PaperTigers Theme: Journeys

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Illustrations by Nilesh Mistry (top) and Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard (bottom)

“…travel is important, not only because we can meet new people and see what amazing cultures there are around the world, but also because by doing so we can come to appreciate how similar we all are.”

~ Nilesh Mistry


Do you agree with the maxim that there are only seven stories in the world? It’s a bit of a conundrum, isn’t it, but our new theme, Journeys, has got me thinking about it, because, really, every story involves some kind of journey.

So we have flung the theme wide open to embrace both physical and spiritual journeys. The authors and illustrators we profile in this issue have all created books that narrate some kind of journey; do join us as we ask them about their own voyages of discovery in creating their books…

Demi, picture-book creator extraordinaire. Find out about her biographies of famous historical figures and spiritual leaders, and join herin her studio, where she works close by her Buddhist altar…

Nilesh Mistry, illustrator of many children’s books including Stories from the Silk Road. Read also about his artistic encounter with elephants…


Award-winning author Na’ima B. Robert takes us on a journey of exploration into her latest gripping YA novel Black Sheep

paw_sm3Author Gabrielle Wang talks about her journey as a writer…

Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard, illustrator of Adventures of the Treasure Fleet and the newly released Chinese Fables: The Dragon Slayer and Other Timeless Tales of Wisdom. Find out about some of the more unusual media she incorporates into her work…

paw_sm3Jimmy Liao shares some moments from his vibrant “journeys of the Imagination”…

paw_sm3Nilesh Mistry takes us on a journey through his work that encompasses book illustration, design, and painting elephants…

It’s Not the Destination. It’s the Journey” by author and illustrator James Rumford

paw_sm3The Journey of Translation: Walking with Jimmy Liao’ by Sarah L. Thomson

Escaping Conflict, Seeking Peace: Picture books that relate refugee stories, and their importance” by PaperTigers Editor Marjorie Coughlan

And do join us here on the PaperTigers blog, on Facebook and on Twitter to share news about your own reading journeys across the world of children’s and YA books…

Happy reading!

The Tiger


Image credit: top, © Nilesh Mistry; bottom © Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard

Gabrielle Wang launches her book The Wishbird this weekend and you’re invited to attend!

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

thewishbirdOur current issue of PaperTigers is entitled Journeys and includes an interview with Australian Gabrielle Wang in which she talks about her journey from an artist to a children’s book writer. Gabrielle’s newest book for middle grade readers  The Wishbird  is being launched this weekend and all are invited to attend! Signed limited edition Giclee prints (very high quality prints)  of selected internal illustrations will be available for sale on the day.

Imagine a world without music.

Imagine if all the singers and musicians disappeared, never to be seen again. Music is outlawed. Even birds are killed because they sing. And because birds live in forests then the forests all around are burnt to stumps. 

Music is an integral part of human existence. Every culture in the world makes music. Without it, the soul dies.

This is at the heart of The Wishbird



759 Nicholson St, Carlton North VIC

PLEASE RSVP: gabrielle(at)

Published by Penquin Books Australia, The Wishbird is receiving rave reviews and I can hardly wait to get my hands on a copy. Do pay a visit to Gabrielle’s blog and listen to her read the first two chapters of The Wishbird here. You can also listen to her radio interview on Radio National, Books and Arts Daily HERE . To celebrate the book’s release Gabrielle is giving away 6 signed copies on Goodreads. Check out her Facebook page for the entry link. Congratulations Gabrielle!!


New PaperTigers Interview: Gabrielle Wang

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Author Gabrielle WangHead on over to the PaperTigers site, where we continue our Journeys theme with an interview with Australian author and illustrator Gabrielle Wang.

Gabrielle talks about her journey as a writer, before and since the publication of her acclaimed first novel, The Garden of Empress Cassia, and introuduces us to her latest book, The Wish Bird, which is due out in August. I’m particularly excited about this book as it will feature “about ten full-page pen and ink illustrations throughout the book, more than I have ever done before.” Gabrielle started out as an artist before becoming a writer, so we defintiely have a treat in store.

Here are a couple of snippets from the interview:

I spent my teen years trying to hide my Chineseness as I think a lot of children of immigrant families did. At the same time, I always had the feeling that I didn’t quite belong in Australia, that perhaps I belonged in China. But after living in Taiwan and China for six years, I realised I did not fit in there either. Eventually, I think, we all need to realise that we are citizens of the world.

For me travelling is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Going to a new place is like being a child again. Now, I travel for research, which gives me added pleasure. But it is important to leave your own culture at home otherwise misunderstandings can ensue.

For example…! Head on over to the PaperTigers website to find out more and to read the whole interview.theme_2013_journeys

Happy Chinese New Year!

