Monday, June 29, 2020

Book of the Week: When You Trap a Tiger


by Tae Keller

Published by Random House, 2020
304 pages
ISBN: 9781524715700

    Ages 9-12



When biracial (Korean/white) Lily, her older sister Sam, and their mom move to Washington state to live with Hamoni, who is sick, Lily begins seeing a large tiger, which demands Lily open the jars in Halmoni’s basement and release the stories inside. Like her grandmother, Lily believes in magic. Although she knows tigers are tricksters in Korean tales, Lily says she’ll release the stories if the tiger will make Halmoni better. Lily’s effort to adjust to the move is made more challenging because teenage Sam, with whom she used to be close, seems angry all the time, while their mother is overwhelmed by Halmoni’s illness--revealed to be a brain tumor that impacts Halmoni’s behavior, and only seems to amplify the differences between the two. The small-town library becomes the source of a quirky new friend for Lily, a hopeful new beginning for Sam, and another perspective on Halmoni who, it turns out, has been a central figure in the community for years, known for sharing traditional Korean stories, food, and healing—all things Lily thought might not have a place in the predominantly white small town. The tiger, meanwhile, proves benevolent, not a trickster: The stories it wants released are painful memories Halmoni locked away: of her childhood in Korea, and loss through separation and immigration. In this moving, masterfully paced tale, Lily discovers healing can happen in the heart and mind, even if a body can’t endure. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 22, 2020

Book of the Week: The Henna Wars


by Adiba Jaigirdar

Published by Page Street Books, 2020
389 pages
ISBN: 978-1-62414-968-9

Age 12 and older




Nishat is thrilled to see new student Flávia at her Catholic girls’ school in Dublin. They met at the wedding of Nishat’s cousin, and Nishat was immediately smitten. Like Nishat, Flávia is dark-skinned (her father white, her mother Afro-Brazilian), and the two stand out among their many white Irish classmates. At home, Nishat recently came out to her conservative parents, who emigrated from Bangladesh to Ireland; they don’t want her to bring shame on the family by being gay. At school, Nishat learns Flávia is the cousin of Chyna, who has made Nishat’s life a living hell of micro-aggressions and exclusion. Nishat’s interest in Flávia is further complicated when Nishat starts a Mehndi business for a class project and Flávia and Chyna do the same. For Nishat, the elaborate henna drawings she makes on customers’ hands are an important part of her cultural tradition. She’s upset that Flávia and Chyna think it’s ok to appropriate what they only see as pretty decorations, which Flávia learned about at the Bangladeshi wedding. Nishat and Flávia are fierce competitors even as their attraction intensifies, and Nishat can’t help but question whether Flávia’s feelings are genuine when both are willing to do whatever it takes to win, including sabotage and retribution. This unusual, compelling teen romance draws readers in with fully developed characters navigating queer politics, race, and culture. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Numbers Are In: 2019 CCBC Diversity Statistics

Each spring, the CCBC releases the numbers of children's and YA books by and about BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) received in the previous year. We're later than usual with the 2019 numbers due to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, work-from-home limitations mean we can't update the publishing statistics on our website. In the meantime, we hope that this blog will serve as a space to announce the 2019 numbers and provide a few visuals.

Brief explanations of our numbers and charts are included in this post. For a more thorough explanation, please see the Diversity Statistics FAQ on our website.

For the first time this year, we are counting books by and about Pacific Islanders. Previously, these books were included in the Asian/Asian American count; we learned that that was not an accurate way to represent them. Thank you to Uyenthi Tran Myhre for correcting us. We retroactively examined the 2018 numbers in order to extract Pacific Islander numbers from Asian/Asian American numbers for comparison in this post.


Children’s Books By and/or About People of Color and from
First/Native Nations Received by the CCBC
2019

US Publishers Only
Last updated: June 15, 2020

Year
Books
Received
at CCBC
Black / African
American Indian / First Nations
Asian /
Asian American
Latinx
Pacific Islander
By
About
By
About
By
About
By
About
By
About
2019
3,716
212
452
28
44
379
334
225
235
4
5

All Publishers
Last Updated: June 15, 2020

Year
Books
Received
at CCBC
Black / African
American Indian / First Nations
Asian /
Asian American
Latinx
Pacific Islander
By
About
By
About
By
About
By
About
By
About
2019
4,034
219
472
45
66
428
363
238
237
4
5

Please note that a single book may be counted in more than one category (e.g., one book may have two protagonists, one Black and one Native; a single author may identify as Afro-Latinx). Therefore, "by" and "about" numbers in the charts will not add up to the total number of books received. Likewise, percentages will not add up to 100.

