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April 10, 2018

Save the Date!

I know summer seems a long time away, but I really want you save the date for my book launch! Yes, A Big Mooncake for Little Star will finally be coming out and I want to have a grand celebration for it.

Sunday, August 26th at 3pm
Porter Square Books
25 White St, Cambridge MA

If you pre-order from Porter Square, there will to be a special pre-order gift...stay tuned to find out what!

So, SAVE THE DATE! Hope to see you in August!

March 7, 2018

the wrong question

A couple of months ago, I decided that I would take my five-year old daughter with me to the local Women’s March. Since my explanations were not as clear as I wanted, I searched for children’s book to help me explain the Women’s March to her. Unfortunately, the only one I found was a shallow story of a girl with a pink hat that removed almost all of political aspects of the March. And it was written by a man.

Now, I’m sure the author is probably a nice guy. I have no idea but I’m imagining that maybe he marched with his wife and daughter and was so moved by what he experienced that he felt there should be a book about it and thought, “I’m a writer! I can write the book about this.”  And, so he did.

But, while he might have had good intentions, his actions have a jarring impact. The purpose of the Women’s March was to have women’s voices be heard, to amplify women’s viewpoints. Having a man publish the first (and currently only) children’s book about it not only means that he is speaking for women but has also eliminated that possibility for a woman writer. Now, no woman writer will have the opportunity to publish first book about the Women’s March and reap the marketing, publicity benefits and possible publishing power that doing so entails.  His action of creating this book is the antithesis of his subject matter.

And this ties into the issues of diversity as well. I am constantly asked by white writers if they can write outside their race. “Imagining other viewpoints is why I am an author,” they tell me, “Why can’t I write about someone that doesn’t look like me?”

And at this, I have to tell them they are asking the wrong question. Because, of course, a writer can write about whomever he or she wishes. When it comes to writing outside ones’ race the question has never been, “Can I write this?” No, the real question is “Should I write this?”

Because, sure, a man can write about the Women’s March. He’s already done it, obviously. But should he have? If a man sincerely believes in all that the Women’s March was and what it is trying to accomplish, he would be truer to those beliefs by allowing a woman to write the book about it.

Likewise, if writers believe in racial equity in our writers community, they would be truer to those beliefs by realizing that there are some stories that are better for others to tell.  

I know, some will say, “You snooze, you lose!” with the idea that if one comes up with a great idea, one has privilege to write it.  Because, yes, since this man came up with the idea to write about the Women’s March and had the immediate power to bring it fruition, technically it was within his rights to do so.  But, if we are authors who believe in the importance of children’s literature--if we are the one nodding at conferences when someone proclaims “Our books save lives!” or cheering when a librarian states “Books can change the world,” then I think we should hold ourselves to higher standard.

Recently, looking for the Asian equivalent of The SnowyDay, I remembered the work of Taro Yashima, the creator of the children’s book classic Umbrella.  “There should be a book on him,” I thought. Because of the privilege of my past publishing record and relationships, I felt fairly confident that if I were to write a book about Taro Yashima well enough, I could probably get it published.

But, should I write it? I might be Asian, but my ethnicity is Taiwanese and Taro Yashima is Japanese. Of all people, I should know there is a difference--in fact, I inwardly bristle when others are unaware of the differences.  So with that realization, I decided not to try to write it myself. Instead, I posted the idea on facebook and brought it to the attention of some Japanese authors and illustrators that I knew. And then I let it go.

Because I have to believe that we can let some ideas go. We can offer them to others and move on. Or if can't move on, we can try to co-write with or mentor someone less privileged. None of us can be so lacking in ideas that we can’t share or let some of them go. We don’t have to be the one that writes every good idea that comes to us.  

At the Women’s March, I was struck by all the signs everyone carried. Some were witty, some heartbreaking and some angry, but all seemed deeply felt. If the sincerity is genuine, we need to bring it past the marches and decorative pins, and into all aspects of our lives—especially when we choose what to write and what not to write.

January 6, 2018

Cold Weather Craft

Brr! It's cold here in New England! But when life gives us bitter cold, we make colored balls of ice!*

It's so easy and so fun! Want to do it to? 

balloons (the inexpensive helium quality kind)
food coloring
a sink with a faucet you can get the balloon around

1.  Mix food coloring of your choice with a small amount of water (2-3 tablespoons) in a cup. Stir it up.

2. Using the funnel, put the colored water into the balloon.

3: Affix the balloon opening to your faucet. Fill balloon with water, slowly.  So that it does't accidentally fall off and make a mess, best to hold the balloon with one hand underneath for support and your other hand holding where the balloon is attached to the  faucet.

4: When the balloon is at your desired size (we made ours about the size as a large grapefruit), detach from the faucet an tie  shut (like a water balloon). Repeat with different colors as desired.

5: Bring the balloon outside and leave overnight.  If possible, do not leave in the snow (we put ours on the porch). If you do put them in the snow, make sure you turn them over sometime in the night as the snow makes a blanketing affect and half of your balloon may not freeze.

6: After the balloons are frozen, take off the the balloon from the ice. After an initial cut the r rubber, it should peel easily

and then, Voila!

Beautiful colored ball of ice! You can make a rainbow!

And the cold weather is suddenly a lot more fun...

*special thanks to Anna Alter for the idea