Happy Holidays!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011
The slowest laptop in the world + no Internet access = the height of frustration

I have been having problems with my Internet service provider and will be visiting family for the holidays. I'll be back blogging next year!

Happy Holidays, everyone. ~^o^~

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Call for Submissions: Tu Books

Thursday, December 8, 2011
Tu Books publishes speculative fiction for children and young adults featuring diverse characters and settings. Our focus is on well-told, exciting, adventurous fantasy, science fiction, and mystery novels featuring people of color set in worlds inspired by non-Western folklore or culture. We welcome Western settings if the main character is a person of color.

We are looking specifically for stories for both middle grade (ages 8-12) and young adult (ages 12-18) readers. (We are not looking for picture books, chapter books, or short stories. Please do not send submissions in these formats.)

For more information on how to submit, please see our submission guidelines. We are not accepting unagented email submissions at this time.

What we’re particularly interested in seeing lately: Asian steampunk, any African culture, contemporary African-American stories, Latino/a stories, First Nations/Native American/Aboriginal fantasy or science fiction written by tribal members, original postapocalyptic worlds, historical fantasy or mystery set in a non-Western setting. Please note that while our focus remains on main characters that are people of color, we strongly welcome GLBTQ characters as well.

We look forward to reading your book!

The 2012 PBBY-Salanga Prize

Congratulations to Russell Molina for winning the 2012 Philippine Board on Books for Young People - Salanga Prize! Molina also won the prize in 2003. :o)

Congratulations to honorable mentions Felinda Bagas and Segundo Matias!

Click here to learn more about the contest, or email pbby@adarna.com.ph.

And according to the New York Times. . .

Saturday, December 3, 2011
The most notable children's books of the year include Allen Say's Drawing from Memory and:

Level Up, written by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Thien Pham (First Second Books)

Waiting with you, Ari!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 10 January 2012)

My other blog crush, Ari of Reading In Color, is waiting for this to be released. A half Indian, half Jewish American protagonist? I'm waiting with you, Ari!

Ohohoho, and the awesomeness continues.

School Library Journal named their picks for the Best Books of 2011, and they include:

The House Baba Built: An Artist's Childhood in China by Ed Young (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Dear Ed Young, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. . .

The Twins' Blanket by Hyewon Yum (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers)

Call for Submissions - HORROR: Fantastic Filipino Fiction for Young Adults

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Editors Dean Francis Alfar (publisher of the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthologies) and Kenneth Yu (publisher of Philippine Genre Stories) announce a call for short fiction submissions for HORROR: Fantastic Filipino Fiction for Young Adults.

Fantastic Filipino Fiction for Young Adults is a new annual anthology series, with the first volume focusing on horror, and launching in mid-2012.

Submissions must be:

1. in the horror genre or contain strong horror elements

2. written with the young adult reader in mind (from 10 – 18 years old) and feature a young adult character (or characters)

3. cognizant of the themes and concerns of young adult fiction (coming of age, identity, belonging, a sense of wonder, a love for adventure, angst, concerns over school, challenges of youth, family issues, relationships to authority figures, sexuality, experimentation, peer pressure, bullying, among many others) – without being didactic and/or boring

4. written in English

5. authored by Filipinos or those of Philippine ancestry

Submissions are preferred to be:

1. original and unpublished

2. no shorter than 1,000 words and no longer than 7,500

In the case of previously-published work — if accepted, the author will be expected to secure permission to reprint, if necessary, from the original publishing entity, and to provide relevant publication information.

Submission details:

1. No multiple or simultaneous submissions — i.e., submit only one story, and do not submit that story to any other market until you have received a letter of regret from us.

2. All submissions should be in rich text format (saved under the file extension ‘.rtf’), and emailed to dean(at)kestrelddm(dot)com with the subject line ‘FFFH: title (word count)’, where ‘title’ is the title of your submission and '(word count)' is the number of words the submission comes up to, rounded up to the nearest hundred (use the “tools” function of your word processor to find out).

3. Do not use fancy formatting.

4. Include a brief bio and publishing history (if applicable).

5. The deadline for submissions is midnight, Manila time, March 15, 2012. Letters of acceptance or regret will be sent out no later than one month after the deadline.

6. First-time authors are more than welcome to submit; good stories trump literary credentials any time.

Compensation will be Php500 for selected stories. We are still deciding whether to go digital or print (or even both). In the event that we publish a print version, each author will be provided with a contributor’s copy of the book. If the anthology is published in digital form, each author will be given a formatted e-copy of the anthology.


