Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Gift that Gives in Two Directions

As the holiday season jumps into full swing this December many of us are considering sharing gifts with needy children and families. This is a wonderful opportunity to share books with kids and teens, and I highly recommend it!
Also, as authors/illustrators, and friends of authors/illustrators, we should consider that when we share books with kids at Christmas (which is the most important part of the giving - getting the books into the hands of kids,) that in addition to giving copies of the most popular books of the year like "Across the Universe" - Congrats to SCBWI Carolinas' own Beth Revis!," and The Hunger Games Trilogy, and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Cabin Fever," we can also help get books by authors we know into the hands of kids as well! When one child reads a book and loves it, that child generally talks about the book to other children, and word about the book spreads. More kids get their hands on the book - a book that may not yet have made the New York Times Best Seller list, but that may show that child or teen a beautiful fantasy world that they can escape to, or a wonderful `true to life' story that they can see themselves in, or a picture book that gets their imagination soaring. Not all of the great books published over the past few years have yet made the New York Times Best Seller list. So giving books by authors you know is both a gift to the kids and a gift to that author.
So I'd strongly encourage all the authors and illustrators out there to share a currently popular book from 2011 with kids and teens in need, and also to wrap that book up in red ribbon with a wonderfully written, possibly not-yet-as-famous book by an author or illustrator you know, as well!
Let's spread the best-selling YA/MG/Children's books, and also the wonderful other books that we all know exist out there, to kids and teens in need! If you know of a great book you've read, by an author you know, that you'd like to recommend this Christmas, please post a comment with the name of the book, author, and a brief plot summary, below : ).
Here are some great nonprofits and government agencies that desperately need your book donations for kids in the U.S. this holiday season:
1.) Toys for Tots: (Click the link to find a drop box near you.)
2.) Your local children's hospital: (Check the phone book. Many kids' hospital units have a bookshelf and would love new books for teens and younger kids this year.)
3.) Your local Department of Social Services Foster Care Department: (Check the government listings in your phone book. Many Foster Care programs have Angel Trees with specific toys and clothes requested by the kids in foster care each year, but many of these kids only get 1 or 2 gifts. So often these programs also accept extra donations, like books, to suppliment those gifts. Change the world a little bit by putting books into the hands of kids who are not able to live with their parents this year!
4.) Your local Domestic Violence Shelter or Women and Children's Homeless Shelter: Domestic Violence Shelters and Family Homeless Shelters offer temporary housing to kids, teens, and parents in distressing life situations. Most of these programs have a bookshelf sparsely populated with old, falling-apart books. They need more! They need new ones! Check out your local phone listings to contact the shelter near you.
I hope we'll all share at least two books with kids and teens in need this year. Share one that's famous. Share one that's not - yet. And wrap them up together with a big red ribbon.
Happy Holidays to all the writers, illustrators, kids, and teen readers out there. May it be a wonderful December for everyone!


maureen wartski said...

In a move of shameless self promotion, I'd suggest * Yuri's Brush With Magic* for a mid-grade read that has had some very nice commendations from young readers!
Maureen Wartski

Janelle said...

Ha! Maureen!

That IS a shameless act of self-promotion. But thanks for being the first to comment and get us started this Holiday Season!
For those considering Maureen's book, here is a brief synopsis I found online from an independent bookstore:

"Yuri's Brush with Magic by Maureen Wartski is an intelligent novel for preadolescents.

Featuring Japanese folktales told in a contemporary setting, Wartski's adventure novel explores the complexity of family relationships and how generations-old misunderstandings can cause rifts that affect the children--and how to heal those rifts. Nine-year-old Tammy is worried--her mother lies in a coma and her father is overwhelmed. Out of nowhere her great-aunt, "Mean Yuri" Hamada, appears to whisk Tammy and her older brother, Ken, off to Emerald Isle. Ken plots to return home by impeding Yuri's resolve with acts of extreme brattiness. But Tammy is captivated by Yuri's storytelling, the way her brush brings old Japanese folktales to life on her canvas, her aunt's past. She's as concerned about a buried nest of loggerhead turtle that may not hatch. Wartski skillfully blends these subplots with themes of renewal and transformation"

Janelle said...

I'm also going to make a few recommendations of my own.

