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Diversity Reading Challenge

The 12 Books of #Diversity for the Holidays Day 7

The 12 Books of #Diversity for the Holidays

7-books-of-diversity

On the Seventh day of diversity, we bring you: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

Fall in love is right. Marjane is smart and funny. In a country where I don’t believe that is valued. I can’t stop talking enough about this book!

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

The 12 Books of #Diversity for the Holidays DAY 7 – Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

The 12 Books of #Diversity
for the Holidays Day Seven

7-books-of-diversity

On the Seventh day of diversity, we bring you: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

Fall in love is right. Marjane is smart and funny. In a country where I don’t believe that is valued. I can’t stop talking enough about this book!

Categories
2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Children

The Green Musician by Mahvash Shahegh Illustrated by Claire Ewart

Once upon a time in the land of Persia, there lived a king named Khosrow.  He was very wealthy and his palace was ful of colorful rugs and other rich decorations. Everything the king and his guests ate was plentiful and delicious. The large palace gardens were overflowing with rare flowers, trees, and songbirds.

Isn’t that opening paragraph delicious?  Have you visualized it in your head? Here’s the cover:

The Green Musician by Mahvash Shahegh

Look at how rich and lush the colors are!  Here’s a picture book for kids of all ages.  The Green Musician is an ancient Persian (Iran) tale that’s be retold for centuries about a musician named Barbad who could play and sing beautifully and wanted to sing at the palace and live with the king.  Naturally the current palace musician doesn’t want to be replaced by young Barbad so he thwarts Barbad’s efforts.

Every page is beautifully illustrated and the tale is as sweet and gentle as the illustrations themselves. I nearly wept at the end of this book.  Readers will learn about beautiful ancient Persia and also about perseverance.

Tack this on to your Diversity Reading Challenge list. You won’t regret it.

 

Categories
2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Banned Books

Banned Books Week: Have you read Persepolis?

BBW13_Profile
And here’s a title I’ve been meaning to read (I KNOW!)

2)      Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

  Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

Here’s another important book that I feel like teens need to read in order to gain insight
into the lives of kids in the Middle East. Here’s why it’s continually challenged: Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

I just can’t EVEN with these people. If you’ve read this it qualifies as a diversity read.

PS. GRAPHIC NOVEL!!

Categories
Banned Books

Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop: The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom To Read

All this week I’ll be celebrating banned books week by highlighting challenged or banned books. Why is banned books week important? According to the American Library Association (of which I’m a member),

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

As a parent, you have a right to decide what your own children should be exposed to, but I strongly believe that you do not have the right to dictate what other children have access to. So, let’s celebrate the books that have been challenged and see if you’ve read any of them and you can make the decision for yourself. Each day of Banned Books Week I’ll highlight several of the titles that were challenged or banned last year. Let’s see how they stack up.  Also? This is a blog hop so I’ll giveaway a $10 Amazon gift card to the winner!

Let’s look at titles from the Middle East Today.

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

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There is so much to learn about the Middle Eastern region and so little time to read.

Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library–along with the thirty thousand books within it–will be destroyed forever.

In a war-stricken country where civilians–especially women–have little power, this true story about a librarian’s struggle to save her community’s priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries. Illustrated by Jeanette Winter in bright acrylic and ink.

Sounds great, right? Other people obviously don’t feel the same way and have challenged the book “because of violent illustrations and storyline” which  is rather irrational because what would kind of story do you expect to hear when reading about a war torn country? Perhaps the age group was not appropriate for the book.

Another book about growing up in war ravaged countries?

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

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Persepolis is another example of a book I’ve been meaning to read.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family.

This challenge and ban is particularly interesting; it was removed from the shelves  due to “graphic illustrations and language” and concerns about “developmental preparedness” and “student readiness.” The students, however, took to social media and traditional media voicing their displeasure with the school’s decision, which was eventually overturned.

Again, we should read these and judge for ourselves.  Have you read either of these titles?

