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#CelebrateLU- April 22, 2016 / National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature: Part 5

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

This week I’m celebrating Gene Luen Yang.

Last night, Multnomah County Library invite Gene Yang to speak. And it was an great talk, full of inspiration. I was so excited, I can barely recall what was said. But his presentation “Asian American in Comics” was funny and insightful. He also answered lots of questions and I’m glad there were many kids who got to meet him. Gene Yang was definitely encouraging of following one’s passion no matter how old or young!

Some of the highlights for me were seeing so many familiar and excited faces in the audience, learning he has at least two more volumes of The Shadow Hero in mind, and that I got to meet him and get my picture taken with him. I was really starstruck. I’m not even sure I was coherent around him.

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“The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature raises national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.”
-from the website

National_Ambassador_for_Young_People's_Literature_-_logo

Last year, one of my reading challenges was to read some of the works by the National Ambassadors for Young People. I’ve talked about Jon Scieszka, Kate DiCamillo, Walter Dean Myers, and Katherine Paterson.

The most recent inductee is Gene Luen Yang, which I couldn’t be more excite about since he’s my favorite graphic novelist! His platform is Reading Without Walls encouraging and challenging readers to read books “with someone on the cover who doesn’t look like you or live like you,” “about a topic that you find intimidating,” and “in a format that you’ve never tried before.” Check his blog for more details.

American Born ChineseAmerican Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I remember reading this for a friend’s graphic novel book club. I enjoyed the alternating storylines and how they eventually weaved together. The Monkey King folk tale particularly caught my interest. But what made me such a fan of this and Gene Luen Yang in general was I felt I finally found myself in a book. (Admittedly, I’m from the Philippines but close enough!)
View all my reviews

Animal Crackers: A Gene Luen Yang CollectionAnimal Crackers: A Gene Luen Yang Collection by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Two of Gene Luen Yang’s earliest works are finally available for his newest fans like me. It’s great to see how his works have evolved and which themes (culture, identity- and aliens!) still continue to drive his work.
View all my reviews

Boxers & SaintsBoxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My Picks of the Week! Wow! I’m always excited when Gene Luen Yang has a new book out and I was doubly so when I learned of this two-volume set! This didn’t disappoint even though, admittedly, I was worried it was going to be heavy on the history stuff. But he still managed to incorporate his magical realism. Boxers & Saints tells the story of Little Bao and Four-Girl, two young people from opposing sides of China’s Boxer Rebellion. Each volume presents their respective perspective. Original and innovative, Yang has a gift for storytelling!
View all my reviews

The Eternal Smile: Three StoriesThe Eternal Smile: Three Stories by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Eternal Smile is a collection of three stories covering different subjects and even genres. And because each story’s illustration style varies as well, I should give credit to Derek Kirk Kim.

“Duncan’s Kingdom” is fantasy in all its forms and meaning. The twist was kind of too afterschool special for me. “Gran’pa Greenbox and the Eternal Smile” is a take on Saturday morning cartoons/animation. Think Scrooge McDuck. This was actually kind of deep even with its intended over the top quality. The best was truly served for last. “Urgent Request” was my favorite in terms of story and illustrations. I like the very modern topic mixed with the almost retro-style drawings.

View all my reviews

Level UpLevel Up by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Gene Luen Yang continues to be someone I look forward to reading. Level Up is his latest book and once again tackles the issue of growing up as Asian American- even though I think everyone can relate to it.

There’s a seriousness in his books mixed with off-beat humor that I like. In this instance, he takes on having to live with what you want to do in life as opposed to your parents’ (or society’s) expectations while incorporating gaming and four “guardian angels.”

After finishing this, I immediately set off to find more of his work.

View all my reviews

Prime BabyPrime Baby by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a reread since I couldn’t remember what it was about. But this was so delightful. I loved the humor in this one of an older brother not fond at all of his baby sister. Naturally, he comes to the conclusion she’s an alien. A twisted idea forms in his mind to expose her, to save the world, and to grow some facial hair.
View all my reviews

Secret Coders (Secret Coders, #1)Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What a fun new graphic novel series about computer programming! Gene Luen Yang has written a smart adventure mystery series featuring a multicultural cast, a haunted house/school, and turtle robots. I love that readers have opportunities to use what they’ve learned especially on that cliffhanger ending!

Can’t wait for the next book! Check out the website for more information: http://www.secret-coders.com/
View all my reviews

The Shadow HeroThe Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My first book of 2015 is The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang.

Gene Luen Yang is probably my favorite graphic novelist out there. I won a signed copy of The Shadow Hero last year and made it a point to finally read it.

And, it did not disappoint. A part of me is wary about superhero comics and another part tends to avoid stories with any historical context so I was kind of hesitant to read a re-imagining of the first Asian American superhero. But Yang is such a masterful storyteller. I was hooked right from the start and I wanted more by the end!

This origin story finds a nineteen-year-old grocer’s son donning some questionable costumes after his mom wants to turn him into a superhero. What starts of as (not so) fun and (physically painful) games turns into a revenge story against a crime empire in the depths of Chinatown.

