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1. A Q&A with Peipei Qiu on Chinese comfort women

Issues concerning Imperial Japan’s wartime “comfort women” have ignited international debates in the past two decades, and a number of personal accounts of “comfort women” have been published in English since the 1990s. Until recently, however, there has been a notable lack of information about the women drafted from Mainland China. Chinese Comfort Women is the first book in English to record the first-hand experiences of twelve Chinese women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese Imperial forces during the Asia-Pacific War (1931-1945). Here, author and translator Peipei Qiu (who wrote the book in collaboration with Su Zhiliang and Chen Lifei), answers some questions about her new book.

What is one of the most surprising facts about “comfort women” that you found during your research?

One of the shocking facts revealed in this book is that the scope of military sexual slavery in the war was much larger than previously known. Korean and Japanese researchers, based on the information available to them, had estimated that the Japanese military had detained between 30,000 and 200,000 women to be sex slaves during the war.  These early estimations, however, don’t accurately reflect the large number of Chinese women enslaved. Investigations conducted by Chinese researchers suggest a much higher number. My collaborating researcher Su Zhiliang, for example, estimates that between 1931 and 1945 approximately 400,000 women were forced to become military “comfort women,” and that at least half of them were drafted from Mainland China.

Although it is not possible to obtain accurate statistics on the total number of kidnappings, documented cases suggest shockingly large numbers. For instance, around the time of the Nanjing Massacre, the Japanese army abducted tens of thousands of women from Nanjing and the surrounding areas, including over 2,000 women from Suzhou, 3,000 from Wuxi, and 20,000 from Hangzhou. These blatant kidnappings continued throughout the entire war, the youngest abductee’s being only nine years old.

Chinese and Malayan girls forcibly taken from Penang by the Japanese to work as 'comfort girls' for the troops. The Allied Reoccupation of the Andaman Islands, 1945. Lemon A E (Sergeant), No 9 Army Film & Photographic Unit. War Office, Central Office of Information and American Second World War Official Collection. Imperial War Museums. IWM Non Commercial Licence.

Chinese and Malayan girls forcibly taken from Penang by the Japanese to work as ‘comfort girls’ for the troops. The Allied Reoccupation of the Andaman Islands, 1945. Lemon A E (Sergeant), No 9 Army Film & Photographic Unit. War Office, Central Office of Information and American Second World War Official Collection. IWM Non Commercial Licence. Imperial War Museums.

What impressed you most deeply when you heard the stories of these women?

What struck me most deeply were the “comfort women’s” horrendous sufferings. I felt strongly that their stories must be told to the world. Many of the women were teenagers when the Japanese Imperial Forces kidnapped them. They were given the minimum amount of food necessary to keep them alive and were subjected to multiple rapes each day. Those who resisted were beaten or killed, and those who attempted to escape would be punished with anything from torture to decapitation, and the punishment often included not only the woman but also her family members.

The brutal torture was not only physical. These women confined in the so-called “comfort stations” lived in constant fear and agony, not knowing how long they would have to endure and what would happen to them the following day, worrying what their families went through trying to save them, and witnessing other women being tortured and killed. During research and writing I often could not hold back tears, and their stories always remain heavily and vividly in my mind.

I was also deeply impressed by their resilience and faith in humanity. These women were brutally tortured and exploited by the Japanese imperial forces during the war, and when the war ended, members of their own patriarchal society discarded them as defiled and useless. Many of them were ignored, treated as collaborators with the enemy, or even persecuted. Yet what the survivors remember and recount is not only suffering and anger but also acts of humanity – no matter how little they themselves have witnessed. Wan Aihua, though gang-raped multiple times and nearly beaten to death by Japanese troops, never forgot an army interpreter who saved her from a Japanese officer’s sword. She told us, “I didn’t know if the interpreter was Japanese, but I believe there were kind people in the Japanese troops, just as there are today, when many Japanese people support our fight for justice.”

What motivated you to write this book? 

In part, I was shocked by the lack of information available. In this day and age, it feels like every fact or story to be known is easily at our fingertips. However, in this instance, it was not the case. Even after the rise of the “comfort women” redress movement, most of the focus was on the “comfort women” of Japan and its colonies, and little was known about Chinese “comfort women” outside of China. This created a serious issue in understanding the history of the Asia-Pacific war and to the study of the entire “comfort women” issue.  Without a thorough understanding of Chinese “comfort women’s” experiences, an accurate explication of the scope and nature of that system cannot be achieved.

In the past two decades, how to understand what happened to “comfort women” has become an international controversy. Some Japanese politicians and activists insist that “comfort women” were prostitutes making money at frontlines, that there was not evidence of direct involvements of Japanese military and government. And they say telling the stories of “comfort women” disgraces the Japanese people.

One of the main purposes for me to write about Chinese “comfort women” is to help achieve a transnational understanding of their sufferings.  To understand what happened to the “comfort women,” we must transcend the boundaries of nation-state. I hope to demonstrate that fundamentally confronting the tragedy of “comfort women” is not about politics, nor is it about national interests; it is about human life. Dismissing individual sufferings in the name of national honor is not only wrong but also dangerous, it is a ploy that nation-states have used, and continue to use, to drag people into war, to deprive them of their basic rights, and to abuse them.

Peipei Qiu is the author and translator of Chinese Comfort Women: Testimonies from Imperial Japan’s Sex Slaves, which she wrote in collaboration with Su Zhiliang and Chen Lifei. She is currently professor of Chinese and Japanese on the Louise Boyd Dale and Alfred Lichtenstein Chair and director of the Asian Studies Program at Vassar College.

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2. The One Thing That Could Save DreamWorks Animation: China

At least one DreamWorks animated film has lost money for the past three years in a row: "Rise of the Guardians" in 2012 had an $87 million writedown; "Turbo" in 2013 resulted in a $13.5 million writedown; and this year's "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" caused a $57 million writedown. This is rather obviously not a sustainable trend from a business standpoint, and investors are beginning to worry about the studio's long-term prospects.

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3. Development theories and economic miracles

By Vladimir Popov


Development thinking in the second half of the twentieth century can hardly be credited for “manufacturing” development success stories. It is difficult, if not impossible, to claim that either the early structuralist models of the Big Push (financing gap and basic needs of the 1950-70s), or neoliberal ideas of Washington consensus (that dominated the field since the 1980s), have provided crucial inputs to economic miracles in East Asia or elsewhere. On the contrary, it appears that development ideas, either misinterpreted or not, contributed to a number of development failures. The USSR and Latin America of the 1960s-80s demonstrated the inadequacy of import-substitutions model. Later every region of developing world that became the experimental ground for Washington consensus type theories, from Latin America to Sub-Sahara Africa to former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, revealed the flaws of neoliberal doctrine by experiencing a slowdown, a recession or even a severe depression in the 1980s-90s.

Neither development theories nor policies of multilateral institutions can be held responsible for engineering development successes. Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, South East Asia, and China achieved high growth rates without much advise and credits from International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Economic miracles were manufactured in East Asia without much reliance on development thinking and theoretical background — just by experimentation of the strong hand politicians. The 1993 World Development Report “East Asian Miracle” admitted that non-selective industrial policy aimed at providing better business environment (education, infrastructure, coordination, etc.) can promote growth, but the issue is still controversial. Structuralists claim that industrial policy in East Asia was much more than creating better business environment, whereas neoliberals believe that liberalization and deregulation should be largely credited for the success.