Dean Francis Alfar & Kenneth Yu


HORROR: Fantastic Filipino Fiction for Young Adults

More Awesomeness

Here are some of the Best Teen Books of 2011!!!
I.M. Pei: Architect of Time, Place and Purpose by Jill Rubalcaba (Marshall Cavendish Corp/Ccb)

Island's End by Padma Venkatraman (Putnam Juvenile)

Mangaman, written by Barry Lyga and illustrated by Colleen Doran (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)

Happy Book Birthday to You. . .

Monday, November 28, 2011
Happy Book Birthday to You. . . Happy Book Birthday, Happy Book Birthday. . . Happy Book Birthday to You!

In Bon Bibi’s Forest, written by Sandhya Rao and illustrated by Proiti Roy (Tulika Books)

"When the quiet villages of Sundarban are terrorised by Dokkhin Rai, a monster with wild eyes, sharp teeth, striped skin and pointed nails, Bon Bibi has to step in to look after the people. That’s when she realises that Dokkhin Rai himself needs protection – as do the forests that are his home."

The Magic Feather by Roma Singh (Tulika Books)

"An owl drops a purple feather in a forest. A little girl picks it up and there begins a journey into magical lands..."

Ack! The illustrations for these two books look gorgeous!

You guys are AWESOME.

Congratulations for being named some of the Best Children's Books of 2011!

Coral Reefs by Jason Chin (Flash Point)

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (HarperCollins)

Drawing From Memory by Allen Say (Scholastic Press)

OMG, congratulations!

Friday, November 18, 2011
Congratulations to Thanhha Lai for winning the National Book Award - Young People's Literature for Inside Out & Back Again!!!

Let's kick it. . .

Sunday, November 6, 2011
With Joo Hee Yoon at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast!

You rock, Zhu Cheng Liang!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Congratulations to illustrator Zhu Cheng Liang and author Yu Li Qiong! Their picture book A New Year’s Reunion (Candlewick Press) made it on the New York Times list of the 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2011!

Mind. Blown.

Friday, October 28, 2011
More to reflect on when considering the number of Asian characters in children's and YA books.

“You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.” — Junot Diaz

I am so glad I am meeting this man in November.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

India in the Heart, World on the Mind

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I think this is worth checking out!

After all, a fun activity book is always a winner with kids!

The World Tour Mystery by Manjula Padmanabhan (Tulika Books, 2011)

"As the idea of the Monuments book continued to twitch and grow inside my mind, I and Tulika began to see that difference/sameness are a really important part of traveling too. After all, people in other countries look different and have unique local costumes, yet -- as we see in the book -- tourists look the same wherever they go! When we line up to board an aircraft, we see hundreds of people, some young, some old, some funny, some strange: yet for all the differences, we can also see so much that's the same: we all drink water, for instance; little babies of all nationalities scream in the same language; everyone looks grumpy if there's a long queue for the toilet."

Click here to find out more about this puzzle book. :o)

Also. . .

I wish I could visit. :o( :o( :o(

P.S. The cover of The World Tour Mystery reminds me of the banner for this blog. Heeheehee.

My blog crush is back!

Saturday, October 22, 2011
One of the influences and inspirations of this blog is Li and her blog GAL Novelty. Li took a long break from the blogosphere but is now back with a new blog, A World of Paper Hearts. Check it out! ~^o^~

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2012

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Confetti, cupcakes, champagne, and fireworks for the Asian nominees of the 2012 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA), the world's largest prize for children's and young adult literature!!

A & A Book Trust

AÇEV (Mother and Child Education Foundation)

Ahmadi, Ahmad Reza

Ali, Abdul Razzag

Anno, Mitsumasa

Bunanta, Murti
Author/Promoter of reading

Dashdondog, Jamba
Author/Oral storyteller/Promoter of reading

Donya Children's Research Institute

Ismail, Mohd Yusof Bin
Author/Illustrator/Oral storyteller


Liu, Xianping

Midhat Kazim, Basarat
Author/Promoter of reading

Murti Bunanta Foundation
Organisation/Oral storytellers

Rahmandoost, Mostafa

Say, Allen

Sta. Romana-Cruz, Neni
Author/Promoter of reading
The Philippines

Thailand Knowledge Park

Tokyo Children’s Library

Touma, Nadine

Uehashi, Nahoko

Ural, Yalvaç

Aaahhh! Aaahhh!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Congratulations to Thanhha Lai, author of Inside Out & Back Again (HarperCollins, 2011), for being named a finalist of the US National Book Awards (Young People's Literature)!

New books from Karadi Tales!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Check out the October releases from Karadi Tales (India)!

