Category Archives: Uncategorized

HOW DO YOU LIVE? by Genzaburo Yoshino

How Do You Live?: Yoshino, Genzaburo, Navasky, Bruno, Gaiman, Neil:  9781616209773: Amazon.com: Books

First published in 1937, Genzaburō Yoshino’s How Do You Live? has long been acknowledged in Japan as a crossover classic for young readers. Academy Award–winning animator Hayao Miyazaki has called it his favorite childhood book and announced plans to emerge from retirement to make it the basis of a final film. 
 
How Do You Live? is narrated in two voices. The first belongs to Copper, fifteen, who after the death of his father must confront inevitable and enormous change, including his own betrayal of his best friend. In between episodes of Copper’s emerging story, his uncle writes to him in a journal, sharing knowledge and offering advice on life’s big questions as Copper begins to encounter them. Over the course of the story, Copper, like his namesake Copernicus, looks to the stars, and uses his discoveries about the heavens, earth, and human nature to answer the question of how he will live.

There are a lot of books that get given the title ‘classic’, not all of them deserve that, but for How Do You Live? that title is richly deserved! Re-edited and published in Japan many times over 80 years

For people who can only read books in English this is a rare treat! As more and more books from outside the English canon are translated we see more into the cultural milieu of other nations. The story questions militarism and the rise of martial society, which in the time it was originally written and published is really quite amazing!

Read this work before Miyazaki’s movie is released (it will give you instant street cred in the eyes of all the fans of Studio Ghibli’s works)

Power Born of Dreams: My Story is Palestine

What does freedom look like from inside an Israeli prison?

A bird perches on the cell window and offers a deal: “You bring the pencil, and I will bring the stories,” stories of family, of community, of Gaza, of the West Bank, of Jerusalem, of Palestine. The two collect threads of memory and intergenerational trauma from ongoing settler-colonialism. Helping us to see that the prison is much larger than a building, far wider than a cell; it stretches through towns and villages, past military check points and borders. But hope and solidarity can stretch farther, deeper, once strength is drawn of stories and power is born of dreams. Translating headlines into authentic lived experiences, these stories come to life in the striking linocut artwork of Mohammad Sabaaneh, helping us to see Palestinians not as political symbols, but as people.

How can something so beautiful be so heart-breaking?

I ask myself that each time I pick up Power Born of Dreams… three time snow I have read this book each time I have spent ages poring over the pages admiring the stark beauty emanating from the pages of this work of art that Mohammad Sabaahneh has created. I learned the art of linocut when I was in school, but Mohammad has elevated the simple act of slicing shapes out of linoleum he cut into the history of his time as a political prisoner and the stories of Palestinians, living their lives under a brutal occupation, fenced in with electronic eyes watching them every day and night. These are stories of heartache and loss and of hope. These are some of the stories of Palestine.

It may be the fact that I grew up in South Africa during apartheid that makes me sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinian people. Having heard the stories from my friends and fellow South Africans of colour of what they experienced the dehumanising and degrading treatment at the hands of the white minority government has made me resolute in my opposition to oppression wherever it may occur.

In time I can see Mohammad Sabaahneh joining Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman and other cartoonists in the lists of those who have used their art to open the eyes of the world to the iniquities suffered by so many.

Power Born of Dreams: My Story is Palestine was created by Mohammad Sabaahneh and will be published in November by Street Noise Books.

Allies

This book is for everyone. Because we can all be allies.

As an ally you use your power-no matter how big or small-to support others. You learn, and try, and mess up, and try harder. In this collection of true stories, 17 critically acclaimed and bestselling YA authors get real about being an ally, needing an ally, and showing up for friends and strangers.

From raw stories of racism and invisible disability to powerful moments of passing the mic, these authors share their truths. They invite you to think about your own experiences and choices and how to be a better ally.

There are no easy answers, but this book helps you ask better questions. Self-reflection prompts, resources, journaling ideas, and further reading suggestions help you find out what you can do. Because we’re all in this together. And we all need allies.

