Feedback of Mr. Romel Obinario, Academic Team Head and Institutional Values Formation Program Head Laguna BelAir School on PaperTigers: Books+Water Book Sets

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
Continuing our focus on WaterBridge Outreach participants Laguna BelAir School, today we feature the inspiring feedback of Mr. Romel Obinario, Academic Team Head and Institutional Values Formation Program Head.

At the heart of every PaperTigers book is a message for all of humanity. The message each book conveys is relevant, timeless, and transcends the boundaries set by current economic, political, or cultural constructs that continue to impinge on the way peoples of the world interact today.

We at Laguna BelAir School have realized the affinity between our core values and those of the PaperTigers (PT) organization, as conveyed in the PT books that the organization has sent us. By sharing the PT books with our students, we are also imparting our core values in a way that is not awkward and forced. Through the books, they may realize that the things we say we value are not simply words to be memorized but are ideals that other people cherish and live out. Through their constant exposure to these wonderful books, and their continuous experiences in the school’s different advocacies, they may truly become what we wish them to be – stewards for a better world.

Thank you, Paper Tigers, for involving us in your outreach program. We share in Wangari Maathai’s (Planting the Trees of Kenya) advocacy of caring for the environment by planting trees and in her belief in women and in communities working together to bring about much-needed reforms. We are inspired by Kojo’s (One Hen) example of thrift and of making a difference one small step at a time. The way we view people with cultures or beliefs other than ours is challenged by the way friendship is forged between Abaani and Haki (First Come the Zebra), thereby promoting peaceful coexistence. And we are truly inspired by the boy (A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope) who despite all adversity finds hope for a better future in a war-ravaged land.

Announcing new Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach area on the PaperTigers website

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Today we hope you will join with us in celebrating the launch of our new Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach website.

On the front page you will find an interactive world map showing all the SPT participants, who are also listed alphabetically and by country. On the feedback pages, you will be now not only be able to read comments from teachers and students, but where available, you will also be able to watch slideshows and enlarge images to view children’s work. All information about the project, including our Mission Statement and annual Book Set can be found in the About Us section.

Over the next few weeks we will be adding more and more feedback from SPT participants around the world. In the meantime, as well as feedback which was already available from Agape School and Mountain View School, both in Nagaland, India, and Woodlands School in Montevideo, Uruguay, you will now find newly posted feedback from the following schools:

Monroe and Fairmount Elementary Schools in San Francisco, California, USA:

“Two books were a HUGE hit, One Hen and First Come the Zebra.

With One Hen, the kids want MORE… They want to know how much of this story is true, and what has happened since the story was written They loved the idea of the domino effect of helping each other, and related it to their own classrooms and how things work better when they all pitch in. I read this book to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.

I believe that First Come the Zebra was a huge hit, because the kids can relate to the happenings in the books, especially the conflict between the two boys. They were full of questions and, of course, gave personal anecdotes of times when they were in those situations…”

Pingliang Road No. 3 Elementary School in Shanghai, China:

“Our favorite book was First Come the Zebra […] They enjoyed the book very much. Their interest partly came from the pictures, the English words and expressions. In the book, there are very different ways to express the ideas from Chinese. Sometimes it has idioms to express the meaning. We don’t know much of English idiomatic expressions in our daily life.”

and Talisay Elementary School in Agusan del Norte, Philippines

“The story about One Hen is so very beautiful. I learned many things about it. Someday I want to be like Kojo because I was inspired by his life.”

First Come the Zebra: “And if you have an enemy in your neighborhood, just give them a chance so that you can win them as friends. That’s why chances are very important.”

“I like the story One Hen because it gives me example of all the families in one province who are helping each other. And it makes me brave that I can make myself fight my shyness.”

Don’t you just love the photos – and there are some very special comments too. Head on over to the Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach site to read more and explore the project. We’ll be bringing you more feedback soon, including one of our water projects…

Kidlit4Japan: PaperTigers Auction – #121: A Signed Spirit of PaperTigers 2010 Book Set

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Now live over on the Kidlit4Japan site:

Auction #121: A Spirit of PaperTigers 2010 Book Set of Seven Picture books, some signed. From

Description: You are bidding for a set of seven high-quality picture books (all hardcover) which were selected as the Spirit of PaperTigers book set for 2010 to be sent to different schools and libraries around the world.

