ext_48823: 42, the answer to life, the universe and everything (Default)
[identity profile] sumofparts.livejournal.com
Haven't posted in a while. Here's a series of mini-reviews with some spoilers. Also, some of the books contain potentially triggering content.

6. Un-Nappily in Love by Trisha R. Thomas
7. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
8. Tracks by Louise Erdrich
9. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
10. Umbrella by Taro Yashima
11. Little Joy by Ruowen Wang
12. Why War is Never a Good Idea by Alice Walker
13. Erika-san by Allen Say
14. Dahanu Road by Anosh Irani
15. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
16. The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez
17. In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez
18. Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
19. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
20. Monster by A. Lee  Martinez
21. Certainty by Madeleine Thien
22. So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
23. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
24. Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez
25. A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
26. A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
27. Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead

Mention (not counted)
Josias, Hold the Book by Jennifer Riesmeyer Elvgren (white); illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (person of colour)

Read more... )
[identity profile] emma-in-oz.livejournal.com
2.25 Arone Raymond Meeks, Sisi and the Cassowary (2002)

This is the second book produced and illustrated by Arone Raymond Meeks. I've already reviewed *Enora and the Black Crane*, but my daughter preferred this one. It has less violence - no spearings this time - and she liked the illustrations better. Her comment: 'That one has a fat bottom'.

This is a version of a traditional tale from northern Queensland, a story about a little girl who gets lost and makes her way home with the help of a cassowary.

2.26 Debbie Austin, At the Billabong (2009)

Another book aimed at introducing babies and toddlers to Aboriginal art. I like this one better than the other two I've reviewed (*Animals*, and *People and Places*) as it has a bit of a plot.

There's a mirror set in the middle, which acts as the billabong, and we see the tracks of various animals as they come up to the billabong. You can see more about these books at: http://discoverypress.com.au

2.27 Eustan Williams and Lucy Daley, Dirrangun, collected by Roland Robinson, illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft (1994)

These two stories were originally collected for a colleciton by Roland Robinson called *The Nearest the White Man Gets* (1989). They are reissued in this format of an illustrated book suitable for children.

Bronwyn Bancroft is, of course, an extremely well known Aboriginal artist and the illustrations are some of the finest of hers that I've seen. They have a real sense of place, as the stories tell how Dirrangun moved water around along the north coast of New South Wales.
[identity profile] emma-in-oz.livejournal.com
2.24 Chizuko Kuratomi, Mr Bear, Postman, illustrated by Kozo Kakimoto (1978)

While reading this to my girl (almost three), I realised it's another book for the challenge!

Although this was published in the 1970s and is part of a series, I had not ever come across them. But apparently the books were reviewed in *Harpers Queen*, *Books for Your Children* and the *Times Literary Supplement* and were quite well known.

It's a nice kid's story, about a bear delivering mail to rabbits. I must say, though, that I found it off-putting that he delivers letters to an 'elderly rabbit'. It just seems so dismissive, as though she is some kind of shut in.
[identity profile] emma-in-oz.livejournal.com
2.22 Bronwyn Bancroft, An Australian ABC of Animals (2004)

Bronwyn Bancroft must be one of the best known Aboriginal painters and illustrators. You can see her website: www.bronwynbancroft.com

Bancroft was born in northern New South Wales, and is a descendant of the Djanbun clan of the Bundjalung nation.

This book is an ABC, so one picture of an Australian animal per page. It's done in the contemporary Aboriginal style - don't know how to describe it any more accurately than that. I think it might work better as a series of wall hangings, because the pictures are simple and would work well from a distance. I particularly like Z for Zebra Lionfish, an animal I had not previously known existed.
ext_939: Sheep wearing an eyepatch (skywardprodigal Cog Flowers)
[identity profile] spiralsheep.livejournal.com
6, 7, & 8. Three poetry collections by Moniza Alvi: Carrying My Wife, A Bowl of Warm Air, and The Country At My Shoulder (all three collections are available together in an omnibus also called "Carrying My Wife"). I have to admit, out of about 150 poems, there were three that did anything for me. I mostly found the expression of content incomprehensible, possibly due to the author reaching for innovative imagery, and the aesthetics of form uninteresting, but she's a comparatively popular mainstream Establishment poet so my judgement is extremely questionable (and I haven't heard her read her own work live). There are two of the poems, which did speak to me, at my dw journal.

9. The Redbeck* Anthology of British South Asian Poetry, edited by Debjani Chatterjee, is a nearly 200 page collection with a wide variety of content and style, which I enjoyed. There are two example poems at my dw journal and a third example poem but, of course, three poems can't reflect the breadth (or depth) of this anthology.

