This is a guest post by Jen Cullerton Johnson, author of Seeds of Change. Johnson is a writer, educator, and environmentalist who teachers at an inner-city elementary school in Chicago.
Ashley Howey is the literacy coordinator at Briar Creek Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina. Last school year, she contacted me about my picture book Seeds of Change, a nonfiction biography of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai of Kenya. Brier Creek Elementary school wanted to do something different, something no other school in their district had done before.
The school community wanted to adopt the themes within Seeds of Change to be the deep focus for student growth, teacher extended learning, and administration professional development. In other words, everyone at Briar Creek Elementary wanted to be involved in change. They wanted the book Seeds of Change to guide them because they felt it showed how people tackled big problems and worked together, and most importantly how change brings out each person’s inner potential.
Brier Creek Elementary School hosts diverse learners from various socio-economic and multicultural backgrounds. The school is supported by Title I and is a year around school. Their curriculum mission is to “cultivate culturally ambitious citizens.”
“We want everyone in our school to own a copy,” Ashley Howey said. “Teachers, students, cafeteria workers, administration, parents. Everyone.”
The temperatures across the USA are freezing, but we’re offering you a chance to take a (literary) vacation from the polar vortex . . . to Puerto Rico! Released this past fall, Parrots Over Puerto Rico takes readers above the treetops of Puerto Rico and delves into the history of this unique parrot. Once abundant, they almost became extinct due to centuries of foreign exploration and occupation, development, and habitat destruction. Luckily, the parrots were saved thanks to the efforts of the scientists of the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program (PRPRP) and they have continued to thrive since!
We interviewed Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore to get a better sense of the research and creativity that went into writing and illustrating Parrots Over Puerto Rico. Below is an excerpt from their BookTalk:
Before Thanksgiving we had a great chat on Twitter with some of the contributing authors from our new dystopian anthology, Diverse Energies. Authors Cindy Pon, Malinda Lo, Ken Liu, Rahul Kanakia, Rajan Khanna, and K. Tempest Bradford joined us to answer some questions about their stories, dystopia, world-building, and more:
In one or two sentences, can you describe the dystopian worlds you’ve written about in Diverse Energies?
Malinda Lo: “The dystopian world in my story ‘Good Girl’ is a postapocalyptic NYC that politically resembles Communist China.”
Rahul Kanakia: “My story is set in a world where wealthy people have retreated into virtual reality and allowed the world to collapse. Also, there are pesticide-resistant bedbugs.”
Cindy Pon: “‘How had we drifted so far on what it meant to be human?‘ from my story sort of encapsulates it, in a world divided.”
Rajan Khanna: “Mine takes place in a world where an empire similar to the British Empire at its height uses child labor for mining.”
Our marketing intern, Keilin Huang, remembers Bruce Lee:
“In every passionate pursuit, the pursuit counts more than the object pursued.” —Bruce Lee
For all you martial arts enthusiasts out there, today is Bruce Lee’s birthday. He was born on November 27, 1940, in San Francisco, CA and would have been 72 years old today. While most people know Bruce Lee as a kung fu master who kicked butt on the silver screen, not many are familiar with his early life.
In Diverse Energies, 11 speculative fiction authors share their dystopian worlds with readers. But dystopia is only one of many ways to imagine the future. How do you think the world will really look 100 years from today?
Bill Traylor’s story is the stuff of legend: he was born into slavery in Alabama, lived most of his life as a sharecropper, and started drawing at the age of eighty-five, while living homeless in Montgomery, Alabama. His drawings once decorated a street corner; now he’s known as one of America’s most important folk artists.
You can learn more about Traylor’s life story in our picture book biography, It Jes’ Happened, but there’s nothing like seeing Traylor’s artwork in person. Most of it is concentrated at a few museums in the southeast, but luckily, right now there’s a traveling exhibition making its way around the US with over 60 of Traylor’s works. The paintings, borrowed from permanent collections at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, represent some of the best examples of Traylor’s unique folk art style. Here’s where the exhibit will be:
Just one week until the release of Kimberly Pauley’s Cat Girl’s Day Off! In celebration, Cat Girl’s star celebrity blogger Easton West has commandeered the Lee & Low Blog kindly volunteered to share her thoughts on the book, her cat, Ty McKenzie’s underwear, and what it’s like being kidnapped by a crazy, psycopathic—well, let’s not give anything away…
Hello there my little poppets! O, Easton, you ask, whatever are you doing here? This isn’t your home-away-from-home-on-the-web where I go for all the celebrity news I can handle. This is the blog of a publisher. They do serious things here. They don’t gossip. They don’t talk about the color of Ty McKenzie’s underwear (red, dearies, in case you were wondering and no, I’m not going to tell you how I know that!).
It’s Black History Month, and that means another giveaway from Lee & Low Books! We’re giving away three sets of three books featuring African Americans, and the contest will run through February 29, 2012.
You may have noticed that the winners won’t get their books until after Black History Month. We think Black History Month is important, but black history is part of American History, and shouldn’t get relegated to one month out of the year. So enter below to win three great books to enjoy all year long!
Here’s how it works:
Author Glenda Armand (Love Twelve Miles Long) gave us food for thought in her BookTalk when we asked her if she thought her book could only be used during Black History Month. Here is her response:
“I think it can be read at any time of year: it is a story about mother-child relationships, about slavery, about American history, and about a great statesman. It is a story about family and tradition. And it’s a bedtime story.
It’s Native American Heritage month, and do we ever have recommendations for you! You can go to our site and see all our Native American titles, but we’re going to highlight a couple of them today.
Sky Dancers is a majestic story of the Mohawk steal workers who built the skyscrapers of New York City, as seen through the eyes of a young boy. On weekends, John Cloud lives with his parents on the reservation in upstate New York, but during the week his father is off in the city. When his mother takes him to New York, John Cloud is proud to see his father high above the city on a crossbeam of the Empire State Building. The Art Deco-influenced art and John Cloud’s independent mind make this book stand as tall as a skyscraper.
Amazing Faces, one of our new spring books, is a collection of poems celebrating the amazing people and faces that surround us every day. We asked the poets to share the stories behind their poems. Here are some of their responses:
Jane Yolen, “Karate Kid”
A number of years ago, Lee Bennett Hopkins asked me to write a poem for a sports anthology. “How about karate?” I said. There is a dojo near my house. I had some friends who had kids in karate and a granddaughter who was just starting into the martial arts. Also, I find some of the Chinese martial arts movies fascinating in a balletic sort of way.
And so I wrote “Karate Kid.” It has taken on a life of its own. Sometimes (if a writer is very lucky) that happens.
Rebecca Kai Dotlich, “Amazing Face”
I am, and will always be, fascinated by children. Especially very young children. I look at them and a million dreams and possibilities run through my mind: the person they will become, the journeys they’ll take, the hobbies they’ll choose, the crafts they’ll learn, the billowed joys they will experience, the heartache and heartbreak they will ultimately and unfortunately experience too. I want each child on this Earth to know they are loved by someone, that they are valued, and that they are truly and downright amazing. I hope my poem sends this message, whoever is listening.