Andrea Cheng is the author of several critically-acclaimed books for young readers. Her most recent novel, Etched in Clay, tells the story in verse of Dave the Potter, an enslaved man, poet, and master craftsperson whose jars (many of which are inscribed with his poetry and writings) are among the most sought-after pieces of Edgefield pottery. Etched in Clay recently won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.
April is National Poetry Month, so we asked author Andrea Cheng to share one of her favorite poems from Etched in Clay:
We’re excited to announce a new release from our recently acquired imprint, Shen’s Books: Summoning the Phoenix, a musical and informative journey through the history of traditional Chinese instruments.
The glitz, fashion, and the glamorous parties are over, but we at LEE & LOW BOOKS are still thinking about the 86th Annual Academy Awards. We were excited to see our infographic on the diversity gap in the Academy Awards shared in several places, including the New York Times Carpetbagger blog, MSNBC’s The Grio, and Colorlines. Even Ellen started off the night with a joke about diversity (“Possibility number one, 12 Years a Slavecould win. Possibility number two, you’re all racists. Now please welcome our first white presenter…”). But the highlight of this year’s ceremony was seeing some big wins in diversity:
As February comes to an end, we round out Black History Month with a guest post by Pamela M.Tuck, author of As Fast As Words Could Fly. We asked her if there was one person she could choose to be as well-known or remembered as Rosa Parks, who would it be and why?
In a segregated all-black school, a young student was empowered by an African American motivational speaker from Washington, DC. It was 1960s North Carolina and this speaker, in the student’s mind, was famous. The young student was my mother, Pauline Teel, and the speaker was Cortez Peters.
Even though warmer weather seems like eons away, we’re already getting ready for the May release of Drift, our new YA coming-of-age fantasy from Tu Books imprint!
Tenjat lives on the shores of Hell, an ocean filled with ravenous naga monsters. His island, a massive Turtle, is slowed by the people living on its back. Tenjat is poor as poor gets: poor enough, even, to condescend to the shame of marriage, so his children can help support him one day.
But Tenjat has a plan to avoid this fate. He will join the Handlers, those who defend and rule the island. Handlers never marry, and they can even provide for an additional family member. Against his sister’s wishes, Tenjat joins the Handlers. And just in time: the Handlers are ramping up for a dangerous battle against the naga monsters, and they need every fighter they can get.
As the naga battle approaches, Tenjat’s training intensifies, but a long-hidden family secret—not to mention his own growing feelings for Avi—put his plans in jeopardy, and might threaten the very survival of his island.
In this post, Tu Books Publisher Stacy Whitman shares the process of creating the cover:
The cover of our new YA fantasy Drift was the first time we hit a wall in our attempt to put a person on the cover of the book. This world is a true high-fantasy alternate world, and the fact that the world is completely new makes it tough to depict visually. We came up against several roadblocks when pursuing our original design, which put the main character, Tenjat, front and center on the cover.
Just released last month, our newest picture book, King For a Day, takes readers on a colorful journey through the spring kite festival Basant. From a rooftop in Lahore, Pakistan, Malik is determined to take his kite Falcon out and win the most kite battles to earn the title of “King of Basant.”
Illustrator Christiane Krömer used paper and fabric collage to create the gorgeous illustrations you see below:
I always take photos of the many stages. That way I can see what a picture looked like earlier on, experiment with many choices and then maybe go back to an earlier option. The fun with collage is that you can always push all the paper pieces and fabrics around until they are in the right spot. But there is also a big danger that all the 1000 loose pieces go flying, so it’s a good idea to have a photo that tells you exactly how it was when it looked good. I always have real fun to look at all the stages once the illustrations are finished. I hope you do, too.
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:
Jill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
As the holidays charge forth, many teachers reach for their tried-and-true holiday read-aloud bin. It can be very tricky to select just the right text for the holidays. November and December are wonderful months to expose our children to as many cultures as possible and share how different families celebrate holidays in their homes. I encourage teachers, librarians, and literacy advocates to use this time of year not only to explore rituals, traditions, and core values, but also to recognize and celebrate the different kinds of families our children have.
Like many of our literacy partners, we are always looking for fresh stories that demonstrate the core values of the season: empathy, respect, gratitude, service, honesty, community, self-reflection, and responsibility. What better way to teach these abstract concepts than with books that reflect our students’ experiences at home and relationships?
Oh the weather outside is frightful, but a middle school sense of humor is so delightful! When the temperature is freezing, what better way to spend your time than by reading a hilarious book? We’ve put together a list of middle grade humor books (all of which feature diverse main characters), so get ready to have your funny bone tickled!
Note: In general, middle grade books are appropriate for kids ages 8-12. If any of these books fall outside that range, we’ve tried to note that below.
For you visual learners, we’ve also pinned these titles on Pinterest:
These books have been recommended in various places – we haven’t (yet) read them all ourselves. If you have other recommended humorous middle grade titles that feature characters of color or are written by authors of color, let us know in the comments! For more on middle grade humor, check out Cat Girl’s Day Offauthor Kimberly Pauley’s guest post she wrote on How to Write Humor for Young Readers.
Let the giggles and laughs commence!
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in the Night by Lenore Look, ill. by LeUyen Pham: Alvin Ho is an Asian American second grader who is afraid of everything—elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.