For the first time in its thirteen year history, the Young People’s Literature category of the National Book Award recognized a work of nonfiction:¹ Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justiceby Phillip Hoose. It’s great to see children’s nonfiction getting more recognition, both because nonfiction can have just as much literary merit as fiction, and because kids need ways to explore and discover the world, past and present. And behind every great work of nonfiction is a true, and truly great, story. Without that truth, it’s not nonfiction. Nonfiction is more than just facts, but it needs facts.
But what if fact becomes fiction, or fiction is presented as fact?
OK, tell me that this CNN promo does not sound just a little bit like the trailer for a horror movie:
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The first time I saw this ad, I was sitting on the couch with my roomate. “Oh my God,” she said, “I can’t believe how racist that sounded.”
Now, before you think to yourself, “How many more of these random ‘holidays’ can there possibly be in one calendar year,” consider this: 1 in 4 crash fatalities in the US involves someone between the ages of 16 and 24. Nothing —not drugs, not sex, not rock n’ roll—kills more teens than driving, and the risk of a fatal crash goes up with each additional peer passenger in the car. This time of year the number of accidents goes up even higher because of things like homecoming. Take a look at these Teen Driving Safety Tips for ideas on raising safe young drivers.
We’ll start things out with the bad news: a justice of the peace in Louisiana refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple. His justification? That any children the couple had might suffer discrimination. A quick history review: it was 1967 when the U.S. Supreme court ruled in the case Loving v. Virginia that race-based legal restrictions on marriage are unconstitutional. In other marriage-relate news, same-sex couples can still only get married in six states.
This morning, we went up to the Bank Street College of Education for the announcement of their Best Children’s Books of the year list—and to celebrate, with cake, the centennial of the Children’s Book Committee.
Every year for the last one hundred years, The Children’s Book Committee—then of Child Study Association of America, now of the Bank Street College of Education—has recommended books that are good for children. They read thousands of books, they share books with children and ask for their opinions, and then they make recommendations to teachers, librarians, and parents. They have good taste—they included Alicia Afterimage, Bird, Honda, Horse Song, No Mush Today, and Seven Miles to Freedom on their list of the best books published in 2008—and they love books.
Riding on the subway over the past few weeks, I kept coming across ads for ABC’s new “Comedy Wednesday” sitcom lineup: Hank, The Middle, Modern Family, and Cougartown. Now, aside from my personal feelings about some of these shows (Courtney Cox, what happened to you?) what struck me was how white–and I mean WHITE–the lineup looked, at least from the ads.
The lack of diversity in network programming isn’t anything new, but this fall it really bothered me, especially after reading this great article over at Movieline called “Who Is Killing the African American Sitcom?” Why is a comedy labeled as an “African American sitcom” as soon as it includes more than one black person in the cast? And why don’t sitcoms about people of color make the lineups of major networks anymore?
We have a bell on the wall in the office. It’s the good-news bell; whenever we get a starred review, an award, or a really big order, the bell is rung, the staff gathers around it, and the news is announced to the office.
Jason, as publisher, is the first to know when we get starred reviews: the relevant journal emails him the news. My first inkling comes when Jason sidles up to Hannah’s desk—right next to mine—and mutters something along the lines of, “Check your email. I forwarded something from Booklist.” After a pause long enough for the email to download and open, Hannah says, “oooh!” She then gets up and walks in the direction of the bell, Jason following surreptitiously two steps behind. That’s the point at which I know I’d better slip my feet into my shoes—I tend to kick them off under my desk—and get ready to gather around the bell for the good news.
Woot! GRACIAS • THANKS by Pat Mora is our second book this fall to get a starred review from Kirkus (a review journal certainly not known for dishing them out freely). Since it’s running later than our other fall titles, this is the first review we’ve gotten in, so we were all pretty excited this morning to read this:
The theme of the week is back to school. When we acquired, Armando and the Blue Tarp School in 2006, it was one of those moments when you are simply in awe of certain individuals and the good work they do in the world.