Community Highlight: Anansesem Introduces Starred Review

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Hi all,

The summer months may seem quiet at times, but really there’s a veritable buzz of activity.  In the world of children’s literature, authors, illustrators, publishers, reviewers, librarians, and even teachers (whose summer breaks are rarely ever actual breaks) are hard at work pushing for diversity, representation and accuracy. Anansesem is in this vanguard.

A brief aside for those unfamiliar with the organization. In their own words,

Anansesem is an online magazine devoted to Caribbean children’s and young adult literature written by both new and established writers. It was founded in 2010 to encourage the writing and illustration of Caribbean literature for and by young people. Major issues are published twice a year in .pdf format while guest posts and online-only features are published throughout the year. 

We are proud to have published some of the most distinctive and distinguished voices in Caribbean literature for young people. Previous contributors to the ezine have included Alix Delinois, Floella Benjamin, Ibi Zoboi, Itah Sadu, Lynn Joseph, Margarita Engle, Nadia L. Hohn, Olive Senior, Tracey Baptiste, Vashanti Rahaman and Verna Wilkins. 

The ezine invites submissions of Caribbean short stories, poetry and illustrations for children regardless of the geographical location of either the author or characters. We also publish book reviews, interviews and non-fiction. Submissions by Caribbean citizens get first priority.

We’re huge fans of Anansesem here at Vamos a Leer, and frequently turn to them to help contextualize and better understand the Caribbean literature that crosses our desks. Their latest announcement has us even more over the moon than usual. They’ve introduced starred reviews! This means that they’re putting the power of meaningful and informed reviews back in the hands of the Caribbean community. Read more about why they’re doing this, what they aim to achieve, and how they’ll go about it, in the announcement from Summer Edward, Anansesem editor-in-chief: Introducing the Anansesem Starred Review (And Giving Caribbean Books For Young People The Reviews They Deserve).

Their May issue (forthcoming) introduces starred reviews for Marti’s Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad by Emma Otheguy and Beatriz Vidal, The Field by Baptiste Paul and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Mike Curato, and Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender. The issue also includes, among other items, spotlights on illustrators Lulu Delacre and Rosa Colán Guerra. Check their website for the full PDF (nominal cost associated) or a free sample of the publication.

Happy reading,
Keira

February 9, 2018 | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! I I hope everyone had blessed holidays and is looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings. For the moment, enjoy this latest list of resources!

– Thanks to the Children’s Book Council, we came across this list of 10 Native Books to Inspire the Young Ones and Young at Heart!

– One of our favorite authors, Matt de la Peña, has released a new book, Carmela Full of Wishes, a children’s book that offers a moving take on Dreamer from a young girl’s perspective. On his Twitter feed, de la Peña explains, “In a time when we openly speak of building walls, I was moved to tell the story of one young Dreamer, Carmela, who is filled with hope and heart and just a little dash of sass – like any other girl her age.”

– Courtesy of Beacon Broadside (an online venue for writers, thinkers, and activists) Paul Ortiz recently published an article Five Key Terms to Understand the Shared Struggle for Black and Latinx Rights. Ortiz is the author of An African American and Latinx History of the United States, among other titles.

 – Jessica Agudelo, a children’s librarian at New York Public Library, reviewed the new YA novel, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora¸ on Latinx in Kid Lit. Written by Pablo Cartaya, this story tells of Arturo Zamora and his life dealing with gentrification, cultural identity, family, and coming of age. The novel’s generating a lot of buzz! Agudelo seems to share the all-around positive press, closing her review with the observation that “This novel was a true joy to read from beginning to end. A rare feat, even in children’s literature.”

– For those getting ready to bring candy hearts into the classroom, Lee & Low’s post on Culturally Responsive Teaching: Valentine’s Day in the Classroom may be appropriate. “Do teachers have to succumb to the greeting card version of February 14th? Regardless of whether and how your school celebrates Valentine’s Day, there are meaningful themes tied to the holiday, and ways to weave them into your culturally responsive classroom.”