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Young Adult

Q and A WITH DEBORAH ELLIS, AUTHOR OF MOON AT NINE

Deborah Ellis Q: How did you learn about the two young women who inspired Moon At Nine? A:The real-life Farrin now lives in Canada, and I met her through my publisher.  We spent time together and she told me what her life was like growing up in post-revolutionary Iran.  She told me about falling in love with the real-life Sadira and what happened to them both as a result of that love Farrin and Sadira’s tale is, sadly, not unique – not in Iran and not in many parts of the world.  It varies by degree, and in some places it is getting hugely better. But it still goes on. Q: Moon at Nine is fiction but based on true events.  Is it harder to write stories based on reality? What aspects of the story changed between fact and fiction? A: Most of my books are based on real-life situations of war or other forms of injustice, so I am used to working hard to make the stories as realistic and factual as possible.  One of the differences with this book is that I was basing the story on the experiences of real individuals who did not want to share their identity.  I had to honor the essential truth of their story while creating enough fiction around it to preserve their anonymity.  Also, the real-life Farrin and Sadira story is much more brutal than the one I felt competent enough to relate in a book for young people.  Plus, I wanted to leave the reader with a sense of respect for the strength, beauty, compassion and diversity of the Iranian people.  Putting all the brutality these young women went through into the story might leave the reader with the impression that the whole country is brutal.Q: Farrin writes fantastical stories about a demon slayer, and Sadira imagines her past as if it were a story that happened to someone else.  What do you think makes storytelling so important, especially in a situation like this? A: Telling stories allows us to see ourselves as heroes. Whether we are slaying vampires, opposing dictators, escaping religious oppression or standing up to family, we can get strength from picturing ourselves as braver than we think we are.  Stories help us feel connected to others.  They can give us a sense of community, even when all around are hostile, and they can remind us that our sorrows are not original – others in history have shared the same pain. image005Q: How have LGBT rights changed or advanced in Iran since l988? A: Homosexuality is illegal in nearly 80 countries.  In seven countries, including Iran, gays and lesbians can be put to death.  According to the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR), lesbians in Iran are also forced into marriage, are victims of extortion, are raped and tortured.  It is still very dangerous to be lesbian or gay in Iran.  Having said that, Iran is also a nation with a wide diversity of opinion, as reflected in their film industry.  A female film-maker, Maryan Keshavarz, recently made a film about women falling in love with each other in Iran. Q: With this and all your books, you are known for your extensive research.  What is the most surprising thing that you discovered regarding Iranian life/history/culture? A: Iran is a nation that values education and has a highly educated population.  It is a nation of strong women who hold and exercise power in a multitude of ways.  A rich body of literature stretching back thousands of years, extensive artistic traditions and a huge diversity of cultures combine into a country that is complex and fascinating.  I hope to be able to travel all over Iran some day. Q: All of your books focus on hard-hitting social justice issues.  Do you approach these topics differently for younger readers than you would for adults? A: Younger people often deal with the fallout of adult decisions without really understanding those decisions.  When writing stories for young people, I have to try to see the situation through the young character’s eyes.  What would they see, what would they feel, what would they understand and what would their choices be?  The stories also need to end with at least a little bit of hope. Even if the situation is still bleak, the character has a bit more wisdom and a bit more strength to be able to face the next challenge with at least the hope of success. Q: What advice would you give readers who are facing prejudice themselves? A: First off, survive.  Stay alive.  Look after yourself.  Eat healthy, study hard, stay away from drugs and booze.  Find things you enjoy.  The adults around you who have created or tolerated the environment of prejudice might never let go of their ignorance.  They might not change, so you may have to stop wanting them to change, for your own sanity.  You might have to learn how to thrive and succeed without their approval, which will feel very lonely at times – but you can get through it.  There are allies out there for you.  Keep looking until you find them.  Build a healthy supportive community around you and learn to give that support to someone else.  Volunteer in your community to keep yourself busy and feeling good about your contributions.  Get strong.  Achieve.  Find joy.  Stay alive.  Build a new world over the stupidity of the old. Wow wasn’t that a great interview? I love Ellis’ advice to young people facing adversity: STAY ALIVE. Thank you Ms Ellis! Have you read Moon at Nine? What did you think? Are you facing any prejudice? How are you dealing with it?

Categories
Books Young Adult

Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis for LGBT Pride Month

image005At a time when issues of homosexuality and human rights are making headlines around the world, Pajama Press is proud to stand behind internationally acclaimed author and humanitarian Deborah Ellis and her groundbreaking new novel Moon at Nine. Based on a true account, Moon at Nine is the gripping story of two young teenaged girls who are arrested for being gay in Iran—a country in which homosexuality is considered so abhorrent that it is punishable by death.

Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. As the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father, Farrin must keep a low profile at her school for gifted girls in Tehran. It is 1988; in the ten years since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her mother’s Bring Back the Shah activities, her family could be thrown in jail, or worse.

The day she meets Sadira, Farrin’s life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise, and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship deepens into romance, the relationship takes a dangerous turn. Refusing to deny their love for one another, the girls are arrested. Separated from Sadira, Farrin can only pray as she awaits execution. Will her family find a way to save them both?

Deborah Ellis is the internationally acclaimed author of nearly thirty books for children and young people, most of which explore themes of social justice and courage. A peace activist, feminist, and humanitarian, Deborah has won many national and international awards for her books, including the Governor General’s Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award, the American Library Association’s Notable List and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. In 2010, she received the Ontario Library Association President’s Award for Exceptional Achievement. Deborah lives in Ontario, Canada.

