Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Inspiration from Hawaii

So, our pilot to Hawaii didn't inspire a lot of confidence:

But Hawaii, itself, was full of inspiration. From the water and beaches:

to the flora and food:

And, of course, the whole reason why I was in Hawaii in the first place! I was invited to be illustrator keynote speaker for the Biennial Children's Literature Conference in Hawaii. As well as not-to-be-missed opportunity to go to Hawaii (my first time!) it was a huge honor! I was alongside the amazing Kathy Appelt (the author keynote speaker) whose speech was the definition of inspiration:

I got all teary-eyed during her talk!
I'm glad I got to know her a little before her speech or else I would've been too much in awe of her to do things like this:
children's book author selfies!
But what was especially inspirational for me were the people. With Hawaii's huge Asian-American population, for the first time ever, I felt like I was in an environment where I was not an outsider in some way. I've been so used to feeling my minority status (in mainland US not looking like everyone else and in Asia not speaking like everyone else-)that it was really an odd feeling to be in Hawaii where everyone was pretty similar to me. In many ways, it felt like a homecoming for me. 

And what really brought that feeling home was  how well-loved my books were there. At the conference, there were so many students excited about my books! It was really touching.  Many brought drawings and letters. One girl gave me this:

It's a Pacy Passing Doll! Apparently, she was liked the idea of my Pocket Pacys so much that she decided to make her own parallel project--Passing Dolls! What fun!

One family, along with a homemade lei and a well-practiced cheer, gave me this red envelope with ten dollars to give to "a charity of my choice." Isn't that awesome?

They are quite a family! Check out the father's hilarious essays on his Family Matters in Hawaii Blog!

One class came with this interesting project where they had analyzed  Where the Mountain Meets the Moon with the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People!


Another school came with "birthday" library books--students donated their favorite book to the library on their birthday, with their own memorializing bookplate:

And did I mention the leis? The beautiful, fragrant leis! In Hawaii, one is given a lei as a symbol of welcome. Well, the people there definitely made me feel welcome, I felt as if everyone I met gave me one. I wish it was a fashion statement I could carry onto the mainland:

weighed down by leis....and this isn't even all of the ones I was given!
Mahalo, Hawaii!