October 2006 Archives

NCIBA Update Part 2

We wrapped up the Northern California Independent Bookseller's Association (NCIBA) trade show yesterday.

First, I almost had a heart attack in the morning! Xiaojun Li, the illustrator of Selvakumar Knew Better, was signing at 11:00, and at 10:55 he still hadn't arrived. Then he called my cell phone from Interstate 80. Traffic was, apparently horrendous. That's when I found out there was a 49-ers/Raiders game in San Francisco yesterday. Ahh! A line of people had formed for his signing already, and after another 15 minutes, most of them dispersed. I still thought he might come before the end of his half-hour slot, but at 11:25, we moved all the books to our booth for an in-booth signing. I needn't have stressed about it. Once he did arrive and an announcement was made, he signed all 60 copies of the book in about ten minutes. Most people who wanted one were not disappointed.

Throughout the day, I sensed a lot of interest in our two new titles, Selvakumar Knew Better and The Day the Dragon Danced. Having such great stories and wonderful illustrations sure makes selling books easier!

Walking around the show floor, I did pick up a few titles I was unaware of before, so there was a little success there. I also got to finally meet Rebecca Grose, publicist extraordinairre who worked on Selvakumar, and I caught up with the sales reps I get to see once a year here. All in all, another successful year at NCIBA for us, despite the seemingly lackluster attendance.

Shocked-- SHOCKED, I say!

I can hardly believe the news, and I don't know quite what to say. I just heard yesterday that Mariuccia Iaconi Book Imports is closing, after fifty years in business. So I emailed my friend Mara Iaconi, one of the owners, to verify this vicious rumor, and she confirmed that it was indeed true.

Mariuccia Iaconi Book Imports is, as far as I know, one of the premier suppliers of Spanish language and culture related children's books. They have a warehouse and storefront in San Francisco and host wonderful events for children while promoting the learning and celebration of multiculturalism. Their website reads,

"Mariuccia Iaconi Book Imports is a family-owned, independent book store specializing in Spanish, bilingual and English language books for children of all ages including young adults. We are into the wild and wonderful as well as the sane and practical.

Our company was founded in 1955, making us the pioneers of importing foreign language children's books from around the world. We travel to countries near and far to hand select the best of the best in children's literature for all children.

The books we offer are often unknown gems which make for highly desirable reading, both in story and pictures. Supplementing all of this is our phenomenal selection of reference and non-fiction books."

The closing of the company is sad news for the multicultural book community, but I wish both Mariuccia and Mara the best and much happiness in their new endeavors.

From November 1 through January 12, MIBI will be holding their Final Clearance Sale, offering everything in the store at 60% off.

Mariuccia Iaconi Book Imports Final Clearance Sale- 60% off
970 Tennessee Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: 415.821.1216

That's the Sound of My Mind Blowing a Fuse

Somehow, this didn't compute the first time around. But I'm on board now, I'm with it. Linda Sue Park writes about her experience being on Jeopardy!.

Did anyone see her episode?

Tampa Area Event

The Upper Tampa Bay Library Foundation is sponsoring what looks like a huge fundraising event featuring author Virginia Kroll. They've put up a web page with all the details. And look which book is featured!

Virginia Kroll reading and signing

November 18, 2006
Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library
11211 Country Way Blvd.
Tampa, FL
9:30 am - 4:00 pm

CBC's "Meet the Author" This Month: Ed Young

The Children's Book Council's online magazine features Ed Young as its "Meet the Author" author this month. In his essay, Ed Young answers the question: Do you have any advice for budding artists, especially those who aspire to become picture book writers or illustrators?

Young's answer is: Find your passion.

"Often passion reveals itself as an interest and beckons you. Immerse yourself in that 'bliss' and you'll discover a need to pursue it. Once passion grabs you, you are on your way, because you are no longer determined by 'shoulds.' Your most treasured works become the remains of your meditation or process or whatever you choose to call it, because by losing yourself in them, they transform you. Fame and wealth are by-products."
Read the rest of his essay here.

Multicultural Children's Book Festival in DC

The eleventh annual Multicultural Children's Book Festival will be held on Saturday, November 4, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.. Speakers will include Grace Lin, Nikki Grimes, and Lulu Delacre, among a fine and distinguished list of many others. I've never been, but I'm so happy it's there and heightening awareness of MCBs. Best of all, it's free!

If you've attended this festival in the past, please share your experiences with us in the comments.

For more information, click here.

Multicultural Children's Book Festival Saturday, November 4, 2006 noon-5 pm John F. Kennedy Center Roof Level Washington, D.C.

Gene Yang Tells All

I don't mean for this blog to become the All-About-Gene-Yang-Blog, but sometimes a a guy just deserves to be in the spotlight for a while.

On the First Second blog, Gene posted his perspective on being a NBA finalist, how he finally heard the news, and what his parents think about all the publicity he's been getting.

The best part is his take on Western Media vs. the Chinese Media.