Dancing Bear, written by Manasi Subramaniam and illustrated by Gwangjo and Jung-a Park

Somu the bear is unusual: He can dance! But Somu wants to be free and unchained. Can his friend Altaf understand this? Will Altaf ever set him free? This poignant story describes the friendship between a young boy and a bear, the boy’s unique understanding of what the bear truly wants, and the true predicament of dancing bears in India.

Dorje’s Stripes, written by Anshumani Ruddra and illustrated by Gwangjo and Jung-a Park

Dorje is a beautiful Royal Bengal Tiger – but he has no stripes on his body. In a small Buddhist monastery in Tibet, Master Wu, a good-hearted monk, tries to understand the secret of Dorje’s missing stripes. This sensitively written, beautifully illustrated story takes us to Tibet, Bengal, and the heart of the Royal Bengal Tiger.

The Moustache Man, written by Priya Ramanathan and illustrated by Garima Gupta

Nekgaon is a perfect village. Yes, everything’s perfect – from the cock’s crow to the setting sun. But one wily man arrives and changes everything about Nekgaon with his strange demand. Read this mischievous book to see how perfect Nekgaon becomes imperfect.

When the Earth Lost its Shapes, written by Shobha Viswanath and illustrated by Christine Kastl

One day, all the shapes in the world disappear. [Note from Tarie: OMG, nooooooo.] No one knows where they are. Everything changes and becomes shapeless – from the egg to the kite to the orange. It is up to the little dot to restore shape to the world. This heartwarming, sensitively illustrated story about team spirit and conviction takes us into the wonderful world of shapes.

Whose Lovely Child Can You Be?, written by Shobha Viswanath and illustrated by Christine Tappin

Gulgul is not really sure where she comes from – then her entire family decides to tell her the story of the magical day she entered their lives. And Gulgul realizes that she’s far more special than she knew! This tender story in rhyme is about the wonderful experience of having a child in your life.

It's hard to choose just one when presented with such a selection of books. @_@ The illustrations for Dancing Bear and Dorje's Stripes look sublime, I like the concept behind When the Earth Lost its Shapes, fun and funny books like The Moustache Man are always a hit in the classroom, and Whose Lovely Child Can You Be? looks like a classic that could make me cry.

Which of the five books looks most interesting to you?

Miscellany 10-6-11

Thursday, October 6, 2011
* Fun =D

Author/illustrator Grace Lin (sooooooo pretty and talented) has a project leaving pocket Pacys (tiny dolls of the main character in her middle grade novels The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat) in different places in France. She's hoping people will pick up the pocket Pacys and travel with them.

* Intriguing!

Marc Tyler Nobleman is using his blog to pitch his picture book manuscript featuring WWII navy pilot Nobuo Fujita, the first and still only man to complete an aerial attack on American soil. Link here.

Thanks to Greg Pincus for this tip.

* Sorry :o(

Still haven't finished tagging each blog post by country. >_<

* Watch out for . . .

My interview with author/illustrator Joyce Wan. She's committed to cuteness!

* And ooohhh . . .

Tulika Books USA! Tulika, you really know what you are doing.

Why I Started This Blog: The Danger of A Single Story

Sunday, September 18, 2011
Shweta Ganesh Kumar shared with me this TED Talk from novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about how "a single story" about another person or country can cause critical misunderstanding, and I felt that the talk really reflected why I started this blog. Please watch it below, if you haven't already:

I sometimes teach creative writing to children and teens and have been very shocked to see that the first impulse of my students - all Filipinos or Chinese Filipinos ages 11-15 - is to write stories featuring characters with blond hair and blue eyes. It seems that, like the seven-year-old Adichie, my students have "a single story" about what literature is and do not think that people like them can exist in literature. (Needless to say, I am now trying to expose my students to more Filipino literature and literature from other Asian countries.)

I blog because our students, nieces and nephews, children, grandchildren, and godchildren NEED AND DESERVE more than "a single story" about Asia and more than "a single story" about each Asian country. And I am really grateful that you are here reading this blog, because that means you reject "the single story" about Asia and "the single story" about each Asian country.

The first Filipino ReaderCon was a success!

THANK YOU to all the sponsors of the first Filipino Reader Conference:

Vibal Publishing House, Inc.

Primetrade Asia, Inc.

Flipside Digital Content Company, Inc.

Scholastic Philippines

OMF Literature

Hachette Philippines

Tie Me Up, Buttercup

National Book Development Board

The ReaderCon included a keynote speech on "prosumers" (producers who are also consumers/consumers who are also producers), panels on book clubs and book blogging, and book raffles. It felt like a party with fun people eating yummy food, sharing their love and passion for books and social media, and celebrating and promoting the reading COMMUNITY. I'd like to thank the sponsors again, and I'd most especially like to thank the head organizer and my good friend Honey de Peralta. ~^o^~

I look forward to next year's ReaderCon. Par-tay, par-tay!

