PaperTigers 10th Anniversary: Multi-colored Threads of Home by Dr. Myra Garces-Bacsal

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Dr. Myra Garces-Bacsal is an Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Education, Singapore and was just nominated for the NIE’s 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award. In addition to teaching, Myra shares her passion for the written word through Gathering Books, a children’s literature and YA fiction website with a vibrant blog. At the 2010 Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore PaperTigers was honored to co-host a panel discussion with Myra and with Tarie Sabido of Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind. As part of our 10th Anniversary celebrations we asked Myra if she would send us her Top 10 list of multicultural books and she submitted to us this most wonderful and insightful article:

Multi-colored Threads of Home

When I first heard the term multiculturalism in children’s literature, my first thought was one of joyful celebration and anticipation. Enchanted as I am with the nature of storytelling and the lyrical beauty of words – I sensed that this celebration of diversity would give space to distinct and resounding voices, formerly silenced and marginalized. Little did I know how naïve I was. Reading the edited book by Dana Fox and Kathy Short entitled Stories Matter: The Complexity of Cultural Authenticity in Children’s Literature has provided me with a veritable spread of polemical issues, conflicting perspectives, not to mention the sociopolitical underpinnings that provide a tenable-yet-shaky frame for a more thorough understanding of multiculturalism in books for children. Gradually, I came to realize that there are multiple layers that permeate this deceptively-innocuous intention to bring the world to a child’s hands through a book. Issues range from insider-outsider perspectives (with Jacqueline Woodson’s plaintive Who can tell my story and Marc Aronson’s heartfelt A Mess of Stories) to questions of ethnic essentialism and problems of cultural authenticity. Needless to say, my views about my beloved picture books have now become more nuanced and textured as I begin to gradually appreciate the quiet struggles and the thinly-veiled tension that serve as the backdrop of these narratives for children.

When Marjorie very kindly invited me to share my top ten multicultural books for children, all these thoughts were raging through my mind. I knew that I wanted to steer clear of these thorny, hardly-resolved, and undeniably complex issues. At the same time, I wanted to go beyond folklore and festivals. I decided that I might as well develop my own criteria of picture books that spoke to me.

The list that I have here is made up of narratives with a pulse, with soulful characters who are confronted with inner demons yet are able to transcend the sordid realities of life through flights of fancies, quilting dreams, or the promise of spring. While life’s shadows take on a tangible form (be they rabbits or wolves), the reader feels a deep sense of faith with winged-hands that are unafraid to search, reach out, and ultimately discover home within one’s self.

In Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey, the reader gets to know the restless heart of a wanderer. In the review that I have written in GatheringBooks, I noted that:

Each page is filled with luminous paintings of places that Grandfather has been accompanied by sparse text that is one or two sentences long. While it is perfect for very young children, I envision that it would also be great for older kids who would wish to explore geography, develop a sense of space and time, while providing a means to understand one’s roots and cultural identity.

 While the story is linear, starting with grandfather’s leaving his home in Japan as a young man to “see the world” and ending in old age with grandfather’s longing left in the air for the reader to touch and grasp – each portrait seems to be filled with untold narratives, inviting the reader to sit back and imagine the possible labyrinthine stories the picture brings.

The book also touches on the concept of transnational identity as Say’s grandfather would miss the mountains of Japan while he is in California, yet he would also long for his ‘home’ in California while in Japan. There is that continual search for something elusive outside of one’s self – the search for home.

Shaun Tan’s The Arrival must be among everyone’s top ten list, as it provides a surreal and powerfully-moving representation of all the strange and odd experiences that moving to and living in another country (outside one’s own birthplace) might engender. Absolutely wordless, the monstrous scales and paper boats in the skies provide the reader with a glimpse of the various Ellis Islands of the world – human geese flying south to find refuge. The muted narratives of displacement are rendered even more compelling with the subtle snapshots of pain, inviting the readers to infuse their own ‘river of words’ as they ‘read’ through the wordless tales of deliverance.

This ‘wordless’ concept of home is also something that Jeannie Baker played around with in Mirror as the reader is regaled with the outstanding duality of what life is like in both Morocco and Sydney for two young boys. From a journey of bedtime and morning rituals as ingeniously portrayed in two different parts of the world – one is able to glimpse desert and dry land mirrored with cityscapes, cars, and airplanes. There is also the startling realization that despite the remarkable differences in appearances, there are things that connect us regardless of barriers in geography, language, cultural practices: there is always the night sky, the moon, family, food, and love.

