Friday, February 26, 2010

fortune cookie friday

"A flower cannot blossom without sunshine nor a garden without love."
-Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

not exactly me on the actor's studio

I admit, I have a google alert on my name. I usually just skim through it, just to make sure there is nothing too horrible but I try not to get to obsessive about it (last thing we need is for me to become even that much more self-involved!). But this link to a youtube book report of THE YEAR OF THE DOG was too irresistible!

Isn't this hilarious? I should hire her to do my book trailers!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

book talk tuesday

ALVIN HO by Lenore Look

ALVIN HO IS an Asian American second grader who is afraid of everything—elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.

My Thoughts: This book is hilarious! I love the joie de vivre illustration by Leuyam Pham and Alvin is such a great character. Perfect example of a multicultural book where the race of the character is not an issue--where the story is about a character that just happens to be Asian. Don't miss Lenore Look's Ruby Lu books either.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

on the way to the grocery store

When Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year happen at the same time, you get the...

Love Dragon!

Friday, February 19, 2010

fortune cookie friday

"If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed."
-Chinese Proverb

Thursday, February 18, 2010

sinking in

This is the conversation that takes place in my head almost everyday:

Hey, look, there is a sticker on your book!
Huh, fancy that.
That means Where the Mountain Meets the Moon won the Newbery Honor!
It did?
Yes, remember the phone call?
Kind of. It's a blur.
All those e-mails? Your friends screaming? The flowers? Remember?
Wait, that was for real?

Because even now I still have a hard time believing that my book won an award. I find it a bit easier when I think of it as my book was "given" an award. Because then it is more like a gift. Which it is.

But it's starting to sink in, albeit a bit slowly. Most recently, during my visit to my publisher in NY they had an in-office party to celebrate:

and even though I knew they were going to toast me I was surprised. I almost looked around, behind me, to see who they were clapping for!

And, I couldn't decide what was a lovelier sight. The cupcakes:

Or the books with the pretty silver stickers:

In the end, I went with the books (hard decision though) and went for a group photo with them.

L to R: Ames, my publicist (well, not my publicist but rather my publisher's), Alvina, my editor (well, not just my editor but other people's too), me, and Rebecca, my agent (also shared)

Because my book won the Newbery Honor. Really. It did. I think.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I am getting married really soon!

And I admit, when I first spoke about the upcoming nuptials to people I said that this wedding wouldn't be a big deal. First of all, due to Squatchie's importation issues (aka immigration visa), we have to get married in 90 days (now about 25). So I said to everyone in my most offhand matter, that this was just going to be a quickie, not much more than a city hall affair. Maybe we'd have a large party in the summer with all the extended family.

The other reason why I said the marriage ceremony would be a non-event was because it is my second wedding. I've been through the white dress, and the aisle and the church. I didn't need to go through it again.

But I was wrong. The closer and closer it gets to the day, the more I begin to feel like I want it to be a special day. This is truly a new start for both Squatchie and me, and it feels like it should have a bit of celebration. So sorry, everyone. I lied. I didn't mean to. But it's probably going to be more of a wedding wedding than I said it would be.

And I know this because I have found myself overly and embarrassingly enthusiastic about many a bridal thing. Most recently I found myself romanticizing about the vintage look of these old Chinese advertising models:

which lead to this hot roller adventure:

with this very surprising result:

I kind of liked it, but it's probably just a bit too much. I think it will work if it's toned down a little. But if it doesn't, it's okay. It's not a big deal...

I know, you've heard that before!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

book talk tuesday

SKATING SHOES by Noel Streatfeild

IndieBound Description: It's a stroke of great luck when Harriet Johnson’s doctor prescribes skating after an illness that has left her feeling frail and listless. For on her very first day at the rink, Harriet meets orphaned Lalla Moore, who is being brought up by her wealthy aunt Claudia to be a skating champion. Although they have little in common, the girls form a fast friendship. Harriet is energized by talented, funny Lalla, and Lalla in turn blossoms under the affection of openhearted Harriet. The girls skate together more and more. But just as Lalla’s interest in skating starts to fade, Harriet’s natural talent begins to emerge. Suddenly Lalla and Harriet seem headed in two very different directions. Can their friendship survive?

