Summary: This book is AMAZING. The short story anthology focuses on LGBTQ and/or interracial relationships, and truly there is nothing like it that I’ve read ever. These underrepresented voices are compiled into one beautiful book that spans both genres and time itself.
All of the stories in the book are great, but there were a few that were enjoyed most of all. Death and the Maiden is a breathtaking tale, retelling the story of Hades and Persephone but with a twist. It’s one of the longer stories (which is still only about 20 pages) and I was hooked from beginning to end! Giving Up the Ghost was another story that fascinated me. In the story, people are matched up with a ghostly ancestor from their family at the age of 9. This is such a creative concept for world-building, and it left me wanting both more to the story and my own family ghost!
This is a book that amplifies marginalized voices in a powerful way. It makes differences in humanity front and center, and honestly it’s very emotional to open a book knowing that so many lived experiences that are often oppressed or ignored will be written on the pages. We highly recommend this book!
About the Authors & the Editor:
Sangu Mandanna was four years old when an elephant chased her down a forest road and she decided to write her first story about it. Seventeen years and many, many manuscripts later, she signed her first book deal. Sangu now lives in Norwich, a city in the east of England, with her husband and kids.
These images with author information were taken from the back of the book:
Summary: This is one of the Brownstone’s Mythical Collection books, and we really like the way that it’s set up like a comic book. Arthur is a young boy with a penchant for strange objects and spends a lot of time in the forest or on adventures to collect things.
One day he’s in the forest when a gigantic black wolf rampages through the village, extinguishing the magical fire that is needed to keep everything from freezing solid. Since Arthur wasn’t in the village, he wasn’t injured during the attack and is the only one who can make the journey to visit Thor and relight the flame, saving the village. Arthur must use his wits and collection of items to prove to the villagers that he is more than just a wandering meddler in forest affairs, before everything freezes solid!
This book is really cute, and can help kids with problem-solving skills. It’s fun to track Arthur through the illustration panels when he’s traversing an adventurous landscape. Arthur is a character that we can relate to, he’s not bothered by people thinking he’s weird for liking to spend time in the woods or collect unique objects…both of these we enjoy as well!
This book was generously sent to us by Flying Eye books for review. All opinions are our own! This softcover book will be released on February 4th, (the hardcover has been out for awhile) and we are very grateful that we were able to receive it early.
About the Author & Illustrator:
Joe Todd-Stanton grew up in Brighton and studied at UWE Bristol, receiving a first class degree in Illustration. Joe has been commissioned to work for clients such as Oxford University Press, Usborne Publishing and Aquila magazine.
To find out a little more about his work, Flying Eye asked Joe the following questions:
What inspires your work?
I normally find inspiration through reading or conversations. It’s rare that I get a fully-formed image in my mind but I will read about something strange that interests me and I will research it to see if anything grabs my attention. Normally by the time I have finished the work it has complete changed from the thing that influenced it but I think that is what makes it interesting.
Tell us a bit about your process…
I try and keep plenty of sketch books and fill them up with weird characters and life drawings so when it comes to making an actual piece of work or commission I already should have a few relevant drawings and I’m not just starting from scratch. Once I have a finished drawing I use Photoshop to colour and tweak things around.
Summary: This book is awesome! Each story takes a unique viewpoint and has a hero in it, but an unexpected one. There are stories about adoption, ghosts, sports, brilliant robot engineer twin sisters, and even one with an autistic main character who loves aikido!
This book is special because everyone can find something to connect with in these stories. They are diverse in viewpoint, in interests, and storylines. In one story, the hero is a camp counselor that buys something for a town zombie. In another, the hero is a young girl who realizes she must use fairy magic to stop a war between worlds. It’s hard to describe all of these stories without giving away everything! Trust us, this book is fantastic and the author list stellar. It’s a great introduction to a huge array of talented authors, and a jumping off point into their works. Highly recommend you check this book out and have at least a few copies for you classroom!
