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Critic Interview: Irene Ying-Yu Chen

The spotlight is on Taiwan today! :o) To introduce us to children's and young adult literature in Taiwan is Irene Ying-Yu Chen. Irene is a children's literature critic in Taiwan. She is also the assistant regional advisor of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Taiwan. Her academic works are published in Taiwan and abroad and her most recent publication is “Monkey King's Journey to the West: Transmission of a Chinese Folktale to Anglophone Children” in the January 2009 issue of Bookbird: A Journal of International Children's Literature.

Irene kindly sent me a copy of her latest publication and I found it a fascinating introduction to and discussion of "Monkey King." "Monkey King" is retold in English literature as a signifier of Chinese culture, but it can also bridge cultural gaps and stimulate cross-cultural literature for children. One of the "Monkey King" versions Irene analyzes is Gene Luen Yang's you…

Some Illustrations from Iranian Children's Books

Thanks to my lovely co-worker and poet friend Chloe who let me know about this:

A Journey Round My Skull has three blog posts featuring some illustrations from Iranian children's books. If you are interested, as I most certainly am, click here for the first post, here for the second, and here for the third. I particularly like the third batch of illustrations. Below is my favorite featured illustration. It's from Long Neck Gazelle written by Djamsheed Sepahi and illustrated by Yoota Azargeen. Simple, unique, fun, playful, and expressive.


Most of the illustrations are from the 70s. Now I can't help but be intrigued about the children's and young adult literature scene in Iran in the 70s as compared to the scene there now.

Bonus: A Journey Round My Skull also has a blog post on an illustrated Iranian book of poetry for children from the 70s.

Happy exploring!

Author/Editor Interview: Mio Debnam

I'm excited to present this interview with Mio Debnam! Mio is a children's and young adult book writer and editor, and the regional advisor of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Hong Kong. Read my conversation with Mio below to learn all about her work, SCBWI Hong Kong, and the children's and young adult book scene in Hong Kong.

Welcome, Mio!

Please share your love story with children's and young adult literature. :o)

My love of books started when I was just a tot – my parents read to me a lot, and I loved hearing stories. With regards to reading, I think I can pinpoint the birth of that interest, to when I was about six, and I had my tonsils out.

You know how, for many kids, the only silver lining to a tonsillectomy is limitless jelly and ice cream? Well, sadly for my poor mother, I hated both, and went on a hunger strike. To persuade (bribe!) me to eat liquidized soup, Mum went down to the second hand bookshop and bought me the full set…

Video: Yusof Gajah

While doing a bit of research on Malaysian children's and YA books, I came across a video introducing Yusof Gajah, an artist and award-winning children's book writer and illustrator. Yusof also represents Malaysian writers, illustrators, and publishers of children's and YA books for international rights. (Woohoo - Malaysia in the heart, world on the mind!)

These books from Yusof are on my Christmas wish list. I LOVE HIS ART AND ILLUSTRATIONS.

Check out the video below. A couple of parts are in Malaysian, but most of it is in English.

The Asian Festival of Children's Content

Here's something I really want to attend. REALLY. WANT. TO. ATTEND.

The very first Asian Festival of Children's Content will be held in Singapore on May 6 - 9, 2010. It will be organized by the Singapore Book Council and The Arts House.

The vision of the festival is to provide the world’s children with quality Asian content for education and entertainment. Its mission is to foster excellence in the creation, production, and publication of children’s materials with Asian content in all formats, and to facilitate their distribution and access, first in Asia and then to children worldwide.

The objectives of the festival are to:

Develop children’s materials with Asian content for information, education, and entertainment
Promote the publishing of Asian children’s content in all formats
Provide children in Asia and the world with ready and easy access to Asian content

Now, if that doesn't say "Asia in the heart, world on the mind," I don't know what does.

Here are some of…

Author Interview: Candy Gourlay

Tall Story is about Bernardo, an 8 ft. tall boy (a giant!) in the Philippines, and his half-sister Andi in the UK. I really enjoyed reading Tall Story. It's an interesting story and I love so many things about it: How it is about family, Filipino legends and superstitions, and basketball. Its melding of British humor and Filipino humor. Andi's strong and fresh voice. How the main characters seem so real that a part of me thinks there really is an 8 ft. tall boy named Bernardo in the Philippines with a sister named Andi in the UK. I love how in Tall Story there is the question of how belief in legends and superstitions affects how one reacts to events... And does something happen (or not happen) because of a person's belief (or lack thereof) in a legend or superstition?

Tall Story is for children aged 10+ and will be published by David Fickling Books in the UK (June 2010) and the US (early 2011), and by Cacho Publishing House in the Philippines (date to be announced). Today…

Author Interview: Perpilili Vivienne Tiongson

I love "I Hate My Mother!": Magnetic levitation, a grain of rice & 3 women (Cacho Publishing, 2007), so I feel honored today to be able to interview its author, Perpilili Vivienne Tiongson ("Perpi"). "I Hate My Mother!" is emotionally powerful young adult fiction with an authentic voice. Click here to read my blog post about the novel and here to read my review of it for PaperTigers.org.

And now introducing... Perpilili Vivienne Tiongson!

Welcome to Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind, Perpi!


Why do you write for young readers?

