Sunday, May 25, 2008

First Daughter: White House Rules by Mitali Perkins, a Fusion Story

Meet sixteen-year-old Sameera Righton, aka Sparrow, the likeable and very interesting main character of the First Daughter books. Sameera was born in Pakistan and was adopted by an American political family. She grew up as a diplomat's daughter, in communities where people from different cultures and races mingled without much fuss. She is sophisticated and articulate, fierce and opinionated. Sameera is an aspiring journalist and is well on her way to fulfilling her dream of becoming a writer. She has a very popular blog, www.sparrowblog.com, that is read by powerful people in America and by people all over the world. And her dad, James Righton, is now the president of the United States.

(By the way, I highly recommend you check out that link! Sparrowblog really exists as a character blog for the First Daughter books. How cool is that?! :o) On the site, Sameera dishes about the real US presidential candidates and their kids.)

Sameera, her dad, her mom Elizabeth Campbell Righton, and her cousin and best friend Miranda Campbell move into the White House. Sameera, her almost-too-good-to-be-true parents, and Miranda have to get used to being the First Family. There are, of course, heavy responsibilities. There are many rules to follow. And there are lots of press people who make privacy almost impossible.

This book is actually a very light read overall. But it is not just about Sameera and Miranda exploring the White House, redecorating Camp David and the living quarters on Air Force One, and attending fancy parties. First Daughter: White House Rules also touches on important topics like race, culture, and religion. Obviously, Sameera is fusing two distinct cultural identities. And not everyone is happy that there is a non-white member of the First Family. Then there is Sameera's romantic interest, Indian American Bobby Ghosh. Sameera does not practice Islam, but she is Muslim by birth. Bobby's family is Hindu and Bobby's grandfather has a grudge against Muslims because his brother was killed by Muslims during the war and his family lost their jute farm in India when their village was taken over by Muslims. Bobby's super strict parents forbid him from seeing Sameera. Bobby's very ill grandfather would get upset if his grandson dated someone Muslim by blood. Race, culture, and religion, and other relevant topics like economic status, are touched on in several other ways in the novel - but never in a preachy way.

First Daughter: White House Rules is a fresh read. It is also a really fun look into a tight-knit and great family and into the perks and challenges of being the First Daughter. In fact, the book was so much fun that I was sad when I reached its end. At least I can backtrack and read First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover, the first book in the series, and I can look forward to more books in the series!


About the Author: Mitali Bose Perkins was born in Kolkata (Calcutta), India. Her name means "friendly" in Bangla, which she tried to live up to because the Bose family moved so often – they lived in India, Ghana, Cameroon, London, New York City, and Mexico City before settling in the San Francisco Bay Area when she was in middle school. Mitali studied political science at Stanford University and public policy at U.C. Berkeley, surviving academia thanks to a steady diet of kids’ books from public libraries and bookstores. She went on to teach middle school, high school, and college students. Mitali lived in India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and California with her husband and twin sons before the Perkins family moved to Newton, Massachusetts, where they live now. Visit her at: www.mitaliperkins.com.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Lady Liberty: A Biography by Doreen Rappaport

Illustrated by Matt Tavares

I can imagine that kids 5-9 years old (students from kindergarten to grade 4) who do not like history will change their minds after reading this book. Kids who already love history will love this book. For Lady Liberty: A Biography presents the facts about the Statue of Liberty in a very personalized and very palatable way.

The history of the amazing craftsmanship and touching sacrifices that went into building Lady Liberty is told through the experiences, thoughts, and emotions of (vignettes from) the people involved in her life story. Her sculptor and engineer, her carpenters and laborers. The publisher and the farmers, miners, and factory workers who worked together to raise money for her. The man who first dreamt of her. I was teary-eyed as I read about two boys who sent a dollar that they had saved for circus tickets, a girl who sent her two pet roosters to be sold, and Civil War veterans who sent fifteen hundred dollars - all so that the Lady's pedestal could be built.

