Yesterday in our post we asked you to guess which Lee & Low book has been challenged. The answer?
I had an interesting discussion the other day. Let me just start off by saying that I feel pretty strongly anti-censorship and would never advocate the banning of books. But I was speaking with a friend about the second Twilight installment and how uncomfortable it made me. At the beginning, Vampire Edward leaves Bella, after which she spends a year putting herself in all kinds of danger just to bring him back. She actually comes close to killing herself so he’ll come back to her. That is not OK with me. I said to my friend, “I’m afraid that teen girls will look at Bella as a role model and see this as an ideal relationship,” and it seemed to me that this was a story that could do real damage to readers.
Happy Friday! We begin this week with some progress on the publishing front: lots of conversations going on right now among booksellers about how to sell multicultural titles, especially to white readers. Check out this great post by Elizabeth Bluemle as well as a discussion by the fine folks at Random House. It’s heartening to see so many different kinds of book people—publishers, booksellers, and readers—assuming responsibility and making it their mission to support diversity.
Note: This post was originally written in 2010, however we continue to update the comments section with answers to your questions.
The New Voices Award is open to all authors of color who have not previously had a children’s picture book published. The winner receives a cash prize of $1000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor winner will receive a cash prize of $500.
We periodically get some questions about the Award, so I’d like to answer a few of them if I can:
What does it mean to be a person of color?
Well, that can be a pretty complicated question, but for the purposes of our New Voices Award specifically, we accept contest entries from people of African, Asian/Pacific Islander, Latin American, Middle Eastern, or Native American/Indigenous descent.
Why is the New Voices Award only open to people of color?
The New Voices Award was founded to encourage and support authors of color in a market where they’ve been traditionally excluded and underrepresented. That was true in 2000 when the award was started and it’s still true today (see these stats for some surprising figures about the number of books published by/for people of color). The New Voices Award is one of the ways in which we’re trying to close the gap.
Well, it’s HOT, and it seems like the urge to stay out of the heat has led to lots of thoughtful conversations around the web this week.
We begin with a new take on To Kill a Mockingbird, the classic by Harper Lee that celebrated its 50th Anniversary just this week. While it’s been taught for years as the quintessential anti-racism novel, Stuff White People Do has a fascinating argument for why the book can also be read as racist. Among the arguments: “The novel reduces black people to passive, humble victims, thereby ignoring the realities of black agency and resistance.” Even if you’ve got a deep love for To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s worth thinking about who it was written for, how it can be read differently by different readers, and how it fits into the larger picture of a literature curriculum heavily dominated by white authors.
A guest post by our fantastic intern, Noemi:
Those of you Yankee fans out there have probably heard by now that Bob Sheppard, the long-time Yankee Stadium announcer, died yesterday at age 99. Among the heartwarming anecdotes and quips mentioned in his obituary and numerous articles memorializing the legend was a small detail that stood out to me which indicates the changing cultural backgrounds of baseball players from Sheppard’s start in 1951 through today.
In a tribute to him in the New York Times, George Vecsey wrote of Sheppard, “In an earlier time, when baseball was not yet comfortable with Latino players, he made sure to give Minnie Miñoso his tilde. Later, he delighted in getting the pronunciation right for Shigetoshi Hasegawa.”
‘Tis the time of year when advance copies of our new fall books begin trickling into the office, and I wish I could bring every one of you here in person to leaf through them and chat over delicious baked goods and lemonade. However, since apparating is not yet possible outside of Harry Potter, a virtual preview will have to do.
SEASIDE DREAM, by Janet Costa Bates and illustrated by Lambert Davis, September, Ages 6-10
This lovely picture book about a girl and her grandmother won a New Voices Award Honor from Lee & Low when it was first submitted, so it’s exciting to see it as a real book. It’s about a young girl, Cora, who struggles to find the perfect gift for her grandmother, just in time for a birthday beach party.
Cora’s grandmother is from Cape Verde, a country off the coast of Africa that I knew little about before this book. It’s a lovely and unique culture. But what I like most about Seaside Dream is that it reflects an experience common to all immigrants, no matter where they come from originally: a loneliness for the people and places they left behind. At the end of the story, Cora finds a perfect way to ease this loneliness for her grandmother.
We’re packing up and shipping out this weekend to the American Library Association annual convention in Washington, D.C. If you’ll be there too, we’d love to see you!
We’ll be at booth #2711 all day every day, so stop on by. If our charm and good looks alone are not enough to entice you (ahem), we’ll also be giving away ARCs of our FIRST EVER GRAPHIC NOVEL, Yummy! Yes, OK, I am really excited about this one.
We’ll also be giving away posters featuring the oh-so-lovely artwork of Seaside Dream plus other posters and bookmarks. Plus we’ve got a jam-packed signing schedule of super authors and illustrators:
Saturday, June 26
9-10 am: Ching Yeung Russell (Tofu Quilt)