Tuesday, November 30, 2010

book talk tuesday

THE UNFINISHED ANGEL by Sharon Creech

IndieBound Description:

Peoples are strange!

The things they are doing and saying—sometimes they make no sense. Did their brains fall out of their heads? And why so much saying, so much talking all the time day and night, all those words spilling out of those mouths? Why so much? Why don't they be quiet?

In the ancient stone tower of the Casa Rosa, in a tiny village high in the Swiss Alps, life for one angel has been the same, well, for as long as she (or he?) can remember. Until Zola arrives, a determined American girl who wears three skirts all at once. For neighbors who have been longtime enemies, children who have been lost, and villagers who have been sleepily living their lives: hold on. Zola and the angel are about to collide. Figs start flying, dogs start arfing, and the whole village begins to wake up. Zola is a girl with a mission. And our angel has been without one—till now.

This hilarious and endearing novel by Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech reminds us that magic is found in the most ordinary acts of kindness.

My Thoughts: Sharon Creech is kind of my idol, in terms of writing. I think everything she writes is wonderful, it's only comparing degrees of wonderful-ness when I say anything about her books. This book is heartwarming and sweet-- a wonderful read to begin your holiday season!

Monday, November 29, 2010

a family thanksgiving dinner

It's probably dull for people to read about my normal family doings, but it's these normal occasions that make life so lovely that I can't help chronicle them.

This year's Thanksgiving was especially fun as we spent it with my older sister's family. They had a full house with 19 people to feed!

(Notice the red envelopes? They are filled with fortunes--like in fortune cookies. They were written by the kids which is why the fortunes said things like, "You are a duck" and "You are a hot dog." It's our new Asian-American tradition.)

Most of the noise was made by the monkeys kids:
Who made the cliche, "My how you've grown," feel very appropriate:

Nephew Cappy about 3 years ago

Nephew Cappy now (I hope he still has the same pajamas next year).

And those great poems that we wrote became the highlight of the after dinner entertainment:





It was a great Thanksgiving! I hope yours was as fun and as happy!

on my desk monday

It's the Ling and Ting audiobook!

When I was learning how to read, my mother got me one of the books with a floppy record...I listened to it so much that the record warped and the narration got distorted. No worries about that nowadays with cd's and such; but I'm thrilled that perhaps somewhere some one will get the same joy as I did listening and reading to a book at the same time.

*And I just found out that Ling & Ting has also been listed as a Booklist Editor's Choice for 2010! Neat!

Friday, November 26, 2010

fortune cookie friday


“One who cannot tolerate small ills will never accomplish great things”
-Chinese Proverb

Thursday, November 25, 2010

thanksgiving

I'm spending time with my family for Thanksgiving and so far the highlight has been writing poems with my young niece. At Bookmania I met Isabel Campoy and purchased her book, Pio Peep! with English and Spanish nursery rhymes:


I bought it mostly as a keepsake, but was delighted when my niece picked it up and started to read it with interest. We enjoyed it so much that we began to write our own poems:


My good friend Elaine has always advocated poetry to me as a great way to encourage reading and writing with kids, and now I completely believe it. It's created a Thankgiving memory I'll always remember with happiness.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

bookmania!

Last Saturday, I was at Chicago Public Library's Bookmania event. There was a lot of books and a lot of mania, let me tell you. There was an incredible list of events going on, including meeting character Frog and Toad and a Golden Books Art exhibit. But I didn't get to see any of it because it was so busy where I was situated, at the THANKING THE MOON booth.

Not only was it incredibly busy, it was a lot of fun. My booth had the bunny lantern craft available for all to the kids to do:

which they made beautifully:


There were even glowsticks for everyone, so the lanterns glowed at night!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

book talk tuesday

THE SECRET VOICE OF GINA ZHANG by Dori Jone Yang

From School Library Journal: On Jinna's first day of school in this country, she is nervous and confused. Her parents expect her to learn English quickly, but when she is asked to repeat a word in her ESL class, she finds she cannot speak at all, not even in Chinese. The problem grows worse and worse, until Jinna's inability to talk leads her fifth-grade classmates and teachers to believe she is slow or just trying to get attention. Only at home, while inventing the story of Princess Jade-Blossom, which she acts out with characters made of yarn, can Jinna find the courage to speak English. But this is her own secret world, one that she doesn't want to share with anyone, not even Priscilla, the lonely outcast who gradually becomes her friend. Priscilla helps Jinna find the courage to speak in her own way, to prove that even though she finds it hard to talk, she is learning; and that she, too, is brave, clever, and noble, like the princess in her imagination. Wonderfully crafted, with believable and sympathetic characters, Gina Zhang draws readers into Jinna's world of fear and frustration. Princess Jade-Blossom's adventures in the Land of Far Away are interwoven throughout Jinna's own story, paralleling the challenges she faces in her new life in Seattle. This moving and absorbing novel conveys the terrors of having to adapt to a new school and a new language.