The illustrations were done in watercolor, ink, and pencil, in a palette of serious tones that compliment the colors and the beauty of the Lady herself. These illustrations are alive. They are so realistic and lifelike that I half expect them to actually move!

My favorite illustration is of a ship full of people from many different countries entering the New World, Lady Liberty at the gate to their new lives. One man on deck has his arms reaching out, as if to caress the Lady. He is actually reaching out to caress the hope and freedom she represents. This illustration took hold of my heart and squeezed, none too gently.

Lady Liberty: A Biography contains appendices which include notes from the author and illustrator, the dimensions of the Statue of Liberty, a timeline of the important events in her life, and suggested readings for those who want to learn more about her. This is a well-researched book; it is rich with eye-opening and inspiring information. Though I learned A LOT from the book, it makes me want to learn even more about the Statue of Liberty!

Lady Liberty: A Biography is a reminder of the beauty of America's freedom and of how immigration is the foundation of America. This enlightening reminder and history lesson is presented in a unique style and format that will draw in young readers.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fusion Story: The Fold by An Na

"Joyce stepped back to the mirror and pulled out two sheets of tissue from the dispenser on the counter. She leaned forward, raising her tissue-swathed index fingers to her face. The huge zit pulsed with pain, but she held her breath and gave it. One. Last. Push. Eye-rolling, teeth-clenching, nausea-inducing, searing pain flooded her body, but in the mirror, Joyce could see the beginnings of a white nugget like a tiny grain of rice oozing out from under her skin along with pus-streaked blood. Joyce gasped and watched with revolt and glee as the alien seed emerged from the mother ship that was her temple. She got it."

That is part of the perfect beginning to a novel about the different images of beauty and society's preoccupation with them. We are introduced to Korean American Joyce Park through an opening chapter where she is obsessing over a zit because she wants to look her best when she asks her very popular and very hot crush to sign her yearbook.

Joyce is always compared to her beautiful, sexy, intelligent, and overachieving older sister Helen. Living in Helen's shadow makes Joyce angry at her sister and insecure about her own looks and abilities. Joyce's aunt, Gomo, is obsessed with looks. Gomo has gone through so much plastic surgery that Joyce and her younger brother Andy call her "Michael" (after the singer who has altered his appearance beyond recognition). When Gomo wins the lottery, she gives her family gifts that will help them improve their looks. She gives Helen an expensive and gorgeous traditional Korean outfit. She gives Andy shark liver extract pills with a special Chinese root for growing taller. Joyce's father gets a sharp new suit and shoes with lifts in them to make him look taller. Joyce's mother gets permanent makeup tattoos. Gomo offers Joyce free plastic surgery: blepharoplasty, the eyelid surgery that many Asians undergo to give their eyes folds.

Gomo's plastic surgeon, Dr. Reiner, glues back part of Joyce's eyelids to create the effect of the double eyelid fold surgery. This is temporary and is meant to help Joyce decide whether she will go through with the operation. Joyce feels prettier and more confident while trying "the fold" on a trial basis. Maybe with the permanent fold she will have a chance with her infatuation, the half-German, half-Korean, all-American John Ford Kang!

The Fold does not bang us over the head with its commentary on the different notions of and attitudes towards beauty. Neither does it force-feed us ideas about whether plastic surgey is right or wrong - or even about whether a preoccupation with looks is right or wrong! (Though it does come dangerously close to doing those things a couple of times.) The different notions of and attitudes towards beauty are embedded in the story and gently explored.

In addition, I was truly fascinated by the beauty of the Korean/Korean American culture shown in The Fold. Best of all, by the end of the novel I was teary-eyed because I realized that it is also about the beauty of family.

I would love to discuss this book with a class from one of the many all-girl high schools here. It is the perfect novel to use to encourage teenagers to think carefully about their physical insecurities. It is also the perfect novel to use to encourage teenagers to think carefully about Western and Eastern standards of beauty and how the media defines and portrays beauty.