Why not? I regard this question as if I am being asked, "why invest in the young?" Whether they are readers or not is not as important to me as the fact that they are young. Many have said it in so many ways: The children are our future. So we should invest in them. I have children of my own, and when I think about the world that they will inherit, I have to do everything I can to ensure that it's a world worth p…

About the Blog / Review Policy

Thank you very much for your interest in this blog! Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind is a children's and YA book blog about: children's and YA books set in Asia, children's and YA books with Asian characters, children's and YA books with characters of Asian descent, Asian children's and YA book authors and illustrators, and children's and YA book authors and illustrators of Asian descent.

Books

I happily accept books for review. If you would like to send me a book for review, please email me so that I can give you my mailing address.

I will feature every book I receive (through a review or an author/illustrator interview, etc.). However, I cannot promise a positive feature for a book. I will be honest about both the strengths and weaknesses of the book. I also cannot promise a specific date for posting about the book. But every book will get featured.

E-Books

Yes, I accept electronic copies of books for review. Please email me before sending an electronic cop…

Publishing Giant Acquires Giant Novel - Written by a Filipina!

Press release (originally posted at Into the Wardrobe on November 13, 2009):

David Fickling Books is enormously proud to announce the acquisition of a new stand-(tall)-alone novel, TALL STORY!

TALL STORY by Candy Gourlay is an outstanding and highly original novel for 10yrs+. The deal was negotiated by Hilary Delamere from The Agency and David Fickling.

This is a book about Bernardo, a boy who lives in the Philippines, and Bernardo is tall. Not just tall, he’s 8ft tall. Bernardo is actually a GIANT! In a novel packed with humour and quirkiness, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the comedic results of two very different cultures colliding.

Editorial director, Bella Pearson, knew there was something special from the first page: “It isn't often that I am in fits of laughter one minute and in tears the next - TALL STORY is one of the warmest, funniest, most moving books I've read in a long time - and Candy Gourlay is a rare and new voice in children's fiction. W…

Author Interview: Sang Pak

This was originally posted at Into the Wardrobe on November 11, 2009.


Today, I welcome debut author Sang Pak to Into the Wardrobe! Sang has English and Psychology degrees from the University of Georgia and is a denizen of Georgia, Southern California, and Seoul. His coming-of-age novel, Wait Until Twilight, was published in August. :o)

Sang, what motivates and inspires you to be a writer?

Writing makes me feel connected and gives me a sense of purpose and meaning.

Can you tell us a bit about your debut novel?

Wait Until Twilight is a story about a high school boy, Samuel, who comes across a set of deformed triplets and their psychotic adult brother. Samuel finds himself obsessing about the triplets, though he is repulsed by them. All this coincides with re-emerging emotional memories of his dead mother. It’s a southern gothic / coming of age tale full of grotesques, adolescent life, and violence.

Why did you write Wait Until Twilight? What's the story behind the story?

The story is ba…

Book Review and Author Interview: Chenxi and the Foreigner by Sally Rippin

This was originally posted at Into the Wardrobe on September 5, 2009.


"Every student watched Chenxi and the foreigner and every one of them had something to say about it."

It is April 1989 and eighteen-year-old San Francisco native Anna White is visiting her father in Shanghai. While in Shanghai, Anna, who is an artist, will learn traditional Chinese painting. One of Anna's classmates at the Shanghai College of Fine Arts, Chenxi, has been assigned as her translator and tour guide. Anna falls head over heels in love with the handsome, mysterious, and talented Chenxi.

There are student protests in China while Anna is there, and Chenxi is one of the students protesting the Chinese regime. When Anna is forced to return to the United States, the protests culminate in what the Chinese government calls the June Fourth Incident, but the Western world calls the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Chenxi and the Foreigner, by Australian children's/YA author and illustrator Sally Rippin, i…

Playing It Safe by G.T. Los Baños

A Filipino YA novel in English

This was originally posted at Into the Wardrobe on August 12, 2009.


"It all began that day we went up against the Mountaineers for the interclub university softball championship. I guess knocking a girl unconscious with a softball is just about as weird as it gets when it comes to starting any sort of relationship, but anyway, here's how things happened on that crazy, glorious afternoon:

The game was sort of a grudge match: the two toughest organizations on campus, the Mountaineers and my team, the Outsiders, squaring off for the school's interclub softball championship."

Playing It Safe by G.T. Los Baños (Cacho Publishing House, 2007) is about sports, university life, and relationships. It's about Jon Garcia, a sophomore college student on the varsity wrestling team, and Sheila Prado, a member of the same university's varsity swim team, and how Jon falls for and pursues Sheila... Or is about how Jon falls for and fails to pursue Sh…

"I Hate My Mother!": Magnetic levitation, a grain of rice & 3 women

This was originally posted at Into the Wardrobe on August 6, 2009.

A Filipino YA novel in English


"I Hate My Mother!": Magnetic levitation, a grain of rice & 3 women (Cacho Publishing House, 2007) introduces readers to finding a mother's wisdom in a grain of rice, the parallel between human relationships and magnets, and Bell, her mother, and her sister Cory.

This book made me happy. Not because it's a bright and cheery novel - in fact it has its funny moments but is mostly a serious novel. But because good books make me happy, and this is definitely a solidly good book.

I have heard once that children love their parents and then love them again as adults. "I Hate My Mother!" is about that time in between, when teenagers "hate" their parents. Written in that unique way Filipino teenagers use English, and generously peppered with Filipino words and phrases, "I Hate My Mother!" traces the transformation of Bell's awe of her mother'…