Diverse Kids Books–Reviews

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Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quinero #WeNeedDiverseBooks #DiverseKidsBooks #DiverseYANovels #BilingualKidsBooks

cover Gabi A Girl in piecesGabi, a Girl in Pieces is told through the journal entries of Gabi Hernandez, a light-skinned bilingual Mexican-American 17-year-old girl with a lot going on the home front. One of her two best friends is gay, while the other is unexpectedly pregnant, her mother is overbearing, and her father is a committed meth addict. Yet, Gabi still finds joy in her life.

She’s got a lot of angst and a dark sense of humor, which help her deal with her less than perfect circumstances and makes her one of the most relatable characters I’ve ever read. She’s smart, but not brilliant. Strong, but often shy, she usually thinks of the best reaction to a situation only after it’s already happened. She’s self-conscious about her body, lack of money, and drug addict father but not crippled under the weight of these worries. In her diary, she curses regularly, but in the rebellious teenage “I-just-learned-swearing-feels-good” kind of way. Gabi’s two biggest life goals are to get into Berkeley and get a boyfriend. She works diligently at both. (more…)

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Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj

cover Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood Varsha Bajaj’s novel, Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood presents the story of a bi-racial Indian-America girl who’s never met her father. She’s spent her life living in Houston, Texas with her mother being a happy, well-loved American girl who only knows one thing about her father: he is from India.

The story opens with Abby having an allergic reaction to coconut. After having to admit she knows nothing about the medical history of the father of her child, Abby’s mother realizes she needs to attempt to contact him, something she has not tried since she found out she was pregnant. After a very small window of waiting, she is finally able to contact her ex-boyfriend and as it turns out, he never received the registered letter she sent all those years ago explaining Abby’s existence. Abby not only has to deal with the shock that her father never knew about her—up until this point she believed he simply didn’t want to be a part of her life—but she also finds out he is a huge Bollywood star. The rest of the novel revolves around Abby traveling to Mumbai to meet her father and the other half of her ethnicity.

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Promise Me Something by Sara Kocek

cover Promise Me SomethingDue to unfortunate zoning laws, Reyna Fey becomes the new girl at school and misses her old life dearly. While at her old school she was not part of the most popular crowd, she did have a core group of friends who’d been BFFs most their lives. Reyna makes for a relatable teen character in that she has a lot of drama going on at home and school. Her mother was killed in a car accident 7 years ago and since then her father has been raising her by himself. But, his most recent girlfriend, Lucy, is becoming a permanent fixture in their household and Reyna is not coping well with that scenario. Reyna finds Lucy particularly intolerable because a few months prior to the beginning of the story, Lucy’s reckless driving caused a wreck that severely injured, and almost killed, Reyna’s dad.

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Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

cover for Otherbound by Corinne DuyvisDuyvis’ Otherbound is a tour-de-force in complications. The story is told through dual narrators, Nolan and Amara. Nolan, a bilingual Hispanic teenager growing up in small town Arizona, has a crippling neurological disorder, masked as epilepsy. This disorder has already cost him one foot and incurred massive medical debt for his working class family. In the past, Nolan’s disorder even caused hallucinations whenever he blinked. He is constantly aware of the burden he unintentionally places on his family and struggles to connect with those around him, his disabilities impairing him both physically and mentally. Nolan is also doing his best to hide a secret: the hallucinations never stopped. Every time Nolan closes his eyes his mind is transported into the body of our second protagonist, Amara.

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Staff

Founder, Book Reviewer, Managing Editor: Omilaju Miranda.

Omilaju Miranda Founder, Editing Manager

Omilaju Miranda Founder, Editing Manager

 

Omilaju Miranda is a creative writer who, in an effort to provide parents with a resource of books that reflect their children who are often overlooked in the children’s literature market, founded Diverse Kids Books–Reviews.  As she has grown the website, creating relationships with various members of the literacy and reading community, Omi has recognized the importance of this site as a resource for all parents, and education professionals. She hopes this site helps you bring great books into your child’s life.

 

Book Reviewers

Yu Han ChaoYu-Han (Eugenia) Chao was born and grew up in Taipei, Taiwan.  She received her BA from National Taiwan University, MFA from Penn State University and teaches at The University of California, Merced.  She is the author of  several poetry books and many of her fiction stories have been published in Literary Journals.  Poetry Collections: We Grow Old: Fifty-Three Chinese Love Poems, The Backwaters Press, September 2009. Poetry Chapbooks: My Body Is Not a Textbook But You Are My Mango, Dancing Girl Press, May 2013.  House Cats, Dancing Girl Press, Feb 2014.  One Woman Fruit Stand, Imaginary Friend Press, June 2014.  Follow Yu-Han on her website

 