Looking for a 9/11 novel to read?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"The struggle to fit in is very nearly universal in teen culture, but it’s that much tougher for a lot of young people in the wake of 9/11. Author Neesha Meminger takes on both the topical issue of anti-Muslim racism and the ever-present struggle to be true to yourself in her intense and thoughtful novel Shine, Coconut Moon." - Colleen Mondor for Bookslut

". . .One day, shortly after 9/11, a man wearing a turban shows up on her doorstep. He is her estranged uncle, and through him, Sam begins to realize how important being Indian American is to her identity. This novel is especially poignant as our country continues to deal with prejudice against South Asians and individuals from the Middle East." - Melanie Koss for Booklist

"An important book for young people about coming to terms with identity, prejudice, and family in a post-9/11 world." - Marina Budhos, author of Ask Me No Questions and Tell Us We're Home

Click here to read my blog post on Neesha Meminger and Shine, Coconut Moon.

See you there? =D

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Please be patient!

I am still in the process of tagging posts by country. :o)

Children's Literature Association Call for Papers: Philippine Children’s Literature

Sunday, August 21, 2011
International Committee, Children's Literature Association

Call for Papers:
Philippine Children’s Literature

39th Annual Children’s Literature Association Conference
Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
June 14-16, 2012

The International Committee of the Children’s Literature Association is planning a special country focus panel on the Philippines, to be presented at the 39th Children’s Literature Association Conference, to be held at Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts, USA from June 14 to 16, 2012. The committee invites paper proposals that focus on any aspect of Philippine children’s literature. Papers may focus on the origins of and/or developments in Philippine children’s texts; issues of regionalism and nationalism; Philippine folklore as children’s texts; Philippine children’s literature in the diaspora; or the state of children’s literature studies in the Philippines. Preference will be given to proposals with the potential to inspire American and international scholars to develop active interest in Philippine children’s literature and to integrate it into their own research.

The authors of two papers selected for the panel to accompany a presentation by a Philippine Distinguished Scholar (invited by the committee) will be awarded a $500 travel grant each. Up to four other proposals may be selected as well, pending the approval of the additional panel by the conference paper selection committee. The papers must be presented in English and must not exceed the twenty-minute reading time. The committee strongly encourages ChLA members and other scholars with an interest in Philippine children’s literature to submit paper proposals for the session.

Send 500-word abstracts accompanied by up to 250-word bios to the International Committee, Children’s Literature Association, P.O. Box 138, Battle Creek, MI 49016-0138, USA; fax +269-965-3568; or electronically to info@childlitassn.org. The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2011.

My wallet is ready.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Twins' Blanket by Hyewon Yum (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 2011)

This seems like a must-buy. Click here to read the New York Times article that made me want to buy the book.

Let's help build more libraries for children in the Philippines, yes?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hmmm, I would have liked to see the children reading more Filipino and other Asian books. :o)

Click here to learn more about Sambat Trust and how you can help build more libraries for children in the Philippines!

Announcing the 1st Filipino Reader Conference

Friday, August 12, 2011

Filipino Readers Make It Social!

The 1st Filipino Reader Conference

When: September 14, 2011, Wednesday, 1-6 PM (during the Manila International Book Fair)

Where: SMX Mall of Asia (Metro Manila, Philippines), Meeting Room 2


1. to provide support, instruction, and social time for book club members and book bloggers
2. to celebrate readers and reading in the Philippines
3. to promote a closer connection between readers, writers, and publishers


1:00 – 1:20 PM Registration

1:20 – 1:30 PM Welcome Remarks

1:30 – 2:00 PM Keynote Speech: How readers can help promote Filipino authors, publishers, and Philippine literature

Speaker: Carljoe Javier

Author of And The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth, The Kobayashi Maru of Love, and Geek Tragedies. Also published stories in anthologies and magazines, such as Free Press, Philippine Graphic, and Fudge. Taught Creative Writing at UP Diliman and was a fellow for fiction at the UP and Dumaguete National Writers Workshops. Maintains a blog, Lumpen Culturati. Currently teaches for the UP Open University and works for UP Press.

2:00 – 3:30 PM Panel Discussion: Putting up and Running a Book Club – for the fun of it!


Gege Sugue

Founder of Flips Flipping Pages (FFP), an online/offline book club based in Shelfari. FFP has been in existence since September 2007 and has been conducting monthly face-to-face book discussions since May 2008. There are 1400+ online members of FFP. Regular online discussion participants, however, number around 60, while regular offline discussion members number around 30.