* I keep misreading it as "Redneck". ::facepalm::

10. The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan didn't appeal to me visually as much as the previous Tan books I've perused but the gist, that it's more important to be happy than to fit in, is another good theme, especially for kids.

Note to tag wranglers: "british-asian" and/or "british-south-asian" is correct usage and, yes, some of the authors (and/or their subjects) are also caribbean / african / &c.

Tags: women writers, poetry, anthologies, asian, british-asian, pakistan, britain, british, caribbean, african, bangladesh, india, indian, indian-british, pakistani, bangladeshi, pakistani-british, bangladeshi-british, british-south-asian, asian-australian, australian, chinese-australian, picture books
ext_939: Sheep wearing an eyepatch (skywardprodigal Cog Flowers)
[identity profile] spiralsheep.livejournal.com
1. Bloodshot Monochrome by Patience Agbabi, is a pleasingly varied contemporary poetry collection with a strong emphasis on reinventing traditional printed-poem forms, especially in the sonnet sequence Problem Pages. I posted a sample poem and a video link at my dw journal.

Author bio: http://www.contemporarywriters.com/authors/?p=auth163

2. The Red Tree by Shaun Tan, is a picture book full of complex and surreal images. The verbal story is minimal but effective, the art is stunning. I can't explain but I recommend you read this or one of Tan's other equally brilliant works such as Tales From Outer Suburbia, The Lost Thing, or The Arrival (no words at all)... or...

3. Eric by Shaun Tan, is a very short picture book with drawings in a deceptively simple style. Their meanings, and Eric's story, may be puzzled out by would-be readers here: Eric by Shaun Tan @ The Grauniad. It's only 12 pages and FREE TO READ (but Mr Tan got paid)! :-)

Author's website: http://www.shauntan.net/

Tags: women writers, poetry, asian-australian, british, picture books, black british, australian, chinese-australian
[identity profile] sweet-adelheid.livejournal.com
Memorial Memorial by Gary Crew, illustrations by Shaun Tan.

As this review is primarily for 50books_poc, it's going to focus on the illustrations by Shaun Tan. Having said that, the story (comments by three generations of a family on the importance of the Moreton Bay Fig that forms part of the town's war memorial, now threatened by 'progress') is stunning, and raises multiple issues/discussion points that my small group at the Hebrew Scriptures intensive I did recently had a great deal of fun discussing.

The illustrations, though - oh, the illustrations. Shaun Tan, what can you say? In this book he has a number of full-page, wordless spreads, and he makes the most of each of them. Read more... )
[identity profile] livii.livejournal.com
This is an impossibly sweet and beautifully illustrated children's book. The story is simple - a mother telling her baby boy just how much she loves him, loves to kiss him, hug him, play with him, and the joy he brings her. The artwork by Susan Keeter (not a POC, however) are lush, warm oil paintings of an African-American mother and child. The verses are lyrical and almost should be sung, and with some good use of dialect ("I'm gone always be yo sweet Ma'Dear", for example). Made me tear up as I read it to my baby boy!
[identity profile] livii.livejournal.com
I was undecided on whether to count this among my 50, but since I've already read it at least 5 times and, since it's been pretty well-received, expect I will end up reading it innumerable more times, I thought I would go ahead! As well, it was a prior review in this comm that led me to the book, for which I am grateful, and so I thought perhaps another member might find it useful as well. (Plus, the baby that this is being read to is severely limiting my ability to hit 50!)

Hush! is a lovely book, filled with truly beautiful pictures and a repetitive, poetic text all about a mother's efforts to get her child down for a nap. The animals she shushes - a mosquito, a monkey, a water buffalo, etc - all make interesting sounds and the setting provides a nicely different change of pace from puppies and kittens or barnyard animals. The story unfolds softly and sweetly, and it's a great way to expose a child to a different culture while still being about a universal issue - sleep! My son, who I'm reading it to, is almost 5 months, and it's a bit long - we don't read it usually in one session, but in chunks - but I think he'll grow well with it, as the art is so full of things to look at, discuss, and the animal sounds will be fun to imitate! I really recommend this book.

On that note, I'm wondering if anyone has any good recs for picture books for infants by authors or artists of colour with similarly different settings? The only other book he likes right now is pat the bunny and we - okay I - could use some variety, and since classics like Goodnight Moon struck out and Hush! didn't, I'm very keen to give more books of a similar vein a try!!
[identity profile] sweet-adelheid.livejournal.com
My [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc year ends on January 31, and although I have still been reading, I've gotten slack with posting reviews. So here's an 8-book catchup post.

