Jun 30, 2012

May-June Reading Roundup

I totally forgot to post last month's roundup so this is a big one. Probably not of any interest whatsoever but I like to see what I've been up to anyway.

We did okay on this challenge these two months. I only skived 3 days when I was too sick with strep throat to talk. That makes 48/61 days on my read aloud challenge this month, which means I gave $15 to Kiva! I loaned to a group of women selling Guiness and other drinks in Ghana.

Today is the last day of the Canadian Book Challenge #5. I read 10 books over May and June by Canadians (8 of which were picture books), which brings my year total to 48!

This was my first time participating in this challenge. I am so glad I did it. It definitely changed my reading habits. I had no idea there were so many amazing books in so many genres. Most of the books I read were picture books, and at first that felt like cheating. But I don't feel that way now. Some of the absolute best books coming out of Canada are picture books, and I am extremely glad I moved beyond Robert Munsch. Not just for my kids, but for me. I would put Virginia Wolf and its writing and themes up against any other Canadian book and it could hold its own.

I left only two books unread in this challenge this year. One is Colony of Unrequited Dreams, which I am in the middle of, but it's long! The other is Ashes, Ashes, the only audiobook I tried. I started that last August. I need to finished those.

Good thing I'll have another chance, as I am going to be participating in The Canadian Book Challenge 6! That starts tomorrow. Want to sign up? Head over to The Book Mine Set!

Next is the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2012. In total so far I have read 14/20 books marked off already, with 6 new (Space, Slither, Slide, What's Outside, The Everything Kids' Soccer Book, Plant a Seed, Swirl by Swirl, Loon) in May and June. I hosted Nonfiction Monday here at Perogies & Gyoza on May 28th, and it was great fun! My next hosting date will be July 23! Please mark your calendars and get a nonfiction children's book ready to share!

Yet again I read nothing for the Reading the World Challenge this month. That will change in July.

Trying hard to keep on track for the Read to Me Picture Book Challenge!
This month we read Millie's Marvellous Hat, Larf, Grandpa Green, Franklin Rides a Bike, Aoki, Fancy Nancy's Marvelous Mother's Day Brunch, Because Your Mommy Loves You, The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids, Let's Play Soccer, Goal!, Soccer Game, Pinkalicious Soccer Star, Soccer Sam, The French Fry King, Plant a Kiss, The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish, Space, Slither, Slide, What's Outside, The Everything Kids' Soccer Book, Plant a Seed, Swirl by Swirl, Loon, and Hey Canada! to make 64/120, 23 over the last two months. At least I am up-to-date on something!

Of course, summer vacation for my kids starts in the 4th week of July. We will only have the Obon holidays off, but I hope that their after-school care will let me send Spinky with some homework (aka reading books!).

Jun 28, 2012

Canada Day Blog Hop (International Giveaway!)

Sunday, July 1st, is Canada Day! It's my country's 145th birthday!

Since I live in Japan it's a little hard to celebrate sometimes. No firework displays or big neighbourhood parties around here! It's a DIY holiday. But I think it's important for my kids to celebrate it, so we have a little BBQ every year. Nothing like saying happy birthday to my country by chowing down on a bunch of meat (the best is Alberta Beef, of course!), eh.

I want to celebrate it here on the blog too. As my regular readers know, I have a thing for Canlit, especially Cankidlit. Yes, that means picture books. I love to share. So I want to share the best Canadian books I have read so far in 2012 with you.

Through the Canada Day Blog Hop I am hosting an international giveaway. Please choose one of the following books that you would like to read, enter the Rafflecopter below, and one winner will get their choice delivered straight to their home!

My favourite three reads by Canucks so far in 2012 are:

Virginia Wolf, by Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault

Stray Love, by Kyo Maclear

Larf, by Ashley Spires

Two picture books and a novel, the best of modern Canlit. -which of these would you choose? Enter below! Please do not post your email address or other personal information in the comments, Rafflecopter takes care of all of that!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hop on over to every one of the Canada Day Blog Hop participants! Each of these blogs is hosting a giveaway to celebrate our country's birthday. The next person after me on the Blog Hop is Anna at Dolce Pazzia!

Jun 27, 2012

What are you reading? Wednesday

Hello book-lovers! What have you got open this week?

Like last week, I am still reading Clash of Kings. That tome is loooong. So much action though, it seems weird that we have covered so little time in so many pages.

I've been ill for a while and lost my voice so Spinky has been handling the reading. He has been reading a book a day from the Curious George phonics book set.  He's been really helpful. So far they both like Fun, Fun, Fun best, because it is about juggling.

