is the hottest book and the best speaker I’ve had in a long time. The WORD is SPREADING – every day I’m getting more and more requests for his book from units where the kids didn’t even meet him, but just HEARD about him! Kid who met him have been asking for books on history, metaphor, and quotations!i
In the Margins Book Award and Selection Committee, (ITM) a committee under the umbrella of Library Services for Youth in Custody (LYSC) selected their first list of 25 titles and a top 10. In the Margins strives to find the best books for teens living in poverty, on the streets, in custody – or a cycle of all three.
The 2014 top ten are:
- Asante, M.K. Buck: a Memoir. Spiegel & Grau. August 2013. 272p. HC $25.00. ISBN 9780812993417.
- Jones, Marilyn Denise. From Crack to College and Vice Versa. Marilyn D. Jones. May 2013. 105p. PB $14.95. ISBN 9780989427401.
- Langan, Paul. Survivor. Townsend Press. January 2013. 138p. PB $5.95. ISBN 9781591943044.
- McKay, Sharon E. War Brothers: The Graphic Novel. Illustrated by Lafance, Daniel. Annick Press. February 2013. PB $18.95. ISBN 9781554514885.
- McVoy, Terra Elan. Criminal. Simon Pulse. May, 2013. 288p. HC $16.99. ISBN 9781442421622.
- Medina, Meg. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. Candlewick. March 2013. 260p. HC $16.99. ISBN 9780763658595.
- Nussbaum, Susan. Good Kings, Bad Kings. Algonquin Books. November 2013. 304p. PB $14.95. ISBN 9781616203252.
- Rivera, Jeff. No Matter What. CreateSpace. October 2013. 112p. PB $5.38. ISBN 9781493544141.
- Ryan, Darlene. Pieces of Me. Orca Book Publishers. September 2012. 240p. PB $12.95. ISBN 9781459800809.
- Young, Pamela Samuels. Anybody’s Daughter. Goldman House Publishing. October 2013. 374p. PB $16.99. ISBN 9780989293501.
“We are pleased with the founding of this list and our efforts of the first year. We have a great list, bringing to national attention books that are new finds and not widely publicized in the library world along with standout books of the year” said Amy Cheney, chair of In the Margins Book Award and Selection committee. “The committee is excited to share these books with you for teens living and interested in the margins of society.”
The full list of 25 titles with annotations and more information on the committee, selections, and process can be found at:
2015 Committee Membership is open. Please go to http://www.youthlibraries.org/margins-committee and fill out an application.
Be on the lookout for YA Underground in School Library Journal 2/19/14 for more details and an inside view.
ITM identifies quality, age appropriate resources for librarians and library workers to share with the teens in lockdown, homeless shelters and other non-traditional venues for teens living in the margins.
Founding Members of the 2014 In the Margins Book Award and Selection Committee:
Chair: Amy Cheney, Juvenile Justice Center, Alameda County, CA; Administrative Assistant: Amy Wander Lafayette Public Library, LA; Katie MacBride, Mill Valley Public Library & Marin County Juvenile Hall, CA; Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan, Institute for Learning, University of Pittsburgh, PA ; Selenia Paz, Helen Hall Library, Galveston County, TX; Viola Dyas, Retired, Teen Services Librarian, Berkeley Public Library, CA; Dr. Julie Ann Winkelstein, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Tennessee, TN
Originally published in School Library Journal 2/19/14
I am teaching my second class at Simmons. This one with awesome librarian Robin Brenner. Info below!
$250 (Simmons GSLIS Alumni Price $200)
February 1 – February 28, 2014 – PDPs: 15
Part of Teen Lit Boot Camp Series
Teen Lit Boot Camp is a series of month-long workshops zeroing in on currently popular topics. The workshops will help librarians learn what defines hot topics, what the best titles are to meet demand, and how to anticipate and select for your teen fans. In this workshop, we’ll look at a growing concern for teen lit readers: is teen lit racially diverse? How dedicated is the market to being representative of our world, our readers, and our teens? How far should our responsibility to our teens go in ensuring our collections reflect their racial identities, questions, and voices? We’ll examine the recent debates concerning whitewashing covers, the challenge and importance of writing across race lines, and how best to connect with readers whatever their racial or ethnic identities. We will also discuss stereotypes, redefining what race may mean in teen literature, and how to pitch titles to fans without falling back on stereotypes. There will be a reading list, so sign up early to give yourself time.