Kuya Doni

Kuya Doni is an administrator of the Filipino Goodreads Group, an online/offline Filipino book club based in Goodreads. Filipino Goodreads conducts several online discussions per month and has organized face-to-face meet-ups among members. There are 1200+ online members of Filipino Goodreads.

Tata Francisco

Founder of Ex Libris Philippines, an offline book club and NGO. The book club meets monthly for book discussions and book swappings, and holds fundraising projects to raise money for scholars in UP Diliman.

Facilitator: Peter Sandico

FFP administrator in-charge of online discussions. Publishing professional and also runs a book blog called Kyusireader.

3:30 – 4:00 PM Snacks

4:00 – 5:30 PM Panel Discussion: The Why and How of Book Blogging


Tarie Sabido

That's me! ~^O^~

Charles Tan

Editor, author, and speculative fiction blogger since 2006. Virtually the international ambassador of Philippine speculative fiction. Compiled the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler and writes sharp, insightful essays about the state of local and international publishing.

Chachic Fernandez

YA and fantasy blogger. Administrator of the Filipino Book Bloggers website, which is a directory of Filipino book bloggers from all over the world. Organizes and facilitates meet-ups of Filipino book bloggers around Metro Manila.

Aldrin Calimlim

Literary blogger. Also one of the contributors to Pelikula Tumblr, a film blog, and Fully Booked’s magazine. Featured in Young Star Philippines as a book tweeter.

Sasha Martinez

Literary blogger with a vast connection to foreign literary bloggers. Majored in creative writing and is a published writer. Contributes to the Philippine Online Chronicles and does book reviews for Free Press. Finalist in the Arts and Culture Category of the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards.

Facilitator: Honey de Peralta

Eclectic book blogger. Member and administrator of Flips Flipping Pages. Finalist in the Arts and Culture Category of the 2009 and 2010 Philippine Blog Awards.

5:30 – 6:00 PM Socials – venue for bloggers, book club members, authors, and publishers to get together and network


Author Interview: Emily Lim

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Singaporean Emily Lim is the award-winning author of the picture books Prince Bear & Pauper Bear, The Tale of Rusty Horse, Just Teddy, Bunny Finds the Right Stuff, and Baby Panda Finds His Way - all stories that give readers the warm fuzzies! Here I chat with Emily about her work and children's literature in Singapore.

Why do you write children's literature? Can you please tell us about your path to publication? What keeps you inspired and motivated as a children's book writer?

I started out with children's books as that was the genre under the First Time Writers and Illustrators Publishing Initiative, organized by our Book Council and the Media Development Authority [MDA] of Singapore. Under that Initiative, winners were given a grant to get their book published. I was in between jobs at that time. So I decided to research on the publishing process and publish my own book. I borrowed "how to" books from the National Library and attended a few book conferences to figure how I could do that.

In the process of researching, I discovered a love for picture books because they can distill so much wisdom in so few words. I also received quite a lot of feedback and response from friends and readers on how much they loved my books and how it impacted them in different ways. That fuelled my passion to continue writing.

I noticed that the themes of self-worth and the search for identity are found in almost all of your books. Why do you write about these themes?

When I started writing my picture books, I did not have a specific theme in mind. I simply wanted to write something which could hopefully inspire. I ended up drawing from my personal experiences. It was very subconscious so I only realized it after I wrote the stories.

My first book Prince Bear & Pauper Bear became my "coming out" story. The toymaker had forgotten to stitch Pauper Bear a mouth so he could not speak. But he found love and second chances when a boy brought him home and repaired him. I struggled with speaking when I first came down with Spasmodic Dysphonia, a rare voice disorder. And like Pauper Bear, my voice has since been restored.

The Tale of Rusty Horse is my "acceptance" part of my story. Rusty, an old forgotten rocking horse, longed to be a real horse so that he could be a crowd favorite again. He got his wish granted for a while. But he finally chose to remain a rocking horse to be a friend to a lonely handicapped boy and through that, discovered there was real magic in true friendship. Like Rusty, I too became very concerned with crowd opinion about my voice condition. But I finally realized that being true to myself was the real deal.

Just Teddy
is my "realization" story. Teddy went to great comic lengths to fit in with the other toys to the extent of almost losing his identity. Teddy finally discovers that he was a one-of-a-kind bear, "fearfully and wonderfully made", just as I did.