It is said that failure is always an orphan, whereas success has many parents. No wonder, both neoclassical and structuralist economists claimed that East Asian success stories prove what they were saying all along, but it is obvious that both schools of thought cannot be right at the same time. There is a lack of understanding why government intervention sometimes results in spectacular failures and what particular kind of government intervention is needed for manufacturing fast growth (2000 – onwards).

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Why did a gap emerge between development thinking and development practice? Why were development successes engineered without development theories? Why did development theoreticians fail to learn from real successes and failures in the global South? It appears that development thinking in the postwar period went through a full evolutionary cycle — from dirigiste theories of Big Push, to neoliberal deregulation wisdom of “Washington consensus” (1980-90s), to the understanding that catch up development does not happen by itself in a free market environment.

The confusion in development thinking of the past decade may be a starting point for the formation of new paradigm. Without mobilization of domestic savings and industrial policies there may be no successful catch up development. National development strategies for countries at a lower level of development should not copy economic policies used by developed countries; in fact, it was shown more than once that Western countries themselves did not use liberal policies that they are advocating today for less developed countries when they were at similar stages of development.

Most development economists share the general principle that good policies are context dependent and there is no universal set of policy prescriptions for all countries at all stages of development. But when it comes to particular policies, there is no consensus. The future of development economics may be a theory, explaining why at particular stages of development (depending on per capita GDP, institutional capacity, human capital, resource abundance, etc.) one set of policies (tariff protectionism, accumulation of reserves, control over capital flows, nationalization of resource enterprises, etc.) is superior to another. The art of the policymakers then is to switch the gears at the appropriate time not to get into the development trap. The art of the development theoretician is to fill the cells of “periodic table of economic policies” at different stages of development.

The emerging theory of stages of development would hopefully put the pieces of our knowledge together and will reveal the interaction and subordination of growth ingredients. A successful export-oriented growth model à la East Asian tigers seems to include, but is not limited to:

  • Building strong state institutions capable of delivering public goods (law and order, education, infrastructure, health care) needed for development
  • Mobilization of domestic savings for increased investment
  • Gradual market type reforms
  • Export-oriented industrial policy, including such tools as tariff protectionism and subsidies
  • Appropriate macroeconomic policy – not only in traditional sense (prudent, but not excessively restrictive fiscal and monetary policy), but also exchange rate policy (undervaluation of the exchange rate via rapid accumulation of foreign exchange reserves).


If this interpretation of development experience is correct, the next large regions of successful catch up development would be MENA Islamic countries and South Asia – these regions seem to be most prepared to accept the Chinese model. Eventually Latin America, Sub-Sahara Africa and Russia would be catching up as well. If so, it would become obvious in the process of successful catch up development that the previous policies that the West recommended and prescribed to the South (deregulation, downsizing the state, privatization, free trade and capital movements) were in fact  hindering rather than promoting their development.

Vladimir Popov is an adviser in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations and professor emeritus at the New Economic School in Moscow. He is the author and editor of 12 books and numerous articles that have been published in the Journal of Comparative Economics, Comparative Economic Studies, World Development, Post-Communist Economies, New Left Review, and other academic journals, as well as many essays in the media. His most recent book is Mixed Fortunes: An Economic History of China, Russia, and the West.

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Image credit: “Money coins currency metal old historically pay” by Weinstock. Public domain via pixabay.

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4. April Magic of Words, Books, Kids and Dogs

 

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Therapy reading dogs are helping millions of kids to loose their fear of reading and opening the door to a world of imagination and learning

We believe that dogs can also teach kids about unconditional love...

Kids can learn about courage and loyalty from dogs. 

Dogs have healing qualities that reach people of all ages.

These incredible abilities of dogs are the foundation for the Planet Of The Dogs Series 

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Aesop and the magic of words...

AesopTheAntandtheGrasshopperThe magic of words for children has been part of children's lives since Aesop, over 2,500 years ago. 

"Ever  since there were children, there has been children's literature. Long before John Newbury established a first press devoted to children's books, stories were told and written for the young, and books originally offered to mature readers were carefully recast or excerpted for the young, and books originally offered to mature readers were carefully recast or excerpted for youthful audiences. Greek and Roman educational traditions grounded themselves in reading and reciting poetry and drama. Aesop's fables lived for two millennia on classroom and family shelves..." -excerpted from Seth Lerer's book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter.

600 Fables and the Creative Tradition

CoverTranslationLauraGibbsLaura Gibbs, author, blogger and scholar, has translated 600 of Aesop's Fables into English.  The first translation from ancient Greek to English was published by Caxton in 1484. This excerpt is from Gibbs' blog... 

" As folklore, Aesop’s fables are always shifting and changing in their various retellings, and the images used to illustrate the fables, just as much as the words, are part of that creative tradition. The images are not simply extras added on to the story. Instead, these images can contribute their own distinctive elements to that endless mix-and-match process by which new versions of the fables are created — a process which has kept the Aesop’s fable tradition going strong for three thousands years, and counting."

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It seems remarkable to me that probably everyone visiting this blog has read or heard, at some time in their life, Aesops fables.

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Refresh Your Fable Memory....

The website, Aesopica, offers Laura Gibbs' translations of 600 of Aesop's Fables in English...plus Aesop in Latin and Greek. Aesop lives on. 

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AesopsLionMouse

"No act of kindnessss, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” 

―from the Lion and the Mouse, Aesop
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Aesop and ASAP...a pun/smile posted by Pigeon Weather Productions

"This reminds me of a short-lived series I did some time ago called ASAP’s Fables: A dog was wandering in the woods when he came across a bear. The dog said to himself, I’d better get out of here ASAP!"

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Paws For People

Paws for people is dedicated to helping people in need. These excerpts from their website can only outline the wonderful work they do. 

"PAWS for People is a nonprofit 501(c)3 pet therapy organization that recruits, trains, certifies, and places therapy teams in over 150 sites in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey... 

Whether it be helping a child with autism learn new social skills, aiding an injured youngster with PawsForPeopleOlderLadyphysical therapy, comforting a hospice patient, distracting a child during chemotherapy treatment, assisting a struggling reader, or being a familiar reminder to an Alzheimer’s patient, a visit from a PAWS’ therapy team makes a difference."

The therapy team in this photo is one of over 350...Paws for People was founded in 2005 by Lynne Robinson after 23 years as a public school teacher.

 To see a first hand video example of this program at work, let Jen Delgado, librarian at Mote Elementary school in Wilmington, DE, show you the Paws for People Program bringing the joy of reading to fourth and fifth graders. Here is the link: Paws for Reading

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             AdspringreadsPOD2012

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Frozen3The Treasure Trove Continues

Big Box Office Bucks are expected in May from new movies with versions inspired by classic children's literature. and sucessful YA books. Meanwhile, the movie versions of Divergent, Mr Peabody and Frozen -- the reimagined version of Hans Chrisitian Anderson's The Snow Queen --  continue their International popularity.

Combined, they have grossed over one and a half billion dollars.

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Coming in May...

 

LegendsOzLionTinScarecrow

OZ revisited on May 9

Sony is releasing an animated version of a return to OZ entitled:

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return.