A donation of 5% net sales in the UK will be donated to The Black Curriculum

DK

By coincidence, I received a copy of this title in the same week as I read a post by Dr Muna Abdi about the term “allies” and its limitations, so had that in mind when I started reading…and the very first chapter, DANA’S ABSOLOUTELY PERFECT FAIL-SAFE NO MISTAKES GUARANTEED WAY TO BE AN ALLY by Dana Alison Levy addresses the same issues in brilliant fashion. The collection of essays is wide ranging, eye opening, and thought provoking, including contributions from Shakirah Bourne (co-editor alongside Dana Alison Levy), Derick Brooks, Sharan Dhaliwal, Naomi and Natalie Evans, I. W. Gregorio, Lizzie Huxley-Jones, Adiba Jaigirdar, Brendan Kiely, Dana Alison Levy, Cam Montgomery, Andrea L. Rogers, Aida Salazar, A. J. Sass, Eric Smith, Kayla Whaley, and Marietta B. Zacker. The stories they share are both personal and powerful and will encourage readers to think critically about what allyship means to them. The authors are from all across the globe, with uniquely personal essays, and include UK based Lizzie Huxley-Jones, to whom I put some questions!

What do you think of the term ‘ally’?

I think ally as a phrase is useful in terms of reminding people who aren’t part of marginalised groups that they should care about the struggles of people within those marginalisations, literally to ally their aims and work to the community’s own aims. As with all language, it evolves really quickly and we will drop certain words over time (and some people have suggested moving on from allyship to solidarity), but I think the overarching concept of allyship, or solidarity, is really important! We cannot be complacent within our role as supporters, and over identifying *as* something without doing the work to *be* something is always a danger when we’re talking about stepping out of our comfort and privileges. Every day must be a learning day.

Have you read the other contributions? If so, did any particularly strike you?

I was lucky enough to get a proof of the US edition this week which I just finished reading. Each essay was really brilliant and made me think a lot. Naomi & Natalie Evans’ essay about being an ally in a racist situation made me think a lot about how easy it is for people to be bystanders – this is something I touch upon in my essay – and Eric Smith’s piece about finding a chosen family and his culture was beautiful. I think Dana’s essay that sets the tone of the book is really great, and Adiba Jaigirdar’s piece about racism in feminist ‘safe spaces’ really resonated with me. Basically, everything is extremely well written, interesting and important. I’m so honoured to be a part of such a key activist text.

The essays are very personal, did you find it difficult to write yours or did it come easily *because* it is so personal?

I’ve had seizures for basically my entire adult life, and have been on Twitter pretty much since then. When I was having video telemetry (a fun process where you live in a tiny room wired up to scanners for a few days to see if you have any seizures) I turned to Twitter for comfort and friendship but to talk about my experiences – this was back in like 2008. I think because I’ve been openly and frankly speaking about  my seizures for a long time, that confessional aspect wasn’t too hard. It was strange to write about during the pandemic, though. And I really did start to worry about what it’d be like as things started opening up, whether people would help more or less. I think that was the hardest part, really.

You have edited your own anthology, Stim, of stories by autistic authors, what, do you think, is the appeal of anthologies?

I think there’s a few things – the opportunity to access a lot of different voices in a small book, plus the focus on a particular topic but from multiple viewpoints. I personally also love mixed anthologies, so you’ll read something, not entirely sure if it’s an essay or fiction – sometimes that blur can make it really interesting when, for instance, a selkie turns up like in Robert Shepherd’s story in Stim. They’re just a really great way to explore a topic, I think, and a good anthology can keep you interested for a long time. I also really like that you might not enjoy every part of an anthology, though I know not everyone feels that way, as to me that’s part of the process of coming across different voices. I also edited 3 anthologies at 3 of Cups Press, On Anxiety, On Bodies and On Relationships, so I’m a big antho fan, haha!

You’ve also written a non-fiction children’s title about David Attenborough. Do you favour any particular style of writing?

I’m really a fiction writer at heart! Nothing definite I can talk about now, but hopefully in the future you’ll see some fiction from me on the shelves. I do love essay writing though, so I think Allies has spurred me to think about writing more of those in the future.

What are you reading at the moment and who would you recommend it to?

