New Jimmy Liao features on the PaperTigers website

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013


PaperTigers Gallery: Jimmy Liao; illustration from his book The Sound of Colors

We are very excited to welcome artist Jimmy Liao to our Gallery on the PaperTigers website.  I love this illustration from his book The Sound of Colors, and I first fell in love with Jimmy’s work when I encountered The Blue Stone a few years ago.  Then, at the Bologna Book Fair in 2010, I was bowled over again by the vibrancy and joyous imagination of his work.  I just wanted to follow the little girl up that blossom-lined avenue!

Bologna Book Fair 2010 - 25/3

…and as for the meadow on the cover of One More Day with You, that you can also see here, along with other examples of Jimmy’s books…

Bologna Book Fair 2010 - 25/3

So I am thrilled that Jimmy has taken a pause on his phenomenal creative journey to join us at PaperTigers.  His books have taken his native Taiwan and also China and Japan by storm, and have been translated into many languages;  alas, they are not as well represented as they should be in English.  Please can we have more!

In our Gallery, Jimmy shares with us images from the three books that are available in English (When the Moon Forgot, The Blue Stone: A Journey Through Life, and The Sound of Colors: A Journey of the Imagination), as well as others — all depicting a physical journey within the realms of imagination: so head on over to the Gallery to find out more about Jimmy and his own personal journey as an artist, and to view some gorgeous examples of his vibrant artwork. (I should perhaps also point out that in the last few years Jimmy has also collaborated with well-known children’s authors to create some wonderfully imaginative children’s books – it would just be wonderful to have more of his own author-illustrator work available too.)

And is it possible that we have more for you? YES indeed!  For alongside Jimmy’s Gallery, we also have a very special Personal View “The Journey of Translation: Walking with Jimmy Liao“, written by author Sarah L. Thomson, who adapted the three titles mentioned above for publication by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers as picture books in English for children.  In the article she talks about the poetry within the books – and her article is itself a poetic tribute both to Jimmy’s work and to the art of translating – do read it!

And do share with us your own experiences of Jimmy’s books…theme_2013_journeys


“PaperTigers 10th Anniversary” by Founder and Executive Director Peter Coughlan

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Rounding off our 10th Anniversary celebrations (apart, of course, from the results of our Draw, which will be announced on Monday), we bring you a Personal View written by the Founder of PaperTigers, Executive Director Peter Coughlan: PaperTigers’ 10th Anniversary. In the article, Peter gives some of the background to how PaperTigers came into being, complimenting founding Editor Elisa Oreglia’s Personal View published last month.

Peter brings the different phases in the history of PaperTigers up to the present.  Here is what he says about WaterBridge Outreach, the continuation of what was until recently called our Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach:

The most recent development in the PaperTigers story is – alongside the main site and the blog, which continue through from the second and third phases – WaterBridge Outreach, as summed up in the phrase Books+Water: Nourishing the Mind and Body. This springs from the desire firstly, to put books into the hands of children, especially in areas of need around the world – multicultural books that children can enjoy and that help open young minds and hearts to the world beyond their immediate experience. Secondly, I have been lecturing for some time at a college of the University of London in the area of applied ethics and, specifically, about the challenges facing our world at the nexus of water, food and energy in the context of climate change/global warming. Literacy and reading yes, but the lack of clean water and basic sanitation is a significant impediment to education, especially the education of girls, in too many parts of the world. Thinking about this led to the decision to expand our programs in 2009/2010 under the banner of PaperTigers: Books+Water, thus including not only the PaperTigers site and blog but also the practical WaterBridge Outreach programs – books and water here being specific expressions of the insight that education and the meeting of basic human needs must move forward together.

Read the whole of Peter’s Personal View here.

PaperTigers 10th Anniversary – “PaperTigers at 10” by Founding Producer Elisa Oreglia

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

We have a new Personal View by Elisa Oreglia, the founding Producer/Editor of PaperTigers in 2002.  Elisa is currently a PhD student at the University of California Berkeley School of Information researching the circulation and use of mobile phones and computers in China, especially in the countryside.  You can read articles written by Elisa in PaperTigers’ early days here and here.

Elisa recently produced this reading list for the Ethnography Matters blog – plenty to get your teeth into there – and she still loves children’s books, especially ones about elephants.

“PaperTigers at 10” by Elisa Oreglia

Happy Birthday, PaperTigers! And what a great age to be, ten years old. When I was ten years old, that was my golden age of reading: a treasure of picture books still behind me, to consult secretly from time to time, and a whole new world of books for young adults and grown-ups slowly opening up. Around that time, my grandmother gave me a book of legends, myths, and stories from around the world which, at least according to the family lore, shaped a lot of my future interests. At the time, legends and myths from other countries were about as far as multicultural literature had gone, and I drank it up. I read the book in one go, and kept going back to the different stories, especially the legend of the dragon boat festival from China… see where this is going?