The film is based on the book Dorothy of Oz by Roger Stanton Baum, great grandson of L. Frank Baum, the author of the original Wonderful Wizard of Oz book.

Here'link to the trailer: Dorothy's Return  

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SleepingBeautyPrince

 Darkness in the Magic Kingdom

SleepingBeauty2014MaleificentMaleficent opens May 30...This version of Sleeping Beauty is unlike the sweetness and light Disney movies that prevailed for many years...there is a darkside in this film from the Magic Kingdom...not unlike the darkside that prevailed in the earliest versions of the story.

Before the Brothers Grimm rewrote the tale as written in the 17th century by Basile and Perrault, it included the story of the Prince's cannibalistic mother and her suicide leap into a vat filled with reptiles and snakes. I doubt if Disney will go that far, but the trailer is dark, forboding, and has very engaging graphics...more wonders of computer graphics.

If you follow this link to the trailer, you will see for yourself: Maleficent.

The illustration above of Sleeping Beauty and her Prince is by Henry Meynell Rheam.

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No Magic Words for this Snow White

Angelin Preljocaj has created a modern dance-ballet based on the fairy tale of Snow White. Here are excerpts from Gia Kourlas' review, Trying to Outrun Age, in Spiky Heels, in the New York Times...

"A staggering lassitude defines this production of nearly two hours, presented by the Joyce Snow-WhitePreljocajTheater Foundation. Created in 2008, “Snow White” features a Prince (Sergio Diaz), but Mr. Preljocaj’s (pronounced prel-zho-KAHJ) sinister tale has less to do with true love than jealousy, or what the French choreographer has termed the Snow White complex: women who refuse to look their age...

 

Snow White, it turns out, is not as pure as the driven snow, as a seduction scene with the Prince proves. (In case you’re confused, she knew him long before taking a bite of the poisonous apple.) Her stepmother, the Queen (Anna Tatarova), appears as a dominatrix in thigh highs and spiky heels; it’s the Halloween parade, not couture..."

This link will take you to a ten minute excerpt of the dance wherein the prince awakens Snow White from her sleep: Snow White

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 The Planet Of The Dogs series is going to China 

                Chinese cover POD series-Mod

 

 The revised publicatrion schedule by the Beijing Chongxianguan Book Company for the Chinese versions of The Planet Of The Dogs Series is for the latter part of May. The illustrations have been redone for the Chinese market. Our thanks to Deanna Leah of HBG who represents the foreign rights for our books. She introduced our books to, and contracted with, our Chinese publishers. 

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The Magic of Words...Phillip Pullman

ParadiseLostPullmanI adored Superman,” Pullman tells us, and, as a boy, he was “intoxicated,” “enthralled” and “dizzy with passion” while reading his graphic adventures. Then came Batman and the beginning of  the storytelling instinct. The young Pullman did not want to be Batman, but, rather, write about him. Years later, he read Milton and became aware, like other synesthetes, that words had “weight and colour and taste and shape as well as meaning.” That was when he began to play with words, like “a little child putting coloured marbles into patterns. - Maria Tatar, reviewing Pullman's Twice Told Tales in the New Yorker

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 Circling The Waggins... 

Here is the Amazon review (unedited) by Bob Tarte, author of the delightful "Kitty Cornered," "Enslaved by Ducks," and "Fowl Weather"...Read more reviews and a synopsis...Here is the link: Circling The Waggins

"There's a lot more to living with dogs than wet noses and going walkies. Cayr Ariel Wulff CtWentertainingly chronicles the rocky flip side of pet care in "Circling the Waggins," a heroic tale of triumph over turmoil and exhaustion. Wulff and her companion Dalene take in the misfits that have defeated lesser souls, including genius behemoth Waldo - a 75-pound golden/boxer mix with equal parts brains and brawn - an exuberant but mentally challenged Shih-tzu/Chihuahua named Rocket Boy, plus three more dogs, aging cats, and way too many accidentally acquired pet mice. Despite the challenges presented by this demanding and eccentric crew, Wulff's chronicles may still send you to the animal shelter to do a bit of rescue on your own. You'll want to reap the rewards of love and joy which "Waggins" so beautifully describes.

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PAL...People and Their Dogs Helping Others

PalVolunteers

A PAL Reprise

We first learned of PAL (Washington,DC)and the wonderful work PALThatLittleRascalthey do, through Ginny Rawls a Young Adult Librarian, in Alexandria, VA. This excerpt from the PAL website describes their work..."Compassionate and friendly pet owners visit with their dogs, bringing joy to people in mental institutions, assisted living, nursing homes and homeless shelters.  Libraries and schools are always eager to help children gain a love of reading, to introduce young readers to learning with creative methods. The Pet volunteers visit libraries and schools for a variety of reading with dog programs..."

 Here is an excerpt from the information sent by Librarian Ginny Rawls...

"In our central library we have the Paws to Read program for kids in grades 1-6. Currently, we have 4-5 dog volunteers who come twice a month with their humans to listen to the kids read.
GinnyRTigerCubTroopThe children are excited, happy, and love reading to dogs.

Sometimes, they want to expose the dog to their favorite stories or have asked if it's ok to read to them about cats and tigers. I tell them that it's a good idea for dogs to know as much about cats as possible. Sometimes, they do read about dogs, though. I display several dog books in our storyroom during the program and each dog has a bookmark with a photo and information about the dog breed, favorite foods, activities, and the dog's favorite book..."
The photo of the Cub Scounts and the  therapy reading  dogs was taken by PAL volunteer, Tracy Baetz

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CITM-Prince Ukko-blog sizeCastle In The Mist -- Volume 2 in the Planet Of The Dogs Series

It was a cold, dark night when the howling dogs awakened Prince Ukko from his sleep.  It was a sound he had never heard before, and caused a cold feeling of fear to move through his body.  After a few minutes, the howling stopped, but now Prince Ukko was unable to sleep... 

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Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore or via Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's... 

Librarians, teachers, bookstores...Order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount. 

Therapy reading dog owners, librarians, teachers and organizations with therapy reading dog programs -- you can write us at planetofthedogs@gmail.com and we will send you free reader copies from the Planet of the Dogs Series...Read Dog Books to Dogs....Ask any therapy reading dog: "Do you like it when the kids read dog books to you?"

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"The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over." - Aesop

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We received this important notice from Elizabeth Bird of the NYPL's  excellent Children's Literary Salon announcing  their next free event on Saturday, May 3rd, at 2:00 p.m.

PhantomTollbooth_BeyondExpectations_Still_-4
 
The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations
 
Join us for a screening of the stellar documentary The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations, presented by editor and director Hannah Jayanti. Through interviews, animation and archival materials, the documentary traces the friendship between author Norton Juster and Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Jules Feiffer, and the wit and wisdom of the novel over half a century.  The documentary runs at 56 minutes.  There will be a Q&A with Ms. Jayanti after the showing.
This event will be held in the South Court Auditorium in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (the main branch of NYPL on 42nd Street & 5th Avenue).  
 
