Thursday, January 31, 2013

Best of 2012: Amelia Bloomer and Rainbow Lists!

If you thought that the ALA Youth Media Awards were the final word in outstanding children's and young adult literature, then you, my friend, are mistaken.  Monday also brought us the announcement of the Amelia Bloomer Project and the Rainbow List titles!  Here's the lowdown:

Amelia Bloomer Project:
Brought to you by the ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table and the Feminist Taskforce, the Amelia Bloomer list seeks to honor those "well written and illustrated books with significant feminist content, intended for readers from birth to 18 years old."  Over 50 titles made this year's list.  Here's a breakdown of the YA titles.

Bickle, Laura. The Hallowed Ones. 2012. 311p. Graphia, $8.99 (978-0-54785-926-2). Gr.9-up.Catastrophic events in the outside world prevent Katie from leaving her Amish village for Rumspringa. She defies the commands of the Elders to protect the village and determine her own future.

Cremer, Andrea. Rift. 2012. 430p. Philomel, $18.99 (978-0-3992-5613-4). Gr.9-up. Ember escapes an arranged marriage to pursue her destiny as a warrior.

Feldman, Ruth Tenzer. Blue Thread. 2012. 302p. Ooligan Press, $12.95 (978-1-9320-1041-1). Gr.7-up. Inspired by her ancestors and the suffrage movement, Miriam matures into a strong, independent woman who fights for her political convictions and her professional ambitions

Gaughen, A.C. Scarlet. 2012. 292p. Walker Books for Young Readers, $17.99 (978-0-8027-2346-8). Gr.8-up. Will Scarlet is Robin Hood’s most trusted and dangerous lieutenant. Few know this knife-wielding thief is a young woman. 

Griffin, Molly Beth. Silhouette of a Sparrow. 2012. 186p. Milkweed Editions, $16.95 (978-1-5713-1701-8). Gr.7-up.Set in 1920s Minnesota, artist and ornithologist Garnet longs for independence. A summer away from home presents choices that expand her world.

McCall, Guadalupe Garcia. Summer of the Mariposas. 2012. 355p. Tu Books, $17.95 (978-1-6006-0900-8). Gr.7-up. 15-year old Odilia and her four sisters journey to Mexico to return the body of a dead man they found floating in the Rio Grande to his family. They battle supernatural forces and put aside their own differences for a trip that changes their lives forever.

Otto, Whitney. Eight Girls Taking Pictures. 2012. 342p. Scribner Book Company, $25.00 (978-1-4516-8269-4). Gr.10-up. Eight women photographers work to find their voices as independent artists against backdrops of war, social change, and romance.

Schrefer, Eliot. Endangered. 2012. 264p. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (978-0-5451-6576-1). Gr.7-up. When war breaks out and her mother’s bonobo sanctuary is attacked, Sophie escapes into the jungle with the great apes. Their survival depends on her quick thinking and resourcefulness. 

Various. Womanthology: Heroic. Illus. by Various. March 2012. 300p. IDW Publishing, $50.00 (978-1-6137-7147-1). Gr.8-up. This engaging and empowering collection of women and girl created comics features strong female characters and historical figures.

Wein, Elizabeth. Code Name Verity. 2012. 352p. Hyperion, $16.99 (9780547628349). Gr.8-up. Maddie and Verity risk their lives fighting for Allies during World War II. Their friendship gives them the strength and courage to do what’s right in the gravest of circumstances.

Bartels, Peggielene and Eleanor Herman. King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village. 2012. 333p. Doubleday, $25.95 (978-0-3855-3432-1). Gr.9-up. A phone call awakens Peggielene Bartels in the middle of the night with news that she’s been chosen the next king of her home village Otuam, Ghana.  She overcomes corruption and sexism to bring progress to the village.

Bartsiokas, Tom and Corey Long. Angela James: The First Superstar of Women’s Hockey. 2012. 163p. Women’s Press Literary, $14.95 (978-0-9866-3888-6). Gr.7-up. The story of Canadian hockey great Angela James and her trailblazing successes as an athlete and woman.

