Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Heritage of Hastur - A Gay Teen Book

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

A gay teen character in a sci fi epic? Published in 1975? And I'm only finding out about it NOW? Well at least I can share it with you!

Regis Hastur is 15, heir to a Domain on Darkover. He hates his regimented life and all he wants is to escape the planet.

Lew is ten years older than Regis - and he's had to fight all his life to be accepted as heir of his father's Domain.

Neither guy gets what he wants... but they do get each other!

Check out this very in-depth and excellent review by Jo Walton at And add your review of "The Heritage of Hastur" here in comments!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

South African Soap Opera "Generations" Goes Gay... Is It A Good Thing?

So there's this Soap Opera on South African TV called "Generations." They've introduced a Gay storyline, and it's getting heated.

The cast of "Generations"

Thami Mngqolo, who plays the gay character Senzo Zondo

Last year the show featured it's first kiss between two men. (And there was an uproar.)

And in last week's episode,

Sibusiso (played by Menzi Ngubane) caught his son Senzo (Thami Mnqolo) in bed with his boyfriend Jason and proceeded to beat the two with a sjambok.

Evidently there have been facebook groups organizing protests to try to keep the gay storyline off the air. But the story is still there.

And I'm a bit torn.

On the one hand, it's great to know that a popular show is addressing the issue of homophobia and acceptance in a country and culture where homophobia remains an issue, despite the protections of the new Constitution of South Africa, which reads in part:

The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.

On the other hand, I wonder if a greater impact for good would have been made if the storyline was a more accepting one. I'm sure there are fathers in South Africa who accept their gay sons. (Though maybe that's a less dramatic storyline to explore. They are trying to tell a soap opera-worthy story, after all.)

Part of me worries that viewers seeing Generations will think that the only response to discovering their child is Queer is to beat them. Is it modeling homophobia, or is there going to be a story arc of the father coming (over time) to accept his gay son?

I guess it gets back to Chimamanda Adichi's idea of the danger of a single story.

If this is the ONLY representation of gay people on TV in South Africa, then how the storyline is dealt with has much greater weight - it speaks beyond just that story, because it becomes the only reference point for how gay people are treated there.

It becomes the stereotype of "This is how South Africans deal with Gay people." rather than "this is one story among many."

So I was really relieved and happy when I discovered that there was another daily soap opera in South Africa, Egoli,

which back in 1999 explored another kind of gay storyline:

Country boy Braam left the family farm in Okahandja for the bright lights of Johannesburg. The Engineering student and part-time bartender turned many a female head, but Braam came out soon after his arrival in the big city.

Enter Krynauw, a young single Johannesburg guy. The two hit it off and sparked a relationship. One thing led to another, as they say, and Braam and Krynauw have just moved in together.

Ebi Halberstadt,
the actor who played the gay character Bramm

Okay, do you see it yet? The black gay character gets beaten, while the white gay character got to move in with his white lover.

Is this a different kind of Apartheid?

What do you think? Is the "Generations" Gay storyline a step forward, or not?

Share your thoughts in comments!


Thanks to @casseytoi on twitter for the heads-up about this!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Celebrating RuPaul during Black History Month Can Be Dangerous for Your Job. A Homophobia Smack-Down!

Okay, let me explain why I'm all mad, and then you can join me in my righteous indignation, or tell me I'm wrong...

So here's this from the LA Times:

Three teachers at a South Los Angeles elementary school have been suspended for allegedly encouraging students to celebrate O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman and RuPaul for Black History Month, officials said Wednesday.

Children at Wadsworth Avenue Elementary School were carrying pictures of the men at a parade Friday on the school playground, said Los Angeles Unified School District spokeswoman Gayle Pollard-Terry. She said Supt. Ramon C. Cortines learned about the incident Tuesday and had the teachers, who are white, pulled from their classrooms pending an investigation.

The suspension is without pay for the first three days.

“The superintendent believes there are better choices,” she said.

Other students were carrying pictures of President Obama and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Okay, are you mad yet?

As if that wasn't infuriating enough, get this:

"I just can’t fathom what these teachers were thinking of except to make a mockery of African American history,” said Leon Jenkins, president of the Los Angeles branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

One parent said that he didn't mind the inclusion of Rodman and Simpson, saying that even though they were fallen heroes, they had been heroes. But including RuPaul?

"That alone, to me, qualifies for a suspension."