PLEASE NOTE: ATTENDANCE IS ON A FIRST COME FIRST SERVED BASIS. WE CAN ONLY ACCOMMODATE 175 ATTENDEES FOR THIS EVENT. WE ARE NOT TAKING RSVPS. PLEASE COME ON TIME IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SECURE A SEAT... If you have any further questions do not hesitate to contact me at elizabethbird@bookops.org.
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PawsitivelyPetsFINAL

 Ann Staub at Pawsitively Pets...

This photo by Ann of her dog dog, Shiner, accompanied by her warm review (and Giveaway) of
PawsitivelyPetsShinertheDogreadingPODPlanet Of The Dogs
, truly brightened my day. Shiner is reading Planet Of The Dogs, and Ann reports that, "After reading through the book a little, Shiner informed me that she'd most like to visit Biscuit Town on the Planet of the Dogs...

Planet Of The Dogs is a fictional story perfect for young readers and adults alike...The main characters in the story are two children - Daisy and Bean. They even get to travel to the Planet of the Dogs themselves. I personally think it would be awesome if such a world did exist. I'd love to visit some of the places in the book. There's Shepherd Hill, Poodletown, Retriever Meadows, Muttville, Hound Dog Hamlet, and Shaggy Corners...

Simply put, there is a lot that us humans can learn from our furry canine companions. This book is great at showing just how compassionate dogs really are."

Ann Staub, after working five years as a veterinary technician, retired to be a full time mom (two daughters), dog and pet owner, and blogger. 

 

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MotherlodeNYT EbookandBooks

E Book Comprehension Study

This excerpt is from Annie Murphy Paul's Motherlode article, 

Students Reading E-Books Are Losing Out, Study Suggests

"While young readers find these digital products very appealing, their multitude of features may diffuse children’s attention, interfering with their comprehension of the text, Ms. Smith and the Schugars found. It seems that the very “richness” of the multimedia environment that e-books provide — heralded as their advantage over printed books — may overwhelm children’s limited working memory, leading them to lose the thread of the narrative or to process the meaning of the story less deeply... 

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BookstoreExterior

More on Books and Ebooks ...excerpted from Bookkends in The New York Times, in a Q and A with author Moshin Hamid...How Do E-Books Change the Reading Experience?

..."I crave technology, connectivityBut I crave solitude too. As we enter the cyborg era, as we begin the physical shift to human-machine hybrid, there will be those who embrace this epochal change, happily swapping cranial space for built-in processors. There will be others who reject the new ways entirely,...

In a world of intrusive technology, we must engage in a kind of struggle if we wish to sustain moments of solitude. E-reading opens the door to distraction. It invites connectivity and clicking and purchasing. The closed network of a printed book, on the other hand, seems to offer greater serenity. It harks back to a pre-jacked-in age. Cloth, paper, ink: For these read helmet, cuirass, shield. They afford a degree of protection and make possible a less intermediated, less fractured experience. They guard our aloneness. That is why I love them, and why I read printed books still."

Mohsin Hamid is the author of three novels: “Moth Smoke,” a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award; “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” a New York Times best seller that was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and adapted for film; and, most recently, “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia.”

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CAYR ARIEL WULFF HAS DONE IT AGAIN!

 

An unedited Amazon review by Krysta Kaos 

 

Arielchange world3edHow to Change the World in 30 Seconds

 

"I was so excited to hear that this book was being written. After purchasing it I sat down & read the whole thing the same night. This book is a great read for anyone who is into animal rescue or anyone who is just an animal lover who feels like there is nothing they can do. VERY informative & VERY well written. I will be keeping this book close by to refer back to for the amazing resources. One person CAN make a difference!"

 

 

 

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JumpyAmazingDog

 

A Video Visit withJumpy the Amazing dog...off the charts!!

 

 

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WCDogsLogo

More helpful information from Nebraska...

How To Housebreak Your Dog Without Breaking Your Home

Though it may not seem like it sometimes, especially when they are a puppy, dogs have a natural instinct to keep their living space clean — especially in close headquarters. Learning how to housebreak your dog with some help from you, through patient and gradual housebreaking, will help your dog learn happily how to do their business outside. This will not only improve the health and happiness of your dog, but also preserving the cleanliness of your home. The housebreaking process can be a messy business—expect several accidents to happen before your puppy or dog gets it—but it doesn’t have to destroy your home or your relationship with your dog....Here is the link to read it all: Housebreak

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SunbearSqBigLogo

"We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace."  

—Albert Schweitzer, "The Philosophy of Civilization" - 

I found this quote on Sunbear Squad where guidlines, free wallet cards, and "how to" save a dog in distress information are available at no cost for all good people.

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 "MY father was a St Bernard, my mother was a Collie, but I am a Presbyterian. This is what my mother told me. I do not know these nice distinctions myself." -- Mark Twain (1835-1910)

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5. Animated Fragments #26

Animated Fragments is our semi-regular feature of animation tests, experiments, micro-shorts, and other bits of cartoon flotsam that doesn't fit into other categories. To view the previous 25 installments, go to the Fragments archive.

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6. Going Global



I received some great news from my publisher that all of my books are going to be available for sale in China and other Asian markets.  Guardian Angel Publishing has finished negotiating with an agent to distribute English language books.  This is coupled with a mandate in China that all school children should learn English.  So I’m really excited that my books will be open to such a huge market.  Also in the works is distribution to India and other emerging markets where my books are not available.  I’ll keep you posted on any further developments.  But I couldn’t wait to spread the word.  How cool is that?

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7. My First Book of Chinese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book | Book Review

This unique and charming alphabet book uses rhymes and fact snippets to introduce Chinese words to a pre-schooler. The words are written in Pinyin, a sound system using Roman letters to write Chinese sounds. Words introduced are significant in Chinese culture, but relatable in any culture.

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8. Peter the Brazen

I’m finally done with Peter the Brazen, and I feel I can say definitively now that it is the worst. The worst. I hardly know what else to say about it, or how to catalog its various failings.

I thought I was going to enjoy this book. Peter Moore is a wireless operator, and he’s the best wireless operator. He can hear things no one else can hear, and other wireless operator recognize…I don’t know, the inflections of his Morse code, or something. And he doesn’t have a lean, sardonic countenance, but he does have a tendency to smile inappropriately, which practically amounts to the same thing. So, all of that boded well. And I was prepared for some racism, because this is the kind of book where the existence of actual Asian people is completely irrelevant to the glamour of Asia. But in general I thought that this book wouldn’t be very good, but that I would enjoy it.

I was wrong. I was so, so wrong.

We can start with the racism, which is of the “protagonist who supposedly knows China like the back of his hand can’t tell the difference between people from Asian countries” variety. There was a Eurasian girl who wasn’t evil, and maybe one or two Chinese people who were well-meaning but ultimately unhelpful, but as a whole, George F. Worts paints the entire population of a continent as pretty much worthless. Not that he has a very high opinion of humanity in general — I saw here the same kind of cynicism that made me uncomfortable in Girl Alone. He also gets in some jabs at Dutch people – no discernible traits besides being boring and liking to eat — and Mexicans — the “fiery gladness” of knocking a “greaser” into the ocean. There’s not anything in particular I can pick out to take issue with, just grindingly awful racial determinism throughout.