This notion of kinship that goes beyond skin color and language is likewise evident in Brothers by the husband-and-wife tandem Yin and Chris Soentpiet. Ming, a young Chinese boy just arrived in San Francisco to live with his older brothers, who was among the first Chinese railroad workers in the city. Ming was immediately thrust into doing his family duty to mind the struggling store that they are renting to make ends meet. He was warned never to go past Chinatown, as their almond-eyed presence – while necessary for the country’s survival – was neither embraced nor accepted by the ‘locals.’ Things changed when Ming met Patrick, an Irish boy with “brown hair and eyes the color of the bright sky” as he found a friend who is like him in spirit. The two boys’ friendship illustrates how linguistic and cultural boundaries are oftentimes intangible walls of our own making.

These walls may actually prove to be insurmountable for some as could be seen in Armin Greder’s sparse-yet-intensely-gripping The Island. This picture book demonstrates how the pervasive fear towards people who are different could prove to be tragic and beyond redemption. There is darkness seeping through the pages of the book as the reader is confronted with the extent of man’s unfounded rage and haunted by the many atrocities people tend to commit in the name of fear, and how the voice of reason and compassion may easily be smothered by the shadows of what-ifs and relentless musings of the worst aspects of human nature.

In John Marsden’s The Rabbits as illustrated by Shaun Tan, the shadows are given allegorical and aesthetic form as one sees rabbits in suits and numbats in trees populating this metaphorical universe. This picture book allows the reader to take on a radical shift in perspective as one is privy to the sentiments of the locals – not the foreigner, not the immigrant who is struggling to fit in and belong – but a condensed view of colonization from the mistrustful and wounded eyes of the colonized. In the review that I have written in GatheringBooks, I noted that:

The straightforward, deceptively-simple retelling of Australia’s history is matched perfectly by Shaun Tan’s amazingly-stunning artwork that complements the narrative with dark black spaces, monochrome illustrations of how the rabbits have overtaken the entire country (“Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits. Millions and millions of rabbits. Everywhere we look there are rabbits.”), the sepia-toned undercurrents of loss and tragedy, and the deliciously-surreal representation of all that is right and unjust, pure and sullied, and what it means to stand one’s ground (regardless of how shaky and small and crumbling it is). The book is a reminder, as well, of what we value as we cry out in anguish and claim ownership of what is rightfully ours – as one’s entire world is overtaken, captured, and judged to be less than what it is.

This arbitrary yet heavily-pronounced judgment of the superiority of one cultural group as compared to another is clearly evident in Roberto Innocenti’s Rose Blanche as the reader gets to understand more clearly the gritty aspects of war through a child’s innocent eyes. I was struck by how young Rose Blanche proudly waved the Nazi flag as she and other German kids viewed the coming of the soldiers as a cause for celebration and festivity. The red-ribboned girl, however, discovered truths that even our adult minds are incapable of comprehending when she followed the soldier’s truck amidst the clearing – her innocence and youth stripped from her eyes as she sees gaunt and emaciated faces and bodies in striped pajamas. In my review of this book I wrote:

Rose Blanche is a heartbreaking reminder of the real costs of war – and the fact that nothing is worth the gaping black chasm that takes the place of youth, and friendship, and the lovely act of becoming. In war, there is nothing but abrupt ends, cut-off laughter, and discarded dreams. I invite you to open this book and celebrate the sweet song of spring – and perhaps, in time, we can indeed, create a world that is worthy of the beautiful children we have brought into this world. Collectively, we can strive to be the heroes and peacekeepers that our children have always regarded us to be.

This courage to face one’s fears and grit to go beyond one’s self is evident in Margaret Wild and Anne Spudvilas’ Woolvs in the Sitee. While the book begins with a sense of inevitable doom and resignation – a darkness that threatens to engulf – this does not overwhelm the reader who touches that bit of sunshine and warmth in the pages – primarily because it is rarely seen that it is even more apparent. There is that keenly-felt struggle to find meaning and transcend one’s pain to save another and a decisive invitation from the young protagonist, Ben, to “Joyn me” in facing one’s own ‘woolvs.’

Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach takes us on a different quest as the readers gets to fly among quilted stars together with Cassie Louise Lightfoot, as she ‘owns’ George Washington Bridge and New York through her flights of fancies. It is an evocative graphical representation of a young girl’s resilience amidst poverty as seen in Ringgold’s stunning story-quilts-transformed-into-picture-book. It is a celebration of a child’s indomitable spirit as she declares the world to be hers for the taking while she pursues her dreams in winged feet and star-filled eyes.

