May 2009 Archives

Interview with Dorina Lazo Gilmore at Into the Wardrobe

The kidlit blog Into the Wardrobe has a wonderful interview with Dorina Lazo Gilmore, author of Cora Cooks Pancit, today. Blogger Tarie, who is located in the Philippines as she blogs, asks Dorina about her ethnic background, her inspirations for the book, and, of course, her cooking:

"My mother is a fabulous cook. She is 100% Italian and I think of her as a food artist because her creative juices really flow in the kitchen. I literally grew up in the kitchen doing the "kids jobs" mentioned in my book like drawing in the flour and licking the spoons and learning the "grown-up jobs" like chopping, stirring and sautéing. My girls are 3 years old and 3 months old and they are growing up in the kitchen with me too. My creative muse is food and it often inspires my writing."
Read the entire interview here.

Book Review: Ten Days and Nine Nights by Yumi Heo

tendays.gifAdoption books are hard to get right. That's what I think. Too many are overly sentimental, trying too hard to tread the thin line between expressing the adoptive parents' love and explaining the whats and whys of adoption. But in Ten Days and Nine Nights, Yumi Heo gets it right. By keeping the text ultra-simple, by showing how small acts have big meanings, and by allowing the illustrations to tell much of the story, Heo conveys how every member of the family is looking forward to welcoming a new baby, and how joyous the occasion is.

The premise of the story is brilliant: a little girl counts down the days from when her mother departs on an airplane to when she comes back home with a new member of the family from Korea. Each page is has only one sentence, depicting a single act of preparing for the baby's arrival, and a calendar with X's marking the days. "I have ten days and nine nights," it begins, and counts down from there. The little girl does things to prepare like washing her old teddy bear and making a drawing of her kitty, that then goes up on the nursery wall. One page reads, "I practice," as she holds a doll in her arms. Another reads, "I tell Molly," and she and her friend stand by the crib. Without any words, you know what the girls are talking about and thinking.

Interspersed throughout the countdown are wordless spreads showing her mother's journey: on the airplane, signing papers at the adoption agency, meeting the new baby at the orphanage. The pacing is surprisingly cinematic and full of momentum. As the number of days decreases, we feel an excitement. Finally, "Daddy puts the CLOSED sign on his dry cleaning store. I have only one day!" And the whole family greets Mother and new baby at the airport.

Yumi Heo has always been so good at conveying a child's view of the world through simple text and wonderfully emotive illustrations. In Ten Days and Nine Nights, she successfully depicts an overseas adoption with just the right combination of information and joy.

Ten Days and Nine Nights
by Yumi Heo

Alphabet Soup Features Cora Cooks Pancit

Alphabet Soup, a blog about children's books and food (need I say more?), written by children's writer Jama Rattigan, is featuring a review of Cora Cooks Pancit today, complete with an interview with Kristi Valiant.

Jama says, "Here's a thoroughly delicious, lip-smacking picture book, perfect for celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!" I couldn't agree more. "The true joys of cooking -- from the initial anticipation, through every step of preparation, and finally, the sharing and tasting, is palpable with every page turn. By the time you come to the final double page spread of the whole family at the table, you'll wish you were right there, feasting on the adobo chicken, lumpia, and Cora's first pancit."

Besides a review of the book and some words from Krist on how she developed the illustrations, there are some interior images and a great photo of a bowl of pancit.

Which reminds me... it's lunchtime. Mmm.

Interview with Kristi Valiant at Sruble's World

The blog Sruble's World, written by illustrator Stephanie Ruble, has a nice interview with Kristi Valiant about her art, her career, and her newest book, Cora Cooks Pancit.

