Book Highlight: part 1
This first installment of our multi-part series on the 2017 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Ceremony features an introduction given by Book Award Committee Member Julie Olsen-Edwards for Wolf Hollow, written by Lauren Wolk, published by Random House Children’s Books, named an Honor Book in the Books for Older Children.
Introduction by Julie Olsen-Edwards
Wolf Hollow, written by Lauren Wolk and published by Dutton Children’s Books, an imprint of Dutton, Random House is a beautifully written, compelling, coming of age novel set in rural World War II Pennsylvania. It is the story of the damage done by war – even after the soldiers come home; about the power of fear and bias to close the eyes of good people to what is happening around them, and of a young girl’s discovery of her own moral compass and courage.
Almost twelve-year-old Annabelle encounters almost incorrigible cruelty for the first time when a school mate, Betty, focuses on Annabelle and her younger brothers and then places blame on Toby, a troubled, homeless, World War I veteran. As false accusations take hold of the town, Annabelle’s awareness of the world’s unfairness grows and step by step leads her to act according to her deep sense of moral responsibility. Despite supportive parents and her own courageous actions, Annabelle cannot prevent a chain of tragic events, and yet still, she comes to understand her personal need to take a stand and her surprising strengths.
“At times, I was so confused that I felt like the stem of a pinwheel surrounded by whir and clatter. But through that whole unsettling time, I knew that it would simply not do to hide in the barn with a book and an apple and let events and the world plunge forward without me. It would not do to turn twelve without earning my keep, and by that I meant my place, my small authority, the possibility that I would amount to something… The year I turned twelve, I learned that what I said, and what I did mattered”.
In recognition of the beauty of the language, the power of the story, and the deep importance of the message for all of us in these troubled times, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Committee has selected this book for the Honor Award for Older Readers.
Acceptance speech by Lauren Wolk, read by Heather Palmer
Good evening. I wish I could be in New York with you. But I am in northern Maine, part of the Island Readers and Writers program, meeting with children at small, remote schools to talk about the power of words.
I’m a very lucky woman.
I would like to thank the Jane Addams Peace Association and the Award Committee for honoring my novel, Wolf Hollow. I would also like to thank and congratulate all the other honorees for their beautiful and important work. Finally, I would like to recognize the Reverend John Meachum, Sachiko Yasui, Sarah Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hans and Sophie Scholl, and all the other heroes, both real and fictional, who stand tall in the face of oppression and show us what courage and decency look like.
We need more heroes like them. And we need more books about their accomplishments, and contributions, and sacrifices.
I did not set out to write such a book.
I didn’t sit down at my desk and decide to “effectively engage children in thinking about peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people.”
I sat down to write a story about a girl named Annabelle and what she would do to protect an innocent man from a terrible bully.
In the process of writing her story, I also tried to honor my mother, and the farm where she grew up, and people who look after each other and stand up for each other despite the risk.
But mostly I just wrote a story.
People ask me how I was able to convey what it feels like to be small and powerless.
I give them two answers.
One: that I am blessed with a long memory. That I remember very clearly what it is to be a child. How it feels to confront difficult choices and challenges. How it feels to be confused, to lack the experience and confidence to deal with scary situations. How frustrating it is to be powerless in the face of injustice.
My second answer is that I don’t need a long memory to know what it’s like to feel small, or powerless, or scared.
I feel that way all the time now. I feel that way every time I watch the news. I feel that way every time I open a newspaper. I feel that way when a school removes To Kill a Mockingbird from the curriculum because it makes people feel uncomfortable.
But I have an antidote.
I follow my characters as they come of age, tap their deepest places, mine resources they didn’t know they had, and discover their best selves.
The beauty of writing their stories is that I, too, get to make such discoveries. I, too, get to grow and evolve. And I, too, get to feel brave, and strong, and tall.
As I said: I am a very lucky woman.
‘Maybe it’s time for all of us to talk’
Native American author Tim Tingle, a Choctaw who grew up in Texas, spoke eloquently about the discrimination and abuse faced by his native grandmother, who at one point urged her children to “never tell people you’re Indian” for their own safety.
Tingle, who was invited to speak on campus for Native American Heritage month, said his dream is that it will be marked not by pictures of teepees and buffalo and “nameless people riding horses and shaking spears,” but by Heisman trophy winners, award-winning authors and senators.
