Posts Tagged: Carlos Hernandez

Fences talk, books win

It is still dark when I walk home from the bus, evenings. I was not expecting a glowing rabbit on Harold Street.

Glowing origami-style rabbit on a nighttime lawn with house in background

I like January’s honest cold, better than the frequent chilly setbacks of springtime that start in February around here. Still, the last several photos I took on neighborhood walks seem to be of fences with a certain aesthetic:

weathered board fence with a plastic skull mounted on it

when Halloween decorations are too good to take down

iron fence with garland made of tinsel and photos of eyeballs

not sure which holiday this was for

gate with posted signs: "no soliciting" and "warning: strange dog"

strange…how exactly?

fence with sharpie graffiti "READ THE BREAD BOOK"

Turns out The Bread Book is an anarcho-communist manual. I tried the first few pages but it wasn’t for me.

On a brighter note, this morning I checked Twitter and remembered it was ALA Youth Media Awards day! I live on the west coast and am not a librarian, so I will probably always experience it in silence, sipping coffee in my bathrobe while feeling celebratory bursts.

My favorite book of 2019, Sal and Gaby Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez, won the Pura Belpré Author Award! 

I don’t read a lot of picture books, but one I loved, Infinite Hope by Ashley Bryan, won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. It’s autobiographical, with many excerpts from Bryan’s letters home during World War II, when he was in an all-Black company stationed on Omaha Beach during D-Day, burying fallen soldiers and shuttling out to the ships to unload gear as a stevedore. It’s also about how he stayed alive as an artist in the face of racism and war. A treasure. cover of Infinite Hope

And this was the first year that the American Indian Youth Literature awards got announced at this event, instead of separately a month or two later. The Middle Grade Book winner is Indian No More, written by the late Charlene Willing McManis (Umpqua/Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde) with Traci Sorell (Cherokee), and with this beautiful cover art by Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota, Mohegan, Muscogee Creek): cover of Indian No More In it, Regina is a kid when her nation loses federal recognition in the 1950s, and her family ends up moving away to LA, where the other kids only know about Plains Indians, through the distortion of TV and movies (so they think she’s weird and fake). Its publication was a collaborative labor of love among several Native and POC women, and seeing a kids’ book about disenrollment (and near where I live) feels important.

cover of PET, by akwaeke emezi

Stonewall honor!

cover of Red, White & Royal Blue

my Christmas Eve book won an Alex award!

cover of Scary Stories for Young Foxes

Newbery Honor: I haven’t read this one yet but asked the library to buy it and they said yes!

 

January 1, 2020

Traditional new year’s photo of the park:

park with Doug firs on an overcast day

It may not look as inspiring as it has other years, featuring neither snow nor sunshine, but after the nasty cold that consumed a week of my life, I was happy to get out on a walk and see it.

I pulled together my 2019 reading list yesterday, and my favorites were all kidlit:

  • Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark House series
  • Robin Stevens’ Jolly Foul Play, fourth of the Wells & Wong mysteries and my favorite so far (but I’m not caught up yet)
  • Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
  • Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman. I liked Seraphina and Shadowscale fine, but thought this was a big step up in writing and emotional complexity.
  • The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
  • Mao and Me by Jiang Hong Chen, translated from French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick.

I read Mao and Me again, last night and this morning. It’s a picture-book memoir of the Cultural Revolution, seen through the eyes of a boy age 3 – 13. I love the art, with lots of black ink and several images together on a page.

picture book page with three panel illustration of a boy and his grandmother playing cards

But most of all I love how somehow amidst the big events and big emotions there is room to sit there quietly beside the author with it all. The ending is part of this:

For a number of years now I have lived abroad, but I return to China regularly to see my family. My parents have not moved. The city of my childhood has changed a lot, yet my apartment building has stayed the same and the tree in the courtyard is still there.

I don’t know if this has explained it at all, but I’m not that much of a picture book person and I haven’t been able to bring myself to take this one back to the library. (I mean, I will. There are limits on renewals. So I will, eventually, buy a copy and take this one back.)

Reading Wednesday on Friday: Sal & Gabi Break the Universe

The view from my office window this morning…was there a backup at the airport, or what?

eastern sky from Portland, with contrails in a spiraling pattern

ETA: there was a backup, but at SeaTac, where fog necessitated spacing the planes more widely. Portland was the holding pen with-runways-if-necessary


cover image Sal & Gabi Break the Universe

This had been sitting on my bookshelf for a few months. I think I’d been passing it over because it looks like a standard-issue wacky middle-grade buddy novel, plus it’s a Disney imprint, so…

But then I saw it had six nominations in the Heavy Medal mock Newbery listings, and there was probably a reason it was on my shelf in the first place, so…

It was so good! It’s funny, and it kept surprising me, and something about the logic of it all reminded me of Daniel Pinkwater. Not directly in style, but if there were a Pinkwater Award for humorous middle-grade fiction, this would win it.

Catnip: arts magnet school, supportive families, alternate universes. Plus Miami Cuban culture and Type 1 diabetes representation. Thanks, Rick Riordan, for reading the author’s adult short-story anthology, calling him up, and inviting him to write for kids! I mean, that’s fantasy fodder all on its own.

And I love living in the future, because just as I got towards the end, I saw news of the sequel on Twitter: