Poetry Friday ~ PaperTigers 10th Anniversary: My Top Ten Picks by Sally Ito

Friday, November 9th, 2012

[Time is running out to enter our Tenth Anniversary Draw - the deadline is tomorrow - so if you haven't already, take a look here for the chance to win some fantastic prizes for you or your school or library]

Sally Ito is a poet, editor and translator living in Winnipeg, Canada, where she also teaches Creative Writing; she is currently writer.  Sally was  a book reviewer and contributor to the PaperTigers blog until earlier this year and wrote many of our contributions to Poetry Friday during that time (which is why we decided to post Sally’s selection on a Poetry Friday day!).  So we are delighted to welcome her back with her Top Ten list of favourite books, encountered through her work with PaperTigers.

As a prelude, do listen to Sally reading the title poem from her collection Alert to Glory (Turnstone Press, 2011) in the video below.

My Top Ten Picks by Sally Ito

When I joined the Paper Tigers blog contributor team in 2008, the thing I was most excited about was getting to read and review great multicultural books for kids.  What I discovered was a plethora of wonderful books that reflected who I was culturally and who my community was, culturally, as well.  From my short time with PaperTigers, these are my ten picks of multicultural books for kids.  It’s a little Japan-heavy, I realize but I hope you indulge my bias!

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin, 2008) – I found this quirky picture book amazing and it was an inspiration for me when I was teaching to take my creative writing students out into our immediate neighborhood (an historic district called The Exchange) in Winnipeg to see what we could make of our environment in a creative way.

Naomi’s Tree by Joy Kogawa, illustrated by Ruth Ohi (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2008).  This book is about a cherry tree and a Japanese Canadian girl who grew up with it and was separated from it by the circumstances of the Second World War.  This book was a personal favorite since the author’s history reflects my own family’s in Canada.

Granny’s Giant Bannock by Brenda Isabel Wastasecoot, illustrated by Kimberly McKay-Fleming (Pemmican, 2008).  This is one hilarious book about a Cree-speaking grandmother and her grandson Larf who accidentally bakes a giant bannock by misunderstanding his grandmother’s instructions on how to make the doughy confection from scratch.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, translated by Cathy Hirano (Scholastic, 2009).  This book is a translation of a popular fantasy series that was also made into a TV series.  The story is set in early imperial Japan and features a woman warrior named Balsa who protects the son of the emperor, Chagum, as he carries within him a spirit from another dimension who must lodge in a human host in order to survive.

The Song of the Cicada by Shizue Ukaji.  This is a Japanese book, yet untranslated into English, that I discovered while living in Japan in 2011.  It’s an Ainu folktale illustrated with textile creations made by Ukaji herself.  It’s the story of a woman who prophesies disaster – namely a tsunami – to her people and what becomes of her as a result.  A timely read for the year I was visiting the country.

The Fox’s Window and Other Stories by Naoko Awa, translated by Toshiya Kamei.  This is a collection of short stories spanning a career of writing by Japanese author Naoko Awa.  Magical, enchanting and absorbing are the words I’d use to describe these stories, which have also been referred to as ‘modern fairytales.’

David’s Trip to Paraguay by Miriam Rudolph.  A bilingual book with German and English text, this story is about a young Mennonite boy named David who travels to Paraguay from Canada in the late 1920s.  Rudolph, an artist, charts the arduous journey with vivid and colorful illustrations of the things David sees on the trip.

Gifts: Poems for Parents edited by Rhea Tregebov (Sumach Press, 2002).  We say we read to our children for their sake, but it’s just as true that we read to feed ourselves, too.  Poetry is a kind of bread for the soul, and this particular treasury of poems by Canadians really fed me as a poet and a parent.

Bifocal by Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters.  This is one book I read in part with my son, who later went on to have the book assigned to him for his English class in junior high school.  It’s about two teenagers – Haroon and Jay – who have to negotiate their cultural identities during a tense lockdown situation at their high school.

Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie.  I started covering graphic novels for PaperTigers a few years ago as I felt this was a developing trend in books for young people.  And this book was one of my favorites!  Aya is about a young woman growing up in Cote D’Ivoire, looking to become a medical student, but whose life is inevitably shaped and influenced by those around her with less lofty goals than her.

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Ed at Think Kid, Think – head on over.

