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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: of asian persuasion, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 7 of 7
1. Fuse #8/SLJ Review of Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia, illustrated by KEN MIN

Check check CHECK it out! Ken Min's upcoming picture book has already gotten an awesome review from Fuse #8 on SLJ!! Read all about it! I've had my copy preordered for MONTHS.

You can also find this excellent review--which includes special praise of Ken's delicious artwork, and a few samples--on GoodReads.com here (whence I lifted this cover image).

Hot Hot Roti for Dada ji by F. Zia, illustrated by Ken Min 

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji

By F. Zia

Illustrated by Ken Min

Lee & Low Books


ISBN: 978-1-60060-443-0

For ages 4-8

On shelves May 2011

Congratulations, Ken!! I can't wait to get my hands on the real book!!


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2. Rita Book Today: Best Picture Books from The Year of the Tiger

Everybody happy? Everybody shiny? Everybody all revved up, ready for the New Year??

What? You thought the New Year started a month ago?? Silly Tiger! Trix are for Rabbits! (Something like that.)

Every year I like to take Chinese New Year as a fresh opportunity to get that fresh start I didn't have time to get during the holidays. So.

Here are my personal, Top Five Picks for Picture Books from 2010 the Year of the Tiger. I gave out lots o' copies of these during the holidays, and have plenty more ready on my shelf for the upcoming year. (Those of you who haven't gotten yours yet; here's upping your anticipation!)

In New Year's Eve countdown fashion:

  (drumroll, please . . .)


Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the WorldOH NO! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Dan Santat

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So brilliant, so fun, so design-y gorgeous in every way! Damon and I have had tons of fun investigating these illustrations, and the story is super empowering--for school science fairs everywhere! Also for well-meaning geniuses. Bonus points that our scientist burdened with saving the world from her own creation is a girl. (Minus points for me, for being the only person I know of who has pointed this out. Please ignore I said anything, and give this book to all the boy children you know immediately.) (And to the girls, too!!) It's giant robots battling giant toads, with robot-controlled dogs in the mix!

Although I haven't yet, I'm thinking of pairing this in future presents with Tuesday, by David Wiesner--which I also feel requires a somewhat more sophisticated audience. OH NO! is spare in words--in a graphic-novel-meets-crazy,-dubbed-Japanese-movie way--while Tuesday has (nearly) none, and spreads into your life via eerie, silent-movie magic. Both feature frogs (ok, amphibians) and appeal to your sci-fi exploring instincts (i.e. imagination + smarts).

TuesdayTuesday by David Wiesner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Near and dear to my heart since I first discovered it in college--along with my college roomates and friends! Still wondering when to spring this on my friends with kids. How old do you think these energetic toddlers need to get before I introduce their parents to wordless picture books?


Piggies in the Pumpkin PatchPiggies in the Pumpkin Patch by Mary Peterson and Jen Rofe, illustrated by

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3. Elevator Conversations! A Birthday Card by fomato

So this is hilarious and a half.

Remember when I blogged “7 Random/Weird Things About My Significant Other” a while back, wherein I changed the rules of a meme to focus on Damon instead of me? Well, that post turned out to be a favorite among friends, including all kinds of people I had no idea were reading. Everyone loved how D loves elevator conversation.

Our friend Emmie Hsu, of Fomato Cards, asked “permission” to use the idea for a birthday greeting card. Then, out of the blue, she sent it to us last week.

I love it!! Both Damon and I love how it turned out so much!

I now present to you . . .

elevator conversations
by fomato cards




Click here to see “elevator conversations” on the fomato cards Web site

Click here for the main fomato site, where you can find all her masterpieces!

She tried to work in D's favored Days of the Week, but it didn't fit—at least not in this card. She got more input from our friend Calvin and used Frankie's “Living the dream.”

I love all fomato cards so much, you guys. I use nothing else. They are hilarious, gorgeously illustrated, high quality, irreverent, totally indie, and smack of asian american pop culture flava.

(Yes, I said flava. You have no idea how much I resist yo.)

So get thee to fomato.com for a hi-larious reading experience! Each card is short, punchy, and perfect for someone you know. Before you know it, you’ll have read them all. You’ll wind up ordering, too, because her cards totally inspire that “I-have-to-get-this-for-So-and-so!” reaction.

So much fun,

A few more of my favorites:
   facebook intervention
   ramen noodle festival
   chinese food
   sushi lesson
   school o dissatisfaction (This one’s perfect for pessimists, optimists, and people who love mangoes)

Here is Damon’s favorite:
   screw you

Which ones are yours?