I hope you are getting more done in the literary realm this week than I have! Let me know what is catching your fancy.

PS. Come back tomorrow for a Canada Day themed giveaway!

Jun 26, 2012

Hey Canada! Blog Tour and Interview with the Author

Welcome to the Hey Canada! blog tour as it stops off in Japan! I wonder if we are the farthest stop on the blog tour away from Canada?

Check out all the other participants on the Hey Canada! blog tour on Tundra Books' blog!

Hey Canada! is a fantastic resource for kids, written by Vivien Bowers and illustrated by Milan Pavlovic, and published by Tundra Books. When I say resource I know that some of your eyes are glazing over, but I can tell you, that doesn't mean boring! Gran takes her grandkids, Alice and Cal, and their hamster on a cross-country tour. Cal and Alice find out a lot about Canada and share that with us through comics, tweets, and even hamster updates! It's enjoyable to visit the Biodome and the Ogopogo with this offbeat family!

I'm sure that the main audience for this book is Canadian kids in Canada, but for my Canadian kids outside of Canada it is fantastic as it got them excited to go to Canada and find all these cool places! So important for us. It's a really good introduction to the vastness and diversity of my home country. I think this would be a perfect book for kids and teens who are going to Canada for a homestay or  a school trip. I hope this is in Canadian embassy libraries and waiting rooms around the world.

I was very lucky to interview author Viven Bowers for my stop on the blog tour. Read on!

What inspired you to write a fictional book about Canadian geography for kids, rather than nonfiction?
Interesting question, because Hey Canada! is still considered a 'non-fiction' book, even though the facts and information are presented through a fictional story.  It's similar to other non-fiction books such as the "Magic Schoolbus" series for kids. I agree, though - the line between fiction and non-fiction is rather blurred. I use the fictional story to reel in the kids. They want to know what Cal will tweet next, or whether the escaping hamster will be found. Also, when I include fictional characters, I can have them respond to things they see or do just like real could would, such as Cal knowing the names of the dinosaurs, or Alice being confused between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. My fictional kids ask the questions that real readers might have.  

Have you been to all of the provinces and territories in your book?

Yes, I visited them all while researching a previous book called Wow Canada! And now, I'm often invited to do school and library author tours in different parts of the country (I was in Manitoba in May for a TD Children's Book Week Tour) so that's another opportunity to get acquainted with the country. But here's an admission - I have never been to Iqaluit on Baffin Island. I was in Cambridge Bay, so I can say that I've visited Nunavut, but I haven't been anywhere in Nunavut other than Cambridge Bay.

If you could choose only one of these places to write an extended fictional book spin-off (Gran, Cal, and Alice rent a cottage in _____ for the summer!) where would you choose?

How about Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands)? I think it has lots of potential for good plot lines - wild storms and crashing waves, shipwrecked boats, whales, bear encounters and soaring eagles, kayak trips, Haida culture and ancient forests... I've spent a couple of weeks there each summer for the past few years, and it always seems dramatically misty and mysterious. The only drawback is that the water is darned cold for swimming.

If you were to suggest a short itinerary to a kid visiting Canada from abroad, what 3 experiences and what 3 foods would you suggest?

Well, it has to include dinosaurs, so we'll start with the Tyrrel Museum at Drumheller and a dig at Dinosaur Provincial Park. And we have to go to the Rockies, to see wildlife and maybe tromp about on a real glacier. Kids love poking about on beaches, so we could fly to a spot on the west coast where there are lots of sea stars, anemones, and other marine intertidal critters. Or a long sandy beach with breakers crashing in.  As for food: smoked salmon on the west coast, wild huckleberries growing high in the mountains of BC or Alberta, and pancakes with maple syrup from Quebec. 

Do hamsters really travel that well?
We traveled with a hamster one summer holiday when I was a kid, and it escaped, so that's where I got the idea for bringing along the hamster in the book. Also, when I ask kids in Grade 3 what they like to read about, they always mention animals. I suspect that, really, hamsters are better left at home with a neighbour.

Where is your dream travel destination?
Someplace wild and scenic. At the time this posting appears, in fact, I'll be camping and canoeing through remote islands off the west coast of BC. If it's sunny and not too windy, it'll be a dream vacation. If the weather is miserable, it will be awful. I also wouldn't mind drinking wine and eating local cheese in a small village in the mountains of northern Italy, bathed in late afternoon light.