Obviously, as an Asian, I know several people who think that their eyes are ugly because they have no eyelid folds. I never did understand why they do not like their eyes. :( I like their eyes just the way they are! In fact, I think the absence of the fold is BEAUTIFUL.


About the Author: An Na was born in Korea and grew up in San Diego, California. She is a former middle school English and history teacher, and the author of Wait for Me and A Step from Heaven (National Book Award Finalist and Printz Award winner). She lives in Montpelier, Vermont. Visit her at www.anwriting.com.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Author Interview: Cherry Cheva



I am thrilled to interview the funny and fabulous Cherry Cheva, author of the great and very hip fusion story She's So Money. :D




You are a writer for the Fox animated TV series Family Guy. What made you decide to write young adult fiction? Can you tell us about your road to publication as a writer for teens?

I actually sort of fell into it—I mean, when I was a kid I always thought it would be cool to write a book, but then I was focused on getting into TV writing for so long that I didn't really think about it seriously until my agent had another client who was doing a book-related project. He asked if I wanted to give it a try, and I was like hell yes! But if you count the road to getting my job on Family Guy, which no doubt helped me land the book deal in the first place, the story is much longer, involving moving to LA and getting a series of assistant jobs while writing spec scripts and trying to find an agent—all the usual stuff people do when they're trying to break into the industry.

What books and/or authors have influenced you as a writer for teens?

Hmmm, my answer to this kind of sucks because I actually hadn't read that much YA fiction before I started writing it (tons when I was a kid, of course, but not much current stuff, sad to say). So I'm not really sure about influencing, but back in the day I loved Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary; very recently, the Firebirds and Firebirds Rising short story anthologies; and of course Harry Potter like everyone else on the planet.

What part of writing do you enjoy the most?

Being done! Writing is such a pain in the neck! :) Okay, I guess I like rewriting better than first drafting because it just seems easier to type over stuff that's already there, rather than a blank page. And of course, for my day job, it's always great when you pitch a joke and everyone laughs. I also enjoy the mass quantities of free candy.

What was it like writing She's So Money?

Super fun-- a totally interesting switchup from TV writing. I had to learn to take my time, because there's so much room for detail in a book, whereas in TV you're trying to get into and out of scenes as quickly as possible. One occasionally frustrating (although understandable) thing was that I tend to have an R-rated sensibility and in YA novels, just like on network TV, you can't always have the raciest version of what you want in there. There were some jokes and lines in the book that had to be toned down, and I mourn those, but the dirtier versions live on in my head. :)

Do you celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month? How will you celebrate it this year?

I'm celebrating by talking and blogging about Fusion Stories as much as possible. :) Ta da, I just did it! Here's the link: fusionstories.com

What are the challenges and rewards of being an Asian American writer?

I guess they're the same as those of any writer, and then there's also the—worry? or at least awareness?—that if you have an Asian American protagonist in your book that it could potentially limit your audience. I don't even know if that's true, in fact it might totally not be, but I think it's something you end up thinking about at least a little, even if your story is pretty universal. On the plus side, if you end up introducing a bit of Asian culture to readers who may not have been exposed to it otherwise, awesome.

Why was the Fusion Stories group created? What are the purposes and goals of the Fusion Stories group?

Honestly, the Fusion website says it all much better than I would. :) Check it out at fusionstories.com!

What is the coolest thing about being a Fusion author?

It has been totally awesome meeting all the other Fusion authors-- Justina Chen Headley, Grace Lin, An Na, Mitali Perkins, Janet Wong, Joyce Lee Wong, Lisa Yee, David Yoo, and Paula Yoo-- either in person or online. They're all super experienced and established and cool, and I've learned a lot in a few months.

And I'm dying to know... Why didn't you practice law after earning a J.D. from NYU Law Scool?

Because I was terrible at it. :) I never wanted to be a lawyer, I basically just went to law school because I couldn't figure out what else to do at the time (and of course my parents were pushing for it). Like, I didn't know anybody in LA and was too scared at age 21 to move out there and try to figure out how to break into TV writing, so law school was basically three years of me stalling (and accumulating debt…yuck). Right after I graduated I moved to LA though, and by the time my law school friends were all killing themselves studying for the bar, I was killing myself working as an agent's assistant. It was a really hard job and paid terribly, but I would've taken it over being a lawyer any day.

