One Culture: An Infinite Number of Stories

I think a lot about how we need to keep front and center how varied stories are even within particular ethnic and cultural groups. My particular ethnic background is very much a fringe one compared to most in the US and causes me to react differently than others to works of art featuring this particular ethnicity. My friend Roxanne Feldman considers this issue through her own ethnic/culture/life-experience lens in this post inspired by another on a short story collection. Here’s her conclusion, but please go and read the whole post as it shows how individual each of our experiences is within our different life experiences:

That said, is including ghosts/spirits in a story about a Chinese American girl automatically the mark of “exoticism” or “keeping the culture in the backwater days”?  I’d say no — not automatically at all.  It all depends on how the tale is told and the world is built and whether there is a true understanding of from where such elements came.  Just because I, a 50 something Chinese/Taiwanese woman feels a certain way about a text featuring “my culture” does not mean that mine is THE way or THE ONLY way that such text would be or should be viewed by other Chinese/Taiwanese or Chinese/Taiwanese American readers.

I hope that we can all accept that, since People are complex and Cultures and Histories are complex, Books about People and Cultures the Discussions about such Books are also unavoidably complex. We do have to keep digging and thinking and sometimes even changing our minds.

 

 

 

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Two Titles from Chris Raschka

I became a fan of Chris Raschka many years ago after falling in love with Arlene Sardine (tickled to see his tumbr site references it) and have been delighted to see him repeatedly celebrated ever since (two Caldecott medals among many other awards).

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Just out is his moving collaboration with the late great Vera B. Williams’ Home at Last. This is such a real story of adoption, family, and the smallest things that children struggle with — worry, sleeping, etc. Williams and Raschka collaborated on this book up to her death and then Raschka fullfilled her vision beautifully. A warm and lovely book. (You can learn more about the book and the creators’ collaboration here.)

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And then there is something completely different — The Doorman’s Repose — an original work by Chris from the New York Review of Books (a publisher best known for bringing back out of print titles) coming out in May.  The few images I’ve seen and the following publisher’s description have me very excited:

Some of us look up at those craggy, mysterious apartment buildings found in the posher parts of New York City and wonder what goes on inside. The Doorman’s Repose collects ten stories of the doings of 777 Garden Avenue, one of the craggiest. The first story recounts the travails of the new doorman, who excels at all aspects of his work except for perhaps the most important—talking baseball. Other stories tell of a long-forgotten room, a cupid-like elevator, a poisoned boiler, and the unlikely romance of a cerebral psychologist and a jazz musician, both mice. Because the animals talk and the machinery has feelings, these are children’s stories. Otherwise they are for any child or adult intrigued by what happens when many people, strangers or kin, live between shared walls and ceilings, under one high, gargoyled, turreted roof.

 

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Great Workshop: READING PICTURES: The Artist’s Voice and Vocabulary in Picture Books

From the Society of Illustrators comes this exciting opportunity:

READING PICTURES: The Artist’s Voice and Vocabulary in Picture Books

The Society of Illustrators, 128 East 63rd Street, New York, NY 10065

 Monday Dec 5, 2016 from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Join us for an in-depth exploration of the annual Original Art exhibit, featuring the very best illustration in books for children this year.

Art directors Laurent Linn (Simon & Schuster), Martha Rago (Random House), and Cecilia Yung (Penguin) will lead a gallery talk for an up-close examination of the works on view.

Illustrators Nancy Carpenter, Mike Curato, and Sergio Ruzzier will share their behind-the-scenes decisions and discuss and/or demonstrate their creative processes in the intimate gallery setting of the Society of Illustrators.

Attendees will continue the conversation with colleagues and presenters over a delicious buffet dinner.

Schedule

1:00 pm Gallery opens for check-in and preview of exhibit
2:00 pm Introduction by Cecilia Yung
2:15 pm Gallery talk with art directors Laurent Linn, Martha Rago, and Cecilia Yung
3:45 pm Break
4:00 pm Presentation by Sergio Ruzzier
4:30 pm Presentation by Nancy Carpenter
5:00 pm Presentation by Mike Curato
5:30 pm Q & A
6:00 pm Book signing
6:30 pm Buffet dinner

 

Non-refundable registration is $35.00 and includes a copy of the exhibition catalog (value $10.00), presentations by three illustrators, gallery talk, and delicious buffet dinner.

 

To register: https://www.societyillustrators.org/shop/product/reading-pictures-artists-voice-and-vocabulary-picture-books

 

The speakers’ recent books will be available for purchase.

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Book Fest at Bank Street College this Saturday

It isn’t too late to register here for this fabulous one-day conference at Bank Street College here in NYC. Checkout the schedule of events below. Looks great, right?

