Friday, January 31, 2014

in comes the horse!

Today is Lunar New Year!!! Goodbye, Year of the Snake! Hello, Year of the Horse!

In celebration, I thought post a small update on the  little primer I wrote on the Lunar New Year  in 2010. In that post, I explained about Year of the Tiger. Now,  let's talk about the Horse:

Q. This is the Year of the Horse! 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 Snake is 6th animal on the Chinese Zodiac and the Horse is the 7th. The Snake was a fairly good swimmer and was not worried about crossing the river on the day of the great race. However, after swimming about half way, the Snake became very tired and worried that he might not make it. Instead of panicking, however, he looked up and saw the Horse's legs swimming above him. With a sudden insight, the snake wrapped himself around the Horse's ankle and hitched a ride the rest of the way. 

Now, the Horse did not know the Snake had done this. So when the Horse reached the shore, the Snake slithered off--startling the Horse, causing the Horse to jump back. That is why the Snake is before the Horse.

 So what does that tell us about the Year of the Horse? The Horse is friendly, helpful and kind to others ( as he helped the Snake out of a bad situation). However, the Horse can be easily excitable and upset--sometimes to his own disadvantage. So, the Year of the Horse is when we must try to be kind and helpful to others and to try not to get let things upset us (especially small things) as our emotions may lead us to unfortunate decisions!

Here's wishing all of us a fortunate and prosperous Year of the Horse!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Belated post: the Global School in GA

My whole trip to GA was amazing so it's hard to say that anything was my favorite, but part of my trip there included a school visit to the Global Village School, an all girls school for recently arrived refugee teens (from 11-18).  Almost all the students had read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and a handful of them were chosen to introduce me by reading aloud their impressions of the book.

It was one of the most moving things I've ever heard. I was so touched, I asked if I could get a copy of their speech. One girl said:

I like when Minli runs away from her house and tries to find the Old Man of the Moon and make her village turn into Fruitful Mountain. She is brave like I was when I had to run away from my country because it was not very good there, like Fruitless Mountain.
Another girl said:
 The part that is special to me is when Minli's village is changed...I want my village to change like that too because my village where I used to live when I was a kid was so poor.
And this one made me teary:
 I like the part when Minli came back to her family and her Ma and Ba welcome her with happiness. This part is special to me because I don't want to separate with my family anymore.

Seeing the story through their eyes was so humbling and touching. There are times I get caught up in petty things, worrying about booksales and publicity and this is such a heartening reminder of why I try to make the books I do. Who cares if I can't write a big blockbuster book? These girls and the people who connect to my books are the readers that I'm honored and grateful to reach.

At the end of the presentation, they gave me this:

Each girl made a shrinky-dink  piece with their name and the words they would chose for their secrets of happiness (some of the words are in another language) and pieced it together to make  a jacket like the one Minli received from the Village of Moon Rain. It's tied together with a red thread. It's so, so exquisite.

It has a permanent place of honor on my window in my studio, to remind me how thankful I should be.

It's a beautiful gift, not only as an object, but as a reminder of the other non-tangible gifts they gave me. Thank you, Global Village School!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Belated Post: On the Same Page in GA

After Albany, we were flying out to GA for an event called On the Same Page, mainly organized  by the incredible Little Shop of Stories Bookstore. When I was first contacted about this event, I actually tried to weasel out. I don't like to travel in the winter and also after being in Taiwan, I thought we'd probably could use a break. But then my publisher told that this was a huge honor and I really shouldn't decline, and I reconsidered. And I am SO glad that I did!

Because On the Same Page is a community read program in Decatur, GA-- and they were reading Where the Mountain Meets the Moon! They created an amazing 3-month program of activities and events all around the book:

with me, at the end, coming to some schools:

as well as a huge grand finale event:

with lions, both big:

and little:


and acting!

Synchronicity Theater in Atlanta, GA is putting on a performance Where the Mountain Meets the Moon! At the event, they gave us a sneak peak. The real show starts February 7th, buy your tickets now and then tell me how it went!

Because even without costumes and sets, I was entranced! The whole night was amazing. To see a packed audience and so many wonderful creations inspired from a book I wrote...well, it sometimes there aren't enough adjectives.  I've said this before, but it's completely true--the saddest thing for an author is to write something that you've put your whole heart into and realize that no one cares. So when the opposite happens, it is a realization of your happiest dream.

Thank you so much, On the Same Page and Little Shop of Stories for making this author's dream come true!

Monday, January 27, 2014

on my desk monday

It's almost Chinese New Year and I'm squeaking these in! Yes, I got holiday cards made!

And not only am I sending out holiday greeting, I'm also fulfilling one of my resolutions from last year which was to finally send out thank you card to all those who contributed to Rain Dragon's amazing 100 wish quilt. Those are sooooo long and embarrassingly overdue (only over a year or so late, la la la) but at least I can start the new year with a clear conscience!

Friday, January 24, 2014

fortune cookie friday

"Do not speak – unless it improves upon silence."
— Buddhist saying

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Belated Post: Albany, NY

After Taiwan, it took us a while to get over the jetleg (hence why all these posts are belated!). I was worried that I wouldn't get over it in time for my other scheduled visits. Luckily, it wore off in time for my visits at St. Gregory's School in Albany, NY. Because there they had a huge day planned for me!