And in an editorial that made me cringe, "The wrong history lesson; Common sense went out the window when three teachers demeaned Black History Month," the LA times wrote:

And it's not as though RuPaul isn't worthy of regard, but the tender years of elementary school are not the time for introducing the modern complications of cross-dressing and gender identification.

Putting aside the controversy over the inclusion of Dennis Rodman and OJ Simpson, I need to focus here on what in the world are they upset about with including RuPaul?

Is it solely that she's a drag queen? Does that, by definition, make her a BAD role model?

The most recent update in the news on this is that the teachers won't be fired, they'll be transferred to other schools.

Which of course, led some Black Religious leaders to lament that
"That exposes other children to the racist teachers."

So celebrating RuPaul makes you RACIST???


RuPaul is an AMAZING role model. She's re-defined what's possible for a man in drag - she became a drag queen supermodel! A makeup spokesmodel. An author with a new book out (Workin' It!) A best-selling pop star. She even has her own TV show - now in it's second season!

All this from a thin black boy who had a dream.

I think that's pretty role-model-worthy, and you don't have to want to dress up in a dress to celebrate that.

I can admire someone as a role model without wanting to be just like them. (I can see President Obama as a role model without my wanting to run for public office!)

But maybe that's the point of the school district's action. Maybe the school district and the NAACP are afraid that allowing kids to celebrate RuPaul will be telling kids it's okay to be queer? Well guess what? It IS okay to be queer!

Hear that, students?

So yeah, bring on the RuPaul photos to celebrate Black History Month every year! 'Cause RuPaul is fierce, and we - no matter what color we are, or how gender conforming or non-conforming we are, or who we're attracted to - should celebrate her!

And that's my homophobia smack-down.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Vanity Fair's All-White Women New Faces Of Hollywood Cover - Was It Racist? Survey Results Are In!

Is the cover racist? 81% of you said YES.

In addition to the great comments on the original survey post, many of you wanted to comment additionally while taking the survey, and did so under "It's complicated:"

And yes, it's complicated, but as long as people all over the world don't stop saying "it's complicated" and go on doing nothing, things with not change.

As far as I'm concerned it's discriminatory. Hollywood is about acting right? Are ALL actors young, skinny, white women? Where are the men? Where are the actors without perfect bodies? Where are the child actors? I wish there were more people of all different colors in this, yes; but more diversity of people in general. It's not so much racist as discriminatory.

I don't think it was intentional. people just don't think!

There were so many talented actresses of color who deserved to be included but weren't featured... It smacks of racism to me that they were passed over and not included despite their enormous talent.

I believe it was racist because I refuse to believe that there is no upcoming talent in young Hollywood. Seriously? No. What about the star of Precious? I'm sure there are more that I just can't think of right now

It's not that hard to find a woman of color who can sit and look pretty!

Does unintentionally leaving other skin colors out qualify as racist? I think ignorant.

Arg. Is the cover image inherently racist? No. If every photo without people of color in it is to be called "racist," we're all in trouble. However, the people at Vanity Fair choosing only white women for its cover? That, mes chers amis, smells like some racist decision-making to me. It may well have been unconscious, but that don't mean it's not racist.

Do I think that the editors of Vanity Fair should join the KKK? Of course not. Do I think that those responsible for this cover are active participants in the systemic racism which makes it so difficult for women of color to get leading lady roles in Hollywood? Without question. Hollywood's got a bad enough Missing Black Woman Formation problem without Vanity Fair deciding that no actresses of color are sufficiently up-and-coming enough for them.

The fact that they didn't consider anyone of color worthy of being "the next big thing" says something about the subtle racism in the whole industry, not just the particular people who chose the people for the cover. This is a symptom of the overall disease. (Not that that absolves the people responsible of blame--I would say their outlook is racist--but this is also bigger than them.)

My second question was: Would you need to have a quota of sorts to make a profile like this NOT racist?

The options I gave were:

Yes, diversity = representation. Break down our population by category and match it as best as you can. 26% of you agreed with that.

No, I just needed SOMEONE of color to be included. 57% of you agreed with this.

17% of you said "It wasn't racist."

Additional comments on this question were:

Re: #2, it should be a random selection, based on talent.

