Tag Archives: middle grade

DiYA’s Middle Grade Month Giveaway

Although Diversity in YA focuses on young adult books, we couldn’t help but notice the great diverse middle grade titles out this year, so we decided to spend a full month focused on these books! October 2014 is Middle Grade Month here at DiYA and to kick it off we’re giving away 15 books from middle grade authors, each of whom will be doing a guest post this month.

Here are the books you could win:

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  • I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosín (Atheneum)
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Deadwood by Kell Andrews (Spencer Hill Press)
  • Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj (Albert Whitman & Company)
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell (Harry N. Abrams)
  • Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth (Scholastic)
  • The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda (Arthur A. Levine Books)
  • The City of Death by Sarwat Chadda (Arthur A. Levine Books)
  • Ash Mistry and the World of Darkness by Sarwat Chadda (HarperCollins)
  • Bird by Crystal Chan (Atheneum)
  • Tracy Tam: Santa Command by Krystalyn Drown (Month9Books)
  • Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon Flake (Scholastic)
  • Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky (Disney-Hyperion)
  • Saving Kabul Corner by N. H. Senzai (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books)
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen Books)

Here are the entry rules:

  1. Five lucky winners will receive three middle grade books of our choosing! (Don’t worry, series books will be kept together.)
  2. Because of the cost of international shipping, we are only able to ship to U.S. mailing addresses. International folks may enter as long as they have a U.S. mailing address.
  3. Teachers and librarians get an extra entry for free!
  4. The deadline to enter is the end of the day, Oct. 31, 2014.

Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy reading, and please signal boost and spread the love!

Delia Sherman on The Freedom Maze

When I began writing The Freedom Maze, back in 1987, I didn’t intend to write a book about race. I intended to write a book about time travel and a shy, bookish girl who learned that adventures are very different to read about than to live. I set it in Louisiana because I like Louisiana and have spent a certain amount of time down there when I was a child, visiting my mother’s family. I sent my heroine back to 1860 because I’m interested in societies on the edge of war, and not so much in war itself.

Of course, that meant that I had to deal with slavery, which is an even bigger can of worms than the Civil War, but writing a novel is like that sometimes. One decision about setting or plot can lead you into places you never thought you’d go. Political places. Dangerous places. Places that make you face things that are hard to tackle. Like the history of race in America, and how the ghost of slavery still haunts our laws and customs and daily lives. Like how otherwise kind and thoughtful men and women can believe that certain classes and kinds of human beings are not as sensitive, intelligent, hardworking, worthy, human as they are themselves. Like what it must have been like to live every day knowing that you were property, barred by law from resting when you were tired, going where you wanted to go, complaining when you were unfairly treated—in some cases, from living with your own family.

Ideally, I would have liked to talk to people who had experienced both sides of this issue, but there is no one left alive who remembers at first hand what it was like to be a slave (or a slave-owner) in the old South. There are, however, plenty of records and lists and letters and memoirs and reminiscences written by both slave-holders and slaves, many of them published in easily-accessible books, many more lurking in libraries and manuscripts and files of yellowing newsprint. In one of these files, among a handful of advertisements for runaway slaves, I found a notice about a young woman. “Blond and blue-eyed,” it read. “Could pass as white.”

Could pass as white.

Because, of course, she was, to look at. Because slavery had as much to do with money and class and fear of difference as it did with skin color.

I have long believed that racism, prejudice and oppression have their roots in class, in history, and most poisonously, in fear of difference. What I tried to do in The Freedom Maze was to demystify that difference, to make the experiences of one group emotionally accessible to everybody, to show what happens when human beings are focused on “us” and “them” rather than on everybody—not to erase differences, but to look beneath them to our common humanity.

Oh, and tell a good and exciting story.

