Language and Activism: Edwidge Danticat #JACBA Newsletter 6Apr2017

April 28th, 8:00am CST: Video announcement and press release made public
Watch this space for a special announcement regarding the announcement of this year’s Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Winners and Honorees!

Language and Activism: Interview with Edwidge Danticat

ED: For me, thinking about what the artist-citizen role is, is something that I’ve always thought about. But I feel like we live in a climate that now is demanding action because you see all that your neighbors are going through. Language is where I’ve always turned to for inspiration, for solace.

Writing is the biggest weapon I have. For me, it just felt like one of the ways that I do self-care and also get inspired for what seems now a daily struggle that I see in my community, is by revisiting the works of writers like Audre Lorde, or Gwendolyn Brooks, or Langston Hughes, and others who really had similar struggles in their own time, and to go back and revisit what they’ve done, to inspire us to move on.

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Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation written by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Staub 2016 Awardee

Line Breaks for Resistance: How Black Poetry Lets Us Rescue Ourselves

With close to 300 books at my feet, I realized certain books are more important to me than others. Poetry, specifically black poetry, is sacred to me. Ntozage Shange, June Jordan, Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, Pat Parker, Sonia Sanchez, and Alice Walker are my cannon of black poetic resistance.

In “Won’t You Celebrate With Me,” Lucille Clifton reminds us our survival is worthy of celebration and remembrance:

come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

Poetry… gives us the space to be candid about our shit without having to apologize for it.

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Amifika by Lucille Clifton 1978 Awardee


Easy to pick up and hard to put down, these middle grade verse novels are great for reluctant readers because there are fewer words on each page, and avid readers who enjoy complex, emotional stories.

Lion Island, Cuba’s Warrior of Words – Margarita Engle 2016
HISTORICAL – Antonio Chuffat, a young man of African, Chinese, and Cuban descent becomes a champion of civil rights.

Mountain Dog – Margarita Engle 2013
When Tony’s mother is sent to jail, he must stay with a great uncle he has never met and a search-and-rescue dog named Gabe.

The Wild Book – Margarita Engle 2012
Fefa struggles with reading, but when her mother gives her a book with no words in it, Fefa grows her own garden of words. (Fifth grade and up.)

The Surrender Tree – Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom – Margarita Engle 2008
HISTORICAL – Following Rosa’s life from 1850 to 1899, this award-winning book tells of the struggles for Cuban independence. (For readers ages 9 and up.)

Tropical Secrets – Holocaust Refugees in Cuba – Margarita Engle 2009
HISTORICAL – A complex tale narrated by a 13-year old Jewish Refugee, Daniel, and 12-year old Paloma, a Cuban girl whose father is the worst kind of criminal. (For readers ages 9 to 12.)

Full Cicada Moon – Marilyn Hilton 2015
HISTORICAL – Half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, moves to Vermont in 1969 and dreams of becoming an astronaut. (For readers 8 to 12.)

Inside Out and Back Again – Thanhha Lai 2011
Ten-year-old Ha and her family are refugees from Vietnam during the war when they move to Alabama. (For readers ages 9-12.)

The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family and Farewells – Debbie Levy 2011
HISTORICAL – Jutta is only twelve in 1938 when her loved ones scatter in the wind on the brink of the second World War.

The Crazy Man – Pamela Porter 2005
Emaline, 12, is maimed in a freak farm accident. Her father shoots the dog and storms off and doesn’t return. Her mother, in need of help around the farm, takes in Angus, a gentle giant from the mental hospital.

The Red Pencil – Andrea Davis Pinkney 2015
After losing nearly everything in her village in Sudan, Amira walks to the safety of a refugee camp. (Ages 9 – 12)

You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen – Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jeffery Boston Weatherford 2016
NONFICTION – The story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the pioneering African-American pilots of WWII.

Running Back to Ludie – Jacqueline Woodson 2001
The unnamed narrator meets her mother for the first time. (For readers 9-12.)

Locomotion – Jacqueline Woodson 2004
Lonnie Collins Motion is a New York City fifth grader who lost his parents in a house fire. Coretta Scott King Honor book. (For readers 10 and up.)

Brown Girl Dreaming – Jacqueline Woodson 2014
MEMOIR/HISTORICAL – Woodson’s love of stories created the first sparks of the writer she was to become. Coretta Scott King Award, Newbery honor, and National Book Award.