"The reporter from the Chronicle called early in the morning and politely made an appointment. The reporter from the World Journal came into my classroom completely unannounced, before the school day was over, while I was working with students."
But, he says, it was an honor to be treated "like family" by the biggest Chinese language newspaper in the world.

Haiku Day

Sure, you can read books of Haiku, books about writing Haiku, books about Haiku masters. You can even read blogs written in Haiku or book reviews in Haiku. But what you really need is this

(thanks to Mother Reader for the link)

Am I Prescient or What?

2006 National Book Award Finalists announced today. And did you see the Young People's Literature category? Didja? Yesiree. There it is. Number 5 on the list.

M.T. Anderson, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party

Martine Leavitt, Keturah and Lord Death

Patricia McCormick, Sold

Nancy Werlin, The Rules of Survival

Gene Luen Yang, American Born Chinese

Also note that Sold by Patricia McCormick takes place in Nepal. The subject matter is a bit out of the Shen's Books range, but it still counts: 2 out of 5 finalists are multicultural!

Book Review: American Born Chinese

I haven't read many graphic novels, so I can't speak from a comparative point of view. However, I did like American Born Chinese for a few reasons. First, it weaves three different story lines into one book, and I'm a sucker for that sort of thing. The main storyline involves Jin Wang, a Chinese-American boy who, despite being born in the U.S. and being completely American culturally, doesn't fit in at his new school and reluctantly befriends the only kid there who is newer than him: Wei-chen, a boy who has just arrived from Taiwan.

This plot does not exactly cover new ground. Most books about the immigrant, or second-generation American, experience involve the same themes. However, Yang's graphic depiction of the experience is more poignant than the usual prose treatments, and the other two stories act as mirrors that reflect their own voices upon Jin's story, giving it new meaning. Interspersed between episodes of Jin's life are segments from the Chinese Monkey King legend and a "TV sitcom" featuring Chin-Kee, a stereotyped caricature of a Chinaman. The three very different depictions play off each other, highlighting and emphasizing what each cannot say on itsown.

For example, Jin is always on some level embarrassed by the Chineseness of his new friend, but it is not until we see Chin-Kee behaving badly that we understand exactly what Jin is afraid of. At the same time, we can see that the brave and quick-witted Monkey King is also an image that the Chinese have of themselves. The two cannot be separated so easily. American Born Chinese works because it is a graphic novel. Not only does the art enhance the narratives and the ties between them, giving new voice to the genre of "outsider" fiction, but Yang's fresh subject matter changes the graphic novel world as well. I think the book is well worth the read.

American Born Chinese by Gene Yang

NCIBA Update

This weekend is the Northern California Independent Bookseller's Association (NCIBA) trade show. This year, the show floor was a little smaller than in the past, but despite the loss of real estate, the traffic was pretty sparse. It's always a bit depressing when there are more exhibitor badges walking around than attendee badges.

Amazingly, however, we took three book orders today-- a record! One of them was from a new customer, too, so I already feel like the show was a success. Plus, there will be more children's bookstores and book buyers tomorrow because the children's book author breakfast is tomorrow, as well as most of the children's booksignings.

As a bonus, I got to meet Gene Yang this morning and he signed a copy of American Born Chinese for me. Stay tuned for a review of this interesting graphic novel.

A Unique Way to Learn About Japan

It isn't a book, but children's book writer Annie Donwerth Chikamitsu has a blog written for children about life in Japan called "Here and There Japan." Thanks to the School Library Journal blog for its interview with Chikamitsu.

I love how authors are using all this technology to reach out to children, bringing pictures and stories about a foreign culture right into our lives halfway around the world.

Sneak Preview

Lisa Yee, author of Millicent Min, Girl Genius and Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, has managed to conquer Techonology Itself and has posted the audio from her upcoming NPR interview on her blog. Her interview is part of a longer segment about Asian authors in contemporary children's fiction, which she says should air in many NPR markets this week.

Also featured in the segment is Jason Low of Lee and Low Books. He and Lisa both talk about the universality of a good story and great characters. While it is still uncommon to see an Asian face on the covers of books these days, Jason was heartened at the number of new books out about Chinese Americans.

I agree that we are in a flourishing period of books about Asian kids who were born in America, and not just about immigrating to America. The Ruby Lu series is my current favorite. And like Lisa says, young readers respond and relate to the characters in the books they read, not to the race of the characters. Yet, at the same time, it is still important to see the many different ethnicities of our society reflected in the media. I say, if that media happens to be NPR, now we're getting somewhere!

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Blog Contributors

Renee Ting is the President and Publisher of Shen's Books. She is the author of The Prince's Diary and the blog, Renee's Book of the Day.

Emily Jiang is a writer of children's and YA literature. She also blogs at TLeaf Readings.

Shen’s Books is a publisher of multicultural children’s literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia.

Through books, we can share a world a stories, building greater understanding and tolerance within our increasingly diverse communities as well as throughout our continuously shrinking globe.


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