9:00am – Arrive, register, and drink coffee

9:30am – Welcome

9:35 – 10:15am – “Reading with Pictures: Visual Literacy Yesterday and Today”
Panelists: Lindsey Wyckoff, Archivist, Bank Street College of Education
Francoise Mouly, Publisher, Toon Books and Art Editor, The New Yorker
Rudy Gutierrez, illustrator, Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey
Raúl Colón, author and illustrator, Draw!
Moderator: Leonard S. Marcus, children’s literature scholar and Honorary Degree holder from Bank Street College of Education

10:15 – 11:10am – “Artists and Illustrators Talk Visual Literacy”
Panelists: Laurent Linn, author and illustrator, Draw the Line
Hervé Tullet, author and illustrator, Let’s Play!
Angela Dominguez, author and illustrator, How Do You Say?/¿Cómo Se Dice?
Jason Chin, author and illustrator, Gravity
Brian Pinkney, author and illustrator, Max Found Two Sticks
Christopher Myers, author and illustrator, My Pen
Moderator: Susannah Richards, Eastern Connecticut State University

11:10 – 11:25am – Break

11:25am – 12:25pm – “The Whole Book Approach: Reading Picture Books with Children”
Presenter: Megan Dowd Lambert

Join Simmons College professor and author Megan Dowd Lambert to learn about the Whole Book Approach, a co-constructive (interactive) storytime model focused on the art and design of the picture book, which she developed in association with The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Drawing on her book, Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See (Charlesbridge 2015) attendees will consider the difference between reading with children and reading to children. Active participation throughout the session will allow everyone to reflect on a diverse array of picture books in order to add Whole Book Approach tools and techniques to their own storytime practice.

12:25 – 1:25pm – Book Discussions (DISCUSSION GROUP LEADERS AND BOOK LIST)

1:25 – 2:00pm – Lunch and Book Autographing

2:05 – 2:50pm – “Capturing the Action: Graphic Novels and Visual Literacy”
Panelists: Deb Lucke, author and illustrator, The Lunch Witch
Raúl Gonzalez, illustrator, Lowriders in Space
Jorge Aguirre, co-author and illustrator, Dragons Beware!
George O’Connor, author and illustrator, Olympians series
Moderator: Jesse Karp, Pratt Institute School of Information

2:55 – 3:30pm – Closing keynote: Pam Muñoz Ryan, author, Echo

3:30 – 4:00pm – Autographing in the lobby – books for sale from the Bank Street Book Store team

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“Alice and Her Intended Audience” at the Lewis Carroll Society of North America

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This past Saturday I was privileged to present “Alice and Her Intended Audience” at the Fall Meeting of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America along with three former students. After giving an overview of my teaching approach to the book — consisting of reading aloud, games, poetry recitations, tea parties, caucus races, and more — I turned the floor over to the students. First Jake, now in 7th grade, read his “Chaper 5 1/2: House of the Rabbits.” He explain that he had wanted to explore Carroll’s language in his own way. The result is a brilliant and unique creation; he begins by making the White Rabbit a female, provides generaous adventure, and some elegant original poetry as well. I hope the story can be published in total one day (perhaps in the Knight Letter?) for all to see. He was followed by 5th graders Zach and Katalin who described their favorite parts of the unit from last year (mostly playing croquet and the caucus race) and then performed their part of last year’s radio play. The three were the hit of the meeting!

For those in attendance and others interested here are a few links:

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Frank Cotrell Boyce’s Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth, Cover Reveal

I’m a huge Frank Cotrell Boyce fan having first encountered him through Millions, his debut children’s book that also was a delightful movie. He followed that with Framed and then Cosmic, one of my (and several of my teacher-colleagues’)  favorite yearly read-alouds. (My blog review is here.) In fact, I was recently trying to decide, as I’m on the last chapter of my current book, whether it should be next. Years ago, when Walden Pond Press heard of my enthusiasm they organized a Skype classroom visit with Frank (for which he had to go to a neighbor’s —I think he didn’t have internet at the time or something like that) which was a blast. In 2013  we finally met in person at the Edinburgh Book Festival . (You can see my report, including mention of his talk there and a photo of us together, here.)  A screenwriter as well, Frank was one of the writers for the clever (remember the many children’s literature references?) 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony.

Frank’s books are always thoughtful, funny, and spot-on perfect for middle grade audiences. And so I can’t wait for his newest, Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth, out in the U.S. on June 20th. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Prez knows that the best way to keep track of things is to make a list. That’s important when you have a grandfather who is constantly forgetting things. And it’s especially important when your grandfather can’t care for you anymore and you have to go live with a foster family out in the country.

 Prez is still learning to fit in at his new home when he answers the door to meet Sputnik—a kid who is more than a little strange. First, he can hear what Prez is thinking. Second, he looks like a dog to everyone except Prez. Third, he can manipulate the laws of space and time. Sputnik, it turns out, is an alien, and he’s got a mission that requires Prez’s help: The Earth has been marked for destruction, and the only way they can stop it is to compile a list of ten reasons why the Earth should be saved. Thus begins one of the most fun and eventful summers of Prez’s life, as he and Sputnik set out on a journey to compile the most important list he has ever made—and discover just what makes our world so remarkable.

 Award-winning author Frank Cottrell Boyce returns with another unforgettable story of heart, humor, and finding one’s place in the universe.

And — ta da — here’s the cover!

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Thank you. Walden Pond Press, for the opportunity to reveal the cover for Frank’s latest!

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Thinking and Learning About Cultural Appropriation

Currently, I’ve been following  the conversation around the cultural elements in Raina Telgemeier’s GhostsI was impressed with the book when I read it back in July, appreciating the warm relationship between the sisters, the setting, and the plot. A few months later I became aware that there were questions around the Day of the Dead aspects of the work. Not being of the culture represented I listened to those who were, finding Yuyi Morales’ comment on a Reading While White post and Laura Jimenez’s review especially helpful. Concerns about the California mission setting were also considered by Debbie Reese. Now the Mock Newbery blog, Heavy Medal, is grappling with the book.  Mulling over the discussion I’m reminded of the essays in the recent Guardian article, “Whose Life is it Anyway? Novelists Have Their Say on Cultural Appropriation.” They were insightful and helpful — I highly recommend reading them all.

 

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