As bad as the racism and xenophobia were, the misogyny was worse. Peter Moore is apparently irresistible to women, but I’m not sure why. I mean, if two women have similar coloring he can’t tell the difference between them (even if he’s in love with one of them), and if they’re “exotic” he makes up stories about them for his own amusement, and if a woman tells him her husband beats her, he doesn’t believe it until he sees the bruises and then asks her why, as if she must have done something to deserve it. Which I guess makes sense, since he mostly views women as men’s possessions anyway.

Worts credits him with  “quaint, mid-Victorian views regarding woman,” and if mid-Victorian views regarding women consist of distrusting them and treating them as objects then, yeah, he does, but I don’t know why we’re supposed to like him for it.  I kept thinking of a quote from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: “I’m told the women literally bow down before him, if that’s what women do.” Women do literally bow down before Peter Moore in this book, but no, that’s not what women do.

Then there’s the writing, which is terrible on two levels. At the sentence level, it’s hideously flowery. People who refer to guns as “blue steel” already have a mark against them in my book, but that’s just the beginning of Worts’ excessive reliance on colors for description. I think my favorite bit was the number of synonyms for “red” he used in describing a cinnabar mining city. Here is a bit of it: “And instantly he was obsessed with the flaming color of that man’s unappeased passion. Red—red! The hovels were spattered with the red clay. The man, the skinny, wretched creature who begged for a moment of his gracious mercy at the gate, dripped in ruby filth. The mule sank and wallowed in vermilion mire.”

There are a lot of bits like that.

My favorite sentence, though, was one of the less flowery ones: “And Peter was all alone, although his aloneness was modified to a certain extent by the corpse at his feet. “

The language is hilariously terrible, but everything else is just terrible. I don’t know what to call the other level on which the writing is terrible. Plot? Character development? Basic logic? It’s probably all of the above. The way people act just doesn’t make sense. The omniscient third person narration says things that exist in an alternate reality where it does make sense. Peter spends a lot of the climactic action scenes unconscious, although I guess that’s for the best.

And nothing is ever resolved or explained. Like, Peter spends the entire book trying to figure out why the guy who rules the city of Len Yang keeps kidnapping beautiful young women to work in his mines. And I would still kind of like to know why, but I suspect that there isn’t actually a reason. If there is one, Worts certainly doesn’t let us in on it.

There were moments, even halfway through the book, when I though the whole thing might genuinely be a joke, it made so little sense. It’s not just the usual thing where an author ascribes to a protagonist all sorts of qualities that they don’t actually seem to have. It’s a more far-reaching version of that, where you can tell the author is ascribing to the narrative all sorts of things that aren’t there. I mean, it’s also got the thing where the protagonist is supposed to be super competent but in practice is terrible at everything, but that’s sort of commonplace compared to the whole story’s weird, disjointed, “does George F. Worts understand how events are supposed to follow each other” quality.

So, uh, yeah. This book is objectively terrible. It’s also subjectively terrible. Don’t read it. The bits that are terrible in a funny way aren’t worth it.


Tagged: 1910s, adventure, china, georgefworts, stupid

9 Comments on Peter the Brazen, last added: 4/11/2014
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9. In Honor of Family


Photograph by David Schlatter

My first book, At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui, describes a woman and her elaborate tomb─the memorial created by a grieving family. Writing this book was not only a fascinating intellectual endeavor for me, but also a personal journey of connection to my extended family and our ancestors.

After growing up in China, my parents immigrated to America in 1946. My brothers and I were born in the Northeast, and then we moved to the Midwest when I was three years old. So I grew up far from the land of my heritage. 

But every summer we drove from Kansas City to Toronto for reunions with our extended family. (My father's parents and siblings had also immigrated to the USA or to Canada.) There I was aware of belonging to a large family, a long history, and a complex culture beyond my everyday life. I was surrounded by my grandparents, uncles, and aunts chatting in Cantonese while I played with my cousins. I was introduced to dimsum—small plates of juicy dumplings, steamed buns, and other mouthwatering treats—plucked from carts rolling between a restaurant's giant round tables. I remember my grandfather giving me candy from a secret cache high on his closet shelf, but I also sensed that the entire family treated him as the most honored member.

When I was a mother with two young children, my own mother died. My parents always being there had been my secure foundation, but that shifted with her death, leaving a hole of grief and vulnerability in my life.

In November 1999, I traveled with my father to Taiwan and China. Serendipitously I stumbled upon a special exhibit of Han dynasty artifacts at the National Palace Museum in Taipei. This was the first time I had ever heard of the three tombs of Mawangdui, but I was immediately hooked on learning more about them. Who were the mother, father, and son buried in the tombs? Why would their family bury them with so many treasures, including personal items like the mother's cosmetics case, the father's signature seals, and the son's zither? 

The next week, we journeyed to the southern Chinese village where my father's family has lived since the late 1500's. Along with two dozen relatives living in or near the village, we visited the cemetery where four generations of our ancestors are buried. In front of their niches, we lit candles and incense, offered food and drink, and burned mock money and paper clothes—modern versions of rituals performed for thousands of years. I was struck by the realization of being connected to these people whom I'd never met, yet were literally part of me.

After lighting candles and incense, we set out food and drink in front of our ancestor's niches.


Three years later in June 2002, my father took me, my brothers, and our families to visit his homeland. We entered the Forbidden City, inspected the First Emperor's terracotta troops, sailed down the Yangzi River, and saw where my parents had lived and been schooled.  

I took a side trip to Changsha to see the Mawangdui tomb site and the many artifacts in the Hunan Provincial Museum. By then, I had studied enough about Mawangdui to be completely agog at seeing the silk-draped body of Lady Dai and the cavernous tomb of her son.

The following day twenty-one of us from America and ten of us from China met at the same cemetery I had visited before. My daughters, nieces, and nephews participated for their first time in the traditional rituals of lighting candles and incense, offering food and drink, and burning mock money and paper clothes. I marveled at the continuity of life that bound us together across centuries and continents: four generations of living descendants paying our respects to four generations of ancestors. As I watched the smoke from the burning paper rise into the sky, I saw an image in my mind of an endless queue of our ancestors winding across the cemetery.

It is believed that burning mock money and other paper goods sends them to the ancestors. 

 
Through seeing artifacts from the Mawangdui tombs and performing rituals at my ancestors' graves, I could imagine the family of Lady Dai expressing their love and respect in creating an elaborate tomb for her. I could identify with her family through my experiences of missing my own mother and of honoring my ancestors. And through learning about Lady Dai and her world, I understand more of the history and meaning behind the rituals my family performs to commemorate our loved ones.

*****

Posted by Christine Liu-Perkins, author of At Home in Her Tomb, which releases on April 8, 2014. Find out more about her at www.christineliuperkins.com.

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10. First Look at $2.4 Billion Oriental DreamWorks Complex in Shanghai

Last week DreamWorks revealed the first renderings of the Dream Center, a 40-acre, $2.4 billion development in Shanghai, China. Scheduled to open in 2017 (or early-2018), the site will house the Oriental DreamWorks production studio, which is currently working on "Kung Fu Panda 3," as well as the world's largest IMAX screen, eight outdoor plazas, hotels, restaurants, theaters, galleries, and tourist attractions.

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11. ‘This is Not a Time to Lie’ by Lei Lei

A hallucinatory short that follows a doe-eyed protagonist on a quest through an imagined world, and was created using vintage book covers, a motif that director Lei Lei inherited from his graphic-designer father. “No plots, storyboards, or scripts were involved,” says the director.