Rachelle EscamillaRachelle Linda Escamilla is a poet from Hollister, California.  Her prose and poetry has been published internationally and can be found in several journals and anthologies.  She is the 2014 winner of the Willow Books Literature Prize in Poetry; her manuscript, Imaginary Animal will be available in 2015. She worked as a preschool teacher to put herself through University and Grad school before teaching adults. Rachelle’s recently returned to the US after a couple of years in Guangzhou where she co-founded China’s first creative writing center.  For more info, please find her online:  www.poetita.com

 

LaTonya JacksonLaTonya Jackson is a mother, portrait artist, and art educator born and raised in the rural outskirts of Jonesboro, Louisiana, to which she attributes her artistic background and early influences. She received formal art training at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana (B.A. in Visual Arts, 2003) and Brooklyn College/The Graduate Center of the City University of New York in New York City (M.A. in U.S. Modern Art History). Currently, she teaches elementary art in Shreveport, Louisiana. As a parent and child educator, she passionately believes in nurturing children’s innate creativity and enriching their life experiences via shared reading rituals with the ones they love whether at bedtime, nap time, or even bath time.

Jill MoffettJill Moffett: Jill Moffett is a writer, artist, mother and recovering academic. She blogs occasionally at www.womenswellnesswatch.com.

 

 

Jamie Nagy is an adult adoptee, a wife, a mother of 5, and an adoptive mom of one daughter born in Haiti. She authors a blog:  adoptiontriaddance.wordpress.com, participates as a member of The American Adoption Congress, and over the next two semesters, she will complete and defend her creative writing thesis which explores her experience as an adult adoptee parenting a transracial/transnational adopted daughter. She educates adoptive parents in her circle of influence and (on occasion) she speaks to groups of foster/adoptive parents and social workers who work in the field of adoption.

Amanda Setty calls herself an “On the Go” mom. Not much staying at home here. When she is not carting around or caring for her bi-racial, biological 9 year old daughter or her adopted 5 year old daughter, she is doing yoga, reading or writing on her most current blog www.areyoureadysetty.com Luckily, Amanda lives in a multigenerational household with her Indian in-laws so chores are shared and babysitters are built in. This means a weekly date with her main squeeze and Indian-American husband of 15 years.

Before becoming an “On the Go” mom, Amanda was an “On the Move” woman traveling and teaching around the world. For 2 years, she and her husband taught English in Japan and explored East Asia. Then they moved to New Zealand, where Amanda earned her M.A. in Primary Education. While a master’s degree sounds pretty fancy, she considers her time traveling one of her most valuable educations. For this reason, Amanda and her husband are trying to plant the seed in her own children. In 2012, she and her husband packed up their family’s bags and shifted to live in India for 9 months. You can read about their adventures on www.takinginindian.blogspot.com

 

Warren StokesWarren Stokes received his B.A in creative writing from the University of Southern Indiana and lives in his hometown of Indianapolis.Influenced by the need to make people laugh at his jokes as much as he does, he performs stand-up comedy and plans to have a career in comedy writing. As an avid reader and uncle, he understands the importance and enjoyment reading can bring to children.

 

Cetoria TomberlinCetoria Tomberlin is a poet and writer originally from South Georgia. She received her bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Berry College. Her work has previously appeared in Fairy Tale ReviewSouthern Women’s ReviewLADYGUNN, and various other places.

 photo of Maggie TrappMaggie Trapp teaches literature and writing online for UC Berkeley, and she writes book reviews for various publications.

 

 

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Kaitlyn Wells is a writer based in New York City. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.  Her work has  appeared in Consumer Reports magazine, ABCnews.com, and The Wall Street Journal Sunday, among others. Kaitlyn joined Mixed Diversity Reads in search for a diversity book that reflects her own life story. If she doesn’t find one soon, she may just write her own. When she’s not pondering a career as a novelist, she enjoys baking red velvet cupcakes and chocolate soufflés. Follow her on Twitter at @KaitWells and visit her on Facebook at Facebook.com/KaitWellsWrites.

 

Guest Reviewers

Maureen McCauley is mom (through transracial adoption) of four now young adults, two sons and twin daughters. She is a writer, editor, and artist, living in Seattle. She blogs at www.LightOfDayStories.com.

 

Alejandra Oliva is a creative writing/sociology major at Columbia University. She is currently working on a senior thesis about a closing Catholic church in East Harlem. She plans on being a children’s book editor, and is interested in increasing representation and diversity across all kinds of children’s fiction. Follow her blog at shortguidetoescaping.tumblr.com.

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 10.30.54 PMJulianna Tauschinger-Dempsey is a writer, editor, opera singer, piano and voice teacher, and mother of 3. She received her BA/BS in Social Anthropology from Harvard University and her MM in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. Over the course of the past 10 years, she has been tasked with moving some 18 times, had the pleasure of singing in opera houses and concert halls in Europe and the United States, been lucky enough to coach a myriad of talented individuals on how to meaningfully express themselves through their writing, and has shared the gift of music and music-making with children and adults from all walks of life. Having shelved her creative writing career aspirations to pursue music, her writer’s itch has returned, and she is again toying with the idea of putting out a book of short stories and essays.