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kidquake san francisco

i shared the stage today with 4 fabulous kidlit makers. 3 of whom were there to share their first book! i was so HAPPY for them! BookParty-BooksInc-EmilyAprilBook-FromAaronLum

emily jiang and april chu are the author and artist respectively, of ‘summoning the phoenix: poems and prose about chinese musical instruments.’

emily is a composer and her poems, perspective and instrument information were beautiful! summoning the phoenixand the illustrations by april??? to die for!!! we all had our necks twisted to see them when they were projected on the big screen behind us!

and janay brown wood  shared her first book, ‘imani’s moon.’ another gorgeous book, illustrated by hazel mitchell.imani's moon                               i wanted to dive into the imagery and follow imani’s journey to touch the moon. janay is a fabulous delight and we were all pleased that her inspiring energy closed our presentation.

the old timers on the panel were me and tim myers, a great presence with that storyteller tweak. he shared extremely humorous stories about himself before bringing up ‘down at the dino wash deluxe‘ illustrated by macky pamintuan. Dino Wash cover

ya gotta love a book with dinosaurs! especially ones that go to a deluxe wash run by kids!

and then there was me. ‘call me tree’ comes out november 13! even though it’s my 27th book, it still holds ‘that feeling.’ i don’t have it hand, but i am sharing sneak preveiws!

we each had 8 MINUTES to share with some 250 k-2 students about our work! it was fast and sweet (we did 2 assemblies in a row!) and i have to say, a number of times we laughed our heads off. thank you summer laurie for all your work. it was a lovely!

(pic: tim myers, moi, janay brown wood, april chu and emily jiang at kidquake sf 2014)

tim myers, janay wood brown, emily jiang and april chu jewish museum oct 14

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michael brown reminded me of my dad

unfinished post, questions and the beginning of kidlitEquality

i found this  post i wrote not long ago. it opens with my father. despite the fact that it isn’t finished i’m sharing it, as is.

*august 9, 2014, 18 year old, unarmed michael brown was one of many young, black males gunned down by a white police officer

michael-brown

I woke up with the memory of childhood, standing near the ocean, my father all in denim and a white T, his big, black work boots and dark shades. I remember I liked the way he looked. His brown summer skin against the white T at his throat, his dark shiny curls separating the faded blue of his jacket from the rich blue of the sea sky.

My mother said he looked like a hell’s angel. In the 70’s in LA that meant something. Fear mainly. A violent, lawless, motorcycle gang. What my very white mother was trying to convey was that my father looked like a gang member and/or a thug. I was young. I had no idea what that meant. He was my dad. And as far as I knew, he was almost nearly the opposite of a hell’s angel.

When we traveled on to Arizona for our vacation we somehow found our big red camper rolling down the same path as some kind of parade? (Protest?) There were men yelling on either side of the road, touching our camper and waving their arms. I didn’t understand what was going on, then someone threw a big American flag on the road in front of our truck, seemingly so we would run over it. I think it was the 4th of July.

coloring-pages4

My mother did not want him to, but my father stopped the truck, silently got out, went and picked up the flag and placed it back in its holder. Maybe because me and my younger brother were sitting in the cab watching, I don’t know, but my father walked through that violent crowd without a touch, got back in the truck and we drove on. I could barely breathe as I watched. I sensed the rage on the streets and I had some vague sense that who my father was and how he looked somehow contributed to it and there he was walking  among them.

It wasn’t until I was older that I understood. To be honest, I think I’m still in the process of understanding and I’m getting quite old. The feeling of not belonging, of not feeling intrinsically safe and normal in the world, can be difficult to explain to someone who has never felt it. But when I turn to someone else on the borderlands, no words are necessary. In fact, this part of our reality, is the thing that most often goes without words. We’re taught from a young age, this is how it is so we don’t need to point it out. It’s a built in guard. But it can also isolate and weaken us.

coloring-pages

I was reading about Micheal Brown last night. The writer had a kind eye turned on him, sharing personal experiences that reflected Michael’s heart. Michael sounded like my dad in a way, which must be why I woke up with memories of him. I thought about the times my father could have been taken out. Purely for being who he is. Times when the racial tension tweaked to that point where people start doing really uncool things, not just the usual uncool things.