Since June is LGBT Pride month, I thought it would be great to highlight some popular and/or little know books that contain LGBT characters. Last year I discovered: If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan. Here’s the link to my blog post.  It’s a tale of two young girls who hide their lesbian secret.

Two great books that you MUST read!

Categories
Books Young Adult

Hotlight Spotlight: If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

ifyoucouldbemine

HOLY COW I CAN’T WAIT TO READ THIS BOOK!

If you haven’t heard of it, you will.  Just when you think that all the good literature about life in the Middle East is only for adult readers, here comes If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan.

In this stunning debut, a young Iranian American writer pulls back the curtain on one of the most hidden corners of a much-talked-about culture.

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

 

Amazing, right?  Who knew that being a lesbian in Iran was criminal but sex reassignment is legal?  This is a groundbreaking novel that I’m sure will become beloved, banned, challenged, questioned, etc.  I’m calling it first, folks:

This will be the Young Adult sleeper this fall.

I’m putting this title at the top of my TBR pile!

What about you? Have you read it?

 

Categories
Books Non Fiction

Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan

I’ve had the recent honor of being promoted to book club doyenne at the book store where I work (Towne Book Center & Cafe) and our pick for December is Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan.

Unconventional Librarian.com
courtesy http://until-tuesday.com/

Montalvan is a career Army Captain stationed in the recent war in the Middle East.  He’s suffered some debilitating PTSD for which he receives the most darling and helpful golden retriever named Tuesday. Since I’m a dog lover, I thought the book would be the perfect blend of oohing and ahhing over how adorable the pooch is and how helpful he’s made Montalvan’s life.  To be sure, Tuesday is helpful and probably kept Montalvan from hurting himself and others.

What’s surprising about the book is how much the author talks about the war effort. War is gruesome stuff and Montalvan describes the atrocities that he and others faced more than I cared to read.  it gave me nightmares, this stuff.  I cannot even begin to imagine how these heroes live now that they’ve been to war.  What else I cannot believe is how it’s only been very recently that vets have been getting accurate treatment.  We’ve been fighting war for millenia and vets are only just now getting treatment for PTSD.

It’s sad.

Amazingly, Montalvan (and I suspect his ghost writer) added relevant, thought provoking quotes at the beginning of each chapter such as:

I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over.  Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.

That quote was from the famous writer Kurt Vonnegut, a WWII veteran.  You’d be surprised how many famous writers were war veterans.

As a civilian, I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes during war time.  Montalvan gives us some insight into the mismanagement and I’ll admit it makes me a bit angry.  But you try to stow that anger when you read Tuesday’s goofy personality or his contagious smile or the way he calms Montalvan’s tension, potentially staving off an anxiety attack.

Where would we be without our pets?  You know I love my Bailey, and while he’s no service dog, mostly cuz he’s a little neurotic,  his daily greetings make me feel like I’m the best person he’s seen all day (at least until someone else comes home).

Bailey, not a service dog

My hope is that service animals will become more available to those who need them.

World peace wouldn’t be too much to ask for, would it?

Our book club meets at 7pm and I’m sure there will be a great discussion surrounding this book (and prolly a war discussion).

I give Until Tuesday 4 paws!

Categories
Children Reviews

The Obsidian Mask by Caroline Ludovici

Adventure, intrigue, and precious gems; all items necessary for a good novel, right?  Then you’re in luck if you pick up a copy of The Obsidian Mask by Caroline Ludovici!

Allow me to tempt you a little bit with history.  What’s that you say? History’s not your thing? Maybe not, but reading this book might change your mind.  Ludovici, a charming Brit, has taken the cradle of civilization, ancient Mesopotamia, and turned it into a thriller for middle grade readers.

Imagine ancient Mesopotamia

courtesy How Stuff Works

Look really closely.  You’ll see that the Mesopotamia area crosses over a large portion of the world that has been in the news lately: Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and a teeny part of  Iran.

So what, you say? Well, here’s what: during the course of the novel, four young friends help uncover ancient secrets and are kidnapped because of a very valuable mask that is found in that area.  The mask, belonging to an ancient warrior queen, contains glass known as obsidian, a beautiful, dark, and volcanic glass stone that makes the mask financially priceless.

The glass can look like this:

courtesy Wikipedia

You’ll accidentally learn about history and the Middle East as you read the book.  If you’re like me, you’ll want to know more about the region: what’s the weather like? How did they access water in the desert?  What part of London are the teens from? Who is from Italy?  What in the heck is cuneiform?

Cuneiform is an form of writing.  It’s how ancient people wrote.  Wanna see my name in cuneiform?

I”m not sure what it really says but it prolly says “enjoy this book”!

Which I did and you know what? A second book is coming out next year, how fun will that be??

Stay tuned for more from this exciting series…