deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
Last night I attended the Cambridge, Massachusetts stop of the Diversity in YA tour, with Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan, Deva Fagan, and Francisco X. Stork. I was impressed with the authors, but disappointed with the panel.

Putting the reason for my disappointment behind a cut )

On a related note, it's time for the third year of Nerds Heart YA, which builds dynamic long and short list of books that represent one of a series of relatively under publicized categories:

Specifically, the lists will consist of books that:
  • Were published in 2010
  • Have received minimum press on blogs
  • Feature characters, or are penned by authors, who fall within the following categories:
    • Person(s) of Color (POC)
    • GLBT
    • Disability
    • Mental Illness
    • Religious Lifestyle
    • Lower Socioeconomic Status
    • Plus-size

This year's shortlist has been chosen, and includes some very exciting books. Check it out!
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
I subjected the poor subscribers to the Diana Wynne Jones mailing list to my rant on poor representation of both authors and characters of color in the YA Fantasy Showdown, but I didn't want to subject you all to it. For one thing, it's clear the creator of the showdown tried; I just think she did a fairly poor job.

Anyway, in the current round of voting, I noticed several comments that made me exceedingly happy. Right now Ai Ling (Cindy Pon, Silver Phoenix) is up versus Jace (Cassandra Clare, Mortal Instruments trilogy). Jace is predictably if annoyingly beating Ai Ling simply because, as several of the comments say, jace gets my vote because he is hot. But one of the other commenters on this round of voting says, Never heard of Ai Ling but sounds like she's gona win. Also, is she chinese? Because I'm chinese, and you don't get many cool chinese characters so I feel like I need to show her some support...even if Jace is hot! Another says I've never read Silver Pheonix before, but I totally want to now.

In other words, Silver Phoenix isn't less popular because it's less good. It's less popular because nobody has heard of it. If readers haven't seen it, they can't make their own judgments about whether it equally good or not. (I acknowledge that even if readers had read it, Mortal Instruments certainly appeals more to contemporary young adult tastes in twisted paranormal romances. But the point is, readers aren't being given the opportunity to make that judgment for themselves. And in the meantime, participants in this showdown, both those who identify as Chinese and those who don't, are really excited by learning about the existence of the book.)

This is it is so important for we in the children's and young adult mediating business -- and these days that includes not just booksellers, teachers, librarians, and parents but also bloggers -- to care about representation. It's appalling but true that Silver Phoenix got shafted by the major bookselling chains because they didn't want a fantasy with an Asian girl on the cover. Those same readers who saw Jace every time they walk into a bookstore never saw Ai Ling. By the same token, they never saw Zahrah, Anand and Nisha, or Quincie Morris. If we bloggers, when we talk about young adult literature, remember to talk about those underrepresented books, teens will read what we have to say.

Well, not what I have to say. I'd be surprised if I had any teen readers. But you know what I mean. *g*
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