"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.
May 2009 Archives
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
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.
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."
"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.
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.
"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.
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 kidsotterread.com. 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
1378 Lincoln Ave., San Jose
BOOKS INC, PALO ALTO
Town and Country Village
Dorina Lazo Gilmore
Susan Taylor Brown
BOOKS INC, ALAMEDA
1344 Park St.
Daniel San Souci
BOOKS INC In the MARINA
2251 Chestnut St., SF
Elissa Haden Guest
30 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette
5433-D Clayton Rd.
Deborah Lee Rose
COVER TO COVER
1307 Castro St., SF
Robert San Souci
TOWNE CENTER BOOKS
555 Main St., Pleasanton
Ying Chang Compestine
Clarissa Yu Shen
3900A Bel Aire Plaza, Napa
Marsha Diane Arnold
170 State St., Los Altos
51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
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 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
The 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.
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.
I also walked along The Bund, the area along the Huangpu River lined by beautiful 19th Century western-style buildings.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
Malathi Michelle Iyengar
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
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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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