Week-end Book Review: What Happened This Summer by Paul Yee

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

BookCover
Paul Yee,
What Happened This Summer
Tradewind Books, 2006.

Ages 12-18

Reviewed July 2007 by PaperTigers Editor Marjorie Coughlan, For more reviews by the PaperTigers team, click here.

Paul Yee, recipient of numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Literary Award for his novel Ghost Train, focuses on the modern-day lives and concerns of Chinese-Canadians in this, his latest novel for young adults.  So what did happen this summer? A general response would be that each teen-age protagonist came of age, grew up – and we, the reader, are privy to that process, because each experience is related in the first person and so we read what is going on in their heads as well as the unfolding events.

Yee keeps the reader on their toes: there is no warning that the narrator is going to change from chapter to chapter and since we are not introduced formally, we even have to work out whether the “I” is male or female.  I was half-expecting the narrators to return in cycles – instead, we catch odd glimpses of them as they happen to pass through someone else’s story. Indeed, each story could stand alone as a short story, a vignette of the challenges and concerns faced by each character: parental expectations and pressure, school, homosexuality, racial stereotypes, sex, death – in other words the full gamut of the issues considered relevant by the majority of teenagers today.  Yee’s focus on the Chinese-Canadian experience adds an extra facet to these subjects.

So, again, what happened this summer?  While each person’s story could stand alone, Yee is actually setting up the strings of his narrative to be pulled together in the final chapter.   This watershed time in all their lives reaches its peak at that point and it is as powerful as it is unexpected.  However, life does go on and, as is so often the case, it will only be with hindsight that each narrator will come to realise the significance of that period in their lives: something beyond the book’s telling that is up to readers to interpret for themselves.

A thought-provoking book that will appeal to young adults who are themselves on the brink of making life-affecting decisions about their own futures.

paw_sm_MC Do read our 2003 interview with Paul Yee here and our most recent interview with him in 2011 here.

Week-end Book Review: The Secret Keepers by Paul Yee

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Reviewed by Abigail Sawyer:

Paul Yee,
The Secret Keepers
Tradewind Books, 2011.

Ages: 11+

It is 1906 in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and the world has just come to an end; the world of Jackson Leong and his family at least. After their father’s death several months earlier, Jack, his older brother Lincoln, his two younger sisters, and their mother relocated from a farm in the Sacramento area to be near family in the bustling city. Now 16-year-old Lincoln, who “was big and tall and had quickly learned everything the family needed to know about their new hometown” has been killed in the aftermath of the great earthquake, leaving Jack to keep the family together while trying to manage the nickelodeon business his brother had begun. On top of all this, Jack’s “yin-yang eyes” see ghosts everywhere: and they seem to be trying to tell him something…

Read the full review

Read our interview with Paul Yee, in which he talks about The Secret Keepers.

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!

 

New on PaperTigers: Interview with award-winning author Paul Yee

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Just published on the PaperTigers website is our new interview with Paul Yee.  Paul is one of Canada’s leading writers for young people and has won awards for both his stories for younger readers and his YA fiction.  He writes mostly about the Chinese Canadian experience in both historical and contemporary settings.

Corinne and I had the great pleasure not only of hearing Paul speak at Serendipity in Vancouver earlier this year, but also chatting over dinner on the final evening – and then attending his book launch for The Secret Keepers (Tradewind Books, 2011), where he mesmerised us all with his recitation, not reading, of the book’s opening.  (Take a look at some photos here.)

PaperTigers first interviewed Paul in 2003 so it is great to have caught up with all he’s been doing since then – and there was certainly much to talk about… Head on over to read the interview now.

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!

Come join us at Serendipity 2012: Celebrating Asian Themes for Young Readers ~ Feb 24 – 25, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Monday, February 6th, 2012

PaperTigers is thrilled to announce we will be taking part in the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable Conference Serendipity” February 24 – 25 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, Lisa Yee and Paul Yee!

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

Featuring the following three distinguished award winning authors:

Allen Say, Lisa Yee 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 PaperTigers.org
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 www.vclr.ca. We do hope you will be able to join us!”

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

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

Monday, December 19th, 2011

HOT OFF THE PRESS!!

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

Featuring:

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 PaperTigers.org
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 www.vclr.ca. 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!”

Latest issue of PaperTigers now online…

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

… and if you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to do so. The focus of this issue is Young Adult books, including interviews with YA authors Alan Gratz (Samurai Shortstop) and Hazel Edwards (Antarctica’s Frozen Chosen); and YA librarian Miranda Doyle. Our Illustrators’ Gallery focuses on two artists who have contributed greatly to making illustration relevant to Young Adults: Shaun Tan (The Arrival) and Gene Yang (American Born Chinese).

Book of the Month is Paul Yee‘s What Happened This Summer, a rich collection of short stories about different teenagers growing up in Toronto, with a focus on their Chinese Canadian backgrounds. If you’re looking for inspiration about which book to read next, try our Reviews section; and take a look at those mentioned by writers Susanne Gervay in her Personal View YA Books: Cutting Edge Literature and Mitali Perkins in hers, Teens Between Cultures: A Reading List.

I have also picked out a short list of only some of the wonderful YA books we have featured on PaperTigers: Open up and get reading: YA books you just can’t put down and I hope you will add some of your own suggestions – we would love to hear from you.

No Slim Pickings Here

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

While cookbook authors seduce with rapturous descriptions of sizzling butter and caramelized onions, children’s book authors and illustrators cook up things in a differently enticing way. Bound between hard or soft covers, stories to satisfy the appetite of hungry readers abound. But too many book choices can be as overwhelming as an abundant produce aisle or farmer’s market. Just what is that Samurai Shortstop all about? And what of The Arrival, First Daughter or Mismatch? Discovering new books and writers is as exciting as trying an unfamiliar new fruit.

Identifying quality children’s literature, multicultural literature in particular, can be a time consuming task. Luckily, we have many tried and true sources to help us recognize the special tastes of Paul Yee or Laurence Yep, Rachna Gilmore or Mitali Perkins.

For a feast of book and book-related offerings we hope you’ll turn to us, of course. We also recommend CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center), ALAN (Assembly of Literature for Adolescents), the Edge of the Forest, School Library Journal and the Horn Book. And the ever-growing garden of great Kidlit blogs such as Shen’s Blog and The Fire Escape, to name just two.

In the world of children’s literature pickings are never slim. Hungry readers are lucky to be so well fed.