Superdaddy' did not attend college and only went to school through the eighth grade. He values healthy eating and their favorite but healthy guilty pleasure happens to be sweet potato dishes from "Sweet PotatoHeads". 'Sweet Potatoheads', is a fictional restaurant that serves many varieties of prepared sweet potatoes, and is a place they visit often. He 'discovers' the computer and with a little discussion on Nano-technology, and some new and diffferent summer activities for his children, they all DARE TO DREAM. The father, a carpenter who in the past had been very stubborn and content with his menial education, found himself vulnerable when the need finally came to learn how to use a computer and the Internet. Despite many years of resistance and requests from his growing children, he finally learn. This Superdaddy allowed his children to teach HIM...

Kevin and His Dad by Irene Small

A simple, graceful text and illustrations infused with warmth and love make this story of a day a boy and his dad spend together a special reading experience. Young boys and their fathers will relish this book that celebrates the ordinary things dads and kids can do together. 


Drop by Mat Johnson

Chris Jones has a gift for creating desire-a result of his own passionate desire to be anywhere but where he is, to be anyone but himself. Sick of the constraints of his black working-class town, he uses his knack for creating effective ad campaigns to land a dream job in London. But life soon takes a turn for the worse, and Chris finds himself back in Philly where his only job prospect is answering the phones at the electric company. Surounded by the down-and-out, Chris hits rock bottom. Only a stroke of inspiration and faith can get him back on his feet.

The funny and heartfelt tale of a young black man who, in the process of trying to break free from the city he dispises, comes to terms with himself.

Liliane by Ntozake Shange

Through the polyphonic voices of Liliane Lincoln's childhood friends, lovers, and conversations with her psychoanalyst, Ntozake Shange weaves the life of a remarkable young woman. Liliane Lincoln is an artist who exposes what she knows of herself to the world through her bold and colorful artwork. Gradually, however, Liliane realizes that in order to survive, she must come to terms with what she has kept hidden even from herself. Liliane is extraordinary vision of a woman learning to be who she really is.

Gil Scott- Heron

Poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron died on Friday May 27
Best known for The Revolution will not be Televised.

I'd be lying if I said I truly understood Gil Scott Heron's impact. But its never too late to learn.

Part One of Six.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Women Writers of Color - Tayari Jones

Full Name - Tayari Jones
Date of Birth - 1970
Location - Jersey City, NJ
Website/Blog - Tayari Jones
Genre -Fiction
Most recently published work - Silver Sparrow
How frequently to you update your site? - 3 times a week
Is your site designed for interaction? -Yes

Can you tell us a little about Silver Sparrow?

Silver Sparrow is the story of two sisters- Dana and Chaurisse. Dana has known all her life that their father is a bigamist and that her existence is his biggest secret. Chaurisse, on the other hand, is under the impression that she lives a normal life. I just had to tell the story from the point of view of both the sisters because both are victims and both are heroes. It's a coming of age story, a study of personal history and mythology, and it's an exploration of the family, love, and betrayal.

I love your opening paragraph. It's lyrical, telling and one of the best of the year. How many drafts did you go through before you got it just right?

I really can't say. I worked on this novel for five years-- it went through so many drafts and even so many titles. I don't keep count. If I had to guess, I would estimate about twenty times. But I love to write. Each new draft was an adventure. I am happiest when I am working on a story. I always want it to go on forever.

That first line, My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist. I remember that for a long time, it was on page two or three. At some point, decided to stop being coy and just come out with it, right on the first line.

Much of the stories beauty and strength lies in your three dimensional characters and their relationships. Which character came to you first, James Witherspoon or his wives and daughters? And how does Raleigh fit into this two family dynamic?

When I write a novel, I imagne a world. The characters don't really show up one by one. Instead, they tend to come to me as sort of ghostly figures and their features become more clearly as a write-- like a polaroid developing.

I firmly belive that James could not keep such a complicated web of secrets straight without a lot of help; I knew he had to have an enabler and this was Raliegh. Then, I had to ask myself why would one man dedicate his entire life to assisting another man in a lie. The answer, of course is love.

That's pretty much the motivation for all the characters. They do what they do because of love, love of their kids, love of each other.

Laverne, the first wife, is a hairdresser. One night she gets an infamous female client. I loved this surprise, the true tragedy weaved into the story line perfectly. When did you decide to incorporate it into your novel?

I won't go into too much detail because I don't want to be a spoiler. But this woman has been a symbol of black female rage, for as long as I could remember. I did a little research and found out tha tit was more than just a humorous annecdote. And even before I decided to make her into a character, she was sort of swimming under the boat for the whole story. Whenever men behave badly, people allude to her. I wanted to imagine her as a real flesh and blood woman, and you can't get much realer than when you're getting your hair done.

The publishing industry has changed a lot since your first novel was published in 2003. It's even harder for authors to make a semi living. One of the saddest things as a reader is to read a great novel by an author and never hear from them again.

Yes, it is a sad thing. It's even sadder when you discover that your favorite long-lost writer is still working, but she can't get her book published. I have read many lovely manuscripts by proven writers, yet they are unable to publish. It's sobering. I don't take anything for granted.

What can fans do to make sure the latest book they're reading by an author they love won't be the last?

Well, I guess the obvious answer is to buy books by your favorite author. But also, it matter where you buy them from. With Silver Sparrow, the independent bookstores have been so supportive. They are struggling because they can't give the 30% that the bog chains do, but I still shop indie whenever I can because these are the bookstores that support real literature, not just what they think they can make a quick buck with.

I hate to think of us all at the mercy of the big box stores.At the same time, many people, particularly working class people and people of color, do not have an independent nearby. So people have to get their books however they can. But when ordering on line, go to indiebound Support non-corporate reading

And support your favorite author by sending her a note, or posting a review on goodreads or other websites. You may not be able to directly affect her bottom line, but you can give her encouragement that could get her over the hump. Letters from readers strengthen my spirit every time.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with Color Online?

I know that there are many readers of this blog that are beginning writers. After talking about all the gloom and doom of the publishing industry, I would also like to say that people should not give up if writing is what they want to do. It's a hard business, but a beautiful life

Tayari, thank you so much for your time and writing one of my favorite novels of the year. I wish you much well deserved success and recognition for Silver Sparrow.

Read the first chapter

Full Tour Schedule - This is one autographed 1st edition you'll want to have in your collection.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Silver Sparrow - Tayari Jones

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
James Witherspoon is a bigamist. This is the story of two families and one husband, told through the eyes of the two daugthers. The first daughter we get to meet is Dana. She is the secret. I loved the opening paragraph, Jones tells the reader exactly what they're are going to get.

Dana and her mother both know James is a bigamist. Dana grows up knowing James will never love or claim her in public. James, other daughter, Chaurisse and her mother are in the dark. When the sisters paths cross years of secrets are revealed.

The strength of this story lies in the complexity and ease in which the relationships are drawn. Jones has a beautiful way with words. She shows off her skills with a powerful opening paragraph.

Silver Sparrow is firmly grounded in its setting, Atlanta in the 80's. Anyone familiar with the city then or now will recognize many of the landmarks. Living in Atlanta, I've been meaning to read one of Jones novels for a long time. This was a beautiful place to begin. It could've been set any where and I still would've loved it. This is one of my favorite books of 2011.

Read the first chapter

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Crayons

We've got new crayons covering everything from basketball legends to abuelitas.
Did you buy, win, or borrow any new books this week? Please share a link to your own new crayons meme in the comments. Happy reading!
(Blogger is not being nice and I can't upload images at the moment.)


Luminous by Dawn Metcalf

As reality slips and time stands still, Consuela finds herself thrust into the world of the Flow. Removed from all she loves into this shifting world overlapping our own, Consuela quickly discovers she has the power to step out of her earthly skin and cloak herself in new ones-skins made from the world around her, crafted from water, fire, air. She is joined by other teens with extraordinary abilities, bound together to safeguard a world they can affect, but where they no longer belong.

When murder threatens to undo the Flow, the Watcher charges Consuela and elusive, attractive V to stop the killer. But the psychopath who threatens her new world may also hold the only key to Consuela's way home.


Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong friend by Bill Russell, Alan Steinberg

When Bill Russell joined the Boston Celtics in 1957 as the nation′s first prominent black basketball star, he was not expecting much from coach Red Auerbach. Despite two national college championships and an Olympic gold medal, Russell′s previous coaches-all whites-had barely spoken to him. Russell′s style was unorthodox, redefining the meaning of defense and offense, and many scouts dismissed him.

Yet Auerbach, the Jewish outsider in Irish Boston, immediately took to Russell, the African American from Louisiana and Oakland, and he was a coach like no other. Auerbach listened to his players, experimented freely, and knit together a team based only on results. Together they made sports history, winning 11 championships in 13 years. Along the way, Auerbach elevated Russell to player-coach, the first African-American coach in league history. Together, they battled prejudice both on and off the court, and created a team chemistry for the ages.