I can’t say that I thought about these stories a lot or became obsessed by dragon boats in the following years, but when, years later, Peter Coughlan asked me if I’d be interested in working with him to create a website centered around children’s books and the Pacific Rim, the dragon boats came back to my mind. I wondered what had happened in the years since I stopped reading children’s books: were kids still reading myths and legends from around the world? Were there more books about faraway cultures now that the internet was seemingly shortening the distance between countries? What did children’s books look like in China and India and other Pacific Rim countries? How could I say no to such a tempting adventure?

Read the rest of the article…

New on the PaperTigers site…

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Continuing our Water in Multicultural Children’s Literature theme, we have two new features on the PaperTigers website.

A River of Stories: Water-Themed Stories for Multicultural Readers, a Personal View by Alice Curry, in which she discusses the superb anthology A River of Stories: Tales and Poems from Across the Commonwealth, she compiled recently, illustrated by Jan Pieńkowski and published by the Commonwealth Education Trust.  Here’s the opening to whet your appetite:

On the southern-most tip of Africa, the lonely Zulu goddess of rain, Mbaba Mwana Waresa, searches for love amongst mortal men, rainbows glistening in her wake. On the northern-most tip of Canada, the solitary Ice King guards his wintry lair yet dreams, secretly, of warmer climes. On the tropical shores of Australia, old man Mookari, god of the storm, rattles into town before stealing, quietly, away. In Nigeria, the impetuous water god, Olokun, paces the shining floors of his underwater palace, whilst in Ghana, the goddess Mawu transforms herself into a waterfall to nourish the parched and thirsty earth.

Water gods and goddesses, spirits and deities have fuelled our imaginations and nourished our beliefs since the beginning of time. Not only is water a vital physical presence in our lives, but also a powerfully imaginative and symbolic source of inspiration for writers and storytellers everywhere. In our increasingly threatened world, in which climate-related natural disasters are a daily reality for much of the world’s population, water-themed stories are an important and relevant way of encouraging sustainable, respectful and empathic attitudes towards the environment. It is currently estimated that half of the world’s population will be living under severe water stress by 2030; for today’s children, the conservation of a healthy natural environment has become a development issue of the highest priority.

Now head on over and read the rest of the article

View work by acclaimed artist Pulak Biswas in our Gallery, including illustrations from his most recent book The Flute written by Rachna Gilmore (Tradewind Books, 2011)…

PaperTigers Personal View: My Water Story by Deepa Balsavar

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

One of the contributing authors to our current Book of the Month, Water Stories from Around the World (Tulika, 2010), Deepa Balsavar has both written and illustrated many children’s books, including The Seed, selected for the 2007 White Raven’s Catalogue. She has also worked with the Avehi-Abacus Project for the past twenty years, as well as on UNICEF sponsored projects, developing teaching resources for mathematics and literacy.

My Water Story by Deepa Balsavar

I come from a family of readers and nature lovers. As a child, I remember my father bringing me large, colorful books on pet animals and wildlife and natural history. I devoured those books and became the heroine of countless adventures as I traversed the continents sometimes as a veterinary surgeon and at other times as an intrepid explorer.

The true joy, however, was going back far in time. And as I pored over my “Life on Earth”, an animated flip book would form in my mind. In super fast motion I would see our earth as a big ball of gas wobbling in space. Then the gas would cool and the surface of the planet would be covered by a thin layer, like cream on the surface of hot milk. And like cream, this layer would break and re-form as bubbling lava welled up and split the surface. Meteors would come crashing down kaboom! and splashes of hot red would soar into the air. Thunder and lightning would add their own music and then… And then it would rain and rain and rain. At this point the flip book in my head would slow down and become almost still. All other activity would become muted as the sounds in my mind merged with the monsoon happening outside my window. And my stilled mind would see the earth wait, expectantly, for the seas to fill and for the first chemical reactions to herald the beginning of life on Earth.

Everyone knows that water brings life and sustains it. In India the pouring of water forms part of most rituals and rites of passage. Rivers are propitiated and it is believed by Hindus that bathing in the Ganges washes away the sins of a lifetime. In homes, guests are offered a glass of water before anything else. This is not only an acknowledgment of the hot and dusty road outside but also a gesture of friendship. But water has also been at the heart of much cruelty…

Read the whole of Deepa’s article here.