Tags: adult book for teens, africa, child soldier, Ishmael Beah, starred reviews, war
I think I’ve given more starred reviews this year than I ever have! This was just run in Angela’s awesome Adult Books for Teens column….
Ishmael Beah took bestseller, best of the year, and school reading lists by storm in 2007 with his memoir of being swept up in Sierra Leone’s civil war as a child soldier. It almost seems anti-climactic to mention that A Long Way Gone won an Alex Award. Seven years later it is still a popular suggestion for teen and adult readers, and is widely known to be an effective recommendation for reluctant readers.
So, the publication of Beah’s first novel is an event. And I have to add that I am personally thrilled that it has potential teen appeal, even though most of its characters are adult. There is something in Beah’s writing that is youthful, that allows the reader to feel hope even as he describes the worst of circumstances. Here he examines the aftermath of the civil war by focusing on one small village in Sierra Leone, Imperi, whose residents are slowly returning. What can be recovered? What is lost? How do the survivors deal with their guilt?
In an interview on NPR, Beah offers intriguing, sometimes unexpected answers about elements of his novel. For example about the rehabilitation of child soldiers, “What do you do with certain skill sets and certain habits and certain things that you’ve acquired during war? Sometimes some of these things don’t need to be washed out of you, as most people will think. Whenever they see a former child soldier, they will think, “Oh, you need complete rehabilitation. You need to forget everything that happened in order to have a life.” No, sometimes you don’t.”
In 2010, FSG’s Works in Progress published a “conversation” between publisher Sarah Crichton and the author, which is still linked from his website. I find it fascinating because it addresses the effects of A Long Way Gone‘s huge success on Beah’s life. (No wonder it has taken years for him to complete a new book. He’s been busy!) They also discuss the possibility of a second memoir, and whether Radiance of Tomorrow is actually fictional.
* BEAH, Ishmael. Radiance of Tomorrow. 256p. Sarah Crichton: Farrar. Jan. 2014. Tr $25. ISBN 9780374246020; ebk. ISBN 9780374709433.
Adult/High School–Beah’s second book is richly complex, exploring the moral and ethical dilemmas facing a variety of characters in the aftermath of war. The novel opens with two elders coming back to the devastated village they called home, Imperi, Sierra Leone. They set about removing skulls, bones, and dead bodies from the river and reviving their old way of life. They are beginning to be successful when a mining company moves in. Corruption abounds. Teens Colonel and Ernest are in the background, but they are key. Two of the most empowered characters, they clearly see and ingeniously navigate the corruption. Colonel puts himself in charge of the former child soldiers and orphans. He houses and feeds them, creates order, and finds a way to pay for them to go to school. He creatively and outrageously solves some of the more dismal problems facing the village, providing hope and real change. For example, he waylays the men who have been raping the women on their drunken way home, takes their clothes off, puts food on their private parts to attract biting ants, and ties them to a tree. During the war, Ernest was forced to chop off not only his family’s arms and hands, but also those of many others. Directly responsible for maiming one such family, he follows them to Imperi. Without their knowing, he takes care of them by fetching water and setting it by their door. Teens who loved A Long Way Gone ( Sarah Crichton, 2007)–and that’s a lot of them–will find this one slower moving yet equally powerful.–Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall, CA
Tags: african american, drug dealing, education, fathers and sons, mental illness, mothers and sons, philadephia
* ASANTE, MK. Buck: A Memoir. 272p. Spiegel & Grau. 2013. Tr $25. ISBN 9780812993417.
