Monday, June 19, 2017

on my desk monday

It's been a long, long time since I've illustrated another author's words...but I'm doing it now! I'm going to be illustrating an updated version of this old book:


Doesn't look familiar? Well, does the author ring a bell?


Yes! It's that Eleanor Roosevelt! I'm honored to say that I will be the illustrator of an updated version of "When You Grow Up to Vote" by Eleanor Roosevelt!

It's going to be a bit of a challenge for me--I didn't realize how rusty I was being "only the illustrator" until now. But, hopefully, I can rise to the occasion...wish me luck!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

School visit, Slingerland NY!

Here is another school visit I did, all the way back in April! This one was in Slingerlands, NY where they did a One Book, One School Read (my favorite thing!) of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon:

Why do I love visiting schools that do this so much? Well, because the kids there are so awesome:

Of course, they are taught to be so awesome by their amazing teachers and librarians who take my little book and turn it into a school-wide opportunity for learning and community building.

For example, they used the idea of the red thread and had students draw who they were connected to:

They even had a red thread  wrap on all the walls of the school to show everyone was connected...with the red thread ended at a mountain, of course.

And this is the first time I've ever seen a class use my TEDx Talk as part of their lesson curriculum. Kids reflected on which parts of the books were like a window and which parts were like a mirror:

As well as pinpointing and illustrating the figurative language in the book:


Oh, and there were also goldfish swimming in the halls:

And, after the visit,  I received this:

Did I mention how the kids were so awesome? Thanks so much, Slingerlands!

Monday, June 12, 2017

School Visit Photo Album

My school visit season is winding down and I'm a bit aghast at how little I posted about them. Dear schools, please know it is not a reflection on how much I enjoyed our event! Because I have visited so many amazing schools that have welcomed me in such creative and fun ways! I love seeing how every school uses my books!

Here are some examples of some schools I visited in April:

There were beautiful welcomes and decorations:

beautiful Kite Flying kites!
look at all the details!

One school had a giant mountain & moon, with student-made goldfish all over the school "leading" the way to it:

And there's my first lego welcome sign:

lego Dragon!
Sometimes the artistic talent shown just put me to shame:

And the projects! Like I said, SO creative. At one school,  kids made "baseball" trading cards of all the characters in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon:

and postcards to and from  characters in the book:

I find this so funny! The Buffalo sending a peeved postcard to the Buffalo Boy because Minli came over.

the goldfish asking Aunt Jin if she's a dragon yet.

And then there were old fashioned book reports done so elaborately and with so much care that they was nothing old fashioned about it...this one actually lit up:

And there's lots more! I just have to get my act together and share them! Thank you, students, teachers and librarians for being so awesome!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Community Book Stop, Part 1

For the past month the foyer in my daughter's preschool has looked like this:

It's the planned location of the Community Book Stop project I mentioned earlier!  We had a book drive asking for parents to purchase or donate the books on our booklist. We crowdsourced it from parents, teachers, and online booklists from libraries and educational journals. Every time a books was donated, we checked it off from the list. It was super fun to see more and more checkmarks everyday!

Do you want to see our booklist? Here it is! Of course, this is just the start of our small library--we hope it will grow and grow in the years to come. So, if you have any suggestions of books to add or see books that we missed, please let me know (fyi, the school is a preschool so the books should skew very young).

And stay tuned to see photos of the finished project!