Thanks so much, Cherry!

For more information about Cherry, check out her MySpace profile.

Fusion Story: She's So Money by Cherry Cheva

Thai American Maya Naravadee is an obedient daughter to her parents and a great older sister to her brother Nat. (Family is number one for Maya!) She works really hard at her family's restaurant, Pailin Thai Cuisine. She's a high school senior who's always gotten straight As. She's even a student tutor. Maya is the "smart chick," a "good girl." (Hahahahahaha, another protagonist I can relate to.:o) )

When Maya's parents attend a wedding and go to a trade show out of town, Maya is in charge of the family restaurant for five days. She has everything under control until she encounters two difficult customers who threaten to contact the Health Department. That night, Maya goes straight home after the dinner shift, too tired from the difficult customers to do the usual restaurant cleanup.

Unfortunately, the angry customers do contact the Health Department, and when the Health Inspector visits the restaurant he encounters the mess Maya left. Pailin Thai Cuisine has six weeks to pay a $10,000 fine for violations. Maya is afraid of her parents' anger and disappointment - they might ship her off to Thailand! She is also worried that they cannot afford the fine. And she is determined to not let anyone else suffer for her mistake. So Maya fixes her original mistake with an elaborate one. She decides to keep the fine a secret from her family and friends. And she decides to pay off the fine herself - by doing the homework of Camden King, the most popular guy in her school, charging a hundred bucks for each assignment. Things start getting even more complicated when Maya falls for the hot Camden!

I was transfixed as Maya's lies snowballed and the cheating scheme started spinning out of control. Maya kept finding herself in a bigger and bigger mess until finally everything was a train wreck!

Okay, I wonder why the girl on the cover is not Asian; and the novel may be just a tiny bit too light and predictable for my personal taste. But man was this an exciting read! She's So Money is smart, sassy, fast-paced, and peppered with funny pop culture references. It was so entertaining, like a good teen flick!


About the Author: Cherry Chevapravatdumrong ("Cherry Cheva") was born in Columbus, OH, and raised in Ann Arbor, MI. She majored in psychology at Yale and earned a J.D. from NYU Law School. While in school, Cherry spent her summers working at law firms and her winter breaks waiting tables at her parents' restaurant, Lotus Thai. She then moved to LA to pursue a career in writing, and is now the only female writer on Fox’s hit TV show "Family Guy." She's So Money is her first novel.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Author Interview: Katie Davis


Katie Davis is the best-selling author-illustrator of seven picture books, including Who Hops? and Kindergarten Rocks!. I am super excited to share here her answers to my questions about her first novel, The Curse of Addy McMahon.




Your other books are for younger readers, what prompted you to write middle grade fiction?

In 1999, I read an article in the NY Times, about the threat of a heinous fairy curse. The article was about a storyteller in Latoon, Ireland who was trying to warn local officials about the potential danger revolving around the destruction of a white-blossomed hawthorn bush. The bush, it turned out, was rumored to be a fairy lair. Apparently, it stood in the way of a planned highway bypass, and if bulldozed, the fairies would curse the road and all who used it, causing crashes, death, and general mayhem.

I immediately imagined a girl here in the U.S. whose great-great-grandad chopped down a fairy lair back in Ireland generations ago. Even though the story was a long-standing family joke, what if she actually believed it just a little? She might blame the curse for all the crummy stuff in her life, even things that were her fault.

Why did you decide to remove the fantasy element in The Curse of Addy McMahon?

Alvina Ling at Little Brown read an earlier version entitled The Fairy Curse. She called me and said, "I know it's called The Fairy Curse but . . . what do you think about taking out all the fantasy?" I realized after her amazing feedback that it needed to be a story of Addy’s relationships, and her struggle to learn when to take responsibility for her mistakes, and just as importantly, to not take responsibility when things weren’t her fault.
 