An Evening with Joy Kogawa and Maggie DeVries ~ November 15th, Vancouver, Canada

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

On Tuesday, November 15th, The Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable and the Museum of Anthropology present An Evening with Acclaimed Canadian Authors Joy Kogawa and Maggie DeVries.

Joy Kogawa (Naomi’s Tree) and Maggie DeVries (Hunger Journeys and Chance and the Butterfly) will discuss the ways in which contemporary children’s literature can address the effects of social conflict in the world, and at the same time inspire hope and a desire to bring about positive change. This event, presented in conjunction with MOA’s exhibition ひろしま hiroshima, takes place from 7 – 9pm and is free with museum admission. For more information click here.

 

Cybils Nominations

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Phew, just made it! Where have the last two weeks disappeared to? Anyway, I’ve made my nominations for the Cybils - and if you haven’t yet, you have until 11.59 p.m. tomorrow…

So here’s my list:

Fiction Picture Books:

I nominated Naomi’s Tree by Joy Kogawa

… on my list were also Erika-San by Allen Say (Houghton Mifflin, 2009) – nominated by Kara of Not Just for Kids;
and Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, illustrated by Kristi Valiant (Shen’s Books, 2009) – nominated by Renee of Shen’s Blog;

…and I especially want to look out:
First Come the Zebra by Lynne Barasch (Lee & Low, 2009) – nominated by Hannah from the Lee & Low Blog
Hook by Ed Young (Roaring Book Press, 2009) – nominated by Susannah of Raab Associates
My African Bedtime Rhymes by Brettell Hone (Shamwari Publishing, 2009) – nominated by Ginger Nielson;
Crow Call by Lois Lowry – nominated by Kristine at The Best Book I Haven’t Read
My Abuelita by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2009) – nominated by Lynn E. Hazen
…and the list continues!

Middle Grade Fiction:

I nominated Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan (Groundwood, 2009)

…and must seek out Brushing Mom’s Hair by Andrea Cheng (Wordsong, 2009) – nominated by Linda at Swell Books
and Journey of Dreams by Marge Pellegrino (Frances Lincoln, 2009) – nominated by Janni… and more!

Non-fiction/Information Picture Books:

I nominated My Japan by Etsuko Watanabe

…and great to see already nominated:
Balarama: A Royal Elephant by Ted and Betsy Lewin (Lee and Low, 2009) – nominated by Miri at Wands and Worlds;
Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Susan Roth, (Dial, 2009) – nominated by Maggi at Mama Librarian;
Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo (Lee & Low, 2009) – nominated by Jama at Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup.

I want to read:
The East-West House: Noguchi’s Childhood in Japan by Christy Hale (Lee & Low, 2009);
The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust by Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland Desaix (Holiday House, 2009);
Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends by Carol Buckley (Putnam Juvenile, 2009) – nominated by Elaine Magliaro at Wild Rose Reader;
Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter – nominated by Sherry at Semicolon;
Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life: A Story of Sustainable Farming by Jan Reynolds (Lee & Low, 2009).

Non-Fiction – middle/teen:

I nominated Let There Be Peace: Prayers from Around the World by Jeremy Brooks, illustrated by Jude Daly (Frances Lincoln, 2009)

…already nominated: After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance by Anne Sibley O’Brien and Perry Edmond O’Brien (Charlesbridge, 2009) – I’m in the process of writing a review for this superb book and will add a link soon…
and Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey to Change the World… One Child at a Time (The Young Reader’s Edition) by Greg Mortenson (Puffin Young Readers, 2009).

Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown and Company, 2009) has been nominated in the Fantasy/Science Fiction section by Emily Reads; and John Agard’s The Young Inferno would have been my poetry nomination but Sherry got there first!

I’ve realised that I have read very little newly-published YA fiction this year so I haven’t made a nomination there either – but it’s good to see Mitali Perkins’ Secret Keeper in there, nominated by Sarah at Archimedes Forgets (what a wonderful name for a blog!); and I do have a copy of Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger (Margaret K. McElderry, 2009) in my to-be-read pile (nominated by R. J. Anderson)…

So it looks like I’m going to be busy enough – I can’t imagine how the judges are going to manage to read all the nominees. And after tomorrow, we’ll be waiting with baited breath to find out the shortlists, published on 1st January…