The Book Set comprises the following titles with some, as indicated, containing book plates signed by the author/illustrator:

First Come the Zebra – SIGNED
Written and illustrated by Lynne Barasch
Lee & Low, 2009. Ages 4-8

Little Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing – SIGNED BY THE AUTHORS
Written by Guo Yue and Clare Farrow, illustrated by Helen Cann
Barefoot Books, 2008. Ages 9-12

My Little Round House – SIGNED
Written and illustrated by Bolormaa Baasansuren
Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2009. Ages 4-8

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference – SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR
Written by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Kids Can Press, 2008. Ages 7+

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai – SIGNED
Written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola
Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009. Ages 5-8

The Storyteller’s Candle / La velita de los cuentos – SIGNED BY THE ILLUSTRATOR
Written by Lucia Gonzalez, illustrated by Lulu Delacre
Children’s Book Press, 2008. Ages 4-8

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – SIGNED
Written and illustrated by Grace Lin
Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009. Ages 9-12

Estimated Value: $150

Bio: is a colorful website devoted to multicultural books from around the world for children and young adults, with a particular focus on the Pacific Rim and South Asia. We seek to promote the celebration and tolerance of diversity, and to nurture literacy and a love of reading. As well as highlighting the world of multicultural children’s and ya literature on our website and blog, we work to reinforce our goal of promoting cross-cultural understanding via our Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach, under the banner Books and Water: Nourishing the Mind and Body.

PaperTigers’ website:

Q&A with Jason Low of Lee & Low Books, publisher of First Come the Zebra

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

logoOne of the few minority-owned publishing companies in the United States, co-founded in 1991 by Tom Low and Philip Lee, LEE & LOW BOOKS is an independent multicultural children’s book publisher whose goal is to publish stories all children can relate to. Since its first list, in 1993, LEE & LOW has published an impressive lineup of over 200 titles, many of which have been translated to Spanish and won a number of major awards and honors.

Jason Low, son of founder Tom Low and Lee & Low’s publisher, answered our questions about Lynne Barasch’s  First Come the Zebra, one of the seven books selected for inclusion in our Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set Donation Project; the company’s new developments; and other topics related to multicultural children’s literature.

PT: How did Lynne Barasch‘s First Come the Zebra come about as a project for LEE & LOW?

JL: LEE & LOW has enjoyed a long relationship with Lynne since publishing her two other books Knockin’ on Wood and Hiromi’s Hands. Lynne had returned from a trip to Kenya, which planted a seed in her mind about the story that would become First Come the Zebra. The rest of the story came from Lynne’s own research on Africa and the harmful effects of tribalism in particular.

PT: Are there any plans to create a classroom guide/lesson plans for the book?

JL: We usually bring out a classroom guide when the book comes out in paperback so teachers can fully utilize both the book and the guide with their students.

PT: Can you please say something about working with Lynne on this and other projects?

JL: Lynne is a pleasure to work with. She is a true professional. She possesses a unique, spare style of writing and illustration that conveys sophisticated themes in such a way that children can enjoy and understand them.

PT: What can you tell us about LEE & LOW’s new imprint, Tu Books?

JL: Tu Books represents a chance for us to bring diversity to the science fiction and fantasy genres for middle grade and young adult readers in the same way LEE & LOW has brought more diversity to picture books since we began publishing in 1993. Since announcing the acquisition of Tu, we have received a substantial amount of positive feedback and I am anxious to see how our debut list is received in 2011. More details about this new venture can be found in an interview with Tu Books Editorial Director Stacy Whitman, posted on Cynsations.

PT: About your New Voices Writers Award, given annually for a children’s picture book manuscript by a writer of color, who are some of the voices you have published so far, and what has the reception to both the award and these new voices been?

Some of the New Voices Award Winners have been:

Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story by Paula Yoo
Janna and the Kings by Patricia Smith
The Blue Roses by Linda Boyden

And these are some of the New Voices Award Honors:

Bird by Zetta Elliot
Ghosts for Breakfast by Stanley Todd Terasaki
Raymond’s Perfect Present by Therese On Louie

Two New Voices Award books are scheduled for release by the end of 2010 and two more are in production for next year.

The reception to the New Voices Award books published since the award was established, in 2000, has been strong. Two books in particular, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds (Texas Bluebonnet Award Masterlist) and Bird (Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award, Ezra Jack Keats Book Award) have received tremendous awards recognition and have sold well.

The New Voices Award is important because not only does it promote diversity but it also introduces new authors to the world of children’s books, playing a vital role by infusing the children’s book industry with new blood.

PT: Can you tell us about your company’s social media presence and what benefits you have seen from developing it, so far?