Anti-Bullying Week is Just the Beginning…

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Last week was Anti-Bullying Week in Canada and in the UK, where there is currently a move to make the focus on this important issue last for the whole of November.   But of course, the issues highlighted don’t disappear when you’re not looking at them – in fact, bullies are usually very clever at keeping their actions hidden.  The message still needs to be got across at all times that bullying is not acceptable.  We adults have a responibility for teaching respect for others and ourselves, both through formal education and in the example we set in our own behavior.

I have recently been reading two books in which young people tell of their experiences of bullying in their own words, accompanied with photographs and names in most cases.

The first, We Want You to Know: Kids Talk About Bullying is by Deborah Ellis (Coteau Books, 2010), who is well-known for drawing attention to the plight of children around the world caught up in mess caused by adults, both in her fiction (The Breadwinner Trilogy, set in Afghanistan; and the Cocalero novels, set in Bolivia), and in her non-fiction (Off To War: Voices of Soldiers’ Children; Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees).  We Want You to Know brings together the stories of young people aged 9-19 who have been bullied, who have bullied others, and who “have found strength within themselves to rise above their situations and to endure.”  They are all from Ellis’ “little corner of Southern Ontario” in Canada, following her involvement in a local Name It 2 Change It Community Campaign Against Bullying (and, indeed, royalties from the sale of this book go to the organization).  At the same time, interspersed with the longer accounts from the Canadian children are shorter highlighted statements from children across the world – Angola, Japan, Madagascar, South Korea, Uganda, the US.  Yes, bullying happens everywhere.

The book is divided into five main sections, You’re Not Good Enough, You’re Too Different, You’re It—Just Because, We Want to Crush You, and Redemption.  Each account has a couple of follow-up questions, asking “What Do You Think?”, and then there are discussion questions at the end of the sections.

The other book is Bullying and Me: Schoolyard Stories by Ouisie Shapiro with photographs by Steven Vote (Albert Whitman, 2010).  Again, it features first-hand accounts of young people who the introduction reminds us, “had a hard time reliving their experiences”, while recognising the importance of not remaining silent, to remind others who are bullied that “you’re not alone.  And it’s not your fault.”  Each account is followed by useful summarising statements from Dr Dorothy Espelage, a psychologist specializing in adolescent bullying.

Both these titles are aimed at young readers – but make no mistake, they are hard-hitting books that deliver a punch at any adult complacent enough to think that bullying is not a relevant issue in their community.  Where it’s not happening, it’s because an effective anti-bullying policy is in place AND adhered to.  What comes through time and time again in these accounts is the ineffectiveness of schools to put a stop to bullying – either the problems are trivialized or too much onus is put back on the victims to work through the situation, rather than dealing with the bullying that is the actual source of any problems.  Ellis says in her introduction:

Many kids talked about how teachers in their school seem to do nothing to stop their tormentors.  I know that teachers do a lot, but rules of confidentiality prevent them from sharing information about all their efforts.  But somehow we must find a way to show the victims of bullying that they are being heard.

As an adult reading these books, here are a few of the quotations from We Want You to Know that made my blood run cold:

Sometimes the teachers tell me, “If you don’t want to get beat up, stay inside for recess. [..] My mom tries to help.  She calls the school and she calls the principal, but the principal doesn’t believe her, even!  The principal will say, “You can’t prove Adam was hurt on school property, so there’s nothing we can do about it.”

They started calling me names again.  I told the teacher and the principal, and the teacher said, “Well, if you stop bugging them, they’ll stop bugging you,” but I’m not the one who is bothering anyone.

The principal said she’s not going to do anything more because I’ve had so many problems with this before, she’s starting to think it’s me that’s the problem.  She says I’m old enough now [12] to walk away and ignore it.

My mom and dad went to the school a few times to talk to the vice principal and the principal.  They were sort of supportive, but they never called it bullying.  They have a zero tolerance for bullying, but it happens.  And when it happens, they don’t call it bullying so they can say that bullying doesn’t happen.

Of course, the main focus of these accounts is what actually happened to the children, how they coped, and how it has affected them and their aspirations for the future.  For children who find themselves the victims of bullying, these books will be an invaluable tool – reading about someone’s similar experience will help them not to feel so alone, and they will hopefully also pick up some useful pointers for how to deal with their own situations.  In schools and youth groups, individual stories can be used as the focal point of a forum/assembly on bullying in general or in response to a specific incident.  (And I also recommend Suzanne Gervay’s I Am Jack as a class fiction readaloud – as well as every teacher’s and parent’s bedtime reading).