Finally, Bunny Finds The Right Stuff is my "revelation" story. A floppy toy rabbit thought he was missing out on life when he saw his toy friends with a lot more stuffing than he had and went in search of more stuffing for himself. Like Bunny, I felt shortchanged when my life came to a pause by my voice condition and saw my peers move ahead in their careers. But Bunny came to realize that the right stuff was made of love and friendship and that he wasn't short of stuffing but had simply been loved and hugged to bits by the toymaker. And I came to that same revelation.

Actually, I recently launched my first "adult" book, Finding My Voice - a true story of setbacks, new beginnings, and toy characters. It tells of my personal journey, from the time I felt ill to recovery and finding my new voice in writing :)

How would you define Singaporean children's literature? What are the strengths and weaknesses of Singaporean children's literature?

I would say any children's literature generated locally would constitute Singapore children's literature for me. I'm not sure there is a large enough body of work to date to be able to really talk about strengths and weaknesses. But I would say that we need all the support and funding we can get. There have been recent strides in terms of support, with the First Time Writers and Illustrators Initiative doing a great job in kickstarting several of us into the realm of published writers. The Asian Festival of Children's Content [AFCC] and the Hedwig Anuar Children's Book Award are wonderful initiatives by our Book Council to bring more notice to Asian and locally generated works. The Budding Writers Project by Marshall Cavendish last year is another good initiative to encourage writers from among our young. As one of the judges last year, I had the opportunity to review the shortlisted entries of the students and was amazed by the calibre of their manuscripts, many of which touched on issues of fitting in, bullying and identity. Initiatives like these are much needed to generate more local writing.

Which books would you recommend to readers just getting introduced to Singaporean children's literature?

I like the wide range of topics and writing covered in the winning entries of the Book Council and MDA's First Time Writers and Illustrators Initiative over the years and feel there are many books there which provide a good introduction to our local writing, like that of this year's Hedwig Anuar Book Award winner The Book That Was Handed Down and other titles like I Don't Want Mei Mei Anymore, The Watchtower Warrior and The Little Red Helicopter. The Adventures of Mooty series by Jesse Wee is also a charming series which brings in local elements like the satay man and Mooty's sarong.

I just Googled those books and oh wow, now I really want to read them!

Which Asian books, authors, and illustrators have influenced your work the most? How have they influenced your work?

When I first started writing, I was not specifically influenced by any Asian works. I simply wanted to write something universal and meaningful as I didn't know if that would be my first and last book. In the end, I ended up very subconsciously writing from my own personal experiences.

But in preparing for my panel session for the inaugural AFCC in 2010, I did start developing greater interest in Asian works. I would say for picture books, I like Jimmy Liao for the very poetic style of his works - I love The Blue Stone: A Journey Through Life and When The Moon Forgot. One of my favourite books (Asian or otherwise) has to be Totto Chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. Those are the types of books I would love to be able to write. I'm probably dreaming big here given how huge these authors are :)

THANK YOU, Emily! I look forward to reading more sweet tales from you. :o)

The Ramayana from a Woman's Point of View!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Ramayana was required reading in my all-girls high school and I quite like the idea of a new generation of students studying the great Indian epic using this graphic novel retelling from Sita's point of view.

Sita's Ramayana by Samhita Arni and Moyna Chitrakar (Tara Books, 2011)

Happy Philippine Children's Book Day!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I think they missed. . .

Friday, July 15, 2011
"Native American children's literature" and "Asian American children's literature" in Keywords for Children's Literature by Philip Nel and Lissa Paul (NYU Press, 2011).

Whoa, it exists.

One picture with two of my favorite things: children's books and K-pop!

[ETA: Seriously, allkpop is just as important to me as A Fuse #8 Production. And that's saying a lot.]

Author Interview: Laura Manivong

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Vonlai knows that soldiers who guard the Mekong River shoot at anything that moves, but in oppressive Communist Laos, there’s nothing left for him, his spirited sister, Dalah, and his desperate parents. Their only hope is a refugee camp in Thailand—on the other side of the river.

When they reach camp, their struggles are far from over. Na Pho is a forgotten place where life consists of squalid huts, stifling heat, and rationed food. Still, Vonlai tries to carry on as if everything is normal. He pays attention in school, a dusty barrack overcrowded with kids too hungry to learn. And he plays soccer in a field full of rocks to forget his empty stomach.

But when someone inside the camp threatens his family, Vonlai calls on a forbidden skill to protect their future, a future he’s sure is full of promise, if only they can make it out of Na Pho alive.

Hi, everyone! :o) Today's interview is with the beautiful Laura Manivong, author of Escaping the Tiger (HarperCollins, 2010), a treasure for middle graders who want to do some "armchair traveling" and their teachers and librarians who want to integrate literature into a social studies or history curriculum.

