September 30, 2018

Kickstarter: Daniel & Ismail—A Timely Children’s Book in Three Languages

Restless Books is a publisher that specializes in international books translated into English. In their own words, stories that "connect people across cultures and borders." In fall 2017, they started the imprint Yonder, to share children's books to help teach children "to place themselves in the shoes of others beyond their communities, and instill in them a lifelong curiosity about the world and their place in it."

One of their upcoming releases is the children's picture book, Daniel & Ismail. The twist? They also want to translate it into Hebrew and Arabic for a trilingual release.

You can support Restless Books in this endeavor by pledging to their Kickstarter. Rewards include books, signed books, signed prints, and original art.

September 26, 2018

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Slay

Slay by Brittney Morris was sold in a six-figure, two-book deal to Simon Pulse last week. Thus there is no book cover or even a cover copy yet.

But I had to share this Black Panther-inspired novel because it sounds amazing.

Slay is the tale of 17-year-old Kiera Johnson, a black teen game developer battling a real-life troll intent on ruining the Black Panther-inspired online role-playing card game she has created and that has become especially popular among black gamers worldwide. But when an African-American teen, Jamal Rice, is murdered during a dispute over the in-game currency (“Slay Coins”), Slay is widely disparaged in the mainstream media and elsewhere as a racist, exclusionist, and violent hub for thugs and criminals.

Read more at Publisher's Weekly.

September 24, 2018

Movie Monday: BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman is the story of Ron Stallworth, a black police officer who goes undercover to join the KKK. He does this by talking to Klan members on the phone, while fellow (white) detective Flip goes to meet with them in person.

John David Washington shines as Stallworth. He gets across the character's earnest belief in the system, which simultaneously exists with his frustration when confronted by the racists and other bad apples on the force. He's a character who is sometimes fierce and sometimes fearful, but always believable. He plays especially well off of Adam Driver, particularly in scenes where Flip confronts his own heritage as a Jewish man.

BlacKkKlansman is based on the memoir BLACK KLANSMAN by Ron Stallworth and it takes many liberties to make the story more cinematic. After all, a cop story needs shots being fired and an explosion.

I think the best change is that the movie adds women to the story. Laura Harrier plays Patrice, a militant young woman who organizes campus speaking events and marches and believes the police can never be trusted. She's based on actual women who worked with the Black Panthers and other radical groups. She's intense, but can also slow down and discuss which films and stars she likes best. On the opposite side, a woman is added to the Klan group as well, a wife whose efforts to host go unappreciated. It's an excellent portrait of how these women get wrapped up in supporting and championing a cause that sees them as second-class citizens.

By turns, BlacKkKlansman is hilarious, exciting, and a punch to the gut. I was crying by the time I left the theater, due to Spike Lee's effortless connection of the events of the past to the ones of the present. He's a masterful filmmaker and he's made a movie that's both an entertaining summer comedy-thriller and a haunting piece of art. I thoroughly recommend going to see it, or renting it once it is available on video.

September 23, 2018

Banned Books Week Starts Tomorrow: "Banning Books Silences Stories"

I want to live in a world that supports a diverse range of voices, where everyone can find that story that speaks to them and inspires them to amplify their own voice. That's why I am against censorship and support Banned Books Week and the fight to keep challenged books on the shelves and in libraries.

The Top Ten Challenged Books of 2017 are:
  1. Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher
    Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
    Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.
  3. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”
  4. The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
    This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”
  5. George written by Alex Gino
    Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.
  6. Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
    This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex education and is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee
    This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.
  8. The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas
    Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.
  9. And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
    Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children’s Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.
  10. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.
For more information, see the Banned Books Week website.


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