Monday, May 18, 2015

Book of the Week

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights

by Ann Bausum

Viking, 2015
120 pages
ISBN: 978-0-670-01679-2

Age 13 and older

A history of the Stonewall riots sets the scene with a vibrant description of west Greenwich Village in 1969. That summer, the Stonewall Inn was a place to drink and to dance and for gays, lesbians, cross-dressers and transgenders, a place to be free and open. Everyone knew police raids happened, but the raid on June 28 was different, with its aim to shut the Mafia-run bar down. And it was different because this time bar patrons, who were so often disrespected and closeted outside places like the Stonewall, pushed back. Stonewall customers and their supporters took control against the police, who hadn’t planned on the crowd getting so angry and who didn’t know the warren of streets in the neighborhood as well as those who lived or hung out there. Ann Bausum’s riveting, detailed account includes an overview of activism in the years leading up to Stonewall, and a look at the riots’ immediate and long-term impact. This includes increased visibility and activism in events like the annual parade that began to commemorate Stonewall—the genesis for gay pride parades across the nation and beyond; the more radical activism that arose during the AIDS crisis, when lives were on the line; Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and its repeal; and the fight for marriage equality. A spare collection of black-and-white photos accompanies this fascinating history that includes source notes and an ample bibliography. (MS) ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Book of the Week

The New Small Person

 by Lauren Child

Published by Candlewick Press, 2015
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7810-4

Ages 3-7

Elmore Green enjoys being an only child. He doesn’t have to worry about anyone messing with his stuff, and “Elmore Green’s parents thought he was simply the funniest, cleverest, most adorable person they had ever seen.” When a “new small person” arrives, Elmore Green’s perfectly ordered life is turned upside down. “They all seemed to like it…maybe a little bit MORE than they liked Elmore Green.” As the new small person gets bigger, he disrupts Elmore’s things, he licks Elmore’s jelly beans, he follows Elmore around, he moves into Elmore’s room. It’s awful, until the night Elmore has a bad dream, and the small person comforts him. Not long after, Elmore is arranging his precious things in a long line, and the small person adds his own things to the effort. “It felt good to have someone there who understood why a long line of things was SO special.” And it turns out that someone has a name: Albert. A fresh, funny take on a familiar family scenario features two brown-skinned brothers in droll, spirited illustrations that are a perfect match for the narrative’s tone. Lauren Child’s story is joyful even as it acknowledges very real feelings of frustration and uncertainty that come with a new sibling.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Thursday, May 7, 2015

"You Are Me"

Over on the Read On Wisconsin website, CCBC librarian Emily Townsend has posted a great interview she arranged between author Mitali Perkins and a local high school senior, Ali Khan.

Ali participated in last spring's book trailer workshop which we did in conjunction with Madison Public Library and Simpson Street Free Press. Ali is a natural comedian (who aspires to host The Daily Show one day) so it wasn't surprising to us that the book he chose to read and create a trailer for was Open Mic: Riffs on Life between Cultures in Ten Voices (Candlewick, 2013). It's an anthology of funny short stories for teens by authors of color.  And, not surprisingly, his trailer is hilarious.

He was so inspired by the book that he started a discussion group at his high school to talk about race in an informal after-school setting. So we arranged over spring break to bring Ali to the CCBC so he could talk to Mitali directly via Skype. Funny as they both are (and imagine the two of them together) their discussion turned serious at one point when they talked candidly about race. And it turned downright poignant when Ali went on to tell Mitali how much her writing meant to him, saying "You are me." Talk about literature providing a mirror!

Thanks, Mitali, for being such an inspiration. And thanks, Ali, for a great book trailer and author interview. We look forward to seeing you one day on The Daily Show.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Book of the Week: Written in the Stars

Written in the Stars

by Aisha Saeed

Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, 2015

304 pages  ISBN: 978-0399171703

Age 14 and older

When Pakistani American Naila’s parents find out she has a boyfriend they see it not only as a huge betrayal of trust but also worry how far from their culture and control she is moving. It doesn’t matter that Saif is Pakistani, too. Genuinely afraid for Naila, her parents take her to visit family in Pakistan the summer before she starts college. Naila doesn’t understand until it’s too late why they keep postponing their return: They’re arranging a marriage for her. After a failed escape attempt, Naila is drugged by her uncle and forced to marry Amin. He is a kind and patient young man who feels trapped in his own way by tradition. But when Amin’s mother threatens to send depressed Naila back to her family, Amin rapes Naila to consummate the marriage. It’s a short, powerful scene that underscores the warped way conservative tradition has shaped his perspective: He thinks he has no choice. Aisha Saeed reveals complexities of characters, situations, and culture in a riveting and moving debut novel. Naila has immense strength and Saif is not her savior but her ally in self-determination when he and his father finally help her get away. An insightful and powerful author’s note provides personal, cultural, and global perspectives on the distinction between arranged marriages in which a young woman has a choice, and forced marriages that still take place in many countries, including our own.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center