Friday, July 17, 2020

Equity & Inclusion Corner: Arcs of Justice by Jack Cheng



The Equity & Inclusion Corner welcomes author, Jack Cheng, for the third of our 2020 quarterly posts. In his call to action for substantive and meaningful change in our communities and society, Jack exhorts us to be agents of change at a deeper level.  

Stay tuned for our final 2020 blog post in October. Equity & Inclusion Team member, Debbie Taylor, shares the highlights of her conversation with Dr. Ashlelin Currie, Co-Chair of the Literacy Committee for the Books for Barbers organization. Dr. Currie serves as Early Literacy Consultant for Oakland Schools and was former president of BCDI-Detroit. Look for upcoming announcements on our Books for Barbers book drive to promote our collaborative efforts that will foster stronger community connections.
 
Be well and take care,
Isabel Estrada O’Hagin


Arcs of Justice

By Jack Cheng



I can’t wait for everything to go back to normal. This is a sentiment I’ve felt and expressed a number of times over the past months. I imagine that you’ve felt it too. To say that 2020 has been an unusual year so far would be a gross understatement.

But I want to challenge you—and myself—to resist the urge for normalcy. I want to challenge us to recognize that normal is the racist systems and policies that killed George Floyd in Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. That killed Malice Green and Aiyana Stanley-Jones in Detroit, Theo Gray in St. Clair Shores, and Cornelius Fredericks in Kalamazoo. Normal is racism that blames Asians for the pandemic and causes it to disproportionally kill Black and Brown bodies. Normal is, in other words, what got us here.

The purpose of daily marches and demonstrations in cities across the world isn’t only to highlight these injustices, but to interrupt the very sense of normalcy—as a means of effecting change. We, as storytellers, know that this interruption is an essential part of almost every story, almost every major character arc. Change doesn’t happen out of comfort; change must be incited. When our characters are shaken out of their “life as usual”—that’s when the story starts.

We know, too, that real change can’t be superficial. In the middles of our stories, our characters might attempt to soothe their surface problems and go back to the way things were, only to discover that these fixes are no substitute for the deeper inner transformation they must, through toil, trial, and error, discover. Likewise, our own transformations must involve more than just retweets and bail fund donations. They must involve more than just supporting authors and illustrators of color, and LGBTQIA+ creators, more than frequenting Black-owned bookstores. Those are all important, yes—but we must also do the far more difficult and uncomfortable work of reckoning with ways we personally, as a community, and as a society, have perpetuated racist ideas and policies, often without realizing it.

I believe that on every level, we can all—myself included—do better.

On a personal level, we can educate ourselves, and work to uncover our own biases. There are countless anti-racism reading lists available right now; we need only look at the bestseller lists or do a simple search to find them. The Brown Bookshelf, for one, has put together a collection of anti-racist resources off the heels of their KidLit Rally for Black Lives. Classes from Writing the Other are also an applied way to engage in that same education—through learning how to more sensitively write characters who are different than ourselves.

From within our communities, we can speak up when we see our friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues perpetuating racist ideas. But we must also work to identify and replace the racist policies in these same communities. The conclusion from surveys like Lee and Low’s 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey shouldn’t only be that we need individually to be more sensitive and inclusive, but that we also need to rethink the systems of publishing, agenting, and hiring that place disproportionately fewer people of color in industry roles, that offer smaller advances to Black authors over white authors, and that put disproportionately fewer books by marginalized authors into readers’ hands.

And here’s where our reality diverges from a simple three-act structure: We might have our moments of personal epiphany; we might have breakthroughs with our loved ones; we might effect policy changes in our industry; but unlike the stories in our books, the story of racial justice in this country is not going to be wrapped up with a neat denouement. The deeper we reach within ourselves and communities, and the farther we follow the symptoms to their root causes, the more we also start to see that we can’t achieve equity and justice in our local and professional communities without also addressing broader societal issues relating to housing, policing, healthcare, clean water, immigration, and education. The deeper we reach, the more we’ll see that this is not a single story but a multitude—an ongoing saga, already four hundred years old.

