Saturday, January 31, 2009

Poetry and Multicultural Awards

My “Everyday Poetry” column in the January issue of Book Links looked at last year’s major multicultural awards and paired each winner with a book of poetry, including the Coretta Scott King award, Pura Belpre award, American Indian Youth Literature award and Asian/Pacific American award. There wasn’t room for everything I wanted to include, so I’ll share the rest with you here.

Batchelder Award (for a book first published outside the U.S.)
Brave Story, a big, fat fantasy novel for older kids written by Miyuki Miyabe and translated from the Japanese by Alexander O. Smith, blends dark realism with a fantastical quest as the protagonist strives to mend family relationships. Match with the deceptively simple, Today and Today, in which illustrator Brian Karas arranges 22 haiku by the Japanese poet Issa to form a family story across a year’s span. [This year's winner is also a work of fantasy from Japan!]

John Steptoe New Talent Award
(for a new African American author or illustrator)
Brendan is grappling with many things in first-time author Sundee T. Frazier’s smart, contemporary novel, Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It. As we look for poetry connections, we can focus on Brendan’s struggle to understand the perception of others toward his biracial identity with the poetry of Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff. [This year's "New Talent" winner is illustrator, Shonda Strickland, for her illustrations for the poetry book, Bird, by Zetta Elliott.]

The Américas Award (for books that portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the U.S.)
Young Adult Literature
Laura Resau’s Red Glass, weaves a shy girl’s inward journey for self-understanding through her trip from Tucson to Guatemala and back. References to specific poems by Pablo Neruda and e e cummings are woven throughout the narrative, offering a perfect opportunity to seek out the full text of each poem and read it out loud as Sophie does. Or look for more works by Neruda and cummings in A Family of Poems; My Favorite Poetry for Children collected by Caroline Kennedy.

Children’s Literature

Pat Mora’s picture book, Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Que Rico!: America’s Sproutings, is full of pungent haiku (along with fun facts) introducing the origins of foods from across the Americas. Match this with Alma Flor Ada’s alphabet book, Gathering the Sun, a bilingual collection of poems about migrant farm life with selections like "Arboles/Trees" and "Betabel/Beet."

I love the rich writing coming from parallel cultures—don’t you?

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Anonymous said...

I love the poetry pairing you made with Brendan Buckley. Arnold Adoff and Virginia Hamilton were pioneers in creating works that illustrate beautifully how love and family weave together different races and at the same time transcend our categories.

Sylvia Vardell said...

I loved Brendan and thought Arnold's poetry was also a perfect match. I'm so glad you agree!

AnnieMac said...

It is great that this multicultural literature is awarded, available, and advertised for which people of a variety of cultures can relate or with which people can learn about other cultures. I really like how you provide connections to poetry in the books, as well as other books that relate to these. I'm looking forward to checking out these books!

Annie Donwerth Chikamatsu said...

This is a very interesting post, thanks. I esp. like your phrase "parallel cultures"! I live in parallel worlds everyday!