About the Authors & the Cover Artist:
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovichis the author of the8th Grade Superzero,which was named a Notable Book for a Global Society and a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. She also writes nonfiction, includingAbove and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow,andSomeday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins.She is the coauthor of the middle grade novelTwo Naomis,which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and is a Junior Library Guild selection, and its sequel,Naomis Too.She is a member of the Brown Bookshelf and the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. She has contributed to numerous anthologies for children, teens, and educators, holds an MA in education, and writes frequently on literacy-related topics for Brightly. Visit her online at olugbemisolabooks.com!
Rita Williams-Garcia is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels for young adults and middle grade readers. Her most recent novel, Gone Crazy in Alabama ends the saga of the Gaither Sisters, who appear in One Crazy Summer and PS Be Eleven. Her novels have been recipients of numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award, National Book Award Finalists, Newbery Honor Book, Junior Library Guild, and the Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction. She served on faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children MFA Program and she resides in Queens, New York.
Ronald L. Smith is the award-winning author of the middle grade novel,Black Panther: The Young PrinceandThe Mesmerist, a supernatural Victorian fantasy. His first novel,Hoodoo, won the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award. His latest isThe Owls Have Come to Take Us Away, a Junior Library Guild Selection. Ronald grew up on Air Force Bases and has lived in Japan, Maine, Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina, and a bunch of other places he doesn’t remember. As a boy, he loved to read, especially fantasy and science fiction, and this inspired his lifelong passion of the fantastical. The book that inspired him to write more than any other wasThe Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planetby Eleanor Cameron.
Linda Sue Park was born in Urbana, Illinois on March 25, 1960, and grew up outside Chicago. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was four years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was read.In 1997, she started writing her first book,Seesaw Girl. It was accepted that same year and published in 1999.Since then, Linda Sue has published many other books for young people, includingA Single Shard, which was awarded the 2002 Newbery Medal. She now lives in western New York with the same Irishman; their son lives nearby, and their daughter lives in Brooklyn. Besides reading and writing, Linda Sue likes to cook, travel, watch movies, and do the New York Times crossword puzzle. She also loves dogs, watching sports on television and playing board and video games. When she grows up, she would like to be an elephant scientist.
Anna Dobbin is a writer, copy editor, and proofreader. She owns an adorable Italian greyhound named Pintxo. In middle school she played soccer three hundred days a year and also loved singing, reading and making art. Anna is Linda Sue Park’s daughter, and this story is just one of their second professional collaboration after they contributed to the collection Totally Middle School, edited by Betsy Groban.
Hena Khanis a Pakistani-American Muslim who was born and raised in Maryland, and enjoys sharing and writing about her culture and religion. She has also written about a bunch of other topics, from spies to space travel, that take her out of her reality and on adventures. While not quite as thrilling, she’s had a few adventures of her own, managed to get to some pretty fantastic places on our planet, and met incredible people. She’s slightly obsessed with Spain, ceramic tiles and pottery, food, flamenco, and good coffee. When she’s not cooking up a story, she’s often actually cooking food or baking treats. She also spends time writing and editing for international organizations that work to improve the health and lives of people around the world.
Suma Subramaniam works with children globally to promote education and is a WNDB volunteer. After a successful corporate career for many years, now, instead of chasing technical talent in the hi-tech industry, she chases characters in her fictional work for the most part of her time. Suma has an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, a Certificate in Popular Fiction from the University of Washington, and advanced degrees in computer science and management.
For over forty years Joseph Bruchac has been creating literature and music that reflect his indigenous heritage and traditions. He is a proud Nulhegan Abenaki citizen and respected elder among his people. He is the author of more than 120 books for children and adults. His best selling Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children series, with its remarkable integration of science and folklore, continue to receive critical acclaim and to be used in classrooms throughout the country.
Juana Medina was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She is the author and illustrator of the Pura Belpré Award-winning chapter book Juana & Lucas. Juana is also the author and illustrator for Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas, 1 Big Salad, ABC Pasta, and Sweet Shapes. She illustrated Smick! By Doreen Cronin, Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous by Keith Calabrese, and I’m a Baked Potato! by Elise Primavera. She has participated in two recent anthologies: We Are The Change (Chronicle, 2019) and The Hero Next Door (Crown Books, 2019). Juana has been lucky to earn recognitions from the Colombian Presidency, the National Cartoonists Society, the National Headliner Award, International Latino Book Awards, and Ridgway Award honors, among others — which is quite impressive for someone who was a less-than-stellar student and who often got in trouble for drawing cartoons of her teachers. Despite all trouble caused, Juana studied and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and the Corcoran College of Art + Design (where students had plenty of chances to draw cartoons of her). She lives in the DC area, with her wife, twin sons, and their dear dog, Rosita.
Mike Jung is the author of Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities and Unidentified Suburban Object. He is a library professional by day, a writer (and ukulele player) by night and was a founding member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks team. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife and two children.
Cynthia Leitich Smith (“Leitich” is pronounced Lie-tick. First a long “i,” then a short “i,” followed by a hard “k.”) is best known as an award-winning, bestselling author of fantastical and realistic fiction for young readers. She is the New York Times best-selling YA author of Hearts Unbroken and both the Feral trilogy and Tantalize series. These novels were released by Candlewick Press in the U.S., Walker Books in the U.K. and Australia/New Zealand, and additional publishers around the globe. She also is the author of several award-winning children’s books, including: Jingle Dancer, Rain Is Not My Indian Name, and Indian Shoes, all published by HarperCollins. In addition, she has published short stories, nonfiction essays, and poetry for young readers. She is based in Austin, Texas, and a citizen of Muscogee Nation /ma(:)skó:k-î/. She holds both a bachelor of science degree (with majors in news/editorial and public relations) from the William Allen White School of Journalism at The University of Kansas and a J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School, where she was president of the Native Law Students Association and co-founded The Michigan Journal of Gender and Law. She also serves on the core faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She is both a member of the Advisory Board of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a member of the Honorary Advisory Board of We Need Diverse Books.Order booksby Cynthia Leitich Smith.
Ellen Oh is a former adjunct college instructor and lawyer with an insatiable curiosity for ancient Asian history. She loves martial arts films, K-pop, K-dramas, and cooking shows, and is a rabid fan of the Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra series. Ellen is the co-founder ofWe Need Diverse Books(WNDB), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in children’s literature. She is the author of the middle grade novel The Spirit Hunters, Book 1, and Book 2, Island of the Monsters, and the YA fantasy trilogy The Prophecy Series. She is the editor of WNDB’s middle grade anthology Flying Lessons and Other Stories, and the YA anthology A Thousand Beginnings and Endings out in June 2018. Originally from New York City, Ellen lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and three children and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.
R. J. Palaciolives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two sons and two dogs (Bear and Beau). Her debut novel,Wonder, has been on theNew York Timesbestseller list since March, 2012, and has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. The book’s message of kindness has inspired the Choose Kind movement, and has been embraced by readers, young and old, around the world. A first generation American (her parents were Colombian immigrants), Palacio was born on July 13, 1963 in New York City. Her birth name is Raquel Jaramillo (Palacio was her mother’s maiden name). Palacio attended The High School of Art & Design in Manhattan, and then majored in illustration at the Parsons School of Design. She spent her junior year at The American University in Paris, where she traveled extensively before returning to NYC with an eye toward making her career in illustration. Her early works appeared inThe Village VoiceandThe New York Times Book Review, which eventually segued into her storied career as the art director of several major book publishing companies. In addition to designing book covers, Palacio illustrated several of her own children’s books that were published under her birth name, includingPeter Pan:The Original Tale of Neverland; Ride Baby Ride; Look Baby Look; The Night Before Christmas; The Handiest Things in the world;andLast Summer.Palacio also invented a baby toy called The Bobo Glove, a portable, wearable, washable activity toy for infants.
William Alexander writes fantasy, science fiction, and other unrealisms for young readers. Honors include the National Book Award, the Eleanor Cameron Award, two Junior Library Guild Selections, a Mythopoetic Award finalist, an International Latino Book Award finalist, a Cybils Award finalist, and the Earphones Award for audiobook narration. Will is Cuban-American. He studied theater and folklore atOberlin College, English at theUniversity of Vermont, and creative writing atClarion. He currently serves as the faculty chair of theVCFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and is represented by Marietta B. Zacker of theGallt & Zacker Literary Agency.