Why did you decide to make the book a hybrid – part traditional novel, part graphic novel?

That came very late in the process. She'd always had a journal, though it took other forms over the years: a paper for history class, an autobiography for another class, and an on-going article for her school paper. I had art in it, but it was more collage-type things. Then Carolyn Crimi read it and said, "Why don't you make her an author and an illustrator, like you?" Then it hit me: her diary, which is, in effect, her autobiography, would be in comic strip form, and she'd call it her "autobiogra-strip"!

Thank God for good readers.

Can you tell us a little bit more about autobiogra-stripsTM?

As I wrote above, it's Addy's diary, but in comic book format. The manuscript had been rejected a few times and the comments I seemed to get across the board was discomfort with the seamlessness of the comedy/tragedy. I thought that aspect was great because that is what life is like. Addy’s father had died, her mom has a love interest, Addy loses her best friend whose new BFF is Addy’s arch enemy. But throughout, the book is actually pretty funny. Thing is, novels are not life.

When I thought about that, I realized using the graphic novel structure for Addy’s diary would be the perfect solution. A story is written to get the fullest impact so the reader feels the maximum emotional punch. But I didn’t want my readers jarred out of the story by a joke in the middle of a sad scene so I extracted all the hardest emotional parts and put them in the autobiogra-strips.

All of a sudden, the comedy stood out, and instead of fighting with the emotional moments, they supported each other. I had to learn to balance the comedy with the poignancy in the story, and it was very difficult. But I now think it’s that hard-won balance that gives depth to both the humor as well as the heartrending moments.

Oh, and I’m working on a site, autobiograstrip.com, which will allow kids to go and make their own autobiogra-strips. I can’t wait until it’s done!

Can you tell us a little bit more about your workshops that connect illustrating and storytelling to literacy?

First I teach them how to see. I tell them, “When you need to go somewhere but you don’t know how to get there, you look at a map. It gets you from Point A to Point B. Same thing when you’re trying to draw a face, for example. How high on the head should the eyes be? What is the relation of the nose to the ears? Notice the hair doesn’t stick straight out from the head (unless you are me in the morning).

Using an overhead projector, I take a transparency of a photo, and place a blank transparency on top of that. I trace just the outlines of the face – when kids do it later, we use tracing paper and pencils I provide with no erasers. This isn’t about a perfect, pretty picture – it’s about learning to see. There are lots of oohs and ahhs when I pull the tracing apart, but that’s not the fun part. Now I take that “road map” aka my tracing, and put another blank transparency over that. Using the tracing as a template, I know where to place the eyes, ears, hair, etc – but we turn them into cartoons.

Utilizing this new skill (there are samples by kids at http://www.katiedavis.com) the kids write and illustrate stories (often in their own autobiogra-strip) with characters they create.

I have a one-minute movie showing how I teach this process at http://www.katiedavis.com/movies. Click on Learning To See.

What was the hardest part of writing The Curse of Addy McMahon?

The toughest thing is watching it take its first “steps” in the real world. It’s scary waiting for that first review, or reactions from kids, the most important “reviewers”. I’m thrilled (okay, and relieved!) that I’ve gotten such positive feedback for this book.

What was the best part?

I have two favorite things.

The first I need to preface with an explanation. When a book is finally completed, and the author has finished the rewrites requested by her editor, the manuscript goes to a copyeditor. A copyeditor is your Uber-English teacher. S/he marks up the manuscript with grammar, punctuation, and spelling corrections. S/he also comments on consistency and continuity (time gaps or mistakes), or anything that doesn’t make sense or is questionable.

My first best part of writing The Curse of Addy McMahon was hearing my editor tell me he’s never had anyone have so few copyedits. That is a source of great pride for me! The second is having kids write to me, telling me how much they loved the book. That is a feeling I can’t even describe.
 
What do you want readers to take away from the book?