I just finished All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue which is a The Craft esque modern witch tale about a girl who discovers a lost set of tarot cards. What struck me about it is that it’s also very much about modern Ireland and the pushback against queerness we are seeing all around us from fundamentalists and transphobes, particularly against trans people. The love interest, Roe, is a non-binary femme who I completely love. I’d recommend it to fans of Moira Fowley-Doyle and Deirdre Sullivan. The next YA book on my pile is Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, which I’m so excited about. It’s Gossip Girl meets Get Out. Outside of YA, I’m listening to a lot of memoirs that touch on disability and are laced with humour. I’ve really been loving Samantha Irby’s three books of essays, and right now I’m in love with Keah Brown’s The Pretty One.

What will we see from you next?

Hopefully, some fiction, but you’ll just have to wait and see!

Lizzie (Hux) Huxley-Jones is an autistic author and editor based in London. They are the editor of Stim, an anthology of autistic authors and artists, which was published by Unbound in April 2020 to coincide with World Autism Awareness Week. They are also the author of the children’s biography Sir David Attenborough: A Life Story (2020) and a contributor to the anthology Allies: Real Talk About Showing Up, Screwing Up, And Trying Again (2021). They are an editor at independent micropublisher 3 of Cups Press, and also advise writers as a freelance sensitivity reader and editorial consultant. In their past career lives, they have been a research diver, a children’s bookseller and digital communications specialist. They tweet too much at @littlehux, taking breaks to walk their dog Nerys. They are represented by Abi Fellows of The Good Literary Agency.

ALLIES was published in the UK on 29th July 2021. Thanks to DK for sending a review copy and Antonia Wilkinson for organising the interview.

The Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize 2021 Shortlist

The Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour is an annual literary prize awarded to British or British-resident BAME writers. £1,000 is awarded to the sole winner. The Jhalak Prize launched in 2016 and was created by writers Sunny Singh, Nikesh Shukla, and Media Diversified.

The Children’s & YA Prize was founded in 2020, and, like it’s sister award it celebrates books by British/British resident BAME writers. The inaugural shortlist was announced today. The authors on the list are:

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Take Three Girls

Mean stuff spreads so fast. One click. Post. Send. Share. Online bullying = sometimes suicides, so all the private schools have strategies for dealing with it. At St Hilda’s, it’s Wellness classes. We greeted the idea with genuine enthusiasm. Why not? Everyone loves the chance to slack off.

Elevator pitch: If you enjoyed Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu then this book will be right up your bookshelf! Wait you have not read Moxie? Dang… ok wait a moment don’t leave this elevator yet Read Moxie and also Take Three Girls – it does not matter which one you read first as they are both brilliant! Take Three Girls is a wonderful portrayal of female friendship, strength and a fierce critique of anonymous, online shame culture

Three girls, one popular, one sporty and one smart, one day student and the other two are boarders (it is a private boarding school with day students), each student written by a different author, this works wonderfully! Each character is wonderfully realized and they each come to life on the page.

Take Three Girls is one of the first Australian YA books I have read in years, it may be your first one too so please do pick it up! Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood are superb writers! This book can be used to show that girls and young women all over the world face the same issues and struggles and that by working together they can begin to overcome the misogyny ingrained in many (lets be honest it is most, if not all) of our institutions!

You can get your hands on a copy today!

Take Three Girls is published in the US by Sterling Teen and is available from today!

Show Us Who You Are

When Cora’s brother drags her along to his boss’s house, she doesn’t expect to strike up a friendship with Adrien, son of the intimidating CEO of Pomegranate Technologies. As she becomes part of Adrien’s life, she is also drawn into the mysterious projects at Pomegranate.

At first, she’s intrigued by them – Pomegranate is using AI to recreate real people in hologram form. As she digs deeper, however, she uncovers darker secrets…

Cora knows she must unravel their plans, but can she fight to make her voice heard, whilst never losing sight of herself?

Knights Of
Cover design by Kay Wilson

A Kind of Spark was one of my top 5 books of 2020, an outstanding debut, so I was anxious to not have too high expectations of Show Us Who You Are…but I worried for nothing because it is completely different but equally brilliant! I asked the author, Elle McNicoll, a few questions (which she answered brilliantly):

In SHOW US WHO YOU ARE, artificial intelligence is not shown in a particularly positive light. Did you do a lot of research into the technology or did a piece of tech news spark the idea?