JL: We started social networking in 2009 and can be found at:

The Open Book Blog

Our social media efforts have allowed us to communicate with our supporters and customers in a more open and frequent way. Since many of LEE & LOW’s titles are so topical it is an efficient way for us to build timely connections between our books and what is happening in the world. Before our social media channels, the people who were interested in what we were doing would only hear from us once a month via our E-News. Now people hear from us several times a week, which promotes a more fluid flow of information.

PT: Do you think the public’s attitude toward multicultural books for children has changed much since Lee & Low was established? How so?

JL: As the company continues to grow, the demand for the diverse books we publish has also grown. I would like to preface this by saying the growth we have seen has been a slow, steady increase—this is still book publishing and it takes a sustained effort and a lot of patience to sell books of any kind. It is difficult for me to get a sense of whether attitudes have shifted favorably toward diverse books since we began publishing. I will say the enthusiasm for our books renews itself every season, and the amount of awards and reviews we have received is the kind of encouragement that tells us we’re moving in the right direction.

PT: What would you say is the most challenging aspect of being an independent publisher of children’s books these days?

JL: Finding good stories used to be the biggest challenge, but I would have to say patience is the biggest challenge we face now. Exercising the patience to publish what we can afford to publish each year. Waiting to see if the books we have placed our faith in do well as they are released into the world. For us, the publishing cycle takes a few years to really see whether or not a book has found its audience. For this reason it is a good rule of thumb to step back every once in a while, and look back at the work that has been accomplished, rather than being too consumed by what still needs to be done.

PT: What are your hopes for the future of Lee & Low?

JL: I would like to see us grow more, so we can provide more opportunities for authors and illustrators to tell the stories that need to be told. I’m a big book person but I do see how e-books may significantly change the way books are read. In whatever future form we will be reading our books, the demand for good stories isn’t going to go away anytime soon, and I see LEE & LOW playing a crucial role in providing diverse stories for years to come.

PT: Anything else you would like to add?

JL: I would just like to thank PaperTigers for helping us spread the word about what we are doing. We appreciate your support.

PT: It’s our pleasure and honor to have such great books to help spread the word on, Jason! Many thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. We are very grateful for the copies of First Come the Zebra you’ve donated in support of our Spirit of PaperTigers project and wish you and LEE & LOW continued success!

Make sure to also read Nathalie Mvondo’s February interview with Jason Low at Multiculturalism Rocks!. And for an in-depth look at the history and philosophy of the company, read Jason’s article, Balancing Words, Pictures and Diversity: The Story of Lee & Low Books.

Art Exhibit: The Creative Worlds of Lynne Barash

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

The Middle Country Public Library in Centereach NY, USA, currently has an exhibition entitled “The Creative Worlds of Lynne Barasch”. Ongoing until May, the exhibit features six of Lynne’s books (including Hiromi’s Hands and First Come the Zebra) with interactive stations relating to each title.

First Come the Zebra has been selected for the 2010 Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set. Click here to read Aline’s post exploring the particular reasons why it was selected, here to read Aline’s interview with Lynne, and here to see images from the book.

Spirit of PaperTigers: If you could send your book anywhere in the world… (Part 1)

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

SPT SealWhen we interviewed the authors and illustrators of the books chosen for the Spirit of PaperTigers‘ 2010 Book Set, there was one question we asked everybody: “If you were to pick a place anywhere in the world to send your book, where would it be and why?”

We thought it would be great to bring all the different answers together here on the blog, so here is the first of two parts in which we highlight each person’s response…

Bolormaa Baasansuren, author and illustrator of My Little Round House, adapted by Helen Mixter (Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press, 2009):

I would like to send it to every country in the world! But right now, I would like to send it to Haiti, most of all. Now, after the earthquake, its people, especially the children, are going through very hard times. I like to imagine the children of Haiti forgetting their current hardships even just for a moment, by immersing themselves in a picture book.

Claire A. Nivola, author and illustrator of Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008):

I would think that the most important places to send the books would be to areas most affected by deforestation. Southeast Asia and South America are areas of enormous concern. But the list of countries is long: the countries of Central America, Brazil, Madagascar, Haiti, Mexico, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Guinea, Ghana, Cote d’ Ivoire. Too many! And unless there are translations provided, the books are useless to children who don’t read English. So, I would choose any of the above countries where English is spoken or taught in the schools. However, any country where children are in need would have my blessings. The Wangari Maathai story is not just about deforestation, it is about any misuse of the environment, and the environment is in need of help all around this globe!