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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.diversityinya.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/120811deliasherman.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Delia Sherman writes stories and novels for younger readers and adults. Her most recent short stories have appeared in the young adult anthology Steampunk! and in Ellen Datlow’s Naked City. Two novels for younger readers, Changeling and The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen, are set in the magical world of New York Between. The Freedom Maze is a time-travel historical about ante-bellum Louisiana.  When she’s not writing, she’s teaching, editing, knitting, and cooking. When not on the road (one of her favorite places to be), she lives in a rambling apartment in New York City with partner Ellen Kushner and far too many pieces of paper.[/author_info] [/author]

September’s New Books

Every month we feature all the new middle grade and young adult releases that include diversity. September brings a bumper crop of 26 new titles: 16 new middle grade and 10 new young adult novels. This month also marks the publication of the first three titles from Tu Books, a multicultural imprint from Lee & Low that focuses on fantasy, science fiction, and mystery.

By “diversity” we mean: (1) main characters or major secondary characters (e.g., a love interest or best friend kind of character) who are of color or are LGBT; or (2) written by a person of color or LGBT author. Unfortunately due to time constraints we are unable to include each book’s summary, but we encourage you to click on the book covers to be taken to Indie Bound, where you can read a description of the book.

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Middle Grade

   

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Young Adult

 

Did we miss any books? Tell us about them in the comments!

August’s New Books

Every month we feature all the new middle grade and young adult releases that include diversity. August brings seven new middle grade and eleven new young adult novels, including the third book in Simone Elkeles’ bestselling Perfect Chemistry series, Chain Reaction, and a graphic novel adaptation of Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Tantalize.

By “diversity” we mean: (1) main characters or major secondary characters (e.g., a love interest or best friend kind of character) who are of color or are LGBT; or (2) written by a person of color or LGBT author. Unfortunately due to time constraints we are unable to include each book’s summary, but we encourage you to click on the book covers to be taken to Indie Bound, where you can read a description of the book.

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Middle Grade

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Young Adult

Did we miss any books? Tell us about them in the comments!

July’s New Books

Every month we feature all the new middle grade and young adult releases that include diversity. July brings eight new middle grade and seven new young adult novels, including a novel in verse from veteran author James Howe.

By “diversity” we mean: (1) main characters or major secondary characters (e.g., a love interest or best friend kind of character) who are of color or are LGBT; or (2) written by a person of color or LGBT author. Unfortunately due to time constraints we are unable to include each book’s summary, but we encourage you to click on the book covers to be taken to Indie Bound, where you can read a description of the book.

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Middle Grade

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Young Adult

Did we miss any books? Tell us about them in the comments!

June’s New Books

Every month we feature all the new middle grade and young adult releases that include diversity. June brings six new middle grade and 14 new young adult titles, including a new middle-grade fantasy from Laurence Yep, a third book in the popular Dork Diaries series, and a nonfiction guide for LGBT teens titled Queer.

By “diversity” we mean: (1) main characters or major secondary characters (e.g., a love interest or best friend kind of character) who are of color or are LGBT; or (2) written by a person of color or LGBT author. Unfortunately due to time constraints we are unable to include each book’s summary, but we encourage you to click on the book covers to be taken to Indie Bound, where you can read a description of the book.

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Middle Grade

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Young Adult

Did we miss any books? Tell us about them in the comments!

May’s New Books

Every month we feature all the new middle grade and young adult releases that include diversity. May 2011 brings us five middle grade and eight young adult novels, including the second book in Rick Riordan’s bestselling Kane Chronicles series starring biracial siblings Carter and Sadie Kane, The Throne of Fire.

By “diversity” we mean: (1) main characters or major secondary characters (e.g., a love interest or best friend kind of character) who are of color or are LGBT; or (2) written by a person of color or LGBT author. Unfortunately due to time constraints we are unable to include each book’s summary, but we encourage you to click on the book covers to be taken to Indie Bound, where you can read a description of the book.

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Middle Grade

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Young Adult

April’s New Books

Every month we feature all the new middle grade and young adult releases that include diversity. April 2011 brings us two middle grade and eleven young adult novels, including an unprecedented three YA Asian-inspired fantasies in one month: Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon, Huntress by Malinda Lo, and Eona by Alison Goodman, not to mention the middle-grade adventure Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 10: The Emperor of Nihon-Ja by John Flanagan. Can teens handle so much awesomeness? We hope so!