Photos from Writer’s Day are still coming! This is one of the rules of writing: Never deliver what you promised. That keeps readers coming back.

Thanks for all the congrats, though—here, on Facebook, and everywhere!

Now get to fomato.com!

Damon’s favorite is apparently fomato’s current bestseller. I am mortified.

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4. Happy, Happy Year of the Rat!! (Reading Recommendations for the New Year!)

The Year of the Rat, by Grace LinJust in time for Chinese New Year comes The Year of the Rat, by Grace Lin. My nine-year-old cousin should have received her copy by now!

Happy Chinese New Year! Of all the books I want to review, I have the perfect one to start!

Grace Lin's The Year of the Rat is the sequel to her debut middle grade novel, The Year of the Dog (which I was completely gaga about). Once again Pacy's modern-day, American, grade school experiences, triumphs, and discoveries are peppered throughout with little stories and anecdotes told by her family: of their childhoods back in Taiwan, of their earlier years in the U.S., and of a lot of Chinese fables familiar to my heart. Plus there are these delightful line drawings. The emotional stakes are raised this time when Pacy's best friend Melody moves away to California. Pacy's cultural self-awareness evolves, too, ever so gently and truthfully, when a new Chinese family (from China) moves into Melody's very home, with a boy Pacy's age whose grade-school experiences in the U.S. seem not so rosy as her own.

I also related to Pacy's growing concern over her family's attitude toward her ambitions an an artist. Her triumphs with the class poster. Her crush. Her experience of a Taiwanese American wedding. Her return to her pre-Melody friends. Her decision with Melody to share their beloved book collection by actually mailing their books to and from California every month. All the words I've seen other reviewers use for these books--"gentle," "engaging," "lively," "magical,"--I heartily echo, and I love the simple language, too. I can't wait to hear what my little cousin has to say.

I sent my little cousin The Year of the Dog last fall, by the way, and this was her review (via e-mail):

Thanks for the book The Year of the Dog. I finished it in the first two nights. It was a great book except for one editing mistake.

What! Luckily, I saw my cousin a couple weeks later and got to find out exactly what she was talking about. First she said, "Oh, it was more just like a typo." Then she explained that a certain Chinese fable mentioned in it had been titled one way, when really it was another.

I've heard that story told a few different ways, so this wasn't a "mistake" in my book. But I was glad to see her treating the content with such authority. (She's this genius whose reading/writing progress knocks me out every next time I see her. I've no doubt her next review will be several pages long.)

The Year of the Rat has gotten me thinking this is going to be an excellent year for making Changes. Just as I was pondering the possibilities, my husband said, “Let’s resolve to make one piece of art each, this year, and put it up."

Cool! I'm up for anything!

Just one piece of art? That’s such a small goal. (An excellent, doable, lovely goal.) Maybe I’ll make five. But maybe I’ll start with just one (and maybe four more will follow).

I was going to end this book review here, but Year of the Rat actually gives me an unintentional transition to the next book on my list:

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O'BrienMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O'Brien. Winner of the 1972 Newbery Medal.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH!! I recently revisited this classic when Sara reminded me of its awesomeness. 

Read this, read this, you must re-read this!

Oh, those poor rats of NIMH. Oh, oh. They never even said what NIMH stood for. You have to make it up [edit: or figure it out for yourself]. And that is just one tiny example of the genius at work here, because even though these pages are jam-packed with informative, evocative, smartly written details (on locations! Action!! Story! Backstories! The goals of the rats of NIMH!), everywhere you look, there is room for your imagination to fill in more. What Jonathan Frisby saw in Mrs. Frisby (she was clearly a remarkable mouse). The hints at Justin’s future. The fact you don’t know . . . so many things you want to know. What you think you know. What you hope you know. You’re left wanting to go there, to find out the rest for yourself.

Oh, oh, oh.

I was aware as I was reading that some of my intense bond with these rats (and mice!!) was underscored by association with my equally intense love for Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes--a book I pushed on my brother when he was in 7th grade (and I was in 10th) that he read all in one night. (I'm actually reading The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt, right now, and there are rats in that book, too. Goodness!)

I have a lot more books to review, but I like this beginning to the Year of the Rat. We now return to our regular posting schedule of (maybe) once a week.

With love for books!

I urge you to read these books.

It is my hope, once you’ve read these books, that we can talk about them in-depth. Preferably in person!

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5. Video Sunday - Misc.

No theme this week. I'm feeling all kinds of lazy. So let us plumb the internet itself, sans rhyme or reason, and come up with tasty tidbits in and of themselves.