Lynne Barasch, author and illustrator of First Come the Zebra (Lee & Low, 2009):

I would send First Come the Zebra to Kenya, where the story takes place. Of course conflict exists in many parts of the world. I would say Israel and neighboring Arab countries could benefit from this story too.

Grace Lin, author and illustrator of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown & Co.,2009):

I’d like to send the book to myself when I was 10 years old. Partly because it is the kind of book that I wanted and needed and didn’t have when I was a child, and partly to tell my younger self, “Have faith, you will someday accomplish your dream.”

Hmm, all over the world is a bit tricky – but we are doing our best to find homes in some of the specific places mentioned. And what about you? If you could choose anywhere in the world to send special books like these, where would it be?

Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set: First Comes the Zebra

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

FirstComeTheZebraFirst Come the Zebra is the first book highlighted in what’s going to be a series of posts exploring the particular reasons for selecting the titles in the Spirit of PaperTigers book set.

There was no doubt in my mind, after reading all the books under consideration for the project, that First Come the Zebra would be included in the final set, as I thought that it conveyed the spirit of PaperTigers in a very direct and clear way. However, when we started the discussions, a couple of people in the selection panel weren’t as ready as I was to call it a done deal. Thank heavens for different opinions!

The book tells the story of two boys from rivaling tribes who learn to overcome tribal hostilities and stereotypes to become friends. There were some initial considerations about the appropriateness of the title (some of our children, for instance, seemed puzzled that the book wasn’t about zebras), and also about the use of the savannah animals’ peaceful sharing of the grasslands as a metaphor for the idea that humans can learn to do it too. Some of us didn’t agree with it, arguing that, since animals don’t behave the way they do knowingly, or in the “spirit” of sharing, talking about the great animal migration wasn’t necessarily the best way to start the book.

I’m happy to say that, in the end, after a very amiable and interesting discussion, we saw eye to eye when it came to the essential: the great animal migration is a big part of rural Kenya’s world, and mentioning it up front does help create a strong sense of place, which is so important in the story (plus the quality and visual appeal of Barasch‘s ink-and-watercolor illustrations of rural Kenya add much interest and dimension to the story, bringing its people, animals and landscape alive). Starting off the story by introducing readers to what the great migration is and how it’s been happening the same way for thousands of years, was, after all, an effective way to pave the way for the boys’ story. Since the tribes’ deep-seated conflicts, as explained in the author’s note, are partly due to one semi-nomadic tribe’s cattle straying into the other tribe’s farmland, children will most likely associate the idea of different animals sharing the land peacefully (whether they do so knowingly or not) with the idea that humans can also learn to do the same.

Having come together to save the life of a small baby in danger of being attacked by warthogs, the boys were able to stop the old cycle of animosity to see beyond the prejudices that had been handed down to them by their respective tribes. The idea of children leading the way to peace, with small steps, is very powerful, and this book does a wonderful job of conveying it. The story reminds readers, young or old, that children are our future, everyone’s future, and shows that it is possible to overcome differences that get in the way of better judgement to co-exist in peace. We believe that that’s what kids, no matter where they live, will take away from First Come the Zebra.

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Announcing the Spirit of PaperTigers Project

Monday, February 1st, 2010


Today we are thrilled to be announcing our Spirit of PaperTigers Project, an initiative of Pacific Rim Voices, whose aim is to promote literacy while raising awareness of our common humanity. The idea is to donate 100 book sets of 7 carefully selected multicultural books to libraries and schools in areas of need across the globe.

The following titles have been selected for inclusion in the 2010 Book Set:

paw_smPlanting The Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai, by Claire A. Nivola. Frances Foster Books, 2008.

paw_smFirst Come the Zebra, by Lynne Barash. Lee & Low, 2009.

paw_smLittle Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing, by Guo Yue and Clare Farrow, illustrated by Helen Cann. Barefoot Books, 2008.

paw_smThe Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos, by Lucia Gonzalez, illustrated by Lulu Delacre. Children’s Book Press, 2008.

paw_smMy Little Round House, by Bolormaa Baasansuren, English adaptation by Helen Mixter. Groundwood Books, 2009.

paw_smOne Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference, by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes. Kids Can Press, 2008.

paw_smWhere The Mountain Meets The Moon, by Grace Lin. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009.

Our website currently highlights all the authors and illustrators whose books have been selected, as well as other features related to the project. Please note that we will be further exploring the particular reasons for selecting each title, here, on the blog, during the month of February.

