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All The Wonders This Week w/ Aida salazar: November 12, 2019
Reasons to love picture book biographies, some bookish ways to celebrate World Kindness Day, and thoughts on censorship. We’ve got all this and more. I’m Corrina Allen and this is All The Wonders This Week.
Joining me this week to discuss what’s new in the world of children’s literature is Aida Salazar - an award-winning author and arts activist whose writings for adults and children explore issues of identity and social justice. Her debut middle grade novel-in-verse, The Moon Within, was one of my absolute favorite books in 2019.
- CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals for 2020 have been announced and Kate DiCamillo for Louisiana’s Way Home and Remy Lai for her graphic novel, Pie in the Sky are among the nominees! This is the UK equivalent to the Newbery Award.
- The I, Too Arts Collective, a literary non-profit, will close its doors at the Langston Hughes House.
- Publisher’s Weekly announced that Candlewick Press will be publishing an anthology that Aida Salazar is co-editing with Yamile Saied Méndez called, Calling the Moon. It is a middle grade anthology on menstruation by IBPOC middle grade authors.
- Yesterday was World Origami Day - celebrated on November 11th every year. So I want to give a shout-out to two of my favorite middle grade books that just happen to have a little twist of origami - Dan Gemeinhart’s Scar Island and Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
- And speaking of crafty things - All the Wonders has an AWESOME craft posted last week - Make Your Own Read-Along Scarecrow Finger Puppet! It’s so cute and so easy to do with items you have laying around the house - and the perfect way to repurpose old gloves.
- And today is also National Young Readers Day - an event launched in collaboration with Pizza Hut and the Library of Congress in 1989 to raise awareness about the importance of reading. It’s always held on the second Tuesday of November and had expanded to a full Young Readers Week to encourage principals across the country to select one day this week to read aloud to their students all day long and coordinate other reading-related events to foster reading.
- And tomorrow, November 13th is World Kindness Day - the perfect day to surprise someone with book, donate to your local library, tuck your favorite title into a Little Free Library, or help out an author by leaving a review for a book you loved.
- Kweli The Color of Children’s Literature conference has opened for registration. This is a conference that focuses on presenting authors of color and discussing topics relevant to writing diverse books. Aida Salazar’s workshop is called The Woven Verse: How to Craft a Novel In Verse.
- Educators and authors are starting to create a buzz around the NCTE (National Council for Teachers of English) convention taking place in Baltimore Nov. 21 -24. This year’s theme is “Spirited Inquiry.” There will be thousands of educators and authors sharing their expertise.
Today's New Releases
Corrina: It is time for my favorite part of the show - talking about books! But before we get into some of the new releases coming out today, I want to talk about your middle grade book first. The Moon Within came out last February and has been one of my favorite and most recommended of the past year. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Aida: Thank you! The Moon Within is a story about eleven-year-old dancer, Celi Rivera, a girl on the cusp of adolescence who has big questions about her changing body, her best friend’s exploration of what it means to to genderfluid and her first crush. Her mother wants to give Celi a Moon Ceremony when her period arrives. It is an ancestral Mexica ritual that her mother and their community have reclaimed but in which Celi promises she will not participate! Celi must look to her community, to the universe and inside herself to take a stand for who she wants to be.
Teacher’s Guide: http://www.aidasalazar.com/teachers-guide.html
- Buzzing With Questions The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by author by Janice N. Harrington illustrated by Theodore Taylor III. The book follows African-American entomologist and zoologist Charles Henry Turner (1867–1923), who pursued his passion for entomology and experimentation, attending college and publishing more than 50 scientific papers while facing prejudice in the American South.
- Not a Bean by author Claudia Guadalupe Martinez. It turns out that a Mexican jumping bean is not a bean at all, but a home and food source for a special kind of caterpillar.
- Queer Eye Culture Expert Karamo Brown has his debut picture book out called I Am Perfectly Designed - written with his son and illustrated by Anoosha Syed.
- Minh Lê has a new book out today! He’s the author of Let Me Finish! and Drawn Together (with Dan Santat) - both of which are amazing. So I have no doubt that his new release - The Perfect Seat - will be just as amazing.
Chapter Books / Middle Grade
- M is for Movement by author/illustrator Inosanto Nagara. From the creator of the best selling board book, A is for Activist, comes a book about a child born at the dawn of a social movement. This fictionalized memoir takes the child through adulthood and demonstrates the impact that movements for justice had on his life.