My Thoughts: This is an unusual pick for me. First, it's out-of-print and unable to find on IndieBound (which is why I linked to Amazon). Second, it skews older (I'd say 6th grade level) than the books I usually post about. Third, this is kind of a sad book. I cried and cried when I read this, feeling so bad for Jinna who suffers from selective mutism. But from the parents' seemingly unsympathetic attitude to the Priscilla's selfishness all the characters are so real and human; I feel anyone who reads this will come away with a more open mind and a feeling of needed compassion for immigrant children (and adults) who have come to make a new country their home.

Monday, November 22, 2010

on my desk monday

I finished the case for my Mac air! Isn't it pretty?

It took me a while--a lot longer than it should have. Mostly because I didn't use a sewing machine and did it all by hand (I have a sewing machine but I can't figure out how to work it...)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

school visit memories

My school visit season has begun and I have been running around madly. It's been lovely to meet all the students and teachers who enjoy my books, though!

I especially love seeing how the students get excited for my visits. From finding trivia on my website:


(the librarian made up a fun, little list of questions students had to answer from my website--so she was teaching them information finding skills as well as more about me!)


to learning about Chinese painting:

One girl even made the map of Minli's journey from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon!


What is really nice is that schools tend to inspire each other. This school in South Windsor read about how another (the school that threw me the red egg party with musical entertainment) had decided to use The Year of the Dog for their "One Book, One School" program (the whole school reads the same book). So, they decided to do the same thing!

Isn't that grand? Thanks so much for the lovely memories!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

book talk tuesday

NECKLACE OF RAINDROPS by Joan Aiken

Indie Bound Description:
Here are eight gloriously imaginative stories for eight satisfying sessions of bedtime reading. There’s a flying apple pie, a cat that’s bigger than an elephant, a house that lays an egg, storybook animals that leap out of their books at night, and a wealth of other wonderful characters and ideas, all with the colorful, dreamlike quality of the very best fairy tales. Joan Aiken’s delicious prose is a joy to read aloud to very young listeners yet simple enough for the independent reader to savor on his or her own. Kevin Hawkes’s illustrations–nearly 60 of them–capture with great flair and fun the magical adventures and the triumph of the good over the bad.

My Thoughts:
Charming, fun book! My favorite story is "The Three Travelers" but they are all delightful. This reminds me of the fairy tale books I used to read when I younger, but I think these are better. They are funnier and lighter and more imaginative. The illustrations in this book are great, but I wish there could have been some color illustrations. The stories just seem to call out for lush, colorful images. Well, maybe in my free time someday I will paint some for fun!

Monday, November 15, 2010

on my desk monday


My new Mac Air computer is so new that they don't make cases for it yet! I'm not much of a sewer, but I'm giving a home-made case a shot. Like my decorations? It's going to be an apple in the clouds!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

forgot to mention earlier

But I will be at the Chicago Public Library on Saturday, November 20, 2010, as part Bookmania, their free (yay!) celebration of children's books. That's next Saturday--so, please come!

Bookmania

Saturday, November 20, 2010
11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Harold Washington Library Center
400 S. State Street
Chicago, Illinois

Friday, November 12, 2010

fortune cookie friday


“Don't stand by the water and long for fish; go home and weave a net.”
-Chinese Proverb

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Best of 2010!


Ling and Ting is named one of Kirkus' best books of the year as well as one of PW Best Children's Books of 2010! And, look, that's my name on the Kirkus cover! YAY!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grand Opening



All the stores are have begun their holiday madness and I've caught some of it! Because I've opened an etsy shop. Yes, my brand-new etsy shop, The Grace Lin Gallery is now open!

I received so much interest when I posted about my booth at the RISD Sale that I thought I would offer my prints online as well. The Grace Lin Gallery will consist of affordable, non-archival prints of illustrations from my books and other work. Please go and take a look!

The Child at Heart Gallery will continue to sell archival, museum-quality and collector prints at their site.

And my cafe press store will continue to sell T-shirts, baby bibs and other apparel! Officially, it is called The Grace Lin Store to differentiate from the etsy shop, The Grace Lin Gallery.

My books
are, of course, available at any bookstore. However, if you would like a personalized, autographed copy, call up the Porter Square Book Store and they can arrange it! 617-491-2220

So enough Grace Lin products to last a long, long time, I'd think! I hope it isn't overkill. But I figured if the local pharmacy can start selling Christmas ornaments before Halloween, then why not a little extra etsy shop? Right?

I hope this helps for your holiday shopping!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

book talk tuesday

THE HUNDRED DRESSES by Eleanor Estes

IndieBound Description: Never out of print since its 1944 publication, this tender story offers readers of all ages a timeless message of compassion and understanding. At its heart is Wanda Petronski, an immigrant girl in an American school, who is ridiculed for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. When she tells her classmates that she has one hundred dresses at home, she unwittingly triggers a game of teasing that eventually ends in a lesson for all.