Even this glory is surpassed by another, little known aspect of their relationship: they became lifelong friends. As Russell explains, they were prepared for each other by their fathers, both strong men who loved their sons unconditionally. They both intuitively understood the dynamics of male friendship: there are many things left unsaid, but there is always understanding and respect. Over the many years since Russell retired from the Celtics and moved to the west coast, they saw each other rarely but spoke on the phone regularly. They were always there for each other. As Auerbach fell ill and declined, Russell was there, knowing how to reach out while respecting his former coach′s privacy. When Auerbach passed away in October, 2006, Russell refused to speak publicly about a relationship that was so deeply personal. Here, he offers a tribute greater than any speech.

This is a book not just for sports lovers, not just for fathers and sons, but for male friendships of all shapes and sizes.

Quarantine by Rahul Mehta

With buoyant humor and incisive, cunning prose, Rahul Mehta sets off into uncharted literary territory. The characters in Quarantine—openly gay Indian-American men—are Westernized in some ways, with cosmopolitan views on friendship and sex, while struggling to maintain relationships with their families and cultural traditions. Grappling with the issues that concern all gay men—social acceptance, the right to pursue happiness, and the heavy toll of listening to their hearts and bodies—they confront an elder generation's attachment to old-country ways. Estranged from their cultural in-group and still set apart from larger society, the young men in these lyrical, provocative, emotionally wrenching, yet frequently funny stories find themselves quarantined.


With or Without You by Brian Farrey

Eighteen year-old Evan and his best friend Davis get beaten up for being loners. For being gay. For just being themselves. But as rough as things often seem, at least Evan can take comfort in his sweet, sexy boyfriend Erik–whom he’s kept secret from everyone for almost a year.

Then Evan and Davis are recruited to join the Chasers, a fringe crowd that promises them protection and status. Davis is swept up in the excitement, but Evan is caught between his loyalty to Davis and his love for Erik. Evan’s lied to keep his two worlds separate. Now his lies are about to implode…and destroy the very relationships he’s been trying to protect.

El Chocolate De Abuelita by Mara Price

Is the story of a girl named Sabrina who learns about the ancient origin of chocolate while she plays with her Abuelita who has come to visit from Mexico.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett has dazzled readers with her award-winning books, including The Magician's Assistant and the New York Times bestselling Bel Canto. Now she raises the bar withState of Wonder, a provocative and ambitious novel set deep in the Amazon jungle.

Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have all but disappeared in the Amazon while working on what is destined to be an extremely valuable new drug, the development of which has already cost the company a fortune. Nothing about Marina's assignment is easy: not only does no one know where Dr. Swenson is, but the last person who was sent to find her, Marina's research partner Anders Eckman, died before he could complete his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding her former mentor as well as answers to several troubling questions about her friend's death, the state of her company's future, and her own past.

Once found, Dr. Swenson, now in her seventies, is as ruthless and uncompromising as she ever was back in the days of Grand Rounds at Johns Hopkins. With a combination of science and subterfuge, she dominates her research team and the natives she is studying with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices to be made are the ones Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she may still be unable to live up to her teacher's expectations.

In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and a neighboring tribe of cannibals, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss. It is a tale that leads the reader into the very heart of darkness, and then shows us what lies on the other side.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

If Sons, Then Heirs - Lorene Cary

If Sons ,Then Heirs by Lorene Cary
At a time when African American families were discouraged from owning land from the laws, to threats, to all out violence, King Needham managed to acquire land for his family, in South Carolina. After King's death most of the family moves to Philadelphia fearing for their own lives. The only one who stays is King's widow Selma and she will not be moved. For decades Selma's carried the burden of protecting Needham's land all alone. Finally Selma allows Rayne her great grandson, who she raised to help. Rayne's in his early thirties and owns a small construction company. Lillie his girlfriend has a seven year old son named, Kahlil.

This is a gorgeous story about a family, blending the past and present. One of the stories many strengths is character development and their complex relationships I loved losing myself in this families saga.

read a sample courtesy of the Simon& Schuster

Lorene Cary's guest post @ White Readers Meet Black Authors

Monday, May 16, 2011

Interview with Farhana Zia

I recently read a wonderful picture book called Hot Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F.Zia illus. by Ken Min. It's a beautiful debut for author and artist. I wanted the chance to ask both a few questions. Hannah Ehrlich and Lucy Amon from Lee and Low books were both kind enough to make it happen. Lee and Low Books is having a great sale this month. All books are 25% off and free standard USPS shipping on all orders just over $10.

