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Children's Book Controversy

Earlier this month, we included the newly released book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington, in a couple posts, even one about diversity. The book has since been pulled from publication by it's publisher, Scholastic due to "problematic" portrayals of slaves.

A Birthday Cake for George Washington is the story of Hercules, one of Washington's slaves and cook, and Hercules' daughter, Delia, happily baking a cake for George Washington's Birthday. The controversy is the depiction of Hercules and Delia as happy "servants", which, as Scholastic stated in their announcment, "may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves". Critics are concerned that the story is "an offensively sanitized version of the institution of slavery." Scholastic originally defended the book and author, Ramin Ganeshram, but have since reversed their position.

“We do not believe this title meets the standards of appropriate presentation of information to younger children, despite the positive intentions and beliefs of the author, editor and illustrator,” it said in a statement.

To read more about the book, controversy, and Scholastaic's decision, check out the articles we used as sources, the New York Times and BBC.

Books Inc. apoligizes if we have offended any of our readers by including A Birthday Cake for George Washington in our posts and email blasts.

ALA Medal Winners for 2016- Kids Edition!

The Newbery Award: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

The Newbery Medal honors the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature. Congratulations Matt de la Peña!


Caldecott Medal: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Sophie Blackall

The Caldecott Medal honors the most distinguished picture book. Congratulations Sophie Blackall!


Coretta Scott King Book Award: Rita Williams-Garcia and Bryan Collier

Rita Williams-Garcia, author of Gone Crazy in Alabama and Bryan Collier, illustrator of Trombone Shorty, are the winners of the 2016 Coretta Scott King Book Awards honoring African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults. Congratulations Rita Williams-Garcia and Bryan Collier!!


Stonewall Children's Literature Award: George by Alex Gino

The Stonewall Book Awards are given annually to English-language works of exceptional merit for children and teens relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience. Congratulations Alex Gino!


To see the full list of winners, visit the American Library Association's website!


January's Author Loves Series: Deborah Underwood!

Deborah Underwood Loves

A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz

Deborah: Bella and I wanted to choose a really special book to recommend. It needed to reflect our values, it needed to give readers hope, and it needed—

Bella: a cat.

Deborah: Right. It had to have a compelling story, evocative illustrations—

Bella: and a cat.

Deborah: Exactly. So we chose A Boy and a Jaguar, by Alan Rabinowitz.

Bella: It’s illustrated by Catia Chien. CAT-ia Chien. No wonder it’s good!

Deborah: This nonfiction picture book begins in Alan Rabinowitz’s childhood. Alan’s stutter makes him feel broken. But when he talks to animals, he doesn’t stutter. In the Bronx Zoo, he makes a special friend: a jaguar.

Bella: A jaguar is a kind of cat!

Deborah: Alan promises the jaguar that if he ever finds his voice, he will speak for the animals. When he’s older, he travels to Belize to study jaguars. Then Alan has the chance to talk to some important people to convince them to protect jaguars in the wild. And…and…*sob*…

Bella: Good grief. She always cries at this part. I’m taking over! I won’t tell you what the people decide. But later, in the jungle, Alan comes face to face with a huge jaguar. The jaguar does not eat him. The end.

Deborah: The thing I love most about the book is Alan’s connection with animals. In helping them, he also helps himself. And the story shows that one person can make a huge difference.  What did you think about the book, Bella?

Bella: It was good. Lots of cats. When’s lunch?


Deborah Underwood and Bella Underwood are the co-authors of Here Comes Valentine Cat, illustrated by Claudia Rueda, as well as several other Cat books. Deborah has written many other picture books, including Interstellar Cinderella, The Quiet Book, and the forthcoming Good Night, Baddies. Deborah and Bella live in San Francisco.

Yang Named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

This Monday, January 4, 2016, Bay Area author, Gene Luen Yang was named the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature! Yang will be taking over for Kate Dicamillo who was honored with the position in 2014. "The ambassador program was established in 2008, by the Children’s Book Council, Every Child a Reader, and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, to highlight the importance of young people’s literature in developing a literate, tolerant, informed citizenry. Yang will serve a two-year term, traveling the nation to champion diversity in all forms—and formats—with his platform, 'Reading Without Walls.'" (Publishers Weekly).

Yang is the first graphic novelist to be chosen as an Ambassador. He also happens to be the first graphic novelist to be named a National Book Award Finalist and the first to win the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature for American Born Chinese.

Congratulations Gene Luen Yang! We can't wait to see all the great things you do!

Find Yang's books in stores today!