May 19, 2017

This is How We Do It

The start of the year has been busy. I took the Story Genius writing class which was amazing and intense. As a result, the picture books have been piling up in my office, and are begging for reviews. So today I bring you a book that has been dear to my heart since I first heard about it last Fall.

I have always loved to travel, especially internationally. When I was a kid one of my favorite things was to sit at JFK airport and people-watch. There were so many people from other countries. I loved to see how the dress, listen to them speak, see what stuff they carried with them. Sometimes the most interesting things about another culture aren’t their tourist sites but the ordinary daily activities – how they get around, what they eat, what they sell in their shops. I would’ve loved this book as a kid.

Title: This is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World

Author/Illustrator: Matt Lamothe
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2017
Editor:  Ariel Richardson
Book Type: Non-Fiction
Ages: 8-12
Theme: Cross-cultural studies

Synopsis (from Chronicle’s website):

Follow the real lives of seven kids from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia for a single day! In Japan Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda Daphine likes to jump rope. But while the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days—and this one world we all share—unites them. This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as a mirror reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamothe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book.

Activities:

  • Read other picture books that compare and contrast daily lives such as People by Peter Spier, Same Same but Different by  Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, or Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon.
  • Look up a recipe for one of the breakfasts mentioned in the book. Here is a recipe for Anu’s breakfast, paneer paratha.
  • Print out a world map and have the child color in the countries represented in this book.
  • Get an international pen-pal. Here is a good article at kidworldcitizen.org about how best to go about getting a pen-pal in a safe way.

Why I Like This Book:

In this wonderful non-fiction book, we get to peek into the lives of seven kids from around the world and see how different and similar they lives are. We learn what they eat for breakfast, where they live, what they study in school, and more. Each spread has a topic sentence followed by seven examples. An extensive glossary at the end provides additional information. This was helpful because they use the native words when describing the foods they eat for breakfast and lunch.

Please click for larger image.

Please click for larger image.

The author chose a range of families from different economic classes – middle-class kids with private schools and digital devices to families with more simpler means. I was concerned that the child reader might begin to think that one family represents all families from that country. The author beautifully addresses this point on the final page which also has the photographs of the each of the seven families. My only criticism of this book is that all the families are nuclear – mother, father, kids. In many parts of the world, families will include a grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, uncle all living under a single roof. I feel that the opportunity to show diversity in families was lost.

Nonetheless, this is an excellent book. I highly recommend for the home library as well as the classroom. Excellent for teachers to use during multi-cultural week.

Find This is How We Do It at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1452150184
ISBN-13: 978-1452150185

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

 

February 17, 2017

South Asian Kidlit 2017 – Part 1

Hope everyone is keeping warm this winter. Here in California, we’re just trying to stay dry in one of the wettest winters ever. Not that I’m complaining. It’s better than the string of drought years. I am still working away on my picture books and have started working on a YA historical novel. Speaking of picture books, I would love to see more South Asian titles in that category. 😉

Last summer, I posted some fantastic South Asian children’s and young adult books that released in 2016. Thanks to the We Need Diverse Books movement, #ownvoices, #diversity, and a general interest in the publishing and reading communities there has been an uptick in books that contain diversity as well as by diverse authors. Today I bring you nine titles (1 PB, 4 MG, 4 YA) that are being released in the first-half of 2017. These books are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author, contains a South Asian Main Character, or involves South Asian culture. The books are organized by Category and then Publication Date. Come back in July for Part 2 containing books being released in the 2nd half of 2017.
south-asian-kidlit-2017
bluesky

Title: Blue Sky White Starssarvinder-naberhaus-1200
Author: Sarvinder Naberhaus
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Category-Genre: Picture Book

Synopsis: Wonderfully spare, deceptively simple verses pair with richly evocative paintings to celebrate the iconic imagery of our nation, beginning with the American flag. Each spread is sumptuously illustrated by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson

Bio: Sarvinder Naberhaus immigrated from Punjab to the U.S. when she was four years old. Her first book, Boom Boom, was illustrated by Caldecott-honor winning artist Margaret Chodos-Irvine. She also has an upcoming board book, Lines.