It’s a tall order, at times overwhelming to even grasp—how much work we still have to do. But we can always start with that desire for normalcy. We can learn to recognize it now, and whenever it appears in the future, for what it is: a call for action. A call for deep, meaningful change.

Jack Cheng is a Shanghai-born, Detroit-based author of critically acclaimed fiction for young readers. His debut children’s novel, See You in the Cosmos, is winner of the 2017 Golden Kite and Great Lakes, Great Reads awards for Best Middle Grade Fiction. Jack has visited schools around the world speaking with students about finding their paths as writers and artists, and he volunteers with 826michigan on in-class writing projects in Detroit public schools. He is a 2019 Kresge Artist Fellow.

Learn more at jackcheng.com.









Your voice matters. We invite you to comment on Jack’s post to keep the dialogue going.



Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Congratulations!


We recently shared our members good news in our quarterly Hugs and Hurrahs, but there's more! SCBWI offers a variety of programs to support our members, including mentorships and scholarships, and we have some new winners to celebrate. 

Congrats to the winners of the 2020 Nonfiction Mentorships!



The winner of the nonfiction middle-grade/young-adult mentorship
with Stephanie Bearce is Sarah Lynne John with her proposal for Becoming an Inventor: Train Your Brain to Invent & Explore Your Creativity

Runners-up are Susan Santone with her proposal for A Taste for Change and Tammy Layman with her proposal for Pantry Raid.

The winner of the nonfiction picture book mentorship with Patricia Newman is Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw with her manuscript The Expedition of CubeSat RAX

Runners-up are Carol Doeringer who wrote The Living Tree House and Melissa Bailey who wrote A Bright Thread: the Story of Marguerite Angeli.

Many thanks to the judges and mentors for all of their time and care in reading and making the tough decisions. Big thanks to Ann Finkelstein for coordinating this entire process from start to finish over many months. We appreciate you!

 
And there's more...

Congrats to the winners of the 2020 Members for Members Scholarship Fund! 


These winners are members or soon-to-be members of SCBWI who are interested in and working towards creating children’s books that resonate with diverse readers. Stay tuned to learn more - we'll check in with the recipients down the road to learn more about their work and how their projects are progressing.

Many thanks to the generous members who donated funds and to Isabel O'Hagin and the DEI committee for working to establish this scholarship fund.


Cheers to all of our hard-working SCBWI-MI writers and illustrators! Here's to taking risks and leaps to improve your work. We're so proud of you!




Friday, June 26, 2020

Hugs and Hurrahs

Hello again, everyone! Well, the end of the school year was different this year, but we’ve made it to summer. I hope you’re all enjoying the nice weather! I’m so glad to be able to celebrate all this good news today.

Neal Levin’s poem “Brother For Sale” is posted on GiggleVerse.com, a new website developed by Kenn Nesbitt, featuring “the funniest kids’ poems in the universe.” The website is meant to encourage children to read by providing them with new funny poems from writers all over the world, every weekday, on the website and by email. You can also find more of his poems here.

How cool, Neal!

Kristin Lenz's YA short story, “Spontaneous Combustion,” was a runner-up in the WOW! Women On Writing 2020 Winter Flash Fiction contest. You can read Kristin's story and find the other winners/finalists here.

That’s fantastic, Kristin!





Suzanne Jacobs Lipshawis celebrating signing two contracts. The first with Doodle and Peck Publishingfor the publication of her nonfiction picture book MIGHTY MAHI (working title) releasing fall 2022. The second with Professional Youth Theatre of Michiganwho are adapting her debut picture book I CAMPAIGNED FOR ICE CREAMinto a musical.

I can’t wait to see it, Suzanne!




