Do you participate in reading challenges? I don’t, though I can see how it might be a useful, structured way to read outside your comfort zone. But does it have a lasting impact on the participant? Debbie Reese has an interesting post over at her blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature; stop by and read her reservations about the effectiveness of the current People of Color Challenge. Is a free book the real incentive for folks who sign up to “read brown”?
On Friday I went up to Westchester to sit in on Vanessa Irvin Morris’ librarian book club; it was a really interesting conversation, and I felt privileged to hear how librarians feel about the way books are acquired for their collections (it seems librarians have less input these days and outside administrators buy all the books for all the branches). I also had a chance to interview Vanessa about the politics behind book acquisitions–check it out! Next month her librarians are required to select their own street lit novel…and I think I’m going to participate. Any recommendations? I could do Midnight, the sequel to The Coldest Winter Ever…or Hood Rat. Sadly, I *am* concerned about the cover I’ll be holding up on the train, so that will be a factor in my final selection…
Lastly, Wish got another great review from the Amazon Vine Program; swing by the Wish blog to check it out…and if you don’t mind, could you ask for Wish at your local library and/or bookstore? It seems the new AmazonEncore edition is out already–2 weeks ahead of our February 16th release date! I need to figure out how to link to these Vine reviews–here’s another, just in:
Excellent adventure, authentic historical fiction, January 30, 2010
By BrianB (Northern California)
This was a well written, fast paced tale about Genna, a modern 15 year old black student who gets whisked back in time to Civil War era Brooklyn. I became immersed in the universe of that time, a world brought to life by the skillful artistry of Ms. Elliott. I enjoyed the authentic details about life in the 1860’s, details which made the story real, and kept me glued to the page. I reacted strongly to some of the brutal racism of the time, but I don’t think that the author embellished anything for the sake of her story. This is a mostly dispassionate presentation of historical attitudes, with a believable and sympathetic protagonist. The most striking racism in the story was not the naked violence of the mobs, but the considered and patronizing attitude of her employer. This kindly doctor spends a good deal of time trying to help black people, yet can’t even consider that they might be equal to white people in intelligence.
The plot is well constructed, although the mysterious way that Genna was transported across time remained unexplained. The only negative element in the story was Genna’s sometime boyfriend, who was an irritating presence. I do not mean to say that he was unrealistic, just that I did not like him, a minor point for me in an excellent first novel.
I love to find new authors with a good voice, believable characters, and a gift for telling a good story. I look forward to more novels from Ms. Elliott in the future. This novel is perfectly appropriate for teens.