One important aspect of the Spirit of PaperTigers project is that we will be receiving feedback from the book set recipients. In the course of the coming months, as feedback comes in, we will be posting it to the blog and the site, so everyone can find out about where the books are going and who they are reaching.

To learn more about the project and enjoy the new features, visit the website. And please help us spread the word on this exciting new venture!…

The Creative Worlds of Lynne Barasch

Friday, January 15th, 2010

The Middle Country Public Library in Centereach NY, USA, currently has an exhibition entitled “The Creative Worlds of Lynne Barasch” . Ongoing until May 2010 the exhibit features several of Lynne’s books with interactive stations relating to each title. Lynne will appear at the library this Saturday, January 16th, at 1 PM for lower school age children and at 2PM for teens. Click here to read PaperTigers review of Lynne’s most recent book First Come the Zebra and here to read our review of her book Hiromi’s Hands, published in 2007 by Lee and Low Books.

Cybils Nominations

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Phew, just made it! Where have the last two weeks disappeared to? Anyway, I’ve made my nominations for the Cybils – and if you haven’t yet, you have until 11.59 p.m. tomorrow…

So here’s my list:

Fiction Picture Books:

I nominated Naomi’s Tree by Joy Kogawa

… on my list were also Erika-San by Allen Say (Houghton Mifflin, 2009) – nominated by Kara of Not Just for Kids;
and Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, illustrated by Kristi Valiant (Shen’s Books, 2009) – nominated by Renee of Shen’s Blog;

…and I especially want to look out:
First Come the Zebra by Lynne Barasch (Lee & Low, 2009) – nominated by Hannah from the Lee & Low Blog
Hook by Ed Young (Roaring Book Press, 2009) – nominated by Susannah of Raab Associates
My African Bedtime Rhymes by Brettell Hone (Shamwari Publishing, 2009) – nominated by Ginger Nielson;
Crow Call by Lois Lowry – nominated by Kristine at The Best Book I Haven’t Read
My Abuelita by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2009) – nominated by Lynn E. Hazen
…and the list continues!

Middle Grade Fiction:

I nominated Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan (Groundwood, 2009)

…and must seek out Brushing Mom’s Hair by Andrea Cheng (Wordsong, 2009) – nominated by Linda at Swell Books
and Journey of Dreams by Marge Pellegrino (Frances Lincoln, 2009) – nominated by Janni… and more!

Non-fiction/Information Picture Books:

I nominated My Japan by Etsuko Watanabe

…and great to see already nominated:
Balarama: A Royal Elephant by Ted and Betsy Lewin (Lee and Low, 2009) – nominated by Miri at Wands and Worlds;
Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Susan Roth, (Dial, 2009) – nominated by Maggi at Mama Librarian;
Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo (Lee & Low, 2009) – nominated by Jama at Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup.

I want to read:
The East-West House: Noguchi’s Childhood in Japan by Christy Hale (Lee & Low, 2009);
The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust by Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland Desaix (Holiday House, 2009);
Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends by Carol Buckley (Putnam Juvenile, 2009) – nominated by Elaine Magliaro at Wild Rose Reader;
Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter – nominated by Sherry at Semicolon;
Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life: A Story of Sustainable Farming by Jan Reynolds (Lee & Low, 2009).

Non-Fiction – middle/teen:

I nominated Let There Be Peace: Prayers from Around the World by Jeremy Brooks, illustrated by Jude Daly (Frances Lincoln, 2009)

…already nominated: After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance by Anne Sibley O’Brien and Perry Edmond O’Brien (Charlesbridge, 2009) – I’m in the process of writing a review for this superb book and will add a link soon…
and Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey to Change the World… One Child at a Time (The Young Reader’s Edition) by Greg Mortenson (Puffin Young Readers, 2009).

Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown and Company, 2009) has been nominated in the Fantasy/Science Fiction section by Emily Reads; and John Agard’s The Young Inferno would have been my poetry nomination but Sherry got there first!

I’ve realised that I have read very little newly-published YA fiction this year so I haven’t made a nomination there either – but it’s good to see Mitali Perkins’ Secret Keeper in there, nominated by Sarah at Archimedes Forgets (what a wonderful name for a blog!); and I do have a copy of Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger (Margaret K. McElderry, 2009) in my to-be-read pile (nominated by R. J. Anderson)…

So it looks like I’m going to be busy enough – I can’t imagine how the judges are going to manage to read all the nominees. And after tomorrow, we’ll be waiting with baited breath to find out the shortlists, published on 1st January…