[Chat + Giveaway] Aram Kim on Tomorrow is New Year’s Day

Today we’re welcoming back NYC-based author, illustrator, book designer and art director Aram Kim to talk about her brand new picture book, Tomorrow is New Year’s Day: Seollal, a Korean Celebration of the Lunar New Year (FSG, 2022).

This year, Lunar New Year falls on Sunday, January 22. While many of us may think of Lunar New Year as Chinese New Year, there are actually other Asian communities (including Vietnamese and South Korean) who also observe this important holiday at the same time, each with their own set of traditions.

I was especially happy to see Tomorrow is New Year’s Day because I don’t know of any other picture books about Korean Lunar New Year. Aram has created a much needed, charmingly illustrated, truly delightful story centered around family, togetherness, and the joy of celebrating age-old cultural traditions.

Since it’s her favorite day of the year, Mina is excited to share the customs of Seollal with all her classmates. Dressed in traditional clothes (hanbok), she shows them how to play games, do sebae (a special bow to respect elders), and how to make tteokguk (rice cake soup). She’s proud to have both parents there to help, but her little brother Miro is in a bad mood. Will he spoil her special day?

I love Aram’s colorful, emotive illustrations. You can just feel the happiness and excitement of Mina’s classmates (as well as Miro’s obstinance), and there are lots of interesting details for eager eyes to discover in each picture.

She varies single and double page spreads (some with speech bubbles) with step-by-step action sequences, displaying a masterful use of scale and cool perspectives (check out the yutnori board game illo). There’s also an illustrated recipe! Dare I say, I find her art absolutely adorable (Cat on the Bus fans have surprises in store too). 

Let’s find out more from Aram, who was born in Ohio, grew up in South Korea, then later returned to the U.S. to study art and work in children’s book publishing. 

Saehae bok mani badeuseyo! Happy New Year!

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a fresh look at Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost

Let’s take a peek at the first two titles in the new Illustrated Poets Collection just released in August by Bushel & Peck Books.

Both The Illustrated Emily Dickinson and The Illustrated Robert Frost were edited by poet and educator Ryan G. Van Cleave, Creative Writing Coordinator at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida.

They each contain “25 Essential Poems” paired with David Miles’s gorgeous full color collages (he had me at those beautiful eye-catching covers). 🙂

~ from The Illustrated Robert Frost

In his welcoming series introduction, Van Cleave offers friendly suggestions for making the most of the books. He encourages readers to simply “enjoy the poems” rather than puzzle over the poet’s intentions or dwell on other people’s interpretations.

Next, it’s good to engage with the poems by asking questions such as:

  • What do you notice about this poem?
  • How does this poem make you feel?
  • What else have you read/seen/experienced that connects with this poem?

Finally, it’s important to “be your own boss” – read the poems in order or jump around as one sees fit. Share them with others or savor them by yourself. Read them aloud or “whisper their words in your heart.”

~ from The Illustrated Robert Frost

Ultimately, “there is NO wrong way to experience a poem.” This reminds me of Lee Bennett Hopkins saying that a poem is meant to be experienced rather than analyzed, and I think this goes a long way in making poetry less intimidating for the average reader.

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(the buzz about) A is for Bee by Ellen Heck

#62 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.

Just when you think you know the alphabet, along comes a fun and inventive animal abecedarian that shows you what you’ve been missing. 

Set aside the predictable ‘A is for Alligator’ and ‘Z is for Zebra’ books. In Ellen Heck’s A is for Bee: An Alphabet Book in Translation (Levine Querido, 2022), we learn what 26 familiar animals are called around the world.

We speak to each other in many languages, and in some of them . . . A is for Bee.

Although the word bee begins with ‘B’ in English, in some other languages, it actually begins with ‘A’: Aamoo (Ojibwe), Abelha (Portuguese).

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[review] Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story by Danielle Greendeer, Anthony Perry, Alexis Bunten and Garry Meeches Sr.

Did you know that while most Americans celebrate the fourth Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving, many Native Americans consider it a day of mourning?

The Wampanoag had inhabited Southeastern Massachusetts for thousands of years before the Mayflower Pilgrims arrived in 1620. This illuminating new picture book tells the story of the first Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective.

We first hear a conversation between a contemporary Wampanoag grandmother, N8hkumuhs (NOO-kuh-mus), and her grandchildren Maple and Quill. They are curious to learn how Weeâchumun, the Guardian Spirit of Corn, asked their ancestors to help the Pilgrims. 

“The first Thanksgiving?” Maple asked.

“Some people call it that,” N8hkumuhs said. “We call it Keepunumuk, the time of harvest. Here’s what really happened.”

Weeâchumun grew concerned when a large boat with white sails approached the shore one fall day. Who were these new people? Could she trust them? It had been two winters since many of the First Peoples who had cared for her had passed on to the Spirit World. Would this winter be her last? She called upon Fox to keep an eye on the newcomers.

As fall turned to winter, Fox watched the newcomers travel inland, enter the forest, and build homes on top of an empty village. Though they diligently searched for food, it was never enough, and many died from cold, starvation and disease. Unlike the others who’d come to hunt, fish, and trade years before, these newcomers seemed different: they were here to stay.

When spring arrived, Weeâchumun and her two sisters, Beans and Squash, awoke from their winter slumber. They pushed through the ground and reached for the sky as the sun warmed the earth.

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[beachy review] My Poet by Patricia MacLachlan and Jen Hill

“I have great respect for children. And I have great respect for their ability as writers.” ~ Patricia MacLachlan

“Words have not only a definition… but also the felt quality of their own kind of sound.” ~ Mary Oliver

Where do poets find their words?

Young Lucy learns the answer to this question in My Poet, a luminous new picture book by late Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan and illustrator Jen Hill (Katherine Tegen Books, 2022).

One summer day, Lucy and the poet next door – whom she calls “my poet” – explore their seaside town with a shared goal: to find words. Lucy, an aspiring poet, takes along her notebook and pen.

Together, they visit the farmers market, stroll along the beach with the poet’s dogs, meander through the woods by the marsh, and take refuge in a boathouse during a thunderstorm.

Throughout the day, Lucy notes that her poet sees objects differently, describing them in novel ways. A strawberry is a jewel. A stone has a story. Lucy wonders how her poet hears the words she writes about her dogs. 

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