When asked how she chooses which scenes and details to draw from the manuscript, Kristi says,

"Picture books by definition tell part of the story through pictures, so I try to pick out parts that can be expanded upon to tell a deeper or funnier story by "reading" the illustrations. For example, in Cora Cooks Pancit, I added a dog to the illustrations who wasn't mentioned at all in the text. He follows around the main character and keeps bringing more and more toys hoping the little girl will play with him. She ignores the dog all the way through the book, until the very end when she's lying on the floor playing tug of war with the dog. I don't draw only what the text says for picture books, but novels are a bit different. In a novel, the whole story is told in the text and the illustrations usually just show the action or feeling of what's already told."

Visions: Dorina at Kids Otter Read Day, 2009

Dorina Lazo Gilmore read and signed Cora Cooks Pancit at the inaugural Kids Otter Read Day Around the Bay on May 16, 2009.
Here she is reading to the kids at Books, Inc. in Palo Alto.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore signs at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
April 26, 2009
Terry Hong of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program Blog, BookDragon, has posted a wonderful review of Cora Cooks Pancit, by Dorina Lazo Gilmore and illustrated by Kristi Valiant.

Hong writes,

"Gilmore, who grew up in a Filipino Italian kitchen, tells a heartwarming tale that illustrator Valiant captures with the perfect combination of whimsy and action. You can actually feel Cora's longing as she watches her siblings in the kitchen, her wonder as she listens to Mama's stories about Lolo, her worry that her pancit might disappoint, and her beaming pride when the whole family enjoys the meal she so lovingly helped to create. This is one treasure of a family book. Delicious, too!"

Click here to read the entire review.

2009 Skipping Stones Honor Award

skippingstones.jpgCongratulations to Grandfather's Story Cloth for being named a 2009 Honor Award Book by Skipping Stones Magazine!

Every year, Skipping Stones chooses a short list of books that "promote cooperation and cultivate an awareness of our diverse cultures. Together, they encourage an understanding of the world's diversity, ecological richness, respect for differing viewpoints and close relationships in human societies."

We are so proud that Grandfather's Story Cloth has been chosen to be among this highly esteemed group of books. Click here for a pdf of the Skipping Stones press release.

Congratulations to all the books honored this year!

52 Days by Camel by Lawrie Raskin with Debora Pearson. Annick Press. Ages 9-13.

A Boy Named Beckoning by Gina Capaldi. Carolrhoda Books.Ages 8-12.

As Good as Anybody by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Raul Colón. Alfred Knopf. Ages 6-10.

A is for Abraham by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Ron Mazellan. Sleeping Bear Press. Elementary grades.

Baila, Nana, Baila/Dance, Nana, Dance retold by Joe Hayes, illustrated by Mauricio T. Sayago. Cinco Puntos. Middle grades.

Ethiopian Voices: Tsion's Life by Stacy Bellward, photographs by Erlend Berge. Amharickids. Ages 6-11.

Extraordinary Women from the Muslim World by Natalie Maydell and Sep Riahi, illustrated by Heba Amin. Global Content Ventures. Ages 9-13.

I Am Barack Obama by Charisse Carney-Nunes, illustrated by Ann Marie Williams. BrandNu Words. Ages 6-10.

Pitch Black, a graphic novel by Youme Landowne and Anthony Horton. Cinco Puntos. Ages 13-17.

Lana's Lakota Moons by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve. Univ. of Nebraska Press. Ages 12 and up.

The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang. Coffee House Press. Ages 14 and up.

Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins. Delacorte Press. Ages 12 and up.

The Storyteller's Candle by Lucia Gonzalez, illustr. Lulu Delacre. Children's Book Press. Ages 6 and up.

Grandfather's Story Cloth by Linda Gerdner and Sarah Langford, illustrated by Stuart Loughridge. Shen's Books. Ages 4-9.

The Asian Reporter

asianreporter.jpgThere's a wonderful review of Grandfather's Story Cloth in this week's Asian Reporter! Here's the best part:

"Grandfather's Story Cloth would be a distinctive book if it had been written in only one language, but the fact that English and Hmong appear side by side catapults it into a category all its own."

But you can read the whole thing online here. It's all good.

