Official Children’s Book Week Event – Captivating Middle Grade Novels
Jean Alicia Elster, Ruth Behar and Jack Cheng with Shutta Crum as moderator
Children’s Book Week is the annual celebration of children’s books and reading. Established in 1919, it is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. The program is administered by Every Child a Reader and the Children’s Book Council (CBC) is the anchor sponsor. In 2014, Official Events — which give kids the opportunity to connect with their favorite authors and illustrators in person — were hosted in all 50 states for the first time in the initiative’s history. Learn more about Children’s Book Week at everychildareader.net/cbw/intro.
Jean Alicia Elster
Formerly an attorney, Jean Alicia Elster is the author of the novel The Colored Car—for ages 8 and older—published by Wayne State University Press and released in September 2013. The Colored Car was selected as a 2014 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. Elster was awarded the 2014 Midwest Book Award in Children’s Fiction for The Colored Car by the Midwest Independent Publishers Association. The Colored Car was chosen as an Honor Book for the 2014 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. Elster is, also, the author of the novel Who’s Jim Hines?—for ages 8 and older—published by Wayne State University Press and released in August 2008. Among other honors, Who’s Jim Hines? was selected as one of the Library of Michigan’s 2009 Michigan Notable Books. In addition, Elster is the author of the children’s book series “Joe Joe in the City,” published by Judson Press. The first volume in that series, Just Call Me Joe Joe, was released in October 2001. The remaining volumes are: I Have A Dream, Too! (May, 2002), I’ll Fly My Own Plane (September, 2002), and I’ll Do the Right Thing (January, 2003). She was awarded the 2002 Governors’ Emerging Artist Award by ArtServe Michigan in recognition of the series.
Ruth Behar is an author of adult fiction and nonfiction, and Lucky Broken Girl is her first book for young readers. She was born in Havana, Cuba, grew up in New York City, and has also lived and worked in Spain and Mexico. An anthropology professor at the University of Michigan, she is also co-editor of Women Writing Culture, editor of Bridges to Cuba/Puentes a Cuba, and co-editor of The Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World. Her honors include a MacArthur -Genius- Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Senior Fellowship, and a Distinguished Alumna Award from Wesleyan University. Much in demand as a public speaker, Ruth's speaking engagements have taken her to the United States, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, Spain, Finland, Israel, Italy, Ireland, Poland, England, the Netherlands, Japan, and New Zealand. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Jack Cheng was born in Shanghai, raised in Michigan, and lived in Brooklyn for a decade before settling in Detroit. See You in the Cosmos is his first novel for kids.
Shutta Crum is a former teacher and librarian who is now a well-established author of children’s book picture book and middle grade and teen novels. A number of her books have won awards, been nominated for state awards, or have appeared on other prestigious lists. She also writes articles about writing and teaching for professional journals.
After boarding the first-class train car at Michigan Central Station in Detroit and riding comfortably to Cincinnati, Patsy is shocked when her family is led from their seats to change cars. In the dirty, cramped "colored car," Patsy finds that the life she has known in Detroit is very different from life down south, and she can hardly get the experience out of her mind when she returns home-like the soot stain on her finely made dress or the smear on the quilt squares her grandmother taught her to sew. As summer wears on, Patsy must find a way to understand her experience in the colored car and also deal with the more subtle injustices that her family faces in Detroit. By the end of the story, Patsy will never see the world in the same way that she did before.
Elster's engaging narrative illustrates the personal impact of segregation and discrimination and reveals powerful glimpses of everyday life in 1930s Detroit. For young readers interested in American history, The Colored Car is engrossing and informative reading.
In this unforgettable multicultural coming-of-age narrative--based on the author's childhood in the 1960s--a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl is adjusting to her new life in New York City when her American dream is suddenly derailed. Ruthie's plight will intrigue readers, and her powerful story of strength and resilience, full of color, light, and poignancy, will stay with them for a long time.
Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro's Cuba to New York City. Just when she's finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English--and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood's hopscotch queen--a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie's world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger and she comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times.
11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan--named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he'll uncover--from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.
Jack Cheng's debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.