I am so excited about this story, of course! And I’m proud to be working with editor extraordinaire, Andrew Karre of Dutton Young Readers/Penguin, who helped usher into the world NO CRYSTAL STAIR: A DOCUMENTARY NOVEL OF THE LIFE AND WORK OF LEWIS MICHAUX, HARLEM BOOKSELLER by Vaunda Michaux Nelson.

From Publisher’s Weekly:

Andrew Karre at Dutton has bought Ibi Zoboi’s debut middle-grade novel My Life as an Ice-Cream Sandwich, the story of Ebony Grace, her sci-fi-fueled imagination, and her search for a place she can be herself, set against the backdrop of the hip-hop explosion in 1980s Harlem. Publication for the first book is tentatively slated for fall 2017. The second book in the deal will be a young readers’ biography of Octavia Butler. Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary Agency brokered the deal for world rights.

 

11870831_10153214998716925_6518266080688847730_n

debut, Ice Cream Sandwich, middle grade, Uncategorized

, , ,
Comment

There’s a new YA novel set in post-earthquake Haiti. So exciting! There’s now enough post-earthquake Haitian literature for a whole college course!

I was so honored to be able to review this book for the New York Times!

‘HOLD TIGHT, DON’T LET GO,’ BY LAURA ROSE WAGNER

When we are uncertain that the ground beneath our feet will not rumble and shift and swallow us whole, even the very next minute carries with it looming doubt. This is one of the ways Haitians say goodbye: ­Demen si Dye vle — “Tomorrow if God is willing.” Tomorrow is not promised, and when it does come, with all its roils and jolts, kenbe fèm, pa lage, “hold tight, don’t let go.” That is the title of Laura Rose Wagner’s debut novel, in which such Haitian idioms abound. This coming-of-age story conveys the country’s deeply entwined faith and fear of the unknown through the eyes of a teenager named Magdalie Jean-Baptiste.

You can read the rest of the review here.

There’s also been lots of talk about reviews for diverse books lately. Author Malindo Lo wrote an excellent four-part piece on the subject for Diversity in YA. Here’s what I think is an important quote that conveys why it’s important for reviewers to clearly depict culture, race, sexual orientation in diverse books.

If a trade review only hints about race or LGBT or disability issues, then I turn to blog reviews and Goodreads to confirm my suspicions. But more often than not I find that trade reviews do include details about the book’s diversity, and lately it has become increasingly common for trade reviews to state a character’s background quite plainly. I appreciate this because that’s why I’m reading these reviews, and I think an up-front statement that a character is gay is much better than an insinuation that the story has something to do with sexuality. It removes some of the stigma from historically marginalized identities, and it helps those of us who are seeking out these books to find them.

You can read more of Malinda Lo’s excellent piece here.

book reviews, books, diversity, Haiti, HOLD TIGHT DON'T LET GO, Laura Wagner, YA fiction
Comment
I’ll be hosting a reading and book signing with recent National Award Winner Jacqueline Woodson, Renee Watson, Tonya Cherie Hegamin, and Zetta Elliott as part of the I AM HERE: Girls Reclaiming Safe Spaces exhibit!

All of these wonderful authors’ books feature stories that highlight the magic and wonder of black girlhood, including Woodson’s BROWN GIRL DREAMING

My daughters and their friend will be asking the authors a few questions as part of the Brooklyn Blossoms Book Club

book signings, books, Brooklyn Blossoms Book Club, Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson, readings, Renee Watson, Tonya Cherie Hegamin, Zetta Elliott
Comment
A degree in basket weaving… This is supposed to be a metaphor for a useless degree—a degree that will reap no financial rewards whatsoever. There’s an art to basket weaving, of course. In fact, I own many baskets, like the colorful baskets from West Africa, the ones made from recycled magazines, and the ones from the craft store. 

Baskets are necessary. They are vessels. Humanity has always needed vessels. We, in our bodies, are vessels. And we all come from the ultimate vessel–the womb. 

