Diversity Digest – September 2014

Geetings, DiYA readers! Today we’re launching a brand-new end-of-the-month roundup called the Diversity Digest (we enjoy the alliteration), which will not only round up all the links we post on tumblr over the month, but also recap buzzy book deals and cover reveals. The Diversity Links posts have been going that direction anyway, but we’ve decided to make it official.

(And honestly, Malinda writes this, so she’s not sure why she’s using the royal “we” and has now somehow switched to third person. Ahem.)

Is This Mic On?

Earlier this month, Latino author René Saldaña, Jr. wrote a thought-provoking post at Latin@s in Kid Lit titled, “Forgive Me My Bluntness: I’m a Writer of Color and I’m Right Here In Front of You: I’m the One Sitting Alone at the Table.” Saldaña asks if all those librarians seeking out diversity have looked around recently — authors of color and diverse books are already available, and often being ignored.

Award-winning poet Nikki Grimes drives the point home in her post, “Mister Cellophane” (it’s a song from Chicago with a chorus declaring, “Mister cellophane / ’cause you can look right through me / Walk right by me / And never know I’m there”). Grimes writes, “Could it be that some lack the motivation to seek out the books that are already there?”

Difficult questions, but important ones.

Awards Season Begins!

The National Book Foundation released their longlists for the National Book Award including 10 titles in the Young People’s Literature category. Congratulations to all the longlisters (semi-finalists?), which include several diverse books.

Congratulations also to Cuban American author Margarita Engle, who was honored by the PEN Center USA with the top prize in their Children’s/Young Adult Literature category for her book The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist. You can read more about it at SLJ.

We Know You Judge Books by Their Covers

We were on hiatus in August when the cover for Sarah Ockler’s upcoming novel, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, was released, but it’s too good to not show you now:

ockler-summerofchasing

Isn’t that cute? It’s coming out in June 2015 from Simon Pulse.

The trend of actually having characters of color on their book covers (!!) continued earlier this month with the reveal of Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham, starring “Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas.”

latham-scarlettundercover

Scarlett looks like she’s up to something. The book comes out in May 2015 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Asian American author Kelly Loy Gilbert also had a cover reveal this month, for her debut novel Conviction, which will be published by Disney Hyperion in May 2015.

gilbert-conviction

Isn’t that striking? You can read all about the cover design process with Gilbert’s designer over at the NaNoWriMo blog.

Finally, the cover for Matt de la Peña‘s forthcoming novel The Hunted (Delacorte), the sequel to his thriller The Living, has also been released — and The Living has gotten a makeover for its paperback edition.

delapena-livingduo

Don’t they look cinematic? The Living comes out in paperback Jan. 16, 2015, and The Hunted will be published May 12, 2015.

These Are the Links You’ve Been Looking For

British children’s and young adult author Malorie Blackman was the victim of irresponsible headline writing over the summer that resulted in some awful, racist Twitter trolling. However, Ms. Blackman says that Racist abuse will not stop me seeking more diversity in children’s literature (The Guardian).

Gene Luen Yang, author of the recently released The Shadow Hero, a comic book about America’s first Asian American superhero, gave an inspiring speech at the 2014 National Book Festival Gala earlier this month.

Author Sara Farizan (If You Could Be Mine and the upcoming Tell Me How a Crush Should Feel) reminded us that everyone wants to be a hero sometime.

Here’s a thoughtful interview with award-winning author Meg Medina (Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass) at the National Endowment for the Arts Magazine.

YA Interrobang interviews Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, co-founders of CAKE Literary, a boutique book packaging company that focuses on telling diverse stories.

Journalist and upcoming debut author Valerie Tejeda asks seven Hispanic YA authors why they (and we) need diverse books (Huffington Post).

Writers, if you identify as Latin@ or if your manuscript includes Latin@ characters, you still have a few days to enter Latin@s in Kid Lit’s Pitch Fiesta!

Need Something to Read?