What was your favourite book as a kid? Has it influenced your writing?
I loved those series written by English authors such as Enid Blyton or Arthur Ransome, where the kids got involved in all sorts of outdoor adventures and usually parents were nowhere in sight. Not always great literature, but I gobbled them up. I'd love to try writing something similar with modern kids in a Canadian context. The biggest influences on my writing, though, were probably the Magic Schoolbus series and, especially, Bill Waterston's Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. My kids loved that mix of wit, cleverness, and slightly outrageous sarcasm – and so did I. We read them a LOT. Even though my two boys have now grown, I still write for the kids that they used to be.

Are you multilingual? If so, do you have any tips for parents like me on how not to stuff it up? 
(Feel free to ignore this, it's just my hot button issue as a bilingual book blogger!)
I wish I were multilingual, and admire anyone who can function well in a language other than their mother tongue, let alone blog! Even my French is absolutely pathetic. I'm not sure what you mean by "stuff it up," but I'm sure you don't do it, not at all. Your kids are blessed to have a multicultural heritage. 

Does Cal have a twitter account we can follow, or are his tweets exclusive to the book?
Yes, he does, follow him here.

Thanks so much for answering my questions! Now I want to go to Iqaluit and eat huckleberries!

Want a chance to win a copy of Hey Canada? Retweet one of Cal's factoids with the hashtag #heycanada. Couldn't be easier!

Jun 25, 2012


 Loon (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Susan Vande Griek

Illustrated by: Karen Reczuch

Published by: Groundwood Books

Published on: August 16, 2011

Ages: 3+

Living in Japan, timing things for the seasons has become more and more important to me. It probably starts for me with seasonal snacks, like strawberry-flavoured ice cream and kit kats in February and pumpkin-flavoured ones in September (and my favourite, caramel in the winter!) but also due to the flowers that come for so little time all year round, from the plum blossoms in January to rainy season's hydrangeas. I like to find books that are seasonal too, although sometimes the seasons are different in the west than in Japan, such as kite season, which is January in Japan but spring in Canada.

I had no idea that this book would be so perfect for the season. I originally ordered it after seeing that Loon won the Ruth and Sylvia Shwartz Children's Book Award. I thought it would be perfect for my kids who have fake loonies that they play with, to realize that there really are animals called loons which aren't around here.

When it arrived this week I was pleasantly surprised that this book starts the life cycle of the the baby loons right at this time in June! Plus, this is perfect timing as a Canada Day (July 1) book as my kids are much more interested in Canadian animals than Confederation. But the best is that it arrived right after it was announced that it was nominated for the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction, and is the only picture book to be so honoured!

The book itself is about the life cycle of loons in poem form. Two little grey loons are born in June and spend a few years on the ocean learning to swim, forage for food, and fly, before they molt and develop black & white feathers (and how disappointed were my children to realize loons weren't gold like the money!). As with most kids, my kids were interested in the predators, including big bass, turtles, and human boaters.

There is a great deal of additonal information in the back, about the loons themselves and environmental threats to the birds. This would be a great companion book to the Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea.

Reczuch's illustrations are gorgeous. The season of the sea is easily shown through her gorgeous renderings. The chicks are adorable and any of these would make gorgeous paintings to hang on a wall.

I reviewed this book for Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week by Capstone Connect.

This is the 46th book I have read for the 5th Canadian Book Challenge.

Jun 20, 2012

What are you reading? Wednesday

There's only 10 days left in the 5th Canadian Book Challenge. I am not sure if I should be trying to read more Canadian books to squeeze in under the wire or save them all up in case there is a Read-a-Thon like last year?

As you can see, I'm saving my books up! The 6th Canadian Book Challenge starts July 1 and just in case there is a readathon that weekend I want to make sure I have Canadian books on hand.

I just finished the Hathaway series by Lisa Kleypas. I needed some comfort over the last week and that's what historical romance is to me. Sure it's formulaic but there's witty discussion and everyone gets their HEA (happily ever after) and that's what I wanted. Nothing challenging, which is what I was in the mood for. Maybe the book equivalent of chicken pot pie!

Then I totally caved into peer pressure. My friend MissKettle is reading the Game of Thrones series, and I have only read the first book. So I started the second book in the series,  A Clash of Kings. It's great so far, but so long!

My son is still poring over The Everything Soccer Book. Lots of info in there for him!

Wee girl is into A Flock of Shoes. At least someone is reading Canadian now! It's as adorable as it looks on the cover.

What are you reading this week! Share!