Adult/High School–Buck is dynamic, enlivening, and superbly written. At 12, Asante was living in “Killadephia, Pistolvannia,” admiring Uzi, his older brother with “a temper so hot you can fry bacon on it.” Asante writes, “I even duck like him under doorways, even though he’s way taller and I don’t need to duck.” When 16-year-old Uzi had consensual sex with a girl who turned out to be 13–and white–he got 10 years in prison. Asante was left alone to cope with his Afrocentric Pops (“We can’t celebrate some big fat white man bringing us gifts,” he says about Christmas). Mom was just getting out of a psychiatric facility. Dropping out of school, jumping into a gang, slinging dope, “I’m blowing money faster than a hollow-tip….It takes my mind off the bullshit: off the fact that my best friend is gone, my mom is in a coma, my dad left, my sister’s on the funny farm and my brother is locked in a dog kennel in Arizona.” He was sent to an alternative school where he was given a blank sheet of paper–both literally and figuratively. After struggling for days, he finally wrote the first word that came to his mind: Buck. Asante’s writing is passionate, fresh, and electric–a unique style that is informed by hip-hop, the classics, street slang, and everyday voice mails, rules, and found journal entries. From the title to the chapter headings to the interior, Asante has crafted a powerful, funny, deep, and universal truth-telling book that teens will love.–Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall, CA
Originally published at: http://blogs.slj.com/adult4teen/2013/12/18/truth-responsibility/
By Amy Cheney on November 19, 2013
Today it’s all about books—mostly. Here at the Alameda Juvenile Hall library, I’m desperately trying to stay ahead of my readers who have nothing to do but read for large portions of each day. And this time I’m branching out by mentioning a couple of films. I’m excited about many of the finds highlighted in this month’s column.
Top of the list, and never on the shelf in the main library, is Jeff Rivera’s self-published book No Matter What (Gumbo Entertainment, 2013), a shorter version of his first self-published book Forever My Lady (Grand Central, 2008). Dio aka Playboy is romantic and tough. A drive-by shooting wounds soulmate Jennifer and sends Dio to bootcamp, testing their relationship. Plagued by all sorts of trifling people and situations, Dio is called a wetback by the kids, and ‘Radigez,’ rather than his name Rodriguez, by drill instructor Jackson. Most of all, he’s missing his girl. A fast read with lots of dialogue and action, including letters to and from Jennifer, and Rivera reports he’s about to wrap up a sequel. My only quibble is with some exaggerations. For example, Jackson makes Dio do 200 pushups on top of the rest of an already tough workout. Really? The best of my kids can do a max of 100 pushups—and only in sets of 30.
No Matter What is edited by an author of several Bluford High books. This slim volume—112 pages with a trim size a bit bigger than Bluford books— is a welcome addition to the much needed expansion in the niche of Latino books at the 5th grade or lower reading level. Older favorites in this category are Drive By (HarperCollins, 1997) and Party Girl (Knopf, 1999), both by Lynne Ewing.
Speaking of Ewing, I happened by my local bookstore and was browsing the ARCs and discovered that Lynne has a new book coming out in February 2014, The Lure (HarperCollins). The biggest trend I’ve noticed this year is a surge of books featuring female protagonists that are on the streets and in the street life. The Lure is one of them, about a girl in a gang, used to lure other girls to the gang. A scan of the first chapter indicated that there is a lot of action in the story. While girls and women are the fastest growing population in prison, there are still usually only 30 girls to the 150 boys here at Juvenile Hall.
Some of girls here are considered victims, since many are involved in sex trafficking. I can never have enough books on the shelf about this subject. Pamela Samuels Young’s self-published Anybody’s Daughter (Goldman House, 2013) is a great addition to the collection. Thirteen-year-old Brianna sneaks off to see the boyfriend she met on Facebook —and you guessed it—ends up in a brutal situation (but not too brutal for teens to read about). Brianna is a feisty one, and fights back throughout the ordeal. Uncle Dre has connections on the streets from his past drug dealing days and puts them to use to find Brianna and bring her home, while his girlfriend and attorney Angela Evans tries to find out what’s what using her network. The narrative bogs down in a few places—who says smartphone anymore? Angela’s naiveté about girls on the streets doesn’t ring true given her profession, and is used as an awkward way for the author to school us on “the issues.” Still, the action takes over and the reader is turning the pages to find out what will happen next. Boys and girls have been reading it and have asked for her other adult mysteries.
Zero Fade (Curbside Splendor, 2013) by Chris L. Terry is a personal favorite and one of the best books for younger teens I’ve read in a long time. Zero Fade garnered a starred review from Kirkus, and blurbs from the likes of Adam Mansbach (Go the F*** to Sleep) who says, “Wise and wise-assed…. we need writers like Chris L. Terry, unafraid to plumb the complexities and absurdities of race and identify with grace and funk.” Readers are introduced to 13-year-old Kevin’s angst filled-life, with all of its predicaments including bullies, a mom who is dating (“Nasty!”), a gay uncle, friends, and girls. The novel is written at a breakneck speed with hilarious gems, such as, “Tyrell’s crew had been held back so many times that they were bigger than the teachers.” There are a few chapters told from the uncle’s point of view that are unnecessary, strange, and out of place, slowing down the narrative, and would have been better left out. Hopefully, this won’t detract our readers from such a terrific book. Right now, it’s hard to tell—they aren’t checking it out without my prompting.