This one comes from Adrienne at What Adrienne Thinks About That. Her boss apparently sent it to her. Those of us in the profession can relate. And I was delighted to see that it also displays a death-by-closed-stacks portion that is reminiscent of a movie my husband made in college.

In the realm of "oh, THAT's how it's done!" I bring you an explanation for how graphic novel illustration works via computer. Like the Bone books? Of course you do. You are a beautiful, intelligent, highly motivated individual. As such, you will enjoy this view of coloring in Thorn from the books. I just think that it's cool that you get to draw on the actual screen.

Julie at Children's Illustration recently had a small tribute to Bill Baird and Company over at her site. First off, it's very interesting to watch pre-Muppet puppets. Plus the song is fairy trippy in and of itself. Betcha you won't see the iron lung coming, though.

How come no one names their daughters Cora anymore? I think Cora is going to have a second coming. GO CORA! Julie, I should note, also located this neat interview with Brian Selznick about his latest. You may have heard of it. It's something something Hugo something, I think.

Which led to me to the discovery of this Expanded Books website. And that, in turn, led me to the discovery of something the Buffy fans amongst us will find odd. Look! It's Tara! Writing books! The book itself isn't all that thrilling, but it's nice to see Amber Benson getting work of one kind or another.

We'll do a 180 after this and show the direct opposite of horror novels with an interview with Rosemary Wells. Anyone who has ever worked with Ms. Wells will tell you that the woman is... a pistol, let's say. Yes. That sounds about right. A pistol. Well, here she is doing the sweetness and light bit.

Pistol, I say.

2 Comments on Video Sunday - Misc., last added: 4/29/2007
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6. Spreading the Word: Latest Book Roundup and Robert's Snow

Here are the books I've loved lately, that have graduated from my To-Read list to my To-Buy (or Just-Bought!) list. 

First, the Middle Grades and YAs:

Getting Near To Baby, by Audrey Couloumbis The Year of the Dog, by Grace Lin Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale, by Holly BlackThe Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, by Barry Lyga

Getting Near To Baby, by Audrey Couloumbis (MG). 2000 Newberry Honor Book. In addition to drawing me into a cast of characters, every one of whom I rooted for, each chapter's end gave me that fine feeling of having read a poetic short story.

The Year of the Dog, by Grace Lin (MG). Absolutely charming and magical, in the tradition of those Carolyn Haywood books we all loved growing up (the Betsy and Eddie books!), but starring Chinese Americans! Got one in paperback for my little cousin, one in hardback for me.

Ironside, by Holly Black (YA fantasy). Awesome. I heard Holly Black speak recently at San Diego Comic Con in a panel on YA villains, and she talked about her interest in creating cultures clearly alien to our own. Everyone who'd read any of her three modern faerie tales bobbed their heads enthusiastically to hear her say it.

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, by Barry Lyga (YA). Deftly handled, with all the subtle (yet extreme) tensions and characters clearly delineated. And funny(!), though I feel odd saying so. Recommended in particular for Calvin, because the voice reminded me of his.

(I also got the two books mentioned in my last book roundup: Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer and A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama, by Laura Amy Schlitz. And for the record, I loved Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7), by J. K. Rowling, illustrated by Mary GrandPré, but we can never talk about it [online].)

I should probably mention that, while my apartment is always overflowing with library books, I only bring up books here I've loved enough to put down funds and buy. That requires extreme love. (It also means there are lags between book posts, as I can't buy the books I love all that fast.)

Regarding picture books, I try (sadly, unsuccessfully) to limit the number in my personal collection. But I'm always excited to buy them for friends. It's one of the key reasons I get excited when friends have babies! ;D (Sounds like a Discovery Channel show: When Friends Have Babies.)

And on that note, here are the latest picture books to have stolen my heart: 

Not a Box, by Antoinette PortisBee-bim Bop!, by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek LeeThe Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack KeatsI'd Really Like To Eat A Child, by Sylviane Donnio, illustrated by Dorothee De Monfried

Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis. Um. Everyone needs this book. This is a picture book in its purest, most joyful form. Kids will relate and want this again and again. (I've already "handsold" a couple in bookstores to friends, haha.) "It's not a box!"

Bee-bim Bop!, by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee. Genius! (again!) The fun of the words, the fun of the dish, the worlds of the grocery store and kitchen prep and dinner table evoked by the illustrations. See that cover? This book speaks to you and will make you bop.

The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats. 1963 Caldecott Medal winner. Everyone also needs this book. A classic for every good reason. I don't know how I could have not known about it sooner. Utterly engaging and engrossing to the senses.

