October 2007 Archives

Here's how we play: first I pick a book. Then I pull a question card from my Table Topics cube and answer the question (the book gets chosen first so I don't cheat and choose an easy answer). Then, it's your turn. You pick a book and answer the question for your book in the comments. Though I will always choose a multicultural title, you certainly do not need to.

Today's Halloween-Themed Book: Behind the Mask by Yangsook Choi
Today's Question: What are the principle flaws of the main character?

Well, obviously, Kimin is a procrastinator. The story opens two days before Halloween and he still hasn't decided what to be yet! (Of course, this is exactly what happens to me every year too.) But seriously, Kimin's real problem is that he is afraid of anything that has to do with his grandfather because of an incident in Korea that scared him.

It turns out that Kimin's grandfather was a mask dancer in Korea before he died, and what scared Kimin when he was little was grandfather dressed in costume. That same costume is now in a trunk with all his things... so, you can guess what Kimin did for Halloween.

Not only did all of Kimin's friends think he had the coolest costume, but Kimin realized that his grandfather's trunk was full of fascinating things, not scary at all.

Hope everyone has already decided what they're going to be for Halloween!

Fall 2007 Catalog Available

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I do believe I neglected to mention that the Fall catalog came in (it is lovely!), so if you would like us to mail you a copy, fill out the form here. On that form, you can also elect to have a bunch o' bookmarks sent with your catalog. We've got a selection of a several bookmarks, including new ones for the book The Wakame Gatherers, which should be available in mid-November. Head on over!
Here's how we play: first I pick a book. Then I pull a question card from my Table Topics cube and answer the question (the book gets chosen first so I don't cheat and choose an easy answer). Then, it's your turn. You pick a book and answer the question for your book in the comments. Though I will always choose a multicultural title, you certainly do not need to.

Today's Book: Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Julie Pschkis
Today's Question: Did this book reaffirm or change opinions you hold?

Boy, was this book an affirmation! If you're familiar at all with Shen's Books, you know that there are many, many versions of the Cinderella story from all different countries. Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal is like a patchwork quilt of Cinderella stories from many countries. Fleischman takes the structure of the story and fills it in with details from around the world. Practically every sentence is taken from a different tale, so that Cinderella must, for example, pick a handful of lentils out of the ashes as she does in the German tale. And then, she must scour all the pots, as she does in the Appalachian version. Each moment is illustrated as if it were taking place in that country, and the country's name is indicated next to the illustration as well.

Fleischman has a clever idea here-- a Cinderella mashup, if you will. It's interesting to see all the different details in the same story. A solid confirmation of the power of a single story.

Book Question of the Week: The Arrival by Shaun Tan

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Welcome to the first ever Book Question of the Week Game! Here's how we play: first I pick a book. Then I pull a question card from my Table Topics cube and answer the question (the book gets chosen first so I don't cheat and choose an easy answer). Then, it's your turn. You pick a book and answer the question for your book in the comments. Though I will always choose a multicultural title, you certainly do not need to.

Today's Book: The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Today's Question: How could the conflict have resolved differently?

There isn't so much a conflict in The Arrival as there is a situation. Or maybe it's just that the situation, rather than characters, provides the conflict. So the situation could certainly have turned out differently.

The Arrival is a wordless book, or graphic novel (are they different?), in which the foreign arriver is not the little creature on the cover, but the man who is studying him. This is an immigration story set in a fantasy world-- an incredibly beautiful, majestic, full, and foreign fantasy world. It was also the first time that I truly understood what it was like to be an immigrant while reading a book. Because the man's new home is like nothing here on earth, I felt like a new arrival myself. I couldn't read the signs, and I didn't understand the culture. At the same time, Tan used his amazing wordless pictures to convey how much the man missed his family back home.

The book ultimately has a happy ending, like many real-life immigrant stories. I think that people are extremely adaptable, and there is no doubt that with time, this man would settle in and feel comfortable in this strange new world. In real life, however, the story of his wife and daughter may not have resolved so wonderfully as it did in this book. There are so many families that are not able to join the members that first moved to another country.

The ending of The Arrival was the best possible one for this immigrant and his family (and made me cry); it certainly could have turned out much worse.

Now, it's your turn! Write an answer for a book of your choice in the comments.