#40 - Skim, by Mariko Tamaki and Jill Tamaki Read more... )

#41 - Tales from Outer Suburbia, by Shaun Tan Read more... )

#42 - Papunya School Book of History and Country by the Papunya School community Read more... )

#43 - Kampung Boy, by Lat Read more... )

#44 - Not Meeting Mr Right, by Anita Heiss Read more... )

#45 - The Wheel of Surya, by Jamila Gavin Read more... )

#46 - Swallow the Air, by Tara June Winch Read more... )

#47 - Love poems and other revolutionary actions, by Roberta (Bobbi) Sykes Read more... )
[identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com
A gorgeously illustrated and lively picture book retelling of the beginning of the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. (One version of the latter here: The Monkey and the Monk: An Abridgment of The Journey to the West).

Given that it’s a picture book, it concludes once the companions are all assembled, with a note that the real story has only just begun. But it stands well on its own as a playful adventure with tons of action.

I shamefully confess that I haven’t yet read the original, though I have obtained the version I linked above, so I don’t know how accurate this version is. But it tells a good story and might be an easy introduction to the premise and the main characters.

Illustrated by L. K. Tay-Audouard.

Monkey: The Classic Chinese Adventure Tale
[identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com
This picture book briefly and simply tells the stories behind some Chinese idioms and references, like “Yu Gong Moves the Mountains” and “A Man From Zheng Buys Shoes.” The illustrations, in very different styles as they’re by different artists, are great. My favorites are the elegant and intricate work on “Yu Gong Moves the Mountains” and the bright, playful watercolors of “The Fox Borrows the Tiger’s Power and Prestige.”

The stories are interesting (some were familiar to me and some were not), about a fox who tricks a tiger, an old man who enlists his family to move mountains, two archers who learn lessons in concentration and skill, and a fool story. The language is flat, but maybe that’s the translation.

The stories had endings which felt a bit abrupt to me, as if they needed one or two more sentences. It’s not that they didn’t conclude, but that they ended the instant the story did, without further reflection or any call-back to the idiom itself. Perhaps this is my unfamiliarity with how the stories work in the culture, though, and other readers would feel that we are supposed to draw our own conclusions or would already be intimately familiar with the meaning, and so anything more would be being insultingly spoon-fed. If you get this for a child who isn’t already familiar with the sayings, it might require some explanation and discussion afterward.

Illustrated by He Youzhi, Ding Xiofang, Wang Xiaoming, and Dai Dunbang.

Stories behind Chinese Idioms (II)
[identity profile] sweet-adelheid.livejournal.com
#35 - Michelle Cooper, The Rage of Sheep
YA lit by an author I already loved, but only recently discovered was a POC. Hester (like the author) is Indian-Fijian/Australian, growing up in a country town in NSW. The characters are marvellous, as are both plot and subplots. More here

#36 - Waleed Aly, People Like Us: How Arrogance is Dividing Islam and the West
Thinking a book is fabulous does not necessarily mean that one agrees with every word. This is one of those books. I think I'm more willing to mentally argue with the author because we're so very much of the same generation that we were in the same law school class. More here

#37 - Edna Tantjingu Williams and Eileen Wani Wingfield, illustrated by Kunyi June-Anne McInerney, Down the Hole Up the Tree Across the Sandhills...: ...Running from the State and Daisy Bates
Heart breaking. Heart shattering. Just as it ought to be. A really great, and effective, story of the realities of the Stolen Generations. In English with use of Yankunytjatjara, Kokatha and Matutjara languages (with translations and pronunciation guide). More here

#38 - Mary Malbunka, When I Was Little, Like You
The story of growing up as an indigenous child in a remote community: of moving around, of living as much as they could off the land. Beautiful illustrations, also by Malbunka. Uses Luritja words as well as English: as with Down the Hole the book includes a glossary and pronunciation guide. This is going to be one of those books I automatically buy as presents for every little baby I have a connection with. More here

Tagging - a: malbunka mary, a: williams edna tantjingu, a: wingfield eileen wani, a: cooper michelle, a: aly waleed, i: mcinerney kunyi june-anne, fijian-indian-australian, egyptian-australian
[identity profile] sweet-adelheid.livejournal.com
#28 - Desmond Tutu, No Future without Forgiveness (1999, Rider & Co)
Appointed by Nelson Mandela to be co-Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in South Africa following the transfer of power from the Nationalist Apartheid Government, Desmond Tutu writes in this book about the history leading to the Commission, the progress of the Commission itself, and his thoughts on forgiveness. Link here.