Julie Wenzlick recently published her fourth rhyming picture book in a series about sisters Annabelle and Maisie, Julie's granddaughters. Her newest book, THE DREAM WAR: ANNABELLE VS. MAISIE (Illustrations by Jaime Buckley), is a tale of competitive sisters who seek parental attention by making up wild dreams in a battle of wit and imagination.  A companion coloring book is also available. A preview of the book can be seen here

How sweet, Julie!


Rachel Anderson’s debut MG historical fiction novel THE PUPPY PREDICAMENT (Late November Literary) was released in April. Eleven-year-old Emily Hanover is determined to secretly rescue a litter of mutts that her neighbor doesn’t want in this novel set in a small town in Michigan in the mid-1960s. 

Good for you, Rachel!





Lisa Rose won the PJ Library Author Incentive Award for her picture book A ZOMBIE VACATION illustrated by Ángeles Ruiz (Apples & Honey Press), which will be released on September 1.

That’s great news, Lisa!





Lisa Wheeler sold a picture book titled BABY SHOWER to Lauri Hornik at Dial. The book will come out in 2022 and be illustrated by Charlie Alder.

Congratulations, Lisa!


Kirbi Fagan and Deb Pilutti received a merit award from the 3x3. "The 3x3 is the first publication devoted entirely to the art of contemporary illustration. Published in the United States and distributed worldwide, our sole interest is in sharing what's shaping international illustration. Our mission is to preserve, protect and promote illustration in all its forms. Merit winners must have received a majority of our judge’s votes."

Hurrah for both of you!





David Stricklen’s book RIPLEY ROBINSON AND THE WORM CHARMERhas a new cover jacket. 

Looks great, David!




Stay well and happy writing, everyone! Please send all your good news to Sarah Prusoff LoCascio at Sarah.Prusoff.LoCascio@gmail.comfor the next Hugs and Hurrahs post.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Book Birthday Blog with Baxter Bramatti

Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog! 
Where we celebrate new books by Michigan's children's book authors and illustrators

Congratulations to Baxter Bramatti on the release of his book, Moon Puppets!



Congratulations on your debut book, Moon Puppets! What inspired this story? 

Thank you! My dad inspired the story. When I was kid and we'd lose power during a thunderstorm at night, my dad used to make shadow puppets with his flashlight. He would shine the flashlight directly above me and light up the ceiling. Then he’d lower his hand over it and speak in a deep, scary voice. As his hand dropped closer to the light, the shadow of his hand would get bigger and look as if a giant hand was lowering and trying to pick me up. I mean, it’s a dad joke, something every dad does I’m sure. But the image of him doing that stuck with me. Then one day, many years ago, I was gazing at one of those super harvest moons that hover just above the horizon. I started to imagine what it would look like if a shadow of a hand started out small but then gradually increased to cover the moon in its entirety, making the moon disappear. Perhaps there was the potential for a much darker, creepier story than Moon Puppets, but eventually I turned the idea into a rhyming poem about a girl who wants to make a shadow puppet show for the whole world to see.



This picture book was definitely a labor of love and time! You started Moon Puppet’s first draft eighteen years ago. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey from there to now?

That’s right. Eighteen years ago I completed the first draft of Moon Puppets and I never stopped thinking about it. The moon itself was a constant reminder of the work and story I wanted to share. I always knew that I’d find a way to release it into the world, just like the story’s protagonist, Flora, finds a way to see her dreams come true. I figured if I created Flora with imaginative qualities and the drive to see her goals reached, and I thought those were good characteristics that I wanted to put out there to inspire young readers, then I should learn from her and find a way to make my dreams come true as well. But, the hardest part for me was the art. I can’t draw. Well, I can’t draw anything that would be appealing in a picture book. So most of the eighteen years was taken up by me thinking about the book and wondering who to contact or how to complete the project, and then telling myself that maybe it’s not worth the time, effort, and other resources. Even though it is; it’s totally worth it. And I’d also tell myself that, too. So basically, I had an internal argument about the project for eighteen years. In the end though, I won. Not that it’s about winning (I tell myself that so myself feels better about the outcome). 