Your second question has bad options. I didn't need *someone* of color to be included, a token. Diversity does not equal proportional representation. With the editors of Vanity Fair needed to do was make a conscious effort to look at all of the up-and-coming actresses, not just the pretty white girls. I'll keep that magazine, perfume inserts and all, if they made any effort to find actresses of color.

(I'm not even getting into the fact that they didn't make any effort to find non-history actresses, disabled actresses, up-and-coming older actresses, etc. There's only so much we can do about Hollywood's brokenness in each kerfuffle.)

Thanks everyone for participating and for sharing YOUR thoughts with me and our community! Keep an eye out for our next survey, and if you didn't get a chance yet to have your voice heard on this, you can still take the survey!

Oh, and you can make your own swanky graphs here.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

No Prom, But A Trial. An update on the School that cancelled its Prom rather than let a lesbian student bring her girlfriend.

So the News:

U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson ruled that Constance McMillen's rights were violated by the school, and there will be a trial, but that he will not force the school to have the prom (which had been scheduled for April 2nd.)


So the judge acknowledges it was wrong, but instead of correcting the problem (making the school have the prom including the lesbian student), he's going to let the injustice stand?

And when will the trial be? It's not known.

So depending on the outcome of the case, it might help kids next year who want to be out and bring their GLBTQ dates to their school proms (their schools might hesitate to discriminate if Constance's school is found guilty) but that doesn't really help Constance.

And, as I suspected, some parents got together and are having a "private" prom for Constance's High School - one where there is no legal recourse if they discriminate on who can attend.

And will Constance attend the private prom? She's not sure. On Tuesday she said:

"I'm going to school tomorrow (Wednesday) and will get a feel of how everybody feels about me. That will help me make my decision about whether I'm going to the private prom," McMillen said. "I want to go because all my junior and senior class will be there, but I don't want to be somewhere I'm not welcomed."

Kristy Bennett, ACLU Mississippi legal director, called the decision a "victory."

And maybe from an adult lawyer perspective it is a victory of sorts. Or a step-on-the-road-to-victory-eventually.

But for the teens involved, for Candace and her girlfriend, and for every other GLBTQ Teen going to or thinking about going to their prom this year? I have to say that this ruling stinks.

What do you think?

Share your thoughts in comments.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

At Swim, Two Boys - A Gay Teen Book

By Jamie O'Neill

It's 1915, and the Irish revolution against the British is about to boil over.

But that's not what Jim and Doyler, two Teen boys, are worried about. See, they've struck a deal. Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and on Easter day 1916, they'll swim across the bay together to claim a small rocky island all for their own.

As their time and swims together progress, Jim and Doyler fall in love. And as they get closer to their deadline, a bigger conflict threatens: what came to be known in history as "The Easter Uprising."

This book has a great backstory: The author "Irishman Jamie O'Neill was working as a London hospital porter when his 10-year labor of love, the 200,000-word manuscript of At Swim, Two Boys, written on a laptop during quiet patches at work, was suddenly snapped up for a hefty six-figure advance. For once, the book fully deserves the hype."

Add your review of "At Swim, Two Boys" in comments!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why would I start a second blog? Shrinking Violet Promotions (Marketing For Introverts) gets me to talk!

So I'm excited about this interview I did with Shrinking Violet Promotion's Robin LaFevers - she asked some great questions, and I was able to share some really substantive answers.

We talked about why in the world would I start a new blog (The Zen Of Blogging Blog), the evolution of this blog, and what are people's three greatest fears about blogging. (And yes, I talked about how you can counter those fears!)

Their site is super-cool, all about giving a voice to authors who might not otherwise be heard. And that mission of empowerment is something I really believe in!

And as if that weren't enough, they're running my interview with the most awesome photo of a monk in a saffron robe in front of a temple... on a laptop!

Okay, you've got to go check it out!

Thanks Robin and Mary!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Ladies! Taking Your Girlfriend To The Prom? Check out these Couples!

The awesome women over at Autostraddle, in response to the insanity of the High School in Mississippi canceling their prom rather than let an 18 year old senior go with her girlfriend, have cooked up this delicious post - all these photos of teen girls who have gone to the prom or dance with their girlfriends! Here's just a taste:

It's fantastic, and so empowering to see!

Go check out the photos! (And hey, add your own if you've got one.)

Now if I could only go back in a time machine to MY prom...