The cultural and historical details in Escaping the Tiger feel natural and authentic, and its 1980s setting in Laos and Thailand is never exoticized. At first I was wary of the novel's presentation of America and France as the places of freedom where Vonlai and his family can escape the Pathet Lao and Communist Laos. I am always wary of stories that might portray the West as the "savior" for people in the "exotic" East, and thankfully Laura Manivong does not do this. Escaping the Tiger is nuanced, realistic, and ultimately balanced: while the rule of the Pathet Lao was more often than not cruel, Vonlai was happy in Laos and misses his home; the Na Pho refugee camp in Thailand is simultaneously a microcosm of all that is bad and all that is good in this world; and (spoiler alert!) Vonlai and his family start a very heartening new life in America, but encounter racism there.

While Escaping the Tiger raises social consciousness; teaches empathy and gratitude; and stimulates discussion on the refugee experience, it also a darn good yarn. Most of the story is about Vonlai's years of waiting and waiting and doing almost nothing in Na Pho, but it is never boring, the story has great pace and tension and suspense are nicely built. Young readers will find this an exciting refugee story about hope and strength and HOME.

Welcome, Laura!

What kind of young reader were you? What were your favorite books? Who were your favorite authors?

A few notches below bookworm, if memory serves. I recall spending great amounts of time outdoors, running through the fields around my house more than I remember being holed up with a book. I grew up near an abandoned turn-of-the-century horse-racing track, which did wonders to feed my imagination. Friends and I would pack a sack lunch, leave after breakfast and not return home until dinner. And yes, this was before cell phones so I was kind of a feral child, what I consider an author-in-training. That horse-racing track, with its many barns, workers’ quarters, and even a hotel and mansion, is the setting for my first completed novel (which is currently in a drawer). As far as childhood books go, a few absolutely stand out, as do their authors. A WRINKLE IN TIME, the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Encyclopedia Brown series, THE HOBBIT, and as a teen, GONE WITH THE WIND, and THE GOOD EARTH.

Please describe your writing process (including schedules and rituals, if any).

Chaos. (Kids, job, loud dog, and laundry squelch the concept of schedules.)

Please describe your revising process (including any work with your critique partner or writing group and your editor).

Once all the plot elements are in place, and the most egregious kinks are worked out (thanks to the dedication of my critique partners who cut me no slack), a retreat from the manuscript is crucial for me. If I can hold off looking at it for at least a couple weeks, then I regain a smidgeon of objectivity. Printing out the novel and reading it in a different place from where I do most of my writing helps me see it with fresh eyes. I’ll find phrases that I remember laboring over, thinking they were perfect, when in fact the only purpose they served was to keep my “delete” button active.

Laura's office:

Who are your writing mentors?

Quite honestly, my critique partners. I just happen to live geographically in an area that seems to have something in the water as far as writers of children’s literature go. I critique with Elizabeth C. Bunce and Barbara Stuber, the former, a William C. Morris award winner and the latter, a nominee; Katie Speck, whose cockroach character MAYBELLE is not only lovable but teaches us people a thing or two about what it means to be human; Judy Hyde, a word wizard and moderator of our Kansas City based kidlit critique group that started in the 60s!; and Sarah J. Clark, a heckuva writer and kindred free spirit, traveling with me to Arizona to research my latest manuscript. These women offer their endless support and talent at a moment’s notice. I’d be lost without them.

You're an Emmy-winning TV writer and producer. Can you tell us a bit about your work in the TV industry? How does your background in TV influence your writing, and vice versa?

I write and produce commercials for a TV station in Kansas City. Not the big-time Coke and Nike gigs where I have a crew and a helicopter and a budget, but local advertisers, many of whom have never tried TV advertising before. But writing 30-second scripts has taught me to think in pictures and treasure every word…very handy skills indeed. Yes, a story CAN be told in half a minute.

Laura, I can see the effect on your writing! Your writing is one vivid scene playing out after another!

Escaping the Tiger was inspired by your husband Troy's stories and experiences. Can you please tell us how the novel reflects your husband's stories and experiences?

I initially started writing the book as non-fiction, based on several hardships my husband experienced: being an elementary age prisoner-of-war in the Communists’ re-education camps where he suffered with untreated malaria, escaping Laos across the Mekong River, being a child laborer in Thailand, never receiving any education past fifth grade (until he came to America) and waiting in a refugee camp to start life over. But I couldn’t seem to get the whole story down in a logical way, so I decided to write it as historical fiction. But I’d never been a refugee, never been to Laos, never been truly hungry or feared for my entire family’s safety. The book wouldn’t exist without my husband’s experiences and memories, the emotions he recalls seeing his mom’s face when she knew she didn’t have enough to feed her kids. A few of the scenes in the book can be considered true stories, and if you read about the turkey, you can assume I didn’t make that part up.

