#diversekidslit – November 5, 2016

Our theme for this month’s Diverse Children’s Books linkups is Favorite Children’s Books Featuring an LGBTQ Character(s). (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?


Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, November 19th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

Our theme for the current linkup is Favorite Children’s Books Featuring an LGBTQ Character(s). Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • December linkups: Favorite Holiday Books. (Please feel free to share any holiday resources, not just winter holidays.)

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit linkup is Svenja’s Author Spotlight on Ezra Jack Keats. She provides a detailed biography as well as information about his most popular books and characters. Want to learn even more? A new biography of Ezra Jack Keats by Andrea Davis Pinkney just came out this week, titled A Poem for Peter.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Jane @ Rain City Librarian
Blog / Twitter / Instagram

Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to join the mailing list. Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at thelogonauts.com.

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

Our Pinterest board highlights a wide range of amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

Poetry Friday: brown girl dreaming

brown girl

brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.

In this deeply moving collection of autobiographical poems, Jacqueline Woodson reflects on her childhood as a Southern-born, New York-raised African American girl in 1960s and 1970s America.

While every passage is memorable and moving in its own way, as a librarian and educator, I found stevie and me particularly poignant.

stevie and me

Every Monday, my mother takes us

to the library around the corner. We are allowed

to take out seven books each. On those days,

no one complains

that all I want are picture book.

Those days, no one tells me to read faster

to read harder books

to read like Dell.

No one is there to say, Not that book,

when I stop in front of the small paperback

with a brown boy on the cover.

Stevie.

I read:

One day my momma told me,

“You know you’re gonna have

a little friend come stay with you.”

And I said, “Who is it?”

If someone had been fussing with me

to read like my sister, I might have missed

the picture book filled with brown people, more

brown people than I’d ever seen

in a book before.

The little boy’s name was Steven but

his mother kept calling him Stevie.

My name is Robert but my momma don’t

call me Robertie.

If someone had taken

that book out of my hand

said, You’re too old for this

maybe

I’d never have believed

that someone who looked like me

could be in the pages of the book

that someone who looked like me

had a story.

We need libraries. We need diverse books. We need to look beyond reading levels and lexiles and strive to connect young readers with books that speak to them, motivate them, and inspire them.

We need to do more, because our kids deserve nothing less.

Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014. Print. Pages 227-228.

Guest Post: Indie Children’s Book Author Mike Sundy

Today I’ve got a guest post from indie children’s author Mike Sundy. 

Hi, I’m Mike Sundy and I’m an indie children’s book author. Jane asked me to blog about how I got started and what made me take the leap to pursuing writing full-time. I’ll also chat about how I started my own kids’ book company, make my own books, and handle the management/publicity work.

1

Growing up, I lived all over the U.S. My Dad was an Air Force pilot so we moved a lot. That meant that my only constant friends were my siblings and books. I was just a reader until eighth grade, when I developed a huge crush on Mindy Jordan. We were studying poetry so I decided to write a cringe-worthy poem where I compared Mindy to a chrysanthemum. I enjoyed putting my feelings on paper so I wrote more bad poetry. I sent these love poems to Mindy, as only a naive junior high boy could. To my surprise and delight, she agreed to “go out” with me because of my poems. Of course, I had no idea how to actually talk to the most popular girl in school (or any girl), so our relationship lasted all of three days. But I had learned that writing could open doors.

I wrote more poetry throughout high school and college, but came from a practical family. So, I double-majored in Great Books and Computer Applications. I worked in various I.T. jobs in Silicon Valley for several years and tried to ignore the gnawing feeling in my soul that I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do. My wonderful wife Tara became pregnant with our first child right before I was laid off. Those two things together caused me to take a step back and look at my career. I took an aptitude test and one of the jobs it said I was suited for was “playwright.” It was like getting permission to consider an impractical job. I decided to try screenwriting, thinking it was similar to playwriting but paid better so I could support my growing family. That was a long road and I’m still trying to break into screenwriting fourteen years later. But that was really the moment I set down the path of becoming a professional writer.

2

I wrote script after script at night after the kids went to bed. My last I.T. job was at Pixar. Pixar was a wonderful place for me since they encouraged creativity and even had writing classes for their employees. Being burnt out on screenwriting, I decided to try a children’s book writing class with the effervescent Lissa Rovetch. I quickly learned that children’s books have their own craft. It turns out my background in screenwriting and poetry helped because children’s books are often brief, emotional, and visual. At last I had found a type of writing that really suited me.