Oh, and a cool follow-up to the story: Ellen DeGeneres presented Constance McMillen (the girl who asked to take her girlfriend to the prom which was then canceled) with a $30,000.- college scholarship (from

Check the moment out (it's at the end of Ellen's interview with her) - Constance's face when she hears the news is priceless!


ps- thanks to jlr for sharing the autostraddle link with me, so I could share it with you!

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's my new blog... on Blogging!

So Today is the official launch of my new blog, The Zen Of Blogging, uh... Blog!

It's all about how blogging doesn't have to be superheroic. It can be fun. Useful. Manageable. And yes, even Zen.

I'd love for you to click on over and check it out.


Namaste (the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you),

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dream Boy - A Gay Teen Novel

By Jim Grimsley

Nathan's a high school sophomore.

His Dad's abusive, his Mom's almost not there.

But there's this guy next door - Roy.

Roy is a senior. And he might just be... Nathan's dream boy.

Add your review of "dream boy" in comments!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Qualities Of Light - A Lesbian Teen Novel

By Mary Carroll Moore

Molly has to rescue her family after an accident puts her younger brother in a coma.

And in the middle of it all, Zoe comes into her life... and the teenage girls fall in love.

"Qualities of Light" was nominated for both a PEN/Faulkner Award and Lambda Literary Award. Add your review of the novel in comments!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Eric Diaz puts together The Top 10 Most Important Gay (GLBTQ) Moments In Comic Book History!

Who's the #1 Comic Book Queer?


And my personal favorite Gay Superheroes, the Teen Young Avengers Hulkling and Wiccan (aren't they a cute couple?)

You've got to check out this incredible list of the top 10 Most Important Gay Moments in Comic Book History by Eric Diaz.

And really, check out this frame from an old Batman comic!

Now THAT'S Gay!

So cool! Thank you Eric, for putting this list together. I can't wait to read them all.

Enjoy everybody!


Monday, March 15, 2010

No Lesbians At Prom: Constance McMillen Wanted To Take Her Girlfriend to the Prom. Her High School CANCELLED the Prom rather than let her do it.

Constance is 18. And she was brave enough to stand up to her school's 'all dates must be of the opposite gender' prom rule and ask to bring her girlfriend. Oh, and she wanted to wear a tuxedo rather than a dress.

The school said no.

Constance got in touch with the ACLU, and with the threat of a lawsuit on their hands, instead of allowing the two girls to attend the prom together, the Itawamba Agricultural High School in Mississippi CANCELED the entire prom. For everyone.

And now, kids are going up to Constance and telling her she ruined their senior year.

But it's not Constance who is at fault.

The school is acting childishly in order to defend their discrimination, and their move not only acts to alienate two GLBTQ teens from the overall school community, but has forced Constance to be the adult. She has to stand up for her right to attend her High School prom with the date of her choice. To be Real about who she is and who she loves. And I applaud her for that.

The school's excuse? The controversy has become a "distraction" to the educational process.
But what they're missing is that this is a TEACHABLE moment. And right now, I think the school needs to hear our voices. Because what they have done isn't okay. And they need to learn that.

Wanna take action?

You can sign this petition over at

Wanna do more? How about organizing your GSA to write a joint letter to the school board members, the superintendent, and the principal? Or write them yourself. (Think about what you're trying to accomplish in the letter. Are you trying to change minds or express anger? What outcome would you hope your letter accomplishes?)

Board Members

Eddie Hood,

Jack Nichols,

Harold Martin,

Clara Brown, cbrown@network-one.come

Tony Wallace,



Trae Wiygul,
Now when the school initially said they hoped some private party steps in and hosts the prom, that made me think they had a plan in place to have the prom at a private venue, hosted by some parents, that would allow them to discriminate against Constance and prevent her from attending with her girlfriend, since it would be a private event.

But interestingly enough, the opposite has happened, and a businessman in New Orleans has offered to host a GLBTQ-friendly prom for everyone (including Constance and her girlfriend) at one of his hotels.

It will be interesting to see what ultimately happens with the lawsuit, and where and if their Prom happens. But you know what makes me hopeful?

What Constance said when asked about how hard this has been:

"The fact that this will help people later on, that's what's helping me to go on."

And it will.

Go, Constance! Go!


Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm a 'Volunteer In The Spotlight!' SCBWI's Los Angeles Newsletter, Kite Tales, Features Me & My Schmooze Co-Coordinator Rita Crayon Huang!

