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Showing posts from 2010

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

One very windy day in Iowa, Katie Takeshima and her older sister Lynn climbed to their roof with two boxes of Kleenex. They took the Kleenex out one at a time and let the wind catch it. They got in trouble, but it was worth it. The tissues had looked like giant butterflies in the wind. It had been the smart and beautiful Lynn's idea. As Katie says: "Lynn could take a simple, everyday object like a box of Kleenex and use it to prove how amazing the world is." Lynn doesn't just show her family how amazing the world is, she shows us readers too, just by being herself. The story of Katie and Lynn also reminds us readers of how precious family is.

I've never read a novel both as sad and hopeful as Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (Atheneum, 2004). In the novel, all the relationships between family members, but especially between Katie and Lynn and their younger brother Sammy, are so real and so beautiful. It's scary and tragic when Lynn becomes terminally ill, and…

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

A certain prunus vase is among the most prized of Korea's many cultural treasures. It is the finest example of inlaid celadon pottery ever discovered and has been dated to the twelfth century.

The vase's most remarkable feature is its intricate inlay work. Each of the forty-six round medallions is formed by a white outer ring and a black inner ring. Within every circle, carved and then inlaid with great skill, there is a crane in graceful flight. Clouds drift between the medallions, with more cranes soaring among the clouds. And the glaze is a delicate shade of grayish green.

It is called the "Thousand Cranes Vase." Its maker is unknown.
The passage quoted above is the last passage from A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (Clarion Books, 2001). I've heard that many stories come about by asking what if questions. I haven't done a lot of research on A Single Shard yet, but I imagine that the author read about the Thousand Cranes Vase, maybe even saw it in person, and…

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy

I'm looking forward to reading Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy, a middle grade novel set in Afghanistan. Words in the Dust will be published by Arthur A. Levine Books on Jan. 1, 2011. It sounds really interesting and I'm hoping it is a non-exoticized portrayal of Afghanistan and Afghan children. (It's a good thing the novel was vetted by several Afghans.)

Below are videos of Trent Reedy talking about the novel with his editor Cheryl Klein. Thanks to Cheryl Klein for sharing the videos through her blog Brooklyn Arden!

Trent Reedy and Cheryl Klein talk about Words in the Dust - Part I:



Trent Reedy and Cheryl Klein talk about Words in the Dust - Part II:

Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji

Illustrated by Boris Artzybasheff


I have a confession to make: I don't like animal stories. I don't know why. I can't explain it. I just don't find them interesting. Of course, there are some animal stories just so well-written that even non-animal story lovers like myself enjoy them. :o)

In Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon written by Dhan Gopal Mukerji and illustrated by Boris Artzybasheff (Dutton Juvenile; reprint edition, 1968), a very engaging narrator shares the daring adventures of his pigeon, Gay-Neck. Gay-Neck is a beautiful and talented pigeon ("soul of flight, pearl among pigeons"). I got swept up in Gay-Neck's escapades. He flies in the face of storms, gets into skirmishes with birds of prey, fights for leadership in the flock, participates in pigeon competitions, and becomes the glory of the Indian army in the first World War!

Gay-Neck is a great example of a book that is both educational and an interesting story. It satisfies children's curio…

Illustrator Interview: Jason Moss

It's time for another illustrator interview! Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to. . .



Jason Moss, winner of a Philippine National Children's Book Award for his bright, cheerful, and humorous illustrations in Just Add Dirt, a picture book about a boy who grows vegetables all over his body because he doesn't take a bath, written by Becky Bravo and published by Adarna House in 2009!


Welcome, Jason.

What motivates you to illustrate for children? What is the very best thing about illustrating children's books?

The fact that I'm going to be part of their growing up years as an illustrator. What motivates me is that I'm participating in lending them a dream and further molding their imagination. I say this because I myself, growing up on children's books (both local and foreign titles), said that one day I'll be illustrating myself.

The best thing about illustrating children's books is hearing stories that these kids look at my work over and over aga…

Interviews with Paula Yoo

I've said it before, and I'll say it again and again. Paula Yoo is AMAZING. She's a children's and YA book author, a TV writer and producer, a teacher, and a professional violinist. Find out more about her in these interviews:

Here is my 2008 interview with Paula.

I interviewed Paula again yesterday, at Color Online.

Vivian Lee Mahoney interviews Paula today at HipWriterMama! Check it out!

The Secret is in the Soil Book Launch

Want an example of "the book beautiful"? Check out The Secret is in the Soil: A Beginner's Guide to Natural Gardening (Conquest for Christ Foundation, 2010), written by Flor Gozon Tarriela and Gidget Roceles Jimenez. This book for ages 9 and up is unique and its subject matter much welcome. Plus, Liza Flores has really outdone herself in illustrating and designing the book!