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12. Beyond the Moongate: True Stories of 1920s China, by Elizabeth Quan | Book Review

Quan’s watercolor paintings bring each anecdote to life in brilliant jewel tones and with quirky humor. This is a beautiful book for families to share and for individual readers to revisit.

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13. “Stammer” by Shen Jie

A man plus an ice cream cone is not the recipe for tension-filled drama unless the film is Stammer. This playful experimental piece by Chinese animator Shen Jie (b. 1989) reveals its story through a single repeating action that builds incrementally. The sound design adds the right touch of humor to complete the idea.

(h/t, Caleb Wood)

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14. DreamWorks Animation’s Chinese Arm Announces Live-Action Movie Franchise

DreamWorks Animation is moving into live-action. At a Beijing news conference last week, Jeffrey Katzenberg announced a co-production agreement between Oriental DreamWorks and the Chinese state-owned China Film Group Corp. The deal will result in a movie franchise based on the bestselling Chinese book series Tibet Code.

Katzenberg said that the film will become “China’s Indiana Jones,” while China Film Group chairman Han Sanping proclaimed that the film’s “characters represent traditional Chinese culture and Chinese morality.”

The Wall Street Journal offers the most in-depth piece I’ve read about the new Tibet Code deal. In the same article, they report that Oriental DreamWorks is taking the lead on the production of Kung Fu Panda 3.

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15. Lots of Noise, But No One in the Room

“There is a great deal of noise on the stairs but nobody comes into the room.”
– John F. Kennedy

President Kennedy was referencing a Chinese proverb when he said that, making the point that it was easy to talk about problems, but much more difficult to fix them.

Kyle Zimmer, First Book’s president and CEO, is in China herself this week, addressing the World Economic Forum’s ‘Annual Meeting of the New Champions’ in Tianjin, the foremost gathering of business and nonprofit leaders in Asia. She’s there to talk about subjects near and dear to our hearts – social entrepreneurship and social impact investing.

How First Book is making a differenceSocial entrepreneurship is a new way of doing business, a hybrid of traditional nonprofits and for-profit companies that uses market forces to create social change. (Click here to read a recent blog post by Kyle where she explains what social entrepreneurship is and how it can change the world.)

Social impact investing is a related concept; the idea of channeling investment toward mission-driven businesses and entrepreneurial nonprofits that are working to solve social problems.

As Kyle says in a piece published today in the Huffington Post and on the World Economic Forum’s blog:

Fundamentally there are holes on both the investor side and the social entrepreneur’s side of the aisle.

On the investor side, there is far more talk than there is traction. Certainly, a few funds have been established that focus on social investment, but it is difficult to see these as more than traditional charity, dressed up as investment.

Creative new designs in the financial category to address this need have been discussed for years, but few have made it to market. This lack of significant innovation by the investment community has been a major roadblock to the expansion of the social sector. Enterprises reach a certain level of growth and then choke from the lack of capital.

Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First BookLike any new idea, there’s a lot of work to be done. But Kyle is hopeful about the future, saying: “There we were all in a room at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions – financial institutions and representatives of the social sector — talking about the challenges, which is a great step toward a cure.”

At First Book, we’re working towards a new kind of solution to an old and intractable problem – how to ensure that the 30 million kids in the United States living in low-income families get the books and resources they need to succeed. Click here to learn some ways you can get involved.

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16. Starry River of the Sky - a review

Lin, Grace. 2012. Starry River of the Sky. New York: Little Brown.

A companion book to Grace Lin's 2009, Newbery Honor book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Starry River of the Sky is much the same and yet very different. Like the earlier book, Starry River of the Sky contains Grace Lin’s beautiful artwork (see note), features folktale vignettes, and revolves around a journey.  But while Minli’s journey in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, is an actual journey full of obstacles to overcome, main character, Rendi’s journey, in Starry River of the Sky, is an introspective journey of understanding and self-discovery.

The story opens with a miserable and distressed Rendi traveling as a stowaway in a merchant’s cart,

Rendi was not sure how long the moon had been missing.  He knew only that for weeks, the wind seemed to be whimpering as if the sky were suffering.  At first, he had thought the moans were his own because his whole body ached from hiding in the merchant’s cart.  However, it was when the cart had stopped for the evening, when the bumping and knocking had ended, that the groans began.
Rendi’s story is tied inexorably to that of the moon, though it will take some time for him to determine why the moon is missing and why he, and he alone hears the moaning of the sky each night.  He is discovered by the merchant and left in a dying town, the Village of Clear Sky.  With no other prospects, he becomes the chore boy for Master Chao, owner of the local inn.  Master Chao’s daughter,  Peiyi, takes an immediate dislike to the sullen young boy. It is not until the mysterious Madame Chang, the inn’s only guest, arrives, that fortunes begin to change.  Madame Chang is a beautiful and captivating storyteller, recounting age-old folktales that have particular significance to Rendi; the neighbor, Widow Yan, and her daughter; and Mr. Shan, an elderly, doddering dinner guest who frequents the Inn.  As Madame Chang shares her stories and encourages Rendi to do the same, his protective layer of insolence is removed like layers of skin from an onion.  Starry Village of the Sky is many-layered as well - each character has a hidden story that is coaxed out by the storytelling of Madame Chang.

This is a captivating story that, while holding deep meaning, may be enjoyed in many layers. A magical fantasy, a Chinese folktale, a tale of a boy lost and found, a love story, a mystery, a journey of self-discovery -- all may be found in the tiny and remote Village of Clear Sky.

Starry River of the Sky is another star-filled book for Grace Lin, already garnering three starred reviews and a Junior Library Guild selection.


Note: My Advance Reader Copy did not contain finished artwork, but I am confident that it will be both beautiful and magical.

Want a peek at the artwork?  Watch Grace Lin flip through her book!

“Behind Starry River of the Sky

More reviews @

Due on shelves in October, 2012.

1 Comments on Starry River of the Sky - a review, last added: 9/23/2012
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17. It’s the book trailer to award winning author Grace Lin’s new novel Starry River of the Sky!

Just released today it’s the book trailer to Grace Lin‘s newest novel Starry River of the Sky! Already receiving rave reviews, Starry River of the Sky is the companion book to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon which was awarded the prestigious Newbery Honor Award in 2010. Starry River of the Sky officially launches October 2nd but for those of you that just can’t wait to get a copy it is already available on Amazon or, if you reside near Cambridge, MA, you can attend the  booklaunch this Sunday, September 30th and get a signed copy! Be sure to visit Grace’s blog on October 2nd and join in the online launch party! Grace will also be going on a short, 3 stop book tour in October to promote the book. Why such a short tour? Not only is Grace celebrating the launch of her new book, she and her husband just celebrated the birth of her first child, a daughter, a mere 4 months ago! Congratulations Grace!

NB: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was one of the books we selected to be included in our 2010 Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set.  Each year we send carefully chosen books to particular schools and libraries in various parts of the world. The books chosen seek to provide “multicultural” or “trans-cultural” stories that promote awareness of, knowledge about, and positive acceptance of “the other” in ways children can learn and enjoy. We are convinced of the crucial role of literacy and reading in an education that fosters understanding and empathy. To learn more about our Outreach program click here and to read our recent announcement of the 2012 book set click here.

