Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Miscellany

* I want to read Snakes Can't Run by Ed Lin (Minotaur Books, March 2010). It's a mystery for adults set in New York’s Chinatown in 1976.

Click here to watch the book trailer for Snakes Can't Run. It's one of the best book trailers I've ever watched. Love the music. Love the old photographs. Love how everything is so gritty.

* I want to read Edinburgh by Alexander Chee (Picador, 2002). It's a novel for adults - adults who are not faint of heart. I read that it's a story about child molestation and its effects. I also read that it features some Korean folk tales.

* Check out Multiculturalism Rocks!, the blog of children's and young adult fiction writer Nathalie Mvondo. Multiculturalism Rocks! is a blog on multiculturalism in children's literature.

Click here to read Nathalie's interview with me. I explain why I have two blogs. =D

* Check out Zoe Toft's blog Playing by the book. Zoe puts so much thought and care and research into her blog posts. She doesn't just review children's books, she suggests songs, crafts, and other activities to go with the books!

Click here to read my guest blog at Playing by the book.

* Oh, and to mix the personal with the literary =P ... My older brother just got married!

Here I am with my mom, uncle, brothers, and sister-in-law:

Here I am (right smack in the middle) with family and some relatives. Yes, SOME relatives. A lot of my relatives couldn't make it to the wedding. We're a big clan. =D

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer

"Why do the things we care about have to change?" Annie asks her grandmother Louisa. Annie is starting high school in the fall and she just isn't ready. Everyone else in her class seems so grown up and she feels like she is still a kid. Worse, she and her best friends Genna and Zoe seem to be growing apart. Maybe working at her grandmother's teashop, the Steeping Leaf, will help make things better. Annie loves all things tea and the Steeping Leaf is her favorite place in the world. It will be her first job and a step toward growing up. Working at the Steeping Leaf could also bring her, Genna, and Zoe closer. They used to have afternoon tea together every Wednesday and called themselves the Teashop Girls. It doesn't hurt that the other barista, Jonathan, is really cute.

But Annie discovers that the Steeping Leaf might close down because of the competition from the coffee chain across the street. She devises plans that will save the Steeping Leaf, bond her friends, AND get the attention of her barista boy crush!

The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer (Paula Wiseman Books, reprint edition 2009) has a leisurely tone and pace that is charming but makes its climax unconvincing as not a lot of dramatic tension had been built up to that point in the novel. And the novel has an ending that is a little too neat and happy. But The Teashop Girls has oodles of charm. Annie, Genna, and Zoe are likable and believable characters. The way they think, speak, and act feel authentically "middle school." (More points for characterization: the novel has different characters of color. Zoe, for example, is half Indian.) The Steeping Leaf is a wonderful setting - warm, cozy, and inviting. And there is much to learn about tea from the novel.

Each chapter in The Teashop Girls begins with a lovely spot illustration from Sujean Rim and a quote about tea. (My favorite from the book is: "Find yourself a cup of tea; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things." - Saki) Each chapter ends with information about tea (Did you know that iced tea was invented by Richard Blechynden in 1904?), an old tea advertisement, or a tea recipe (Traditional chai iced tea, anyone?). Of course Annie muses much about tea and talks about tea with her family and friends all throughout the novel. The book ends with a fun guide to hosting tea parties (themes, games, etc.). Even coffee lovers will find themselves tea lovers by the end of The Teashop Girls!

Click here to read the Into the Wardrobe author interview of Laura Schaefer. :o)

[My hardcover edition of the The Teashop Girls was provided by the author. I bought the paperback edition and this review is based on the paperback edition.]

Tastespotting in Dreamdark: Silksinger

My favorite food scene in Dreamdark: Silksinger written by Laini Taylor and illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo

By happy accident, Hirik had chanced to find his way to Sweetsellers Lane. It was very narrow, with towering, carved buildings looming on either side. Faeries lolled on balconies, and shop lads fluttered up to them with trays of mint tea. Everything was the color of sherbet and sugarplums, and every shop sold some sweet marvel, from rare wildflower nectar to nut tarts and spice cakes, coconut cream and chocolate soup to blocks of sugarcane jaggery big enough to perch on. Hirik had never imagined such a quantity of sweets, and he scarecely knew how to choose!

