Saturday, March 15, 2014

book love makes the world go round

A fRead Book?
10 signed copies of wildflowers
10 eco-vintage bookmarks
Just in time for Earth Day 2014!

And now, what's all this book love stuff about?

Haven’t we all had it?  Felt it.  Anxious to dive into a beautiful, new book, but also not wanting to disturb its crease-free cover and perfect pages.  Marveling at the cover design, the interior formatting, and maybe illustrations while holding it gingerly and gently flipping.  And then we go for it, hearing the crisp crack of the spine, we read—really read—the words.  And if there are illustrations, we get in close to view every inch of art.  This is book love.

After receiving a book order in the mail this week, I fell into my own circling spiral of book love and it inspired me to write, not a love poem, but a love post.  And it all began with the delivery of a box.

I knew it was on its way, had tracked it online.  But when it arrived, I saved the opening ceremony until I had an extra hour or so to enjoy the contents of the box.  It was worth the wait.  Inside lay three books I purchased as gifts.  All were picture books and all were titles from the 2014 Amelia Bloomer Project list.  The Amelia Bloomer Project list comes out yearly and features recommended feminist fiction and non-fiction titles for readers ages 0-18.  I found the list by way of Twitter and when I saw that Hattie Ever After, the follow-up to Hattie Big Sky, had made the list, I knew I had to learn more about the Amelia Bloomer Project.  Hattie, you see, isn’t just a strong, female character, she’s brave and curious and willing to put herself out there.  She was created by author Kirby Larson, who I admire for her writing and her support of teachers and librarians.  Last year around this time, Kirby invited me to write a guest post regarding Independent Publishing for her Friend Friday blog (read here).  Very friendly of her, I thought.

So, as I sat marveling (as we do) over these three wonderful picture books I ordered, I decided I needed to make a friendly gesture myself. And first thing in the morning I logged on to Twitter and let the authors and illustrators of these books know how they’d touched me with their words and art.  Let them know how pleased I was to be giving such great books to a little gal reader.  And I also wanted to thank those who put the Amelia Bloomer list together.  It’s an amazing list and I’ll continue to use and recommend it.  And after tweet-tweet,-tweeting, I felt good for sharing some book love.

Here are the new books I love and will keep on giving:

Zephyr Takes Flight by Steve Light

Princesses on the Run by Smiljana Coh

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts

As the story circles, tweeting about picture books and sharing led me to consider other forms of book love.  Popping to mind?  My most awesome friend and critique partner, Dawn, and her blog PBCrazy.  Besides being a dedicated SCBWI member and writing rhyme that goes to the outer limits of amazing, Dawn also reads more picture books than any human I’ve known.  I’m talking thousands here, and with that crazy love of the picture book genre, she decided to focus her blog posting on giving credit where credit is due.  She records her favorite lines in books with Love that Line posts and chronicles stand-out finishes with her Fabulous Finishes posts.  In addition, Dawn posts and tweets all things Smart Girls, honing in on efforts to bring more girls into the fields of math and science. As I contemplated Dawn and the PB Crazy blog, I knew I had to tell her about the books I'd just ordered (she’s picture book crazy, if I didn’t mention it) and the cycle of sharing continued. 

And then the Amelia Bloomer list re-entered the go-round.

First, let me say my days and weeks have been full of writing and revising.  My natural writing process is slow—very slow—and this past week, the end came into view (hooray), allowing me to do some work for the fRead Project, my personal giving program for Row Press.

One item on my list was getting my Goodread’s Earth Day Giveaway up and running, and once that was complete, I moved to a donation project for fellow writing friend Sara Frances-Fujimura who is organizing a local creative writing and service event to coincide with the readergirlz Rock the Drop movement.

With those three girl power picture books still on my mind and in my heart, with thoughts about how Dawn gives and shares book love and girl power, I began to think about whether the Rock the Drop donation could include a few titles from the Amelia Bloomer Project list.  I happen to be a huge supporter of The Representation Project, an organization that challenges gender stereotypes in media for both girls and boys, women and men.  And sharing books that show the successes of a main character overcoming a stereotype or that display characters learning or teaching about the hurtful nature of stereotypes is important to me.  Though I don’t talk much about this (because the environmental aspect dominates), the idea of stereotypes is a central theme in my book wildflowers.

In it, my lead character Keifer grows only when he recognizes the contributions of his grandmother, aunts, mother, and sister, Abi.  His growth continues when he decides to let go of what he thinks it means to be a "guy" so he can just work on becoming his best self.  This stereotype-challenging idea is also why I loved finding the Amelia Bloomer list, which highlights the best books breaking stereotypical ideas about girls and women.

My head swirled with all this data and an answer came, finishing the circle.  Yes, besides wildflowers I had to donate three other books for Rock the Drop drop day, and since Sara liked the idea, it’s a done deal.

Now, I get to go back to the Amelia Bloomer list and pick three young adult titles.  And when I have the books in my possession, the cycle of book love and book sharing will begin all over again.  Round and round we go.

Here’s more information about Sara's 

The Rock the Drop-Phoenix Kick-Off Event is an off-shoot of a creative writing and literacy day Sara put together for her Girl Scout troop a few years ago.  Then Sara heard about readergirlz and realized she’d used the exact format they used for their Rock the Drop events.  The only difference?  Her troop collected books and donated them to charity instead of sending the books back out with participants to “drop” on Drop Day.  No matter, with a few adjustments her troop members became Rock the Drop pros, efficiently getting books into the hands of readers on Support Teen Literature Day.

And Sara wants everyone to know, a person doesn’t have to come to the Kick Off Event (or be a teen...look at me, I'm an old(er) gal) to participate in Drop Day, which is Thursday April 17.  Anyone can print a bookplate from the readergirlz website, put it in a book, and drop it where young readers can find it.  Sara will have identifying bookmarks up on her website in the next week or two, as well.  The plates and bookmarks describe the project and let readers/finders know they can keep the book.

This year’s Phoenix Kick-Off Event (a day of writing workshops and general book love) will be held at Southeast Regional Library in Gilbert, Arizona on Saturday April 12 from 1pm – 4:30pm.  Presenters include YA author Erin Jade Lange, Sandi Greene, and many other great people from the local kid lit world.  For more info, click here.  To follow the news for events across the nation, check out #RockTheDrop on Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by!
In closing, I hope this spring you'll consider committing at least one random act of book kindness, sharing book love wherever you can, keeping the circle revolving.