Let's Play a Game! Or, Book Question of the Week

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Last week I bought one of those Table Topics cubes. Have you seen these? It's a hefty cube made of some sort of heavy plastic that is full of cards. I suppose that because it's called Table Topics and the cube is sort of pretty in a MOMA kind of way, it is intended to sit upon your dining table or coffee table. Then, when you're sitting around starving for conversation, you can choose a card and read the thought-provoking, ice-breaking, conversation-starting question printed upon its face.

Anyway, I bought the Book Club Edition. Which means that every card poses a book-related question, like, "Do you agree with the point of view of the author?" or, "Was the writing style appropriate to the story?"

I propose that every Monday, I will use this cube of query to post a Book Question of the Week. I will choose a book and instead of writing a normal review, I will answer the question. Then, you, dear reader, get to play along. You pick a book, too, and answer the question for your book in the comments. Though I will be choosing a multicultural book, you certainly don't have to.

I will also choose my book before reading the question in the cube. That way, I can't cheat and choose something easy to write about.

Got it? OK, let's play. We'll start tomorrow.

What a Great List of Asian-Themed Books!

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Thanks to Kathy Shepler, who forwarded me this list that was compiled by members of the YALSA listserve. It is by no means complete. I can think of a few that could be added, but a comprehensive list is a bigger task for another day. There is a Shen's website revamp in the works, and that day might be soon. Anyway, here is the YALSA list:

Asian "Themed" from YALSA Book Listserv
For readers aged 8-14

Chinese

Hannah West series by Linda Johns

Millicent Min, Girl Genius and its companion book Sanford Wong Flunks Big-Time by Lisa Yee are funny and well-written. The main characters are 11-12.

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis

Dragon Keeper by Carole Wilkinson

Dragon Wings - Yep

The Imp That Ate My Homework, by Yep

Spring Pearl: The last Flower - Laurence Yep (part of the Girls of Many Lands series)

The Amah, by Yep

***Pretty much anything by Laurence Yep, particularly The Star Fisher and its sequel, Dream Soul. These two books are about a Chinese-American family who move to a small town in West Virginia. The main character is 15, but the story is appropriate for younger readers.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord. It's historical fiction set during the Jackie Robinson's era, but the main character is a ten-year-old girl who emigrates from China and has to figure out how to fit in in America. This involves becoming a huge Brooklyn Dodgers fan.

Gene Luen Yang, American-Born Chinese (2006) BBYA 2007; MLPA 2007; NBH 2006; TBYA 2007; Alternates three interrelated stories about the problems of young Chinese Americans trying to participate in the popular culture. A graphic novel. (Graphic Novel) Bruce Lee, and John Little (ed.)

Bruce Lee : The Celebrated Life of the Golden Dragon (2000) BBYA 2002; Based on the documentary Bruce Lee: in his own words. A biography of martial artist and entertainer Bruce Lee (1940-1973). Material taken from interviews. (Chapter)

Chun Yu, Little Green : Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution (2005) NSSTB 2006; A first-person memoir of a child's view of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). (Chapter)

L.G. Bass, Sign of the Qin : Outlaws of Moonshadow Marsh (Book 1) (2004) BBYA 2005; In long-ago China, Prince Zong, the mortal young Starlord chosen to save humankind from destruction, joins the twin outlaws, White Streak and Black Whirlwind, to fight the Lord of the Dead and his demon hordes. (Chapter)

Sally Grindley, Spilled Water (2004) NSSTB 2005; SmA 2004; After her father's death, Lu Si-Yan's uncle sells her to a rich family who expect her to work as their servant until she is old enough to marry their son, but when she runs away things only get worse. (Chapter)

Geraldine McCaughrean, The Kite Rider (2002) ALAN 2003; BBYA 2003; HBF 2002; NSSTB 2003; As a boy travels the thirteenth-century Mongol conqueror Kublai Khan, he has incredible adventures. (Chapter)

Grace Lin, The Year of the Dog (2006) ALAN 2007; BELA 2007; Frustrated at her seeming lack of talent for anything, a young Taiwanese American girl sets out to apply the lessons of the Chinese Year of the Dog, those of making best friends and finding oneself, to her own life. (Chapter)

Japanese

Gary Soto, Pacific Crossing

Alison Leslie Gold, A Special Fate : Chiune Sugihara : Hero of the Holocaust (2000) NSSTB 2001; A biography of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese consul in Lithuania, who saved the lives of thousands of Jews during World War II by issuing visas against the orders of his superiors. (Chapter)

