Friday, April 26, 2013

What's Coming in May

The other day I got a package in the mail—the upcoming May/June 2013 issue of COBBLESTONE magazine. It’s not on the newsstands yet, so I’ll give you a sneak preview.

Here’s the cover:

The topic is timely, given the recent debate over immigration reform and providing a path to citizenship to people already in this country.

I’m especially impressed by young immigrants. Gedion from Ethiopia, Myint from Burma, and Quynh Thi from Vietnam are three young adults I interviewed for this issue of COBBLESTONE. I met them in St. Paul, Minnesota, at LEAP High School, a school just for immigrants.

You’ll find my interview with Gedion, Myint, and Quynh Thi on pages 13 through 16 of the magazine. There’s also a quick sidebar on page 17 about schools like LEAP and the challenges their students face.

I found the stories of these young immigrants truly inspiring and I hope you will too.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Marathon Monday 2013

Monday morning was lovely. It was crisp but not too cool. My son and I parked at the home of friends in nearby Hopkinton, MA, and walked to the center of town.

Food stands and port-a-potties had sprouted up around the green. My son said the air smelled like “state fair,” a heady mix of fried food and generator exhaust.

On the green, there were runners in yellow and blue. Along the street, there were grown-ups clutching Dunkin’ Donut cups, kids sitting on the curb, and National Guardsmen, ready yet relaxed. Overhead, airplanes dragging advertising banners buzzed.

When the elite runners finally took off, they gone in a blur. Others followed, and some who ran close to the crowd gave high-fives to onlookers along the way.

The Boston Marathon is like a 26.2 mile thread that links the Western suburbs with the city. 

We’ve all seen how Monday’s race ended. But here’s how the day and the race began: with sunshine, fried food, high-fives, and smiles.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Graphic Novel Round-Up

When I worked at the library of Twin Cities Academy, a charter middle school and high school in St. Paul, MN, one of the most popular sections was the shelf stuffed with graphic novels.

If I were still at TCA, here are three graphics from last year that I’d want to add to the collection—and push into people’s hands:

Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic, 2012)

By the author/illustrator of Smile and the illustrator of the graphic adaptations of Ann Martin’s Babysitters’ Club books, Drama is a standalone, contemporary novel with appealing characters and realistic situations. 

Callie’s big love is stage and set design. She’s found her middle school “home” with the tech crew, where her best friend creates costumes. Callie works closely with a handful of guys—some of them very cute. Complications ensue. Apart from one major meltdown, our heroine keeps her head and grows in the process. Some plotlines dealing with sexual preference may make this title too mature for elementary readers, but Drama’s overall theme of finding acceptance works well for readers across a spectrum of ages.

The Golden Twine by Jo Rioux (Kids Can Press, 2012)

The first volume in what will be a series called Cat’s Cradle, this story follows the adventures of Suri, an orphan who has been traveling with a circus—much to the circus owner’s displeasure. Suri lives in the land of Galatea, where dangerous monsters small and large are still thought to roam the woods. Suri’s dream, naturally, is to become a monster tamer. Golden Twine offers just enough plot twists and parallel threads, creepy creatures and chase scenes, to make the reader impatient to find out what happens next. It’s a solid beginning for an appealing fantasy series.

The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra (Toon Books/Candlewick Press, 2012)

Like a cross between Peter Pan (where children are spirited away in the night) and a Hayao Miyazaki movie (where the world is full of fanciful creatures), Stone Frog is familiar and disturbing. It has the feel of a strange but vivid dream that you remember in full, frightening detail upon waking. 

The artwork is the real star here, recalling the work of Sir John Tenniel for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Nytra’s black-and-white drawings are detailed enough that readers (and budding artists) will want to turn the pages of this slim volume again and again.