Tuesday, June 30, 2015

catching up on school visits: here, there and everywhere

I know I am really lucky to have the opportunity to the visit the schools that I do and I am always so honored to see the connections the students have made with my work. It's because of this that I post so much about all my different visits!

But I admit the other reason why I continue to post about these visits is because I hope that by seeing other schools' projects it may help other schools with ideas on how they can integrate my books into the classroom. I've actually started using my Pinterest profile to this end, hoping that having images in one place (instead of having to scroll through on this blog) is even more helpful.

In the meantime, here are images from other school visits I did this past school year! These are all lumped together because I didn't take enough photos at each school to give them their own post but ALL the schools I visited were great! I just forget to take out the camera phone, sometimes...

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon book reports in book form!
which included author flaps!
fan fiction!

tweets about Dumpling Days! I like the hungryfordumplings hastag!

Kites for Kite Flying!
beautiful welcome display including student made paper lanterns (decorated with dragons), Chinese cherry-blossom paintings, fans and a Chinese palace (with lit up windows!)

a fun way for younger students to make dragons--using a red yarn "thread," construction paper slices and googly eyes!

Friday, June 26, 2015


The garden is showing great promise:

The peas are now taller than  Rain Dragon:

And there is the start of peas:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015

catching up on school visits: Friends at the Friends School!

I (like all authors & illustrators) spend a lot of time alone writing and drawing and I always have to fight the small doubts that whisper: Does this matter? Will anyone care?  

But, when I visit schools and meet the enthusiastic readers of my books those doubts are so, so happily squashed. The joy of seeing my books well-loved is really the fuel that makes my finish my books.  Just the memory of it is like having a team cheering you on.  

And one recent visit was particularly nourishing. Many years ago, I received a letter from a teacher, Felix Chen. It was so long ago, I don't even remember what he said or what I replied! But I do remember after hearing about my book-in-progress, he even sent me photos from his trips to Taiwan so that I could use for reference  as well as telling me some of his humorous experiences there. It was so helpful that I thanked him in my book Dumpling Days:

I think he was the one who told me about the puppies in the vending machine at the night market!
We continued to correspond and last year I was so thrilled when he told me his third class had put on their own Where the Mountain Meets the Moon play.  So I was over the moon (so to speak) when this past May, I was able to visit his school! It was a red letter day!

Or maybe I should say it was rainbow-lettered day, for the welcome sign was an artistic thing of beauty:

Do you notice how each letter is made into something inspired by my books:

And the sign was adorned by incredible projects:

Welcome to the City of Bright Moonlight!

the giant toad in Starry River of the Sky!

And that was just when I walked though the door! The hallways were hung with more incredible art!

mixed-media portraits of characters from my book!

The King's Garden from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (the King & Minli are sculpted figures!)
Classrooms did group projects:
the Kindergarten made a collaborative mural!

isn't it beautiful?

The third grade made puppets of everyone who was in  Where the Mountain Meets the Moon :

including the author!
it's quite flatter, I think!

For another collaborative project, one grade made the Village of Moon Rain:

Each student made their own hut, which they put together for the village:


complete with a mountain cave:
where Minli & Dragon hid! Do you see the well where the Green Tiger met his demise?
When I walked into the third grade classroom, I was a little surprised to see they were all playing board games.  But when I looked closer, I saw they were all playing student-made games--all inspired by my books!
A Year of the Rat board game!
a  "Minli's journey" board game!
I loved all their "danger cards." This one says, "The monkeys attack you! Move back three spaces!"
There was even a Where the Mountain Meets the Moon chess set:

Look at the neat game pieces:
Do you recognize the characters? I see A-fu, A-gong, the Green Tiger and A-fu!
and the buffalo boy, buffalo, Minli, the Old Man of the Moon, Ma & Ba!
I was so excited to see some the costumes from last year's play on display that I asked if I could see some of the students wear them. 

In reply, they just led to the auditorium where I saw this:

Yes! It was an encore of last year's show, just for me:
I think they gave the professional show a run for their money!
the incredible cast of actors and actresses!
It was an amazing day! I'll always remember it!
incredible-teacher Felix Chen & I as a couple of Ugly Vegetables! They made these awesome cut-outs, too!

Thank you so much, my friends at the Abington Friends School!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

how does our garden grow?

The weather has been a yo-yo--warm to cold, dry to wet; and the garden, much to Rain Dragon's chagrin, been slow to grow:

The daily inspections have been a disappointment to her:

and it seemed we were much better at growing clover than anything else:

But, finally, the garden has begun to improve:

And one day... 

The start of tomatoes!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

catching up with some school visits: Augusta Baker's Dozen Storytelling Celebration

And then, back in April, I was in Columbia, SC where southern hospitality was on display the moment I stepped in to my hotel room:


Hey, notice what that basket is on?

Yes, that was me and my work on wall those posters and postcards and magazine covers:

Because, I was featured author for  the Augusta Baker's Dozen: A Celebration of Stories, an amazing program in its 29th year. 

oh, did I mention, they also made buttons?

My favorite part of the program is that on one of the days, they bus in 4th graders from surrounding schools for a storytelling speed date! 

Dozens of storytellers set up around the garden of a historic home and students, broken up into groups, go from one storyteller to the next for ten minute each (they hear from three different storytellers in total).

It's really amazing!  

By the end, the kids are clamoring to tell their own stories--even telling them to each other as they walk to the bus.

But that was only part of the program. The other part was centered around the work of yours truly!

I thought this fish pond was a very creative idea!

kids decorated their own fish to put in the pond
And there were lots of dragons:

drawn dragons! 
this one was created by kid-painted paper plates and streamers

this was made out of kids' handprints
hand prints decorated to make the scales

this one was hung so high that I'm not sure how they made it!

even origami dragons!
And speaking of origami, there were lots of paper crafts like:

and fortune cookies!
There was even a puppet show featuring my books (I'm hoping to get the script and make it available on my website for anyone interested): 

dancing dim sum!

Dragon and Pacy!

Pacy's family!
After all this effort, I was relieved that a good crowd came to my talk:


I think it was a great event, though I really can't take too much credit for it. The kudos really go to all the hard-working librarians, administrators, volunteers! 

A few of the many people responsible for this awesome event! 

Thanks so much, Richland Library!