“We are a modern people,” he said.
Best fiction picks of fall
“Future Home of the Living God” by Louise Erdrich
Coming Nov. 14
Louise Erdrich can do anything. The National Book Award-winning author with more than 10 novels to her name takes a leap into dystopia with her newest work – and she lands flawlessly. “Future Home” imagines a world where evolution starts rolling backward, and the government – or whoever the government has become – rounds up all pregnant women for study. Caught in the middle is Cedar, a Native American adoptee raised by wealthy white liberals in Minneapolis, who reconnects with her birth family just as the world is coming apart.
Margaret Atwood and leading authors appeal to Xi Jinping to release Liu Xia
Philip Roth, Tom Stoppard and George Saunders write letter to China’s president to show ‘compassion’ for the detained wife of Liu Xiaobo
More than 50 prominent international authors have written a letter to Chinese president Xi Jinping urging him to free Liu Xia, the wife of deceased Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo.
The letter, signed by Chimamanda Adichie, Philip Roth, Margaret Atwood, Tom Stoppard and George Saunders, appealed to Xi’s “conscience” and “sense of compassion” to release Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since 2010 despite never being accused of any crime.
The letter signed by 52 literally and theatre figures was organised by PEN America, a group that advocates for freedom of expression around the world. It was also signed by Teju Cole, Louise Erdrich, Michael Chabon, Chang-rae Lee and Stephen Sondheim.
Fairfax County school district votes to rename J.E.B. Stuart High
A sharply divided Fairfax County School Board voted to wipe the name of a Confederate calvary commander from one of its high schools and call it Justice High – a name supporters say embodies the spirit of those who have championed equal rights.
“Justice,” they said, would also acknowledge others who have stood for equal rights, including Mendez and Barbara Rose Johns, who fought for school integration as a teenager. Mendez and Johns were also among the top vote-getters.
Redlands Adult Literacy Program in the spotlight at Fidelis Iota retired teachers’ meeting
In 2016 the program formed book clubs to increase learners’ reading comprehension and enjoyment. Among the first books read in the book clubs were … “The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child” by Francisco Jimenez.
One learner at the literacy program’s Clement Middle School site wrote a letter to Jiménez, which Shimota included in her request for him to speak to the learners and tutors in Redlands because they enjoyed reading his books so much.
Jimenez came to Redlands Sept. 7 to meet the learners and speak to an audience of 280. One learner said Jimenez’s story is the history of her family, too.
3 ways for young readers to spell “adventure”
“All the Way to Havana” by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Mike Curato. (Ages 4 to 8. Henry Holt. $17.99.)
In Cuba an old sky-blue car, kept running with wire and tape and scraps of metal, “chatters like a busy chicken” when she decides to run at all. Cara Cara has to keep going, though, when her family out in the countryside cranks her up for a trip to a birthday party in Havana, and so many neighbors come along that it feels to a little boy as if he’s “traveling in a barrel of elbows and knees.” On the car rolls until she arrives in a city filled with many more old cars kept running with elbow grease and ingenuity, just in time for a family party and the joy of big-city sights, sounds and tastes. When the party is over, Cara Cara putters back to the village – and although that adventure its over, Papa is back under the hood the next morning, getting her ready for her next trip.
Young readers: Exploring the cosmos, a protest biography and a gambling mystery
In “The Incredible Magic of Being” (ages 8-12, 256 pages, Scholastic Press, $16.99) by National Book Award-winner Kathryn Erskine, protagonist Julian, his moms and his sister have moved from D.C. to Maine. Transitions are hard, and this one could break the family bonds, especially after the new next-door neighbor, Mr. X, threatens to block their efforts to build an addition. The whole reason for the move was to open a B&B and, without the addition, the whole plan will collapse.
Once again, Erskine’s pen bestows compassion and respect to characters of all ages, abilities and aspirations. Much of the story takes place outdoors, at night. Erskine’s sense of place will transport readers to Julian, standing right beside him, gazing up at star clusters and accepting his belief that we are all made of “star stuff” and that anything is possible.
“Mama Africa!: How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song” (ages 6-10, 48 pages, Farrar Straus and Giroux, $18.99), also by Erskine and illustrated by Charly Palmer, introduces readers to South African singer Miriam Makeba, who devoted her life and her voice to the ideal of freedom, in protest of apartheid.