0 Comments on It’s the book trailer to award winning author Grace Lin’s new novel Starry River of the Sky! as of 9/26/2012 4:17:00 PM
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18. Academy to screen 3D Digital Restoration of China’s “Uproar In Heaven”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present the west coast premiere of the classic Chinese animated feature Uproar In Heaven on Wednesday October 17th. The screening is part of a city-wide China Onscreen Biennial which will include showings of rare mainland Chinese shorts and feature films at various venues including UCLA, REDCAT, and the UCLA Film and Television Archives. Now known as The Monkey King: Uproar In Heaven, this landmark feature by directors Wan Lai-Ming and Tang Cheng was originally released in two parts – the first in 1961, the second in 1965. I first saw it in New York in the 1970s (I even saved the ad from the newspaper (at left) all these years). It’s an incredible visual feast that is a must-see on the big screen – with crazy-wonderful art direction and animation (see trailer below). It’s based on the Chinese myth of the Monkey King set to a Beijing opera-orchestral soundtrack. The film has been digitally restored and converted to 3D – and will be screened in its original language with English subtitles.

The screening will be at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theatre on Vine Street in Hollywood – and it will sell-out. Tickets go on sale today. Preceding the feature will be a presentation on its digital restoration and 3D conversion by Tom Burton and Pierre Routhier of Technicolor. I highly recommend this film. For more information, check the Academy’s website.

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19. Picture Book Roundup - old favorites

Today's Picture Book Roundup features older winners of the Caldecott Medal. 

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
I recently completed a class, "The Caldecott Medal: Understanding Distinguished Art in Picture Books," offered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), and taught by K.T. Horning.

In addition to learning much that I didn't know about art, I had the opportunity to encounter or revisit some Caldecott Medal winners that predate my career as a librarian. I have been working in a library since 2005, and received my masters degree and first professional librarian position in 2007. The Caldecott Medal has been awarded since 1938. Clearly, I had a lot of catching up to do.

Though I did not read them all, I did read many older winners. Here are some of my favorites from the years prior to 1990:

(In order by publication date - award dates are the January following the publication year)

  • Langstaff, John. 1955. Frog Went A-Courtin'. New York: Harcourt Brace. Illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky.

Richly detailed and expressive animals illustrate this favorite old folk song.  (If you don't know the song, Frog Went A-Courtin', Burl Ives' rendition was a classic)  This is my favorite of all the older Caldecotts.

  • Mosel, Arlene. 1972. The Funny Little Woman. New York: Dutton. Illustrated by Blair Lent.

Humorous, with inventive illustrations, the funny little woman travels to a world beneath her simple home in Japan.


  • Yorinks, Arthur. 1986. Hey. Al. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux. Illustrated by Richard Egielski.

Generally disliked by most of my classmates, this quirky, surreal story about a man and his dog really grows on you.


  • Yolen, Jane. 1987. Owl Moon. New York: Philomel. Illustrated by John Schoenherr.

I have been fortunate enough to hear owls in the night many times, though the only ones I have been able to spot are the low-flying burrowing owls.  In Owl Moon, the thrill of a night-time owling expedition is captured brilliantly in both illustration and prose.

  • Young, Ed. 1989. Lon Po Po:A Red-Riding Hood Story from China.  New York: Philomel.

 
A masterpiece of danger, suspense and courage - a classic folktale. The only one of my picks written and illustrated by the same person, it's no surprise that it's a pitch-perfect pairing of text and art.

A complete list of Caldecott Medal winners 1938-present, may be found here.


I've left off many other wonderful old medal winners, I know.  Feel free to chime in with your favorite Caldecott winners from the 1930s-1980s.


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20. Mo Yan

Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize for Literature!

He's my favorite author and he's had Nobel hype for years. It's so exciting that he finally won!

The first book of his that I read was Red Sorghum. It was assigned for a Chinese Literature in Translation course. I was only auditing the class and could only read part of it before I had to turn my attention elsewhere. But, I liked it so much that I went back and finished it after the semester was over.

The movie Red Sorghum dramatises the first part of the novel. The opening scenes of Happy Times are based on one of the short stories in Shifu, You'll Do Anything For a Laugh.

The Garlic Ballads is my favorite book by him.

I prefer is earlier stuff to his later stuff. The shorter works are tighter and more accessible. His later works seem like a Nobel bid, but are still very good. Overall his writing is marked by a visceral lushness that I'm not used to seeing from Chinese prose, which is usually sparse in its descriptions. Many of his works are touched by a magic realism that brings to mind Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

AND! When writing up this blog post I see that many of his works are available for FREE for Amazon Prime members through the lending library and many are priced at bargain prices to own the Kindle version. Take advantage while you can, especially of the three titles I mentioned in this post.


Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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21. NY Premiere: “The Beginning” Doc About China’s Indie Animation Scene

There’s a strong wave of indie animators emerging from Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, and China. The latter country’s indie scene is the focus of the documentary The Beginning directed by Jess Zou of NeochaEDGE. The film, which debuts in NY next week at the China Institute (125 East 65th Street, NY, NY 10065), features profiles of twenty Chinese animators and studios who are pursuing a more independent approach in their work. The 100-minute film is in Mandarin with English subtitles. Tickets are $8 and pre-registration is required on the Institute’s website.

Artists and studios featured in The Beginning include: Ray Lei (Beijing), Sun Haipeng (Shenzhen), Liu Jian (Nanjing), Mao Qichao (Magic Animation Studio, Chengdu), Pi San (Beijing), Anytime (aka: ANI7IME) Animation Studio (Zhang Chunli, Pu Junhan, Li Weikun, Su Jingxin: Guangzhou), Seen Studio (Zhang Naowen, Aspirin, Zeng Xun: Beijing), Song Siqi (Henan)/Wang Qing (Suzhou), Li Dongzhen (Beijing), and Beijing Film Academy student animation group (Sun Yiran, Wang Xingchen, Chen Xi, Zhang Yi, and Zhang Xiadian).

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22. Bamboo

Bamboo

In a Chinese village, Bamboo, a simple farmer, falls in love with a peasant girl, Ming, and soon they are married. To celebrate the wedding, the newlyweds plant a grove of bamboo. When Bamboo goes to the New World to seek his fortune, his new wife is left behind to till the fields. Ming soon discovers that the bamboo she brought as a gift to her new husband is magic...

If you liked this, try:
Liang and the Magic Paintbrush
One Grain of Rice
The Lost Horse
The Magic Tapestry
Seven Chinese Sisters
 

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23. The House Baba Built: An Artists Childhood in China by Ed Young

 About a year ago, I reviewed Allen Say's autobiographical work Drawing from Memory and the effect World War II had on his life growing up in Yokohama, Japan.  Ed Young's The House Baba Built is also an autobiographical work and describes his life in Shanghai, China during the war.

Ed Young's father was an engineer and realizing that war was coming to China, he decided he needed a safe place for himself, his wife and five children to live in.  The safest place would be around the foreign embassies in Shanghai, known as the International Settlement.  But land there was expensive and so Baba (an affectionate term for father) made a deal with a landowner - Baba would built a house on his land with the proviso that his family could live in it for 20 years.  The family moved into the house in 1935 and for the first few years that they lived in Baba's house, life was good.  There was a lovely swimming pool, where friends and family would gather in summer, there was lots of pretend playing, lovely gardens and even a roof that made a great roller skating area.  Life wasn't rich in goods, but it was rich in so many other ways.