Lian Hearn, Across the Nightingale Floor : Tales of the Otori , Book One (2003) BBYA 2004; Living in feudal Japan, Takeo discovers he is a member of a group of mystical assassins. (Chapter)

Shelley Tanaka (illus. by David Craig), Attack on Pearl Harbor : The True Story of the Day American Entered World War II (2001) NSSTB 2002; Presents four different perspectives of the attack on Pearl Harbor, 2 Japanese and 2 American, with side notes providing more information and background. (Chapter)

Nancy Werlin, Black Mirror (2001) BBYA 2002; After her brother's heroin overdose, sixteen-year-old Frances attempts to overcome her isolation and alienation at their prep school. She uncovers a secrets stretching across the nation's elite schools. (Chapter)

Graham Salisbury, Eyes of the Emperor (2005)
ALAN 2006; BBYA 2006; NSSTB 2006; Following orders from the United States Army, several young Japanese American men train K-9 units to hunt Asians during World War II. (Chapter)

Michael L. Cooper, Fighting for Honor : Japanese Americans and World War II (2000) BBYA 2002; NSSTB 2001; Examines the history of Japanese in the United States, focusing on their treatment during World War II, including the mass relocation to internment camps and the distinguished service of Japanese Americans in the American military. (Chapter)

Graham Salisbury, House of the Red Fish (2006)
ALAN 2007; In 1943, Tomi's father and grandfather are still under arrest. Tomi tries to save his father's sunken fishing boat while combating anti-Japanese sentiment in Hawaii. Sequel to: Under the Blood-Red Sun (Chapter)

Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, In Darkness , Death (2004)
EAPYA 2005; Fourteen-year-old Seikei and his adoptive father Judge Ooka, investigate the murder of Lord Inaba. After figuring out it was death by ninja, the set out to find out who hired him.

Cynthia Kadohata, Kira-Kira (2004)
ALAN 2005; NM 2004; Katie Takeshima grows up Japanese-American in the American south during the 1950s and 60s. (Chapter)

Michael L. Cooper, Remembering Manzanar : Life in a Japanese Relocation Camp (2003) CGWA 2003; A sourcebook of original research, photographs, documents, and interviews of life in the Manzanar internment camp. (Chapter)

Alan Gratz, Samurai Shortstop (2006)
BBYA 2007; TBYA 2007; While obtaining a Western education at a prestigious Japanese boarding school in 1890, sixteen-year-old Toyo also receives traditional samurai training which has profound effects on both his baseball game and his relationship with his father. (Chapter)

Rhoda Blumberg, Shipwrecked ! : The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy (2001)
ALAN 2002; NSSTB 2002; A biography of Manjiro Nakahama (1827-1898), the first Japanese person to come to the United States. He began at fourteen as a castaway and ended up an honored samurai. (Chapter)

Cynthia Kadohata, Weedflower (2006)
JABA 2007; Twelve-year-old Sumiko faces discrimination and life in an internment camp. She makes friends with a Mohave boy and grows flowers to sustain her spirit. (Chapter)

Korean

Linda Sue Park, A Single Shard (2001)
ALAN 2002; BBYA 2002; NM 2002; Thirteen-year-old Tree-ear in medieval Korea, longs to learn how to throw the celadon ceramics. As an orphan, his master will not teach him. Still he helps the master potter by carrying two pieces to the court for consideration for a commission. (Chapter)

An Na, A Step from Heaven (2001)
ALAN 2002; BBYA 2002; BELA 2002; HBF 2002; MLPA 2002; NBH 2001; Vignettes show Young Ju from four to eighteen years old as her parents move to the United States, she learns English, and endures the alcoholism and physical abuse by her father against her mother, brother, and herself. (Chapter)

Linda Sue Park, When My Name Was Keoko : A Novel of Korea in World War II (2002)
ALAN 2003; BBYA 2003; JABH 2003; NSSTB 2003; A girl and her brother describe the hardships of the Koreans who lived under Japanese occupation during World War II. (Chapter)

Linda Sue Park, Project Mulberry (2007)

Linda Sue Park, Kite Fighters (2002)

Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Somebody's Daughter (10th grade and up)

Taiwanese

The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin

Gold Threaded Dress by Carolyn Marsden

Vietnamese


Linda Himelblau, The Trouble Begins

Kay Haugaard Autographs

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Yesterday, we also flew Kay Haugaard, the author of The Day the Dragon Danced, up from LA to the NCIBA trade show for her author signing. This is the first time we had ever met, despite working with her for two years already on her book! I suppose the internet and electronic communications makes this more and more common. On the one hand, it's great that we can work with people all over the world easily, but on the other hand, it's sad that sometimes we'll produce an entire project, an absolutely amazing work of art, and never meet.