Jun 18, 2012

Swirl by Swirl

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Joyce Sidman

Illustrated by: Beth Krommes

Published by: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Published on: October 4. 2011

Ages: 3+

Our house is covered in snails. We live next to a community garden, which is nice when it starts blooming, and also because at this time of year the wildlife is alive and well!

Spirals in the snails and their hair!

The rhythmic text of Swirl by Swirl takes us through spiral shapes in nature from the tiniest leaves and animals up to giant tornadoes and even the galaxy without going beyond a kindergartener's level of understanding. Sidman was a Newberry Honor winner last year and her talent shines through on each page of this picture book. The information is available, but never overwhelming, and the glossary in the back supplements the information provided for the child who wants more in-depth information about the concepts covered.

Caldecott-winning illustrator Beth Krommes does an amazing job of capturing the rich vibrant layers of nature, through her use of both texture and colour. These lush creations are not easily forgettable, as my kids bring them up on our walks even through bamboo forests.

It's hard to pick favourites in this book, all the spirals are interesting, but my daughter absolutely loves the curling elephant trunks.

I reviewed this book for Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week by Simply Science.

Jun 17, 2012

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Neil Gaiman

Illustrated by: Dave McKean

Published by: HarperTrophy

Published on: October 1, 1998

Ages: 4+

 Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there!

One of the books we read this year is not like the others! Others we read were Biscuit Loves Father's Day and Clifford's Day with Dad.

Then we opened up this book. The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish is a fascinating and slightly absurd read from the author of Coraline. You know you aren't getting a straightforward read when you open up something from Neil Gaiman, but no matter how normal it looks something fishy is going on. But in Neil Gaiman's world, it's actually quite sensible.

Both my kids and I can relate to how a parent, just being a parent, doing whatever it is they do, like playing video games or cooking dinner or writing a book blog or as in this case, read the newspaper, can anger a kid so much that they want to swap that parent for something infinitely more interesting.  Like a pair of goldfish. Or a gorilla mask.

This simple swap brings a brother and sister on a journey that chronicles friendship, parents in their own world, the barter economy, bitter ginger ale, and royalty, all without knocking this pair of siblings out of their stride.

Dave McKean has partnered with Gaiman for a number of books and other projects and this one is no exception to the quality we have come to expect. The mixed media lends itself well to the absurdity of this story, but the best part is the colours and the swirling overlays of the illustrations. It really makes it look like you could be the goldfish, looking out through his eyes and his bowl at the world.

This was a great nontraditional Father's Day read.

Jun 13, 2012

I Can Read Carnival for New Readers - June 2012

Welcome to the June version of the I Can Read Feast for New Readers! This is the first time Perogies & Gyoza is hosting this meme dedicated to emerging and developing readers, but I am a faithful reader of it every month.

Over three days (June 13-15) we will be talking about easy readers and short chapter books. Keep coming back for book reviews for easy reader, short and illustrated chapter books, as well as tips and ideas for nurturing the developing bookworms. If you have some of your own, please add a link to the comments or email me so I can add it to the body of the post.

Are you interested in hosting this or want to see who will host next month? Check out the link to Terry Doherty's site!

Katy at Library Mama introduces two titles from a phonics series, Puff Flies and Queen Ella's Feet. Puff the chubby baby dragon is really adorable.

Jean Little Library presents a new chapter series called Hooey Higgins. The first is Hooey Higgins and the Shark and I can see why this humorous book is so appealing to youngsters!

Anastasia Suen found a book that blends facts and fun in a cute biography, Francis Key's Star-Spangled Banner, which is a Level 3 reader.

My contribution for this is the lovely Plant a Kiss from Amy Krause Rosenthal and Peter H Reynolds. So easy to read, and a heartwarming story about love and gardening.

Plant a Kiss

 Plant a Kiss (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Illustrated by: Peter H Reynolds

Published by: HarperCollins

Published on: December 27, 2011

Japan is just about the safest place in the world. There are a lot of reasons for this, but to me the biggest one is that people are outside all day long. Old men and women are in their gardens, tilling and weeding and harvesting almost all year long. Because of the hodge podge of architectural planning in Japan, gardens and rice fields are everywhere, not just in the country. So when kids walk to school (and they all walk to school) there are people watching them. These kids stop and chat and it is very social, but it also instills a belief in the kids that people are always watching, which means a) someone will tell on them if they are bad and b) they have someone to go to if something bad happens. It's a sense of community that revolves around using every piece of available land for productive purposes, and to get by in a place with extremely high food prices.