When his stomach rumbled, he let a biddy wave him into her shop, where he bought himself a sweet-potato tart slathered with pistachio butter.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Um. Wow. Head on over to the YA book blog Finding Wonderland to read about how you can get free electronic copies of four new YA novels from Front Street/Boyds Mills Press.

And yes, I just got myself some free YA ebooks!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The winner of the Cybils middle grade science fiction and fantasy category is...

Dreamdark: Silksinger written by Laini Taylor and illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo (Putnam Juvenile, 2009)

Seven Djinn wove the Tapestry of Creation and ruled the world they had made. Four thousand years ago, the Djinn retreated from the world and became sleeping embers. Today, the Djinn Magruwen is awake and the Djinn Vritra is dead - murdered by the Blackbringer. The remaining Djinn are hidden in different lands and must be found so that they can reweave the threadbare Tapestry of Creation before darkness overcomes it.

One of the dreaming Djinn, the Azazel, is in the care of Whisper Silksinger. Whisper is the last of her clan, the guardian clan of the Azazel. She is a scamperer, a faerie without wings, and must somehow traverse a dangerous mountain range to get to the city of Nazneen. The Azazel will only awaken once he has been set on his throne in Nazneen.

Many are seeking the Azazel. Devils are hunting Whisper to get their filthy hands on the Djinn. The mysterious faerie mercenary Hirik Moonshrive is also seeking the Azazel. And the faerie Magpie Windwitch's task as a Djinn champion is to reunite the Azazel with the Magruwen. Then there are the secret leaders of the devils...

I am convinced that Laini Taylor (my new favorite fantasy writer!) is a Djinn. Using words instead of magical glyphs, she has woven the rich Tapestry of Creation known as Silksinger. It is an exquisite and delightful world populated by faeries, crows, devils, hobgoblins, imps, and Djinn. She has taken her Tapestry's threads and has woven well-rounded characters that readers will care about and almost non-stop action and adventure that will entertain and engage those readers.

Even though Silksinger has a satisfying ending, I wanted it to go on forever. It is the kind of fantasy fiction that stirs readers' imagination and makes them see the real world with new eyes. It is the kind of fantasy fiction so inspiring that it will have readers seeing magic in the everyday.

[I bought my own copy of Silksinger so that I could read it as a Cybils judge.]

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ooohhh, check this out: Children's book author Daphne Lee writes about the whitewashing of book covers - from a Malaysian perspective!
I've posted a review of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin at Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


*Remember when I reviewed The 13 Days of Halloween by Carol Greene and Tim Raglin? I gave the book to my niece a couple weeks ago. She read it over and over again and had the entire thing memorized by the next day!

*I highly recommend you check out Twenty-Eight Days Later: A Black History Month Celebration of Children's Literature at The Brown Bookshelf.

*I'm on the staff of Color Online, a blog that focuses on women writers of color for adults, teenagers, and children. I've just reviewed Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China by Ai-Ling Louie and Ed Young for Color Online.

*At Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind I share my thoughts and feelings on Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji and Ash by Malinda Lo. I also offer up a visual feast of illustrations from Ariel Pang and Sergio Bumatay III.

*Children's book author Kate Coombs, a.k.a Book Aunt, has given Into the Wardrobe the Prolific Blogger Award and says that I focus "on multicultural literature with wit and good humor." Waaahhh. Best. Compliment. Ever. Thank you, Kate!!!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Spirit of PaperTigers Project

The Spirit of PaperTigers Project will donate 100 sets of these seven multicultural books to libraries and schools in areas of need around the world:

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola

First Come the Zebra by Lynne Barash

Little Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing by Guo Yue, Clare Farrow, and Helen Cann

The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos by Lucia Gonzalez and Lulu Delacre

My Little Round House by Bolormaa Baasansuren (translated into English by Helen Mixter)

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway and Eugenie Fernandes

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin

Check out the PaperTigers website for more information on this important project and on all the books. PaperTigers has carefully selected these titles and I have read only one of them. I want to read them all!