It's on page 30 of the Spring 2010 issue of Kite Tales! (You can download the pdf here!)

Volunteering as the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators Los Angeles Westside Writers Schmooze Co-Coordinator has been - and continues to be - a wonderful experience.

My thanks to Rilla Jaggia and everyone at Kite Tales for the honor, and of course to my wonderful co-honoree (and friend), Rita!

Oh, and if you want to check out what we've been up to for the last 14 months, check out our schmooze blog posts here!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tillmon County Fire

By Pamela Ehrenberg

There's been a fire.

Who set it? And why?

Eight Teens tell the story, each with their own chapter.

The clues line up, criss cross, and come undone as the hate crime goes to trial, and it turns out that a frustrated adoptee, a gay teen, a big-city kid wishing he were back in New York, a pregnant store clerk and a boy with autism are all at the heart of what happened to cause the "Tillmon County Fire."

Add your review of "Tillmon County Fire" in comments!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Los Angeles Public Library Crisis - And what you can do to help!

Young Adult Librarian and Librarians' Guild Representative Henry Gambill was kind enough to talk to me yesterday about what's at stake in the current budget crisis facing LA... and how our Library system is on the edge of disaster!

Help us save the library. Time is of the essence - the city council meeting discussing this is happening on Tuesday March 16, and the mayor submits his budget on March 20th. That's not much time to change the library's dismal future.

Click here to the Save The Library website and make your voice heard!

Thanks, everyone.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tomorrow, Wendy: A Love Story

By Shelley Stoehr

Cary's boyfriend Danny doesn't know what she's thinking.

Or what she's feeling for Wendy, this girl with bright green hair and a hard-candy sadness in her eyes.

So Cary tries to drown it all out with sex and drugs. Cause after all, the twin sister of Cary's boyfriend!

Add your review of "Tomorrow, Wendy" in comments!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dads! The 3 Secrets To Reading With Your Daughters

As part of Share a Story - Shape a Future's carnival, my initial plan was to interview my first grade daughter about reading with her, and what it meant to her. And while I thought that would be super-cute, with mentions of cuddle time and all, it wouldn’t necessarily address the three big issues I’ve had to face about being a father who reads with his daughter. So dispensing with cute, here’s the important stuff you need to know:

1. You Gotta Get Over Your Sparkle-Fairy-Pixie-Dust-Pink-Glitter Allergy

Okay, I may be a gay man, but I admit it: I don’t particularly gravitate towards reading “girly” books. Sparkles on the cover do NOT draw me in. I like adventure stories, fantasy, sci fi, spy novels, James Bond, and the heroism of regular kids... I would never choose to read the chapter book series my daughter really grooves on. Like the SERIES of seven books about these two young girls helping seven fairies collect seven magic feathers for a magic rooster so he can better control the weather in a magic fairy land...

But my kid LOVES those books with a passion. So I get over it – and like a real man, I read them to her.

2. Repetition feels Safe for kids because they know what to expect. Repetition feels Safe for kids because they know what to expect. Repetition makes me want to zzzzzzz.

Kids love hearing stories again. And again. And really, for good ones that hit the right emotional notes for them, they could request it on an endless loop. Here’s where it’s important to not be a doormat. Or as I recently said, “No, Papi can’t read Charlotte’s Web again right now. Daddy and I spent the entire day reading it to you the first time. Go choose a different – shorter – book.”

But when you’re reading Pinkalicious for the Nth time, you have to find a way to get past the boredom of repetition and make it fun for you, too. Challenge yourself to do different voices and accents for the dialog. Track which parts of the story your kid responds to. As a writer, I sometimes focus on story structure, on point of view, on the mechanics of how the story is being told. We have one Disney version of Cinderella that’s told in third person omniscient (where we know and see everything, like the mice and birds planning the surprise of fixing up Cinderella’s dress), and another told in third person limited (where we only know what Cinderella herself knows, and the mice and birds’ work on her dress is a surprise.) They’re both based on the same movie, but the differences are really interesting. The other four versions of Cinderella on our bookshelves all have different takes, and it’s, well... fun to compare them. (Did you know there was a Jewish shtetl version of Cinderella? There is - it's "Raisel's Riddle," by Erica Silverman.) Having another level to analyze helps me stay alert and interested. But still, I’m only human and I need some variety.