I end my list though with poetry as I share the amazing collaboration between Maya Angelou and the gifted graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in Life Does not Frighten Me. I must have read this book more than a dozen times as the lines sounded more like a whispered prayer to me – an antidote against things that go bump and creep in thine soul: ghostly clouds and barking canines, big old meanies and fire-breathing dragons. A perfect gift as well to the Paper Tigers ladies as they celebrate their tenth year anniversary. In this beautiful picture book, the reader is given a dream catcher, an amulet, a magic spell that would shatter the darkest of evils and make the shadows go crawling back where they come from – with the powerful words:

 I go boo
Make them shoo
I make fun
Way they run
I won’t cry
So they fly
I just smile
They go wild
Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

PaperTigers 10th Anniversary – My Top 10 Multicultural Ghost Stories

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

I thought I’d counted very carefully, honest guv’nor, but somehow one extra ghost snuck in there – I’m not sure which one – and I’ve ended up with a ‘Reader’s 10’. (If you’re not sure what a Reader’s 10 is, you’ll need to look at Janet Wong’s Top 10: Multicultural Poetry Picks (2002-2012)). So here’s a list of my favorite ghost encounters – they cover a range of age-groups and genres. Some of the ghosts are friendly, some make you ponder, and some are just plain terrifying…

~ The Young Inferno by John Agard, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura – I’ve blogged about this modern take on Dante’s Inferno for a teen audience here and here.  It sends shivers down my spine every time I read it.

~ Takeshita Demons by Cristy Burne – Miku has just moved from Japan to the UK and it soon becomes clear that several yokai demons have followed her there.  When her little brother is kidnapped, her empty, snow-bound secondary school unexpectedly becomes a battle-ground… this will have you on the edge of your seat!

~ Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott – I read this earlier this year on a very choppy ferry crossing and was so riveted that I remained oblivious to the scene of sea-sick desolation around me – yes, I loved it.  Read my review here.

~ Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara – it was love at first sight here with both the illustrations and the sweet story of a witch and her cat who move into a new house that’s full of ghosts.  Imagine putting ghosts through the washer and hanging them up as curtains!

~ Hannah’s Winter by Kierin Meehan – Hannah meets more than she bargained for when she goes to stay with Japanese family friends for the winter – and readers might just have to sleep with the light on after being carried along through the pages into the small wee hours!

~ Just In Case by Yuyi Morales – in this gorgeous sequel to the equally funny and delightful Just A Minute, the ghost of Zelmiro “helps” Señor Calavera to find twenty-two (Spanish Alphabet) presents for Grandma Beetle’s birthday – and tricks him into giving her what she wants most…

~ Requiem for a Beast by Matt Ottley – there are many ghosts in this tour de force combining spoken and written text, graphic narrative, and music that blends Australian Aboriginal song and movements from the Latin Requiem: both in the lost memories of the stolen generation, and at the end of a young man’s physical and psychological journeys to come to terms with his family’s past.

~ Home of the Brave by Allen Say – a man’s kayaking excursion suddenly brings him into a bewildering, dreamlike encounter with the ghosts of Japanese-American children incarcerated during the Second World War, and jolts him into insight of his own family history.

~ The Barefoot Book of Giants, Ghosts and Goblins retold by John Matthews, illustrated by Giovanni Manna – as might be expected from a Barefoot anthology, this is a beautifully presented and the nine stories from all over the world make great read-alouds. Most notable among the ghosts is the love-sick Cheyenne “Ghost with Two Faces”.

~ The Secret Keepers by Paul Yee – I have to admit, I had real difficulty deciding which one of Paul Yee’s ghost stories to choose for this list… They are all compelling books that are impossible to put down so I’ve gone for The Secret Keepers for purely personal reasons because I was there at the launch and heard Paul reciting the opening.

~ The Ghost Fox by Laurence Yep – a small boy has to use his wits to save his mother from the evil Ghost Fox intent on stealing her soul.  Vivid descriptions and attention to detail; plkenty of tension and some humor too.  Favorite quote: (Fox speaking to servant) “Fool, you don’t celebrate a great victory with turnips.”

And P.S. If you haven’t yet seen our fabulous 10th Anniversary Giveaway, announced yesterday, go here right now!