At any rate, we were very happy to see each other for the first time. There was a line waiting for Kay at five minutes to one, when her signing was to start, and within half an hour, all 64 copies of The Day the Dragon Danced were gone. She kept saying that it was quite an experience, to have so many people clamoring for your book all at once. And that's another reason I love the NCIBA trade show.

NCIBA Weekend

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I love the NCIBA tradeshow. Every year, I completely forget that I love the NCIBA tradeshow until the middle of the first day (I probably said the exact same thing last year, too). I love it because I get to see old friends that I only see once a year, I get to strengthen relationships with people I have met recently, and I get to meet new people. And I'm sure I've said this before, but book people are the nicest people you'll ever meet.

This year, I caught up with:

-All the fine staff of Linden Tree Children's Books in Los Altos, California, where I worked from 1996-1999. A whole bunch of them came by my table; four or five of them were my coworkers way back when-- they are still there!

-Walter the Giant Storyteller. He was walking down the aisle perpendicular to mine. I said, "Psst! Walter!" and waved him over. I showed him our upcoming title, The Wakame Gatherers by Holly Thompson, and he immediate wanted a copy to show at his "best books of fall" talk in November.

-Kathryn Otoshi, who I finally met just this past Thursday at a children's book publishing event. And then on Saturday, there she was again! I know that Kathryn is an illustrator (Marcello the Movie Mouse), but I have heard that she is a woman of many hats. I will get to the bottom of this.

-Sales reps Nancy Suib, Howard Korel, Dan Skaggs, and Jim Caretta. All really great people.

-Edna Cabcabin Moran, who I just met a few weeks ago at another book event. She is the author and illustrator of The Sleeping Giant: A Tale from Kauai. We chatted for a while about reaching the Hawaiian market and the need for more books about Filipinos. I'm not in the habit yet to take lots of pictures for the blog, so the only picture I have is of Edna and me!

Surfacing

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I keep a diary. I started writing every night before I went to bed when I turned twelve, inspired by a bright orange Peanuts diary, complete with metal lock and key, that I received as a birthday gift. The cover depicted Lucy and a big speech bubble that read, "KEEP OUT!" That night, I began to write.

My dad was very supportive. He said that the Chinese have a saying, paraphrased something like: "If you keep a diary for a year, you will be successful. Keep a diary for ten years, and you will have already succeeded." The funny thing was, nine years, three hundred and forty-eight days after my first diary entry, I graduated from Harvard. I thought that was pretty eerie. I've been writing ever since.

But my point: if you keep a diary (or even a blog), you will understand what I mean when I say that once you miss a day of writing, the following days become that much harder because you remember that now you'll have to cover everything that has happened since you last wrote. That's how I feel these days.

I've been drowning for a little while. You could probably guess. But so much has happened that I don't know where to start. Productivity experts tell you not to worry about what you've missed because it will just prevent you from starting. So here I am, ready to move forward again.

See you around.

(If you're going to the NCIBA tradeshow this weekend, stop by and say Hi at the Shen's table.)

Kay Haugaard Autographs at the NCIBA Trade Show

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Yesterday, we also flew Kay Haugaard, the author of The Day the Dragon Danced, up from LA to the NCIBA trade show for her author signing. This is the first time we had ever met, despite working with her for two years already on her book! I suppose the internet and electronic communications makes this more and more common. On the one hand, it's great that we can work with people all over the world easily, but on the other hand, it's sad that sometimes we'll produce an entire project, an absolutely amazing work of art, and never meet.

At any rate, we were very happy to see each other for the first time. There was a line waiting for Kay at five minutes to one, when her signing was to start, and within half an hour, all 64 copies of The Day the Dragon Danced were gone. She kept saying that it was quite an experience, to have so many people clamoring for your book all at once. And that's another reason I love the NCIBA trade show.






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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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