My Thoughts: I love all the Noel Streatfeild "Shoes" books! This is an especial favorite of mine as I once dreamed of being an ice skater. Mine is a first edition dated 1951! This one has just come back in print in paperback and perfect for any girl who is captivated by the ice skaters at the winter Olympics! Don't miss the other Shoes books, either.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

attempting to answer New Year questions

me_tigerSo, even though I have written 3 Lunar New Year themed books (BRINGING IN THE NEW YEAR, THE YEAR OF THE DOG, and THE YEAR OF THE RAT), I don't really consider myself an expert. But I do know some things! So with my limited knowledge, I thought I would try to answer some of the more frequently asked questions there are about the Lunar New Year.

Q. Why is Lunar New Year a different date every year?

A. The Lunar New Year is celebrated on the first day of, well, the lunar year. That means it follows the lunar calendar which is based on the phases of the moon vs the solar calendar--the one we use regularly.

Q.  What should we eat for Lunar New Year?

A. No matter what you eat, you should eat a lot!  If you remember in my books THE YEAR OF THE DOG, and THE YEAR OF THE RAT, there was always a lot of food! That is because if you are full and satisfied on Lunar New Year, that means you will be satisfied for the whole year. In fact, you should be dinner leftovers as well--that means you'll have more than enough for the New Year!

There are many different symbolic food that one can eat for the New Year. Most people serve a whole fish (with the head and the tail on) because the word for fish is a homonym for the word abundance--and to obtain ALL your abundance for the year, you must serve ALL the fish--so don't cut the head or tail off.

But my favorite dish for New Year's was always the fried dumplings called jiao zi. In, THE YEAR OF THE DOG, my mother says, "If you eat these, you'll be rich!" That is because they symbolize gold coins. For a Jiao Zi recipe try this one.

Q. This is the Year of the Tiger! What does that mean?

In my book, THE YEAR OF THE RAT, there is the story of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, which tells of the great race of the animals to win the the honor of a year named after them. The winning animals had their own characteristics as you can tell by how they they competed.

The Tiger won his place by sheer strength, courage and nerve. That is why they say people who are born in the Year of the Tiger are risk-takers and brave. So, this year, the Year of the Tiger, is the year where we all have to be strong, brave and ready to take risks. It might be a bit unpredictable and surprising--but hopefully all in lucky way

Happy Year of the Tiger!

Roar! Today marks the start of the Year of the Tiger!

In my book, THE YEAR OF THE RAT, there is the story of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, which tells of the great race of the animals to win the the honor of a year named after them. The winning animals had their own characteristics as you can tell by how they they competed.

The Tiger won his place by sheer strength, courage and nerve. That is why they say people who are born in the Year of the Tiger are risk-takers and brave. So, this year, the Year of the Tiger, is the year where we all have to be strong, brave and ready to take risks. It might be a bit unpredictable and surprising.

Now, I was born in the Year of the Tiger so this is MY year. But, it doesn't mean it will be a lucky one. When it is YOUR year, it means it will be a year of important and possibly life-changing decisions. It's the year where big things happen that change the course of your life. eeks! trying to be brave...

Happy Lunar New Year!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bring in the New Year!

At my recent school visit to the Winsor School in Greenville RI, they had a lantern parade to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year!

Here comes the Year of the Tiger!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

regarding the care and feeding of your visiting author

Here I am, on book 173 of 308 books to be signed at my recent (and very lovely) visit at the Brooklyn Friends School:

I'm getting a bit tired.

Until, of course, the cupcakes arrive!

Only 135 books left? Piece of cake! Oh, I guess I mean cupcake...

Thank you, oh wise (very wise) Brooklyn Friends School Librarians!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

book talk tuesday

The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, by Barbara O'Connor

IndieBound Description: Nothing ever happens in Fayette, South Carolina. That’s what Popeye thinks, anyway. His whole life, everything has just been boring, boring, boring. But things start to look up when the Jewells’ Holiday Rambler makes a wrong turn and gets stuck in the mud, trapping Elvis and his five rowdy siblings in Fayette for who knows how long. Popeye has never met anyone like Elvis Jewell. He’s so good at swearing he makes Uncle Dooley look like a harp-strumming angel, and he says “So what?” like he really means it. Then something curious comes floating down the creek—a series of boats with secret messages—and it sends Popeye and Elvis into the big world on the hunt for a small adventure. With a healthy helping of humor and the signature Southern charm that has captivated children and critics alike, Barbara O’Connor’s newest tale is a heartwarming look at the joy that can come out of being a Royal Rule Breaker, and learning to find one’s own adventures.