I will be posting the interview with Ken Min soon, first Farhana Zia

Hi, Farhana, congratulations on a wonderful debut. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I immigrated to the US from Hyderabad, India in 1967. My husband and I live in Framingham, Mass. We have two children and three grandchildren. Ages 5, 3 and 2. I am an elementary school teacher. I've taught the fourth grade for the past 26 years. You could say that teaching is my first passion and writing, my second. Hot -Hot Roti is my first picture book.

It's very rare for authors and illustrators to have contact while working on a project. Though its not often they debut at the same time.

Did you two exchange emails?

I was able to submit illustration notes to my editor but that was the extent of it; the publisher didn't encourage communication with the illustrator. I did send Ken an email, just to say ‘hello’. It seemed to be the proper thing to do. I am grateful to him for doing such a marvelous job of interpreting the text. I had heard that he’d do serious research before embarking on this project and knowing that really eased my mind.

Have you had the opportunity to read Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji to a group of kids yet? If so what has the response been?

So far, I have read the book in my classroom, at the India Society of Worcester in Shrewsbury and to a children’s group at my local town library. I combined the reading with a roti demonstration and a craft. The reaction was very positive. Children love the story and are particularly interested in the lad’s fantastical powers.

Some wonder if drinking milk will make them just as strong! They love to roll the roti dough, north, south, east and west with me. We also have nice discussions about grandparents and grandchildren in general and practice saying, “Arre Wah!”

When I was writing the review, I almost wrote "Aneel's grandparents were coming for a visit." but they were coming to stay.

Did you always known the grandparents would be staying?

Yes. That is the basic premise of the story….multi generations living together, somewhat like a mini joint family system. A lot of inspiration for the story comes from just such settings in the US, where aging parents have come to live with their children and grandchildren, forming three, or even four generation households.

I believe there is a great value in such a set up where everyone learns something valuable from everyone else---the old get to impart their wisdom and the young get to impart their vivacity. Each generation operates as a safety net for the other and there is a lot of sharing and giving. In actuality, Hot ,Hot Roti for Dada-ji really means to highlight and honor inter-generational family bonds.

Hot Hot Roti for Dada-ji is the blending of two cultures. Making the story backdrop as essential as the two main characters.

Was there a particular character or scene you worked around ?

Roti was foremost in my mind and I used it as the common cultural element to bridge the past and present in the story. Actually, the idea of Roti was the first thing that came to mind when I was mulling over what to write about, in the first place.

I did give weight to the roti making scenes and particularly wanted to show off Aneel’s initiative, his regard for his grandfather, and his sense of accomplishment at the end.

I love how well this story comes together. Its very seamless from the dada-ji tales wonderful tales, to the inclusion of the whole family and Hindi words sprinkled throughout.

Was it difficult to edit down?

I needed to bring two stories together, the ‘then’and the ‘now’, so to speak. I also wanted to insert cultural elements to bridge these two times. Dada ji’s storytelling and the roti making, were both appropriate common threads linking the past and the present.

The biggest challenge was to pare down the word count and get everything said in a concise manner without compromising the essence of the story.

Mango Pickle is another food dada-ji loves. What is mango pickle? Do you have a regional preference?

Pickles are popular condiments in the cuisine of the Indian sub continent and serve to enhance the taste of a meal. They are made from certain vegetables and fruits that are chopped up into small pieces and cooked in oils, brine and a variety of spices. A high concentration of oil, spices and salt acts as a preservative.

Mango pickle is made from unripe, green mangoes and is pretty popular. Other pickles include lime, carrot, radish, cauliflower, ginger, etc. The Hindi or Urdu term for pickle is achar.

Indian cuisine is regional, extensive and varied. There is something from each region that I love… deep fried puri (deep fried roti) and saag (curried greens) from the North;

a well made lamb or goat biryani (rice stewed with meat) from Hyderabad, accompanied by a dahi ki chutney(yogurt sauce with onion, coriander leaf and green chilli); crispy dosa (crepes made with fermented lentil/rice flour) from the South;

syrupy rasgolla from the East and dhokla from the West. And I absolutely love pani puri, a very popular snack.

I shouldn't have asked that last question because now I am hungry. Farhana Zia, thanks so much for your time and congratulations again on a wonderful debut.