In this work, Erskine and Palmer pose important questions for classrooms and families: Can one voice make a difference? When are singing and dancing dangerous and why? What is privilege? Who makes the rules and holds power? What is your experience of freedom and oppression?
Jacqueline Woodson will publish two new books with Riverhead
“I’m going to write a novel and then I’m going to write something that is true,” Woodson tells EW of the two new books. “That’s pretty much all I can say because I’m deeply superstitious. I feel like once I say out loud, to the public, what I’m working on, it’s never going to be an actual book. So until it’s close to done, I keep pretty quiet about my next stuff!”
JW: “I think it’s much harder to write for young people than it is to write for adults – you have to go back to that place of being a young person yourself and so many adults have either deliberately forgotten that place (probably because it was too painful a time to hold onto) or they just can’t access it. I feel I live in both places – the worlds of adulthood and childhood.”
NOT YOUR TYPICAL AWARDS SHOW: SMITHSONIAN HONORS AVA DUVERNAY, SESAME STREET, JOHN LEGEND AND MORE
12-year-old Marley Dias is being honored in the Youth category for her company #1000BlackGirlBooks.
One of the most exciting moments for Dias so far has been meeting writer Jacqueline Woodson. Woodson, the author of Brown Girl Dreaming and other young adult books with young black protagonists, did a write-up about Dias for the December issue of Smithsonian that tells the story of this year’s honorees. Dias says Woodson is one of the writers who inspired her to begin the project.
“She’s like my fairy godmother in the writing world,” Dias said. “I really appreciate the work that she does and stories she tells.”
Dias hopes she can inspire other kids, much like how Woodson has inspired her: “I want to be a good representation of what black girl excellence looks like,” she said.
SCIBA Helps Young Readers See Themselves on the Shelf
The Children’s Awards Breakfast echoed that sentiment, as the trade association honored a diverse slate of children’s books. Kadir Nelson won the SCIBA Picture Book Award for Blue Sky White Stars (Dial)…
Authors Winslow, Bennett, Nelson win prizes in annual booksellers’ contest
The picture-book award went to Kadir Nelson, who came to San Diego as a child, graduated from Crawford High and spent many years here as a children’s illustrator and author before moving to Los Angeles. He won for his work on “Blue Sky White Stars,” written by Sarvinder Naberhaus, which is about iconic American images, including the flag and the Statue of Liberty.
AFRICAN-AMERICAN FINE ART EXHIBITION DEBUTS AT SAN DIEGO HISTORY CENTER
Legacy in Black, a new exhibition at San Diego History Center in Balboa Park, highlights the artwork of eight African American artists with noteworthy influence on the African American fine art scene in San Diego.
The exhibition runs November 5, 2017 – April 15, 2018.
Kadir Nelson spent his early years in San Diego, before being accepted into the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn NY. He currently exhibits his artwork in galleries and museums nationwide and abroad. Kadir Nelson’s paintings are in the private and public permanent collections of several notable institutions including the Muskegon Museum of Art, The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the International Olympic Committee, and the US House of Representatives.
Faith Ringgold is a native of New York, who while working as an art teacher in public schools, began a series of paintings called American People. This unique series portrayed the civil rights movement from a female perspective. In the 1970s she created African-style masks, painted political posters and actively worked towards the racial integration of the New York art world. During the 1980s she began a series of quilts that are among her best-known works. Later she embarked on a successful career as children’s book author and illustrator.
Dismantling oppression goal of conference
“Bridging Divides, Becoming Allies” is the title of the 2017 Illinois State University Culturally Responsive Campus Community (CRCC) Conference, which will be Nov. 6-7 at ISU’s Bone Student Center.
The event will include panel discussions, presentations and interactive workshops on topics including ageism, LGBTQ issues, race and the wage gap.
The conference will include keynote speakers Carole Boston Weatherford and Franchesca Ramsey.
The National Black Theatre Announces Staged Reading of DAMAGED VIRTUES
“Damaged Virtues,” author / playwright Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s fact based drama examining the patients and practices of Dr. J. Marion Sims – considered the father of modern gynecology – will be presented as a staged reading at the National Black Theatre (2031 Fifth Avenue) in Harlem on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 as part of the “Keep Soul Alive” Reading Series.
