Monday, June 12, 2017

Flying Lessons & Other Stories

Flying Lessons & Other Stories

Juvenile short stories
"But we all have stories like that, right? They might be milk-
snorting-out-of-your-nose funny ones, or listen-to-how-cool-and-
awesome-we-are ones, or come-close-so-we-can-whisper-in-your-ear juicy
ones. They might be old favorites or stories about new experiences.
But no matter what, out stories are unique, just like we are. And that
is what this book is all about--ten diverse stories from ten great
authors. For all of us."
The above quote is the last one in Ellen Oh's foreward to Flying
Lessons & Other Stories. She's the editor of this most excellent
collection. When she says ten great authors she's making an
understatement. It was all I could do not to drool in a public
library when I scanned the contents pages. We're talking book geek's
dream line up. Then after weeks of mostly rain we got a perfect sunny
day where I could read outside near my in-full-bloom daffodils and eat
candy. Life doesn't get much better.
My absolute favorite is Grace Lin's The Difficult Path. Lingsi
is a servant for the Li family. When selling her, her mother had
insisted she be taught to read. She's a much better student than the
family's only son, FuDing, a repulsive boy who prefers pulling wings
off insects to reading. One day the tutoring comes to an end. If a
more suitable bride cannot be found she will have to marry his
Throw pirates with a fierce woman leader in and you get a truly
satisfying tale.
Very few authors can make free verse as narrative sing like
Kwame Alexander does. His Seventy-Six Dollars and Forty-Nine Cents
packs his poetry power into a short story format. Anyone who has ever
had an aggravating teacher will be hooked by the first page.
Monk was a Star Wars addicted geek. He had a crush on a girl
way out of his league status wise. But "That was before." You'll have
to read the book to figure out before what.
During his lifetime Walter Dean Myers won every major award
there is in children's lit. We're talking two Newberys. He ventured
into areas most authors would have stayed clear of. His monster (done
in both all text and graphic novel) brought readers the full
complexity of the judicial system.
His Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push explores the relationship
between an athletic father and his newly disabled son. Chris' dad was
grooming him to follow in his sneaker steps. Then there was a car
accident. Walking would no longer be in Chris' future.
"'Sometimes I think he blames himself,' Mom said. "Whenever he
sees you in the wheelchair he wants to put it out of his mind.'"
And there are seven other equally excellent stories. Flying
Lessons & Other Stories is an excellent summer read for both book
lovers and kids who put literary ventures way low on their lists of
vacation priorities. It's a treasure for diversity loving parents who
can remember juvenile library sections being white as Wonder Bread and
CIS hetero as Westboro Baptist.
On a personal note, I was over the moon to discover not only this most
excellent anthology, but an organization cofounded by Ellen Oh: We
Need Diverse Books. The mission is exactly what you'd think. If you
agree with me that it's crucial in children's lit, check them out on
Google. I was flabbergasted. It will help me find more lovely
diverse books to review on this blog.
I also hope it may help me find a home for a manuscript I'm working
on. It has to do with my minority group: the gender fluid. We need
more books in which kids like the kid I was who are gender
nonconforming today can see themselves.
A great big shout goes out to authors of diverse books, publishers
gutsy enough to put their work out there, and Ellen Oh for her work to
make more diversity in the field actually happen.
jules hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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