[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!

*

Continue reading

Sarah van Dongen’s Cozy World

Yum! It looks like somebody’s been very busy in the kitchen. Cakes piled up everywhere! And they’ve been at it for awhile –see the curly red-haired girl on the table who’s resting on the pink cake?

Maybe I should volunteer to help them eat some of their creations. Surely they could spare a cupcake or two. 🙂

Amsterdam-based illustrator Sarah van Dongen.
Continue reading

[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.

Continue reading

[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. 

Continue reading

[ribbeting review] A Spoonful of Frogs by Casey Lyall and Vera Brosgol

Ah, soup season! 

You know, nothing hits the spot like a tasty bowl of Frog Soup. Made fresh. By a witch.

Welcome to the Bewitching Kitchen cooking show, where our pointy-hatted host will teach you how to make this easy and healthy dish at home.

We first learn that Frog Soup is the witch’s favorite treat. The model of sweetness and light, she joyfully takes us step by step through the recipe. After placing her cauldron on the fire, she adds salt, pepper, 22 (!) cloves of garlic, six potatoes and three carrots. Mustn’t forget a cup of fly extract.

Finally, the most important ingredient of all: a spoonful of frogs – to add “a kick of flavor and a pop of color.”

Well, easier said than done. She gently tries to “place the frogs on the spoon.” Seems they have other ideas – frogs, after all, like to leap, jump and hop. She tries to grab, get, find, scoop, chase, and trap them in a pot.

Continue reading