Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Susan’s Unofficial List of Great YA By or About Women of Color

I saw this on the MotherReader blog a little while ago and have been meaning to re-post it with my own answers. She got it from Archimedes Forgets. The list comes from Color Online. X means read, # means on the TBR list, and ! means loved.

Susan’s Unofficial List of Great YA By or About Women of Color:
  1. When Kambia Elaine Flew In From Neptune, by Lori A. Williams
  2. Every Time A Rainbow Dies, by Rita Williams-Garcia
  3. No Laughter Here, by Rita Williams-Garcia
  4. Jumped, by Rita Williams-Garcia
  5. If You Come Softly, by Jacqueline Woodson (X)
  6. The House You Pass On The Way, by Jacqueline Woodson
  7. Flygirl, by Sherri L. Smith (#)
  8. From The Notebooks of Melanin Sun, by Jacqueline Woodson
  9. Sold, by Patricia McCormick (X)
  10. A Step From Heaven, by An Na (X)
  11. The Parable of The Sower, by Octavia E. Butler
  12. Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  13. Persepolis, by Majane Satrapi (!)
  14. The Rock and The River, by Kekla Magoon
  15. Secret Keeper, by Mitali Perkins
  16. Mare’s War, by Tanita S. Davis
  17. A Wish After Midnight, by Zetta Elliott
  18. Down To The Bone, by Mayra Lazara Dole
  19. Don’t Get It Twisted, by Paula Chase
  20. Jason & Kyra, by Dana Davidson
  21. Forged by Fire, by Sharon Draper
  22. Kendra, by Coe Booth (#)
  23. Shine, Coconut Moon, by Neesha Meminger
  24. Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
  25. Born Confused, by Tanuja Desai Hidier
  26. Skunk Girl, by Sheba Karim
  27. The Meaning of Conseulo, by Judith Ortiz Cofer
  28. In The Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez
  29. Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler
  30. First Part Last, by Angela Johnson (X)
  31. Pemba’s Song, by Marilyn Nelson (X)
  32. Wanting Mor, by Rukhsana Khan
  33. M + O 4EVR, by Tonya Hegamin
  34. Lucy The Giant, by Sherri L. Smith
  35. The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (X)
  36. Throwaway Piece, by Jo Ann Hernandez
  37. White Bread Competition, by Jo Ann Hernandez
  38. Across A Hundred Mountains, by Reyna Grande
  39. Silver Phoenix, by Cindy Pon (#)
  40. The Skin I’m In, by Sharon G. Flake (X)
Yikes, I've read only 8 out of 40, really? What's worse is that I haven't even heard of half of these books! Time for me to go take a closer look at the Coretta Scott King and Pura Belpre awards.

Though, I do have three books on my current to-read list that I think would fit on this unofficial list - and I'm quite excited about them!

Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez
Apolonia "Lina" Flores is a sock enthusiast, a volleyball player, a science lover, and a girl who's just looking for answers. Even though her house is crammed full of books (her dad's a bibliophile), she's having trouble figuring out some very big questions, like why her dad seems to care about books more than her, why her best friend's divorced mom is obsessed with making cascarones (hollowed eggshells filled with colorful confetti), and, most of all, why her mom died last year. Like colors in a cascarone, Lina's life is a rainbow of people, interests, and unexpected changes.

The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes
Paris has just moved in with the Lincoln family, and isn't thrilled to be in yet another foster home. She has a tough time trusting people, and she misses her brother, who's been sent to a boys' home. Over time, the Lincolns grow on Paris. But no matter how hard she tries to fit in, she can't ignore the feeling that she never will, especially in a town that's mostly white while she is half black. It isn't long before Paris has a big decision to make about where she truly belongs.

After Tupac and D Foster by Angela Johnson
The day D Foster enters Neeka and her best friend's lives, the world opens up for them. D comes from a world vastly different from their safe Queens neighborhood, and through her, the girls see another side of life that includes loss, foster families and an amount of freedom that makes the girls envious. Although all of them are crazy about Tupac Shakur's rap music, D is the one who truly understands the place where he's coming from, and through knowing D, Tupac's lyrics become more personal for all of them.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Read this week (6)

Maze of Bones (The 39 Clues #1) by Rick Riordan
I was against this new series of books since I first heard about them a year (maybe even two) ago. They're gimmicky - with trading cards and all sorts of other merchandise and online bells and whistles. And while I will not be reading the rest of the series (blasphemy, I know - I'm a sucker for series), I can understand the draw of these books to students. To me, they're like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys for today's kids. That being said, I did actually enjoy this particular book. The characters are fun and quirky, and the library scenes are great. :)