Here are 2 for the YA crowd:

1.) My friend Kathleen Duey has written a great Dark YA book called Skin Hunger (published in 2007, but it's a series with book 2 - Sacred Scars already out.)

Synopsis: Magic is available only to the wealthy and is strictly controlled by wizards within a sequestered academy of magic. Hahp, the expendable second son of a rich merchant, is forced into the academy and finds himself paired with Gerrard, a peasant boy inexplicably admitted with nine sons of privilege and wealth. Only one of the ten students will graduate -- and the first academic requirement is survival.

Janelle said...

2.) Incarceron and the second book in the series Sapphique, written by Catherine Fisher from England (who I don't know) but brought to the U.S. recently by Editor Liz Waniewski from Dial who I do (know), is a complex and brilliantly written dark (steampunkish) YA novel as well. It's one of my favorites!

Summary: Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells and corridors, but metal forests, dilapidated cities, and wilderness. It has been sealed for centuries, and only one man has ever escaped. Finn has always been a prisoner here. Although he has no memory of his childhood, he is sure he came from Outside. His link to the Outside, his chance to break free, is Claudia, the warden's daughter, herself determined to escape an arranged marriage. They are up against impossible odds, but one thing looms above all: Incarceron itself is alive . . .

Crafterdays said...

I'd like to recommend Jean Claude Bemis' trilogy, The Clockwork Dark. Book 1, The Nine Pound Hammer, is a fantasy about Ray, an orphan who escapes foster care by jumping off of a train, teams up with circus performers with special talents, helps them protect a Swamp Siren from the evil Gog, and keep the Gog from rebuilding a monstrous machine that John Henry, the famous American folk hero destroyed.
I'd also like to recommend Ian Sand's book, How to milk a Dinocow. This is about two kids, Trip and his friend Jules. Jules spills milk onto Trip's uncle's dinosaur machine and creates a stegcowsaurus. This is a great quick read for middle grade or as low-reader/high-interest book.
I've read both books with my resource students (mainly boys) and they were big hits. This is saying a lot, since boys are often a hard sell when it comes to books.

Ms. Creek said...

I just read a super MG novel by one of SCBWI-Carolina's very own Stephen Messer. Windblowne stars Oliver, a sympathetic character made hero when he accidentally discovers the secrets of his world. It's a fantastic adventure story that boys and girls (and adults) will love.

Janelle said...

Thanks Kathy (Crafterdays) - It's always great to get book recommendations from someone currently teaching middle school boys!

I too am a huge fan of both Ian Sands and John Claude Bemis!

Janelle said...

And Ms. Creek, it looks like you're also actively working in the schools. So, huge thanks for your knowledgeable recommendation of Windblowne and Congrats to Stephen Messer!

Unknown said...

I'd like to recommend three books. The books are great, and the authors are fabulous people!

Eat Your Math Homework
by Ann McCallum
This collection of yummy recipes and fun math facts is sure to tempt taste buds and make you hungry for more. Explore patterns in nature while you chomp on Fibonacci Stack Sticks. Amaze your friends with delicious Variable Pizza Pi! Wash down your geometry assignment with some Milk and Tangram Cookies. Topics covered include probability, Fibonacci numbers, tessellations, variability, and more.

The Sweetest Thing
by Christina Mandelski
In the world of Sheridan Wells, life is perfect when she’s decorating a cake. Unfortunately, everything else is a complete mess: her mom ran off years ago, her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and the idea of a boyfriend is laughable. But Sheridan is convinced finding her mom will solve all her problems—only her dad’s about to get a cooking show in New York, which means her dream of a perfect family will be dashed.

by Bettina Restrepo
When her father leaves their beloved Mexico in search of work, Nora stays behind. She fights to make sense of her loss while living in poverty—waiting for her father's return and a better day. When the letters and money stop coming, Nora decides that she and her mother must look for him in Texas. After a frightening experience crossing the border, the two are all alone in a strange place. Now, Nora must find the strength to survive while aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and her precious quinceaƑera.

Jenny Murray

Janelle said...

Jenny - thanks for those great book recommendations!

"Illegal is already on my personal reading list. Ann McAllum's writing is always great - plus she's a fabulous person. And I love Christina's combining of foodie stuff with teen life issues.

Great suggestions!

C.R. Evers said...

great list Janelle!