This year we are raising corn and tomatoes and some herbs. The corn is grown in between the branches of our hedge so everyone on the street can watch them progress. We water and weed and watch and anticipate not only as a family, but as a neighbourhood. I don't think there is a kid on our block who hasn't had a turn with our Ikea watering can. Of course we return the favour and are just as involved with the neighbours' dahlias and sunflowers and especially the watermelons. It's lovely to see what the act of planting a tiny garden can do for a community when there are no fences to keep conversations away.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Chopsticks, The Wonder Book) and Peter H Reynolds (Ish, Judy Moody) capture the community spirit of gardening in Plant a Kiss. Little Miss doesn't plant food which nourishes the body, but a kiss, which nourishes the spirit and the community.

Rosenthal's rosey-cheeked protagonist just oozes good will. She is in perpertual motion, even when she is in anticipation mode. Little Miss is always looking forward, and her good mood is catchy. Grey, yellow, and pink doesn't sound like an inspiring cadre of colours but these work brilliantly here.  Plus, sparkles!

The best thing about this book is how easy and engaging it is to read. My son was able to read every word himself except "doubt"- but now he can! There is enough repetition that kids get used to the rhythm very quick and it is easy for them to differentiate between the intonation necessary for a statement to become a question (Planted a kiss? Planted a kiss.). This is a fabulous literacy lesson wrapped up so tight in the book that kids will have no idea how many ideas they are assimilating.

No wonder this is a bestselling picture book.

This is my contribution to June's I Can Read Carnival for New Readers, hosted this month by me!

Jun 12, 2012

The French Fry King

The French Fry King (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written and Illustrated by: Rogé

Translated by: Alison Morgan

Published by: Tundra Books

Published on: May 8, 2012

Ages: 3+

Ennui. The bane of the 19th century aristocrat and the fictional children of film stars. Also, apparently, sausage dogs.

It turns out the life of Riley isn't stimulating for a dog who wants to make his mark in the world. His boredom leads to the establishment of a french fry stand. One would think that people would be wary of a dog serving fried potatoes, but people flock to the stand. His success leads to a world tour. But still Roger is not satisfied; he is unhappy that people see him only as the French Fry Kind and not as Roger. Until he meets his match!

Roger's existential plane of thought is a perfect match for the inquisitiveness of the kindergartener. I love that when he is bored he thinks outside the box. Then when he is bored again, he thinks in a completely different direction. This is perfect for reading during a long summer with lots of "I'm boooooored!" comments from vacationing students.

This was great for my personal goals of introducing Canadian and world culture to my kids. We got pop culture in spreads that include Batman costumes, skateboards, and Rubik's cubes. Then we got Canadiana in the famous Montreal newspaper, La Presse, and CBC microphones. When Roger travels around the world we get tastes and national costumes from countries on a smattering of continents. 

The retro-feel illustrations show Rogé's background in graphic design. The colours are complimentary without being matchy-matchy. The texture of the sausage dog's fur makes you want to reach into the book and pet him.

I'm so glad this lived up to the expectations I had when I put this on my first list of most anticipated picture books of 2012 way back in January. It's not just about how adorable the dog is, there is so much more.

This is the 45th book I have read for the 5th Canadian Book Challenge.

Jun 11, 2012

Short Story Monday: Rain

I missed a whole month of Short Story Mondays during May and I am glad to be back! Rainy season just started here last week so I searched for a story about rain.

I was very happy to find a story from Alexander McCall Smith (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) in The New Statesman, called Rain.

It's not about metereological showers, but about blood, family, envy and expectations in a modern Scottish family. We are taken through the relationship between Ian and Riv, short for Ruthven not River, from first meeting at a disco through domesticity and parenthood. It culminates with the wise words of a passerby who comforts the men in the rain.

I love the introduction to this chaptered short story ("There is no reason why novels should have chapters and short stories should not; breaking up a short story in this way allows for darting about in the narrative.") It features one of the best quotes I know about the relationship between the audience and an art form.

There is a special category of emotion, I believe, that is invoked by artifice but that is powerful nonetheless.
 This story does a great job of evoking that emotion. It was a great way to come back to Short Story Monday after an absence.

Jun 10, 2012

The Thirteen

The Thirteen   (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Susie Moloney

Published by: William Morrow & Company

Age: Adult

When everything is going wrong, my first inclination is to deal with the problems by going home. When I have the flu I want my mommy. I might be alone, but I doubt it.

This has never been Paula's solution. She was forced to leave her house as a pregnant teen and only came back once in the dozen years since. But when her mother takes ill and everything in her life falls apart at the same time, she heads home to suburban Haven Woods to help out her mother and that's when her real problems start.