By “diversity” we mean: (1) main characters or major secondary characters (e.g., a love interest or best friend kind of character) who are of color or are LGBT; or (2) written by a person of color or LGBT author. Unfortunately due to time constraints we are unable to include each book’s summary, but we encourage you to click on the book covers to be taken to Indie Bound, where you can read a description of the book.

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Middle Grade

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Young Adult

Jo Whittemore: Against Tokenism

By nature, I’m an incredibly gullible person. An infomercial convinced me a blanket with sleeves was fashionable and practical (but dangerous for the accident-prone). A salon stylist convinced me organic shampoo would do more than leave me smelling like a hippie armpit. And once my dad even convinced me he’d mastered martial arts from a Bruce Lee book. Then he accidentally kicked me in the nose.

Despite all my naïveté, there is one bit of fakery I can smell a mile away (two miles when the hippie armpit shampoo wears off). That bit of deceit? The token minority.

Bless your heart if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

The token minority is a tool used by writers who think their stories lack diversity and are looking for a quick fix. This happens at about the 3/4 mark when all the key players have been established. And it’s so poorly planned, so blatantly obvious, that it makes me lose respect for the story.

What are the signs of a token minority?

  1. The sudden mention of a character with an ethnic name (We went to Shanequa Johnson’s house)
  2. The sudden mention of an ethnic event (We went to a Juneteenth party at Shanequa Johnson’s house)
  3. The sudden use of an ethnic dialect (Me and my home-gizzirl went to a Juneteenth party at Shanequa Johnson’s crib.)

Okay, I’m exaggerating with the last one, but you get my point … and I’m sure you’ve seen it before. Some writers add a minority as an afterthought, and it’s honestly more insulting than being left out entirely. If the only nod an Asian character gets in a book is helping the MC with calculus in one sentence, does it really matter that her name is Annie Chang or that she has almond-shaped eyes?

For my first three books, I filled my fantasy world with all manner of creatures and races because that’s my idea of a great world to escape to. One where beings of all backgrounds mingle and marry.

For my fourth book, I portrayed the editor at a different school’s newspaper as an Asian because, honestly?, I was kind of casting myself for that role.

My latest book (out in a couple weeks) has no minorities. I didn’t realize this until after I’d written the story. There was so much else going on that my focus wasn’t on the diversity of the characters’ heritage but rather the diversity of family dynamics (divorce, abandonment, etc).

Will I go back and insert a few minorities? Absolutely not. Their presence would seem forced to me. Like a college brochure featuring someone of every color when it’s not really the case.

But it has given me something to think about going forward. Who else has a story I can tell? What other perspectives am I not considering?

Diversity is too big an issue for a one-sentence mention. If you want to include a minority in a story, make it count.

And if you want to avoid getting kicked in the nose by a very tall man … stand further away.

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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.diversityinya.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Jo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Jo Whittemore is the author of The Silverskin Legacy fantasy trilogy, as well as the tween humor novel Front Page Face-Off. Her fifth book, Odd Girl In, will be another humorous tween novel released in March 2011. Jo is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and is one of the founding members of AS IF! (Authors Supporting Intellectual Freedom) and The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels. She’s also written for, and been featured in, newspapers and national magazines. When she isn’t writing, Jo spends her time with family and friends in Austin, dreaming of the day she can afford a chocolate house with toffee furniture. Visit Jo online at http://www.jowhittemore.com/.[/author_info] [/author]

March’s New Books

Every month we feature all the new middle grade and young adult releases that include diversity. March 2011 brings us six middle grade and twelve young adult novels, including what may be the first published YA novel about a biracial FTM transgender teen, I Am J.

By “diversity” we mean: (1) main characters or major secondary characters (e.g., a love interest or best friend kind of character) who are of color or are LGBT; or (2) written by a person of color or LGBT author. Unfortunately due to time constraints we are unable to include each book’s summary, but we encourage you to click on the book covers to be taken to Indie Bound, where you can read a description of the book.

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Middle Grade Fiction

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Young Adult Fiction

As always, we tried to find all the relevant new titles this month, but we may have missed a few. If you know of a book we should include, this month or in the future, please tell us!