Website: www.sarvinder.com
Twitter: @SarvinderN
Facebook: Sarvinder Author

amina

Title: Amina’s Voicehena-khan-low-res
Author: Hena Khan

Publisher: Salaam Reads
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Category-Genre: Middle Grade

Synopsis: The first year of middle school is tricky for stage-shy Amina, when her best friend Soojin starts talking about changing her name and, even worse, spending time with Emily—a girl that used to make fun of them! Amina’s older brother seems to be getting into a lot of trouble and when her uncle comes to visit from Pakistan, her parents try awfully hard to impress him. But when Amina’s mosque is vandalized, she find her voice, and learns that the things that connect us will always be stronger than the things that try to tear us apart.

Bio: Hena Khan is the author of several award-winning books including Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, It’s Ramadan, Curious George, and Night of the Moon. She’s also written choose your own adventure style novels and books on space, spies, and more. Hena was born and raised in Maryland, where she still lives with her family.

Website: www.henakhan.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/henakhanbooks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/hena.khan.books
Instagram: www.instagram.com/henakhanbooks/

the-gauntletTitle: The Gauntletkayemavatar
Author: Karuna Riazi
Publisher: S&S/Salaam Reads
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy

Synopsis: A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.

Bio: Karuna Riazi is a born and raised New Yorker, with a loving, large extended family and the rather trying experience of being the eldest sibling in her particular clan. Besides pursuing a BA in English literature, she is an online diversity advocate, blogger, and publishing intern. Karuna is fond of tea, Korean dramas, writing about tough girls forging their own paths toward their destinies, and baking new delectable treats for friends and family to relish.

Twitter: twitter.com/karunariazi

step-plate

Title: Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singhuma
Author: Uma Krishnaswami
Publisher: Tu Books/Lee & Low
Publication Date: May 1, 2017
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Historical Fiction

Synopsis: In Yuba City, California, in the spring of 1945, Maria Singh longs to play softball. But even as Maria’s world opens up, her parents—Papi from India and Mamá from Mexico—can no longer protect their children from prejudice and from the discriminatory laws of the land. When the family is on the brink of losing their farm, nine-year-old Maria must decide if she has what it takes to step up and find her voice in an unfair world.

Bio: Uma Krishnaswami is the author of more than twenty books for young readers. She teaches in the low-residency MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Vermont College of Fine Arts. Born in New Delhi, India, Uma now lives and writes in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Website: http://umakrishnaswami.org
Blog: https://umakrishnaswami.org/blog-writing-with-a-broken-tusk/

finding-mighty

Title: Finding Mightysheela_chari_author_photo
Author: Sheela Chari
Illustrator: R. Kikuo Johnson
Publisher: Abrams
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Mystery

Synopsis: Along the train lines north of New York City, twelve-year-old neighbors Myla and Peter search for the link between Myla’s necklace and the disappearance of Peter’s brother, Randall.

Bio: Sheela Chari is the author of FINDING MIGHTY (May 2017) and VANISHED, an Edgar Award nominee for best juvenile mystery, an Al Roker book pick on the Today Show, and an APALA Children’s Literature Honor Book. She has an MFA in Fiction from New York University and teaches writing at Mercy College. She lives in New York with her family.

Website: www.sheelachari.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sheela.chari
Twitter: @wordsbysheela

soulmated_cover_500

Title: Soulmatedshaila_patel_3x4-5
Author: Shaila Patel
Publisher: Month 9 Books
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Category-Genre: Yound Adult – Paranormal Romance

Synopsis: Irish empath Liam Whelan is forced to find his fated soul mate and is drawn to Indian-American Laxshmi Kapadia–only she’s not an empath and would derail his father’s plans for when they did find “The One.” Laxshmi struggles with her own parental expectations in the form of ultimatums that leave her neither the option of pursuing dance as a career, nor an interest in her handsome new Irish neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny, or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price?

Bio: Shaila Patel is a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Her award-winning novel Soulmated debuts on 1/24/17. She enjoys traveling, craft beer, tea, and loves reading books—especially in cozy window seats. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or connecting with other readers online.

