Amy Says Read This

Seriously, you should totally read this.

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Diversity in YA Giveaway

Because I generally keep this blog fairly reviews-only, I have never talked here about how white-centric literature is or how important it is for the books we read to our kids to introduce them to all kinds of people with all kinds of skin colors, sexual orientations, interests, ideas and more. Books help introduce kids to the world around them, and non-white kids need to see themselves in the stories they read and white kids need to read about experiences beyond their own (and so do kids of color! but it’s easier for white kids to only read about white kids).

In an effort to advocate and promote more diversity in reading material for youth, groups have been formed to help bring people’s attention to this issue, including We Need Diverse Books and Diversity in YA. They both have a lot of great resources if you’re looking to expand the diversity in your reading and ways you can help ensure more diverse books keep getting published and read and honored with awards and accolades when they are deserving.

Which brings us to the main point of today’s blog: Diversity in YA is having a MEGA AMAZING Diverse Books Giveaway! Y’all should go enter because they’ve got 100 books to giveaway, and there’s bound to be something you’ve been looking forward to reading!

Lastly, the author Malinda Lo (who wrote Ash, the best lesbian Cinderella you never knew you wanted) has recently posted a great response to the question of why diversity in literature is important:

“Diversity is not important. Diversity is reality. Human beings are not all the same. We come from many different places and have many different identities and experiences. Having only one kind of human being in the stories being told is flat-out bad storytelling. Diversity is reality. Let’s stop erasing that.”


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One Green Apple by Eve Bunting

Image from

Bunting, E., & Lewin, T. (ill.) (2006). One green apple. New York: Clarion Books. ISBN: 9780618434770

Annotation: Farah feels lost during her first field trip on her second day at a new school in a new country. She dresses differently than the other kids and speaks a different language, but she learns that not everything is different.

Reaction: This book is quiet and sweet, and Bunting really captures the way it probably feels to be a new immigrant who doesn’t know any English or any way of connecting with the people around her. Farah worries that she doesn’t fit in and that people won’t like her because of her home country, but her classmate Anna makes an effort and includes her. By the end of the day, Farah discovers that things like laughs and belches and fun are the same, and she has new hope about fitting in and making friends.

Lewin’s illustrations are lush and gorgeous. The paintings are very detailed and allow the reader to feel like they are part of the story.

I think this would be a great book to help teach kids about diversity and tolerance and how all people are really the same, even though they seem different.

Arab American National Museum Book Award 2006

Media Used: Watercolor

Author’s Website: None

Illustrator’s Website

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Hereville: How Mirka got her sword by Barry Deutsch

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Deutsch, B. (2010). Hereville: How Mirka got her sword. New York: Amulet Books. ISBN: 978-0810984226

Annotation: Mirka is an 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl who is more interested in slaying dragons than knitting lessons with her stepmother, but first she needs a sword.

Reaction:This book is so much fun! It’s set in an imaginary Orthodox Jewish town, which is so isolated from the rest of the world Mirka doesn’t know what a pig looks like. Deutsch depicts Orthodox practices and includes words and phrases in Yiddish, with English translations at the bottom of the page, which exposes the reader to a religion which is not often experienced by very many people. The inclusion of these practices illustrates that despite the differences in religion and manner of dressing, the kids in the story have all the same desires, dreams, problems and concerns that all kids have, and by having 11- and 12-year-olds read Hereville, teachers can introduce more diversity to a kid’s worldview and hopefully, make him or her more tolerant of others’ differences.

Deutsch makes very creative use of panels within his graphic novel, often leaving characters unbounded on a plain background to highlight their emotions or actions. The characters all have distinct physical characteristics and expressive faces, despite the simplicity of the drawings. Deutsch conveys everything the character is feeling through a few changes in the drawings of the eyes, eyebrows and mouth. The coloring of the book, done by Jake Richmond, are distinctive and seemingly simple. The first 3/4 of the book is done in shades of orange and black, providing a sepia tone to the illustrations, while the last quarter of the book is done in mostly purples to indicate nighttime in the story.

The story ends with some mysteries still unexplored, particularly about Mirka’s stepmother and her association with the witch, which means that I’m highly anticipating the release of the second volume in November!

Mirka is an awesome heroine for girls in 5th and 6th grades. She’s strong and fearless, and she doesn’t worry about how others perceive her. Thankfully, though, she’s not perfect. Deutsch has created a well rounded character who is flawed; she regrets some of her impetuous actions and suffers the consequences, which makes her relatable to readers and even more endearing.

This is absolutely on my Top Ten Favorites list for this class, and I would HIGHLY recommend it to everyone.

This book is also on the 2011 Students’ List for “Books receiving votes for Top Ten Favorites from students in Summer 2011.”

Hereville was nominated for an Eisner Award, a Harvey Award, an Ignatz Award, the Andre Norton Award, and won the 2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award — the only graphic novel ever to win (Hereville website).

Media: Photoshop and Cintiq tablet, which, according to Deutsch, is a “kind of interactive pen-on-screen tool” and is also colored in Photoshop (copyright page).

Author’s Website

Book’s Website