What Happened to Anna K? by Irina Reyn
Thanks goes out to Nancy Pearl for this recommendation. I have been trying to read more for myself this summer, to remember the kinds of books that I like to read as an adult, and this one is just that. Though I never actually finished Anna Karenina (it's still one of my favorites - one day I'll read it through!), I loved the story and enjoyed Reyn's modern take on it.

by Joan Bauer
Surprisingly, I've never read anything by Joan Bauer - I've never found the cover art appealing (yes, I'm a snob), and well, it's not fantasy. :x So, I couldn't believe how much I liked this book and wondered why I had not read anything by her earlier. The small town apple orchard/farm life was adorable yet authentic, and while the ghost story got a bit obnoxious, I did appreciate the whole freedom of the press message. High school students can really make a difference, with a little encouragement, and I think this book illustrates that well. Without being too preachy.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
by J.K. Rowling
I didn't like this book the first time I read it, but it was so long ago that I had to read it again if I was going to see the movie. And I did see the movie. Not much to say except that I didn't really like either of them. Nothing happened. Dumbledore dies, and it devastates me every time, so I'd rather not read or see it again. Sigh.

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher by Laurie Halse Anderson
My Goodreads review:
Zoe has wild, ginormous red hair that cannot be tamed. While her kindergarten teacher appreciated the help Zoe's hair gave, her first grade teacher insisted that Zoe contain her hair because "school has rules." She eventually comes around in the end when Zoe's hair helps her out during a solar system lesson. This is a cute and inventive book that I think I'd like to read to my future K-1 students - they'd get a kick out of it. I can almost hear them giggling now!

Pemba's Song
by Marilyn Nelson
Excerpt from my Goodreads review:
This slim book weaves the tale of two girls, the present-day Pemba who has moved into a house in small-town Connecticut and the historical Phyllis, previous inhabitant of the house and slave who has an important secret to share. Pemba stumbles into memories of Phyllis' wen she touches a significant object or place in the house, transporting her back to Phyllis' time in vivid details. It's surprising that for as short as this book was how complex a story it told, with believable characters. I especially enjoyed Pemba's journal writings, poems/raps that described her feelings and thoughts in a more authentic voice than the author could have done otherwise.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Read this week (5)

I may have checked out more books than I can read by their due (and in many cases, renewal) dates, so unfortunately, I returned some of them this week. But alas, I persevered and read a couple just in the nick of due date time.

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
My Goodreads review:
This book was just blah for me. Not bad, but not fantastic or captivating. It's set just after WWII, and I'd say that's the strength of the book - the sense of place and time, the fashions, the propriety, and other little details that may go unnoticed. It's a coming of age story of Evie, who is a little dim, in my opinion. She takes a trip to Florida with her veteran stepdad and gorgeous mom where she falls in love for the first time, fairly naively. I don't like knowing more than the main character does, and I certainly felt that in this book. And the strange perhaps murder mystery at the end of the story was a bit jarring - I suppose it was necessary since Evie was kept in the dark for most of the story (or just too blind to see what was in front of her), and she needed something to make her see things for what they really are, but I thought this was an odd way to do it. Anyhow, not sure why it won the National Book Award, especially compared to some of the others for 2008, but I suppose those author judges know good writing when they read it.

Little Moon Dog
by Helen Ward
I read this picture book at the CCB while working on my faerie bibliography. It's no secret that I love all things faerie - I've even said that if I ever go back for my doctorate, I'd write my dissertation on faerie literature. Though I know Holly Black is the queen of all dark, urban faerie stories, I was actually drawn in by Melissa Marr's writing. But all of my faerie reading since then has been YA lit because that's all that I thought was out there - but it isn't so! While this book does not explicitly state that the summer "visitors" are faeries, their actions give them away. The dog and his owner live a comfortable and perhaps sometimes boring life on the moon. Until the summer visitors arrive and whisk the dog away to have lots of fun and adventures. It's a sweet book with a happy ending - true friendship outlasts the whims of faeries.

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
My Goodreads review:
I understand and agree with the hype, but boy did I hate reading this book. Heart-wrenching the whole way through, I found myself physically reacting to the hideous and unforgivable characters and scenes. I did not believe I could feel so strongly for 13 year-old Kyra who is forced to marry her 60 year-old uncle, but my blood did boil. The quote by Gregory Maguire on the front of the book is perfect: "The Chosen One makes the heart race, the teeth grind, and the brow bead up in sweat." Yeah, it's a heavy book. But the best usually are.
I can't say much more about this book except that you have to read it. Unless you read for pleasure, then I would highly advise against it.