PaperTigers 10th Anniversary: Top 10 Multicultural Children’s Books about Food – Double Helpings from Grace Lin and Jama Rattigan

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

We are extra lucky today as not one but two experts have concocted a gourmet feast of their Top 10 favourite multicultural stories about food.  It seems fitting that authors Grace Lin and Jama Rattigan should each select food as their theme, since they have both written stories revolving around tasty recipes – as you will discover by looking at each of their menus.  In fact, each has put a book by the other on her menu, while unaware that the other was cooking up their own recipe, so it seems fitting that we should bring you the whole spread for you to gorge on at a single sitting – and it’s also interesting to see which books come up as double portions…

Jama Rattigan is the author of Dumpling Soup illustrated by Lilian Hsu-Flanders (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1998);  The Woman in the Moon: A Story from Hawai’i illustrated by Carla Golembe (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1996); and Truman’s Aunt Farm illustrated by G. Brian Karas (Sandpiper, 1996).  As well as her website (check out the recipe for Dumpling Soup), Jama also hosts the truly delectable Jama’s Alphabet Soup, a must-visit blog for anyone interested in children’s books, food, or both at the same time.

Grace Lin‘s latest book is Starry River of the Sky (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012), the much-awaited companion novel to Newbery Honor Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009).  She has written and illustrated many books for a wide age-range of children, including The Ugly Vegetables (Charlesbridge Publishing, 1999) and Dim Sum for Everyone (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2001); and picture books she has illustrated include Where on Earth is my Bagel? by Frances and Ginger Park (Lee & Low Books, 2001).  You can read our 2010 interview with Grace here, and view some of her beautiful artwork in our Gallery here and here.  And do check out Grace’s website and blog, where she has a fantastic giveaway on offer in celebration of the launch of Starry River of the Sky.

Top 10 Favorite Multicultural Picture Books about Food by Jama Rattigan

Whether it’s a big platter of noodles, warm-from-the-oven flatbread, fried dumplings, or a steamy bowl of Ugly Vegetable Soup, there’s nothing tastier than a picture book about food. You eat with your eyes first, then step into the kitchens or sit at the tables of friends and family from faraway places, all of whom seem to agree that love is the best seasoning for any dish, and food tastes best when it is happily shared. These tasty tales always make me say, “More, please!”

~ Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet S. Wong and Margaret Chodos-Irvine (Harcourt, 2002)

~ Aunty Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie Lo and Beth Lo (Lee & Low, 2012)

~ Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park and Ho Baek Lee (Clarion, 2005)

~ Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore and Kristi Valiant (Shen’s Books, 2009)

~ Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules and Kathryn Mitter (Albert Whitman, 2009)

~ Hiromi’s Hands by Lynne Barasch (Lee & Low, 2007)

~ Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia and Ken Min (Lee & Low, 2011)

~ The Have a Good Day Café by Frances Park and Ginger Park, illustrated by Katherine Potter (Lee & Low, 2005)

~ The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin (Charlesbridge, 1999)

~ Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto and Ed Martinez (Putnam, 1993)



My Top Ten Food-Themed Multicultual Books by Grace Lin

In my family instead of saying hello, we say, “Have you eaten yet?” Eating and food has always been a successful way to connect us to culture, familiar as well as exotic–perhaps because it’s so enjoyable! So these books about food can be an appetizer to another country, a comfort food of nostalgia or a delicious dessert of both. Hen hao chi!

~ Hiromi’s Hands by Lynne Barasch (Lee & Low, 2007)

~ Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes, illustrated by Sanjay Patel (Chronicle Books, 2012)

~ Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park,illustrated Ho Baek Lee (Clarion, 2005)

~ How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman, illustrated by Allan Say (Sandpiper, 1987)

~ Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet Wong, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine (Harcourt, 2002)

~ Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley, illustrated by Peter Thornton (Carolrhoda Books, 1992)

~ Yoko by Rosemary Wells (Hyperion, 1998)

~ Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie and Beth Lo (Lee & Low, 2012)

~ Peiling and the Chicken-Fried Christmas by Pauline Chen (Bloomsbury, 2007)

~ Dumpling Soup by Jama K. Rattigan, illustrated by Lillian Hsu Flanders (Little, Brown, 1998)

Announcing the Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set 2012

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

We are very proud to announce the new book set for our Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach Programme. This year we have selected four books in total: three books that will be sent to all the schools and libraries around the world participating in the Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach, and one more that will go to certain places that have older students. So, without further ado, the books are:

Out of the Way! Out of the Way!
by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Uma Krishnaswamy
(first published by Tulika Books, 2010; Groundwood Books, 2012)

Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village
by Sunny Seki
(Tuttle Publishing, 2012)

The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough
by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault
(Kids Can Press, 2010)

Drawing from Memory
by Allen Say
(Scholastic Press, 2011)

You can read more about the books with more links to PaperTigers features here, and the 2012 Book Set also features on the homepage of the PaperTigers website.