Faith by Maya Ajmera
Besos for Babies: A Little Book of Kisses by Jen Arena (board)
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie
Worm Loves Worm by J. J. Austrian
I Can Do It Too! By Karen Baicker (board)
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino
Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang (board)
The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de le Peña
Chirri & Chirra by Kaya Doi
Abuela by Arthur Dorros
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle
Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell
Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox (board)
Whoever You Are (board) by Mem Fox
By Day, By Night by Amy Gibson
Global Babies by The Global Fund for Children (board)
Global Baby Bedtime by The Global Fund for Children (board)
Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall
The Hello Atlas by Ben Handicott
Ganesha's Sweet Tooth by Emily Haynes 
Hush: A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Happy to be Nappy by Bell Hooks (board)
Be Boy Buzz by Bell Hooks (board)
Skin Again by Bell Hooks
Say Hello! By Rachel Isadora (board)
Julius by Angela Johnson
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
Peter's Chair by Ezra Jack Keats (board)
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors by Hena Khan
Hooray, a Piñata! by Elisa Kleven (paperback)
Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull
Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang
Dim Sum For Everyone! by Grace Lin (board)
The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin
I Once was a Monkey: Stories Buddha Told by Jeanne M. Lee
The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
Kitchen Dance by Maurie Manning
Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault 
Emma and Julia Love Ballet by Barbara McClintock
Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn
Leo Can Swim by Anna McQuinn
Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina
Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers (board)
I am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer
Gracias/Thanks by Pat Mora
Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
A is for Activist by Innosanta Nagara (board)
Counting on Community by Innosanta Nagara (board)
Eight Candles and a Tree by Simone Bloom Nathan
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
I'm New Here by Anne Sibley O'Brien
Tickle, Tickle by Helen Oxenbury (board)
The Adventures of Sparrowboy by Brian Pinkney
This Day in June by Gayle E.Pitman
The Family Book by Todd Parr
Shade of Black: A Celebration of Our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney (board)
What does Peace feel like? By Vladimir Radunsky
Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson (board)
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
We Came to America by Faith Ringgold
Shades of People by Sheila M. Kelly
All my Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism by Shaina Rudolph
Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs
One Family by George Shannon
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith (board)
Elizabeti’s Doll by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
Toddler Two (board) by Anastasia Suen
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson
Round is a Tortilla by Roseanne Greenfield Thong
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh
Little You by Richard Van Camp (board)
We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp (board)
Delores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers by Sarah Warren
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford
 Circles of Hope by Karen Lynn Williams
“More More More,” Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams (board)
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis
Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter
Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx by Jonah Winter
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
Puddle by Hyewon Yum
Not all Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen

Saturday, May 27, 2017

this is 5!

The  eggs were filled and inspected:

then hidden amongst the decorated yard:

which, of course, included ducks:

Because it was time for Rain Dragon's Red Egg Birthday Hunt again! She's five years old and the red egg hunt is now officially a tradition, with kids standing at the ready:

for the big signal:

to GO!:

This year's  red egg hunt was fast and fierce:

But everyone made out like bandits:

And there was still enough energy to celebrate with cake:
Cake made by Auntie Christine, the fondant rainbow shapes on top are "barnacles" requested by Rain Dragon

Make a wish, Rain Dragon!

  And Happy 5th Birthday!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

small activism

Recently, I received an award. It was not for my books nor for my writing and it was given, by all places, by my local cooperative & awesome grocery store, the River Valley Coop. But it was extremely important. Because this award was a grant to help fund a project that I am as passionate about as any of my books.

Because I'm helping Rain Dragon's school (with the River Valley grant) build a Community Book Stop! It will be a free little library in the foyer of the school that will feature diverse books.

But, there's more!  To help conversations & build community, we’re adding gluing in a reading tip sheet in the front of the book (ex: Don’t be afraid to bring up challenging topics) and a blank booklet on the back so parents can record their thoughts and ideas. It's going to be great!

I can't wait for this project to get off the ground! Stay tuned for more....

Monday, May 15, 2017

on my desk monday

I just finished the sketch for a charity art project. I'll put this up for sale the week of the 4th of July and give the money to Donor's Choose!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

mother's day and the lace dress

When I was about 9 or 10, I remember going shopping with my mother. We were visiting relatives in NJ and taking advantage of their "real" shopping mall. At one of the big department stores, I fell in love with a dress--layers of white lace, frothy and full. To me it was the dress of a dream, more luxurious and fine than anything in real life. I asked my mother if we could get it. She looked at the price tag and her face shadowed. My  heart sank and I I knew she was going to say no. It was too expensive, too frivolous, too unnecessary. But, before a word left her lips she looked and me and hesitated. And then, to my great surprise, she nodded and said yes.

I wore that dress to a school concert, where I sang in the choir. They had chose nine students to stand in the front of the stage to sing and I was one of them. I sang right in the center and as I sang, I saw an older woman nudge her partner and nod towards me. My heart sank. I probably looked weird.  What was I, this Asian girl a million years away from a fairy-tale princess, doing wearing a dress like this?