The Breadwinner: Through the Eyes of a Young Afghan Girl
Twomey and the film’s screenwriter Anita Doron (The Lesser Blessed) worked with many Afghan cultural and historic consultants to keep the story’s authenticity and socio-political resonance. “The book was published in 2000, and many things have happened since then, such as 9/11, the formation of ISIS, etc. And for us, the big challenge was making a film that respected all the gray areas,” says the Irish-born director. “We tried hard to acknowledge the political complexity of the situation and to respect that history of that country before the events that we’re portraying in the movie.”
She also points out some of the universal dilemmas that Parvana deals with in the movie. “The simplicity of a girl’s love for her father, the need for approval from her parents, her complex relationship with her annoying older sister, and the necessity to fill your body with food every day-these were all very interesting challenges,” says Twomey.
Who’s Alice Childress? We should all know
The civil rights-era playwright’s Wedding Band is an indispensable look at what we’ve been missing.
Written in 1962 but unseen onstage until 1966 because, the story goes, Broadway theaters were afraid to touch it (the premiere finally took place at the University of Michigan), Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White is set during the summer of 1918 in South Carolina. The United States is throwing troops into World War I and Jim Crow confines urban blacks to dirt-poor ghettos.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor working on 3 books for young people
She will be adapting her best-selling memoir “My Beloved World” for middle-graders. She will collaborate with illustrator Lulu Delacre on a picture-book autobiography about important books for her, “Turning Pages.” And she and illustrator Rafael Lopez plan a picture book about “childhood differences.” The two memoirs are scheduled for next fall. The book about childhood differences is expected in 2019.
What’s Up in Lansing: Writerly friends George Ella Lyon and Diane Gilliam
When published award-winning author George Ella Lyon met Diane Gilliam – an equally lauded poet – they became fast friends. Cut to today, and the duo is coming to MSU to chat about why their friendship, and friendships between writers in general, is important. This is part MSU’s Fall Writing Series, in which they bring renowned speakers to campus to chat about their craft.
Writerly Friends: An Informal Conversation with George Ella Lyon and Diane Gilliam. Part of the Fall Writing Series.
Want to teach your children U.S. history? Here’s where to start.
The Escape of Oney Judge (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 32 pp., $17.97), written and illustrated by the unsurpassed Emily Arnold McCully, tells the story of Martha Washington’s young slave girl, Oney. Brought from Mount Vernon to New York City (and then Philadelphia, to which the capital moved) as Mrs. Washington’s personal maid when General Washington is elected president, Oney encounters free blacks for the first time and senses the life that lies beyond her bondage in and to the Washington household. The Escape of Oney Judge is a deeply moving portrayal of the human orientation toward freedom.
Then there is Dave, another enslaved person whose legacy was his clay pots and the poems he scratched on them. The story of this 19th-century craftsman is told by Laban Carrick Hill in Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 40 pp., $18.99). This is a generous book, with lyrical language and gorgeous, powerful illustrations by Bryan Collier. It is simply beautiful to look at and a treat to read aloud.
More than 20 years ago, Deborah Hopkinson, another children’s literature “hall-of-famer,” collaborated with the illustrator James Ransome to create a picture book about a little-known episode in American history. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (Alfred A. Knopf, 40 pp., $7.99) tells of Clara, a young girl who is separated from her mother as a child and becomes a seamstress on a 19th-century plantation. The story of how Clara gathers the information she needs to complete her “freedom quilt” and makes her way north is inspiring. This book has become a much-loved classic for a reason.
“Tell me a story,” a young child begs. And so I end with a grandmother’s tale about the weaving of sweetgrass baskets, an art brought to coastal South Carolina hundreds of years ago by enslaved Africans. In rhythmic, enchanting prose, the author Margot Theis Raven draws the reader into an Africa of long ago and far away…
Maine’s children’s literature scene more vibrant than ever
Maine children’s authors and illustrators have won some of the most prized awards in children’s literature in recent years. Author and illustrator Ashley Bryan, of Little Cranberry Island, won a Newbery Honor Award in January for his children’s book “Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life.” Melissa Sweet of Portland, whose illustrations appear in two new books this year, won a Caldecott Honor in 2015 for her work on “The Right Word: Roget and His Thesauraus.” Portland author Phillip Hoose won a 2009 National Book Award for young-people’s literature for “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice.” The book also won a Newbery Honor.
The Jane Addams Children’s Book Award annually recognizes children’s books of literary and aesthetic excellence that effectively engage children in thinking about peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people.