To you and yours: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 2009!
As for my schedule, if you want to come hang out at a couple of presentations and panels, here it is:
Friday, November 21: 11AM-12.15PM (213A/HBG Convention Center, Concourse Level): Against the Ropes: a conversation with latino authors about books for reluctant adolescent readers (with Diane Bertrand and Ray Villarreal)
Saturday, November 22: 8AM-9.15AM (006D/HBG Convention Center, River Level): The Right to Write: authors on writing outside their culture (with Linda Sue Park, Lyn Miller-Lachman, and Terry Trueman)
Saturday, November 22: 1PM-2PM (Random House Children's, Booth #313): I'll be signing copies of my books, specifically the very recent paperback release of my third title, The Whole Sky Full of Stars)
Monday, November 24: 9.10AM-9.45AM (Marriot Rivercenter/Salon E/3rd Floor, 101 Bowie St): ALAN Workshop Panel: Family and Culture in Young Adult Literature (with Sheila Moses and Padma Venkatraman, Holly Atkins to moderate)
NOTE: you'll have to trust me that the cover is awesome! I just got a reject trying to upload the thing: either a corrupt file or in an unrecognizable format.
Cart, Michael (editor): Necessary Noise: Stories About Our Families as They Really Are
Deuker, Carl: Heart of a Champion
Lynch, Chris: Slot Machine
McNamee, Graham: Acceleration
Myers, Walter Dean: The Dream Bearer
Myers, Walter Dean: Shooter
Naidoo, Beverley: Out of Bounds: Seven Stories of Conflict and Hope
O'Dell, Scott: Island of the Blue Dolphins (14th printing)
Schmidt, Gary D.: Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
Shusterman, Neal: The Schwa Was Here
Singer, Marilyn (editor): Face Relations: 11 Stories About Seeing Beyond Color
Van Draanen, Wendelin: Flipped
Grimes, Nikki: Bronx Masquerade
Mora, Pat: A Birthday Basket for Tia (Cecily Lang, illustrator)
Suen, Anastasia: Window Music (Wade Zahares, illustrator)
That's not taking into account the other bags full that Tina brought home for the boys. Our Golden Books collection is growing. Speaking of our boys: Lukas and I are big time Rat Patrol fans. If you don't know the show, it's a WW II series that aired back in the mid-60s, and follows the exploits of four soldiers, three U.S. and one Brit, in the African desert fighting the German army. The production often is weak/poor, but man, when they were showing as reruns when I was a kid, I loved them, and now that I've got season one on DVD, Lukas loves them just as much. Anyway, why talk about this on a book sale post? Well, go figure: there's a book version as well. And I found a copy, pulled it from the shelf, showed it to Lukas, whose eyes practically popped out of their sockets, his face broke into a huge smile, and he said, "The Rat Patrol! Cool!" So guess what he and I'll be reading soon?
The evening I got there, I had a gig sponsored by Dallas Public Library and Humanities Texas. I'll tell you what, too: it was fun. We didn't quite know how many folks were going to show up, and so we were pleasantly surprised when around 50 people showed up. Among them Gregory and Miles Zeorlin (father and son, visual artist and super reader and all-around teen, respectively). I had a blast reading and addressing questions and comments from the audience. So fun it was that I went on and on and on, and we closed down the place.
Thanks for a great first visit to east Texas.
Okay, it's been a while since I've posted anything. I still owe you a post on my wonderful visit to Tyler Public Library (Tyler TX)--a very awesome reading community, very friendly (more to come). But, I thought I'd post the following video I took thinking it would be the thing that would make me a thousandaire. At least that. It's a video I took tonight, after my wife, Tina, said I needed to come outside and get a load of this in the sky. The experienced videographer that I am (can't you tell from the wonderful work?) I ran in for my digividcam, dreaming of selling this video to the news. Alas, the news trumped me. Channel 11 and the Reeds (friends from Lubbock Baptist Temple here in Lubbock) said it was a "weather balloon." "A NASA balloon experiment," they say. "Taller than a 60 storey building." "25 miles high up in the sky." That's all what the news says. But we are in Lubbock. Close to Roswell. 'Nuff said.
And for more awesome videos, go to my students' blogs (EDLL 6349) to the right and above. Some very cool video book talks.
The other class I'm teaching is 6349, a graduate level Adolescent Lit class: here's the reading list (in no particular order):
Red Hot Salsa, edited by Lori Carlson
Getting Away with Murder by Chris Crowe
The Poet Slave of Cuba by Margarita Engle
Up Before Daybreak by Deborah Hopkinson
Standing Against the Wind by Traci L. Jones
Daisy Kutter by Kazu Kibuishi
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
A Step from Heaven by An Na
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Acceleration by Graham McNamee
Miracle's Boys by Jaqueline Woodson
and Naked Reading by the fantastic! Teri Lesesne.
Keep reading for my students' blogs!
I'm super happy the family's back together in Lubbock, where 100 degree weather is the norm right about now.
Sitting on a moss covered stone that at night turns into a troll.Annelie and Lukas infront of a stone age hut.
Sampling different foods made during the bronze age.