3. Reading is the doorway to a Shared experience with your kid. Don’t just read it TO her. Experience it WITH her.

Here’s the biggest secret about reading with your child: It’s not just about you reading the sentences aloud and both of you following the story, getting to the words “The End” and then running off to do other things. It’s about following the story together. Pausing to talk about what just happened. Explaining words that need explaining. Guessing what’s going to happen next. Debating what a character’s better choice might have been. Spinning different outcomes and possibilities.

Kid: Why does there need to be a villain?
Me: It would be a very short, rather boring story otherwise, wouldn’t it?

Kid: Why is it “Ah-men” and not “Ah-women?”
Me: You’re right, we should call it “Ah-women.”
Kid: No, Papi. We should call it “Ah-people.”

Kid: Are you going to cry again at the end of Charlotte’s Web?
Me: Yes, Probably. (Damn thing gets me every time!)

It’s the shared experience that’s so amazing.

I was surprised that one of the best reading experiences I’ve enjoyed with my daughter in the last year has been listening to audio books during our commute time in the car. We’ve been on a huge Ramona Quimby jag, listening over and over to the same stories, but we stop the audio a lot to discuss what’s going on. My daughter jumps in to talk, and my hand hits the off button. We chat about the plot point or the decision Ramona made to not confront her teacher. And then, when my daughter’s ready, she tells me “Okay Papi, you can start the book again.”

And I vary it. When Ramona’s sister Beezus’ haircut drama for the third time around was too much, the audio book got returned and I checked out something different from the library. The Magic Tree House series of chapter books are time traveling adventures, with lots to talk about – they’re good to read and/or listen to together. In fact, many chapters end with little cliff-hangers, and it’s fun to both go “dah-dah-dahhhhh!” together.

We go to the library a LOT. My daughter chooses a pile of books, and so do I. She grabs the sparkly ones, and I pick up books like Princess Knight, about a girl who becomes a champion in her own way. It helps keep my Sparkle-Fairy-Pixie-Dust-Pink-Glitter Allergy under control. It also ensures variety. And they have a load of audio books there for kids that we choose together. (Though I do need to get better about returning them on time!)

As part of her homework right now, my first grader has to read 20 minutes a day, and she reads out loud to us. We’ve made a point to have her do her reading in the morning before school, and my husband and I read to her in the evenings. Reading has been a big part of her childhood forever, and it’s kicking in – she’s so excited about reading by herself.

But I’m hoping she’ll let us continue to read to her for many years to come. And when she finally feels too big to snuggle on the couch and share a book, I’ll still try to read the book she’s reading at the same time she does. And maybe we can even listen to Twilight in the car together. And yes, I’ll have to get over the sparkly-in-the-sunlight vampire thing. Because there are a few things I’d like to talk with her about: like how Edward treats Bella, and what makes a relationship healthy... or not.

Reading with my daughter. It’s a sparkly, repetitive, sparkly, repetitive, critically important shared experience... and it’s pretty darn wonderful.

Here are the books I mentioned above:

1. Rainbow Magic: The Weather Fairies series, by Daisy Meadows
2. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams
3. Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann
4. Cinderella versions:
Walt Disney’s Cinderella, Adapted by Lisa Ann Marsoli, 1994 (3rd person omniscient)
Disney Princess Once Upon A Princess, Stories translated from the Disney Libri series by Carin McLain, 2006 (3rd person limited)
Raisel’s Riddle by Erica Silverman, illustrated by Susan Gaber (the Jewish shtetl Cinderella)
Cinderella by Barbara McClintock (Classic, based on the Perrault version)
Walt Disney’s Cinderella A Magnificent Mouse Pop-Up, by Elle D. Risco, illustrated by Mario Cortes and Inman Art (Silly pop-up fun, very much about the mice)
The Book of Princesses, stories retold by Anita Ganeri, illustrated by Anna Marsh (A basic version)
5. Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary
6. Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne
7. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lambda Literary Foundation Launches Their New Website... And They Are Kind Enough To Put Me In With Some Pretty Great Company!

Lambda Literary Foundation's new website has launched, and I'm excited about it! I'm also delighted to be included in one of their premier feature articles, "What do LGBTQ Teens Want?"

You get to hear from authors Malinda Lo, Nick Burd, Sara Ryan, Alex Sanchez, librarian Arla Jones, editor and publisher Arthur A. Levine, and... ME! How cool is that?

It's very cool.