Friday, February 8th, 2013

The Year of the Snake slithers in this weekend but have no fear! Ancient Chinese wisdom says a snake in the house is actually a good omen because it means that your family will not starve. The sixth sign of the Chinese Zodiac, the snake represents wisdom, intelligence and self-control. The snake also represents the ability to strike at will, quickly and powerfully. The Year of Snake promises to be a time of steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary for all of us to achieve what we set out to create.

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festival in the Chinese calendar and celebrations take place around the world . What better way to get into the spirit by reading some Chinese New Year children’s books! Here are a few books we’ve blogged about that we would definitely recommend:

Tales from the Chinese Zodiac series by Oliver Chin,

The Great Race / The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Anne Wilson;

The Day the Dragon Danced by Kay Haugaard, illustrated by Carolyn Reed Barritt

Fang Fang’s Chinese New Year by Sally Rippin

The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang, illustrated by SallyRippin

Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat by one of my favorite authors Grace Lin. Be sure to visit Grace’s blog t0 read about her plans for bringing in the New Year with  her daughter Rain Dragon and to get some New Year crafts suggestions.

My Mom Is a Dragon and My Dad is a Boar and Hiss! Pop! Boom! by Tricia Morissey

Happy, Happy Chinese New Year! written and illustrated by Demi. Read our interview with Demi here and see our gallery of her stunning illustration work here.

And here’s a special kidlit New Year celebration  for those of you who live in San Jose, CA, USA.  Children’s author Oliver Chin will be reading from his new book The Year of the Snake: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac, on Feb. 19th at the Joyce Ellington Branch library. Details here.

PaperTigers 10th Anniversary: Two Top-Ten picks of Chinese-themed Australian books by Chris Cheng

Monday, November 12th, 2012

In this final post in our 10th Anniversary Top-10 series, we present not one but two book lists from Australian author Chris Cheng, both with a Chinese theme.  The first focuses on picture books and the second on middle-grade/YA fiction.

Chris is the author of more than forty books for children of all ages, including two books in Scholastic’s My Australia series, The Melting Pot and New Gold Mountain, which explores racially-based conflicts on the New South Wales goldfields during the 1860s. Before becoming a full-time writer, Chris was a primary school teacher and then spent almost eight years teaching in the Education Centre of Taronga Zoo in Sydney, where he established Australia’s first Zoomobile.  He has written many non-fiction titles about animals and the environment, and do read this Personal View he wrote for us a few years ago, Drawing from eco-riches: Australia’s environment in children’s books.

Chris is just coming to the end of his stint as an ambassador for Australia’s National Year of Reading.  He is currently co-chair of the International Advisory Board for SCBWI and is Co-Regional Advisor for Australia and New Zealand.  As well as his website and author blog, do check out Chris’ New Kidz Books In Oz blog; and he reports on Asian, Australian and New Zealand books for Cynsations, where you can also read an interview.


(Current) Top-10 Australian Books with a Chinese theme X 2 by Chris Cheng

Far out… you want to limit this list to 10… that is night on soooooo difficult. We are a multicultural country with immigrants from many other places around the world coming to Australia and being integral to the foundation stones on which modern Australia is constructed.

So these are my ‘current’ top 10 favs of a multicultural nature – all by Australians and all have a Chinese theme … biased I know … and they don’t include my books!

Picture Books:

~ The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Lothian, 2006)

~ Big Dog by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Armin Greder (Scholastic Australia, 2004)

~ The Boss by Allan Baillie, illustrated by Fiona O’Beirne (Scholastic, 1992)

~ Fang Fang’s Chinese New Year by Sally Rippin (Omnibus Books, 1996)

~ The Kinder Hat by Morag Loh, illustrated by Donna Rawlins (Ashton Scholastic, 1985)

~ Moon Bear Rescue by Kim Dale (Lothian, 2006)

~ The Peasant Prince by Li Cunxin, illustrated by Anne Spudvilas (Viking/Penguin Australia, 2007)

~ The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang, illustrated by Sally Rippin (Walker Books Australia, 2010)

~ Rebel by Allan Baillie, illustrated by Di Wu (Phoenix Education, 2011)

~ The River by Libby Hathorn, illustrated by Stanley Wong (Asian Education Foundation/Curriculum Corporation (Australia), 2001)


~ The China Coin by Allan Baillie (Penguin Group Australia, 1992)

~ Dragonkeeper by Carole Wilkinson (Macmillan, 2003)

~ Foreign Devil by Christine Harris (Random House Australia, 1999)

~ The Garden of Empress Cassia by Gabrielle Wang (Puffin Australia, 2002/Kane Miller, 2011)

~ Garden of the Purple Dragon by Carole Wilkinson (Macmillan, 2005)

