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Showing posts from December, 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…