The reason why Haven Woods and so many of its female inhabitants seem to have everything going for them is a little secret kept by the ringleader Izzy and 12 other women in her circle. They sacrifice much, even that which is not theirs to sacrifice, to get and keep that which they want most. Paula and her daughter Rowan are in the sights of this selfish little club- will they escape with their lives?

The story is about sacrifice and about family, and the three generations of Wittmore women are engaging characters who drive the story forward. But it's also about how a shortcut isn't always the easy way out.

As great as the characters and plot and pacing are, it takes a little time to get used to the way Rowan's point-of-view is written. There are a lot of expository parentheses and the style is a little disjointed. It's not that out of character for a pre-teen, but it is very difficult for an old lady like me to read.

The Thirteen is about magic and the supernatural and some parts are very creepy, but it never goes over into "can't sleep at night" territory. No clowns, anyway, but it might only be me that thinks clowns are the hallmark of literary terror. It's kind of like the supernatural Nora Roberts books I've read, and there is even a little romance. I think it would be great as a summer beach read, as the Japanese believe that the chills from frightening things help you fight the heat. This was my first book from Canadian Susie Moloney, but it won't be my last.

This is the 44th book I have read for the 5th Canadian Book Challenge. The 6th Canadian Book Challenge starts July 1, and you can sign up at The Book Mine Set. Do it!

Jun 8, 2012

Armchair BEA - Ask the Experts

Today is the last day of 2012's Armchair BEA. I have learned a lot, and met so many fabulous book bloggers. For me it's been a success.

Today's theme is the future of book blogging, and it's about sharing tips and asking experts. I don't really have any tips about book blogging other than do it!

But I have lots of questions for the experts...and the experts are you, my readers. I want to know how you feel about Perogies & Gyoza, what works, and what doesn't.

Would you mind taking a few minutes to answer the 8 questions in the survey below?  Your time and honesty are much appreciated.

Click here to take survey

Thank you!

If you have any other advice, please feel free to comment or email me. I appreciate your feedback!

Jun 7, 2012

Armchair BEA: Beyond Your Blog

Today's Armchair BEA topic is writing opportunities beyond your blog. It's about writing freelance, monetizing your blog, and what opportunities blogging can lead to.

I have written freelance, but nothing that is in any way applicable to this book blogging! I am a translator and I feel that the biggest part of that is actually the writing part, rather than the comprehension part. Writing, editing, and translating make up the bulk of my day, and I love it. Which is why I can come home and write for fun at Perogies & Gyoza. (If you have a project I could help with, feel free to email me!)

But other than this blog and reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I don't write about books. That's what I want to do. I'm a little nervous doing this, but I'm going to share my dream with you. It might be silly but I'll put it out there anyway.

I want to write reviews of children's books for an English-language newspaper in Japan.

I think I can do it. I know the style will be different than the one I use on the blog (I don't think all of Japan wants to know how my son is doing in soccer!). But I could adapt!

With a growing number of international parents, Japanese parents who send their children to English conversation school, and a large number of English teachers, I am positive there is an audience for reviews of children's books in Japan. The Japan Times has a really great book page, and the Asahi Shimbun has the Asahi Haikuist Network, and I think a children's book column could fit in with either. Or how about the Mainichi Daily News or Daily Yomiuri - they would work too!

This will take more work, and I will need to put together a portfolio, but I am going to try for a kidlit review column in Japan. Any advice? If you live in Japan is that something you'd like to see in your newspaper?

Jun 6, 2012

What are you reading? Wednesday (1st Bloggiversary Edition!)

Today is my first bloggiversary! Have you entered my Bloggiversary Giveaway yet?

I have learned so much in that time, about blogging, about the bilingual and kidlit communities, and about my own reading habits and work ethic. Here's to at least one more year of Perogies & Gyoza!

What are you reading this week? Did you watch Venus cross the sun today? Are you reading any books on planets or the solar system?

My very good friend sent a box of paperbacks to me, which totally made my week. It was full of great books, but the one I pulled out first was Micro by Michael Crichton. Mostly because she has been making fun of it recently. I guess it's like 50 Shades of Grey, interesting because of the cheese factor. My friend described it as Honey I Shrunk the Scientists, and she is right on. The flip side of Hawaii 5-0 I guess.

My kids are into maps at the moment and we are going through the Once Upon A Time Map Book. It has maps of six fairy tale lands. The problem is my kids were only familiar with half the stories so we had to order more Usborne fairy tale books because my kids don't know Aladdin or The Wizard of Oz. I foresee a movie night this weekend!