The Fruit Bowl Project by Sarah Durkee
I would not have picked this book up if it wasn't one that I was reviewing for the 2009-2010 Golden Jaguar Award, the reader's choice award at the middle school I will be student teaching at in the fall. And I didn't give it a glowing review. The premise of the book is actually kinda cool - a rockstar visits an eighth grade Writer's Workshop class and introduces their next assignment. They all write the same story from a different perspective. So more than half the book are the students' pieces of writing, from poetry to plays to Broadway musicals to letters to simple prose. While I enjoyed reading many of them, I wonder if middle school students would share my preference. I doubt that they sit around and read each other's work for pleasure, maybe of their close friends, but certainly not 50 kids' writings in a row! I felt like this was a great writing exercise for the author but not such a great experience for the reader. :/

Next week, I hope to be reading more for this and next year's Golden Jaguar Award since summer is quickly flying past me. And eventually I will get to that Libraries in Books entry!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Read this week (4)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
My review from Goodreads:
I finished this book in one day. I was both horrified and intrigued by this plagued world with more undead roaming the earth than the living. An infection has spread across the world, but to Mary and her village, this is the only place on Earth left with survivors. It reminds me of The Giver because of the village's separateness from the rest of the world. It also reminded me of Bones of Faerie, especially when the six siblings and friends set out on the path to escape the dangers of their invaded village. While a handful of characters dominate this story, Mary is the one that evokes the most emotion - she's willful, determined, stubborn, hopeful, curious, and insatiable. I didn't agree with all of her actions, but I understood her choices, as hard as they may have been. This is an excellent dystopia, a scary look at the world depleted by the Infection, with a few left struggling to survive.

The Eternal Smile by Derek Kirk Kim and Gene Luen Yang
This graphic novel is actually three short stories, unrelated to each other except perhaps by theme. This book has been getting rave reviews, but I was left feeling "eh." I enjoyed the first story, about a boy in a fairy dream world, with him as the prince out to kill the Frog King in order to gain the princess' hand in marriage - with a rather unexpected twist in the end. The next two stories also had those strange twists, but they were not so unexpected as the first. They're life stories and they're sweet and sometimes heartbreaking, but I don't know why they were there together. Perhaps if this was instead an anthology of such stories, I'd feel better about it. But the similarity to Yang's American Born Chinese - three seemingly unrelated stories - was too distinct, yet it failed in connecting the stories. The illustrations, however, were wonderful, and I would go back just to look at them. Especially those in "Urgent Request," two-toned drawings in rounded panels about a woman who hates her job and seeks refuge in a make-believe world where she aids and meets a Nigerian prince - that story could have stood alone.

Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell
I started this book weeks ago and was too angry to finish it until now. Angry because the main character Nikki despises the library yet works there as a student library assistant anyway. But I'll get into this in my forthcoming "libraries in books" post. Here's an excerpt from my Goodreads review:
Nikki is starting eighth grade at a new school, Westchester Country Day Middle School, where she feels like she does not fit in at all. This book is her diary, complete with love poems, comics, and sketches, reminiscent of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
It's a cute book for 6th/7th grade girls. New kids at school. Those wanting to fit in with the popular crowd. Kids that feel like they have embarrassing families. Nikki writes about her everyday life, which to her is filled with catastrophic and life-changing events on a daily basis. From first crushes to best friends to mean girls and annoying little sisters - I looked back on my middle school days, and while the pop culture references were a bit much, I could definitely relate. Warning: Nikki loves the Tyra Banks show... and writes about it constantly! This gives the book less lasting power, but it's relevant for the right here, right now.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
I tried to read this book this week, but after fifty pages, I gave up. Darcy is obnoxiously rude and sarcastic - yet a lovesick puppy. Zombies invade balls and carriage rides across towns. The sisters are trained in combat, carrying daggers in their stockings. There is a target audience for this book - and I do not belong to it. My students, however, have read and presumably enjoyed it, if not were at least amused by it. My younger sister, I'm sure, would love it. I'm not a fan of the gimmicky zombie appeal - the cover alone makes me cringe. But like the vampire craze of last year, zombies have invaded the current book market.
Copyright 2009 This Purple Crayon. Powered by Blogger
Blogger Templates created by Deluxe Templates
Wordpress by Wpthemesfree