PaperTigers’ Global Voices feature with award winning author Holly Thompson (USA/Japan)~ Part 2

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

English-language Asia-set Children’s and YA Fiction ~ by Holly Thompson

Part 2 of 3 (read Part 1 here)

Some years back as we settled into our bicultural family life with young children here in Japan, although we were surrounded by books in Japanese and took full advantage of Japan’s healthy picture book and middle-grade market, we discovered that finding English-language reading material to support our bilingual children was no easy task. Because our children attended Japanese schools, English education happened in our home, and we needed a steady supply of English-language books. But libraries in Japan stock few English-language books, and bookstores here carry very few and at hefty mark-ups, so whenever friends or family visited from the U.S. they brought books to us. Returning from a trip back to the States, our luggage was always heavy with books. We book-swapped with families in Japan, we ordered from Scholastic with our English-after school group, and we pounced on book sale tables at international school fairs. At last, Amazon Japan with free and quick delivery of affordable overseas books came to the rescue.

Always on the lookout for books relating to our lives while raising our bilingual children, we soon became aware of a lack of English-language children’s books that reflect Japan. English-language picture books set in Japan were rare, and those that existed, we discovered, tended toward folktales and nonfiction. Where were the day-to-day stories that reflected the landscapes and people and value systems surrounding us? Where was Japan?

We treasured our Allen Say books, especially Kamishibai Man and Grandfather’s Journey.

We read and reread the bilingual Grandpa’s Town by Takaaki Nomura. We enjoyed folktale retellings like The Seven Gods of Luck by David Kudler and Yoshi’s Feast by Kimiko Kajikawa. and biographical works like Cool Melons—Turn to Frogs by Matthew Gollub. All excellent, but we were discouraged that such English-language titles set in Japan were few and far between.

Searching for other Asian cultures in English-language picture books yielded similar results—folktales, nonfiction and concept books, but few fictional stories set in Asia.

As the children grew older, we came to realize that even less common than English-language picture books set in Asia were English-language middle-grade and YA novels set in Japan and Asia. What we found was mostly historical fiction. Of course we read and loved Korea-set historical novels by Linda Sue Park, Japan-set novels by Lensey Namioka such as Island of Ogres, Geraldine McCaughrean’s China-set The Kite Rider, and Minfong Ho’s Cambodia/Thailand-set The Clay Marble. We had our antennae out searching for Asia-set stories, and this 2009 blog post by librarian and children’s literature specialist Jenny Schwartzburg lists many of the titles we discovered.

But we wanted more. Contemporary realism in all its guises. Fantasy. Humor. Mysteries. Sci-Fi. The full spectrum. We wanted the ordinary everyday life of tweens and teens in Japan and Asia in English. Translations (to be addressed in Part 3 of this 3-part series) would seem to be the solution, but there are so few Japanese, and more broadly, so few Asian children’s and YA books translated into English that our choices were extremely limited.

At long last, though a bit late for our grown children, I think we are beginning to see an upswing. More English-language children’s and YA fiction titles set in Asia, are being published and winning awards. And these are being written not just by authors with limited, surface experience in Asia, but by those with solid footing in Asia such as Candy Gourlay (Tall Story), Mitali Perkins(Bamboo People), and Uma Krishnaswami (The Grand Plan to Fix Everything).

And in many parts of Asia there are laudable efforts in place to nurture English-language, as well as local-language, writers. There are now professional organizations like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators providing networks and mentoring for English-language writers and illustrators in Asia. There are conferences such as Singapore’s Asian Festival of Children’s Content, the Japan Writers Conference, the Manila International Literary Festival, and Asia Pacific Writers, which will hold its third summit this year in Bangkok. We now have the Scholastic Asian Book Award and the new SingTel Asian Picture Book Award. There are creative writing MFA programs in Hong Kong and the Philippines, and AsiaWrites now announces residencies and opportunities. These are welcomed developments for the future of Asia-set and Asia-related books for children and young adults. Hurrah! An Asia-grown literature boom is long overdue.

Why is it so important to cultivate English-language writers in Asia? Because not only do the vast numbers of English-language readers in Asia need to find Asia in all its manifestations in the books they read, but English-language readers around the world need the opportunity to set foot in the different universes of Asia through literature.

When books are published these days, they travel the world. A book, like a website, goes abroad. A children’s or YA book in English does not only communicate with readers in the country in which it is published but it speaks to English-language readers wherever it may travel. Let’s hope that English-language publishers everywhere will come to realize that Asia, with its huge, diverse and growing population, deserves greater attention and more playing time through Asia-set fiction for children and teens.

