Tuesday, January 31, 2012

booktalk tuesday

Zen Shorts, by Jon J. Muth

IndieBound Description:

Jon J Muth, author of the best-selling book, THE THREE QUESTIONS, has crafted another profound and winning picture book.

"Michael," said Karl. "There's a really big bear in the backyard." This is how three children meet Stillwater, a giant panda who moves into the neighborhood and tells amazing tales. To Addy he tells a story about the value of material goods. To Michael he pushes the boundaries of good and bad. And to Karl he demonstrates what it means to hold on to frustration. With graceful art and simple stories that are filled with love and enlightenment, Jon Muth -- and Stillwater the bear -- present three ancient Zen tales that are sure to strike a chord in everyone they touch.

My Thoughts: This is not a middle-grade novel, it's technically a picturebook--but I think it is so appropriate for a middle grade audience. The Zen stories in this book (which also inspire my own writing) are perfect for the older child to think, ponder and discuss.

Monday, January 30, 2012

on my desk monday

I've been fortunate to be visiting a local school in Wellesley, Ma for many years now. I usually visit the Kindergartners in the Fall and the 4th graders in the Spring and it's been lovely.

Recently, I just saw the 4th graders (I'll post some of their storyboards, later) and it was especially nice. Because this time, clued in by my visit the the Kindergarten, they knew all about Rain Dragon and made me a special gift:

Yes, an advice book on being a good mom!

The advice in this book is poignant and hilarious at the same time. Here are some of my favorites:

Make sure you don't lose the baby when you go shopping in the mall.

Don't be like my parents. Don't drop the baby on it's head.

Always keep an eye on the baby because I know from my own experience. When I was 2 years old my mom left me alone in her bed with some markers and I colored all over the walls (that were white).

All the crying will go away...maybe. So buy some earplugs and a pacifier.

Ha ha! Aren't those great! I'll treasure this book forever!

Thanks so much, fourth graders!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

oranges mean gold

Here, in New England, it is a bit gray and cold:

But somewhere in Arizona, where I visited once upon a time, there is a warm green and gold paradise,

my librarian friend Mary is picking oranges for the Chinese New Year:

I know this, because in the mail I received a box of gold from her:

YUM! Thank you, Mary!

Fresh, delicious oranges for the Chinese New Year! I think this year will be especially sweet!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

in the news

A couple weeks ago, I did a lovely school visit in Bristol, RI and there was a lovely article about it in the East Bay RI newspaper. My favorite part is the photo gallery where the photographer captured the students intent on drawing the rabbit. Of course, now I have to start teaching students how to draw the dragon...

Because it is the Year of the Dragon! The Washington Post listed Dumpling Days as one of the books in their article Children's Books for Chinese New Year.  Read it while eating your lucky, get-rich dumplings!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy New Year and Thanks for Coming!

Phew! I made it!

It's the Chinese New Year, which means I had my Dumpling Days Book Launch! If you haven't noticed, the postings on this blog have been a bit spare lately (I have many things I want to post about, I'll have to do a bit of catch up in the next few weeks). That is because every spare moment has been used to make over 100 Pocket Pacys:

the two large pocket pacys are the special "winning" ones;  the people who got them won an original piece of art at the book launch

These are the special edition Pocket Pacys I did just for the launch. They are all wearing pink dresses because in Dumpling Days, the three sisters are forced to wear matching pink dresses when they travel to Taiwan (to make it easier for their mother to keep her eye on them). This is based on a real-life experience:

We put one of each of these  Pocket Pacys in the booklaunch goodie bags, along with a red envelope that had a special URL to download exclusive deleted chapters and a dumpling recipe card. Because the Pocket Pacys were a bit time-consuming + having even less time then usual (work, visits + Rain Dragon!), I wasn't able to bake special cupcakes this time around. In fact, the baking had to be given up altogether and replaced with Japanese gummy candies.

And after assembling 100 bags (much thanks to my sister, niece & Sasquatch) I was a little worried to wake  up on book launch day to snow. The most snow we've had all winter! Would people come?

Yes, they did!

I talked a bit incoherently--I did not prepare my talk as well as I would've liked (those Pocket Pacys took a long time!) and I admit I am more self-conscious than usual with my baby bump:

But it was lovely to meet so many of you! I think most people liked the Pocket Pacys so making them was definitely worth it! I hope to see many Pocket Pacy travel photos in the future!

Thanks so much for coming! Happy Year of the Dragon to all!

Friday, January 20, 2012

fortune cookie friday

"If you get up one more time than you fall you will make it through. "
-Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Don't Forget!!

The Dumpling Days Book Launch is this Saturday, at 1 pm EST (not PT).

You do NOT need a ticket to come. Please tell your friends and family! The more the merrier!

I've been mad at work preparing for it and I have a sneaking suspicion that this will be the last book launch that I do. My publisher has been talking about sending me on tour for "Starry River of the Sky" (which will come out in October) and with Rain Dragon coming, I think my time for planning big parties with elaborate goodie bags might be over.  So, I'm trying to make this one a good one (I've made over 100 pocket pacys!) and I hope everyone comes!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

booktalk tuesday

Ruby Lu, Brave and True by Lenore Look

IndieBound Description:

Most days the best thing about being Ruby is everything. Like when she's the star of her own backyard magic show. Or when she gives a talk at the school safety assembly on the benefits of reflective tape. Or when she rides the No. 3 bus all the way to Chinatown to visit GungGung and PohPoh.

And then there are the days when it's very hard to be Ruby. Like when her mom suggests Chinese school on Saturdays. Or when her little brother, Oscar, spills all of Ruby's best magician secrets. Or when her parents don't think she's old enough to drive!

