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.


April 2010 Events

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

(Click on event name for more information)

National Poetry Month~ Canada and USA

Growing Up Asian in America Art and Essay Contest Winners Announced~ San Francisco, CA, USA

The Mathieu Da Costa Challenge Winners Announced~ Canada

38th National Book Fair & 8th Bangkok International Book Fair~ ongoing until Apr 6, Bangkok, Thailand

Exhibit of Sally Rippin’s Illustrations for Peeking Ducks~ ongoing until Apr 11, Melbourne, Australia

Heart and Soul: Art from Coretta Scott King Award Books, 2006–2009~ ongoing until Apr 18, Chicago, IL, USA

New York Public Library Exhibit: 2010 Caldecott Winner Jerry Pinkney’s African-American Journey to Freedom~ ongoing until Apr 18, New York City, NY, USA

Once Upon a Time . . . Children’s Book Illustrators, Then and Now~ ongoing until May 27, Oakland, CA, USA

International Children’s Book Day~ Apr 2

SCBWI Presents Details, Details: The Snap, Crackle, and Pop of Good Writing with author Jane Kurtz~ Apr 2, Tokyo, Japan

SCBWI Presents Bologna and Beyond~ Apr 3, The Hague, Netherlands

43rd Annual Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival~ Apr 7 – 9, Hattiesburg, MS, USA

The Foundation for Children’s Literature Presents What’s New in Children’s Books~ Apr 8, Boston, MA, USA

26th Annual Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth~ Apr 8 – 9, Kent, OH, USA

Salisbury University’s Children’s and Young Adult Literature Festival: Read Green~ Apr 8 – 12, Salisbury, MD, USA

Border Book Festival~ Apr 8 – 11, Mesilla, NM, USA

Monsters and Miracles: A Journey through Jewish Picture Books~ Apr 8 – Aug 1, Los Angeles, CA, USA

The Green Earth Book Award Presentation Ceremony~ Apr 9, McLean, VA, USA

Cambridge WordFest~ Apr 9 – 11, Cambridge, United Kingdom

The Federation of Children’s Book Groups 2010 Conference~ Apr 9 – 11, Berkshire, United Kingdom

SCBWI Presents Children’s Books and our Phil-Hispanic Heritage~ Apr 10, Philippines

National Library Week: Communities Thrive @ Your Library~ Apr 11  – 17, USA

BC Book Prizes On Tour~ Apr 11 – 23, Province of British Columbia, Canada

Young Poets Week~ Apr 12 – 16, Canada

Chicago Latino Book & Family Festival~ Apr 17 – 18, Cicero, IL, USA

London Book Fair~ Apr 19 – 21, London, United Kingdom

MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Conference~ Apr 21 – 23, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival and Children’s Festival: Reading the World~ Apr 21 – 25, Montreal, QC, Canada

41st Annual Saskatchewan Reading Council Convention: Guiding the Way with Literacy~ Apr 22 – 24, Regina, SA, Canada

Marba International Children’s Literature Festival~ Apr 22 – 25, Valleta, Malta

Camara Chilena del Libro Book Fair~ Apr 22 – 30, Santiago, Chile

Buenos Aires Book Fair~ Apr 22 – May 10, Buenos Aires, Argentina

World Book and Copyright Day~ Apr 23

Connecting Cultures & Celebrating Cuentos: National Latino Children’s Literature Conference~ Apr 23 – 24, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

Building Cultural Bridges: Integrating Languages, Linguistics, Literature and Translation into Education~ Apr 23 – 24, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Spring Festival of Children’s Literature~ Apr 23 – 24, Frostburg, MD, USA

Goolwa Poetry Festival~ Apr 23 – 26, Goolwa, Australia

La Fiera del Bambino / Children’s Book Fair~ Apr 24 – 25, Naples, Italy

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books~ Apr 24 – 25, Los Angeles, CA, USA

International Reading Association’s Annual Convention: Reading in Many Languages~ Apr 25 – 28, Chicago, IL, USA

One Hen: From Children’s Book To Educator Movement For Social Change~ Apr 26, Chicago, IL, USA

PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature~ Apr 26 – May 7, New York, NY, USA

Ezra Jack Keats Awards for Excellence in Children’s Literature Ceremony~ Apr 28, New York, NY, USA

Awâsis 2010 Aboriginal Education Conference~ Apr 28 – 30, Saskatoon, SA, Canada

El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros~ Apr 30, USA

Around the World in 100 Bookshelves: Bringing Kids and Books Together

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Five year-old Shashank, the winner of our first “Around the World in 100 Bookshelves” book draw, received his books! The following is a note from his father:

The books have arrived, and they are so wonderful! Thank you! I have already read them several times to Shashank. His favorite one is ‘Homes,’ and the page he likes the most is the one where crying clouds make rain! Take a look at all the new books on our bookshelf!

Thanks for the feedback and photos, Prashanth! It’s great to see Shashank smiling, with his new favorite book in hand!

Readers, take note: on Jul 15th we will draw a new winner, so keep sending us photos of your children’s bookshelves. They could be the next to win a set of age-appropriate multicultural books!