Tell me what literary pursuits you are engaged in this week!

Jun 5, 2012

One Year Bloggiversary Giveaway

I am doing a giveaway today of a book for two purposes; Armchair BEA, and to celebrate my first year of blogging. Can you believe that my first post was published one year ago tomorrow? It has been a fabulous ride so far, and I hope it's only the first of many to come!

Pot-San's Tabletop Tables (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written and Illustrated by: Satoshi Kitamura

Published by: Andersen Press Ltd.

Published on: May 14, 2012

Ages: 3+

Satoshi Kitamura (Millie's Magnificent Hat) is back with a new tale. Kitamura has given us a world where the servingware are adorable and have lasting friendships. With his signature style, Kitamura gives the reader a number of fresh adventures in this short story collection.

My kids enjoyed the flying tray ride the best. I am less enamoured of their attempts to act it out.

Would you like to win a copy? Enter using the Rafflecopter below. Please do not enter your personal information including emails in the comments, Rafflecopter takes care of all of that!

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Jun 4, 2012

Armchair BEA Introduction

This week I am participating in the Armchair BEA. Book Expo America is the biggest English-language book conference, held this week in New York. For those of us who live on other continents and others who cannot attend, there is the Armchair BEA, in its 4th year. This is my first year participating!

Design credit: Nina of Nina Reads

Here are my answers to 5 of the 10 interview questions posted on the Armchair BEA site.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

I am a Canadian in Asia who loves books and I wants to share books with my kids. I feel a bit disconnected with Canada and the English-speaking world sometimes, so this blog is mainly for me to connect myself and my kids with that world through books.
I had a personal blog for a number of years but it was mostly a rundown of what I did during the day, and that was replaced by Facebook in my life. I enjoyed writing a blog, but my subject matter (me!) was boring me to death. So many people do the "foreign mom in Japan" blog bit better than me, and I don't think what I have to write on the subject is that interesting. I chose to blog about books and bilingualism because that's what I want to talk about in real life, even if no one wants to listen! I am passionate about it so I never lack for material - but it also means I write a little too much!
I have been blogging for a year! My bloggiversary is this Wednesday!

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?
 So far I have two favourite books so far this year, Sora and the Cloud and Virginia Wolf.

What is your favorite feature on your blog (i.e. author interviews, memes, something specific to your blog)?
On Wednesdays I host a feature called What are you reading? Wednesday. I love the comments and the discussions that take place. It's nice for me to share books I have on deck without analyzing reviewing them, just chatting.  I love to see what books other people are reading, not just book bloggers but other bloggy friends as well. It is an expensive feature though, I am very susceptible to book recommendations. Please come visit on Wednesdays and share what you are reading!
Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?
I didn't actually write it, but I love my interview with Kyo Maclear, author of Virginia Wolf and Stray Love. She is the most amazing writer and a truly kind individual. I don't understand why there are no comments!
What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?
This is a Canadian cliche, but Avonlea! I want to sit on Marilla's porch shelling peas with her and Mrs. Lynde, waiting for Anne girl to come skipping home, hand-in-hand with Diana.

I would love to know your answers to these questions, and if you have any others you'd like to ask me please comment!

Jun 3, 2012

Most Anticipated Picture Books of 2012 Part II

All of the books on my first list of Most Anticipated Picture Books of 2012 have been released, so it's time for part deux! I am getting better at finding the catalogues of picture book publishers online so my list keeps getting longer!

These are the picture books I am excited for the release of over the next few months.

Red Knit Cap Girl (June 5, 2012)
I love this little red mushroom girl and her adorable rabbit sidekick, which reminds me of another rabbit sidekick (in Larf).

The Stone Hatchlings (June 19, 2012), written by Sarah Tsiang and illustrated by Qin Leng (A Flock of Shoes and Dogs Don't Eat Jam and Other Things Big Kids Know)
A small girl adopts pet rocks as unhatched birds. (Canadian)

Jack and the Baked Beanstalk (July 10, 2012)  by Colin Stimpson
A modern twist on Jack and the Beanstalk. Take a look at the gorgeous illustrations on Colin Stimpson's blog, I bet you'll want a copy as much as I do.

Maggie's Chopsticks (August 1, 2012), written by Alan Woo and illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Not just a story about learning to use chopsticks, but also about learning about one's place in the family and the world. (Canadian)

The Tooth Mouse, (August 1, 2012), written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Janice Nadeau
Meet an adorable candidate for the position of France's version of the tooth fairy. (Canadian)

Mr. Zinger's Hat (August 14, 2012), written by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Dusan Petricic
This seems to be a kind of meta-picture book that has really intrigued me.