I think of Michael and that moment of tweak, when the racial tension was so high, out of control, beyond rational thought, explosive. When Michael transformed from a young man out on a summer day to a monstrous threat with the audacity to walk down the street, in front of a man with authority holding a gun. How many flags were thrown down before that day? How many times did Michael do the right thing? What is the right thing to do when who you are is seen as intrinsically wrong?

coloring-pages2

as a parent and a children’s book author, i question how to explain that moment, that shift to a child? How to speak clearly enough to make it understood, that it’s not about Michael, no matter what EVERYTHING else is broadcasting. It’s about who pulled the trigger. How to articulate not just the hate that sends the bullet flying, but the fear that makes that bullet seem necessary?

**in response to michael’s passing, i cofound kidlitequality. you can go there now by clicking the link below and download the coloring pages shown in this post. share them with the kids in your life.  begin the conversation. find a way.

kidlitEquality.com

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the losses that makes us who we are

the power of choosing yourself when you've been disowned

i’m sitting here with my one year old, sky. i have a radically different life than i’ve ever had before. i’m happy. close up deadface

i’ve had a lot to learn through in life. one of the biggies was being disowned when i was 20 for being queer. it was my mother’s doing, but everyone followed suit. i don’t think about it much anymore, although it contributed to my suicidal aura for many years.

i learned that things are often not what they seem and the human heart is no exception. trauma, especially generational and ancestral trauma create pathways and patterns that are difficult to challenge and even harder to truly transform for some. i can’t always separate what part trauma, what part homophobia with my family.

the tangle is part of it.

because of my hellbent drive toward my own healing and freedom, i no longer own blame. my family is free to be and so am i. i am incredibly fortunate to be able to say that and feel it. i have been surprised and relieved at the compassion and care i feel inside toward them. although things are forever changed and we remain nearly estranged, there’s no animosity. no need at this point.

i found out on facebook today that my father is in the hospital and in surgery as i write this. i send him love. immense love. my father was the best thing in my life as a child. i know he will find his way, either to stay or to let go. i know this because of him. my father taught me about death and what he knew of the heart. i know our spirits are in contact as they always have been. and there is peace.

being disowned challenged me to define myself, choose myself, be myself…or leave this place. but here is where i belong. in my body, with my baby and my partner, here on mamiearth, a stunning and generous home. and even standing as a distant witness to my family gathering around and supporting each other has a poignant beauty to it.  i am strong. and i am soft. i can see the shape of things and let go. into the flow. because i know…

i belong. to myself.

i belong. to the sky.

tu eres mi otro yo.

life is life.

travel safely dad,

land gently where you belong.

xoxoxoxox

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reclaiming my childhood literary influences

helen keller and the phantom toll booth

i have been asked what children’s or YA book influenced me most for an article. as much as i love children’s books now, i cannot say that i have a lot of childhood experience with them. i remember reading helen keller’s life story, a big 2 inch fatty that i carried everywhere around the age of 8.hellen and annie i was fascinated with not only helen’s experience, but also her relationship with annie and their intense drive toward expression and connection.

the only other book memory i have is just a title. the phantom toll booth. i’ve ordered it and i’m intrigued now to reclaim this tiny thing that my memory has held onto.  i’m already laughing at the brief review i’ve read about it. sounds just like my kind of book! funny how we’re influenced along the way and we don’t even know it. the power of books continues to awe me and strengthen my commitment to not only making them, but sharing how to make them and use them as the incredible tools they are! out of the foothills of confusion toward the sea of knowledge! with helen reminding me we are always heading toward the unknown.

phantom toll booth map

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i am kidlitcon

finding more people to play!!!

this year’s theme for KidLitCon was: Blogging Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Lit: What’s Next?zai drive

it’s always soothing to be around folks with whom i can relax and even play a bit.