And LLF's new website is an awesome resource.

Go check it out!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

In Our Mothers' House

by Patricia Polacco

Two Moms.

Three Kids.

One neighbor who doesn't get it.

And a whole neighborhood that does.

Love is love.

Told from the point of view of the oldest child in the two mom family, every page is infused with love. The love her mothers' raised her and her siblings with, the love of family, and parents, of making gnocchi, and building a treehouse... the love of life.

So much love.

This book made me all teary eyed. I wish it had been read to me when I was a kid. I'm so happy that today, I get to read it to my child.

Enjoy it with someone you love.


And of course, add your review of "In Our Mothers' House" in comments!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

So Many Books... How Do You Choose? Check Out The Golden Kite Winners, & Betsy Bird Explains The 2010 Battle of the (Kids) Books

So many books, so many movies... and not that much time. You've got to make some choices. So you rely on recommendations from friends. Blogs and reviewers with similar tastes to yours. And Awards!!!

It's Awards season, and in the world of Children's books, one contest really stands out in that the winners are decided on by fellow authors and illustrators. Kind of like the Oscars, where members of the Academy of motion picture arts and sciences are the ones who get to vote for things like "Best Actor" and "Best Director" (Actors vote for actors, directors vote for directors, and everyone in the Academy votes for best picture...)

So in our world of Children's Literature, The Golden Kite Award is the big peer-decided prize. And The Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) just announced the winners of their Golden Kite Awards, for the best books published in 2009. The winners are:

Check out the SCBWI site for more on the Golden Kite Awards and the listing of the Golden Kite Honorees.

Another award that's only in its second year but is also pretty cool is Battle of the (Kids) Books! In this video, the awesome (and hysterical) Betsy Bird explains how it's going to go down! (Love the zombie sock puppets, Jaime!)

I like the undead entry aspect, where readers get to vote one book back from the dead and into the finals!

So now, if you're like me and feel you need to read all the nominees (and see all 10 of the films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar) you've probably got some reading to do! Enjoy that, and

Congratulations to the winners and all the nominees!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Let's Get Rid Of California's OTHER Anti-Gay Law (besides Prop 8)!

So it turns out California has a law on the books since the 1950s that calls for doctors to try to find a "cure" for homosexuality.

And it's still the law of our state.

But now, California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal has introduced Assembly Bill 2199. That bill would take that anti-gay law and toss it where it belongs - in the shameful trashcan of history.

Her bill would:

repeal Section 8050 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, which declares the State Department of Mental Health "shall plan, conduct and cause to be conducted scientific research into the causes and cures of sexual deviation, including deviations conducive to sex crimes against children, and the causes and cures of homosexuality..."

It's that old untrue myth about equating gay people with pedophiles, and it's time to get this law eliminated - it's things like this, that even if they're not enforced, create a climate of prejudice and hatred.

There's no "cure" for being gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, or transgender. And the only lifestyle "choice" you get in this life is that you can choose to lie about who you are and what you feel, or you can choose to be honest.

Wanna join me and sign the petition to California's Governor and state legislature, urging them to get rid of this insulting bit of institutionalized prejudice?

Here's to a world that's GLBTQ-friendly!


My thanks to Assemblywoman Lowenthal and Equality California for making this happen, and to's Michael Jones for creating the petition and getting the word out!

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Project For Your GSA: Get Students (And Faculty) To Sign A No-Hate-Speech Pledge

One of the best things about being part of a High School's Gay Straight Alliance is how discussions go from global (the horrible anti-gay laws being debated in Uganda) to the local (what can we do here, at this school, to further GLBTQ equality?)

I was really proud of the teens at this one school, who came up with the idea of having their fellow students and members of the school community sign a pledge to not use anti-gay hate speech.

In one week of lunchtimes, six members of their GSA got over a quarter of the students at their school to sign it.

It reads:

I realize that words have power, so
like "that's so gay," "fag," or "no homo."

Hate Speech became a topic of conversation, and perhaps everyone (even those who didn't choose to sign) became a bit more aware of the language they use.

It wasn't a slam-dunk fix to all bias at the school, but it was a significant step towards empowering the students involved with the GSA and raising the issue of the power of words to hurt... and to heal.

What about your school? Could something like this work where you are? Wanna Try?

Let me (and everyone else here at this virtual Gay-Straight Alliance) know how it goes!