Refugee picture of Troy's family:

What do you want young readers to take away from Escaping the Tiger?

I hope they can relate to Vonlai’s struggles and apply them to their own lives. No matter which side of the planet you come from, we all share the ups and downs of the human experience.

Who are your favorite Asian children's book authors and illustrators?

Linda Sue Park’s writing makes me swoon, and A SINGLE SHARD is one of my all-time favorites. And Allen Say creates the most amazing paintings for his books. I’ve met them both and found them to be most gracious and approachable, even though I sort of accosted Linda at an event while she was digging through her purse.

Thank you, Laura!

Thank you for your beautiful novel, for sharing so much with us readers.

Out now! Out now!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. by Medeia Sharif (Flux, 2011)

No pizza. No boyfriend. (No life.)

Okay, so during Ramadan, we're not allowed to eat from sunrise to sunset. For one whole month. My family does this every year, even though I've been to a mosque exactly twice in my life. And it's true, I could stand to lose a few pounds. (Sadly, my mom's hotness skipped a generation.) But is starvation really an acceptable method? I think not.

Even worse, my oppressive parents forbid me to date. This is just cruel and wrong. Especially since Peter, a cute and crushable artist, might be my soul mate. Figures my bestest friend Lisa likes him, too. To top it off, there's a new Muslim girl in school who struts around in super-short skirts, commanding every boy's attention-including Peter's. How can I get him to notice me? And will I ever figure out how to be Muslim AND American?

I noticed that Flux books are available in the Philippines, so I can't wait to buy this! :o)

Head on over to. . .

Sunday, July 3, 2011
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, the best blog on picture book illustrations! Today's feature is on Filipino illustrator Monica Ramos. =D Go, go, go!


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dumpling Days written and illustrated by Grace Lin (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, January 2012)

Is it January yet???

Gah! It's taking forever.

Book Trailer: Sidekicks by Dan Santat

Call for Submissions!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The National Book Development Council of Singapore and Scholastic Asia are launching the 2012 Scholastic Asian Book Award (SABA). The award recognizes Asian writers and writers of Asian origin who are taking the experiences of life, spirit, and thinking in different parts of Asia to the world at large. SABA is awarded to an unpublished manuscript targeted at children ages 6 to 12.

The closing date for submissions for the 2012 SABA is Oct. 17, 2011, 5 p.m. Singapore time. For more information, please visit www.scholasticbookaward.asia.

You are invited. . . [Updated]

Monday, June 13, 2011

I am the guest speaker for the next Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - Philippines' Children's Lit Booktalk & Work-in-Progress Critique!

WHEN: 6 - 8 p.m., Monday, June 13 (Yes, later today.)
WHERE: Figaro, 3rd level, Greenbelt 3 Makati

Open to members of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - Philippines and to non-members (18 and above) who are:

* Published/unpublished children's book writers/illustrators
* Keenly interested in children's and young adult literature

BRING: Any children's or young adult book that you want to share, discuss, ask questions about, or use as a spring-board for discussion.

Or, bring a work in progress - your art or manuscript for a children's or young adult book - and get a group critique plus tips on how to get published.

FEE: Php 20 (for SCBWI members, no fee), plus a receipt to show that you ordered something - a cup of coffee, a cold drink, anything! - as a courtesy to the establishment that we’re using as a venue.

I really hope to see you all there! =D

Edited to add: Thank you SCBWI - Philippines! It was a lovely evening chatting about blogging and children's and young adult books. :o)

In My Mailbox / New Crayons: More From Singapore

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Every Sunday for the In My Mailbox meme, YA book bloggers share the books they bought, borrowed, or received over the past week. New Crayons is a similar meme that incorporates children's books and books for adults, and focuses on multicultural literature.

These are the other ASIAN books I bought and received while I was in Singapore a couple of weeks ago:

The Book That Was Handed Down written by Yixian Quek and illustrated by Grace Duan Ying (Straits Times Press, 2008)

Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah (Scholastic Paperbacks, reprint edition 2008)

Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah (Marion Lloyd Books, 2009)

Anya's War by Andrea Alban (Feiwel & Friends, 2011)

Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari (Macmillan Children's Books, 2011)

Indian Children's Favourite Stories written by Rosemarie Somaiah and illustrated by Ranjan Somaiah (Tuttle Publishing, 2006)

I also bought a bunch of Singaporean and Japanese teen magazines when I was in Singapore. Heeheehee.

What books did YOU buy, borrow, or receive over the past week? =D