Cross posted @ my personal blog -Thehappynappybookseller

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Crayons

Color Online has a nice mix of fiction and nonfiction new crayons this week. Let's check them out...


Love, Inc by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout

Zahra, Kali, and Syd would never have met if their parents' marriages hadn't fallen apart. But when the three girls collide in group counseling, they discover they have something else in common: they've each been triple-timed by the same nefarious charmer, Eric, aka Rico, aka Rick. Talk about eye-opening therapy.
Cheerful, diplomatic Zahra is devastated. Rico had been her rock and sole confidant. How could she have missed the signs? Free-spirited, flirtatious Kali feels almost as bad. She and Rick hadn't been together long, but they'd felt so promising. Hardened vintage-vixen Syd is beyond tears. She and Eric had real history... Or so she'd thought. Now all three girls have one mission: to show that cheater the folly of his ways.
Project Payback is such a success, the girls soon have clients lining up for their consulting services. Is your boyfriend acting shady? Are you dying to know if your crush is into you? If you need a little help to make-up, break-up or meet someone new, look no further than Love, Inc


Voice of America by E.C. Osondu

E. C. Osondu is a fearless and passionate new writer, whose stories echo the joys and struggles of a cruel, beautiful world. His characters burst from the page—they fight, beg, love, grieve, but ultimately they are dreamers. Set in Nigeria and the United States, Voice of America moves from the fears and dreams of boys and girls in villages and refugee camps to the disillusionment and confusion of young married couples living in America, and then back to bustling Lagos.
In "Waiting," two young refugees make their way through another day, fighting for meals and hoping for a miracle that will carry them out of the camp; in "A Simple Case," the boyfriend of a prostitute is rounded up by the local police and must charm his fellow prisoners for protection and survival; and in "Miracle Baby," the trials of pregnancy and mothers-in-law are laid bare in a woman’s return to her homeland. Each of the eighteen stories here possesses a voice at once striking and elegant, capturing the dramatic lives of an unforgettable cast of characters.
Written with exhilarating energy and warmth, the stories of Voice of America are full of humor, pathos, and wisdom, marking the debut of an extraordinary new talent.

Wading home by Rosalyn Story

When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, chef and widower Simon Fortier knows how he plans to face the storm--riding it out inside his long-time home in the city's Treme district, just as he had through so many storms before. But when Katrina's waters rise and the city is torn apart by the storm's fury, Simon disappears.

His son, Julian, learns of the storm's impact while attempting an aborted comeback in Tokyo to his career as a jazz trumpet star, which had been interrupted by a serious facial injury. He rushes home to a New Orleans he left years before, to search for a father with whom he'd been on difficult terms since the death of his mother.

As Julian criss-crosses the city, searching for some word of his father and hoping that Simon had been able to escape his flooded home before the water overcame him, he reconnects with Matthew Parmenter, his father's erstwhile business partner and one of the most successful restauranteurs in New Orleans, and with Velmyra Hartley, the woman he left behind when he moved to New York to pursue his music career. Parmenter tells Julian it's urgent that Simon contact him, once he's found, so that he can settle old business with him--a claim Julian mistrusts. Velmyra and Julian grow close again while he continues his search for Simon back to Silver Creek, Louisiana, the small rural town where Simon grew up, and where a story of family entanglement and betrayal had played out over generations.

As his search for Simon continues, Julian is drawn deeper into the troubles of Silver Creek, and closer once again to Velmyra. As he tries to come to grips with his father's likely fate and struggles to regain his trumpet chops, Julian slowly gains a deeper, richer understanding of the father with whom he'd been at odds. In this follow up to her critically acclaimed More Than You Know, Rosalyn Story has written a vivid and compelling story of how the complex culture of New Orleans and Louisiana has been marked forever by Katrina, even as it persists.

Women Heroes of World War II by Kathryn J. Atwood

Noor Inayat Khan was the first female radio operator sent into occupied France and transferred crucial messages. Johtje Vos, a Dutch housewife, hid Jews in her home and repeatedly outsmarted the Gestapo. Law student Hannie Schaft became involved in the most dangerous resistance work—sabotage, weapons transference, and assassinations. In these pages, young readers will meet these and many other similarly courageous women and girls who risked their lives to help defeat the Nazis.
            Twenty-six engaging and suspense-filled stories unfold from across Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, and the United States, providing an inspiring reminder of women and girls’ refusal to sit on the sidelines around the world and throughout history.
An overview of World War II and summaries of each country’s entrance and involvement in the war provide a framework for better understanding each woman’s unique circumstances, and resources for further learning follow each profile. Women Heroes of World War II is an invaluable addition to any student’s or history buff’s bookshelf.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

That Good Ole South Is No More

Toni a co-worker (until the 15th) sent me a link to a recent post by author Tayari Jones, called Southern, But No Belle about this recent photograph in the April edition of Vanity Fair.