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Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle 2015 Awardee

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom, written by Margarita Engle 2009 Awardee

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton 2015 Awardee

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai 2012 Awardee

We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton 2014 Awardee

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney 2011 Awardee

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride, by Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney 2010 Awardee

Birmingham, 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford 2008 Awardee

Each Kindness written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis 2013 Awardee

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson 1996 Awardee

I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson 1995 Awardee

SA Book Festival Poets: Poetry Puts Blood Back in Our Words

Naomi Shihab Nye explained via email that we need poetry now more than ever because “we need language of truth, language which sings genuine hope in a time of Public Speak (empty, empty) which keeps trying to use words (like "explode,” “bloodbath,” “carnage”) to stir fear and division.“

Continuing, Nye explained that, in hard times, poetry can meet important needs because it "respects life in all its dimensions of difference and possibility – poetry trembles at the heart of friendship and memory and love and care.”

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Habibi written by Naomi Shihab Nye 1998 Awardee

Library offers lessons on community, gardening

Library and Three Rivers Education Foundation teaming up to give away 2,000 copies of ‘Seedfolks’ by Paul Fleischman

The small book, “Seedfolks” by Paul Fleischman, does not look intimidating, but library Director Karen McPheeters said it has a powerful message that can reach a broad reader audience. “Seedfolks” relates the story of a vacant lot filled with garbage that is transformed into a community garden. The book’s structure features 13 different voices, including those of immigrants. Fleischman will appear at the library at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 24.

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Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman 1998 Awardee

Publishers Weekly: Rights Report: Week of March 28, 2017

Susan Dobinick at Bloomsbury has bought Down the Hill: One Girl’s Story of Walking into History, a middle-grade nonfiction-in-verse book by I Dissent author Debbie Levy (l.) and Jo Ann Allen Boyce. The book is about Boyce’s experiences as one of the Clinton 12, a group of black high school students who, in 1956, broke the color barrier in public schools in the South by integrating Clinton High School in Tennessee. Publication is slated in winter 2019; Caryn Wiseman at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency represented both authors in the deal for world rights.

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We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton 2014 Awardee

9 Gifts That Teach Kids About Strong Women

1. Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead, by Michelle Markel

This beautiful picture book is filled with historical references and inspiration for the next great leader in training.

4. I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, by Debbie Levy

This is the first picture book story of the cherished Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. While she may have grown up during a time when women were expected to stay at home, Ginsburg aspired to have a law career. Eventually, she entered the supreme court, but her journey was filled with rebellion. By showing her dissent, the book highlights the power of not always falling in line.

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We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton 2014 Awardee

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet 2014 Awardee

Performing Arts Weekly: March 23, 2017

The ‘Mockingbird’ Lands

First Stage and Autism Society riff on Harper Lee

Dutch American author Kathryn Erskine won 2010’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for her novel, Mockingbird. The main character, Caitlin Smith, is a 10-year-old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome who recently lost her older brother in most tragic circumstances. The work is most certainly one for modern times. This is not only due to the acknowledgement of the existence of Asperger’s, but also because of school bullying and violence-in this case, a school shooting-that, alas, strike an all-too-familiar chord.

As for the novel’s title, the allusion to Harper Lee’s classic is not coincidental. Erskine drew from To Kill a Mockingbird’s central themes: the destruction of an innocent and, in light of such catastrophes, the opportunity for psychological and spiritual growth. First Stage presents Julie Jensen’s adaptation of Mockingbird at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in partnership with the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin.

March 24-April 9 at Todd Wehr Theatre, 929 N. Water St. For tickets, visit or call 414-273-7206.

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Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine 2014 Awardee

Girl Rising Film Viewing and Book Discussion with Author Tanya Lee Stone in Montpelier

Bear Pond Books is pleased to present award-winning Vermont author Tanya Lee Stone, who will lead a screening and discussion of the film Girl Rising, along with her companion book, Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time on April 8th.

Girl Rising follows the stories of nine girls in developing countries, allowing viewers the opportunity to witness how education can break the cycle of poverty, and how the power of education can change the future for girls, families, communities and entire nations. The documentary and book together make a powerful movement toward a global campaign for education access.

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Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone 2010 Awardee

Since 1953, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award annually acknowledges
books published in the U.S. during the previous year. Books commended by the
Award address themes of topics that engage children in thinking about peace,
justice, world community and/or equality of the sexes and all races. The books
also must meet conventional standards of literacy and artistic excellence.

A national committee chooses winners and honor books for younger and older children.

Read more about the 2016 Awards.

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