I was fortunate to attend the book's launch last Saturday night at the Manila Polo Club.



There was a good turnout, and aside from the crowd, there were plenty of plants around of course.





Below is a picture of Flor Gozon Tarriela signing books for the kids at the launch.


And here are Gidget Roceles Jimenez and Liza Flores!



Congratulations, Flor, Gidget, and Liza! Best wishes for The Secret is in the Soil!


[The Secret is in the Soil is available at branches of ECHOstore.]

Random Fact/s (12-5-2010)

I need your feedback, guys!

In The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators by Anita Silvey, Linda Sue Park is cited as the first Asian American writer to win the Newbery Medal (for A Single Shard in 2002). But what about Dhan Gopal Mukerji?

Dhan Gopal Mukerji was born on July 6, 1890 in Calcutta, India and he immigrated to the U.S. in his early 20s. He won the Newbery Medal in 1928 for his novel Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon. He was the first writer of color to win the Newbery Medal and is considered the first successful Indian writer in the U.S. He committed suicide on July 14, 1936 in New York City.

Dhan Gopal Mukerji was obviously a resident of the U.S., but it seems he was never a citizen. The U.S. Congress didn't pass a bill allowing naturalization for Indians until July 1946 (ten years after his death).

Now, my questions are: Can Dhan Gopal Mukerji be considered Asian American / Indian American? Can he be considered the first Asian American writer to win t…

Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind is one year old.

In early 2005, I started blogging about children's and YA books at Into the Wardrobe. At first I was blogging mostly about fantasy books from the U.S. and the U.K. Into the Wardrobe then grew into a more general children's and YA book blog. It is also a personal blog where I post about my family and work and friends.

I started wondering if there were blogs with a special focus on Asian children's and YA books, and I started featuring Asian authors and books with Asian content at Into the Wardrobe. I found blog posts on Asian children's and YA books, but not sites wholly devoted to them. And I felt that what I was doing at Into the Wardrobe was not enough.

So I decided to start a second blog. I absolutely love 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 illustrat…

Andy Mulligan and Chris Cheng in Manila

British author Andy Mulligan and Australian author Christopher Cheng were in the Philippines Nov. 18-20 for LOL (Lit Out Loud), the very first Manila International Literary Festival. I was fortunate to see them there.

The setting of Andy's latest novel for young readers, Trash (David Fickling Books, 2010), is based on the Philippines and the protagonist is based on a young Filipino Andy knows personally. School Library Journal has named Trash one of the best books of 2010. The novel Andy is currently writing is set in India. Chris Cheng is of Chinese descent and is a very prolific - and an award-winning - writer of children's books. He writes at least four books a year! His next picture book, Sounds Spooky, is illustrated by Sarah Davis and is an example of a perfect marriage of text and illustration.

Andy and Chris spoke about what was selling in the children's book market. I liked how Andy defined children's books as not stories written for children, but stories …

Random Fact (11-24-2010)

The first children's book by a Japanese American writer was The Dancing Kettle by Yoshiko Uchida. It was edited by Margaret McElderry and published by Harcourt, Brace and Company in 1949.

In other news . . .

Soon I'll be wrapping up my series of interviews with the winners of the first Philippine National Children's Books Awards and will be reviewing books again. I've bought or received some beautiful, impressive books from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and India, and I'm excited to discuss them here. I've also got some really great books from the U.S. with Asian and/or Asian American content.

What have you been reading lately? Any book recommendations for Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind? :o)

And oh! Have you seen The New York Times' list of Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2010? Shadow (Chronicle Books) is on the list - it's the work of Korean illustrator Suzy Lee. (Is Suzy Lee still living in Singapore?) Big Red Lollipop (Viking), written by Pakistani Canadian author Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, is also on the list. Woot woot!!

Children's book author/illustrators are rock stars.

Seriously. They are.




Yesterday, I attended the book launch of Foldabots Toy Book 3 (K-Zone/Summit Media). Foldabots is a series of cut-out cardboard robots by children's book author/illustrator Jomike Tejido. Apart from the three toy books, the Foldabots can be seen monthly in K-Zone Magazine.

The launch was a smashing success! There were lots of kids at the event and they were able to assemble Foldabots and be part of a game/contest.




Assembling Foldabots is serious business.


Here are more pictures from the launch. I loved all the kids!





Ze line to get Jomike to sign a copy of Foldabots Toy Book 3:


There are few things better than kids geeking out over your books/products, respecting and admiring you, and thinking you are cool. =D

Congratulations, Jomike!




Linky, linky:

Click here to read my interview with Jomike.

Click here to visit Jomike's blog.