- The Forgotten Girl by author India Hill Brown came out this week too. Just on the tail end of Halloween, this is a creepy ghost story in the woods but also about restoring justice to a segregated cemetery.
- There’s also a fantasy adventure out today called The Starspun Web by Irish author Sinead O’Hart that looks really good! It’s about an orphan,Tess, who has a pet tarantula and must protect a portal to a parallel world from evil forces.
- The second Daniel Coldstar book is out today - called The Betrayer.
- Lily the Thief by Janne Kukkonen - a swashbuckling fantasy about a young girl trying to make a name for herself in a secret society of thieves
- Molly Knox Ostertag’s third book in her Witch series is out this week - book one was The Witch Boy, then we got The Hidden Witch and out this week is The Midwinter Witch.
- While we eagerly await the ninth and final Star Wars movie this December, fans can whet their appetite by checking out a book called Secrets of the Jedi that included pop-ups, a translator card, and some other fun interactive features.
- And for theatre fans, today we get an alphabet book that is a beautiful homage to the heroines of the stage called A is for Audra: Broadway’s Leading Ladies from A to Z
- One title that I will definitely be getting for my classroom is a funny nonfiction picture book called Pluto Gets the Call by Adam Rex and Laurie Keller.
Other Media New Releases
TV Shows / MOVIES
- On Netflix, there is an original animated feature released this Friday, November 15th called Klaus. I checked out the trailer last night and it looks really cute! It’s rated PG and is kind of a re-imagining of the Santa Claus origin story with lots of laughs and a nice message. It reminded me a bit of a mix of Frozen and Arthur Christmas.
- And if you like ANY Disney owned content then you should know that the Disney+ streaming service is available….. TODAY! And word is they are moving all their properties away from other providers so if you want to watch anything by Disney, Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic, or Star Wars - Disney+ will be the option. It’s $7 a month or $70 a year.
- I just finished reading Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee. This is a critical story that revolves around issues raised by the #MeToo movement. It is an important book and really, a tool for all youth to learn about speaking out against harassment and learning about consent. I’m waiting for my 14 year old daughter to finish reading it so that I can then make my husband and son read it as well. Our family is in for a good conversation, for sure! I also just read The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Barcarcel (who is part of Las Musas, the debut Latinx kidlit author group I helped found). This a lovely book about being bi-cultural and finding your sense of belonging between two worlds. And right now, my 11 year old son and I are listening to two books simultaneously — Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia and an oldie but goodie, The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis. Tristan Strong just hit the bestseller list this week and I can see why! It is nuanced about African inspired mythology and an action-packed adventure. My son and I are crazy about it!
- My daughters and I are almost done with Summer of a Thousand Pies - which is the perfect book to read before Thanksgiving and has inspired us to attempt making our own pie crusts.
Something I’ve been pondering this week is the nuances of informal internet writing found in emails, texts, and social media. How the language is evolving and the generational differences I am witnessing. I’ve been reading a fascinating nonfiction book for adults written by linguist Gretchen McCulloch called Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language. It’s all about how internet language has evolved, how someone communicates online depends on when that person first came online, and - it totally explained why my aunts are CONSTANTLY using multiple hyphens and ellipses. It’s so eye-opening!! So whether you are an educator or author or someone just interested communication trends - this is a fantastic book that helps explain the nuances of language we see and use everyday. Or, as an author - try to replicate authentically.
The topic of censorship is important to me, especially in the school setting. I recently attended an educator’s conference and while at a roundtable to share my book, I had the opportunity to speak to about twenty five different educators. A woman in the first group said outright that she could not bring my book to her district because of the word “genderfluid” in the description and that teachers were too busy teaching to take on the fight for a controversial book. I then asked each group of educators who sat at my table if they could bring this book into their classroom and every single one said honestly, they could not. I realized then that my book was being censored not officially but unofficially. It prompted me to write an essay in response which was published in the National Coalition Against Censorship this week as well. https://ncac.org/news/author-aida-salazar-on-censoring-gender-fluidity-in-schools)
Thank all of you for listening and sharing your Tuesday with us!
You can find an outline of the show and links to all the books and topics we chatted about at allthewonders.com. If you have a question or comment, I’d love to hear from you! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Twitter or Instagram. And reviews on iTunes or Stitcher are always much appreciated.
The All the Wonders This Week podcast is brought to you by All The Wonders, where children's books are for everyone. Journey beyond the page with podcasts, videos, crafts, and more at allthewonders.com.
See you next week!