Full Listing of Kids Otter Read Day Events

This just in:

Children's book creators are bringing their creativity to 12 independent bookstores during the inaugural Kids Otter Read Day Around the Bay. The free celebration, sponsored by the Northern California Children's Booksellers Association, will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 16 at bookstores from Napa to Pleasanton to San Jose. Each store is planning fun and educational activities for all ages featuring four or five authors and illustrators. For more information, visit  Kids Otter Read Day coincides with national Children's Book Week (May 11-17), celebrating books and reading since 1919.

Here's the full and glorious list of who will be reading and signing where:

4100 Macarthur Blvd., Oakland
Christina Meldrum
Elizabeth Partridge
Lea Lyon
Debra Sartell
1378 Lincoln Ave., San Jose
Lisa Brown
Karen Beaumont
Christy Hale
Ashley Wolff
Tim Myers
Town and Country Village
Jim LaMarche
Dorina Lazo Gilmore
Betsy Franco
Cynthia Chin-Lee
Susan Taylor Brown
1344 Park St.
David Schwartz
Daniel San Souci
Matt Faulkner
Ginger Wadsworth
Leah Waarvik
2251 Chestnut St., SF
Elissa Haden Guest
Lynn Hazen
Pam Turner
Scott Michelson
Lisa Shulman
30 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette
Marissa Moss
Elisa Kleven
Vivian Walsh
Wendy Lichtman
5433-D Clayton Rd.
Deborah Lee Rose
Kathryn Otoshi
Deborah Davis
Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff
Ben Esch
1307 Castro St., SF
Julie Downing
Robert San Souci
Pat Murphy
Dashka Slater
555 Main St., Pleasanton
Caren McCormack
Ying Chang Compestine
Clarissa Yu Shen
Erin Dealey
3900A Bel Aire Plaza, Napa
Patricia Newman
Katherine Tillotson
Hillary Homzie
Marsha Diane Arnold
170 State St., Los Altos
Jim Averbeck
Karen Ehrhardt
Kimberly Zarins
Jill Wolfson
51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Alexandra Boiger
Lissa Rovetch
Susan Meyers
Ann Manheimer
Bob Barner

May 16, 2009: Dorina Lazo Gilmore at Kids Otter Read Day

dorina.jpgOn May 16th the Northern California Children's Bookseller's Association will sponsor the first-ever KIDS OTTER READ DAY AROUND THE BAY, a celebration of children's booksellers, children's books authors, children's book illustrators,and, most importantly, children's book lovers.

Open to readers of all ages, Kids Otter Read Day will feature appearances by local children's authors and illustrators from 1pm to 3pm at more than 10 independent bookstores around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dorina Lazo Gilmore, author of Cora Cooks Pancit, will be at Books Inc. in Palo Alto. Stop in to take part in this community event and say hello! Dorina will be there along with powerhouse children's book authors Betsy Franco, Cynthia Chin-Lee, and Susan Taylor Brown.

Kids Otter Read Day Around the Bay
Dorina Lazo Gilmore and others
Books, Inc. Palo Alto
Towne &Country Village
855 El Camino Real #74, Palo Alto
May 16, 2009
1:00pm - 3:00pm

tsunami.jpgThis book has everything!  Beautiful text, timed just right to be simultaneously horrifying and heartwarming, suspense, excitement, a wise man's puzzling act. A colorful celebration followed by raging fires and massive destruction, a hero, then a happy ending. Oh, and of course, amazing artwork.

Tsunami is a tale told in the folk tradition of a Japanese village by the sea. Ojisan, a rich but wise old rice farmer, lived on the mountain high above the village and the sea. One day, as the village was celebrating the rice harvest, Ojisan had a strange feeling, and decided not to go. "Something does not feel right," he told his grandson. Sure enough, they felt a mild earthquake rumble under their feet, but then it was gone. Ojisan still did not feel right. Then he noticed that "THE SEA WAS RUNNING AWAY FROM THE LAND!" Because the celebrating villagers did not understand the danger, they chased the sea away as it exposed smooth sand. But Ojisan understood, and came up with a plan to save the four hundred villagers who were too far away to hear his shouts.