Bananas in My Ears (August 29, 2012), written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Quentin Blake.
Anything with Michael Rosen's name is guaranteed to make my kids laugh. Plus the living legend Quentin Blake? There is no change anything could go wrong with this.


Because Amelia Smiled (September 11, 2012), written by David Ezra Stein (Interrupting Chicken)
A round-the-world journey that explores how a single kind act can have a huge impact.

 Ganesha's Sweet Tooth (September 19, 2012), written by Emily Haynes and illustrated by Sanjay Patel
I love the mix of the traditional motifs with modern colour and style on this cover.

Stuck with the Blooz (October 2, 2012), written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Jon Davis
An adorable monster that brings the grumps. I can't wait to find out how to banish it.

Oddrey (October 16, 2012) by Dave Whamond
I have a friend who named her child Audrey, and this gets the oddest spellings for a reason unfathomable to me. I need to read this on her behalf.

What picture books are you excited for? Are there any other books you are eagerly anticipating?

Jun 2, 2012

Soccer Week: Soccer Sam

Soccer Sam (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by:  Jean Marzollo

Illustrated by: Blanche Sims

Published by: Random House Inc.

Published: 1989

Ages: 6+

As a child of the 80s I grew up with movies like Teen Wolf. You know this type of movie. Kid has a problem that is a metaphor for not fitting in at school, but is involved in some sort of sport and has some sort of romance. There is a big game which the kid gets the winning goal in right before the buzzer.

Totally cliche. I love them.

This book reminded me somewhat of Teen Wolf. Except for the romance. There's a big game, but the problem that needs to be overcome is Sam's cousin's integration into his new school. Marco has come from Mexico for the year and not only his English minimal, he doesn't play the same games as his new classmates, and he seems very lonely. Not exactly the same hairy situation, but it's sports that binds them together.

In this book the game is soccer, which seems to be non-existent in this US school. The book was published in 1987, which might explain the kids' non-familiarity with soccer, but I think it's just one of those things that requires a suspension of disbelief.

Marco introduces soccer to his classmates who use it as a way to take down some bullying bigger kids. It's so great that he is able to bring in his culture and what he is good at. So many times when we talk about integration of immigrants what really is meant is the immigrants changing to assimilate into the new culture. I don't think that has to happen, and it's great that there is a small children's title that shows how it can work without assimilation.

Spinky wants to go by himself for a summer to Canada eventually. Well, if he had his way it would be this summer but I'll wait until he can tie his shoelaces himself! This was a great, frank treatment of how difficult it can be to go somewhere with a different culture. I think it's my fault, but he romanticizes Canada a lot because of how I talk about it when I reminisce and it's good for him to realize that a few months away might not be easy.

Many thanks to Lulu at Cherry Blossom Adventures for recommending this to me!

This is the last day of Soccer Week, as we spent the day at Spinky's soccer tournament. I'm happy to say they won!

Jun 1, 2012

Soccer Week: Pinkalicious Soccer Star

Pinkalicious Soccer Star (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written and Illustrated by: Victoria Kann

Published by:

Published on: Mary 29, 2012

Ages: 4+

We have all of the Pinkalicious picture books. My daughter is a huge fan. She is over being in love with pink, now it's orange that calls to her, but she still loves Pinkalicious.

This is our first Pinkalicous I Can Read book though. Despite it being Level 1, it was on a completely different level than yesterday's Soccer Game! It's still definitely readable though.

Pinkalicious and her soccer team, the Pinksters, are playing against Tiffany and the black-clad Ravens. The Ravens kick the ball off the field and Pinkalicious goes to get it for the throw-in. First she has to find it, though! Luckily Goldilicious the unicorn is there to take her on a ball-finding mission around the world. Pinkalicious meets a number of soccer-playing girls in traditional dress on her journey.

It's a cute story, and my son loved that Tiffany said "Pink stinks." Ah yes, to be a five-year old boy and have absolute faith in the hilarity of the word stink. It definitely helps that he is familiar with these characters, that gave him context to read words he normally would not have the skills to (like Tiffany).

I do have to wonder about Pinkalicious' outfit though. The cleats and socks say soccer but the ribbon shirt says pajamas to me. Is this a dream?

I know this is supposed to be really girly, but my son liked it as much as his sister. I would recommend it for both boys and girls who are emergent readers.