What was your inspiration or motivation to write picture books?

Other picture books are a motivation. I’ve always been fascinated by well-written, well-executed picture books. Picture book authors have very little time to grab their target audience’s attention (with words or pictures), and they have to get their message across clearly. I also like to write fun stories for the sake of them being fun. I know there’s plenty of heavy topics these days to write about. It’s necessary to write about them, and I’m so glad there’s people that do just that and do it well. But at the same time, kids are kids. Sometimes they simply need to hear a story or be inspired about a girl that projects shadows on the moon with her hands. Also, my children motivate me, although perhaps not to write Moon Puppets, since that was done over ten years before my first child was born. But my kids definitely inspired me to follow through with the story, create more, and reach for my dreams because that’s exactly what I tell them to do.




Moon Puppets is a self-published picture book. Why did you decide to take the self-publishing route?

There came a time when I realized that I had to get Flora’s story out there. I queried countless agents and publishers off and on throughout the last eighteen years. I even attended a few writer workshops and pitched the story directly to agents. I was never successful in landing an agent or publisher. I kept telling myself that the story I had was good enough and that one day I would publish it if no one else would. Then eighteen years passed. And I got older. And my children, although still young enough now to enjoy picture books, got older, too. I thought what am I waiting for? At what age do I no longer wait for something to happen and simply make it myself? I met the illustrator, Taylor Graham, around the same time I decided to just go for it, which I felt was serendipitous rather than simply happenstance. If I waited eighteen more years I’d be even older and I might not be as determined to see the project through. I’m glad I didn’t wait longer, I’m proud of the finished product and I learned a lot (with plenty more to learn still) about the publishing and self-publishing industry. At the end, holding the finished product, my book, in my hands after dreaming about the day for almost two decades was extremely satisfying.

How did you get in contact with artist Taylor Graham? What advice would you give to an author who’s self-publishing and looking for an illustrator? 

How do you get into contact with anyone these days? It’s a classic story of boy-uses-internet-to-awkwardly-ask-boy-a-question. After that, our relationship progressed quickly and about nine months after our initial meeting, we were holding our precious creation, our book, in our hands. My advice to other self-publishing authors is to find an illustrator whose style and work you admire. Don’t settle for something based on price or ease; the art and images are part of your story so get what you want. I hear writers say things like “write for you first” and I think that carries over in selecting an illustrator: write for you and present your story with art for you as well.

You wrote Moon Puppets in rhyme! Why did you chose that style of writing for this story? Do you usually like to write in rhyme, or was this newer for you? 

I do like to write in rhyme. I feel like it fits together like a puzzle. Some writers find it restrictive because there are rules, but I find the rules challenging, yet freeing in a way. If I need an extra syllable, I can swap a two syllable word for a three syllable word, or if I need to, maybe throw in the passive voice and, voila, the beat goes on. Doing that for prose might be considered “bad writing.” During my eighteen-year-long argument with myself I came across a lot of writing advice that said writing picture books in rhyme was a big no-no unless your name was Dr. Seuss. Discouraged, I rewrote the story a few times in prose, but it just wasn’t the same and never felt as fun. Then it came back to that “write for you” idea, and I knew the story was always meant to be in rhyme. It was always meant to be a fantasy poem about an ordinary girl doing something extraordinary.




Do you have anything in the works? Any future projects or plans? How can readers learn more about you and your work?

Yes, of course! I’m working on more of Flora’s fantastical stories. Her second story is complete (I only sat on that one for six years), and Taylor is going to begin working on the illustrations for it soon. I like to think of Flora as a girl who is surrounded by this sort of fantastical environment and wonderful things happen to her or she finds she’s capable of doing some extraordinary things. It’s kind of a Bobby’s World situation where she acts out her fantasies, but for her it’s possible that it all might not be in her imagination. 