Holly Thompson was raised in New England and is a longtime resident of Japan. Her verse novel Orchards(Delacorte/Random House) won the 2012 APALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature  and is a YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults title. She recently edited Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories (Stone Bridge Press), and her next verse novel The Language Inside (Delacorte/Random House) will be published in 2013. She teaches creative writing at Yokohama City University and serves as the regional advisor of the Tokyo chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Visit her website: www.hatbooks.comPart 3 of her series will be posted here on the PaperTigers’s blog on May 30. Part 1 can be read here.


Vancouver, Serendipity – some photos

Monday, February 27th, 2012

It’s been a wonderful few days here in Vancouver. Serendipity was fabulous – and many thanks to the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable for hosting us and for putting together such a great program. I’ll be heading for the airport shortly, on my way back to the UK, and taking with me some wonderful memories, as well as a suitcase full of books…

Here’s a selection of the many photos I took –

Friday’s Gala Dinner:

Allen Say and Lisa Yee:

Our table, left to right: Corinne, our lovely “Guardian Angel” for the conference Kat Thomson, Lisa’s “Guardian Angel” Rob Biittner, Lisa Yee and me behind.

Saturday – Serendipity 2012 at the Neville Scarfe Building, University of British Columbia – “The Year of the Dragon”

Paul Yee and Lisa Yee:

PaperTigers’ Paper Tiger meets Peepy Peep:

Getting our presentation set up…

Allen Say’s presentation – here with his photograph with Sensei Noro Shinpei:

Making dragons at the lunchtime workshop with Origami Master Joseph Wu:

Then waking everybody up post lunch with some dancing from Shiamak’s Bollywood Dancers – billed to “rouse your inner dragon” – they sure did!

Saturday evening –

And Sunday at the official launch of Paul Yee’s The Secret Keepers, at which he mesmerized his audience by reciting the first few pages:

I will be uploading more photos to Flickr but now I need to head for the airport! Thank you, everyone – Serendipity was a Dragon that roared!

February 2012 Events

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Click on event name for more information

Black History Month~ Canada

African American History Month~ USA

National African American Read-inUSA

National Year of Reading~ Australia

National Storytelling Week~ ongoing until Feb 4, United Kingdom

Kolkata Book Fair~ ongoing until Feb 6, Kolkata, India

Japanese Children’s Literature: A History from the International Library of Children’s Literature Collections~ ongoing until Feb 12, Tokyo, Japan

Celebrating 20 years of Philippine Children’s Book Illustration Exhibit~ ongoing until Feb 26, Manila, Philippines

Taipei Book Fair~ Feb 1 -6, Taipei, Taiwan

28 Days Later: A Black History Celebration of Children’s and YA Lit~ Feb 1 – 29, USA

Children’s Literature Symposium: The Same Text but Different: Variants in Children’s Media~ Feb 3 – 4, Sarasota, FL, USA

Pratham Book Events at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival~ Feb 4 – 12, Mumbai, India

2012 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour~ Feb 5 – 10

Seminar : Illustrating Children’s books in the Folk Art Traditions of India~ Feb 8, Mumbai, India

MA Children’s Book Illustration Exhibit~ Feb 8 – 15, London, United Kingdom

The Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC) Presents an International Conference on Book Therapy~ Feb 9 – 11, New Delhi, India

Imagine Children’s Festival~ Feb 10 – 26, London, United Kingdom

Writer-in-Residence Launch: Meet Sarah Ellis~ Feb 11, Toronto, ON, Canada

47th ACELT Conference: Reading Ourselves, Reading the World~ Feb 11, Manila, Philippines

International Book Giving Day~ Feb 14

2011 Cybils (the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards) Winners Announced~ Feb 14

First Nations Public Library Week~ Feb 14 – 19, Province of Ontario, Canada

Chapter & Verse’s (A Book Club for Adults Discussing Children’s Lit) Discussion of ALA/ALSC Award Winners~ Feb 15, USA

Sun Gallery’s Twenty-third Annual Children’s Book Illustrator Exhibit~ Feb 15 –  Apr 7, Hayward, CA, USA

SCBWI Caribbean Book Chat Via Skype~ Feb 16

All In! Young Writers Media Festival~ Feb 18 – 19, Singapore

International Mother Language Day~ Feb 21

Centre for Youth Literature’s 21st Birthday Celebration~ Feb 21 –  22, Melbourne, Australia

Cooperative Children’s Book Centre Webinar~ Feb 22, USA

Words Take Wing: Honoring Diversity in Children’s Literature~ Feb 23, Davis, CA, USA

Exhibit at the Vilnius Book Fair – Iliustrarium: Children’s Book Illustrations in Modern Lithuania~ Feb 23 – 26, Vilnius, Lithuania

Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable Presents Serendipity 2012: Year of the Dragon: Asian Themes for Young Canadian Readers. Speakers include PaperTigers (!!), Allen Say, Paul Yee and Lisa Yee~ Feb 24 – 25, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Indianapolis Youth Literature Conference~ Feb 25, Indianapolis, IN, USA

20th Annual Hubbs Children’s Literature Conference~ Feb 25, St. Paul, MN, USA

Biennial ISSCL Conference: Is féidir linn! [Yes we can!]: Politics and Ideology in Children’s Literature~ Feb 25 – 26, Dublin, Ireland

Freedom to Read Week~ Feb 26 – Mar 3, Canada

MA Children’s Book Illustration Exhibit~ Feb 29 – Mar 15, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books Exhibition: Secret Gardens~ ongoing until Mar 3, Toronto, ON, Canada

Look! the Art of Australian Picture Books Today~ ongoing until Mar 4, Brisbane, Australia

Growing up Asian in America Contest~ submissions accepted until Mar 12, San Francisco, CA, USA

Ilustarte: 5th International Biennial Exhibition of Children’s Books Illustration ~ ongoing until Apr 8, Lisbon, Portugal

Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award 2013~ submissions accepted until Dec 31, 2012, Great Britain

Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre Exhibits and Programs~ Fremantle, Australia

Dromkeen National Centre for Picture Book Art Exhibits~ Riddells Creek, Australia

Books Illustrated Events and Exhibitions~ Middle Park, Australia

Tulika Books Author and Illustrator Events~ India

International Library of Children’s Literature Events~ Tokyo, Japan

International Youth Library Exhibits~ Munich, Germany

Newcastle University Programme of Talks on Children’s Books for 2011-2012~ Newcastle, United Kingdom

Seven Stories (the National Home of Children’s Books in Britain) Events~ Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom

Discover Children’s Story Centre~ London, United Kingdom

Events Sponsored by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress~ USA

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art~ Amherst, MA, USA

The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature Exhibits~ Abilene, TX, USA

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Events

More Awards Good News… APALA Awards and more…

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

A fabulous selection of books heads the awards list for this year’s Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) Awards, announced on Monday. The winners in the children’s/YA categories are:

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang (Scholastic, 2011)  – Children’s Literature Award;

Orchards by Holly Thompson (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2011) – Young Adult Literature Award;

The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China by Ed Young (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011) –  Picture Book Award.

The Honor Books were:

Vanished by Sheela Chari (Hyperion, 2011) – Honor Book, Children’s Literature Category.

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang (First Second Books, 2011) – Honor Book in the Young Adult Literature category.

Hot Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia, illustrated by Ken Min (Lee & Low Books, 2011) – Honor Book in the Picture Book category.

And following on from Corinne’s post about some of this year’s ALA Awards, here are some more highlights:

Allen Say‘s Drawing from Memory (Scholastic, 2011) has won a 2012 Robert F. Sibbert Informational Book Honor Award. To see all this year’s winners go here. Read our Q&A with Andrea Pinkney, the book’s editor, here.

As well as being outright winner of the 2012 Pura Belpré Author Award, Under the Mesquite, by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Lee and Low Books, 2011), was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, along with Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel Books, 2011). Go here to find out more.

What a superb selection of books!  Many Congratulations to all the winners.

Q & A with Andrea Pinkney of Scholastic, editor of Allen Say’s Drawing from Memory

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

The relationship between an author and his or her editor is not necessarily foremost in a reader’s mind when enjoying a book, but there’s no doubt that it’s important. I was struck when reading Allen Say‘s latest book Drawing from Memory (Scholastic, 2011) by a comment he made in his moving Author’s Note: “When my editor, Andrea Pinkney, and I first talked about the book, she asked me if it was possible to include some of my master’s work in it. The thought had never occurred to me; I didn’t think any of Sensei’s work could be found today.” So began the quest to seek out some of Noro Shinpei’s work – and Say did eventually bring together some wonderful examples in Drawing from Memory, including himself as a cartoon character, which must resonate as a dream come true for many of todays’ young readers. Say himself would probably agree that the book is all the richer for exploring Noro Shinpei’s work in more depth: indeed, his description of the quest shows clearly what those channels in his graphic narrative meant to him. So we are delighted to welcome Andrea Pinkney to the PaperTigers Blog to answer a few questions about Drawing from Memory, as well as her current projects as Vice President and Executive Editor with Scholastic Trade.