I think it’s the humans controlling the AI that are not shown in a particularly positive light, but I’ll leave that to readers. A lot of AI stories are about AI vs humans and a sentient new being rising up to take over the world. I think that’s a fear that powerful people have about the marginalised–that they will rise up if granted humanity. An interesting fear that says a lot, but not what my AI Grams do. It’s not something that happens in Show Us Who You Are. The AI are very innocent and reactive and the uprising happens elsewhere. The idea was sparked by Prince’s death, when people said they wanted to show a hologram of him performing at concerts. I thought it was a revolting idea.

It feels like SHOW US WHO YOU ARE came extremely quickly after your debut! Had you started writing the idea before A KIND OF SPARK was published or did it come to you all of a sudden?

I was writing it from March 2020, so it was something to get me through the first lockdown. I had Covid and was stuck in my room, feeling horrid and wanting to write about a future with no virus and lots of adventure. I was deep into Show Us Who You Are when A Kind of Spark came out, so 2020 was a very eventful year. 

Both of your protagonists are autistic, and wonderfully different, were you thinking about stereotypes that you wanted to challenge or did you simply want to create representative characters?

I think the latter. I always want to create dynamic neurodivergent heroines who are full of brains and heart and have complete agency over their story. 

In both your books, a growing friendship plays a really important part in the story. Why does it matter so much, do you think, to include such relationships?

Being general here, but a lot of neurodivergent children experience extreme isolation and loneliness. I had a very difficult childhood when it came to making and maintaining friendships and I was bullied a lot for being different. So, that need for connection and being understood is very strong in my work. Adrien and Cora sort of save each other by becoming best friends. They’re kindred spirits and I think it’s essential for ND readers to know that they can find their people someday, and that they deserve to be celebrated. Not just tolerated.

Publishing two books in lockdown has…not been ideal, but have you found remote events a positive thing?

I’m grateful for virtual events, they’ve been wonderful. Doing virtual school visits has been fantastic. But it’s deeply frustrating to have fallen into two lockdown periods. I’ve never been able to walk into a bookshop on publication day. Never met a reader in the flesh. It’s really demoralising and makes it harder to go home and write uplifting things. I’m so grateful to Twitter for allowing me a way to speak to readers. 

When things are “back to normal”, have you thought about what kind of events you might enjoy doing with readers?

I’m desperate to do physical events where I can talk for more than ten minutes about my work and why neurodivergent representation matters. I wrote a middle grade so that I could have these important conversations with young people. Awards have been lovely, but I need to be able to speak to readers and young people about why these books are needed. So I’d love to do more events with booksellers, schools and libraries. That’s the dream.

What are you reading at the moment and who would you recommend it to?

I’m about to start Crater Lake: Evolution by Jennifer Killick. If you love comedic horror, she’s for you. I’m looking forward to seeing her fab characters again.

What’s next for you?

I am writing two books I’m really passionate about at the moment. One is a YA, so will need to go out into the world and find its home. I’m the only one that believes in it right now, but I have the same feeling that I did with A Kind of Spark. So, I’m following it.

Show Us Who You Are by Elle McNicoll is published 4th March by Knights Of in paperback original (thank you Ed PR for sending me a copy and organising the interview).

Publisher Permissions for Online Storytimes in 2021

UK

Faber permissions extended to March 31 2021

Hachette

Little Tiger permissions extended to March 31 2021 https://littletiger.co.uk/little-tiger-group-permissions-policy-for-online-book-readings

PanMacmillan awaiting updated information

Usborne permissions extended to July 31 2021 https://faqs.usborne.com/article/83-id-like-to-make-a-recording-of-an-usborne-book

USA

Abrams permissions extended to June 30 2021 https://www.abramsbooks.com/abramskidspermission/

Albert Whitman permissions extended to March 31 2021 https://www.albertwhitman.com/rights-permissions/recorded-readings-during-covid-19/

