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northernmost thoughts

some of my best friends are books of color: an uncommon competition

Okay, the title of my very first ever blog post is, well, suggestive. It suggests a slightly negative attitude and I post with some reluctance.

Get this straight: I am extremely grateful for the recognition my books have received. Blessing's Bead was a Junior Library Guild Selection, was named to the International Reading Association's Best Books for a Global Society, was on the Booklist Top Ten Historical Fiction for Youth list and was nominated to the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Association's Best Fiction for Young Adults list. This is heady stuff!

That said, there is a ghetto for books of color. You've seen it, yes?

Case in point: I've had several reviews for Blessing's Bead that were riffs on, "this is a great book for people who like Eskimo books."

They mean well. Or not. But that's not the point. The point is, what does this say about us as readers? What reading lens do we wear and encourage others, by our words, to wear? Always the easy one, the one with the story we recognize?

But how many stories do we miss this way?

And what can we do to encourage reading diversity?

From this perspective, check out the Nerds Heart Ya competition. It's designed to encourage reading diversity in YA lit--and to recognize books that promote the same.

I'm honored that Blessing's Bead is included! In fact I am so honored that I am sponsoring a give-away in support of their efforts. I am calling it the I Spy BOC Honor Competition. Here's how it works. I am going to have a drawing. The winner will receive a copy of Blessing's Bead and a magical blue bead necklace. Here's how you get your name entered in the drawing:


  • Go to your local bookstore.

  • Find out if some or all of the books in the Nerds Heart Ya competition are in stock.

  • Email me the name of the bookstore and the titles of the Nerds Heart Ya books you spotted. (*Extra points for photos. Extra extra points for spotting and snapping a shot of Blessing's Bead)

  • And (here's the honor part) Request that they order at least one of the books they do not currently carry.

  • Email me that title, or those titles, too.


*Extra points earn extra entries. For those of you who live in remote areas, where there are no bookstores (that would be you, bush Alaska) go to Indiebound and find a nearly local independent bookstore, online. Note to bush Alaskans: airport bookstores count. Tell those airport bookstores to reorder Blessing's Bead if it is not in stock and I will enter you in the drawing.


And...drum roll...here's the list of titles:


Donut Days - Lara Zielin

Me, Just Different – Stephanie Morrill

Pure – Terra Elan McVoy

The World is Mine – Lyah B. LeFlore

Gringolandia – Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Wanting Mor – Rukhsana Khan

Devil’s Kiss – Sarwat Chadda

Jumped – Rita Williams-Garcia

Guantanamo Boy – Anna Perera

Shine, Coconut Moon – Neesha Meminger

Skunk Girl – Sheba Karim

Last Night I Sang to the Monster – Ben Alire-Saenz

The Rock and the River – Kekla Magoon

Purple Heart – Patricia McCormick

Alligator Bayou – Donna Jo Napoli

A Wish After Midnight – Zetta Elliot

Medina Hill – Trilby Kent

Lost – Jacqueline Davies

In the Path of Falling Objects – Andrew Smith

Funny How Things Change - Melissa Wyatt

Blessing’s Bead – Debby Dahl-Edwardson

The Blonde of the Joke – Bennett Madison

Say the Word – Jeannine Garsee

In Mike We Trust – P E Ryan

Evil? – Timothy Carter

Beautiful – Amy Reed

Tilmon County Fire – Pamela Ehrenberg

The Vast Fields of Ordinary – Nick Burd

Once You Go Back – Douglas A. Martin

Anything but Typical – Nora Raleigh Baskin

Border Crossing – Jessica Lee-Anderson

Rowan the Strange- Julie Hearn


Alright--go forth and make a difference and enjoy some great books, while you're at it! Drawing June 30.



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