I'd Really Like To Eat A Child, by Sylviane Donnio, illustrated by Dorothee De Monfried. Translated from the French original, Je mangerais bien un enfant.
Actually, I'm not sure everyone needs this book. I need this book—for the sheer audacity of the premise and the fun way the cocky main character is drawn, which paid off every time I read this. My current strategy is to show this off to everyone in person and see whether they need their own, too. J'adore. (Je l'adore?? Vicki! Lynn! Help!)

And now, Robert's Snow:

Robert's Snow, by Grace LinRobert's Snowflakes, compiled by Grace Lin and Robert Mercer

In (partial) reference to my last post, it turns out there is something a blogger can do—in a bloggerly fashion—to express sympathy and show support to a blogging friend. At least, there is in the case of Grace Lin, whose husband Robert Mercer passed away on August 27.

Robert's Snow is the amazing fundraiser the couple created in 2004, which to date has raised over $200,000 for cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. So, first of all, you can buy the original Robert's Snow picture book; you can buy Robert's Snowflakes, the book which commemorates pieces from the first Robert's Snow snowflake auction in 2004; you can give money in the name of "Robert's Snow"; or you can bid in this year's Robert's Snow snowflake auction to get your own unique piece of artwork—a wooden ornament decorated by a children's book artist—all for this tremendous cause. Over 200 incredible children's book authors and illustrators are contributing snowflakes this year. (You can view the 2005 snowflakes here and 2004 snowflakes here. They are stunning. There are even sculptures!)

Have your favorite author/illustrators created snowflakes? I bet they have. Look them up! You can sort the 2004 and 2005 contributors alphabetically!

EDIT to the original post: You can now go here to view the 2007 snowflakes, as well as years' past! Go, go, go!

It is amazing. You want a snowflake.

Second, if you've got a blog, you can promote Robert's Snow and the snowflake auction. In fact, thanks to the good people at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, bloggers can now sign up to feature from one to five of this year's Robert's Snowflakes artists, on their blogs. 7-Imp is organizing the list, and it'll be a cross-posting extravaganza, with everyone clicking to learn more about artists and snowflakes, and all traffic driven to the auction itself. Click here to read more and sign up!

I first heard about this on Jo Whittemore's blog, followed immediately by the next several blogs I read. Spread the word, everyone!

I know several people whose lives have been touched by cancer recently, quite profoundly. I am often at a loss about what I can do. Well, here is one thing.


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7. Chinese New Year and Christmases Past, Present, and Hypothetical

Thank goodness I'm Chinese.

The window of opportunity between New Year's and Chinese New Year has always given me an excellent, extra grace period in which to ramp up for the new year, and I always need it. Damon has three families, all of whom have super intense holiday traditions, plus my family does Christmas, too. By the time January 1st comes, I am worn. Out. It takes all my energy every year not to become a Bah, Humbug.

(I love the actual people in these families, which is what ends up saving me.)

Some years, if Damon and I don’t get to do holiday cards, we send out Chinese New Year cards instead. I always like to take this time to clear my “debts” (here redefined to include whatever things I still want to finish in the old year), clean my house (literally and figuratively), brainstorm resolutions, and go!

This year, I've decided housecleaning includes this blog. That is why, with the Year of the Rat only a couple days away, I'm going to blog about Christmas.

Christmas was actually not as long ago for me as it was for you. Damon's three families did the whole thing on time, but my family just did Christmas two weeks ago, with the meal and everyone and presents. For ritual, we just have four stockings—unmarked and unpersonalized—tacked over the fireplace very gingerly, in a way that won’t support any weight. Those stockings represent me, my brother, and our two spouses.

The stockings always look sad and empty, and two of them aren’t even “stockings”; they’re red-and-green velvet wine bags that my parents got at some holiday party. (The wine bags actually look nicer than the other two, “real” stockings we got for $1.99 apiece from a drugstore twenty years ago, so even though I make fun of them, I appreciate them, too.) These stockings excite little interest in my brother and me every year, which disappoints my mom—every year. She always has to urge us to go look, and when we do, invariably, there are red envelopes waiting inside, each containing 50 bucks—sometimes 60—in crisp 10- and 20-dollar bills.

“Ohhh!!!” my brother and I and our spouses always say, surprised all over again. “Thanks, Mom!”

“Don’t thank me!”

Thank you, Santa!!

This year, after so many years of her hinting, “Santa might have left your something. Don’t you want to look?” we finally knew what to expect. The four of us gamely went over to the fireplace and did a whole round of, “Heyy! Here’s one for you! And here’s one for you!” handing out red envelopes, my mom beaming on.