I was welcomed with this:

It's not just a bulletin board, it's bill board! Because it's their poster for their play. Yes, they did an Ugly Vegetables play!

It was sooooo cute. There were even"bees and the butterflies who smelled the scent in the breeze..."

The whole school was decorated with themes from my books. One hallway took on Our Seasons.

There was a whole display of scrolls with scenes from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon:

as well as storyboards with favorite scenes from the book, too:

And, fortune cookies inspired by Fortune Cookie Fortunes!

I particularly liked this one:

I don't know how true it is, but, thank you St Gregory's School for making me feel like it already has!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Belated Post: Pocket Pacy's Dumpling Days

So ends our trip to Taiwan. We had a great time, especially Pocket Pacy who got to live out some of the events in my books:

Just like in Dumpling Days, she found the Taiwanese/Japanese toilets very confusing:

But unlike Pacy in the book, Pocket Pacy found an instruction manuel in english to help her out:

Pocket Pacy experienced the night market and got a sugar rush from the boba tea:

ate a wax apple:

saw the walking street signs (I tried to take a video of the man walking, but it didn't turn out. But you can see what it looks like here.)

Hung out with some  lions, like Dragon did in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon:

saw some great art:

as well as Taipei 101:

And spent oodles of time at the Taipei Airport. This was not in the book, but the airport in Taiwan has a whole Hello Kitty wing. Really!

with themed-chairs in the waiting area, to boot:

It cheered up Pocket Pacy while we were waiting for our departing plane. She was quite sad to leave, as we all were.  But thanks for the memories...until next time!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

belated Taiwan post: medium sized Buddha

The guidebooks  the Big Buddha as something to see in Taiwan but I'd never seen it before. This time, I specifically asked my relatives to bring me.

It was pretty big, but I admit that after seeing the Big Buddha in Hong Kong, I was not as impressed as I thought I would be. However, I was impressed by the street vendors:

They sold  bing tang hulu which I haven't had since I was in China. It was my favorite snack there (bonus points if you can find where I mention it in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon)

And while the Buddha was medium sized, they did have BIG eggs! these are ostrich eggs! I didn't realize how big and hard they were! I bought one and the shell is like a rock:

When I get the time, perhaps I will paint a small Buddha on it...

Monday, January 20, 2014

this sweet year

So, it was that time of the year again, the time when I let out my crafting and baking enthusiasm out and and attempt to make edible thank you gifts for publishing folk for doing all the things they do that make my books, well, books.

I thought with Chinese New Year as my new deadline, I'd have plenty of time. Unfortunately, it didn't really work out that way. It seems as Rain Dragon gets into toddlerhood she is even more time-consuming than as a baby. In a good way, of course, but it did make time for additional projects slim. In the end, both Sasquatch and his sister had to help out (okay, maybe they made everything and I helped out. sigh).

But, we made yummy things! Over Christmas, we received a fruit basket with an enormous  amount of oranges. Thanks to Martha Stewart, we made those oranges (as well as some lemons and grapefruit) into candied citrus peels:

I thought this was an appropriate gift for the Lunar New Year, as oranges are lucky in Chinese culture.

And just in case candied citrus peels weren't everyone's cup of tea, I we made some lucky red thumbprint cookies to send along:

I'm particularly proud of the packaging. My gingerbread baking was very useful for all the labels:

 as well as  my holiday card, too:

Hope it's sweet year for everyone!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

upcoming events!

Before I forget, I have a couple of upcoming events for the Chinese New Year! Spread the word and come yourself! Hope to see you!

Sunday, January 26, 2pm
reading, drawing activity and signing at
Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School Chinese New Year Celebration
Smith Vocational School
80 Locust St, Northampton MA
if tickets are still available they will be $5 at the door

Saturday, February 1st, 1pm
Learn about the Lunar New Year at
the Eric Carle Museum
125 West Bay Road
Amherst, MA 01002
Book signing to follow presentation
Limit one book from home/unlimited books from The Carle Bookshop.
Can't make it to the event? Contact The Carle Bookshop at (413) 658-1132 or to reserve signed copies.

Friday, January 17, 2014

fortune cookie friday

"Life can never give security, it can only promise opportunity."
— Chinese Proverb

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Belated Taiwan post: Starry River of the Sky, Chinese language edition!

While in Taiwan, I had the pleasure of meeting the publishing people of Global Kids,  publisher of the traditional Chinese version  of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky.  They did such beautiful job printing the books.  There are all sorts of extras like this wraparound which (I think!) says all sorts of complimentary things:

And the page numbers have these added illustrations:

Providentially, their edition of Starry River of the Sky came out at the same time as my visit so they arranged a couple of events for me to help promote it:

I was really nervous speaking to Taiwanese audience. Most knew English, even if it wasn't their first language and I had an interpreter for the another event (thank goodness!). At first, I was going to decline the events because I was so worried about the language barrier (there was no way I would attempt to speak Chinese!) but I'm glad I didn't.  The audience was so kind and interested and the people at the publishing company were so nice and enthusiastic about the book.  If only for their sake, I hope the book does well there:

Xiè xie, Global Kids!