Sabrina Jones’s Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling (2013) won’t be for every teen, but it’s a must-have for most libraries, both in teen and adult sections. New Press is a nonprofit, public interest publisher that strives to spark national conversation on key political and social issues with their books. Incarceration is certainly one of these issues, brought to light by Michelle Alexander in her profoundly important book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010, both New Press).Alexander writes in the forward that she used an earlier edition (1999) of Race to Incarcerate by Marc Maurer as the basis for her book. Race to Incarcerate puts the U.S. prison system into context. It covers the history of prisons in the US, politics of crime—including different presidents and the platforms they ran on—how policies impact people, particularly people of color, and voting issues, to name a few. The book mentions important prisoners such as George Jackson and Kemba Smith and offers alternative solutions to incarceration. Illustrations are in black and white. In my library, teens and teachers are using this in the classroom and in discussion groups.
Art is a hot topic on the inside. My kids are constantly wanting books on tattoos, calligraphy, Aztec art, nail art, hair art, shoe art, etc. The art books are too numerous for me to mention, I’ll just say: GET THEM. Most teens won’t be reading Paths of Discovery: Art Practice and Its Impact in California Prisons (CreateSpace, 2012), but for adults who are interested in providing art programming in juvenile and adult institutions, it’s an imperative read. A companion piece to this book is the film At Night I Fly: Images from New Folsom Prison. This is a superior documentary, offering an inside look at men serving life sentences in a maximum security prison, and how art has impacted them. The U.S. premiere is expected this year—a review will be posted soon at Film-Forward, a great resource for reviews of independent, documentary, and foreign films.
One of the most distressing and vitally important films I’ve recently seen is Narco Cultura, about the rise of Narcocorridos, a type of Mexican music and song tradition which evolved out of the norteño folk corrido tradition. These “drug ballads” are sung by young Americans, glamorizing and idolizing the billionaire outlaws that are responsible for many killings in Mexico, currently over 3,000 a year. I’ve already put a call into the director to see if he can come to Juvenile Hall to show the film and lead a discussion with our youth. While it is R-rated, it’s worth advocating for because discussion of the film’s themes would be incredibly valuable. The Latin Timesreview is excellent, and you can look for my forthcoming review at Film-Forward. The documentary begins a 27-city U.S. tour on November 22, in New York City.
There are always books that have been requested over and over again which I haven’t read or promoted. This tells me that the covers are working perfectly and that the insides are filled with action. Trevor Shane’s “Children of Paranoia”series (NAL Trad) and Allen Zadoff’s Boy Nobody (Little, Brown, 2013) fall into this category. Alison Van Diepen’s Takedown is doing well and so is the newest from Simone Elkeles, Wild Cards (Walker, 2013). Almost anything published by Kensington and Harlequin Teen flies off the shelf. Note to Katy McGarry, author ofPushing the Limits—thanks for giving us more books for Elkeles fans!
Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New Press, 2010. Tr $22.00. ISBN 9781595581037.
Brewer, Larry. Paths of Discovery: Art Practice and it’s Impact in California Prisons. Photos by Peter Merts. CreateSpace, 2012. Tr $31.50. ISBN 9781479110216.
Elkeles, Simone. Wild Cards. Walker, 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780802734372.
Ewing, Lynne. Drive By. HarperCollins, 1997. pap. $5.99. ISBN 978-0064406499.
Ewing, Lynne. Party Girl. Knopf, 1999. pap. $5.99. ISBN 978-0375802102.
Ewing, Lynne. The Lure. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Feb. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0062206886.
Jones, Sabrina and Marc Mauer. Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling. New Press, 2013. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781595585417.
McGarry, Katy. Pushing the Limits. HarlequinTeen, 2013. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780373210862.
Rivera, Jeff. Forever My Lady. Grand Central, 2008. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780446698818.
Rivera, Jeff. No Matter What. Gumbo Entertainment, 2013. pap. $3.99. ISBN 9781493544141.