Join Ruby Lu on her first adventure and discover your own best things about her!

My Thoughts: I love the Ruby Lu books! I admit I am a tad jealous of Lenore Look and her ability to write these books, as well as the Alvin Ho books. When I met her a long time ago, I was hoping some of her brilliance would rub off...

Monday, January 16, 2012

on my desk monday

I'm making an army of Pocket Pacys to put in the goodie bags of  this weekend's Dumpling Days Book Launch! Come and get one (you do NOT need a ticket)!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

fortune cookie friday

"Even if you live near a forest, you should not waste firewood."
-Chinese Proverb

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

booktalk tuesday

The Case of the Goblin Pearls by Laurence Yep

Indiebound Description:

What would you do if your famous movie-star aunt asked you to be a jar of ointment in Chinatown's New Year's parade? And what if disaster struck in the middle of the parade and someone stole the priceless Goblin Pearls right in front of you? Worse still, what if your great-aunt still thought she was the famous action heroine Tiger Lil and decided to catch the thieves? What else could you do but become her sidekick?

Lily is excited when Auntie Tiger Lil comes to San Francisco to arrange the Lion Salve float and marching unit for the New Year's parade. Most famous for the Tiger Lil series of action movies, she's now dabbling in publicity, and the Lion Salve account could finance her movie comeback. The float is sure to be the centerpiece of the parade, especially since Miss Lion Salve will be wearing the ancient Goblin Pearls that day.

The Goblin Pearls have always been trouble, and the day of the parade is no exception. When they're stolen in broad daylight, Tiger Lil isn't about to let some punks ruin her plans -- if the cops can't catch the thieves, she will. But everything is not what it seems, and Tiger Lil and Lily soon find themselves in the middle of a plot worthy of one of Auntie's movies. Will this be the end of Tiger Lil and her trusty sidekick, or will they live to sleuth another day?

My Thoughts:
A fun read to prepare for the Chinese New Year! I love mysteries and this is a good one!

Monday, January 9, 2012

on my desk monday

Leftover sketches and reference from Dumpling Days! I'm using it to make the special deleted chapter & behind the scenes PDF for  the special red envelopes I'm giving away  at the Dumpling Days Book Launch!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

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:
qiăo kè lì

Friday, January 6, 2012

fortune cookie friday

"In the midst of great joy, do not promise anyone anything. In the midst of great anger, do not answer anyone's letter."
-Chinese Proverb

Thursday, January 5, 2012

more dumplings!

I'm getting more and more excited for the Dumpling Days Book launch! Though, unfortunately, my attempt to get a headcount using tickets is not working so well.  I think many enthusiastic young fans from places like Florida and California misunderstood that this was for an actual event and signed up for numerous tickets and I don't know how to adjust the ticket availability. So, even though it says tickets are sold out, please still come!

I plan to make extra goodie bags, just in case! Because of the limited quantity, goodie bags will be given to children first, adult ticket holders second, and everyone else after. Thank you for your understanding.

In the meantime, I've been enjoying  reviews of Dumpling Days!  At Jama's Alphabet Soup, there is particularly delicious one! Yum!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

interview about Anne

Recently, the LM Montgomery Society interviewed me for their Shining Scroll newsletter. Just in case you aren't familiar with the name, LM Montgomery* is the author of Anne of Green Gables, maybe my favorite book of all time. Needless to say, I was honored to be a part of it! Here is an excerpt:

As you continue to write, do you notice any other opportunities to return to Montgomery for inspiration?
From a technical standpoint, I continue to look at her writing as inspiration for writing description (most recently, I've been studying how she writes sunsets) but her overall work and her thoughts as an author also inspire me.

A lot of children's/young adult books these days are "dark" and many feel as if that gives them more weight and seriousness. So every once and a while, I'll worry if my work is not dark enough. But then I will think of the Anne books and Montgomery herself, who (in response to reviews of her work) wrote, "..one which sneered at my ‘sentiment.’ The attitude of some English critics towards anything that savors of sentiment amuses me. It is to them as the proverbial red rag to a bull. They are very silly. Can’t they see that civilization is founded on and held together by sentiment? Passion is transient and quite as often destructive as not. Sentiment remains and binds."

And I will remember that a book with a true heart is the one most worth writing.

You can read the rest HERE!

*Lucy Maud Montgomery is such a favorite author of mine we were considering naming Rain Dragon Maud. Then, we realized that with my last name, she would be Maud Lin....maudlin...we'd have to have her room Edward Gorey-themed...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

booktalk tuesday

Dumpling Days, by Grace Lin

Sorry for the shameless self-promotion! But I'm so excited about having a new novel just come out, I couldn't resist! And here's the brand new book trailer:

 Hope you like this one!!

IndieBound Description:

There was no day that dumplings couldn't make better.

Pacy is back! The beloved heroine of The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat has returned in a brand new story. This summer, Pacy's family is going to Taiwan for an entire month to visit family and prepare for their grandmother's 60th birthday celebration. Pacy's parents have signed her up for a Chinese painting class, and at first she's excited. This is a new way to explore her art talent! But everything about the trip is harder than she thought it would be--she looks like everyone else but can't speak the language, she has trouble following the art teacher's instructions, and it's difficult to make friends in her class. At least the dumplings are delicious...

As the month passes by, Pacy eats chicken feet (by accident!), gets blessed by a fortune teller, searches for her true identity, and grows closer to those who matter most.

Monday, January 2, 2012

on my desk monday

I received my author copies of Dumpling Days!! The book is now available, but the book launch is on Saturday, Jan 21st!  I'm hard at work prepping for it (I'm hoping to make enough pocket pacys for everyone), please come!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

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:

10: shí
9: jiǔ
6: liù
3: sān
2: èr