Here is a list of the books we sent to Shashank:

Homes, by Yang-Huan, illustrated by Hsiao-yen Huang

Speak Chinese, Fang Fang! written and illustrated by Sally Rippin

No English by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Amy Huntington

Colors, Colores! by Jorge Luján

Loongie, The Greedy Crocodile by Lucy and Kiefer Dann, illustrated by Bronwyn Houston

January/February update now online!

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Our new bimonthly update focuses on the world and the art of illustrators. If “every childhood lasts a lifetime,” as they say, so does the undoubted influence of picture books, and the world views they convey, in children’s lives. Translating stories into a language that needs no introduction to children, even when the subject matter is complex, children’s book illustrators communicate with their audience in a very unique way: being the language of imagination, the art of illustration lends itself perfectly to direct communication, without cultural or language barriers.

Through these new features, you will have a glimpse of how the highlighted artists work, what art means to them and how it transformed their lives. Please enjoy them. And while enjoying what they have to offer, chances are, you’ll also deepen your understanding of the important role their work plays in developing our children’s imaginations.

Featured artists include: Felicia Hoshino, Sally Rippin, Anne Spudvilas, Maya Christina Gonzalez and Amelia Lau Carling.

Long live children’s book illustrators and their picture books!…

A Fresh Perspective

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Becoming BuddhaOne of Australian illustrator Sally Rippin‘s recent children’s books (published in 2005 in Australia, 2007 in the U.S.) opens upwards rather than outwards. I asked Sally how she and author Whitney Stewart decided on the format for Becoming Buddha. Here’s her reply:

“Whitney suggested working together on a picture book, and I approached my publisher at the time with her ideas. They agreed to publish our book, and it was then left up to me to illustrate Whitney’s text. I decided to have Becoming Buddha open so the illustration reads vertically on the double page to represent an ancient manuscript, or a thangka. From what I know about Buddhism, I believe opening the book in this way makes you more conscious of your actions. Fortunately, the publisher agreed to this format.

“Painting the face of Siddhartha was quite challenging, because I knew there were certain rules about how the Buddha could be represented in art, and I also wanted to make the paintings my own representations of Siddhartha, the man, before he became enlightened. Again fortunately, Whitney was able to have a representative of the Dalai Lama approve the artwork before it went to press, so that gave me confidence.”

Melbourne poet and blogger Kris Helmsley had some interesting observations about the layout and Buddhism when he introduced Sally and Becoming Buddha at a book launch in June 2007; read his comments here.

Another vertically read book with an equally conscious layout is Caldecott Medal winner Ed Young’s Beyond the Great Mountains. Its cascading-style pages, illustrating Chinese characters and landscapes, also create a special physical awareness for young readers.

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Australian Book Illustrators

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

When I visited Ann James, illustrator of Ready Set Skip!, at Books Illustrated, she mentioned that there’s an Australia-wide shortage of book illustrators. To help address the problem, she’s recently taught two workshops on book illustration for aboriginal artists, sponsored by Magabala Books.

The Tiger HeartBecoming a children’s book illustrator isn’t always a direct path. Ann started out as an art teacher. Gaye Chapman, illustrator of Breakfast with Buddha, had been a graphic designer and professional painter for many years when her first children’s book, Heart of the Tiger, came out in 2004. Sally Rippin, illustrator of Becoming Buddha, started out writing and illustrating picture books, first published in 1996. Her novel, Chenxi and the Foreigner, begun while she was studying Chinese painting in China years earlier, was published in 2002, and an adult version is now in process. Sally teaches writing for children at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, where Ann is now studying with an eye to writing children’s books in addition to illustrating them.

Ann James and her partner, Ann Haddon, long-time promotors of children’s book illustration as an art genre, also produced Making Pictures: Techniques for Illustrating Children’s Books. They have had an exhibition space for children’s book art at their studio/bookshop for years and have recently begun organizing traveling exhibitions of children’s book illustrations on multiple continents.

While these illustrious illustrators illustrate books, their stories illustrate the many paths that can lead to a career in children’s book illustration.

Spiritual Literacy 2

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Becoming BuddhaBecoming Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha, by Whitney Stewart, is one of the top five spiritual books for kids on San Francisco Friends School librarian Chad Stephenson’s current favorites list. A practicing Quaker, Chad has also worked in Catholic and Waldorf schools. He looks for books that “equip kids spiritually for the incongruities of life” and are “not obnoxiously preachy.”

Chad describes Becoming Buddha as “a simple retelling of the Buddha’s life through a uniquely formatted book which also includes Sanskrit and even some ‘dark’ sides of the Buddha’s experiences; best for ages 8 and up.”

Along with further details on the appealing format of Becoming Buddha, Whitney Stewart’s website includes a page of information on Buddhism; scroll down for an annotated list of other books on Buddhism for children. Australian Sally Rippin, an illustrator with a widely international background, created the beautiful images. Becoming Buddha includes an introduction to meditation practice for children. Stewart’s earlier books include biographies of the Dalai Lama and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

We’ll have more of Chad’s thoughts and recommendations on spiritual books for children in future posts.