#29 - illustrated by David Diaz, Smoky Night, words by Eve Bunting (1994, Harcourt Brace)
The illustrations are stunning. The backgrounds are mixed media collage: including shards of glass one the page that mentions "smash and destroy", half-crushed rice cracker snacks on the page about the destruction of Mrs Kim's shop. Link here.

#30 - illustrated by David Diaz, Just One Flick of a Finger, words by Marybeth Lorbiecki (1996, Dial)
A beautiful example of the way picture books are meant to work (no matter what age group they are aimed at) and I credit a lot of that to Diaz' design and layout work in addition to his illustrations. Link here.

#31 - Adeline Yen Mah, China: Land of Emperors and Dragons (2008, Allen & Unwin)
It is a *very* basic introduction to Chinese history; very much an overview. It (allied with some Avatar-related posts I've been reading around LJ, and IBARW stuff) has made me realise how much I don't understand about China, and how I do tend to view the entire Imperial era as some sort of pretty fantasy "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" world. Which is a major failing on my part. Link here.

Tags needed: a: tutu desmond, a: mah adeline yen, i: diaz david, (and if we're still going to do whitefella tags, w-a: lorbiecki marybeth, w-a: bunting eve.
[identity profile] vegablack62.livejournal.com
Min Fong Ho is an American author of Chinese descent who grew up in Thailand.  Her story Hush! is evocative of her childhood home outside Bangkok which was, as she describes it on her web page, "an airy house next to a fishpond and a big garden, with rice fields, where water buffalo wallowed in mudholes, on the other side of the palm trees. I liked the usual things - eating roasted coconuts and fried bananas, chasing catfish in the grass in the rain." This world from Min Fong Ho's childhood is the setting for Hush.

Hush! is a lullaby where a mother whispers to the birds in the air, the animals on the ground and the insects on the vegetation to quiet themselves so her baby can go to sleep. In the end, the world is asleep, the mother is asleep, all are asleep,  except the baby who lies smiling in his cot. 

The lovely illustrations of Thai scenes are perfect for the story, but unfortunately not done by a POC.

Hush! makes a great bedtime book and has just enough irony for any exhausted parent.
[identity profile] vegablack62.livejournal.com
The Snow day by Kamako Sakai,
3/50  (Only the third of my fifty books.)

On a whim I picked up this child's picture book by the Japanese writer and artist Kamako Sakai and found a beautiful, gentle story that captures the experience of a certain kind of kindergarten age child.  If any one has been around a quiet watchful five year old they will recognize this child.  A heavy snow has fallen keeping the child from going to school and the child's father from flying home from a trip.  The delay of the father supplies a little tiny bit of plot and resolution when the snow stops enough for him to return.  Sakai captures the muffled quiet and isolation a heavy snow creates.  It looks like the child and the mother  are the only two people in the world. 

I loved that the child is portrayed as a bunny, a bunny how could  be either a girl or a boy and could be from any race or gender.  This could be any child.  I also appreciate that the family lives in an apartment building. So often normalcy has to be a single family suburban home.

The illustrations are lovely and the text matches.  
[identity profile] whereweather.livejournal.com
Hi!  This is my first post to this group.  It's a fascinating community and I'm looking forward to participating.  Also, please call me out if I say anything truly dumb-ass.

Tales from Outer Suburbia, Shaun Tan
2009, Templar Publishing

Shaun Tan is a fantastic illustrator and writer from Australia.  I became a rabid fan of his last year, when a co-worker, who, I might add, usually shows no interest in either picture books or comics, pointed me to Tan's magnificent 2007 book The ArrivalThe Arrival is beautiful, ingenious, and justifiably prize-winning, and it almost certainly ranks among the best books ever made about the immigrant experience.  I recommend it to everybody.  (I don't think it's worth going into detail about that book here, because people should probably experience it for themselves; I will add that, as Tan is primarily an artist, the book is mostly pictures.)

I went to catch up on Tan's oeuvre via interlibrary loan; so far I've also read The Red Tree, The Lost Thing, The Rabbits, and The Viewer, the latter two of which are books Tan illustrated to another writer's words and story.  (The Rabbits is a painful and visually stunning parable of Australian colonialism; The Viewer is a horror story about a magic device that opens a window onto a past and a future wracked by war.  They are both putatively children's books, but I have to say they are also pretty freaking scary.  I wonder if Australia has different ideas about what constitutes children's literature than we do in the U.S.)

Which brings us to Tales from Outer Suburbia... )

(*ETA: OMG DID I FORGET THE ONE ABOUT THE STICK PEOPLE?)

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