Ditto, Beth with Michelle Tea. Coal to Diamonds. 2012. 176p. Spiegel & Grau, $22.00 (978-0-3855-2591-6). Gr.9-up. Beth Ditto, feminist punk lead singer of Gossip, shares her journey from humble and troubled beginnings in Arkansas to a member of a world-renowned band.

Gevinson, Tavi (Editor) Rookie Yearbook One. 2012. 349p. Drawn and Quarterly, $29.95 (978-1-7704-6112-3). Gr.7-up. A thoughtful and provocative collection of the year’s best writing from the feminist online magazine,Rookie.

Lauper, Cyndi with Jancee Dunn. Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir. 2012. 338p. Atria Books, $26.00 (978-1-4391-4785-6). Gr.9-up. In this inspiring memoir, Cyndi Lauper shares her trials and successes, including her escape from a traumatic home life, her rise in the music industry, and her critical work as a gay rights activist.

Ledbetter, Lilly with Lanier Scott Isom. Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond. 2012. 279p. Crown Archetype, $25.00 (978-0-3078-8792-4). Gr.10-up. Lilly Ledbetter shares her inspiring journey from underpaid, mistreated factory employee to Supreme Court plaintiff, nationally renowned speaker and namesake of the Fair Pay Restoration Act.

Strayed, Cheryl. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. 2012. 315p. Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95 (978-0-3075-9273-6). Gr.10-up. A memoir of personal and natural discoveries, Strayed shares her story of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from California to Oregon as a solo woman.

Wahab, Saima. In My Father’s Country: An Afghan Woman Defies Her Fate. 2012. 352p. Crown Publishers, $25.00 (978-0-3078-8494-7). Gr.10-up. Escaping gender oppression and political strife, Saima immigrates to the US as a teen. Saima later ventures back to Afghanistan as an interpreter and offers a fascinating perspective on Afghan customs including a provocative analysis of gender issues.

Worden, Minky (Editor). The Unfinished Revolution: Voices From the Global Fight For Women’s Rights. 2012. 361p. Seven Stories, $23.95 (978-1-6098-0387-2). Gr.10-up. This collection of essays explores the status of rights for women and girls worldwide, through the topics of economic issues, violence against women, and harmful traditions.

Zeilinger, Julie. A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism Is Not a Dirty Word. 2012. 249p. Seal Press, $16.00 (978-1-5800-5371-6). Gr.9-up. Zeilinger makes feminist history and theory accessible and relevant to teen readers from “Part One, The Badasses Who Came Before Us” to “Part Six, Feminism: Your Secret Weapon for Growing Up”.

Rainbow Book List:
Brought to you by the ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table and the GLBT Round Table, the Rainbow Book List "creates an annual book list of recommended GLBTQ fiction and nonfiction titles for young readers from birth to age 18."  Their list is hecka long, so I'm just going to highlight their top ten titles.

Bigelow, Lisa Jenn.  Starting From Here.  2012.  292p.  Amazon Children’s Publishing, $16.99 (9780761462330).  Grades 9 & Up. Colby can’t seem to get any love.  Her mom died a few years ago, her trucker dad is always on the road and her girlfriend just dumped her for a guy.  When she rescues a stray dog who has been hit by a car, Colby starts to piece her life together with lots of help from her friends.

Cronn-Mills, Kirstin.  Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.  2012.  288p.  Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., $9.99 (9780738732510).  Grades 8 & Up. Music geek Gabe has just come out to his family as transgender but is still known as Liz at school.  He uses his late night community radio show to try on his male identity and encourage listeners to explore their own “b side.”  Will the show’s growing popularity expose his secret?

Danforth, Emily M. The Miseducation of Cameron Post. 2012. 480p. Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (9780062020567). Grades 9 & Up. When Cam’s conservative aunt discovers her niece is a lesbian, she sends Cam to God’s Promise, a church camp that promises to “cure” young people of their homosexuality.  Cam’s engaging voice tells her story with wry humor, intelligence, and a strong sense of place in eastern Montana.