I loved the humor which was the biggest surprise- that with all the action, I would be laughing so much!

If the first book I read in 2015 is any indicator of how good my reading year ahead will be, then I say, “Game On!”
View all my reviews

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The PromiseAvatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I definitely felt like I was going into this in media res. It took me awhile to get into it- who the characters were, where their alliances lay, and even the flow of the story. I’m interested in what happens next so I will definitely read on but it’s not as gripping as I thought it would be.
View all my reviews

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The SearchAvatar: The Last Airbender – The Search by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the series I wanted to get into. The first trilogy I read wasn’t as addicting as I hoped. But, now, knowing the characters, I actually cared about the story. With a mysterious mother’s past playing a huge role and brother and sister relationships taking center stage, I was hooked. Lots of action to keep readers turning the pages.
View all my reviews

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The RiftAvatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’m officially hooked on this series! Building on the existing relationships and past storylines, we follow Aang and his friends as they battle outside forces and within their group. Lots of surprises and great messages about preserving past traditions and present day concerns as well as environmental impact without it being too preachy. I’m glad I wait until I have the books all at once because I just end up devouring the whole series. I even want to check out the animated series.
View all my reviews

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and ShadowAvatar: The Last Airbender – Smoke and Shadow by Gene Luen Yang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Another riveting installment in the Avatar: The Last Airbender. What’s great after having read the series this far is that you get invested in their stories and their histories. I love how messed up everyone’s family seems to be.

The only downside was that it’s become rather formulaic. I feel like there needs to be a major shake up coming soon.
View all my reviews

Gene Luen Yang also contributed to some recent comic anthologies.

In Nursery Rhyme Comics, he offers an intergalactic take on “Pat a Cake.” In Comics Squad: Recess, kids will enjoy reading shorter adventures of their favorite characters and meeting new ones. My favorite was definitely Gene Luen Yang’s “Super Secret Ninja Club!”

I also decided to read his lesser known contributions to anthologies.

In Open Mic, he shares how he got involved with Avatar: The Last Airbender. In Strange Tales II, he does a goofy send-up to Marvel Comics’ superheroes. In Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology, Gene Luen Yang contributes a story in the Sidekicks chapter about race and justice. A companion to Secret Identities, Shattered features The Green Turtle as a series of comic strips. Read more of this hero in The Shadow Hero. Up All Night features The Monkey King. Read more of this character in American Born Chinese.

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2016 #117

nfpb2016

Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable EventOut of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event by Rebecca Bond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’d been meaning to read this since lots of nfpb-ers have raved about it. First of all, I was quite taken in by the illustrations. Definitely a beautiful book. And the story is fascinating, told down from one generation to another. You can almost feel the magic (specialness) of the moment.
View all my reviews

As Good as AnybodyAs Good as Anybody by Richard Michelson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There have been lots of picture books about Martin Luther King, Jr. and I enjoyed this one because it featured another important person who fought for human rights. They lead different lives but marched together to battle injustice for all. I love Raul Colon’s illustrations.
View all my reviews

 

(192) #IMWAYR- April 24, 2016

This week, I posted:

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge Wednesday– Read my reviews for:

Celebrate This Week– This week, I’m celebrating my writing.

Review Notes
I’ve decided not to post reviews for books I didn’t particular care for (unless I feel strongly against it.) If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Plus as an aspiring published writer myself, I know how much work one puts into a story so I naturally have great respect towards writers and illustrators and everyone else responsible for that creation.

***= Recommended
****= Highly Recommended
*****= Favorite

The Great JourneyThe Great Journey by Agathe Demois
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I usually don’t like gimmick books but I liked this one. We follow a migrating bird and readers can use the magic viewfinder included with this picture book to discover what else is hidden in the illustrations. Readers will be surprised at what they find!
View all my reviews

Knock! Knock!Knock! Knock! by Kaori Takahashi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
You haven’t read a book like this before. A little girl searches for her missing bear by knocking door to door in her apartment building. Readers will delight in how the story unfolds. This may be a better reading experience for kids ages 5 and up since even I took a moment to figure out how to read this book.
View all my reviews

Cookies: Bite-Size Life LessonsCookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Readers will enjoy these life lessons as much as they enjoy eating cookies! Fun way to learn vocabulary!
View all my reviews

Teachers Rock!Teachers Rock! by Todd Parr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I think this is my first Todd Parr book and I’m glad it celebrates the awesomeness of teachers. His style is definitely not for everyone but lots of people love it. The dustjacket folds out into a poster.
View all my reviews

Lizbeth Lou Got a Rock in Her ShoeLizbeth Lou Got a Rock in Her Shoe by Troy Howell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The cut-paper illustrations alone will be enough to grab the reader’s attention. This circular tale will delight readers as they follow the journey of a thrown rock.
View all my reviews

The Wild RobotThe Wild Robot by Peter Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This has been one of my favorite titles to recommend at the store. First I let customers know it’s by Peter Brown who they usually know from his picture books and they’re surprised he’s written a middle grade novel.