I also have a Middle Grade magical realism manuscript about a unicorn struggling with his own identity and a genre-blending Young Adult manuscript that contrasts the life of an Italian immigrant with that of his grandson. Both manuscripts are completed (minus some final stage editing), as well as a few more picture books (in poetry and prose) that I’m working on.

Readers can learn more about me and my work by visiting my website, www.baxterbramatti.com, or by following (and interacting!) with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @BBramatti.

A little bit about the book:

Flora wants to cast shadows on the moon using light from the sun. But can she stretch her arms up high enough to see her dreams come true? Flora will have to combine her imagination and determination to create the most fantastic shadow puppet show the world has ever seen!

A little bit about the author:

Baxter B. Bramatti lives in Michigan with his loving wife and their two daughters. He spends most of his time writing, dreaming, scheming, and eating. He does laundry, too, because food stains are natural consequences of his eating. If you would like to see what Baxter is working on, you can check out his latest projects from a safe distance (so he can't drip food juice on your shirt) by visiting www.baxterbramatti.com or twittering @BBramatti.

Friday, June 12, 2020

We Each Have a Story to Tell by Kat Harrison


Kat Harrison celebrated her book birthday with an interview here on the Mitten blog last month. The idea for her picture book, Surgery on Sunday, grew from her own experience with chronic illness. We asked Kat to return to our blog to share some tips about writing from your own personal experiences, owning your story, and using your challenges to fuel your writing.

Here's Kat:

Telling your story to the world is like cracking your chest open and saying, "Here's my heart. Go ahead and take a look around." It's unbelievably scary and there isn't a lot to hide behind. But I've also learned how incredibly empowering it is to let your imperfect self shine, and I hope to encourage you to do the same.

(Quick note before we continue: My own story isn't why we're here, but in case you need some context -- you can head here or here.)

We each have a story to tell


The most beautiful part about life is that each one of us is uniquely spun from beginning to end. And while that can bring on feelings of loneliness and othering, I find so much hope (and writing material) in that. Try and tap into your experiences when you feel blocked. What have you been through? Who changed your life? What emotions have carried you this far? What small things bring you the most joy?

Share what you're comfortable with


I didn't share my story for the longest time. I felt deep shame about being so sick during "the best years of my life." But as I've come to share more and more of myself with the world and with readers, it's vital to acknowledge that I've done so on my own timeline -- no one else's. The same goes for you. Only tell your story when you're ready. Tell as little or as much as you like. The beauty of opening up is that most people won't know what details you're leaving out. It's OK to protect your heart as you're the only one who has to live with it beating inside your chest.

Prepare for impact


The freedom I've experienced with embracing what I've been through is second to none. I finally feel like myself in a world that tells me I should be a walking Instagram filter. But what I've learned is that when you channel every single speck of who you are into a written product, you're also opening yourself up for criticism. People won't always like what you create -- that's the underbelly of what it means to be an artist. But it's a tad bit harder to swallow when what they're critiquing is rooted in your inner fabric. It's almost as if they're rejecting who you are as a person as opposed to your finished product. But I hope you don't let that stop you.

I'll leave you with two final tips about how you can approach this:

1. Lead with vulnerability. Create a platform around what you've been through. It feels like I've told my life's story a million times and then I decided to write a work of fiction. Most people know me for my health advocacy and now I'm hoping they'll get to know me as an author.

2. End with vulnerability. Create a story around your story. Let the details of your life inspire characters or the plot. Even just plucking out meaningful conversations or events can bring shape and color to an otherwise fictional telling. Let people get to know you as an author and then surprise them with your dimension as a human being.

Whatever you do, I hope you know how much better your story makes this world. I'd love to hear it when and if you're ready.