3

I wrote several children’s book manuscripts and talked to a few publishers. Everyone I spoke with was complimentary but said the books didn’t fit their slate. I had a publisher tell me my Part of My Heart manuscript was too simple and slight because it was shorter than a normal picture book. It was an understandable conventional reaction, but that’s all the story needed. I also worked with an editor on another story and did nine drafts of it, but each draft seemed to get the story further away from what I intended. When I workshopped it multiple times, everyone liked my original version better. I also found out that children’s book creators are typically paid very little and that it’s more of a passion project than a full-time career. And I talked to another friend who had run a traditional children’s publishing label – one of their books only sold a few hundred copies. I figured I could do that on my own, so why was I chasing the approval of a publisher?

4

I decided to self-publish Part of My Heart and give it away for free. I partnered with Sansu, a Korean illustrator classmate, to illustrate the book since I felt her child-like and lyrical style would be a good fit. We made the book between the two of us with free tools and put it out on iBooks. It had a few hundred downloads at first, then trickled down to a couple of downloads per month. But then it made a Denmark iBooks store best free books list and downloads jumped up 10x overnight. Over the next few months it climbed higher and had another day where it hit the Top Ten Free books on the U.S. iBooks store. Downloads jumped another 10x overnight! The book that a publisher called “too simple and slight” now has over 37,000 downloads and 900 five-star reviews. It felt great to have readers respond to our work and some even confessed to crying.

5

Emboldened by our experiment, I collaborated on a new picture book series with my brother Jonathan Sundy. He’s a talented character designer and we had been looking to do a book together. We retooled my abandoned concept called Disaster Cowboy and turned it into a tall tale picture book. Pancho Bandito and the Amarillo Armadillo hit #1 on the iBooks Kids store and #1 Hot New Release in its Amazon categories. Now I had proven to myself I could put out high-quality indie books and that people would even pay for them. The next step was a big gut check: I quit my cushy Pixar job.

6

I left Pixar in February 2016 and have been writing full-time ever since. I started an indie kids’ book company called Legbug. Since leaving, we’ve published the next book in our series, Pancho Bandito and the Avocado Desperadoes. It was selected by Apple Editorial to be on their front page banner near huge authors like Raina Telgemeier and Dav Pilkey. We’re now working on the third Pancho Bandito book and I’m collaborating with another Pixar artist on a standalone book called Runaway House. Writing full-time has been very spiritually rewarding so far, if not that financially rewarding. I also still write screenplays and am working on my first middle-grade novel series.

Legbug_Logo_V1

Running a company has been a learning experience. Once we “finish” the book, the publishing and marketing side takes a few months. The publishing side includes things like proofing the colors of our paperback, tuning Amazon metadata keywords, preparing iBooks pre-orders, creating new backmatter pages, generating affiliate links, and dozens of other details. But the marketing takes even longer. It includes writing social media messages, communicating with our mailing list, running Facebook ads, doing podcast interviews, setting up giveaways, participating in book fairs, and contacting blogs. It’s fun but a flurry of activity that takes time away from more creative pursuits. But that’s the price of being an indie publishing company. It has been a long journey from writing lovesick adolescent poems to writing and publishing best-selling indie children’s books. But I get to write every day and spend more time with my kids. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

To check out our books or follow along with our indie kids’ book company blog, visit http://legbug.com.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Mike!

The Travel Tag

traveltag

I love to travel. I haven’t written much about my travels here on Raincity Librarian since my focus is primarily books, but when I discovered this tag on the blog Travel in Retrospect, I knew I just to take a spin at it.

Where are you from? Vancouver, Canada

Where have you been around the world? So far I’ve travelled through Canada, the USA, Mexico, the Caribbean, England, New Zealand and Japan.

What is your favourite City? Vancouver – I’m a homebody. But Tokyo and Auckland also have places in my heart.

What are your dream destinations? Back to Japan, and then on to Croatia!

Best item you have purchased overseas? ….. OK, since this blog is a judgement-free zone, I’m just going to come out and say it: a selfie stick. Yes, yes, I know, I know. But when you’re travelling alone or with a partner, getting pictures can be tough! We bought a selfie stick in Tokyo and it quickly became our new best friend.

selfie

Thank you, selfie stick!

 

What time of the year do you like to travel? I love travelling in the fall – it tends to be cheaper, cooler, less busy, and often exceptionally beautiful (see above!).

How many times a year do you travel? Not nearly as often as I’d like to, but typically at least once a year. We used to travel more, but school + work + mortgage = sad bank account.

What are some new and exciting cuisines have you tried on your travels? Unfortunately, due to my severe food allergies I can’t be too adventurous when it comes to sampling local cuisine. I did have fish for breakfast in Japan, which was pretty adventurous for me, since I’m typically a cereal kind of girl.