– Also, Debbie Reese of the blog American Indians in Children’s Literature recommends How Devil’s Club Came to Be by Miranda Rose Kaagweil Worl and illustrated by Michaela Grade. Reese notes that “If you and the children you’ll share Devil’s Club with are not Tlingit, you’ll want to do some research first, to provide some background knowledge about where the story takes place and what Tlingit people say about themselves.” This is at once commonsense and wise advice to keep in mind whenever using a book depicting a culture not your own.

– With Carnival season upon us, the blog Anansesem has provided [Book List] Caribbean Carnival in Books for Children — including Malaika’s Costume, which you might have noticed from Kalyn’s review on Monday. “It’s carnival season! Carnival, along with steel pan music, the traditional music of carnival, is one of the things our region is famous for. Although different islands have different carnival origin stories, carnival is a festival with both African and European origins.” And while you’re on topic, why not also check out their pertinent discussion on Caribbean Stereotypes in Children’s Books?

– Lastly, in the spirit of Carnival, you might appreciate Hip Latina’s list of 6 Latin American Celebrations, which covers countries from the Dominican Republic to Uruguay.

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: Dessert Trucks. Reprinted from Flickr user carmaglover under CC©.

 

November 25th | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! I want to wish you a very peaceful, joyful, gratitude-filled, and unforgettable Thanksgiving break. As you recover from the revelry, I hope you enjoy our review for this week.

– Our friends at We Need Diverse Books shared 50 Mighty Girl Books Celebrating Diversity and Acceptance. I personally love the book The Colors of Us.

– Our Anansesem friends shared What’s Important to Us? The Value of Books, Libraries and Kid Lit in Caribbean Societies. “When we read picture books in particular, we enhance children’s visual literacy and teach them about the power of the image to render the visible world.”

Latinx in Kid Lit expressed their thoughts on Good Men & Bad Men: On Latino Masculinities in Joe Jiménez’s Bloodline. Sonia expresses “Bloodline by Joe Jiménez is an excellent example of the impact these polarizing views of Latino masculinity can have in the lives of Latino boys and young adults.”

– Lastly, from Multicultural Children’s Book Day, we found 10 Interesting Facts About the Mapuche People that can be shared with your classroom. “They were located between the Valley of Aconcagua to the Island of Chiloé in southern Chile, and in Argentina, in the region of Neuquén and the Patagonia.”

Abrazos,
Alin Badillo


Image: Cartoon Books. Reprinted from Flickr user La Prehistoria en E.I under CC©.

September 18th | Week in Review

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¡Hola a todos! I hope everyone is doing well considering the climactic circumstances we are under. I am sending you positive vibes and lots of love.

— Teaching Tolerance shared Developing Empathy resources for Pre K- 12 teachers.

– Our Américas Award friends shared on their Facebook page an important article that highlights the reality of diverse children’s book. BookRiot Justina Ireland questions “Where Are All the YA Books for Kids of Color: September Edition.”

— Also, on their Facebook page Lee & Low Books shared “12 YA Books with Characters of Color and LGBTQ Characters.”

-Here is a review of the advance reader’s copy of The Distance Between Us, a memoir for the young readers shared by our friends in Facebook, Latinxs in Kid Lit. “The Distance Between Us thrums with novelistic tension and detail, offering chiseled portraits of individuals and rendering the settings they come from in vivid form.”

Cuatrogatos shared the book trailer to El Viejito del Sillón, a book by Antonio Orlando Rodríguez published in Mexico.

– Lastly, Anansesem: The Caribbean Children’s Literature Magazine shared that “Books Have The Power to Include, to Exclude and to Create Heroes.” “All children should be seen. No child should have to qualify for entry into the world of picture books. They are powerful. They have the power to include, to exclude and to create heroes.”


Image: Candles. Reprinted from Flickr user Amranur Rahman under CC©.