In restoring the reproduction of Louis Slobodkin's artwork, this new edition recaptures the original vivid color. And to celebrate the book's enhanced beauty, Helena Estes, the daughter of the author, has written a new letter to readers about the true story behind The Hundred Dresses.

My Thoughts
: Another classic! This is a lovely book and very powerful in a subtle, beautiful way. This is actually a story about regret and forgiveness, written in a way that a child can understand and relate to.

Monday, November 8, 2010

on my desk monday


I bought the new Mac Air, I couldn't resist! My old laptop was causing me shoulder strain during my travels, this is going to be a lovely lightweight luxury.

Friday, November 5, 2010

fortune cookie friday


“Do not anxiously hope for that which is not yet come; do not vainly regret what is already past.”
-Chinese Proverb

Thursday, November 4, 2010

She Took Trouble

Right now, I am in the midst of the latest revision for my new novel "Dumpling Days." Not only has my schedule gotten rather full, recently this novel has filled me with anxiety. When I met the lovely Karen Hesse at the Literary Lights event, she asked me, "How are you doing?" in a concerned way and talked to me briefly about how winning an award changes things. At the time, I thought she meant speaking engagements and school visits and I breezily told her things were fine. Things were busy, but not in a way that was extremely unusual or unmanageable. Just an extra stir in soup, so to speak.

But now, I realize she meant the actual writing. I hadn't thought too much about it, but slowly as each revision goes by I've become more aware of my personal phantom hanging over me. "Dumpling Days" is a continuation of Pacy's story from The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat, and, like those books, it is highly autobiographical (this one is about my first trip to Taiwan as a child) and light-hearted.

And in the shadow of the Newbery Honor I start to worry--maybe this book is too light, not ambitious enough, not "Literary" with the capital 'L.' But as I begin to let myself get paralyzed, I see that the award only amplified worries and thoughts I've had my whole career. The only difference is my shielding mantra of "Just do the best you can!" has run a bit thin.

So, it was with great comfort that I recently discovered (okay, I know I am really, really late to the party) Just One More Book's podcast of Eva Ibbotson. In her interview she talked about how she knows books about things like escaping the Nazis and suicide are important but she was not the one to write them. She considered her books as personal gifts to her readers and would always work and work to give them what she felt they deserved. In fact, she said she wanted her tombstone to read, "She Took Trouble."

Listening to her was extremely heartening and inspiring to me. It was the right message at the right time. It helped shake away my doubts and transformed the begrudging revisions into acts of love. With any luck, "Dumpling Days" will be a book I will hold proudly and give to my readers with the same warmth as she did.

I'm ashamed to say that I've never read any of Ms. Ibbotson's work--something I intend to remedy immediately! I've already purchased Which Witch? from my local bookstore, but I wasn't sure if that was the best one to start with. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

late pumpkin post

It's been so crazy-busy here in chez Grace that our annual pumpkin carving party was delayed until Saturday--the day before Halloween! At least we got them in before the holiday!
(and the pumpkins were cheaper because it was the last day!)


But it was great to get all the local gang together for a messy pumpkin gutting and cutting!

Including Baby M, who painted her pumpkin:
and chose the book The Problem with Chickens as inspiration for her mother's pumpkin:
as well as this intricate duck decoration from a Chinese clip art book for me:
(I tried to talk her out of it but she kept insisting on this design)


and if I remember correctly, Baby M also requested a sea otter but got a jellyfish pumpkin instead:
But, in the end, she seemed to like all of them.

Hope you had a fun Halloween!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

book talk tuesday

THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND, by Elizabeth George Speare

IndieBound Description: Orphaned Kit Tyler knows, as she gazes for the first time at the cold, bleak shores of Connecticut Colony, that her new home will never be like the shimmering Caribbean island she left behind. In her relatives' stern Puritan community, she feels like a tropical bird that has flown to the wrong part of the world, a bird that is now caged and lonely. The only place where Kit feels completely free is in the meadows, where she enjoys the company of the old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, and on occasion, her young sailor friend Nat. But when Kit's friendship with the "witch" is discovered, Kit is faced with suspicion, fear, and anger. She herself is accused of witchcraft!

My Thoughts: We read this book in elementary school as assigned reading and I remember being surprised how much I liked it! The story has stayed with me all these years, I even remember the descriptions of Kit's smooth, silk dresses. What I don't remember is the cover of the book, which I know was nothing like the one here. I have a mixed feelings about this cover. It's eyecatching and I can see how it would attract a modern reader, but I feel like Kit looks like a contemporary teenager in a costume. I think it's that small smirk on her face, she seems a bit too self-aware.