Have you ever lost something while travelling? I did get a camera stolen in Seattle years and years ago. I’d only just bought it, too, which made it all the more annoying.

What are your favourite travel activities? Walking around local neighbourhoods and exploring grocery stores. My partner and I usually end up staying in residential neighbourhoods, and I love just wandering around and experiencing life the way the locals do. It sounds crazy, but exploring grocery stores can be a fantastic way to experience a culture, and it’s free!

I am also a sucker for a museum, which is why London was such an incredible experience for me – free museums!!

What are your must have travel accessories? Earplugs. I’m not typically a light sleeper, but after having camped immediately beside a busy set of railway tracks I never leave home without a set of earplugs.

What is your favourite accent in the world? I love all accents!

Image result for travel cute

If you could live anywhere where would you live? I’m not sure. I really enjoyed Tokyo, and New Zealand has a similar laid-back feeling to Western Canada, so maybe Auckland?

Why do you enjoy travelling? I appreciate being taken out of my world and my comfort zone, and I love meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.

Do you have a travel buddy? I’m very fortunate to have a very laid-back, easy going partner of 14 years who is a very good travel buddy, especially when things get stressful – he’s the epitome of calm under fire!

washington

What are some of the interesting places you’ve visited and the different cultures? The most interesting place I’ve visited so far has been Japan, with a language and culture that was entirely foreign to me, yet also remarkably welcoming.

Have you ever had any bad travel experiences? I spent my last night in Japan in the emergency room in a local hospital, having contracted an extremely bad case of food poisoning from a sushi restaurant. It’s actually a pretty amazing story – we were staying in an Air B&B apartment without a phone, so my partner came down to the apartment building lobby in the middle of the night to call a taxi to take me to the hospital. A woman who lived in the building became our superhero – she called a taxi for us, went with me to the hospital so my partner could pack for our flight the next morning, checked me into the hospital, and stayed with me until my partner arrived (saying “you are a good girl” over and over again in her limited English). It was a terrible experience at the time, but pretty incredible to think about afterwards.

Advice for those who want to travel but think they can’t? What do you mean you can’t? Of course you can! Even if it’s just a quick visit to a neighbouring town, you can always travel somewhere. Research, save up, and do it.

Show us your favourite travel picture? Just one? Here are a couple from over the years.

flowers-1

Rapid Fire

Road Trip around your country or Plane ride to exotic location? Plane ride! Canada is BIG, so you’d better side aside plenty of time for a road trip.

Hotel or Hostel: Air B&B all the way!

Summer or Winter: It really depends where I am – I’m not a fan of muggy, humid summer days, but the grey sogginess of a Pacific Northwest winter can be downright depressing.

Window or Aisle seat: Aisle. I like being able to easily get out and walk about whenever I need to.

Book or Movie on the Plane: Movie. Endless, endless movies. I don’t typically see many films in theatres, so flights are a chance for me to get caught up.

I hope this little deviation from the typical bookish post was interesting in some way, and if you decide to write about your own travels, do let me know, I’d love to read about it and travel vicariously through your expeditions!

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Club Picks

This week’s theme is a lot of fun – top ten book club picks! One of my favourite genres, and one that I think is woefully under-appreciated, is nonfiction. And so, here are ten nonfiction titles to try out with your book club. I’ve tried to pick titles with broad appeal that will encourage discussion and conversation.

top-ten

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Science, race, family, ethics, economics and politics collide in the fascinating story of Henrietta Lacks and her incredible cells.

The Devil in the White City – The stories of two men, one a sinister murderer and the other the architect behind the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, collide in this gripping true tale of crime and commerce.

collage1

Into Thin Air – A thrilling account of the disastrous 1996 Everest season, in which 11 climbers lost their lives.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Neurologist Oliver Sacks beautifully and sympathetically recounts some of the strangest and most fascinating cases he encountered during his long career.

collage2

In a Sunburned Country – Pretty much any books by Brill Bryson is a good choice for a book club, but this exploration of Australia is one of Bryson’s laugh out loud funniest.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void – Mary Roach always manages to make hard science accessible and often hilarious. This look at space exploration is fascinating, cheeky and highly informative.

collage3

Working in the Shadows – A journalist spends a year undercover working the jobs “most Americans won’t do”, revealing the plight of undocumented migrants and poor Americans in this fascinating, at times heartbreaking account of life in the shadows.

52 Loaves – This hilarious account follows one man’s obsession to bake the perfect loaf of bread.

collage4

The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Explore the natural history of cooking and food and take a hard look at the modern Western diet and what it means for the future of our society as a whole.

