February 16, 2018 | Week in Review

Hello, all,

I’m stepping in this Friday while Alin is out of the office. As always, more happened in the past week than we can begin to tap into here. Forefront in our minds are the students whose lives were taken. We take a moment of silence to acknowledge and honor them, and grieve with their loved ones. [long pause and deep breath]

  • For more than 10 years, the writers at The Brown Bookshelf have used Black History Month as inspiration for their flagship initiative, 28 Days Later, a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by Black creators. Their 2018 collection, currently at #16, is inspiring and we highly encourage you to check it out.
  • Ever heard of a sensitivity reader? They’re the folks who read books prior to publication to help authors sensitively and accurately portray characters if they’re of a different culture. Recently, Dhonielle Clayton, a sensitivity reader, author, and one of the chief executives of We Need Diverse Books, shared some insight into her work and its importance. You can learn more by reading the articles “What the Job of a Sensitivity Reader is Really Like” and “Sensitivity Reading Reinforces and Encourages a More Diverse and Aware Publishing Process.” She writes that, while “Many claim that sensitivity readers are diversity police officers telling (white) writers that they cannot write cross-culturally…one thing that gets left out of the conversation is that, when an author fails to write well-rounded, fleshed-out characters outside their own realm of experience, it’s, at its core, a craft failure. In simple terms: it’s bad writing.”
  • We heard that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will launch a new imprint, Versify, in Spring 2019, and that it will be curated by author Kwame Alexander! “‘I get asked what will make Versify different from other imprints,’ says Kwame Alexander. ‘The truth is we are not reinventing publishing. It’s the same ingredients in our kitchen as everyone else’s: we want to publish books for children that are smart and fun, that inform and inspire, that help children imagine a better world. My goal is just to make sure there are more chefs in the kitchen, more voice sin the room, that create unique and intelligent entertainment that electrifies and edifies young people.”
  • Mind overloaded at the end of the week? How about taking in a few short sound bytes about why we need diverse books?
  • And, ending on an uplifting note, we offer congratulations and felicidades to the authors and illustrators who received recognition at the recent American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards! Congrats to Ruth Behar for Lucky Broken Girl, Pablo Cartaya for The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, Celia E. Pérez for The First Rule of Punk, Susan Middleton Elya and Juan Martinez-Neal for La Princesa and the Pea, Monica Brown and John Parra for Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, and Xelena Gonzalez and Adriana M. Garcia for All Around Us! Visit Latinx in Kid Lit for links to reviews and more info about these authors, illustrators, and their respective works.

Best,
Keira

¡Mira, Look!: Fire! ¡Fuego! Brave Bomberos!

bomberosSaludos todos! We are continuing our theme of “unsung heroes” this week with Fire! ¡Fuego! Brave Bomberos!, written by Susan Middleton Elya and illustrated by Dan Santat.  This heartwarming and inspiring story celebrates the courageous firemen and women who put their lives at risk every day to keep their neighborhoods safe. As the fire squad rushes to attend to a burning house, and to rescue a gato (cat) from the menacing flames, the entire neighborhood crowds around, cheering and supporting their local firefighters, emphasizing themes of community, camaraderie and support.

As Kirkus Reviews notes in a review of the book, the theme of firefighters is not especially unique among children’s books; however, Elya’s story diversifies this common narrative by interspersing her rhythmic poetic prose with Spanish words. The context clues and illustrations help non-Spanish-speaking students understand the meaning of the Spanish vocabulary, but Elya has also included a glossary at the back of the book to further facilitate a novice reading of the text.

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¡Mira, Look!: Little Roja Riding Hood

Saludos, everChildren's Book Review: Little Roja Riding Hood by Susan Middleton Elya and Susan Guevara | Vamos a Leeryone! Our theme for this month will be “New Tellings/Versions of Familiar Stories,” focusing on children’s books that offer new perspectives on familiar tales. I am very excited to kick-start my blogging with such a cool theme. We have a lot of great books lined up!

Our book for this week is a modern, bilingual rendition of the classic, Little Red Riding Hood. In this retelling, the story is titled Little Roja Riding Hood. Written by Susan Middleton Elya and illustrated by Susan Guevara, the book adopts the plot of the original while incorporating elements of Hispanic language and culture. The authors also provide modern-day safety tips that are bound to make readers smile, such as always carrying your cell phone when you go out alone, and equipping the house with a high-tech security system. The occasional use of Spanish vocabulary allows non-fluent educators and readers to understand their meaning based on context clues, and the playful rhyming makes it perfect for reading out loud. The first page of the book provides a glossary of Spanish vocabulary words found throughout the text, an educational bonus for non-bilingual readers, while the illustrations are teeming with allusions to Hispanic culture and mythology. Best suited for readers ages 3-7, this book would be a wonderful resource for bilingual households and classrooms. Continue reading