I hate the old Southern lets remember the good old days look. Jones says it best -
The women are posed in front of the Swan House which is not a plantation house, it just vibes like one. This is one of Atlanta’s hallmarks, these not-plantations. Since Atlanta was burned in the Civil War, there are no ante-bellum structures to romanticize, so the good citizens of my hometown make do with lavish Victorians. My favorite example is the Margaret Mitchell House. It was built in the 1900s, long after Rhett Butler said he didn’t give a damn, but it feels like Tara and that’s all that matters. When we agree to accept an illusion, it takes on a kind of truth and this is why the photo spread is so disturbing.

I don't know who this Vanity Fair article was for but it wasn't for me. Only one author of color is featured, Natasha Trethewey. This photograph simply perpetuates the literary racial divide. It wrong and inexcusable that Pearl Cleage isn't included. Cleage has written over eight novels all set in Atlanta. Her next book Just Wanna Tesitfy comes out this month.

Jones -" I would love to ask Kathryn Stockett, author of the blockbuster THE HELP how she feels about the problematic optics of this photo. Fans of her work say that she is an advocate for the black women who worked as maids in Mississippi. I’ve been told that she is a fierce critic of white privilege. How does she feel to be touted as leader of “Atlanta’s literary sorority” which does not include any black fiction writers. Did she say to the photographer, “Wait! Where’s Pearl Cleage?”

And of course I noticed Tayari Jones was missing. Her third book Silver Sparrow comes out at the end of the month. (Loved it) It's set in Atlanta as are her other two novels. An excerpt

I didn't think I could like the photograph any less but then I read the article Belle, Books, And Candor , which has a members only feeling. If this was in a local Atlanta magazine it wouldn't bother me as much. I know I am a bit biased and bitter but Belle, Books, And Candor reads like it should be in a local free publication. But this kind of members only article should not be allowed in a national magazine.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

New Crayons

We've got a nice selection of new crayons this week. From poetry to children's tales, we've got new reads for everyone.


Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han

Clara Lee likes her best friends, her grandpa, kimchi, candy necklaces (her signature look!), and the idea of winning the Little Miss Apple Pie contest. 

Clara Lee doesn't like her mom's fish soup, bad dreams (but Grandpa says they mean good luck!), speaking in public, or when her little sister is being annoying.

One day, after a bad dream, Clara Lee is thrilled to have a whole day of luck (Like!). But then, bad luck starts to follow (Dislike!). When will Clara Lee's luck change again? Will it change in time for the Little Miss Apple Pie contest?

Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000 by Lucille Clifton

Winner of the 2000 National Book Award for Poetry, Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000 is the culminating achievement of Lucille's Clifton longstanding poetry career.

How Lamar's Bad Prank won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen

Thirteen-year-old Lamar Washington is the maddest, baddest most spectacular bowler ever at Striker's Bowling Paradise. But when it comes to girls, he doesn't have game—not like his older brother Xavier the Basketball Savior. And certainly not like his best friend "Spanish fly guy" Sergio. So Lamar vows to spend the summer changing his image from dud to stud by finding a way to make money and snag a super fine Honey! When a crafty teenage thug invites Lamar to use his bowling skills to hustle, he seizes the opportunity. As his judgment blurs, Lamar makes an irreversible error, damaging every relationship in his life. Now, he must figure out how to mend those broken ties, no matter what it will cost him.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life's questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon to ask him how she can change her family's fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.


Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Quincie Morris, teen restaurateur and neophyte vampire, is in the fight of her life — or undeath.
Even as she adjusts to her new appetites, she must clear her best friend and true love — the hybrid-werewolf Kieren — of murder charges; thwart the apocalyptic ambitions of Bradley Sanguini, the seductive vampire-chef who “blessed” her; and keep her dead parents’ restaurant up and running.
She hires a more homespun chef and adds the preternaturally beautiful Zachary to her wait staff. But with hundreds of new vampires on the rise and Bradley off assuming the powers of Dracula Prime, Zachary soon reveals his true nature — and his flaming sword — and they hit the road to staunch the bloodshed before it’s too late.
Even if they save the world, will there be time left to salvage Quincie’s soul?