Andrea is also an acclaimed author of children’s books herself, including Coretta King Honor Picture Books Let It Shine! Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters, illustrated by Stephen Alcorn (Gulliver Books, Harcourt), and Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra, illustrated by her husband Brian Pinkney (Hyperion Books for Children) – as well as novels such as, most recently, Bird in a Box (Little, Brown Young Readers, 2011). You can read an in-depth interview with Andrea about her own writing at The Brown Bookshelf here, and more about her career as an editor here.

I believe Drawing from Memory is Allen Say’s first book published by Scholastic.  How and why did Scholastic acquire the book?

We’re so proud and happy to welcome Allen Say to Scholastic! Drawing from Memory marks an important and exciting change of direction for Allen. He is known by many for his work as a brilliant picture book creator, and Caldecott medallist. But in this book, Allen extends his talent to create a stunning work that is part memoir, part graphic novel, part narrative history. With Scholastic’s tremendous reach into schools, to teachers, and to young readers through our vibrant distribution channels ― including Scholastic Book Clubs and Book Fairs ― along with our Trade publishing program, we felt strongly that Drawing from Memory was the perfect vehicle for giving Allen Say a new publishing home.

What was your involvement in the editorial process?  Were there any particularly special moments for you?

I believe an editor’s role is to hold the flashlight while an author and illustrator digs for gold. In the case of Drawing from Memory, Allen delved into his own internal creative fountain to reveal a story that is intensely personal to him ― his journey to becoming the artist that he is today. My job was simply to guide that process, and to work with Allen to illuminate the most relevant aspects of his narrative. As for special moments, Allen is an incredible storyteller. So each and every time we spoke about the particulars of his incredible life and how these would be included in the book, Allen imparted some new detail about his childhood that always brought me to tears of wonder.

What is your favourite part of the book?

This is like asking which of your children is your favorite! I’m hard pressed to find one part of Drawing from Memory that I like more than another. I will say, though, that the moment when Allen knocks on the door of Noro Shinpei, Japan’s premier cartoonist, and the man who becomes Allen’s spiritual father, always fills me with a feeling of awe ― that this eager kid is about to enter a world that will change the course of his life forever.

How do you think Drawing from Memory fits in with Allen’s previous books, in particular the semi-autobiographical The Ink-Keeper’s Apprentice

In Drawing from Memory Allen takes his creative talents to greater heights by pushing the boundaries of bookmaking with a work that is an impressive amalgam of art styles, text, and perspectives.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

There are always exciting things brewing in our shop! Next fall we’ll publish a novel by Sonia Manzano, the Emmy Award-winning actress who has played the role of Maria on Sesame Street for more than 40 years. Also, multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner, Sharon G. Flake, is at work on a new novel. And the very busy and creative Allen Say has his paintbrush whipping up new books for Scholastic.

Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable Presents “Serendipity 2012” and PaperTigers Will Be There!!

Monday, December 19th, 2011


PaperTigers is thrilled to announce we will be taking part in the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable Conference Serendipity” this coming February in Vancouver, BC, Canada. PaperTigers Editor Marjorie Coughlan will be flying in from the UK and joining me at this exciting event which will focus on the Year of the Dragon: Asian Themes for Young Canadian Readers. For those of you in the Vancouver area this is a definitely not-to-be-missed conference: the three featured speakers are Allen Say, Rachna Gilmore and Paul Yee!

The following details have just been released and registration is now open:

Serendipity 2012
Year of the Dragon: Asian Themes for Young Canadian Readers

Saturday, February 25, 2012; 8:30 am – 3:30 pm (includes lunch & snacks)
The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
Neville Scarfe Building; Room 100


Rachna GilmoreAllen Say  and  Paul Yee

With Special Guests:

Tanya Kyi, winner of the 2011 Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award,
Marjorie Coughlan and Corinne Robson, Editors from
Joseph Wu, origami master, and
the fabulous dance troupe, Shiamak’s Bollywood Dancers

 “We are kicking off the weekend celebration of literature and literacy for young people with what we hope is the inaugural event of a soon-to-be-great Serendipity tradition:

 The Gala Evening Event

February 24, 2012; 6:30pm
University Golf Club,
5185 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC.

Co hosted with the British Columbia Literacy Council, the featured speaker is Dr. Lee Gunderson from the Department of Language and Literacy at the University of British Columbia, who will be presenting on ‘Comprehensibility and Children’s Literature: Reading in Multilingual Classrooms.’

To register to attend Serendipity and/or the Gala Evening Event click here or visit Early bird rates are in effect until  January 21st  but don’t wait too long to purchase as the events are sure to sell out!  We do hope you will be able to join us!”