Website: www.shailapatelauthor.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ShailaPatelWriter
Twitter: twitter.com/shaila_writes
Instagram: www.instagram.com/shailapatel94
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/shailapatel94

thatthingwecallheart-hc-e

Title: That Thing We Call a Heartshebakarim-sm
Author: Sheba Karim
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary

Synopsis: As Pakistani-American teen Shabnam falls for Jamie and begins to mend her friendship with her estranged best friend Farah, she learns powerful lessons about love and the true story of happened to her family during the 1947 Partition of India.

Bio: Sheba Karim’s first YA novel was Skunk Girl. Her third, The Road Trip Effect, will be out in 2018. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Nashville, TN.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shebakarimwriter/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/shebakarim

when-dimple-met-rishi-front

Title: When Dimple Met Rishisandhya-menon-with-filter_443x375
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Category-Genre: Yong Adult –  Romantic Comedy

Synopsis: A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Bio: Sandhya Menon is the author of the upcoming YA novels WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI (Simon Pulse/May 30, 2017) and THE STORIES WE TOLD (Simon Pulse/Summer 2018). She was born and raised in India on a steady diet of Bollywood movies and street food, and pretty much blames this upbringing for her obsession with happily-ever-afters, bad dance moves, and pani puri. Sandhya currently lives in Colorado, where she’s on a mission to (gently) coerce her husband, son, and daughter to watch all 3,220 Bollywood movies she claims as her favorite.

Twitter: http://bit.ly/sandhyatwitter
Instagram: http://bit.ly/sandhyainsta
Facebook: http://bit.ly/sandhyamenonbooksfb

saints-arc-cover

(not final cover art)

Title: Saints and Misfitssajpic-copy
Author: S. K. Ali
Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary

Synopsis: Saints and Misfits follows Janna Yusuf, a geeky, hijabi Arab-Indian-American girl, as she navigates high school and the possibility of first love—even though Muslim girls aren’t supposed to date, right? She’s trying to figure herself out, along with her place in the world, especially if that means revealing a shattering secret that just might send ripples through her tight-knit Muslim community.

Bio: S. K. Ali was born in south India. She lived there until the age of three, at which point she found herself in Montreal, Canada. After a brief stint learning how to read, write and paint, all in French, she made her way to Toronto, where she ended up getting a degree in Creative Writing.

Twitter: @sajidahwrites
Website: skalibooks.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15615126.S_K_Ali

January 6, 2017

Best Frints in the Whole Universe

best-frintsTitle: Best Frints in the Whole Universe

Author/Illustrator: Antoinette  Portis
Publisher: Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, 2016
Editor:  Neal Porter
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-7
Theme: Friendship

Opening Lines:

Yelfred and Omek have been best frints since they were little blobbies.

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Yelfred and Omek have been best frints since they were little blobbies. They play and snack, and sometimes they even fight, all in a language similar to but slightly different from, English. When Omek decides to borrow Yelfred’s new spaceship without asking (and then crashes it), it sparks the biggest fight yet. Can these two best frints make up and move on?

Activities:

Why I Like This Book:

An outer-worldly book about friendship.

What makes this book special is that the author has taken a standard story arc and made it fresh with the alien world and language. Just from the cover and the opening end pages, you know this is a book with fun words. It is a righteous read-aloud!

endpage

The book has great pacing and emotional beats. The author adeptly knew where to have text and where to pull back and let the art tell the story. No words needed in this picture below.

frints2

At it’s core this is a story about enjoying each other’s company, having a fight, and making up, which these two adorable blobbies do. The child-like characters and phrasing is spot on. The made-up words are easy to decode while reading.

A great read for preschoolers through lower elementary.

Find Best Frints in the Whole Universe at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 162672136X
ISBN-13: 978-1626721364

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

January 1, 2017

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

happy-new-year-2017-imagesHappy New Year to all my readers!

Once again I am participating in Julie Hedlund’s anti-resolution revolution. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t accomplish, I review my successes and use that as a building base for my 2017 goals. You can see my 2016 goal setting here. It worked quite well in that I was able to stick to my plan for the most part.