Someone had to weave my baskets with their bare hands. I have a couple of “fair trade” ones, or some made by single mothers in Kenya with shredded bits of American fashion magazines (the irony). I don’t suppose there’s some giant factory with intricate machines weaving baskets. So, of course, there are still basket weavers in the world, and they learned the ancient art from somewhere and from someone. 

My degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults is like a degree in basket weaving—not the “useless” part, but the ancient art part. Telling stories to children is an ancient art. We’ve all been told stories. Stories are our myths and folktales that have evolved into our religions and worldview and cosmology. There are still children being born, of course. So they need stories. The stories of their families, their communities, and their cultures are what ground them to this place, what settles them into their own skins. 

The old stories will give them a frame of reference, a foundation. The new ones will affirm the here and now for them. They will connect them to a certain zeitgeist. 

One of my favorite authors, Ursula K. LeGuin, wrote an essay called “The Carrier Bag Theory.” Part of the idea of the essay is about subverting the lone hero narrative where a man goes forth on an adventure and follows a straight and sometimes narrow path to heroism. There’s evil in the world. The world needs a savior. One man, and only one man, was born to save this world. But he must battle beasts, resist tempting sirens, and confront he becomes the hero of his world. Stories that follow this trajectory are more like ropes or fishing lines or arrows or phallic symbols. Male-centered, and for the most part, Western-centered. They too have served their purpose in history.  

LeGuin proposes in her essay, the Carrier Bag story. The bag is like the womb, the vessel, out of which all the elements of a story can spring forth. In this sense, baskets hold our stories. And stories carry our cultures, our traditions, our morals and taboos. And to weave baskets is to weave our brokenness back together again—to remember the stories that made us whole. 

So when I look around my community, at all those statistics and articles and documentaries about a lack of this, and a dearth of that, and woe the poor children, the underserved, the underprivileged, and the at-risk, there is indeed a crisis. My day job(s) take me into different schools throughout NYC, I have children in public school, and my husband is a veteran public school teacher. I know firsthand that there’s a problem—a big one. And it has to do with stories—the stories children are reading and internalizing about themselves, and the stories they read and hear about other people and the supposed power they have in the world. When the stories we hear and read are not the ones told by our foremothers and forefathers, it’s like having tupperware in place of baskets. Okay, bad analogy. It’s like having plastic bags for baskets. Okay, worse analogy. But I hope you get the point.

I recently came across a video about expensive art degrees. It makes me sad. And for a moment, it made me feel not very smart. But I had to shift my perspective. I truly believe art is healing work. I have to see it as such. And art is a science. Basket weaving is a very intricate science— think fractals in math. And the most valuable thing I learned from story art school is that great stories, like baskets, can have mathematical patterns. Yes, like the snowflake the snowflake method. They can be graphed and charted and measured and quantified. It’s a science and it’s a healing art. 

Uncategorized
Comment

I Am Here: Girls Reclaiming Safe Spaces- an 
exhibition of photographs and words curated by Delphine Fawunda & Ibi Zoboi

From Curator, Ibi Zoboi:
As a mother of two daughters, it’s become crucial for me to constantly think of safe spaces for them to truly grow and dream and know that the world belongs to them. I don’t try to hide the negative truths about their world, instead, I let them know that they are safe within their own bodies and there are indeed safe spaces all around for them to play and laugh out loud. 

As a writer for children, I know that reading can be a safe space for little brown girls. By highlighting quotes from successful black women and books that feature black girls on their covers and within their pages, I want to affirm that their stories are indeed relevant. There is such a dearth of images of little black girls simply being their wonderful, unique selves. The I AM HERE exhibit will serve as a safe space where girls and their families can simply embrace the magic and joy of girlhood. 

About Delphine Fawunduhttp://www.delphinefawundu.com/

Brooklyn Blossoms Book Club, literacy
Comment