Then I tell them it’s about a female robot who gets stranded in an island and tries to fit in with the animals. She becomes the mother to a gosling. It’s like Hatchet but not as intense.

There are pages of his beautiful signature illustrations.
View all my reviews

Rutabaga the Adventure Chef: Book 1Rutabaga the Adventure Chef: Book 1 by Eric Colossal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Fun cute graphic novel series. Cute illustrations. A nice blend of adventure, humor, and cooking- and includes recipes.
View all my reviews

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant (Delilah Dirk, #1)Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This series would be great to recommend to adventure seekers especially featuring a firecracker female character and her unlikely friendship/partnership with a mild tea-loving lieutenant.
View all my reviews

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

If you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Have a great reading week!

 

#CelebrateLU- April 22, 2016

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

This week I’m celebrating my writing.

I’d been going through my old notebooks since moving to Portland back in 2008 and transferring story ideas into a binder for an easier way to organize them. I’d like to say I’m 95% complete with that project. I loved revisiting ideas I may have forgotten about. It was also interesting how often certain ideas have come up or to see how they’ve changed throughout the years. It’s a great sign when you’re excited about something. The downsides have been my penmanship were barely legible in some or that I was too vague with the ideas. I definitely wanted more details for some.

I had helpful talks with fellow writers recently as well. And they’ve encouraged me to send out my picture book manuscript. I hope it finds its way into the right hands because I can’t wait for others to read my story. Until then, I will continue writing and look for an agent.

It was also my birthday this past Wednesday. My heart and life just feel full of love. I appreciated all the birthday wishes and the gifts and the treats. I’m a lucky guy to have the people in my life and to be able to do the things I love.

What are you celebrating this week?

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2016 #116

nfpb2016

Anything But Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of MagicAnything But Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic by Mara Rockliff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From the creative team of Mesmerized, they introduce the first Queen of Magic. I love reading about not so well-known people and being glad their story is finally being told. The back matter tells how Adelaide Herrmann’s biography gets conjured up!
View all my reviews

Hedge-Hedgey-HedgehogsHedge-Hedgey-Hedgehogs by Bonnie Bader
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
CUTE! You’ll have a hard time not picking this book up! Introduces hedgehog pet care instructions!
View all my reviews

 

#IMWAYR- April 17, 2016

This week, I posted:

New Releases: April 12, 2016– Read my reviews for:


Happy 100th Beverly Cleary!
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge Wednesday– Read my reviews for:

Everybody Needs a RockEverybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A customer insisted I read this book when she ended up buying Byrd Baylor books and it’s now a book I can see myself recommending to others. Ten rules of finding the perfect rock. Great illustrations. Beautiful simplicity.
View all my reviews

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a NeighborhoodMaybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Based on a true story. I loved how art helped bring a community together. I see this around in Portland (Oregon) and I’m definitely going to be recommending this to lots of our customers!
View all my reviews

Good Night OwlGood Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
While I didn’t really like the book and absolutely didn’t like the mouse character, I can see how this would be a fun read aloud for kids with its refrain and silly manic illustrations.
View all my reviews

Twenty YawnsTwenty Yawns by Jane Smiley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Super cute illustrations. I just didn’t care about the second half of the story.
View all my reviews

Grandad's IslandGrandad’s Island by Benji Davies
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A tender tale of a boy and his grandfather and an adventure they take together that changes everything.
View all my reviews

Space Case (Moon Base Alpha #1)Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It’s a murder mystery set in outer space, y’all!

This is a perfect read for ages 9 and up because there’s lots of danger and intrigue. Right off the bat, readers will enjoy the voice of our main character and how he finds himself involved with a crime that everyone else seems to not be acknowledging. The ending leaves lots to think about. Luckily there’s a sequel already!
View all my reviews

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being CreativeSteal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Some insights that stuck with me:
-Read bibliographies. It’s not the book you start with; it’s the book that leads you to.
-Write what you like.
-The manifesto is this: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use- do the work you want to see done.
-Keep all your passions in your life.
-Keep a log book.

There was another passage that I wrote down but I couldn’t read my note. It started with, “Study everything there is to know about them.” And I guess it goes off to say to then find three people they admire and find out all there is know about them.

This quick read is great to have for instant motivations.
View all my reviews

Rating Scale
*= It was OK
**= Liked it
***= Recommended
****= Highly Recommended
*****= Favorite

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

If you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Have a great reading week!

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2016 #115

nfpb2016

The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith HoughtonThe Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton by Audrey Vernick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What a completely engaging story! Edith Houghton seemed to such a powerhouse both on and off the field. I’m glad her story was told and that she’s getting recognition.
View all my reviews

Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children Around the WorldDear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children Around the World by Pope Francis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a collection of letters kids wrote to the Pope. I’m not of any particular religion but I did grow up Catholic so some of the answers were odd to me.

One of my favorite responses was when asked what God was doing “before the world was made” the Pope answered, “God was loving. God loved. God always loves. God IS love.” Answers about sins and prayers. Sometimes it takes a child’s innocence to know things.
View all my reviews

 
 
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