It goes without saying the any book illustrated by Ed Young will be wonderful to look at, but Tsunami is superlative even among his books. The illustrations are composed of cut-paper collage, but the details are exceptionally stunning-- from the village celebration of parading men and kimono-ed women, to the breathtaking spread of the great wall of water headed for the seaside village. The fibers of the paper create the churning whitewater breaking over a sea of blackness, engulfing the shore. Exquisite.

The text, however, is even better than the illustrations. Kimiko Kajikawa adapted this story from a short story published in 1897, and has done so perfectly. The language and pacing is so perfect that I wanted to savor every sentence. Ojisan's quiet wisdom was so clear on every page, and his kindness and horror were equally clear, in the all-caps sentences: THE SEA WAS RUNNING AWAY FROM THE LAND! On the double-page spread following the wall of water, Young depicts a churning flow of water and village architecture. Kajikawa writes, "Then the sea drew back, roaring, tearing out the land as it went. Twice, thrice, four times, the furious sea devoured the village."

Every page of Tsunami filled me with different emotions, from peace to horror, to cheering, to despair. Until the ending, after Ojisan has saved the villagers, though not the village, his generosity and kindness overwhelmed me. I closed the book, smiling and swallowing hard.

Tsunami by Kimiko Kajikawa, illustrated by Ed Young

China, the Fun Stuff! Part 3: Shanghai

Imagine the skyline, density, and geography of Manhattan. Imagine filling an area the size of Los Angeles with it. That's my impression of Shanghai.

IMG_2248.JPGThe most interesting thing about Shanghai is its schizophrenia. Everywhere you look is a juxtaposition of the old and the new. The poor, and the rich. I stayed with a friend who lived in a high-rise service apartment with a doorman and two receptionists. Where a housekeeper comes twice a week to clean and put a new roll of toilet paper in the bathroom (during my stay in China, I found myself becoming obsessed over the availability of toilet paper). A block away, however, was a row of old-school food vendors where you could get four pork buns for about fifty cents, and you got them to go in a paper bag because you were afraid to eat off the gray plates available for eating in. Two blocks from there was the high-rise mall with the Prada and Gucci stores.

I spent a lot of time walking around the city. On my first day, I walked to Old Shanghai Street, a quaint shopping district of traditional architecture (if somewhat touristy), and knick-knack shops, where I failed miserably when haggling over two T-shirts.

Old Shanghai Road

The old and the new

On my second day, I walked to Fuzhou Road, known for its concentration of bookshops. I spent a lot of time at the Shanghai Book Store, which was most definitely the biggest bookstore I've ever been to. It had the floor plan of a mid-sized department store, with SEVEN floors.

The Shanghai Book Store

I also walked along The Bund, the area along the Huangpu River lined by beautiful 19th Century western-style buildings.

The Bund

IMG_2258-1.JPGOne of the buildings along the Bund

I left the next morning-- all in all, a very short trip to Shanghai. With the World Expo opening there next year, perhaps we'll have an excuse to go back, and see all the things I missed!

China, the Fun Stuff! Part 2: Queue Culture

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I took the train from Hangzhou to Shanghai, and I almost got trampled to death trying to reach the platform.

Despite all the progress modern China has seen these past ten years, I think it's very hard and slow process to change fundamental cultural attitudes among such a large number of people. The most obvious one to me on my trip was China's notoriously nonexistent "queue culture." Remember before the Olympics, when we heard reports of the government teaching people how to line up politely? This is no joke. Having been to China and Taiwan many times before, I knew this. But I was still alternately horrified and fascinated by the idea that not lining up was the cultural standard, and no one gave it any other thought. Fairness? Order? Physical safety? These simply weren't issues.

