This post from Simple Homeschool has a list of picture books set all over the world, from Tanzania to France to India. My library is going to hate me, because I just went through the list and requested almost all of them. Great resource.
The new immigration law in Arizona is controversial, sure, but Dr. Yeh does a great job in this post in explaining why the issues involved are less black-and-white than either side seems to think they are. As someone who thinks immigration law ought to be enforced, but also is pretty sure she'd try to get into the States if she'd been born outside it, I really appreciated Yeh's careful examination of the different parts of the immigration issue.
Shannon Hale (author of the awesome The Actor and the Housewife, one of my favorite new books from last year), invited and got a bunch of responses from other YA authors on how they feel about being burdened with the job of providing morals along with their stories. I found the various answers fascinating. I especially liked M. T. Anderson's answer:
I would argue, first of all, that our world-view is already wound into our narratives, whether we're aware of it or not, and that we can't help broadcasting it to our readers. Our idea of what a "happy ending" is, of who is evil and who is good, of who should triumph and who should fail (or whether anyone *should* do either) -- all of that is played out in our writing. Just because we don't overtly talk about it doesn't mean it doesn't structure our stories, without us even thinking about it.
And I would argue, second of all, that we shouldn't be embarrassed of the world-view that's wrapped up in our stories. (Although we should be embarrassed if we're being boring and clumsy about it.) What's wrong with acknowledging that children are not just learning about the world, but actually building their own world, as they read? They're making themselves. What's wrong with wanting to be there by their side as they do that? I think that's one of the incredibly exciting things about writing for kids.
Ann has a review of N. T. Wright's "Surprised by Hope" that makes me want to read the book. She says:
What does it mean to be Easter people? I’m not really sure. So this year, I made Surprised By Hope part of my Easter celebration, and it captivated me.
I've so far resisted joining Facebook, and Wil Wheaton's post makes me feel like maybe I'm smart rather than just misanthropic.
If you are following the doings in the Anglican communion, you should go read Anne Kennedy's post: "I think maybe she really wanted to go to the party after all."