That they had a ball reading it. Maybe that they’ll view the world a little differently, and most of all, perhaps they’ll be inspired to write their own autobiogra-strips to express themselves.
 
How do you deal with “bad writing days”?

I either do something else, or I power through. It depends how bad it is. Making sure I put my rear in the chair again the next day is the most important thing about a bad writing day, though. Doesn’t always happen, but I try!

What children's book would you like your work to match or surpass (in terms of writing, illustrations, popularity, or awards)?

The chance of getting a big award is, well, a fantasy. Ten thousand children's books come out per list. I just have to write the best book I can and hope it finds its audience.

When I first start working on The Curse of Addy McMahon nine years ago, I read Holes. I think it’s a perfect novel. I so admired the way Sachar wrote, weaving all the threads together and I went for that, stuffing everything into the plot that I could think of. Then I realized, “Hey! I’m not Louis Sachar! I better write my own book.” I ripped out all the fantasy, lost 180 pages, and rebuilt the story.

In the years since, I forgot all about that desire to have lots of interconnecting threads and just rewrote and tried not to force things. After reading the final version it struck me that I got all the threads I wanted.

Was there a time when you were a kid that you thought you were “cursed”?

Pa-lenty of times. I have ADHD, though no one knew what that was in those days. I just thought I must be cursed. Now, though it’s still hard to work with it (rather than fight it), I know I’m blessed, not cursed!

What is your favorite or strongest memory from when you were around Addy's age?

One that stands out is my first day of seventh grade. My school system went from K-6, then 7-12. Going into the new school in seventh grade was a huge deal. I went shopping for my school clothes, and decided what I’d wear – a dark brown wool turtleneck that I thought made me look very sophisticated. It ended up being about 95 degrees that day. It’s hard to look sophisticated when you’re sweating buckets.

Thank you SO much for the interview, Katie! :o)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dude, Asian Americans SO rock.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is in full swing and I want to share this enlightening and uplifting video about Asian Americans! Thanks to Fusion Stories for the link. :o)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Graduation 2008

On Sunday, April 27, my brothers JP and Brian graduated from the University of the Philippines Diliman. In the morning, we were at the College of Architecture to watch Brian graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Landscape Architecture.


In the afternoon, we rushed to the ceremony of the College of Human Kinetics to watch JP graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Science.


Congratulations, JP and Brian! I am so proud of my brothers. They are smart, intelligent, handsome, sweet, kind, and talented young men.


After taking the picture above, Mommy got teary-eyed. Now all of her children have graduated from college! We know that we couldn't have done it without all her help, support, love, prayers, and wisdom. We love you so much, Mommy - and we thank you for everything!


We skipped the university-wide graduation ceremony because we were so tired after attending two college graduation ceremonies. That night we celebrated with relatives. There was a lot of talking/catching up and A LOT of food. There was grilled pork, roasted chicken, pancit Malabon, pizza, grilled fish, salad, seafood soup, sodas, mango cream pie, chocolate-marshmallow ice cream... There was so much food we couldn't finish it all!

It was a great day. I love my family so much. :o)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Fusion Story: The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. I want to honor it by celebrating all things Asian American and by reading Asian American children's and young adult literature - particularly Fusion Stories.

The Year of the Rat, a semi-autobiographical novel written and illustrated by Grace Lin, follows a year (one Chinese New Year to the next) in the life of Pacy, a young Taiwanese American. The Year of the Rat is the first year of the Chinese twelve-year cycle and therefore it symbolizes new beginnings. The Year of the Rat is the time to make a fresh start and to change things. And Pacy does experience important changes during the Year of the Rat: her best friend Melody moves away, there's a new boy who is the only other Asian in her elementary school (aside from her sister Ki-Ki), her favorite cousin Clifford gets married, and she starts doubting her dream to become a writer and illustrator. Pacy does not like most of the changes the year brings.

I found The Year of the Rat a refreshing read because it is simple, innocent, and unpretentious (though at times it is corny); and because for the first time in a long time I was reading children's literature I could really relate to.

