[DWJ] recommendations

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at gmail.com
Wed Jul 31 07:26:06 EDT 2013

Tu Books (http://www.leeandlow.com/p/tu.mhtml) is well worth checking out,
for children's fantasy and science fiction that's racially inclusive. I've
only read two so far, but CAT GIRL'S DAY OFF is a very cute fantasy with a
mixed-race protagonist. Not at all a serious, issue type book, but that's
kind of the point. I also read TANKBORN, but found it a bit heavy-handed
and predictable, though very well-intentioned.

Sherwood Smith's CROWN AND COURT DUET was a huge hit with my two at about
that age (and with me, reading the books to them!), and in a few years your
partner's friend might be ready for the series Sherwood is writing with
Rachel Manija Brown - STRANGER, the first book, is being published next
year by Viking. I've read the first two as works in progress, and they're
wonderful, with many of the protagonists being mixed-race or POC.

Dorian got me hooked on the Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas, for which
I'm extremely grateful. Wonderful characters, who quietly subvert gender
expectations in a variety of ways. The Winterling series is also very good
so far, though the humour of the Magic Thief books makes them my

Finally, I don't think anyone has mentioned R. J. Anderson, though there
have been so many recs I might have missed it. ULTRAVIOLET would be too
old, but the Faery Rebel series is great. I think the US title of the first
book is SPELL HUNTER, and it's KNIFE in the UK.


On Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 8:56 AM, Gili Bar-Hillel
<gbhillel at netvision.net.il>wrote:

> Racewise, Rick Riordan seems to make a conscious effort to break out of the
> all-white mold. The protagonists of his Egyptian trilogy (The Kane
> Chronicles, starting with The Red Pyramid) are brother and sister of mixed
> race, who don't look like siblings (she's more white, he's more black).
> Each of the Heroes of Olympus books has multiple protagonists, including
> characters who are Asian, black, Hispanic and Native American. He's based
> some of his characters on students he used to teach in elementary school.
> They are somewhere between MG and YA as far as themes and difficulty.
> I would DEFINITELY recommend Frank Baum. Even he has been labeled a racist
> in recent years, for two highly unfortunate editorials he wrote while he
> was a newspaper editor in South Dakota, surrounding the death of Sitting
> Bull and the events of Wounded Knee. However, unlike in some cases where
> once you discover an author's racist bias you realize it permeates his
> works, with Baum these editorials are extremely unusual and seem at odds
> with the bulk of his writing. They are also pretty obscure, and have only
> made available in recent years because people seem to enjoy engaging in
> this kind of discussion (if you look for them online, keep in mind that
> they are sometimes shortened or fitted with headings that weren't in the
> original newspaper, to highlight the terrible bits). His children's books
> feature a host of characters who are as other as other can be: each one is
> made of a different material, has different ideas of what is good and
> desirable, and yet the characters get along in harmony. The bad guys in the
> books are often those who try to enforce their one narrow way of living on
> others.
> I haven't seen Malorie Blackman recommended. Some of her books are
> alternate history ABOUT race struggles, in a world where dark-skinned
> people are the leading race. She is highly popular in the UK but I think
> relatively unknown in the USA (interesting, that). I've only read one,
> "Noughts and Crosses": it was a bit too earnest for me, but I can see why
> she's popular. Maybe wait a couple of years.
> I'd also recommend the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix, don't even
> know what color the characters are. And of course Diana Wynne Jones. Aren't
> most of the Dalemark protagonists non-white? They have different race
> distinctions than ours, in any case. Ditto Power of Three. There are POC
> lead characters in several DWJ books, including A Tale of Time City,
> Wilkin's Tooth, etc.
> What I find disturbing about race in books for young people is that there
> seems to be an assumption that unless stated otherwise, characters are
> white. It's so strong that even when characters are explicitly described as
> having dark skin or other non-caucasian features, some people tend to glide
> over these descriptions, as seen by the fact that every so often book
> covers are white-washed "by mistake" so that the images show white
> characters even if they are explicitly non-white in the text, or that
> viewers express surprise when black actors are cast to play black
> characters onscreen (i.e. Rue in the Hunger Games). In many beloved books
> no reference is made to character's skin color or ethnicity. While I wish
> this meant that readers of all races could identify equally with the
> characters, I know that in actual fact many readers will probably assume
> that the characters are white. The problem is in our minds even when it
> isn't in the books.
> On Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 12:26 AM, Martha Hixon <marthahixon at gmail.com
> >wrote:
> > Recommendations:
> >
> > > Lloyd Alexander (especially the Vesper Holly ones, which are fun, and
> the
> > Prydain ones, which are classic)
> > > Jeanne Birdsall's The Penderwicks series (neither fantasy nor mixed
> race,
> > but truly wonderful reads, and this is coming from a person who has
> always
> > vastly prefers fantasy to realistic fiction).
> > > Rick Riordan's various series using Greek, Roman, and Egyptian myths,
> > maybe?
> >
> > I'd second L. Frank Baum, and I'd suggest keeping Garth Nix's Abhorsen
> > series for an older teen, as well as Alison Croggon's Pelinor series for
> > the same age. Duane's So You Want to be a Wizard series would be good
> for a
> > 10-year-old, but not some of her others.
> >
> > Martha
> >
> > Dr. Martha P. Hixon
> > Department of English
> > Middle Tennessee State University
> > Murfreesboro, TN 37132
> > 615-898-2599 / martha.hixon at mtsu.edu
> >
> >
> > On Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 6:19 PM, Otter Perry <
> > ottertee at silverwinggraphics.com> wrote:
> >
> > >
> > > My partner has an acquaintance, a 10-year-old girl who is very bright.
> > > She likes fantasy. I've recommended DWJ, of course, but any suggestions
> > > are welcome. [I also recommended Nesbit, Lewis, Baum, Jansson, and
> > > Pratchett.]
> > >
> > > She is also mixed-race*, so if anybody knows a particularly good author
> > > for that, tell me. [I'm loaning her _The Wizard of Earthsea_.] It would
> > be
> > > nice to have protagonists who aren't just white.
> > >
> > > Garth Nix just occurred to me. And Diane Duane.
> > >
> > >
> > > *Her father is African-American, her mother is European-American.
> > >
> > > --------
> > >
> > > People say nothing rhymes with orange,
> > > but it doesn't.
> > >
> > >
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