But when the song finished and we walked down the aisle of the auditorium, the woman caught my eye and said, "You look lovely! Your dress is beautiful!"

Then, a warm heat filled me--embarrassment but also happiness. For that one moment, in that dress, I could let myself believe I was really pretty--a rare feat for any preteen, but an especially difficult one for me, who had always felt my Asian features precluded me from the adjective. (Also from that moment on, lace dresses were forever seen with affection, no matter how unstylish or ridiculed they were. Both my wedding dresses were lace.)

I've been thinking about that memory a lot recently.  I asked my mom what made her change mind; and she doesn't even remember buying the dress. And, to be honest, I don't even remember thanking her for it. But, somehow, maybe because it's Mother's Day and I have a girl of my own, the memory of that lace dress means more to me than ever. To me, it symbolizes a moment where I could see how my mom loved me. Not because she bought me something, but because I saw clearly how she went against her first impulse. She set aside her instinctive, immigrant frugality because she wanted to make me happy. And she did.

Thanks, Mom! Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

the problem with celebrating Tikki Tikki Tembo

So,  Bookselling this Week, a newsletter for the American Booksellers Association includes a letter from author Jacqueline Davies regarding the inclusion of Tikki Tikki Tembo as a nominee for their "Picture Book Hall of Fame" and also linked to a post of my own from 2012

While no one asked me to share my concerns with the members of the ABA, I wish they had. If they had, I would have said this:

Dear ABA Booksellers,

Hello! There’s a good chance you are sick of the topic that I am about to broach, that you are rolling your eyeballs and you are secretly thinking, “Who cares?”  And in many ways, I don’t blame you.

But the truth is, I care. I care a lot.*

Because, I know you have heard from friends, colleagues and other authors and have gotten all the links. I know they have all given you calm, rational reasons in an unbiased manner. But I thought it might be good to hear from me, an Asian-American who truly cares about this from the core of her identity.

I was thrilled when I learned that my book When the Sea Turned to Silver was nominated this year for an E.B. White Read-Aloud award. However, when I saw that Tikki Tikki Tembo was a nominee for the Hall of Fame, I was dismayed for all the reasons you probably already know: the book is not an authentic folktale as it claims and, by using an untrue tradition and made-up/incorrect words, it creates false Chinese culture.**

Am I being too sensitive? Possibly. The refrain I hear often is, “My friend is Chinese, and she loved the book! It’s not offensive!”  We all know that what one person finds heartbreaking, another can find hilarious. I would never expect anyone's reading experience to mirror my own.

So, I do not believe the book should banned. I do not believe people should stop selling it. But, I also do not believe the book should be celebrated. By voting Tikki Tikki Tembo into the Hall of Fame, it sends a message that this book is one to revere and emulate. 

We are all in this business because we love books. At every conference I go to, someone somewhere will say, “These books save lives!”  However, if we allow ourselves the satisfaction that the books we share can help, we must also realize that books can also harm.  And the harm that a book like this can create is not only individual. It’s not just the Asian girl cringing because all her classmates are chanting fake Chinese at her or the boy with the last name of Chang teased for being “nothing.” No, the bigger harm in celebrating a book such as this is that it reinforces the idea that another person’s culture, my culture, is valued so little that we don’t even need to bother to get it right. 

And that is why I care. I hope you do, too.

Thank you so much for your consideration.


Grace Lin

*For those of you interested, I invite you to watch my TEDx talk:

**Those of you who know my books might say, “Hey, Grace Lin, aren’t you being a bit of hypocrite? Aren’t your books a mishmash of Chinese folktales, as well?”  While there is some validity to that, I would say that it is because of the books I do that I have such an emotional reaction to Tikki Tikki Tembo's flaws. My books are Asian-inspired fantasies. I’ve heavily researched them so that, to my knowledge, they are all based in Chinese folklore. And with them, I try to create something new--like growing from a seed. I try to grow the myths to fit with our culture--to create something I see as Asian-American. 

Tikki Tikki Tembo, to me, does the opposite. It took a non-Chinese story and pretended that it was old and authentic, added bogus traditions and words; and, in doing so, misrepresents Chinese culture.

To me, there is difference.