Book Beat: Tamaki Tackles Lumberjanes

Hello readers! Ashley needed a breather so I’ll be filling in with all the book news! The nice thing about books is that they can take you away from reality and your current situation…and I have a feeling that I’m not the only one who needs that right now.

Noelle Stevenson, Boom! Studios, 2014, Lumberjanes #4First off, Lumberjanes is going to be turned into a four-part book series for middle-schoolers, yay! ABRAMS Children’s Books announced today that the series will be written by New York Times bestselling author Mariko Tamaki, with black-and-white illustrations by Brooke Allen. The books will introduce new critters for the campers to encounter as well as reveal some backstories on Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley. ABRAMS also teased that “other formats that dive deeper into the world of Lumberjanes are also planned.” Color me intrigued! Are they just talking about the movie or is there more to it than that? ABRAMS does say that the series marketing campaign will include “joint promotion with BOOM! Studios, Comic-Con promotion, national publicity, author appearances, retail promotion and a large social media presence.” Mysteries abound! The first book of the Lumberjanes series will be released October 2017.

On the more political side, twelve female authors were long-listed for Australia’s 2017 Stella Prize which celebrates female Australian writers. Judge and author Brenda Walker may pose the longlist’s subject matters as “national,” but many of the stories are deeply personal – and, of course, racism, misogyny, and death, three of the themes touched upon in books on the longlist, are hardly specific to Australia. Still, it’s good to see the judges of such a prestigious literary award make conscious efforts to “move towards a more inclusive and empathetic Australian society,” as Walker put it. Would that American literary leaders follow suit.

"What's the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses?" Children's Book Press. Written by Richard Van Camp and illustrated by George Littlechild
“What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses?” Children’s Book Press. Written by Richard Van Camp and illustrated by George Littlechild

One issue that Australia and the United States share is immigration and everybody seems to have that on the mind lately – the website “My Poetic Side” has created an interactive map featuring 51 poets  who immigrated to the United States, many of them from Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, the seven countries affected under the travel ban. I was not surprised to learn that many of the featured poets came from activist backgrounds and and were forced to emigrate to the United States to flee persecution, but it was also a nice reminder that political activism and art have a long and strong shared history.

On the flip side of immigration is indigenous issues: Canadian website CBC Parents recently published a list of 10 Indigenous children’s books with an eye towards storytelling as well as the child’s age. The list was collated by author Selena Mills and includes books by Native and mixed authors that include those with roots in the United States, as well as Canada, such as Inuit and Iroquois people. With American nationalism on the rise, it’s important to remember that although the United States prides itself as being a nation of immigrants, there were people here long before any immigrants ever came.

And speaking of American turmoil, author Joyce Carol Oates’s newly-released “A Book of American Martyrs” dives headfirst into the big American abortion debate. It’s a bit disappointing that the two titular martyrs are men, but Oates makes sure to give voice to both mens’ families, especially their daughters.

"Matilda" actress and author Mara Wilson eating Rococo's "Matilda"-themed chocolate bar, a gift from the Dahl family
“Matilda” actress and author Mara Wilson eating Rococo’s “Matilda”-themed chocolate bar

On a lighter note next Tuesday is Valentine’s Day which means chocolate. What does chocolate have to do with books, you ask? Well, if you’re a nostalgic book- and food-lover like me then you’ll be in lust with the Roald Dahl-themed chocolates from London chocolatier Rococo. Hurry though – the “library” collection of all the chocolates as well as the Matilda and The BFG chocolates are already sold out. The lack of Matilda chocolates, at least, can be blamed on Matilda actress Mara Wilson for posting a photo of herself eating the Matilda-themed bar, a gift from the Dahl family. Even if you don’t have a special someone to gift you some you should order some for yourself or at least hit up any retailer on February 15th for what one of my friends calls Half-Priced Candy Day. After all, we could all use a bit of self-love right about now.

Stephanie Tran

Stephanie Tran

Queer, 20-something intersectional feminist, Vietnamese-American, and born fangirl. Writes about anything geeky and thinks about food too much. You can find Stephanie's Twitter rants at @YouAndYourEgo.