King, A.S. Ask the Passengers. 2012. 304p. Little, Brown. $17.99 (9780316194686) Grades 9 & Up. There’s only one thing Astrid Jones can do when a growing attraction to her co-worker Dee becomes too big and too confusing: send her love to airplane passengers flying overhead while she tries to figure out who she is down here on the ground.

Lo, Malinda. Adaption. 2012. 400p. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316197960) Grades 9 & Up. Something strange has been going on with Reese Holloway since her car accident and her top secret medical treatment- but will she be allowed to figure it out, or will others take her apart to figure it out first?

Miller, Madeline.  The Song of Achilles.  2012.  384p.  HarperCollins, $25.99 (9780062060617).  Grades 9 & Up. Stirring and memorable, this novel is a re-imagined retelling of the Homeric story of the love between Achilles and Patrocles.

Moon, Sarah, editor. The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves. 2012. 288p. Scholastic, $17.99 (9780545399326). Grades 6 & Up. Looking back on what they wished they knew when they were younger, 64 of today’s award winning GLBTQ authors write and illustrate letters to their former selves in a way to reach out to those who are in the shoes they once filled.

Saenz, Benjamin Alire.  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.  2012.  368p.  Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (9781442408920).  Grades 9-12. Dante and Aristotle are opposites in almost every way but, nevertheless, the two boys are best friends, almost like two halves making a whole.  Saenz’ lyrical novel examines the bonds of friendship and the uncertainties and saving graces of love.

Rice-Gonzalez, Charles.  Chulito:  a Novel.  2011.  275p.  Magnus Books, $14.95 (9781936833030).  Grades 10 & Up. After sharing a secret with his best friend, a Latino teen’s ideas about what it really means to be a man are challenged.  Should he play ‘straight’ and keep his standing among his peers in the neighborhood, or come out and be his true self?

Telgemeier, Raina.  Drama.  2012.  240p.  Scholastic Graphix, $23.99 (9780545326988).  Grades 6 & Up. Callie is a passionate theater geek who plunges into her middle school’s production of “Moon Over Mississippi” with enthusiasm for all things theater: sets, props, lighting – you name it, she’s on it.  When twins Justin and Jesse join the cast, Callie quickly develops a crush on one, a friendship with the other, who is gay.

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  1. On one hand, these are super go-to lists, and it's neat that someone out there is putting them together. On the other hand, though, is the recent proliferation of award lists starting to devalue the idea of an award list?

    And hmph to no Bitterblue on the Rainbow list. In fact, unless I'm misinterpreting the descriptions, no SF at all on that list! In 2008, I made the case that YA speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, dystopian fiction, etc) is an area where GLBT content can really shine, and where it should be looked for. I didn't expect it to still be so much off the radar in 2013 (although, admittedly, it makes my presentation from five years back still relevant...)

    1. I think the purpose of these two particular lists is more for collection development and reader's advisory and also to promote minorities and less "these are the absolute best," so they are good in that way. Amelia Bloomer and Rainbow List don't have the glamour of the YMA books/awards, but they serve a practical need and assist a specific readership in finding good books.

      On the speculative fiction note, only ONE of the finalists or award winners at this year's YMAs - Seraphina - falls into that category. Isn't it crazy that fantasy and science fiction are the most popular titles and yet only one title was found suitable to earn an award? How is that possible?

  2. Off the top of my head, a lot of the YA SF books I've read this year have been either followups (which *could* win, like middle books in Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books and Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising books did, but haven't in a while), or kind of derivative - maybe more original stuff is going on in realistic fiction or other genres at the moment?

  3. So, I'm revisiting this post, and my comments, almost a year later (!), and I find that my view of the proliferation of award lists has shifted. My current thought is that the presence of lots of specialized lists might have a "rising tide lifts all ships" effect. That is, as authors and publishers aim to have their books included on these lists (with the recognition - and sales - that accompany them), more diverse voices and choices are being put out there for everyone to enjoy.

    I plan to blog about this soon and will post the link here!

  4. Here's my blog post, where I argue that YA lit awards (including the Amelia Bloomer Project!) facilitate development of a YA canon, and create visibility and legitimacy for YA lit overall.