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)

Celebrate the Year of the Tiger with Grace Lin

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

We have blogged quite a bit about Grace Lin lately as her book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was chosen as one of seven books in our Spirit of Paper Tigers Book Set and was also named a 2010 Newbery Honor Book, one of the most prestigious awards for children’s literature in the United States. Be sure to check out  Grace’s blog to read about and see photos from  “the Newbery call” .

One thing that I really admire about Grace is that she is so accessible to her fans via her regularly updated blog and her full schedule of book signings and school visits. This Saturday, February 20th, she will be at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, USA hosting Learn How Books Are Made with Grace Lin where she will show the many steps of publishing, read one of her books, answers questions, draw some of her book characters and sign books. After a lunch break, she will talk about Lunar New Year customs, referencing her books Bringing in the New Year and The Year of the Rat.  Perhaps she will share some of the special lunar crafts that she has been making to help celebrate the Year of the Tiger (and have you made our Paper Tiger yet?).  Of course, all of us at PaperTigers have a special affinity for the Year of the Tiger and so does Grace:

In my book, The Year of the Rat there is the story of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, which tells of the great race of the animals to win the the honor of a year named after them. The winning animals had their own characteristics, as you can tell by how they competed.

The Tiger won his place by sheer strength, courage and nerve. That is why they say people who are born in the Year of the Tiger are risk-takers and brave. So, this year, the Year of the Tiger, is the year where we all have to be strong, brave and ready to take risks. It might be a bit unpredictable and surprising.

Now, I was born in the Year of the Tiger so this is MY year. But, it doesn’t mean it will be a lucky one. When it is YOUR year, it means it will be a year of important and possibly life-changing decisions. It’s the year where big things happen that change the course of your life.

Happy New Year of the Tiger!

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Year of the Tiger 2010
Fill your vases with peach blossoms, kumquat plants and chrysanthemums—symbolizing luck, prosperity and longevity, respectively, the three great blessings of life, according to ancient Chinese beliefs— and join us in welcoming the New Year of the Tiger!

In Chinese folklore, tigers are courageous and powerful, and tiger years are usually associated with great changes. We at PaperTigers have already gotten into the spirit. Have you?… If you need inspiration, gather the children around to make their own PaperTigers tiger to put on their bedside table or bookshelf, as both a symbol of good things to come and a reminder that, when it comes to great books, PaperTigers is always happy to point the way!

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Here’s to a new year of growing and learning by leaps and bounds!

Announcing PaperTigers’ Paper Tiger!

Monday, February 8th, 2010

PaperTigers' Paper Tiger: Cut Out and MakeJust in time for February 14th, when we will be wishing everyone a Happy Year of the Tiger, we at PaperTigers are delighted to be launching a Tiger of our own: one that we hope will find a home in every corner of the globe. And when you have created your personalised tiger, we hope you will send us a photo for us to post here on our blog.

We have talked for a long time about having a “real” paper tiger and we are very grateful to husband-and-wife team, authors Sally and Stewart Walton for giving us permission to reproduce the tiger from their book, Make Your Own: Paper Jungle (A Golden Book, 1994). My children were given this book as a present a few years ago and have made most of the animals several times – they make great gifts for grandparents, who, of course, don’t mind how many times they receive a toucan or a chameleon!

The tiger, in pdf format, comes with complete instructions. On page 1 you’ll find a ready-painted version and on page 2 there are two plain outlines – perfect for those who want to give their imaginations free rein and for making multiple copies…

So get going – and send photos of your Tiger(s) to blog(at)papertigers(dot)org – we can’t wait to see your Paper Tigers and what a great way to see in the New Year! Gung Hei Fat Choy! Xin Nian Kuai Le!

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Books at Bedtime: White Tiger, Blue Serpent

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

2010 is the Year of the Tiger so I have chosen a book that features a tiger in its telling.  White Tiger, Blue Serpent is an old Chinese tale from the Drung tribe in Yunnan.  Retold by Grace Tseng and illustrated by Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng (Lothrop, Lee and Shepherd, 1999), the story is about a young boy named Kai whose poor mother is a weaver of brocades.  Kai supports his mother in her work by fishing and collecting firewood.  The brocades his mother makes are sold in the market to buy food and silk supplies.  The two live frugally on the impoverished west bank of a great roaring river which divides it from the magical and mountainous east — a land guarded by a ferocious white tiger and monstrous blue serpent in the service of the jealous goddess Qin.

One day Kai asks his mother to make a special brocade just for him.  She knows that such a brocade will take a long time to weave — a thousand days — and will require Kai to work hard like a man and not a boy.  Kai is up to the challenge; he takes his mother’s latest brocade to market and sells it to buy an ox and rice seedlings.  He will become a farmer as well as a fisherman to support his mother’s grand endeavour.  After a thousand days, the brocade is ready.  It is so beautiful that the goddess Qin snatches it away from Kai with a gust of wind that transports the brocade into her highly guarded realm.  What will Kai do?  In order to get the brocade back, he must venture into the mountains and face the tiger and the serpent.

In this story, the tiger represents a fearsome obstacle and will be a test of Kai’s budding manhood.  The illustrations in the book by Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng make this more than amply clear!

What stories of tigers have you read and what emotion have they elicited in you as a reader?  Fear?  Awe?  Admiration?  Tell us about your favorite books about tigers!