But when the Japanese invaded Nanking in 1937, Baba had to build an apartment where the kids roller skated because relatives from there had escaped to Shanghai to live.  After that, the effects of the war began to be felt more and more.  And in 1940 a family who had escaped Hitler's Germany, the Luedeckes, also moved into Baba's house.

The three families living in Baba's house were very fortunate.  Even after things changed with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the loss of British and American protection, the house that Baba built was able to withstand the war, and even when bombs were being dropped directly on Shanghai, they missed the house completely.

When the 20 years were up, the Young family honored their contract and turned the house over to the landowner.  By then, most of the children had grown, married and gone their own way.

It was during the war, living in Baba's house, that Young discovered his talent as an artist.  Given crayons and paper to use while recovering from a cold, his first attempt at drawing was a cowboy that didn't quite match what was in his mind.  But he sought guidance and the rest is history.  For The House Baba Built, he used a mixed media, which gives it depth and texture.  Young's family is shown in an interesting combination of old photographs and drawings, there are all kinds of collages (my favorite art form), and some of the pages fold out to reveal even more of the life of the Young family in Baba's house.

Most of the book consists of vignettes that are put together to resemble the collages, rather than a linear history of Young's early life.  However, there is a timeline at the end which can help orient the reader if needed.  And there is an extended section at the end of the book of later photographs, including Baba's house, as well as a diagram of the house and some facts regarding how the house was built to bombproof it.

All in all, The House Baba Built is an interesting book for all kinds of readers, but especially a reader who likes to explore each and every page of an illustrated book.  This is a work that proves itself to be an insightful look at some of the early influences on a beloved author/illustrator.

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was borrowed from the Webster Branch of the NYPL


Facts First! Nonfiction Monday is hosted this week by ProseandKahn



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24. Ordering off the menu in China debates

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom


Growing up with no special interest in China, one of the few things I associated with the country was mix and match meal creation. On airplanes and school cafeterias, you just have “chicken or beef” choices, but Chinese restaurants were “1 from Column A, 1 from Column B” domains. If only in recent China debates, a similar readiness to think beyond either/or options prevailed!

I thought of this when Reuters ran an assessment of Xi Jinping’s first weeks in power last months that in some venues carried this “chicken or beef” sort of headline: “China’s New Leader: Reformist or Conservative?” Previous Chinese leaders have often turned out to have both reformist and conservative sides. Even Deng Xiaoping, considered the quintessential reformer due to his economic policies, held the line on political liberalization and backed the brutal 1989 crackdown. Mightn’t Xi, too, end up ordering from the reformist and conservative sides of the menu?

A Valentine’s Day for the books: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with Vice President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China and members of a Chinese delegation in the Oval Office, Feb. 14, 2012, several months before Xi became the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Mo Yan’s Nobel Prize win last fall, which continues to generate controversy, led some foreign commentators into a similar “chicken or beef” trap—or, rather, an “Ai Weiwei or Zhang Yimou” one. The former is an artist locked into an antagonistic relationship with the government, the latter a filmmaker who has been choreographing spectacles celebrating Communist Party rule, including both the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Games and a 2009 gala staged to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. Since they are two of the only internationally prominent Chinese creative figures, some Westerners assumed Mo must be like one or the other.

In fact, the novelist shares traits with each but isn’t all that similar to either.  Like China’s best-known artist, Mo has a penchant for mocking the powerful. And like the renowned filmmaker turned state choreographer, Mo works within the system, serving as a Vice-Chairman of the official writer’s association and recently agreeing to be a delegate to the Chinese People’s Consultative Political Conference. Unlike Ai Weiwei, though, Mo skewers only relatively safe targets, like the kinds of corrupt local officials that the central authorities don’t mind seeing satirized, and instead of railing against censorship, he has likened it to an inconvenience akin to airport security protocols. And unlike Zhang Yimou, one of whose best films was based on the novelist’s story “Red Sorghum,” Mo has consistently produced iconoclastic works.

If Column A choices signal compliance and Column B ones criticism, the artist and filmmaker now stick to opposite sides of the menu, while Mo Yan keeps choosing from both—and he’s not alone in this. Yu Hua, an author whose political choices I find more admirable, does this as well. He belongs to the official writer’s association and his novels, like Mo’s, generally satirize relatively safe targets.  But Yu also pens trenchant essays on taboo topics, including the 1989 massacre. He’s frustrated that these can only be published abroad, but glad that they end up circulating on the mainland in underground digital versions.

A third debate, centering on the competing predictions made by “When China Rules the World” author Martin Jacques and “The Coming Collapse of China” author Gordon G. Chang, makes me think not of the value of combining Column A and Column B choices but of a different feature of Chinese restaurants that I only learned about as an adult. If you don’t like the options on the English language menu in some Chinatown eateries, you can ask to see a Chinese language one that lists additional dishes the proprietor doubts will interest most customers.

My problem with the Jacques vs. Chang debate is that I find neither pundit convincing.  Jacques’ vision of China moving smoothly toward global domination glosses over the fissures within the country’s elite and the many domestic challenges its government faces. Chang continually underestimates the Communist Party’s resiliency and adaptability.  His 2001 book said it would implode by 2011. Late in 2011, he told Foreign Policy readers that he’d miscalculated and they could “bet on” his prophecy coming true in 2012.  In 2013, the Communist Party is still in control and somehow Chang’s still being invited onto news shows to make forecasts.

When asked whether Xi Jinping is a reformer or a conservative and whether Mo Yan is a collaborator or a critic, I can craft an answer that draws a bit from both Column A and Column B  Being asked whether I side with Jacques or Chang is different. I’m left feeling like a hungry vegetarian who has been given a list made up exclusively of chicken and beef dishes—and hopes desperately that there’s another menu hidden in the back with some acceptable choices.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Chancellor’s Professor of History at University of California at Irvine, is the author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (2010), an updated edition of which will be published in June.

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25. What does the future hold for international arbitration?

How can we outline the discussion on the law and practice of international arbitration? What is the legal process for the drafting of the arbitration agreements or the enforcement of arbitral awards? Long-time international arbitrators Constantine Partasides, Alan Redfern, and Martin Hunters — co-authors of Redfern and Hunter on International Arbitration: Fifth Edition with Nigel Blackaby — sat down with the OUPblog to discuss the latest developments in their field. Watch the following videos to learn more about current views on international arbitration and what changes they expect to see in the future.

How did the idea of writing a book come about?

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What challenges are arbitrators facing now?

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How do you view the future of international commercial arbitration? 

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Nigel Blackaby, Constantine Partasides, Alan Redfern, and Martin Hunter are the authors of Redfern and Hunter on International Arbitration: Fifth Edition. Nigel Blackaby is one of the partners of the international arbitration group at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Washington, DC. Constantine Partasides is a one of the partners of the international arbitration group at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London. Alan Redfern is the barrister and international arbitrator at One Essex Court Chambers in London. Martin Hunter is currently a barrister and international arbitrator at One Essex Court Chambers.

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