Orange is the New Black – When a successful young woman is sent to prison for a crime she committed years before, she discovers an entirely new world behind bars. An eye-opening, compassionate look at prison life.

collage5

IMWAYR – October 31, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

IMWAYR-2015-logo-300x300.png

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

Cute Happy Halloween Sign | yvednvrdnscom

Last week I did a Top Ten Tuesday post all about some of my favourite Halloween picture books, so do check that out for some spooktacular seasonal books!

Today I’ve got another set of new-to-me picture books that I’ve been sharing with my toddlers and preschoolers and absolutely loving, as well as a couple of historical fiction novels I’ve devoured. Enjoy!

Dancing Feet

7531219

I love picture books with bouncing, rhythmic texts that get kids bouncing and bopping along, and Dancing Feet is a a perfect example of this kind of fun, energetic book. Lindsey Craig’s rollicking text is sure to get kids tapping and clapping, and it features super fun sound words like “stompity” and “creepity”. Marc Brown’s paper collage illustrations are lively and unique, and really complement the silly text. Lots and lots of storytime fun, perfect for toddlers.

Rhyming Dust Bunnies

5665292

Oh Jan Thomas, what can’t you do? Thomas is a master of doing a lot with a little – the text in this hilarious picture book is extremely limited, yet it’s sure to get kids roaring with laughter once they realise what’s going on. The eye-catching illustrations feature bold lines and vivid, primary colours, perfect for sharing with a large audience. Another fun, fun, fun storybook. Honestly, if my dust bunnies were this cute I might never pick up the vacuum!

Dinosaur Kisses

17262289

Dinosaurs! I just can’t get enough dinosaurs. Dinosaurs!!

While there’s a time and a place for sweet and syrupy picture books, don’t be fooled by the name, because this delightful book is absolutely not syrupy….it is absolutely hilarious, however, and kids will delight in the noisy and destructive antics of this very well-meaning but a bit overenthusiastic little dinosaurs. Who doesn’t like a bit of slapstick destruction now and then, right? So much fun, and still very sweet in its own silly way.

I’m My Own Dog

20708757

A very independent dog decides to adopt a human pet. He takes him for walks, teaches him how to play fetch, and bemoans having to clean up after him (when he spills his ice cream!), but in the end, that’s what being a pet owner is all about! This is a very sweet story that will delight little readers, and the illustrations have a childlike quality about them that’s very endearing. Sweet, simple text and a fun twist on the story of a person and their pet. And I’ve just realised I’ve featured two picture books by David Ezra Stein this week, completely inadvertently. What can I say, he makes great books!

Three Sisters, Three Queens

queens

I tend to go through reading phases where I binge read specific genres. For the past few weeks I’ve been devouring historical fiction. Philippa Gregory is one of my old standbys – I sometimes take issue with her historical interpretations, but I can’t deny that her books are reliably entertaining! One of the chief complaints I have with most of her books is that they take place over long stretches of time, which means the story typically jumps across decades – we spend a few pages in one year, and then we’re transported forward a year or two to another event. It does make for a bit of a jerky read, and you don’t really get a chance to settle in to any setting, or explore any characters. The forward movement is unrelenting, so you’d better just hold on and go with the flow!

This is the story of three women whose lives were defined by their connection to Henry VIII – Katherine of Aragon (his first wife), and his sisters Mary and Margaret. While Katherine has often been written about, Mary and Margaret are less well known, and it’s interesting to see the events of the era through their eyes.

Reading about English history is always a bit strange for me – as a first-generation Canadian with English roots, it’s a bit jarring to think that this is technically my history, too. I don’t feel English in any way, and I certainly wouldn’t call myself an English-Canadian or anything like that (I’m Canadian through and through, even if I’m first-generation!), but the fact remains that my ancestors lived through all of the English historical events I read about in textbooks and novels. How very strange!

Ashes of London

ashes

Like I said, I read thematically.

Set during the Great Fire of London in 1666, this murder mystery was a bit of a disappointment. It’s not a bad novel, but it’s not what I was expecting at all. The fire in fact is a very minor character in the story, which was a bit of a letdown, considering how transformative the fire was in the history of London. I did appreciate the fact that the two main characters, a young man and a young woman, didn’t end up falling in love – it was a refreshing change. I did find the story’s alternate perspectives a bit jarring, though – the male character’s story is told in the first person, while the female character’s story is told in the third person, which to be honest kind of annoyed me, as it felt as though the male character was given more agency than the female character. As other reviewers have said, some of the female character’s actions felt out of place, and her reactions felt strange and unnatural, but she was still a fierce female, and I did appreciate that. I finished this one, which says something considering how many books I DNF, but it definitely wasn’t one of my favourites.

Hope you all have a safe and spooky Halloween, and have a great week! November, here we come!