Schwarz, Shaul. Narco Cultura. (film) Cinedigm and Parts of Labor. 2013.
Shane, Trevor. Children of the Uprising. (Children of Paranoia). NAL Trade, 2013. Tr $12.99. 978-0451419644.
Terry, Chris L. Zero Fade. Curbside Splendor, 2013. Tr $12.00 978-0988480438.
Van Diepen, Allison. Takedown. Simon Pulse, 2013. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781442463127.
Wenzler, Michel. At Night I Fly: Images from New Folsom Prison. U.S. Release date, 2013.
Young, Pamela Samuels. Anybody’s Daughter. Goldman House, 2013. Tr $16.99. 9780989293501.
Zadoff, Allen. Boy Nobody. Little, Brown, 2013. Tr $18.00. 9780316199681.
I will be adding to these – unsolicited letters from kids about books. My funny bone is tickled or my heart touched, and I realize I have to share!
Well, these things are kind of weird and awesome! I mean, these legends are creepy and when you read them it makes people think like, “Whoa.” What in the world is this? Honestly, for me, it makes me wonder, “Is this stuff still happening?” I love this stuff and I hope to learn more about these “Urban Legends” because it’s awesome.
Art is such a hot topic on the inside. My kids are constantly wanting books on tattoos, calligraphy, Aztec art, nail art, hair art, shoe art, etc. The art books are too numerous for me to mention, I’ll just say: GET THEM.
Here are just two books – the first primarily for us adults and the second that is little known.
Brewster, Larry. Paths of Discovery: Art and Practice and Its Impact in California Prisons. 2012. CreateSpace. 978-147911021-6.
If you are interested in starting an art program in prison, whether it be the literary, theatrical or fine arts this book can assist you with your argument and grant writing. The California Arts in Corrections (AIC) program brought together artists from the community to work with men inside. A 1983 evaluation found that benefits of the program exceeded costs. “The program was relatively inexpensive to operate, and in exchange there was measurable improvement in inmate attitudes and a significant reduction in incident reports and institutional tension. A majority of participating inmates showed improved social skills and respect for others. There was evidence of enhanced self -confidence and trust, as well as a desire to live productive lives. …. A 1987 study found a significantly reduced rate of recidivism for Arts in Corrections inmates compared with other parolees. 74 % had clean records their first year out of prison compared with only 49% of other parolees. Within two years of their release, 58% of non-AIC participants were in trouble, compared with only 31% of those who participated in the program. “
In addition, there is some great artwork: paintings, sculptures and poetry as an example of the fine work done.
Book begins with a forward by Spoon Jackson, internationally known poet, author and actor, serving a life sentence in California State prisons. It progresses through chapters such as The Artistic Process, Discovering Self, Creating a Safe Haven, Reconnecting with Family, Rehabilitation, etc. All chapters have writings and art reflecting the chapter as well as interviews with inmates reflecting upon their learning and others.
A terrific book.
There is also a new film out about this subject: a companion piece to this book is the film At Night I Fly: Images from New Folsom Prison It’s a superior film with an inside look into men serving life sentences in a maximum security prison, and how art has impacted them. The US Premiere is this year; review will be posted soon at Film Forward (I’m reviewing films at this site).
Illustrations from the Inside: The Beat Within. 2007. Mark Baty publications. 978-9790486-4-7.
“The Beat Within is a decade-old, nationwide writing program for incarcerated youth. “Words not Weapons” is the organization’s credo, inspiring these young adults – males and females of all ethnicities – to learn that words and images are more effective than violence. Illustrations from the Inside features the pencil drawings created by these youth, giving an intimate perspectives on these artists and the system they must struggle through, in some cases for the rest of their lives.”
From the forward by Adam Mansbach: ” I cannot help but reflect upon the similarities and points of rupture between The Beat Within and the graffiti movement that sprang up in a decimated New York City in the early 1970s. There, too – amidst the arson -charred buildings of the Bronx, at a historical juncture characterized by governmental neglect and underfunded schools and a cynical, racist lack of expectations about the futures possible for young people of color – a generation of artists marginalized and criminalized by uncaring institutions found a way to dialogue among themselves.” Black and white drawings and photographs throughout from young men and women currently or formerly incarcerated. Minimal text identifies most artists by age, gender, race and location with a possible biographical sentence . Elements of the artwork may be explained.