Tuesday, May 31, 2011

booktalk tuesday

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

IndieBound Description:
This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.

The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will—won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.

Deliciously nostalgic and quaintly witty, this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day.

My Thoughts:Sweet and heartwarming, don't miss the sequels: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street and the fresh-out-of-the-oven The Penderwicks at Point Mouette!

Monday, May 30, 2011

on my desk monday

Bowl of chocolate pudding!

I just got my remaining wisdom teeth (3!) out. Ouch. All I can eat is pudding. boo hoo.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Chinese School

Welcome to Sunday Chinese School, where we learn a Chinese word (or phrase) a week with my mom!
Today's words are:

pink: fěnhóngsè
purple: zǐsè
blue: lánsè
brown: zōngsè

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kids Reading Across Rhode Island

I was super-duper honored when I was told that Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was chosen as the book for the 2nd annual Kids Reading Across Rhode Island event. It is a one book-one state reading program and it is such a thrill to think so many RI kids will know the book!
So, of course, I was happy and eager to go to the big kick off event at the State House a couple weekends ago. It was a blast, but it was so busy that it went by way too fast! It happened so quickly that most of the day is kind of a blur.

First, there was a lion dance:

Someone told me it was in my honor, which I wasn't sure to believe. But I did get to feed one of the lions with lucky lettuce:

Which they spit onto the audience (always a crowd pleasing trick!):

I want to get these guys for my next book launch! Think that's too much for a bookstore?

Then I gave a talk:

to a lot of people in a really fancy room:

And then I signed books for a long, long time:

The Kids Reading Across Rhode Island program was giving away a copy of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon to every family for FREE! That explains the long line:

I felt like a rock star! Too bad I can't give away my books for free more often!

Thanks so much, Kids Reading Across Rhode Island!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


News anchor Janet Wu, Atsuko Toko Fish, Chair Emeritus of the ATASK Board, and recent Founder of the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund Boston,Jody Adams, Chef/Owner of Rialto Cambridge, Joanne Chang, Pastry Chef/Owner of flour bakery + cafe at the EmPOWER Breakfast

So, maybe because it was just my birthday, I've been thinking about goals and futures and plans. I know I am extremely lucky to have the life that I have now and I am thankful for it every day.

But it seems to be human nature to always want more. Instead of condo, I would love to own a house. As well as a nice husband, I'd love to have kids. As well as my books being read, it'd be fun to have them turned into a movie or a TV Show. And my new books? More wishes, more dreams...always more.

And while I have misgivings with the apparent greediness of it, I also acknowledge those are the things that make life the beautiful struggle. After Robert died, there was so much of life that I wanted to live and filling it with all those wishes and dreams made the future bright. But the danger now is that it is like a balloon-- the more I fill it, the more it feels as if it is going to pop. Trying to have all those wishes and dreams come true sometimes just seems so...impossible.

Which reminds me of the EmPOWER Breakfast that I went to in April (which I meant to blog about earlier but got too busy!). It was this lovely event to benefit ATASK, emceed by news anchor Janet Wu and featured a panel discussion of super successful women. To be honest, the whole room was full of super successful, beautiful women--most of them were doctors and lawyers, who not only had smart, happy kids & husbands but also ran marathons and charities. I was quite in awe and actually felt rather small (and lazy!) next to them.

To me, most of them seemed to have it all--families, commitments to health and charity, achievements and accolades, and personal wealth--and I couldn't even be jealous because they were all lovely. In fact, when I bemoaned my personal lack of comparative achievement to the woman next to me, she said something to me that still rings in my ears. She said, "You CAN have it all, but usually not all at the same time."

And that made sense to me. Having many goals and dreams are important for a full and happy life. But sometimes you can only work on one dream at a time. I've had very talented friends who wanted to be published but things didn't work out, so they moved on. It wasn't "giving up," it was finding another dream that they liked better, cared about more at that time and focusing.

So, I'm trying to remember that. There's no expiration date on dreams and I can work on them one at a time. And it's okay to put some on hold for later.

Or at least until my next birthday!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

booktalk tuesday

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han

IndieBound Description:Clara Lee likes her best friends, her grandpa, kimchi, candy necklaces (her signature look!), and the idea of winning the Little Miss Apple Pie contest.

Clara Lee doesn't like her mom's fish soup, bad dreams (but Grandpa says they mean good luck!), speaking in public, or when her little sister is being annoying.

One day, after a bad dream, Clara Lee is thrilled to have a whole day of luck (Like!). But then, bad luck starts to follow (Dislike!). When will Clara Lee's luck change again? Will it change in time for the Little Miss Apple Pie contest?

