The Beginning of Summer Reading

Here are three books that I shared this month on Good Day Alabama on WBRC Fox 6. One has a local connection. One will get your creative juices flowing and the other one is 52 years old and oh so timely.  

African Town

By Charles Waters and Irene Latham

This book for teens by Birmingham writer Irene Latham and her poetic partner Charles Waters recently won the prestigious Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. In this book of poetry—a novel in verse—the authors narrate voices inspired by the last survivors of the transatlantic slave trade and follow their lives as they settle in Alabama. While suffering the atrocities of slavery, these people dream of returning home to Africa for a better life. They end up channeling their hope to find ways to love and live again and form their own community in African Town. Latham and Waters visited African Town and met with descendants of the last slave ship, the Clotilda, and pulled inspiration from these interviews. Water and Latham are the writing team behind Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship, which was awarded a Charlotte Huck Honor, and Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z, an NCTE Notable Poetry Book. 

The Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction—a $5,000 prize—was established in 1982 by children’s author Scott O’Dell in the hope that it would persuade authors to focus on writing historical fiction for young readers. The award honors a distinguished work of historical fiction published by a U.S. publisher and set in the Americas. For more information about Scott O’Dell and the Scott O’Dell Award go here.

On the Curry Trail:  Chasing the Flavor that Seduced the World

By Raghavan Iyer

This award-winning author and cooking instructor explores the origin of curry across the world. Curry, no matter the culture, is a globally beloved dish. In this beautifully illustrated cookbook, you’ll find 50 recipes from across Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australia. This diaspora of curry focuses on the most iconic recipes from these continents as well as the history and lore of the dish with a sprinkling of family anecdotes and memories. Iyer also tackles the questions of what curry was and what it is today, where it has traveled in this world and why.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

By Judy Blume

Judy Blume is having a moment. The movie version of her 52-year-old novel, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, came out last week. The screen adaptation of the beloved coming-of-age story, starring Rachel McAdams and Abby Ryder, is getting rave reviews. The story of an 11-year-old girl struggling with her developing body and religious constraints, is near and dear to a lot of female hearts. (And it was the one book Blume was most reluctant to have made into a movie.) That’s not all. Judy Blume Forever, a documentary of Blume’s life, is streaming on Amazon Prime Video, too. The author of The Pain and the Great One; Superfudge; Deenie; and In the Unlikely Event, which came out in 2015, has helped so many young people navigate the uncertainties of adolescence. I think today’s teens—bombarded by unrealistic ideals and ideas on social media—could use this book. Even if it’s one their moms read a long time ago. Some things do not change.

I link to Amazon to show you exactly what book I’m talking about, but I love to shop locally at Church Street Coffee and BooksThe Alabama Booksmith, Little Professor, and Thank You Books in Crestwood. And I visit my local library often in person and online!

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