Kat Harrison is a writer, editor, and chronic illness advocate. Her writing has been featured in various print and online outlets such as Real Simple, New York Family, The Mighty, and Yahoo. She lives with a not-so-fun buffet of chronic health conditions and has recovered from fourteen surgeries, but she keeps her sense of humor thanks to an incalculable amount of coffee and brightly colored headbands. Surgery on Sunday (Warren Publishing, 2020) is her debut picture book. You can visit her website at katwritesforyou.com or follow her on Instagram @xokat.





Coming up on the Mitten Blog:

Diversity Dialogue, Book Birthday interviews, and our quarterly Hugs and Hurrahs. We want to celebrate your good news:
  • Did you receive a "champagne" rejection letter, a request to revise and resubmit?
  • Did you sign with an agent?
  • Did you win a contest?
  • Do you have a cover reveal?
  • Did you sign a contract?
  • Do you have an online interview, article, or event to share?
  • Did you sign up for or complete a class? An MFA program?
  • Did you meet a goal in your work-in-progress? Did you set a goal? Put it in writing and we'll help keep you accountable!
Your steps of progress inspire and motivate us too! Please email your writing/illustrating/publishing news to Sarah LoCascio by June 22nd to be included in the next Hugs and Hurrahs roundup later in June.


Did you notice we have a new spring/summer blog banner created by Rebecca Howe? Thank you, Rebecca! You can read her interview and see our previous Featured Illustrators here.








Look for the next Diversity Dialogue post in mid-July. Jack Cheng’s blog post, On Silence and Action, will focus on what we in the kidlit community can do, from our own respective lanes, when current events stir us to do something. He'll approach it from a more universal, ongoing perspective, rather than focusing on one event.









Publishing Opportunity! 

The Mitten Blog is seeking submissions from SCBWI-MI members. This is a great opportunity for novice writers to practice polishing and submitting their work and for experienced authors and illustrators to add to their platform. Your input helps all of us to learn and improve our craft and business and support our community. Here are the submission guidelines:
https://scbwimithemitten.blogspot.com/p/submissions_18.html


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Book Birthday Blog with Supriya Kelkar

Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog! 
Where we celebrate new books by Michigan's children's book authors and illustrators

Congratulations to Supriya Kelkar on the release of her new book, American as Paneer Pie!



Congratulations on the release of American As Paneer Pie! What inspired this story?

Thank you! I wrote the first draft in 2017, when it felt like hate was really being emboldened and encouraged by people in power. It made me think back to my childhood in a small town in Michigan that didn’t value diversity. I wanted to write a story that empowered readers everywhere into finding their voice, in whatever shape it may take, to speak out against hate.

The main plot of the story revolves around two young girls, Lekha and Avantika. What inspired these two characters, and what did you want to explore in their relationship?

A lot of Lekha is based on me when I was younger. Lekha deals with constant othering and microaggressions and racism and has grown to feel conflicted about her culture when she is not in spaces that appreciate it. Avantika is someone who is unwaveringly proud of who she is and not afraid to speak up for herself and others. She inspires Lekha to find her voice, and Lekha helps Avantika overcome an issue in her life as well when it comes to colorism and the fairness creams Avantika uses.

Food plays a big role in the book, hinted at by American as Paneer Pie’s title! Could you talk a little bit about the significance of food in your story?

I grew up loving Indian food but was made fun of it at school so much I eventually stopped bringing it. Lekha goes through something similar so I really wanted to pause and take time in lovingly describing the food that means so much to Lekha at home. Readers can find out what paneer pie is on June 9th, and there’s a recipe in the back of the book too!

In addition to writing middle grade and picture books, you’ve been a screenwriter for several Hindi films! Has your experience as a screenwriter informed how you write your books?

It has. I write all my novels using the three-act structure from screenwriting. Because my screenwriting background always emphasized how important structure is, I spend a lot of time at the start of drafting on outlining the book and plotting everything out.

What has publishing and marketing a book been like in the current situation? Do you have any advice for other authors currently working to publish and market their own books right now?