My Thoughts: Very cute book! When I first wrote Year of the Dog, I had intended it to be more like this, but it turned out a little older, more personal-- so I am glad this book is out there.

Monday, May 23, 2011

on my desk monday

Birthday presents! Wheee! Look at these little boxes...what did I get?

First, with a sweet card came a pretty pair of earrings from my mom. They came all the way from Taiwan and are handmade "blessing flowers." Thanks, Mom!

Then in the wood box from my friends at Little, Brown (my publisher) came:

MOUSE CHOCOLATES! So cute...and delicious:

I almost (but not quite) liked them as much as my bestest gift which was from the Sasquatch, a red sea glass necklace:

He remembered how I kept searching for unique pieces of sea glass during our summer vacation, so bought me this necklace with a very rare piece of red glass. Of course, I heart it! But just to make sure I liked his gift the best, he also got me a yellow begonia and an apple pie.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Chinese School

Welcome to Sunday Chinese School, where we learn a Chinese word (or phrase) a week with my mom!
Today's words are:

red: hóngsè
yellow: huángsè
green: lǜsè
orange: júhóngsè

Friday, May 20, 2011

fortune cookie friday

"Genius can be recognized by its childish simplicity. "
-Chinese Proverb

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I think this deserves the 90 second Newbery Oscar!

So, the 90-second Newbery Movies are trickling in...and this one is AMAZING!!!!

Honestly, when I saw this I was speechless. I am completely wowed by the Bookie Woogie Bloggers' creation! Not only are the shadow puppets so beautifully done, the pacing, script and music is great, too. This is the perfect movie to show students before and after they read the book.

Bookie Woogie: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon from Z-Dad on Vimeo.

The Bookie Woogie Bloggers even created a separate blog chronicling how they made the movie. It's great fun to see the sketches, the storyboarding--and very helpful if you want to attempt a movie of your own. After reading it, I'm thinking about making my own 90-second Newbery with my niece.

Anyway, take a look and let the Bookie Woogie creators know what a wonderful job they did!

THANKS SO MUCH, Bookie Woogie Bloggers!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

booktalk tuesday

Tom's Midnight Garden by Phillippa Pearce

IndieBound Description: Tom is furious. His brother, Peter, has measles, so now Tom is being shipped off to stay with Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan in their boring old apartment. There'll be nothing to do there and no one to play with. Tom just counts the days till he can return home to Peter.Then one night the landlady's antique grandfather clock strikes thirteen times leading Tom to a wonderful, magical discovery and marking the beginning of a secret that's almost too amazing to be true. But it is true, and in the new world that Tom discovers is a special friend named Hatty and more than a summer's worth of adventure for both of them. Now Tom wishes he could stay with his relativesand Hatty -- forever...

My Thoughts: My friend Libby and I agree that this is perhaps one of the best children's books ever. I didn't like scary stories when I was younger but I loved this. Maybe because even though it was suspenseful and mysterious, it never felt threatening.

Monday, May 16, 2011

on my desk monday

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon in KOREAN!
So, exciting! This one is soft cover but the Korean publisher went the extra step and printed part of the cover in gold foil. Not only is the title shiny gold, but so is the medallion they printed to mention the Newbery Honor. It's a little bit of false advertising, though, it makes it look like I won the Newbery Gold instead of the Newbery Silver, but I'm not complaining!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Chinese School

Welcome to Sunday Chinese School, where we learn a Chinese word (or phrase) a week with my mom!
Today's word is:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

luna's sea

Okay, I am not a very actively social person. If I am not going to school visits, I like to stay at home and write or paint in my pajamas. So the fact that I've been running around to San Fran, having Red Egg parties and (gasp!) talking to people is pretty unusual. And to add to my unusually social calendar, I went to Mystic, CT to see the opening of my friend Linda's show Luna's Sea. It's a children's theatre show with the Mystic Aquarium, it is all about a girl's adventure under the sea. Linda produced, designed and created it:

It was an absolutely beautiful show. Some of you might remember Linda as a fellow children's book illustrator (with books like this) but recently, she's been edging away from books for the more expansive format of theater. After seeing this show, I can see how it's a natural progression. Her show is like a children's book come to life:

Actually, I think it might be better than a children's book, at least for Linda! I could see how illustrating a book seems so limiting compared to a show like this. Theater is so much more expansive and there is more scope for a talent like Linda's to create scenes like this:

The photos don't do it justice, here is a small clip--which also doesn't do it justice but is a tad better:

And when I say Linda created it, I really meant it. She (with help, of course) made all the puppets that grace the stage. It was pretty amazing. When watching the show, you are transfixed by these underwater creatures.