August House awaiting updated information

Bellwether Media permissions extended to June 1 2021

Boyds Mills & Kane permissions extended to March 31 2021

Candlewick awaiting updated information

Capstone awaiting updated information

Charlesbridge awaiting updated information

Childs Play awaiting updated information

Chooseco awaiting updated information

Chronicle awaiting updated information

Cottage Door Press permissions stand as long as needed

Crabtree permissions extended to June 31 2021

Disney Publishing Worldwide permissions extended to June 30 2021

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers awaiting updated information

Enchanted Lion awaiting updated information

Familius permissions stand as long as needed

Flyaway awaiting updated information

Free Spirit permissions extended to June 30, 2021

HarperCollins permissions extended to June 30, 2021

Holiday House awaiting updated information

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt awaiting updated information

Jump! permissions extended to May 31 2021

Just Us Books permissions extended to June 30 2021 https://justusbooks.blogspot.com/2020/03/resources-and-guidelines-to-support-at.html?m=1

Lee & Low permissions extended to June 30 2021

Lerner awaiting updated information

Little, Brown permissions extended to June 30 2021 https://www.lbyr.com/little-brown-young-readers/lbyr-blog/lbyr-book-sharing-permission-statement/

Macmillan permissions extended to June 30 2021

North South awaiting updated information

Norwood House permissions extended to June 1 2021

Oni Press permissions extended to December 31 2021

Page Street awaiting updated information

Peachtree awaiting updated information

Penguin Random House permissions extended to March 31 2021

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Scholastic awaiting updated information

Simon & Schuster permissions extended to March 31 2021

Source Books permissions extended to June 30 2021

Star Bright Books awaiting updated information

Tilbury Books permissions extended to June 30 2021

Guest Post: A Monument to Cognitive Dissonance by Lindsay K. Bandy

I can still see those Sharpie slashes. My middle school librarian had carefully, lovingly, censored out every swear word from every copy of every book in our small, Mennonite school’s library. Today, as I prepare to release my first young adult novel into the world, I imagine the things my former teachers and librarians will Sharpie out. Sure, there are few black-out-worthy words, but the book’s very theme is what will ban it from my former places of education: Learning how to think—not what to think—is the key to freedom. That theme, for me, has been hard-won. It’s turned me into a writer; and it’s turned me into a librarian.

I remember my intense, instilled fear of public school, my constant anxiety about being subject to secular agendas that would test my faith, sow doubt, or infect me with evil. As a young adult, facing cognitive dissonance was a painful and terrifying process, because my gatekeepers did not provide or value access to conflicting information or opinions. I was left to assume that, if I thought or felt differently, I was simply wrong.

Now, as a parent of two daughters, I understand the good and noble desire to protect children. We want them to stay innocent, unaware of the evil lurking in the world, because we don’t want it to ever touch them. But maybe we also want them to continue to see us, their parents, teachers, and librarians, as the people who know where everything goes. The people who can Dewey-Decimal the meaning of life in a jiffy. Maybe the longer we can keep them from asking us uncomfortable questions, the longer we can avoid facing them, ourselves.

I choose to admit that I don’t know all the answers at the cost of falling from goddess-status in the eyes of my children. But this fall leads to miracles, like searching the shelves of the library or the depths of the internet together for information. It leads to discussions about reliable sources, bias, and empathy. It leads to forming and finding answers together, to reflecting on our own biases, and trying to understand why good-hearted people arrive at polar opposite answers to big questions. It blurs the lines between us and them, because there is room in the library for all. (And hey, let’s face it: by the time they hit college, I’ll have fallen from goddess status, anyway.)

Still, it’s a stubborn part of our human nature to simplify. An organizational system is necessary for libraries and brains, and when things feel out of place, we can easily get angry, defensive, fearful, and fiercely dogmatic. Be honest: You know the library-quiet rage that bubbles up in your chest when a co-worker shelves Salt to the Sea in the “R” section for Ruta instead of the “S” section for Sepetys. Who did this abominable thing?!

Creating neat categories, whether for books, politics, religions and cultures, or personalities makes our brains’ jobs easier. It protects us from cognitive dissonance. It provides comfort. And it leads directly to stereotyping, racism, xenophobia, and hate.