Bullying and its effects must be taken seriously.  It’s not about putting out the fire when an incident occurs.  The whole ethos of a school and the way it deals with the unhappiness, fears and inadequacies of bullies and bystanders as well as victims needs to be a high priority across the board.  Schools aim for excellence in learning, but if the safety and welfare of their students are not taken seriously, not only do those students fail to thrive, but effective learning is impossible.  Bullying is a whole-school issue: every adult who works in a school should be signed up to and implementing a school’s anti-bullying policy – and so should the children.  Anti-bullying week is a start, but the work doesn’t finish there…

On Traveling Libraries and Heroic ‘Book People’: Inspiring children’s books about getting books to people in remote places and difficult circumstances

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Abigail Sawyer regularly reviews books for us here at PaperTigers, and she’s also, in her own words, “a lifelong library lover and an advocate for access to books for all”, so who better to write an article for us about “unconventional libraries” and the children’s books they have inspired. Abigail lives in San Francisco, California, USA, where her two children attend a language-immersion elementary school and are becoming bilingual in English and Mandarin: an experience that has informed her work on the blog for the film Speaking in Tongues. I know you’ll enjoy reading this as much as I have.

On Traveling Libraries and Heroic ‘Book People’: Inspiring children’s books about getting books to people in remote places and difficult circumstances

My sons and I paid our first-ever visit to a bookmobile over the summer.  For us it was a novelty.  We have shelves of books at home and live just 3 blocks from our local branch library, but the brightly colored bus had pulled up right near the playground we were visiting in another San Francisco neighborhood (whose branch library was under renovation), and it was simply too irresistible.  Inside, this library on wheels was cozy, comfortable, and loaded with more books than I would have thought possible.  I urged my boys to practice restraint and choose only one book each rather than compete to reach the limit of how many books one can take out of the San Francisco Public Library system (the answer is 50; we’ve done it at least once).

The bookmobiles provide a great service even in our densely populated city where branch libraries abound.  There are other mobile libraries, however, that take books to children who may live miles from even the nearest modern road; to children who live on remote islands, in the sparsely populated and frigid north, in temporary settlements in vast deserts, and in refugee camps.  The heroic individuals who manage these libraries on boats, burros, vans, and camels provide children and the others they serve with a window on the world and a path into their own imaginations that would otherwise be impossible.

Shortly after my own bookmobile experience, Jeanette Winter‘s Biblioburro (Beach Lane Books, 2010), a tribute to Colombian schoolteacher Luis Soriano, who delivers books to remote hillside villages across rural Colombia, arrived in my mailbox to be reviewed for Paper Tigers.  I loved this book, as I do most of Winter’s work, for its bright pictures and simple, straightforward storytelling. Another picture book, Waiting for the Bibiloburro by Monica Brown (Tricycle Press, 2011), tells the story of Soriano’s famous project from the perspective of one of the children it serves, whose life expands beyond farm chores and housework thanks to Soriano and his burros.

I was moved, of course, by Soriano’s story, which got me thinking about another favorite picture book my children found at our branch library a few years ago: That Book Woman by Heather Henson (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008) is a fictionalized account of one family’s experience with the Pack Horse Library Project, a little-known United States Works Progress Administration program that ran from 1935-1943.  The Pack Horse librarians delivered books regularly to families living deep in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains.  In this inspiring story (more…)

Grandma’s tales as an important part of growing up, by Swapna Dutta (Part 1)

Friday, April 29th, 2011

We are delighted to welcome writer Swapna Dutta back to PaperTigers with this article about the stories collected by Dakshinaranjan Mitra-Mazumdar (1877-1957) and thanks to him, still known and loved by Bengali children today. I personally have to thank Swapna for introducing me to the work of Sukumar Ray, and I think I’ll now be seeking out some of Mitra-Mazumdar’s tales. Swapna is also a regular contributor to BoliKids .

When I was a child the concept of stories and story-telling was inseparable from my two grandmothers; and it was so for most children of my generation. Those were the days of joint families where the mothers were always busy with household chores or outside work and fathers, too busy in their own world. But Grandma/grandpa/grandparents always had time for us. They were the ones to pet and pamper; listen to our troubles; provide us with pickles and sweets; and most important of all, tell us stories. Our grandparents had a formidable stock of tales that included folktales and fairy tales; stories from mythology and epics; and stories that formed part of common rituals – an integral part of our life. Children who lived in metro cities had access to the radio. But for the rest of us, hearing stories from grandparents was our chief source of entertainment when it was too dark to play outside; during the long rainy afternoons and the shivery winter evenings.