Cover Art Designed by Michelle Cunningham. She is a designer at Penguin Random House working on the Middle Grade team. When she’s not playing around with book cover layouts, she’s also a freelance illustrator.
Summary: This graphic novel is the next installment in the series! We were sent this book by the publisher, Flying Eye Books, (Nobrow in the UK) but all opinions are our own.
We really liked this book, and the diverse cast of characters can’t be beat. Norma is an autistic POC queer character, Barney is trans, and Badyah is Muslim. Besides this badass trio, there are a range of demons and angels all vying for control of the 7th neutral plane also known as earth. Because of previous events, Norma’s soul won’t stay in her body when she’s surprised. This is both helpful and aggravating as tensions mount between demons and angels. Barney is hiding a secret career from his boyfriend though, but it’s very lucrative. Norma and Badyah along with some demons are working overtime at the Dead End, a haunted house during the day and demon B&B at night. We don’t want to give too much about this graphic novel away, but it’s incredible and Corrie had to start reading it right away! It would be helpful to read the first volume before this one, but not necessary. There are a lot of references to past events but enough context to provide the reader of this volume backstory. We can’t wait to see what happens next, it’s an amazing series with awesome representation!
About the Author & Illustrator:
From the website of Hamish: My name is Hamish Ridley-Steele and I’m a Animation Director and Comic-Book artist from London. Soon after graduating, I directed Dead End, a short for Frederator Studio’s Cartoon Hangover. This lead to me directing two films for Nickelodeon’s International Shorts program, the second of which I collaborated on with Blink Industrieswho now represent me.
In 2014, I self-published my first graphic novel Pantheon thanks to Kickstarter. Since then, it has been republished by Nobrow Press. This year, they will also publish my webcomic DeadEndia which is based on that first Cartoon Hangover short. I really like crocodiles. My dream is to meet one.
Summary: Blue is in love with Hamal. Unfortunately, Hamal is alive and Blue is a ghost. Hamal works at a flower shop, and also happens to be a necromancer (but he doesn’t know it yet). Hamal and Blue are best friends, and spend most days together even though everyone thinks Hamal just talks to himself he’s really talking to his ghost pals. When a reaper shows up, Hamal and Blue expect the worst! The reaper just wants to issue Hamal a Necromancer permit, and to have him help out investigating supernatural occurrences around the neighborhood. In an exciting turn of events, the reaper turns Blue back into a human! Hamal and Blue are deeply in love, and go on more adventures together.
This is a quick read with adorable illustrations! The plot moves very quickly, and a lot of ground is covered in the short book. This book normalizes boys being affectionate and in love, and adds a little creepiness with the supernatural elements! Recommended for a quick read, the book leaves off in a place that leaves the reader wanting a second edition to begin immediately.
How do you think Hamal feels when people think he’s weird because he seems to be talking to himself all the time?
What ability in the book would you most like to have?
How do you think Blue feels now that he’s alive again, and can be with Hamal?
Continuing the Conversation:
Learn more about native plants in your area. Take nature walk and see what is growing naturally outdoors. If there isn’t a forest nearby, you can try planting a few easy herbs in pots on your stoop or porch!
Write your own supernatural story! Illustrate the plot yourself, or collaborate with other artist to create your own comic book.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Keezy Young is a comic artist and illustrator based out of Seattle. She grew up drawing on her mother’s walls, sneakily staying up late to read by nightlight, and later, cutting class to go to the library and sketch. Any opportunity to con her teachers into letting her illustrate a book report instead of writing one was taken. Although her art is self-taught, she credits Digimon and Studio Ghibli as important influences.
Today, Keezy writes, draws, and designs her own young adult comics. Her stories are cute, eerie, and sometimes dark, but always hopeful at their core. Her work is character-focused, and she uses action, romance, and mystery to explore LGBTQIA characters and themes, since those are the stories she always looked for growing up, but could rarely find. Photoshop is her tool of choice these days, but her roots in pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor show in her vivid colors and atmospheres.