AfterEllen has outdone even me by posting An Alternative School Reading List: Here Is Every YA Novel With Lesbians. You’ll never be bored again!

One of our readers asked for books about characters with Asperger’s/Autism, and we responded with a few recommendations, but you helped out even more in the comments. Read all the recs here.

Debbie Reese of American Indians in Children’s Literature recommends 10 books about Native people she thinks every American should read.

YALSA’s The Hub has a list of New and Forthcoming LGBTQ Young Adult Fiction for fall and winter 2014.

Kekla Magoon talks to Crazy Quilt Edi about her forthcoming novel, How It Went Down, which comes out Oct. 21, 2014. It deals with the shooting of a young black teen by a white man.

Publishers Weekly delves into Michaela De Prince’s journey “From African Orphanage to the International Stage” as a classical ballerina; her story will be detailed in her memoir Taking Flight this October.

New Deals Ahoy!

Plenty of authors cracked open the champagne this month to celebrate their new and/or debut book deals. Here are the deals for diverse books that caught our eye:

Amy Zhang
Amy Zhang

Chinese American author Amy Zhang (Falling Into Place) has sold two more contemporary YA novels to Virginia Duncan at Greenwillow Books in a six-figure deal. According to PW, “The two books are tentatively titled This Is Where the World Ends and Memento Mori, and both address themes of love and death.” They’ll be out in fall 2015 and 2016.

Américas Award-winning author Laura Resau has sold The Impossible Caravan to Andrea Davis Pinkney at Scholastic. In the novel, “an indigenous boy and a Romani (Gypsy) girl form a friendship in rural Mexico that spans the rest of their lives” (PW) The novel will be published in 2015.

Dhonielle Clayton
Dhonielle Clayton

Dhonielle Clayton, cofounder of Cake Literary and coauthor of Tiny Pretty Things (HarperCollins), has sold a YA fantasy titled The Belles to Emily Meehan at Disney-Hyperion. The novel, scheduled for spring/summer 2016, “focuses on a group of girls who can manipulate beauty, and the dangerous journey of the one belle who uncovers a hidden world of secrets, lies, and cruelty when she is chosen to be the personal belle of the next Queen” (PW).

Latina author and entertainment journalist Valerie Tejeda has sold her debut YA novel, Hollywood Witch Hunter, “in which a coven bent on retaining their youth must sacrifice the beautiful, and the rich women of Southern California, and a society of witch hunters will try to protect humans from a great evil uprising,” to Bloomsbury’s digital publishing imprint, Spark. Look for it in summer 2015.

In Case You Missed It, Because We Did (Oops!)

John Smelcer’s Edge of Nowhere, a survival story about an Alaska Native teen, was published in the U.S. by Leapfrog Press in August and recently received a starred review from School Library Journal. “Seth uses wisdom from his Native Alaskan culture and common sense to survive a summer season of challenges,” states reviewer Naomi Caldwell. “Smelcer’s prose is lyrical, straightforward, and brilliant.”

smelcer-edgeofnowhere

Vivek Shraya’s God Loves Hair, first published in 2011 but reissued earlier this year by Arsenal Pulp, is a YA story collection celebrating racial, sexual, and religious diversity. The stories are accompanied by the award-winning full-colour illustrations of Toronto artist Juliana Neufeld, and the collection was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Find out more at Vivek Shraya’s website.

shraya-godloveshair

Last But Not Least

It’s Banned Books Week! Which means it’s your annual reminder to take a look at what’s being censored and why. First, check out this article at The Atlantic that asks, Who Should Decide What High School Kids Are Allowed to Read? Then, if you haven’t already, read my analysis of book challenges and diversity. The takeaway is, sadly, diverse books are disproportionately targeted for book challenges and censorship.

Wish you could do something about it? Join in on various Banned Books Week events that are listed here at the official website, and don’t forget to follow the #BannedBooksWeek hashtag on Twitter.


See you next month for more Diversity Digest! (Although looking at the length of this first one I’m a little scared by what I’ve gotten myself into.) — Malinda