List of 2016 Successes:

  • Got an Agent!! (THE highlight of the year. This wasn’t a listed goal since it wasn’t fully under my control, but I did have a goal to finish revisions for prospective agents. So Check!)
  • Going on submission with several PB stories. (another highlight, but again not a goal since it wasn’t entirely under my control.)
  • Wrote 8 NEW first drafts of picture books! (My goal was to write 12, but I’m still happy with 8. My previous record was only 5.)
  • I finally attended the NJ SCBWI conference!! This had been on my bucket list since I first started writing five years ago. Also attended the SCBWI Summer conference. (Goal met. Check!)
  • Took the Nonfiction Archaeology class and completed a draft of my first picture book biography. (Check!)
  • Read two craft books, Story Genius and Big Magic. (My original goal was to finish reading Writing Irresistible Kidlit which didn’t happen. These two books were more of what I needed at the time. Lesson learned – be flexible.)
  • Read/listen to 23 novels and 230 picture books. (My goal was 25 novels, so I almost met my goal. Check!) Check out my post where I break down the numbers and list some favorite titles (Adult thru PB)
  • Added one more polished story to my portfolio. (Had set a goal of two. Will be working on this again in 2017.)
  • Kept up my blogging. Still a little sporadic. (My goal was to blog at least once a month. Check!)
  • Wrote 3K words for a YA novel. From this, I learned I need to have more structure laid down. This ties into a 2017 goal.
  • Became involved in South Asian kidlit. I wrote a piece for WNDB on South Asian kidlit and did a promotional post for 2016 South Asian books and authors. Hadn’t planned for any of this, but will definitely continue.
  • Got two accountability partners. 🙂
  • Volunteer PB application reader for We Need Diverse Books

My word was for 2016 was CREATE and that I did by completing 8 new PB drafts and starting my YA novel. The last few months have ended with a pile of rejection slips which while expected is still a downer. I had one story which I spent 6 months revising in 2016 and that I thought was done, only to realize I may have to tear it up and start again. So my word for 2017 is PERSEVERE – to stay focused on growing as a writer. And if I get a book deal along the way that’s a bonus.

wordcloud1

Goals for 2017

  • Persevere in the difficult picture book revision. Review course material, favorite books, do paid critiques and above all keep trying. Start to explore early chapter books to see if that’s an option.
  • Take a novel craft class. Have the big elements figured out – story arc, main and secondary characters, motivations, stakes, etc.
  • Continue research efforts for the novel.
  • Attend agency retreat and one conference.
  • Write 6 new sh***y first drafts.
  • Revise 2-3 stories to a polished state.
  • Read/listen 20 novels.
  • Blog once a month.
  • PERSEVERE

Wishing you the very best. What are some of your goals for 2017?

December 28, 2016

My Book Reading Report for 2016

It’s that time of the year to tally up. Here are my stats according to GoodReads.

TOTAL BOOKS READ IN 2016 = 255
5 Adult;  11 YA;  6 MG;  2 CB/ER; 231 PB

Listed below are my favorite reads from this year. This list contains titles published in 2016 and past years.2016reads

ADULT: When Breath Becomes Air (Paul Kalanithi), Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert)

YA: The Sky is Everywhere (Jandy Nelson), The Sun is Also a Star (Nicola Yoon), The Game of Love and Death (Martha Brockenbrough), The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie)

MG: Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White (Melissa Sweet), Hour of the Bees (Lindsay Eagar), Dear Mrs. Naidu (Mathangi Subramanian)

PB:

  • Strictly No Elephants (Lisa Mantchev and Taeeun Yoo)
  • Horrible Bear (Ame Dyckman and Zachariah O’Hora)
  • Mother Bruce (Ryan T. Higgins)
  • Nerdy Birdy (Aaron Reynolds and Matt Davies)
  • Mirette on the High Wire (Emily Arnold McCully)
  • Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes (Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton)
  • Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay (Susan Hood and Sally Wern Comport)
  • Diary of a Spider (Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss)
  • Are We There Yet? (Dan Santat)
  • Poppy Pickle (Emma Yarlett)
  • Maple (Lori Nichols)
  • Pink is for Blobfish (Jess Keating and David DeGrand)

What were some of your favorite reads? I’m always looking for excellent titles for my 2017 to-read list.

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