~ A Ghost in my Suitcase by Gabrielle Wang (Puffin Australia, 2009)

~ Hungry Ghosts by Sally Heinrich (Hachette Australia, 2007)

~ Just One Wish by Sally Rippin (Penguin Group Australia, 2009)

~ The Secret Life of Maeve Lee Kwong by Kirsty Murray (Paw Prints, 2008)

~ Year of the Tiger by Alison Lloyd (Penguin Group Australia, 2008)

Gabrielle Wang’s The Race for the Chinese Zodiac Performed by the Australian Chinese Music Ensemble~ Jan 21, 2012

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Last week after I posted about Shaun Tan‘s book The Arrival being set to a musical score, I spent some time searching the internet to find out about other children’s books which had been set to musical scores. Interestingly enough the first event that came up on my search was for a January 2012 production of another Australian author’s book:  The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang. I had been just been in contact with Gabrielle a few weeks ago when we posted our review of her book The Garden of Empress Cassia so I quickly sent off another email to her and she provided me with the following details on the event which is taking place at the Melbourne Recital Centre in Melbourne, Australia:


Date: 11 am, Sat.  Jan 21.  For ticket info click here.

Based on the picture book The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang (author), Sally Rippin (illustrator) and Regina Abos (designer) and inspired music by the Australian Chinese Music Ensemble, led by Wang Zheng-Ting, this concert will delight and amaze children and their families as they enjoy one of China’s favourite fables.

The Jade Emperor has declared a great race: the first animals to cross the river will win a place in the Chinese Zodiac.  Thirteen animals line up along the shore.  But there are only twelve places to be won.  Who will miss out?

The story of how the animals of the Chinese zodiac came to be is told through music and projected images.  Learn about the story behind the Rat, the Snake, the Horse and other endearing characters of this traditional tale and discover the sounds of Chinese instruments.


Date: Sat. Jan 21, Sun. Jan 22. Click here for times and ticket info

Gabrielle studied Chinese painting at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Art in Hangzhou, China. In this workshop she will teach children the four treasures of the painting studio and the basics of Chinese brush painting with plenty of hands on practice. Come join Gabrielle and leave with a finished Chinese painting of your own.


Date: Sat. Jan 21 Click here for times and ticket info.

Celebrate the new year of the Dragon by taking a special Dragon tour. Gabrielle Wang, award-winning author of The Race for the Chinese Zodiac, will teach you how to draw these mythical animals, and then make a scale to place on the dragon that will wind up the Chinese Museum’s staircase.


Week-end Book Review: The Garden of Empress Cassia by Gabrielle Wang

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Gabrielle Wang, author-illustrator,
The Garden of Empress Cassia
Kane Miller, 2011 (first published in Australia, 2002).

Ages 8+

In illustrator Gabrielle Wang‘s debut as a writer for middle-grade girls, she introduces her heroine, Chinese-Australian Mimi, with a distinctly off-putting description: the girl smells bad. Her father, it turns out, runs a Chinese herb shop. Between his concoctions and her mother’s cooking, Mimi’s clothes and body are infused so distinctively that she’s known at school as Stinky Loo.

Not surprisingly, Mimi is ashamed of her parents and her heritage and resentful of their strictness. Wang’s story takes her on a journey of discovery in which she and her parents become reconciled, she stands up for herself with a mean girl who taunts her, and she discovers her true talents as she grows into a more sensitive and fully realized character.

Mimi’s path is through art. A teacher gives her a beautiful box of Empress Cassia pastel crayons with the mysterious caution that they are powerful and she must not let anyone else use them. Taking the sidewalk outside her parents’ shop as her canvas, Mimi draws a miraculous garden that literally pulls people in. After their visits to the magical Garden of Empress Cassia, they return to normal reality with no memory of their trip but with a more appreciative sense of life and a more generous attitude toward others. It’s a healing garden, Mimi discovers.

Mimi’s mother takes advantage of the crowds the garden attracts to open a little tea house for visitors. Dad returns from attending his brother’s last illness and death a kinder, gentler man. A popular boy becomes Mimi’s friend. When the mean girl tricks Mimi and steals the pastels, the garden she draws sweeps her into a dark experience from which Mimi and her friends save her.

All’s well that ends well in this fantasy, but teachers and parents may have objections beyond Wang’s smelly introduction. Throughout the text, adult Chinese are quoted as speaking in pidgin-like English; a few initial quotes or scattered examples could do the job as well, without modeling muddled grammar. Wang‘s illustrated map of Empress Cassia’s garden in the back matter helps readers imagine Mimi’s adventures. While thoughtful readers may wish for better editing, The Garden of Empress Cassia nevertheless offers an exciting tale for young girls from any culture.

Charlotte Richardson
November 2011