Then, at the end of the night, we discovered that one of the envelopes was short. (One of the stockings had 40 dollars, not 60.)

“MAMA CLAUS! MAMA CLAUS!” three of us sounded the alarm, my brother protesting and laughing the whole time (“It's not a big deal!”). My mother came running. I don’t think she liked the “Mama Claus” moniker much, but she liked our message even less. “One of the stockings is 20 dollars short!”

“What?! NO!!” She looked aghast, her eyes growing huge. "I put it back!!"

“Busted! So busted!!" we howled. "Dipping into the Christmas stockings!” But my mother was adamant, taking the red envelope jointly in my brother’s hands. “Are you sure you looked? Look again!” Accusing my brother of total incompetence. And lo and behold . . .

“Oh! OH!” my brother cried out, whipping out a crisp twenty. “A-HAHHAHA! It was stuck in the lining!”

We were dying. Why is my family always like this?

“Awwww,” my mom said, shamefaced. “Why’d you trick me to confess? I needed cash one day,” she confided, now triumphant. “But it didn't make sense. I took much more than twenty.”

A recent blog entry by my friend Julie gave me food for thought on the cultural mishmosh of our lives. She mentioned, just in passing, that Santa Claus brings presents for her two (soon to be three!) kids. “Believing in the chubby bearded guy was Kevin's tradition growing up, not mine, but the kids hear about Santa from school, daycare, and pop culture, and I don't see any harm in it, so we're preserving the tradition as long as the kids keep believing,” she said.

That’s all she said, but it was the first time I’d ever considered the Santa dilemma from the us-as-parents' point of view. Usually, I think of it from the kids’ perspective. (Santa still leaves me presents, after all—at three households these days, no less—and with very different cultural implications at each. The Santa that brings socks and underwear is different from the Santa that individually wraps little toys and chocolates, who is different from the Santa with the red envelopes.)

When I think about the Santa dilemma, I always think back to the raging debate I first heard in the halls outside my first grade classroom, back in the day. Some of my classmates argued—violently, ganging up with each other—that Santa wasn’t real; others still believed.

I don’t remember actively believing in Santa as a small child, myself. I don't think I'd even considered the question up until that point. Presents from Santa appeared in my house, too, but without a lot of fanfare, and for some reason I'd never been that curious. So when I heard my classmates arguing—with all the scorn and hope that came on both sides—I felt neutral. Unsurprised. I hadn’t put that much thought into it, but the explanation (“my dad says it’s all our parents!”) suddenly made sense.

I mean, I might have been a little disappointed. Shocked, upset. It wasn’t like I was looking to be randomly disillusioned that day. But no one was paying attention to my reaction at that moment, so I was able to take my struggling emotions home in peace. And let's be honest: My parents never tried that hard to make it real. The “From Santa” tags were always written in their handwriting—something I was quick to point out in subsequent years. (Occasionally, after that, however, random unlabeled presents would also appear under the tree without “From Santa” tags, which would “surprise” my parents. This became a new source of aggravation for me.)

The darnedest thing was that my parents never gave it up, either. Just look at the stocking story I just told: my mom balked at us calling her Mama Claus. Even now, when Santa’s not bringing us wrapped presents anymore, you’ll never get her to say Santa’s not real.

(I'm sure I could get any of Damon’s parents to say it, in spite of how elaborately they do it up.)

I went through a phase in 2nd grade—and off and on even through 4th grade—when I was hellbent on proving Santa wasn’t real. I ransacked the house to find where extra presents or extra gift wrap might be hidden. I never found gifts, but I did eventually find extra rolls of wrapping paper that matched Santa's—hidden high-up in a closet in the guest bedroom. My parents were completely bland about it, admitting nothing.

I remember the wild, irrational hope coming to me at times during that campaign—long after the early years when I neither believed nor felt the issue was important. In that 2nd-through-4th-grade phase, it suddenly became important. I needed to prove it. Suddenly, I was going to make them say it.

But othertimes, because I couldn’t—and because they wouldn't—I’d still think, Could it be . . . ? And something huge in me would grow, irrational.

If I had a kid today, would I play Santa Claus? Would I—could I—dare to not?

I don’t know.

(Maybe my kids will have to be extra good, and I'll just hope irrationally along with them!)

I do have this philosophy that love—and magic—is created when two or more people play a game using the same special rules and definitions.

But that is a blog entry for another time.


What do you guys think/ remember/ plan to do—about Santa Claus?

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