September 2016

Picture This: Reflecting Diversity in Children’s Book Publishing —

At the 2016 ALA Annual Conference, author Tameka Fryer Brown presented the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s (CCBC) multicultural publishing statistics during the panel “Celebrating Diversity: The Brown Bookshelf Salutes Great Books for Kids.” She displayed Tina Kügler’s oft-cited 2012 infographic, with the comment that even though the numbers are now 4 years old, the image […]

via Picture This: Reflecting Diversity in Children’s Book Publishing —


Iraq and The Iraqi Nights

Hello Iraq! Your poetry is beautiful, fyi. In case you didn’t already know 5d460ed78992a28f0ea9d7a6b7841f91

For Iraq, I read The Iraqi Nights by Dunya Mikhail (translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid).

And guys. It was awesome.

This was a very slim volume – only 83 pages – so it was a pretty quick read. Glossing over the fact that the cover is GORGEOUS, Mikhail’s poetry is quietly powerful. There are several poems that are accompanied by her handwritten Arabic version of the poem, like this one:


A lot of her poetry centers on the goddess Ishtar, the ancient Sumerian goddess of sex and war – which of course just makes everything more interesting.



I thought I would pick a favorite poem from this book and share it on this post, but I couldn’t decide which one to pick! So I’ll just leave you with Mikhail’s ending lines:

“You open your arms
and I know just how much I love you:
I love you from here to Baghdad;
I love you more than all the words;
I love you higher
than the smoke in the city;
I love you louder than the explosions;
I love you deeper than the wounds,
Iraqi and American,
from an IED,
I love you sweeter than a lily
unfolding in the morning;
I love you warmer than a nest
that lacks only birdsong
and a single piece of straw;
I love you wider than the fear
coming and going
from here to Baghdad
I love you.”

Larsa, The Iraqi Nights by Dunya Mikhail

Japan and The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea

Meet The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima!

So, basically, you have this group of Lost Boys-ish kids who run around and cause havoc in 1960’s Japan.


One of these boys has a single mom, who meets a sailor. The boys all think this sailor is Badass, because sailors get to travel all over the world and are free from being tied down. So they REALLY like this sailor. But then the sailor decided to retire from sailing and get married to this kid’s mom, and that pisses. Them. Off.


This is a slightly older novel, but it’s by one of Japan’s most well-known authors. Seriously, Mishima led kind of a crazy life. He died by committing seppuku, which is when you gut yourself with your sword and then have a friend cut off your head.


So yeah. Interesting guy.

What have you read from Japan?

Cuba and Cuban Layered Coffee

Cuba and coffee – they kind of go hand in hand, you know? So what better treat to serve myself for finishing my book for Cuba, The Motorcycle Diaries, than some delicious Cuban layered coffee?

All you need is sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, and some sweet, sweet espresso.

On a side note, this is NOT a good recipe to try if you’re lactose intolerant 0.o


Seriously though, go try this coffee!

Peru and Death in the Andes

For Peru, we have:Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa!

This is definitely a book that I’d describe as a classic. It draws on a lot of classic, ancient Greek mythology – specifically, the god of wine Dionysus and the cults that surrounded him, and the sun god Apollo. Which kind of makes it sound less South American, and more Greek or European…until you hear about the pishtacos.


Ahem. I give you, the pishtacos of Peru! They’re like vampires, except instead of drinking human blood, they drink human fat. Yummy!

Anyway, this book is half-mystery, half classical discussion on life versus death, party versus responsibility, with a good dose of political commentary on the state of Peru from 1980-2000 while it fought a deadly guerrilla war thrown in for funsies.

This book has LAYERS!


What have you read from Peru?

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