Cheers and Cogitations

Kudos, kudos, kudos to the cool kids at Not Your Mother’s Bookclub who are mentioned with many props in this week’s PW! NYMBC loves YA authors and YA readers and bring the two together in some truly innovative ways. This week they’re supporting San Francisco’s literary festival, Litquake with a meet-the-author thing that looks like fun. Congrats, NYMBC – may your tribe increase.

Further kudos to the proud Mommy over at Wands & Worlds, whose son’s imagine-the-ending to the Snicket Saga was chosen to be printed by the Washington Post. The kid not only writes in complete sentences, he’s … hilarious! Cheers! Another writer on the horizon! Mazel tov to both!

I don’t know from manga, but…Via A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy, this Anne Frank edu-manga thing looks like a big, fat, NOOOO! to me. And I am a little stunned, too, at the idea of a pop-up book on the Irish potato famine… Exactly what could you pop-up to make it more… um… readable? In my mind, pop-ups are supposed to be …fun? However! I will wait like everyone else and read the book before I comment. Any further. Ahem.

A post I’m late discovering is via Tockla’s World of Children’s Lit and it’s on mixed-race kids books. This is of special interest to me because my book originally had a mixed-race protagonist, and my agent suggested that since I’m “plain old African American” I should take that out.
I was fairly steamed, to say the least, especially since a nice letter I got from a senior editor at Jump at the Sun who called it “refreshing” that the character was not in any way concerned that she was mixed race, and that the novel did not necessarily concern race. But the real question? Is anybody really “plain old” anything? And I wonder now if I did wrong to change my character. Oh well. As I write more, I learn more, I guess…

An interesting discussion at AS IF on manga and graphic novels and their, er, graphic content. Some want to ban all graphic novels. Not really the answer!? Also on this same fascinating weblog, Laurie Halse Anderson posts her approach to dealing with challenges to her book, Speak, and states she has “no business insisting” that her book is taught anywhere. Very enlightening and enlightened thoughts.

One of the things I love deeply about literature is that it can bridge cultures and traditions and backgrounds and people, and bring together humans in a commonality of experience that transcends political rhetoric and polarizing speeches. Music, too, can be as fluid and versatile as literature, so today’s “check it out because it is heart-touching and energizing and hopeful and positive” site of the day is NPR, whose lovely pieces from Lullabies from the Axis of Evil will make you want to add this CD of Iranian, Iraqi and North Korean lullabies to your repertoire so you can do some peaceful meditative yoga stretches and deep thinking while it plays (if you have no babies to sing to sleep). The CD is about a year old, but the short stories and poetry found in the book by the same title (and aren’t YA) was just released today. The sample story I read is equally beautiful, and pulls my heart to a world that I don’t quite understand, yet is so close to my own understanding of things that I feel I can reach across the chasm and touch it. Music and books: just another way to save the world.

About the author

tanita s. davis is a writer and avid reader who prefers books to most things in the world, including people. That's ...pretty much it, she's very boring and she can't even tell jokes. She is, however, the author of eight books, including Serena Says, Partly Cloudy, and the Coretta Scott King honored Mare's War. Look for the new MG, Go Figure, Henri Weldon in 1/2023 from Katherine Tegen Books.


  1. Lullabies From The Axis Of Evil is a beautiful CD. (My husband bought it for me on Valentine’s Day 2005.) I can’t wait to get my hands on Literature from the “Axis of Evil!

  2. Thanks for posting the link to Tockla’s entry, T! Fascinating. I commented on her blog that I don’t know of a lot of books on the theme of mixed-race, either, but that has to change. Many of my characters are of mixed race or culture, and if not, culture plays some thematic role even if it’s minor. It’s almost like a tic, because I can’t not slip in a person of ethnicity or mixed ethnicity. And you know my feelings on the “plain old African American” thing.

  3. You know, I lurk on blogs like Sepia Mutiny (a totally nonYA site) and others, and just read what people have to say about race and issues important to them, and they’re so outspoken and, like, OUT THERE with it, and I cringe because I caved and changed my character’s race. I totally blew it, in a way. “Plain old African American” is totally false, and yet…

  4. You shouldn’t be ashamed of changing your novel, or feel like you caved. It’s hard enough for a writer to get published these days, without making it more difficult by standing on principles. When you are an established writer with enough clout to write what you want, (note that I said when, not if) then you can work to change the world. Until then, you have to take baby steps.

  5. Tadmack, could you email me off-blog? I am working on an article about multicultural children’s literature blogs and I wanted to exchange a few emails with you. Find me at my website.

  6. Thanks for the kind words, Sheila.
    I just wonder if a person could have the courage to be who they are and think and write what they want if they don’t begin the way they intend to continue. I feel like in many ways my character’s race was such a small thing that I should have been able to leave it! I don’t want to sacrifice something important just to be published. It’s an ongoing thought for many writers, though — what are we willing to do to achieve the dream? How much are we willing to leave behind or set aside or wait on/for?

    It’s a deep thought!

  7. Belated thanks for the link to my posting. I’m glad it has generated some discussion, as this does seem like an issue that’s gone a bit undergrown, compared to a lot of discussion about multiculturalism or representations of ethnic diversity.

    I was trying to figure out from your profiles if either A Fortis or Tadmack are based in the Bay Area. I ask because I’m a Berkeley girl myself, and will be coming home to visit family around Christmas and staying through January. I wondered if we could have a blogger gathering? Email me if interested (email can be found on the website)…

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