Interview with Yuyi Morales, Part 4

by Jeanne Fain, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

We wanted to hear Yuyi’s insights on publishing and inquire about her future plans. Additionally, we wanted to end our blog with children’s responses to Yuyi’s work. We asked our colleague Robin Horn from Galveston Elementary in Chandler, AZ and a preschool teacher associate of Julia’s at Spears Creek Road Child Development in Elgin, SC to share responses from Yuyi’s new book with Tony Johnston, My Abuelita. The children responded sharing their stories and connections with the book.

Jeanne: What are your thoughts about children’s publishing especially in regards to bilingual children’s literature?
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Interview with Yuyi Morales, Part 3

by Jeanne Fain, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

I have been questioned about my use of Yuyi Morales’s skeletal Señor Calavera in preschool classrooms. Some teachers were initially hesitant to read about him, so I asked Yuyi about her perspectives on him. I wanted to get the insider’s perspective on him and I wanted to hear what children had to say about him. First, we’ll let Señor Calavera share his own search for identity.

WOW! Did you know Señor Calavera has his own My Space account? He does. Maybe you should be his friend there. He’d be a good friend to have because he’s also a decorated story teller. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), something happened on the way to the ALA Pura Belpre book award ceremony.
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Interview with Yuyi Morales, Part 2

by Jeanne Fain, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

One of the questions that I often ask children when we are reading bilingual books, is what language do you focus upon? Do you look at both languages in the book? Students have told me that they read the language that they know. Or if they have a question, they read both languages to make sense of the text. We were interested in knowing Yuyi’s process as an author and her views of bilingual texts when English Only is not just sentiment, but the law in many places.

Jeanne: You use code switching (alternating back and forth across languages) often in your books. What process do you use when writing? Do you write in English and then shift to Spanish or vice versa? Have you had to advocate for the use of Spanish in your books?
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Interview with Yuyi Morales

by Jeanne Fain, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN and Julia López-Robertson, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Author and illustrator Yuyi Morales has created several books that we have used in our work with children in many classrooms. We especially appreciate the multicultural aspects of her work and that many of her books are bilingual. She uses language that directly relates to the children. Julia had her speak at a conference that she co-chairs yearly in South Carolina. Jeanne met her at the University of Arizona when she spoke at Kathy Short’s children’s literature conference. We both thought Yuyi could add depth to our ongoing discussions around global children’s literature. Fortunately, she agreed to answer questions about her current and upcoming work.
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Windows to the World — Part 4

by Barbara Thompson-Book, Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, IN

Welcome back for my final week of exploring the world through both books and the World Wide Web and focusing on Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. For this final posting I want to thank several people who helped me with this post. First, Holly Johnson urged me to do this region of the world. I was hesitant because until I began my research, all the books I had read on the region were “sad and depressing” as my undergraduates had termed some of the international books I had assigned for them read. Worlds of Words’ own Rebecca Ballenger found me a “tweet” while waiting for a plane to go to NCTE this November. Thanks Rebecca for leading me into a refreshing literature I had never explored. Rebecca did this by sending me to Pooja Makhijani’s Web site about South Asia and the South Asia Diaspora in Children’s Literature. Makhijani is an American born writer with a wonderful Web site about South Asian literature. She has edited a volume entitled Under Her Skin: How Girls Experience Race in America (Seal Press, 2004). Finally I must thank my colleague at Indiana University Southeast, Shifa Podikunju-Hussain, Ph.D. who willingly shared a number of these novels and picture books with her own mother, who was born in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and her own girls ages 5 and 12. They offered their thoughts as to the authenticity of many of the books about India.

While many of the books (really the young adolescent novels) do fall into the “sad and depressing” category, I found that there are some wonderful picture books and a couple of novels which are refreshingly light, and don’t paint that area of the world as the distressing place we, perhaps, in light of recent events there, usually hold of it.
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Windows to the World — A Quick Look at Haiti

by Barbara Thompson-Book, Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, IN

Fellow travelers, when I was looking at books for the Americas during week two, I failed to mention books on Haiti. That oversight does not mean that there are not some wonderful books available about the island nation so on our minds right now. As teachers and parents, our children and students must certainly have questions about what they are seeing on the news, so I have researched some titles you might want to share and have looked at Web sites that support these books. I want to issue this disclaimer, I have not read some of these books. I am working from reviews published in Horn Book Guide. I used as my search criteria the score of 3 (out of 6 with 1 being highest, and realizing that Horn Book Guide rarely gives out a 1) as the cut off for acceptable books. This does not guarantee that the books are authentic, nor does it guarantee that there aren’t issues of stereotyping in the books. Given the urgency of the topic, I’d rather have the titles out there than err on the side of caution.
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Windows to the Worlds — Part 3

by Barbara Thompson-Book, Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, IN

Welcome back to those of you who have been traveling with me around the world and exploring places we may never see ourselves, but can visit because of the wonderful writing and artwork of authors, illustrators, and photographers sharing their corner of the world. I’ve been pairing books with sources from the World Wide Web, as our world ever expands. To those of you who are just joining me on this adventure, welcome!

This week we are looking at books set in Africa. Keeping in mind Kathy Short’s post, I tried to make sure that the books shared here do not stereotype Africa as a world of poverty. I have to say, that this presented a challenge, first because there is, in fact, so much poverty in Africa, and second because authors have in many cases chosen to highlight the plight of African children. I will try to present a realistic view of Africa, although I have never personally been there. In looking for books to highlight I looked for stories that represented modern Africa or reflected some of the struggles that the African continent has undergone.
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Windows to the World — Part 2

by Barbara Thompson-Book, Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, IN

Last week I explored a part of the world that is fraught with conflict and, though there is conflict in my next area of the world (Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and and South America), I’d like to take a more positive approach to the exploration of books from our neighbors to the south and the Web sites that support them. Last week I explored novels, so this week I’ll look at picture books. Let’s have some fun!
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Windows on the World — Part 1

by Barbara Thompson-Book, Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, IN

It has been said that books, including books for children and young adults, can act as “windows on the world.” When we give our children books about places they have never visited, but have heard of from family members, the news, movies, or other print media we offer them glimpses of what living in a culture other than their own might be like. This echoes Holly Johnson’s post in August, about using international books to help inform our children’s understandings about geography and the world at large. She wrote, “I find it important to educate young people about geography and the present reality of a particular region.” Of course in today’s electronic environment, information on just about any topic is at their fingertips via Google or any of several search engines, thus providing another window to the world. The issue then becomes, how can we, as teachers, use both high quality literature about worlds other than the one we inhabit, and bring credible internet sources together to support that literature? That is my intent for the next four weeks — to link incredible stories of places I have not visited except in books with internet sources that have helped inform me about the material I experienced in the books through reading.
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The Role of Small Presses in Multicultural Children's Books

by Ann Parker, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Last week I shared information that I collected on the role that small, independent book publishers play in publishing multicultural children’s books, particularly bilingual books. In this post I examine the contributions made by small presses and discuss some publishers who are committed to publishing quality children’s books that were originally printed in another country and often in another language.

Not too long ago, as a child growing up in Georgetown, D.C., I remember little Mom and Pop stores located on every corner. My friend Sarah lived near Mrs. Rosen’s store — so close that her mom would send us there on Saturday mornings to get breakfast. You had to ring the bell at Mrs. Rosen’s so she would buzz you in. We had another corner store closer to our home, where my 25 cent weekly allowance would buy a lot of penny candy.
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