To make a long story short, I was in the waiting room of the train station in Hangzhou, and I thought I was sort of "in line" to go through the closed double doors leading the platform. Within a few minutes, however, I found myself trapped in the center of a large, amorphous crowd. And the when the double doors opened, the entire crowd surged forward as one, like trying to squeeze a water balloon through a straw.

People behind me and to my sides were pushing at me, insistent on shuffling toward the doors, despite the hundreds of people (and me) blocking their way. I held onto the handle of my suitcase for dear life, lest I get separated from it in the massive heave. It got turned sideways, making it impossible to roll, and I held my ground, dragging and shuffling my way forward.

As soon I got past the doorway, the coast was completely clear. The train platform was so large that it felt like a completely empty Grand Central Station platform, and the train itself was brand-spanking new: clean, modern, and roomy. Stewards were coming through the cars offering free coffee and bottled water. It was lovely.

And our seats? They were all assigned. Seriously.

China, the Fun Stuff! Part 1: Hangzhou

Meeting with book people in Hangzhou was only a small part of my China trip. The rest was fun!

I spent the first half of the week with my parents in Hangzhou. The main attraction in Hangzhou, especially at this time of year, is the West Lake. West Lake is a center of both natural beauty and historical significance. The man-made lake is surrounded by parks, trails, temples, and pagodas. In the spring especially, it is a popular tourist destination, making it exceedingly crowded on weekends. When we were there.

The view from the top of Leifung Tower, this is only one small portion of the entire lake. The weather was somewhat humid and hazy that day.

Leifung Tower, the setting of the famous folktale, Lady White Snake

IMG_2168.JPGCrowds of tourists inside the Yue Fei Temple, named and built for the famous general Yue Fei

View of the lake from one of the many parks along the shore

Gah! Look at all those people!

On our last day in Hangzhou, we rented bicycles that available throughout the city as a public service. There are city bike parking areas all over, and using a magnetic card, you check a bike out from one and can return it back at any other stand. Actually, it's more like borrowing than renting, since the first hour is free. It's a great service, especially for local people who just need to run some errands. We rode our bikes all the way around the lake.

That's my dad.

And that's my mom and dad, along the shore. This was at about 7:30am, before the hordes of people arrived.

After Hangzhou, my parents traveled on to Taiwan, while I headed for Shanghai for a few days. Stay tuned for Shanghai pics!
mocha.gifEvery year, the Museum of Children's Art in Oakland, CA puts on a wonderful exhibit of children's book illustration, with a twist. Each artist's contribution to the show is not only accompanied by the book that it was made for, but an art piece from the artist's childhood.There are plenty of crayon drawings, sketches, and basically very fun and funny blasts from the past, as the illustrators show their roots and their senses of humor.

This year's Once Upon a Time exhibit runs from May 9th until June 14th, with a free opening reception on the afternoon of the 9th, from 2:00pm until 4:00pm. Meet and mingle with the illustrators and see how they've grown as artists!

The exhibit will feature artist Don Freeman (or Corduroy fame) and several Shen's Books artists, including Soma Han Stickler (Land of Morning Calm, Tigers Frogs and Rice Cakes), Kristi Valiant (Cora Cooks Pancit) and a future artist of ours, Kathryn Otoshi (One).

Once Upon a Time: Children's Book Illustrators, Then and Now
Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA)
Exhibit: May 9 - June 14, 2009
Opening Reception: May 9, 2009, 2:00pm - 4:00pm, Free
538 Ninth Street, Suite 210
Oakland, CA 94607

Thumbnail image for mtsaclitday.jpg

Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA is holding it's Children's Literature Day on Saturday, May 9, 2009. It will be a day full of author and illustrator readings and signings, and children's entertainment. Sounds like a lot of fun!

Four Shen's authors and illustrators will be on hand to read and sign their books:

Kay Haugaard
Malathi Michelle Iyengar
Soma Han
John Stickler

Mt. San Antonio College Children's Literature Day
Saturday, May 9, 2009
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Student Life Building (9C), Mt. San Antonio College
100 N. Grand Ave. Walnut, CA
Free Admission

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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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