My Thoughts: From the size of the actual book--it's just a bit smaller than standard, perfectly matching the "small adventure" title--to the characters to the storyline and vocabulary words, I thought this book was extremely charming. Barbara O'Connor has an amazing gift of writing a lot of story with very few words.

Monday, February 8, 2010

on my desk monday

I hope you saw the Chinese New Year crafts I posted last night!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chinese Firecracker Craft

This Chinese Firecracker Craft is safe and fire-free!

-bubble wrap
-toilet paper roll
-red and yellow (or gold paint) & paintbrushes

1. Staple (or tape) the ends of the pipe cleaner to the inside of the roll. Then twist the pipe cleaner together to make it look more like a fuse:

2.Cut a 2x3 inch rectangle of bubble wrap, roll it and put it into the tube. Use a little tape on the top and bottom so it doesn't move around.

3. Paint your tube red. With the yellow paint, paint decorations on the firecracker such as the Chinese word FU (you can use this for reference) or a border of your imagination!

4.Now you can set off your firecracker. Put your fingers or thumbs into the tube and pop the bubble wrap! When the bubble wrap is popped, it sounds like fireworks are going off! (This works best when there is a whole classroom of kids doing this at once!) Happy Lunar New Year!

Chinese New Year Banner Craft

The simplest of crafts to start your year lucky!


1. red square of paper, preferably about 8x8 (8 is a lucky number!) but can be any size
2. gold paint
3. paintbrush

1. Paint a simple single line border about a half inch from the edge of you paper with the gold paint.

2. Turn your paper so it makes a diamond shape, not a square. Copying the character found HERE, paint the Chinese word for luck (FU) in the center.

3. Before New Year's Eve tape your banner right side up on your door to welcome in luck!

After New Year's Eve, turn your banner upside down:

because in Chinese the "reversed fu" is homophonic with "fu dao le" pronounced as "fu comes." The upside down fu becomes a pun that means "good fortune has arrived!"

Friday, February 5, 2010

fortune cookie friday

"To attract good fortune, spend a new penny on an old friend, share an old pleasure with a new friend and lift up the heart of a true friend by writing his name on the wings of a dragon."
-Chinese Proverb

Thursday, February 4, 2010

#7 on the NY Times!

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is #7 on the NY Times Children Bestseller list!! WOW!!!

I never thought I'd see the day when a book of mine would be on that, truly. This just goes to show the power of librarians!! They are more powerful than Al Roker!

The only small (very, very small!) downer is that the children's list is only printed when they have children's reviews
...which is once a month. I have to hope that the book stays on there for a month if I want to get a real newspaper printed copy of the list (which I very much want because I don't know if this will ever happen again!). Now, I am really stocking up on the jade bracelets.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Spirit of the Tiger!

PaperTigers has announced an exciting and important new project, Spirit of PaperTigers! This project aims to put a selected set of multicultural books into the hands of children in areas of need in different parts of the world.

This is a wonderful initiative! 100 specially chosen book sets are donated to schools and libraries in need. I am incredible proud that Where the Mountain Meets the Moon has been chosen as part of 2010 book set. PaperTigers is such an amazing organization, with the goal of raising awareness "of our common humanity and to contribute to fuller human community" everyday. Wow. I am honored and humbled that my work is a part of that!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

book talk tuesday

The Search for Delicious, by Natalie Babbit

IndieBound Description: Gaylen, the King’s messenger, a skinny boy of twelve, is off to poll the kingdom, traveling from town to farmstead to town on his horse, Marrow. At first it is merely a question of disagreement at the royal castle over which food should stand for Delicious in the new dictionary. But soon it seems that the search for Delicious had better succeed if civil war is to be avoided.
Gaylen’s quest leads him to the woldweller, a wise, 900-year-old creature who lives alone at the precise center of the forest; to Canto, the minstrel who sings him an old song about a mermaid child and who gives him a peculiar good-luck charm; to the underground domain of the dwarfs; and finally to Ardis who might save the kingdom from havoc.

My Thoughts: My sister asked me for another quest-type, fantasy, middle grade book that would match well with Where the Mountain Meets the Moon for her kids' book club and I immediately thought of this one. It is one of my absolute favorites from childhood (which probably helped inspired my book). It has the simplicity and charm that I aspired to, as well a certain kindness and charm. In fact, as a child, I loved this books so much that I irrationally and foolishly refused to read other Natalie Babbit books because I was afraid I would be disappointed (which I was not, when I finally gave in). By the way, this new cover is gorgeous. The version I have is nice, but I think this one is better!

Monday, February 1, 2010