auntie yang’s great soybean picnic

Get in line and fill up your plates! Join the picnic!

How I love love love this picture book, let me count the ways. It was actually love at first sight. I squealed when I first saw the title. “Auntie Yang?!”

Well, I just happen to have six Auntie Yangs and many fond memories of eating boiled soybeans just like the characters in the story. We had some lovely family picnics as well, though most of them were at the beach rather than in a relative’s back yard in the Midwest.

Just released in April, Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic (Lee & Low, 2012) was inspired by sisters Ginnie and Beth Lo’s childhood memories of their Auntie Yang who lived in Illinois.

As narrator Jinyi tells it, she, her little sister Pei and their parents often visited Auntie and Uncle Yang and their cousins, who lived a long car drive away. Both sets of parents had left China to study at American universities. They abandoned plans to return to their home country when the war made it too dangerous. So they stayed in Illinois and Indiana, raising their families in an area with very few Chinese Americans. All the more reason to stay close and visit each other as often as possible, so that the four cousins could grow up “as close as four soybeans in a soybean pod.”

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soup of the day: the great wall of lucy wu by wendy wan-long shang!

“When we sat down to dinner, even I had to admit that Yi Po’s dumplings were something special. Better than the dumplings Mom bought at the store, better than the ones at Panda Café. There were lots of different flavors in the filling — a little ginger, a little garlic, some sesame oil — and they all stood out and blended together in turns. Every bite left me wanting more.” ~ Wendy Wan-Long Shang, The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

Dribble, dribble, pass, shoot . . . SCORE!!

*the crowd roars and chants*

“Wen-dy, Wen-dy, Wen-dy, Wen-dy!”

It’s our very first Soup of the Day celebration this year, and we can’t stop cheering for Virginia author Wendy Wan-Long Shang! Her debut middle grade novel, The Great Wall of Lucy Wu (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011) has officially hit the streets!! 

You know how excited I get about first books. Well, my normal level of enthusiasm is ramped up to the nines for this tender, funny, poignant and indescribably delicious story. Love love love it! *smacks lips*

Eleven-year-old Lucy Wu is looking forward to having a perfect year: she and her fellow six graders will rule the school, she’s going to try out for captain of the basketball team, and her “Miss Perfect” sister Regina is going off to college, so she’ll have their room all to herself. Lucy can’t wait to start decorating! But her all great plans begin to crumble when she learns her long-lost great-aunt Yi Po will be visiting from Shanghai and staying in her room — not for a week or two, but for several months!

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Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story by Paula Yoo

pictures by Lin Wang (Lee & Low, 2009). Ages 9-12, 32 pp.

Look what’s being released this Saturday, May 30th!!

I’ve been anxious to read this picture book biography of Chinese American actress, Anna May Wong, ever since I first heard about it in Tarie’s interview with author Paula Yoo at Into the Wardrobe. When I told the nice folks at Lee & Low that I wanted to review it during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, they sent me a review copy lickety split.

Growing up, I had heard my parents and relatives mention Anna May Wong, and I may have even seen some of her movies. But I never knew much about the details of her life and the struggles she had to overcome as the first Chinese American actress, and the first internationally acclaimed Asian American actress.

Paula Yoo has written a fascinating, inspiring, thoroughly engaging account of Anna’s life, beginning with her childhood in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, to her return to Hollywood in the 1930’s after visiting China, when she vowed never to “play again in a film which shows the Chinese in an unsympathetic light.”

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soup of the day: the great call of china by cynthea liu

It is written: On Thursday, February 19, 2009, a cleverly composed young adult novel called The Great Call of China will be set free into the world.

It is also written: Author of cleverly composed novel is none other than Live Journal’s very own Snoop Cynthea Liu! There will be countless blog celebrations today all over the internet for this long awaited, momentous event — so what are you waiting for? 

Twirl your chopsticks and do your happy panda dance in honor of Cynthea!! Woo Hoo!!

    THE GREAT CALL OF CHINA by Cynthea Liu,
     (Puffin, 2009), Ages 12+, 224 pp.

The Great Call of China was written especially for Puffin/Speak’s Students Across the Seven Seas series (S.A.S.S.). It’s about an adopted 16-year-old Chinese girl, Cece Charles, who travels to China via the S.A.S.S. program. She’s excited about the chance to indulge in her passion, anthropology, explore her roots, and have some fun, but when she finally arrives in Xi’an, she receives quite a culture shock. 

To make matters worse, finding out more about her birth parents only increases her apprehension. Will the cute guy she met on the plane, who’s also in the program, be able to help smooth out the bumps in the road? The Great Call promises to be a captivating look at coming to terms with one’s cultural identity, as Cece connects with her past and develops a new appreciation for her adoptive parents.

Cynthea, author of the highly acclaimed, Writing for Children and Teens: A Crash Course (Pivotal Publishing, 2008), and founder of AuthorsNow!, is pulling out all the stops in celebration of her first published young adult novel. She’s written a series of articles, called, BEHIND THE BOOK: Writing for Children’s or Teen Book Series (all installments can be found at the Writing for Children and Teens website), and from now until December 18th, Cynthea is waiving honorariums for school visits (and travel fees!) in the Chicago, Dallas and Tulsa areas. Plus, everyone is invited to the official release party at Cynthea’s website!

Beloved by her fellow writers for her unfailing generosity and kindness, many of them are blogging about Cynthea’s book today, and Tara Lazar is hosting a special release party for writers at her blog, Writing for Children (While Raising Them), which includes great giveaways and an exclusive interview with Cynthea! The only possible downside in all this revelry is that a certain brown rabbit might eat your manuscript (stock up on carrots).

Snoop says: Big deal. Cynthea would be nowhere without me.

So, are you ready to slurp your congratulations to Cynthea? The official alphabet soup kitchen helpers and I had planned to serve a traditional egg drop soup, to help us get into the "travel abroad to China" frame of mind. But, we changed our recipe, under heavy whiskered duress, just to please a certain patron named Snoop, who claims to have played a major role in the completion of Cynthea’s book.

Who are we to question such a hare-brained claim? We hope you find our offering adequate, so much so, that you will be compelled to hop on over to your local indie or fave online bookseller, and snatch up a copy of The Great Call of China, pronto.

Today’s Special: Cream of Carrot (with touches of ginger, essence of cashew,
and whole wheat bunny crackers). Guaranteed to put a hop in your step!

For more about Cynthea’s books, visit her website and Live Journal blog.

For extremely helpful, comprehensive information about writing, check out her Writing for Children and Teens website.

    Pay no attention to that rabbit. I wrote the book!

To visit the Soup of the Day gallery, click here!

*Panda photo by Modii.