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Friday, May 30, 2014

Meet Lamar Giles!

 By Jan Pease

The current issue of School Library Journal discusses the all-white world of children’s books. Of the 1,183 books published between January and July, 2013, that featured human (not animal) characters, only 124 of them featured a person of color.  Try to name ten writers for children who are not Caucasian.  OK, I’ll try: Walter Dean Myers, Jerry Pinkney, Donald Crews, Virginia Hamilton, John Steptoe, Leo and Diane Dillon, Mildred D. Taylor, and Ashley Bryan;  oh no! That’s only 9.

So I’m excited to feature a new author, Lamar Giles, whose novel, Fake ID, is a Junior Library Guild selection, and was published by HarperCollins.  Mr. Giles says of himself, “My name is Lamar and I’ve been writing for a very long time.  I've sold some stuff, published some stuff on my own, and even won some awards.  I grew up in a town called Hopewell, Virginia, and now reside in a great city called Chesapeake with my wife.  In 2014 HarperCollins will publish my Young Adult thriller FAKE ID, and yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.”  It was a big deal, and I’m glad to have a new black author to add to the list.

Fake ID is the story of a teen whose family in the witness protection program.  A line in the book sums up their life: “A family of liars doing what we do best.”  Fake ID is a murder mystery, a thriller, and sounds like a great summer read.  No zombies, ghosts, or vampires haunt Nick’s world, but it’s a scary place.

Tony DiTerlizzi has finished his huge trilogy about Eva and her search for people like herself.  The first two books, The Search for WondLa and A Hero for WondLa introduce a wonderful protagonist, an incredible array of creatures, and a world that reminds us that the Earth we know could change into an alien place.  Read The Battle for WondLa, but read the first two books in the series before you tackle the third volume.  DiTerlizzi wrote The Spiderwick Chronicles with Holly Black, but he is being compared to science fiction great Arthur C. Clarke because of the WondLa trilogy.  One of the best comments I found on stated, “ I wish I had read it slower!”

Finally, another Junior Library Guild selection, The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America’s First Subway, by Doug Most, provides a look at the two brothers, Henry Melville Whitney of Boston and William Collins Whitney of New York who were instrumental in developing the subway systems in their cities.  I have to admit that riding a train under the earth is not something I care to try.  I can’t imagine digging holes and tunnels underground, but it’s also hard to imagine what a city like New York or Boston would be like without mass transit.  This Junior Library Guild selection is a little odd, because it’s considered an adult book.  I think anyone who is interested in trains or history would enjoy this book, but at 416 pages it’s not an easy read.