The two charts below compare 2019 to 2018 "about" numbers (US publishers only). We count a book as "about" Black/African, for example, if a primary character, significant secondary character, subject, and/or setting is Black/African.

Black/African 2018: 390. 2019: 452. First/Native Nations 2018: 34. 2019: 44. Asian/Asian American 2018: 284. 2019: 334. Latinx 2018: 243. 2019: 235. Pacific Islander 2018: 5. 2019: 5.

In the chart above, take a look at the first two bars on the left, labeled "Black/African." In 2018 (blue), we received 390 books that had significant Black/African content, including primary characters, significant secondary characters, subjects, and/or settings. In 2019 (red), we received 452 such books.

This may seem like a significant increase, but it actually represents just a 0.5% change. Since the total number of books we receive varies from year to year, it is helpful to consider percentages rather than raw numbers when comparing years.

Black/African 2018: 11.7 percent. 2019: 12.2 percent. First/Native Nations 2018: 1 percent. 2019: 1.2 percent. Asian/Asian American 2018: 8.5 percent. 2019: 9 percent. Latinx 2018: 7.3 percent. 2019: 6.3 percent. Pacific Islander 2018: 0.1 percent. 2019: 0.1 percent.

Above, take a look at the two bars on the left, labeled "Black/African." In 2018 (blue), 11.7% of the total books we received were about Black/African characters, subjects, and/or settings. In 2019 (red), that number increased to 12.2%.

Black/African 2018: 193. 2019: 212. First/Native Nations 2018: 23. 2019: 28. Asian/Asian American 2018: 342. 2019: 379. Latinx 2018: 190. 2019: 225. Pacific Islander 2018: 1. 2019: 4. White 2018: 2,803. 2019: 3,091.

The above chart shows the number of books by--which means written and/or illustrated--at least one individual who identifies with the specified category. Take a look at the first two columns on the left, labeled "Black/African." In 2018 (blue), we received 193 books written and/or illustrated by at least one individual who is Black/of African descent. In 2019 (red), we received 212 such books.

Black/African 2018: 5.8 percent. 2019: 5.7 percent. First/Native Nations 2018: 0.7 percent. 2019: 0.8 percent. Asian/Asian American 2018: 10.3 percent. 2019: 10.2 percent. Latinx 2018: 5.7 percent. 2019: 6.1 percent. Pacific Islander 2018: 0.03 percent. 2019: 0.1 percent. White 2018: 84 percent. 2019: 83.2 percent.

The above chart shows the percentage of the total number of books we received. Take a look at the first two columns on the left, labeled "Black/African." In 2018 (blue), 5.8% of the total books we received were written and/or illustrated by at least one person who is Black/of African descent. In 2019 (red), that number dropped slightly to 5.7%.

Now let's take a closer look at primary characters (US publishers only). Below are the number of books that had at least one primary character who could be identified as belonging to one of the following categories.

Please note: These numbers are not the same as our "about" numbers. In addition to counting primary characters, our "about" numbers also include significant secondary characters, subjects, and/or settings. The numbers below are only primary characters.

Black/African: 441 (11.9% of total books)
First/Native Nations: 37 (1% of total books)
Asian/Asian American: 325 (8.7% of total books)
Latinx: 197 (5.3% of total books)
Pacific Islander: 2 (0.05% of total books)
Brown skin (see note below): 343 (9.2% of total books)
White: 1,555 (41.8% of total books)
LGBTQIAP+: 115 (3.1% of total books)
(Dis)ability: 126 (3.4% of total books)
Animal/Other: 1,085 (29.2% of total books)

Note: "Brown skin" indicates books in which the primary character clearly has brown skin (indicated by illustrations or text), but there are no specific racial or cultural signifiers in the illustrations or text.