As a parent, writer, and librarian, I choose to reject this comfort. I recognize that if every book that crosses my desk or every person in my circle of friends pleases me, confirms my beliefs and reinforces my feeling of being in control, I’m failing.

So, was my Sharpie-loving middle school librarian a failure? No, because she wasn’t a public librarian. She was a well-intentioned, kind person doing her job. Would she call me a failure for doing mine? Probably. And that’s okay, because a public library isn’t a monument to a certain ideology. It’s a monument to the reality—and the beautiful necessity—of cognitive dissonance.

As an author, that’s a monument I hope my books help to build.

Bio:

Lindsay Bandy works as a youth services librarian in Manheim, Pennsylvania. Her first novel for young adults, NEMESIS AND THE SWAN, releases on October 27, 2020 with Blackstone Publishing. She also serves as the Co-Regional Advisor of the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

You can visit her on the website at www.LindsayBandyBooks.com

Or say hi on social media…

Twitter @Lindsay_Bandy

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LindsayBandyBooks/

Instagram at LindsayFisherBandy

Library Sweets/Candy Club

I had this idea years ago, back in my UK Public Library days but I was unable to get it off the ground at the time due to not knowing any US Librarians and a smaller network than I have now. 

The basic premise is to set up two groups (at least), one in a US Library and another in a Library in the UK (or Libraries in other exotic parts of the world) and running a quarterly/bi-annual (more or less as your budget allows) candy/sweet tasting group. It can be tied in to holidays that have chocolates or other types of sweets/candy as a central part of the celebrations (thinking of Easter and Hallowe’en as two of the biggest examples). 

The idea muscled its way back into my fore-brain due to the Percy Pigs kerfuffle that erupted in the UK earlier this week, this made me realise how much I missed them and other British sweets, which in turn brought up the group idea as I pondered how American kids would react to tasting Percy Pigs.

This will only be able to run once we have Covid19 sorted out, but in the interim library folk can form alliances with colleagues in other countries and arrange to send examples of local confectionery from where they are from.

If anyone is interested in finding contacts in the UK or US leave a comment below for international colleagues to find you.

Andersen Press release FREE ‘Summer Staycation Activity Pack’

Andersen Press are continuing their commitment to supporting children and families who are at home with a free activity pack featuring their new summer titles. As many families will be taking their holidays at home or in the UK Andersen wants to offer families a cost-effective way to spend an afternoon (sunny or rainy) during the great British Summertime.

The Summer Staycation Activity Pack features free colouring sheets, word searches, spot-the-difference games and more based on a selection of Andersen titles;

Luna Loves Art by Joseph Coelho and Fiona Lumbers

The Mouse’s Apples by Frances Stickley and Kristyna Litten

The Baby Beast by Chris Judge

The Bug Collector by Alex G Griffiths

Don’t Go There by Jeanne Willis and Hrefna Bragadottir

Duck and Penguin Are NOT Friends by Julia Woolf

Bricks by Katie Cotton and Tor Freeman

The Bolds on Holiday by Julian Clary and David Roberts

And Mermaid School by Lucy Courtenay and Sheena Dempsey

Also included is a competition, for one family to win each book featured in the pack.

The pack is free for all, and has been sent to Andersen’s list of bookshops, libraries and contacts for their use too, and compliments the work Andersen Press has been doing to share their books online during the COVID19 pandemic, with free, weekly story times on Seven Stories Facebook page continuing until September, regular storytimes on Panto Dame Mama G’s facebook page, partnerships with Save the Children’s #SaveWithStories (which saw BBC One Normal People’s Paul Mescal read Elmer and Super El, viewed over 500,000 times) and Coram Beanstalk to reach as many families as possible in lockdown.

Sarah Kimmelman, Andersen Press’ Head of Marketing has said of the release, “We know that life for many families out there is nowhere near back-to-normal, and with a lack of events, appearances and festivals it’s also not back to normal for us publishers, so we wanted to offer something accessible to as many people as possible to brighten up a summer at home whilst introducing families to some of our gorgeous new books.”

The Summer Staycation Activity Pack is available to download free here: 

https://www.andersenpress.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Summer-Staycation-Activity-Pack.pdf