I read a lot of books; fortunately, my profession and one of my hobbies jive like that.  And since I read so many books, I find myself jaded by the repetition on theme, the slight variations on popular books that are churned out in the hopes of finding “the next whatever“, and the lackluster writing and poor editing that occurs in the rush to print more and more.  So it’s a rare day when I am so engrossed in a book I cannot stop reading it and then cannot stop telling people about it.  And on Saturday, I got to have one of those days whenRead More →

5 years ago, Nora’s father left their small village in Mexico for America, promising that this was the only way to save the family orchard.  Up until a few months ago, her father kept his promise to send money and an occasional note, but now the situation has become dire: no word, no money, and a terrible grapefruit harvest has pushed Nora, her mother, and her grandmother to the brink of ruin.  15 year old Nora hears a whisper in the orchards, telling her to follow her father to Houston and once she finds him, all will be well. She convinces her mother to join her andRead More →

Co-written with Maria Virginia Farinango, Laura Resau’s The Queen of Water will enchant, enlighten, and embolden you. Virginia’s story begins in an impoverished Ecuadoran village where at 7 years old, she is taken from her indigenous family to be an unpaid servant for a family of mestizos, Ecuador’s middle & upper classes who claim to be descendants of the Spanish conquerors.   While Virginia quickly becomes accustomed to the comforts of her employers’ lifestyle, the fierce beatings, daily humiliation, verbal and psychological abuse, and the hard work make her life unbearable at times. During the 8 years that Virginia is with these people, she waivers between feeling a loving connection to them andRead More →

In the summer of 1941, 15 year old Lina’s life changes forever: she, her mother, and her 10 year old brother are rousted from their home in the middle of the night by NKVD soldiers, loaded into a truck, and taken to a rail yard. There, thousands of other Lithuanian teachers, intellectuals, soliders’ families, lawyers, bankers and everyday citizens are crammed into stock cars to begin the long deportation to the Siberian gulags.  The conditions on the crowded train are terrible and people succumb daily to disease, exhaustion, and starvation.  When they arrive at the gulag the treatment from the guards is merciless, the workingRead More →

There’s certainly something special about debut author Trent Reedy’s Words in the Dust.  Zulaikha has never dared to hope: born with a cleft palate, she is teased and shunned by the people in her small Afghan town.  Her prospects for a good husband are dim even though she is a very hard worker, taking care of her family’s compound and watching after her two younger half-brothers.   Her life is very hard, but despite the challenges, now that the Taliban is gone, Zulaikha feels the stirrings of hope that things may get better for her and her family –“Inshallah,” God willing.  Then she meets Meena, an old friend of herRead More →

Publisher’s Weekly  (1/31/2011) reports on a new study that looks at how kids and teens decide what they read and where they get those recommendations and books from. “Children’s books are not going anywhere. They’re going to be a very secure category in the marketplace,” said former Association of Booksellers for Children executive director Kristen McLean during a presentation at the ABA’s Winter Institute with Kelly Gallagher, v-p of publishers services at Bowker/PubTrack.  Sponsored by Random House, Macmillan, Penguin, Scholastic, and Little, Brown, the survey, which is available from Bowker, examines consumer attitudes toward purchasing children’s books in three categories: adults buying for children agesRead More →