As an Asian who grew up in the United States, I could relate to Pacy's confusion and the prejudice she encounters. I kept getting flashbacks while reading The Year of the Rat. For example, Pacy remembers that in kindergarten her classmates Kurt and Rich would stretch their eyes with their fingers and chant pretend Chinese at her. That's happened to me - and I'm not even Chinese! Pacy says: "Sometimes, I felt like I was more than one person. At home, everyone called me Pacy, my Chinese name, and at school, everyone called me Grace, my American name. At times I wasn't sure which person I was supposed to be-Taiwanese Pacy or Chinese Pacy or American Grace." I've certainly felt that way before!

(Some reflection inspired by Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Fusion Stories: I was talking to my best friend CY - who got back from the U.S. in December - about how Filipino Americans have two homes: the U.S. and the Philippines. She agreed that we would never feel 100% at home in the U.S., but neither would we ever feel 100% at home in the Philippines. As another Fusion Story writer, Mitali Perkins, puts it: it is life between cultures.)

I've always thought that Asian cultures are beautiful and I LOVED learning so many things about Taiwanese and Taiwanese American culture from The Year of the Rat. But The Year of the Rat is not about Taiwanese or Taiwanese American culture, neither is it about immigrant experiences. These things are gently weaved into an engrossing story that is really about family, friendship, and growing up.

I was a little sad when I finished reading the book. It's a short novel (with cute illustrations!) that I didn't want to end. I want more stories about Pacy and her family and friends! The Year of the Rat is the sequel to The Year of the Dog, which, unfortunately, I haven't read. So I guess I'll work my way backwards and read that soon! :o)

About Grace Lin (photo and bio from her official website): Grace Lin is the author and illustrator of more than a dozen picture books, including THE UGLY VEGETABLES and DIM SUM FOR EVERYONE! Grace's first children's novel THE YEAR OF THE DOG was released with glowing praise. While most of Grace's books are about the Asian-American experience, she believes, "Books erase bias, they make the uncommon everyday, and the mundane exotic. A book makes all cultures universal." See more about Grace and her work at www.gracelin.com.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Blogging Friends Forever Gold Card


My friend Natasha of Maw Books has given me an award - the Blogging Friends Forever Gold Card! (Check out Natasha's very helpful book review database over at Book Bloggers Book Reviews.) Thank you so much, Natasha. I am passing this award right back to you!

I would also like to give the Blogging Friends Forever Gold Card to (in alphabetical order:

Ariela of Baking and Books

Janece of No Ordinary Moment

Jill of The Write Way Home

Kerrie of Rose Colored Life

Natalie of Chickenblog

I have been reading the blogs of Ariela, Janece, Jill, and Natalie for years now. Kerrie and Natasha are relatively new bloggy friends of mine. I love these ladies and I love their blogs and I would truly like to be blogging friends forever with them. :o)

Where I'm From

I am from books, from words and ideas. I am from the still unfinished house with papaya trees in the yard... dusty, spacious, with breezes cooling and caressing me.

I am from the mango tree, the orchid, the bamboo hut, the cotton plant, the rose - thorny and fragrant.

I am from Saturdays spent on the farm and independence, from Sabido and Lozano and Olarte.

I am from the assertive and principled.

From "read this book" and "study every day."

I am from praying together as a family every afternoon and reading the Bible on my own every night.

I'm from Manila and Filipinos, tapioca fruit salad and beef jerky.

From the grandfather who "borrowed" a water buffalo to plow fields in the wee hours of the morning, the rodeos, and the selling of cattle to a meat packing company.

I am from cabinets in Mommy's bedroom filled with fabric-covered photo albums capturing her modeling career and our years in Nevada and California, chronicling every vacation and holiday and showing how far we have come together.


This is inspired by a poem from George Ella Lyon. I found out about it from a post by Michelle of Bleeding Espresso. Use this form to write your own! It's therapeutic! Please let me know in the comments section if you have decided to explore where you are from. :o)