play is serious business to me. play means a quality of curiosity, openness, courage and innocence. today i feel like i found some more people to play with.

it was a conference for children’s book bloggers.  all talking about diversity! aaaaaaaaaaa!!! it was like an awesome 4 square game where no one misses the ball or  a really long jump rope run where you and the rope and the rope turners are in effortless sync.

i love it when that happens. play.

twinashere are some of the fabulous people on the playground…

 

the twinjas

Twinja Book Reviews hopes to open the discussion about diversity in YA, NA, MG as well as Science Fiction & Fantasy themed books. part of what i adored about these women, was their true openness and willingness to take risks!

there was nathalie mvondo at multiculturism rocks! cultural diversity in children’s books.

and editor laura atkins

and author zetta elliott

and librarian edith campbell at crazy quiltedi

and i ran into mira reisberg at children’s book academy

zetta laura edithi want to play some more please. i’ve got a children’s book revolution in my mind and it feels like a perfectly round, red rubber ball just waiting to hit the ground!

 

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higher and higher

interview with r. gregory christie

greg christie

i just got done having one of my favorite kinds of talks. one of those spans of time when i get to touch the creative force that flows through all of us and for a moment ride its beauty with another. it’s funny to call it a ‘talk’ because there aren’t fully words…it’s more of a shared look, a tone, a knowing. great thanks to greg christie for an intuitive tour through the contours of his mind! can’t wait to share more of him in my heart of it; creating children’s books that matter course!

 

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everywhere there are teachers

raven has been with us for months

we pay attention to the animals and plants in our life and what they are bringing us to learn. especially if they are showing themselves over and over to us. so it is with raven. raven dances in our tree outside our window clucking a message, follows us on our walks in the neighborhood, is always calling to matthew, sitting within visual range, flying overhead, it’s constant. raven raven raven

today one of the artistauthors for our upcoming HEART OF IT COLLECTION told me that at the last minute she HAD TO paint a raven amidst the corn in her spread. raven has now even entered our book! we’re listening darling, beautiful black, holding perspective. thank you ravenreflection. we are one. so glad you made it into the book!!!!

Raven31

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the joy continues

interview with up and coming local authorartist robert trujillo

Character44-YoungRob_byRobertTrujillo1      i spent a beautiful morning in oakland talking with an authorartist i’ve had my eye on for a long time. i hope one day to work together on a project! here is a nibble of his work. i loved many things that robert had to say, but what i’m holding onto right now is how he PLAYS to explore his illustration style. playplayplay…not surprised i was drawn to both his talent and his spirit! rock on robert!!! and thank you so much for sharing!

see more of his fabulousness here!

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i love my job

(metaphorically) dancing naked with kwame alexander

kwamei just got done interviewing kwame alexander for my heart of it/creating children’s books that matter. i CANNOT adequately express how much i love my job!

one of many beautiful take aways was what kwame called ‘dancing naked on the floor.’ it is the title of one of his poems and a line from a nikki giovanni poem (who i’m also highlighting, although not interviewing for the course).

‘dancing naked’ speaks to being authentic first within yourself. kwame shares that when you establish an ownership of your own voice and it’s belonging in the world, you create the possibility of that for others. so that  when he allows others to witness him metaphorically ‘dancing naked on the floor’ either through his books or his teaching in person, he establishes a trust with his readers and his students that it’s ok to be exactly who you are inside and outside.  this creates the perfect ground for VOICE to come through…and be heard.

rock on kwame!!! he’s got 8 books coming out in the next 4 years with NO END in sight! kwame’s got VOICE. he’s got much that we can learn from and he’s out there teaching it! thank you again kwame!

 

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still making arte: communion gloves

communion-gloves-maya-webi collect many things old. vintage gloves are a favie. here i invoke memories of both death and my first communion. both intrinsically connected for me and to the woman i have become. in my imagination the gloves are communing with each other, death is communing with life, spirit with matter and through my arte, i am communing with you. xomaya

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