Most of those stories had come down through generations as part of oral tradition. As a result, there were several variations of the same stories. Not that it hampered our pleasure in any way! It was fun to come across two different endings or have the prince/princess face different situations, adventures and dilemmas. One of the pioneers to note down these tales and bring out a printed collection was Dakshinaranjan Mitra-Mazumdar. He patiently collected stories from village women, travelling from village to village as he did so, his main aim (more…)

PaperTigers Managing Editor Aline Pereira on “Changes Afoot in 2011”

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

If you have already read today’s earlier post, received our latest newsletter or taken a look at the latest issue on the PaperTigers website, you will know that there are exciting developments in the offing for PaperTigers, especially as regards our Outreach Programe – developments which will affect both the PaperTigers website and the blog; and you will have realised that for all of us who are involved in PaperTigers, there is also a thread of sadness running through the anticipation of what is to come, for we will very sadly be losing Aline Pereira as a member of our team. Here on the blog, we will certainly be celebrating all that Aline has achieved, before her departure for pastures new in February; in the meantime, here is her final editorial taken from the main PaperTigers website, in which she talks about “Changes Afoot in 2011”:

Who says a Tiger can’t change (or at least rearrange) its stripes?

Led by the desire to expand its outreach program and faced with financial constraints, PaperTigers is in the process of doing just that: reconfiguring its stripes. Some difficult decisions were made that will affect the way things work in the new year.

First, the not so good news…

Come February, sadly, I will be leaving PaperTigers. As a result of the economy downturn that is affecting so many in the United States and of a decision to redirect part of PaperTigers’ funds to the development of an additional outreach reality (as explained below), my Managing Editor role will cease to exist. Marjorie Coughlan, who has been PaperTigers Associate Editor on a part-time basis since 2005, and my partner in crime and good friend, will become PaperTigers only editor.

Since this is my last editorial, I’d like to take this opportunity to say goodbye and to express my gratitude to all the readers, friends, colleagues and contributors for their support, friendship, work and always helpful feedback these past six years. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to have worked/crossed paths with each one of you. Please stay in touch.

On a more positive note, let me be the one to tell you what other changes are afoot for PaperTigers in 2011. I won’t be in the picture after February (except for maybe the occasional article or book review), but the projects I’ve helped grow and, in some cases, establish, will continue to exist–even if in a slightly modified format.

As you know, over the last few years, in addition to offering rich and varied content on the website, we have also been developing our blog and outreach program. In an attempt to present these three realities more clearly, starting in mid-January, those going to will find a new landing page, where they can choose which of the three aspects of PaperTigers they want to read about/explore, i.e. the site, the blog or the outreach program.

On the site itself, topics will no longer be treated through bimonthly issues, as they have been until now. Themes and geographical areas will continue to be covered, but in a more flexible way that is not confined to a bimonthly rhythm. We believe that this will allow the website and blog to be integrated more fully.

We have intensified our outreach program in the course of the last twelve months. Through the Spirit of PaperTigers book donation project we have sent sets of books to schools in many parts of the world. This project will continue to exist, but in a simplified way that takes into account the suggestions made by recipients of the sets in this first experimental year.

Our outreach efforts this year have also made us vividly aware that in parts of the world where clean water and good sanitation are not available, promoting literacy and encouraging children to become “hungry readers” does not get very far. We have therefore undertaken a series of small projects to provide children in areas of need with both books and water. It is PaperTigers’ intention to push forward and further develop these two outreach aspects in the coming year: “water for living and books for reading.”

I think this covers everything about the upcoming changes, so… So long for now, and please remember: PaperTigers is counting on your continued support as it reconfigures its stripes.

May we all learn to embrace change and make the best of it in 2011.


Tiger Tales: PaperTigers Newsletter, December 2010

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

This month, on the PaperTigers website, we are highlighting a sample of the many and rich features from our previous issues and talking about some changes afoot in 2011.

In her last editorial, Aline Pereira explains what these changes are and how they relate to the fact that, come February, sadly and unfortunately, she will no longer be PaperTigers’ Managing Editor.

Aline’s presence at the helm of PaperTigers over the last six years has been critical; her contribution has been both extensive and immensely valuable for the site and for the blog – and she has also played an important role in helping us move towards a fuller outreach program. To say that she will be missed and that her absence will be a big loss for PaperTigers is an understatement. We are truly grateful to her for all she has done and wish her the very best in her future endeavors.

We hope 2011 will be a year of learning and growth for all of us, and as we prepare to ring in the new year and say farewell to Aline, we offer you these great features from the treasure-trove that is PaperTigers. May they warm your hearts and minds and keep you coming back for more.