There is a danger that a many readers who start Villarreal's second novel for young adults (his first being My Father, The Angel of Death) will choose not to finish it. Here's why: for a good while, the characters are presented in a very stereotypical and flat way. The white kids, including the book's bully Billy Ray Cansler, are very one-dimensional. They play the part of ignorant racists. As do the Anglo teachers. The Mexican American and Mexican kids are bullied, are victimized by an uncaring white public school system. It would be a shame, though, if those readers did put the book down for these reasons. Though they are there, the book changes routes a few chapters after midway. Villarreal makes of most typed characters more fleshy ones. So don't despair, those of you (myself included in this bunch) who might think this book is one that bashes white folks outright. It turns into a book about admitting a misunderstanding of those very differences that traditionally keep us separate (culturally and racially speaking) and a sincere moving toward the beginning of acceptance of one another for who we are, period.
Anyhow, the story is this: Miss Mac, an icon at Rosemont Middle School in San Antonio, dies in the classroom. Several generations of students whose lives she touched are greatly saddened. In cleaning out her filing cabinets, Team 3 teacher and a long time friend, Mrs. Frymire finds a play that Miss Mac had written a long time back. To honor her friend, Mrs. Frymire talks folks into putting on the play, titled "Thirteen Days to Glory--The Battle of the Alamo." It's a great idea, except that according to some of the Mexican American students playing the parts of Mexicans One, Two, and Three, and according to Miss Mac's replacement, Miss Martinez, the play is a very one-sided look at the history of the battle, and the dialogue is more Speedy Gonzalez than accurate. People take sides: Marco, Raquel, Izzy, and Miss Martinez (and a few others) stand on the one side; Mrs. Frymire, Billy Ray, and others stand opposed. Production shuts down. Racial tension grows.
But Villarreal is not about spitting venom. He is, instead, about himself and his characters trying to find out for themselves who they are and where they stand on serious issues. And it is at this point in the story that the characters really and truly come alive, and they remain so to the end. It's a good book. Don't put it aside like I did time and again. Plug away at it, and you'll see for yourself, it is a good book.
Mikah picking more bluberries.
Mikah resting up on some of the burial stones.
Lukas on a visit to domareringar (judging circles), about six to seven circles of stones put up 2000 years ago. It's an actual burial ground where even the giants were thought to have buried some of their own.
Morfar and the boys with a view of Jönköping in the background.
Mormor and the boys picking cherries on the top of Taberg.
Lukas and Mikah on top of Taberg.
View from the top of Taberg.
Mormor and Mikah on top of Taberg. Taberg is a mountian which contains a rare mineral, titanmagnetitolivinit, found only here and two other places in the world. Now you can go to the top of the other side of the mountian and look out.
Mikah picking blueberries at family camp in Kuvarp.
Lukas with his bountiful harvest.
Kuvarp at midnight. Kuvarp, a little south of Jönköping, is where family camp was held.
I miss my family and the farm. I miss the weather, because though it is sprinkling rain here in Lubbock right at this moment, it's still in the nineties, I'm sure. When I left for the airport, I needed a light sweater. When I got on the breezeway in Dallas, I took the first opportunity to pull it off.
Anyway, Tina is going to keep posting her Sweden trip. She and the boys will continue on for another month, while I get to teach. Somebody's got to pay for the trip, right? He he he.
In preparation for the first Sweden soccer (fotboll (no, I didn't just misspell the word in English, that's how it's spelled here in Sweden)) match in the Euro Cup 2008 (which they didn't win, by the way). For this game, though, they did get to release blue and yellow balloons after the match because they did win it.
Here's Mikah really smiling. I think in this shot we've found the seals, but they're doing nothing but sleeping. No bouncing balls on tips of noses, no barking, no nothing. But again, it's Mikah, and the kid's real cute.
This is morbro Thomas and the boys in front of a really old house. You can tell by the grass growing on the roof. Actually, this style of roof was common back in the day. It served a great many purposes like insulating the place and according to Lukas, a place to feed the family's goat if you ran out of grass on the regular ground. I would think a green thumb like Tina could grow a few rose bushes up there, too. Lesa, you might get Leslie to consider doing something like this to your all's farmhouse for his next project. I'll take pictures, if you want.A closeer shot of morbro and the boys in front of the same house.
As promised, the animals: here is a momma bear and her three cubs, only months old. All snoozing in the shade.So it's no wonder that the moose are taking in some zzzs too. It was such a nice day for it, too. We don't have a good picture of the baby moose that had been born only three days before our visit, but it was a cute one.
Here's a shot of Lukas and the peacock. Which one looks prouder, do you think?
This is not Mikah, or Lukas, or me. It's a giant rabbit. No lie, you can get a ton of meat off this bunny if you were going hungry and were so inclined.
And talk about sweet: this is Lukas eating cotton candy. Not as colorful or as thick as the stuff you'd get at the State Fair, but he had fun eating it. Mikah swept the park's grounds with his, to some Swedes' amusement.
And I'll finish this set with the boys and Tina on a canon looking over the city of Stockholm. And since Lukas is such a military buff, the kid was climbing every single one of them and making like he was shooting them. With the stories to go with the action, too. Mikah, like a good baby brother, followed suit, but wasn't as quick climbing.