And when the lights go on and you go up close, you realize how ingenious the puppets are! You can see more behind the scenes and all the work that went into the show at the Luna's Sea Blog. It's rather awe-inspiring to see that it's all a creation of bubble wrap, plastic lids, paint and foam:

I think this one looked particularly like Squatchie:

But as I said, it was a beautiful show. You don't want to miss it! If you are anywhere in the area (Mystic, CT) I encourage you to go see it! Maybe I'll see you there, because I'm definitely going again.

(Linda, creative genius & me)

Luna's Sea
Performances Every Saturday
at the Cornerstone Playhouse
in the Olde Mistick Village
April 16 thru Oct 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

red egg party

Hmm, I think this fortune was supposed to be encouraging:

Because as soon as I returned from San Fran, it was a whirlwind of events for me. First off, I had to clean my house like a madwoman for my friends Luke and Ranida. They just welcomed a new baby and, like I did over three years ago, I threw them another Red Egg and Ginger Party!

I actually can't believe that the baby that I held back then:

(from 2007! Gosh, I was a lot skinnier! Oh well, now I am chubbier & happier, I can live with the pay off.)

Is actually now like this:

And there is now a new one to welcome with red eggs!
I had to use 4 bottles of red food coloring to get the eggs this red.

And honestly, that was the most cooking I could do. In my time crunch, I was to be able to clean and get the decorations up:

But I didn't have time to make cupcakes. Boo!

I used the birds I made at Christmas up as decorations. All the kids loved them and I ended up giving them away as a kind of party favor.

And I admit I was kind of tired, which is why I am rather haggard in this picture. But isn't the baby cute?

We also played this game that Squatchie's cousin taught us. It's actually a Greek game, where everyone gets an egg. Then two people tap their eggs together until one egg cracks.

The person's egg that did not crack moves on to the next person until there is only one person with an uncracked egg--who is the winner! It was great fun.

However, the baby slept through the whole thing.

Customarily, the first big festivity in a Chinese baby’s life is the Red Egg and Ginger Party. This party is given in honor of a baby’s first month or first moon birthday, signifying it welcome to the family. Until a baby had lived a full month it was not considered part of the family. Consequently, the Red Egg and Ginger Party was an especially joyous occasion.

Eggs represent new life and, because of their roundness, harmony while red is, of course, the Chinese color of luck and happiness. So Red Eggs signify a happy and lucky new life, the perfect symbol to welcome a new baby.

New mothers “sit a month” after giving birth. It is only on the first moon birthday that the new mother is allowed to leave her home and rejoin the world. On this occasion, she is given much ginger, thought to contain special nutrients needed to give the mother strength.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

san fran!

I was in San Francisco! It was an extremely brief trip! I went mainly for personal reasons, but I was able to mix a lot of fun and a bit of work too. It was rather inspiring to see the things on the left coast--like the buildings,
I love the colors of some of their houses!

And a baby! I met my friend Anna's new daughter.
Isn't she adorable? I gave her the Tiger onesie...she's kind bursting out of it, though!

I also got to visit the Chronicle Books office. They are the publishers the books I illustrated a while back-- Round is a Mooncake, Red is a Dragon, and One is a Drummer. They do such beautiful books! I hope someday to work with them again.

Anna at the Chronicle Books reception area, which is also a bookstore.

Editor Melissa Manlove & me. Before this, she had only been a name in e-mail--such fun meeting her!

And I also did a little research for future books. Anna, her little family and I went to Chinatown and I saw the fortune cookie factory I've been meaning to see for a long time:

It was so small! I felt awkward poking around but it did reinvigorate a novel idea I had many years ago...so a new seed is sprouting!

Of course, I can't work on that idea until after "Return to Sky" and my other projects are finished; but considering how long I think before I write (usually 3 years) this is a good thing.

And we also went into a Chinese tea shop, which had hundreds of kinds of tea. It reminded me of the tea shop I went to in China, but this was better because I could read all the signs.

Including the one that priced one tea at $800. a pound!!!

They let us try little samples, too. This is me trying the $800 tea:
It was good...but I don't know if it was worth $800. I left with a $12 canister of lychee tea, instead.

But the whole thing was fun and very helpful because I *think* the main character of "Return to Sky" may work in a tea house.

It was a great visit to San Fran! Hope to go again soon!