For ease of comparison, here are the above percentages in a bar chart:

African: 11.9 percent. Native: 1 percent. Asian: 8.7 percent. Latinx: 5.3 percent. Pacific Islander: 0.05 percent. Brown skin: 9.2 percent. White: 41.8 percent. LGBTQ+: 3.1 percent. (Dis)ability: 3.4 percent. Animal/Other: 29.2 percent.

What does all of this mean? Our numbers continue to show what they have shown for the past 35 years: Despite slow progress, the number of books featuring BIPOC protagonists lags far behind the number of books with white main characters--or even those with animal or other characters. Taken together, books about white children, talking bears, trucks, monsters, potatoes, etc. represent nearly three quarters (71%) of children's and young adult books published in 2019.

Finally, as indicated by the addition of the Pacific Islander category in 2019, we are still learning as we do this work how best to do this work. We are grateful for the feedback and voices of Arab and Arab American colleagues on Twitter and elsewhere who have helped us understand the importance of adding Arab/Arab American as a category; this will be included and reflected in our statistics for 2020 and beyond.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Book of the Week: What Sound Is Morning?


by Grant Snider

Published by Chronicle, 2020
40 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4521-7993-3

Ages 2-5




“In the first morning light, all is quiet. Or is it? Listen. What sound is morning?” Starting in the home, the pages move through the sounds of morning: lights clicking on, a baby babbling, sprinklers hissing, a rooster crowing. As the world wakes up, other sounds join in: a man shouting after a bus, cars and trucks entering the city, hungry stomachs rumbling, frogs plopping into a stream. City sounds, home sounds, and country sounds flow seamlessly from one to the next as the sky brightens, before asking the reader to greet the new day and “fill the world with your song.” A saturated color palette showcases yellow, orange, pink, and red expanding across the horizon, while buildings and streets remain dark green and blue in the foreground. (MVL) ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 8, 2020

Book of the Week: Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You


by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Little, Brown, 2020
294 pages
ISBN: 978-0-316-45369-1

Age 12 and older




This necessary book for our time is labeled a “remix” of Kendi’s 2016 National Book Award winner published for adults, Stamped from the Beginning. It’s an accurate description: Reynolds’ adaptation is intimate and conversational, a significant departure from the original compelling but academic tome. Frequently speaking directly to young readers in his distinctive and recognizable voice, Reynolds makes hard truths accessible in the tone of a trusted friend breaking it down with honesty, and even occasional humor. After documenting the origins of racist ideas, he introduces three categories of people based on their beliefs: racist, assimilationist, and anti-racist. This is followed by a chronological exploration of the racial politics of United States, from the Puritans through the Obama era. Along the way are examples of historical people, from Cotton Mather to W.E.B. DuBois to Angela Davis, showing how each exemplified the definitions of racist, assimilationist, and anti-racist. The narrative stops just before 2016, but readers have been given the foundation to begin to evaluate our current era on their own. Although Stamped is a real departure from Reynolds’ fiction and poetry, it still bears his trademark style, which will make it extremely appealing to his fans, and may even win him some new ones. An Afterword written directly to teens is especially moving and powerful. (KTH) ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 1, 2020

Book of the Week: When Stars Are Scattered


by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

Published by Dial, 2020
264 pages
ISBN: 9780525553915

Ages 9-13




Separated from their mother when soldiers attacked their Somalian village, Omar and his brother, Hassan, live in a sprawling refugee camp in Kenya, watched over by loving foster mother Fatuma. Fiercely protective of Hassan, who has a developmental disability and experiences seizures, Omar hesitates to begin school, but excels in his classes once he does. School provides structure to the otherwise long, monotonous days, which become years, of waiting: to be called for an interview, to be told they can be resettled in North America or Europe, to be reunited with their mother, whose fate is unknown, although Omar searches for answers every chance he has. This personal memoir, a collaboration between Omar Mohamed, who now works in refugee resettlement, and graphic novelist Victoria Jamieson, details the specifics of Omar and Hassan’s lives, including their friendships with others in the camp. In doing so, it illuminates the hardships of refugee life in general—crowding, food and water shortages, hopelessness—the challenge for people with disabilities, and the particular situations of girls and women. Colorful, expressive illustrations, a satisfying ending, and Mohamed’s illuminating author’s note with photographs, balance the very real trauma and pain of this moving story. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center