With so many important issues at the forefront right now, it isn’t an ideal time to market a book. I’m just doing what I can to get the word out and encouraging readers to get books from independent bookstores that can all use our support right now.

What’s something you hope your readers will take away from American as Paneer Pie?

I hope readers feel inspired to find their voice, be it through art, poetry, singing, writing, dance, etc. and use it to speak out against hate and stand up for what is right. I hope the book is a beacon of hope for those who need it and a book that builds empathy and understanding for all readers.

What’s next for you? Do you have any projects coming up? How can readers learn more about you and your work?

I have three books coming out after AMERICAN AS PANEER PIE (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster).

The first is STRONG AS FIRE, FIERCE AS FLAME (Tu Books, October 2020). It is a historical middle grade novel that takes place in 1857 in India. It is full of girl power and challenges readers to think about books we consider classics, and to think about who is being centered in colonial stories and all stories, and whose stories are being left out.

In spring 2021, BINDU’S BINDIS (Sterling), a picture book about a girl who loves to match the shape of her bindis to her Nani’s comes out. That is illustrated by Parvati Pillai and the art is gorgeous.

And after that, in summer 2021, THAT THING ABOUT BOLLYWOOD (Simon & Schuster BFYR) comes out. It is a middle grade novel about a Bollywood-loving girl named Sonali who isn’t very good at expressing herself. When her parents announce they are separating, a magical condition forces Sonali to express herself in the most obvious way possible, through Bollywood song-and-dance numbers.

I’m really excited for AMERICAN AS PANEER PIE and all of these upcoming books!

A little bit about the book:

An Indian American girl navigates prejudice in her small town and learns the power of her own voice in this brilliant gem of a middle grade novel full of humor and heart, perfect for fans of Front Desk and Amina’s Voice.

As the only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food, and School Lekha, who pins her hair over her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation at all costs, especially when someone teases her for being Indian.

When a girl Lekha’s age moves in across the street, Lekha is excited to hear that her name is Avantika and she’s Desi, too! Finally, there will be someone else around who gets it. But as soon as Avantika speaks, Lekha realizes she has an accent. She’s new to this country, and not at all like Lekha.

To Lekha’s surprise, Avantika does not feel the same way as Lekha about having two separate lives or about the bullying at school. Avantika doesn’t take the bullying quietly. And she proudly displays her culture no matter where she is: at home or at school.

When a racist incident rocks Lekha’s community, Lekha realizes she must make a choice: continue to remain silent or find her voice before it’s too late.

A little bit about the author:

Supriya grew up in the Midwest, where she learned Hindi as a child by watching three Hindi movies a week. Winner of the New Visions Award for her middle grade novel AHIMSA, (Tu Books, 2017), Supriya is a screenwriter who has worked on the writing teams for several Hindi films and one Hollywood feature. Supriya’s books include AHIMSA, THE MANY COLORS OF HARPREET SINGH (Sterling, 2019), AMERICAN AS PANEER PIE (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2020) STRONG AS FIRE, FIERCE AS FLAME (Tu Books, 2020), BINDU’S BINDIS (Sterling, 2021), and THAT THING ABOUT BOLLYWOOD (Simon and Schuster BFYR, 2021).

Learn more about Supriya at supriyakelkar.com.



Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Resources for Social Justice and Positively Impacting Change Through Children's Books


https://www.scbwi.org/black-lives-matter-resources


More resources:

  • #BVM Black Voices Matters has a new hashtag for PitMad pitches.


Dr. Traci Baxley is an expert on social justice parenting and education for children. She's hosting an online workshop for parents on June 10th and 19th: For Moms Who Want To Be Allies - Talking to Kids about Racism. For more information and registration, go here:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/for-moms-who-want-to-be-allies-talking-to-kids-about-racism-tickets-107596295416


Please join the KidLit community on Thursday June 4th, 7pm for the Rally of Black Lives hosted on Facebook Live @THE BROWNBOOKSHELF.



Do you have a resource to share? Please let us know in the comments.