Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Happy Book Birthday to FISHING WITH GRANDPA AND SKYE! Written by Candace Spizzirri, Art by Beverly Love Warren #bookbirthday

Fishing with Grandpa and Skye

Written by Candace Spizzirri

Illustrated by Beverly Love Warren

Spork, April 19, 2022

Congratulations, Candace and Beverly! Welcome to the world, Fishing with Grandpa and Skye!

I’m so happy for my critique partner, Beverly Love Warren! She did the art for Candace’s new picture book, and through Beverly, I connected with Candace. Have a wonderful day celebrating the arrival of Fishing with Grandpa and Skye!

About the Book:

Days on the lake are a Skye and Grandpa thing. They load up their tackle box, hop aboard their skiff, and chug out to their favorite fishing spot. Today, the sun is shining, the fish are jumping, but will Skye hook a big one? 

FISHING WITH GRANDPA AND SKYE explores the rewards of patience and celebrates the love between generations.

Candace Spizzirri

Children’s Author

FISHING WITH GRANDPA AND SKYE, April 19, 2022
FINLEY: A MOOSE ON THE CABOOSE, Spring 2023

Beverly Love Warren

Children’s Book Author and Illustrator

FISHING WITH GRANDPA AND SKYE, April 19, 2022

Have You Seen Mouse? (Spork, 2022)


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Author Interview: TOFU TAKES TIME by Helen H. Wu

I love learning how different foods are made, so you can imagine how much I loved reading this new picture book by Helen H. Wu. TOFU TAKES TIME (Beaming Books) will make its appearance on April 19, and I can’t wait! Let’s get right to it and meet the author.

Welcome, Helen! Tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you so much Angie for having me! I am thrilled to share more about TOFU TAKES TIME and my publishing journey. I’m a children’s book author and illustrator, as well as a translator. I work as the associate publisher at Yeehoo Press, an independent children’s book publishing house which publishes picture books in Chinese and English.

I’m so excited about TOFU TAKES TIME! It makes me want to make tofu. Or at least eat some!

Congratulations on your new book! What was your inspiration for TOFU TAKES TIME?

The inspiration for this story was born of my tofu-making experience with my treasured grandma. When I was a kid, I often sat nearby and watched as she cooked—a process that sometimes involved tofu. She would wash vegetables, chop meat, stir porridge, and cook all the meals for our entire family. It was during these times that she would share stories that transported me to faraway places and other eras. After I moved to the US and had my own family, my kids would ask many questions about the process and tools we used to make tofu together: serving as a warm reminder of the sweet time I spent with my grandma in the small kitchen across the ocean. Hence, a story began to take shape.

I LOVE that this picture book is so closely tied to your family and wonderful memories. What a special treasure for your family!

What was your writing journey for this book?

A great book calls for multiple layers with varied messages readers can take away from the story. Though the idea behind the book was grounded in the tofu-making process, I knew the story must involve a bigger concept that is more relevant to kids. When I cooked with my own kids, I noted their preoccupation with imaginative play and occasional complaints about the time required to cook a proper meal: which inspired me to weave the topic of patience into the text. In examining the tofu-making process in a more imaginative way, I discovered an assortment of inherent elements that connect with nature and even the universe at large. I’m now so happy to have found a sweet spot that includes food, culture, patience, nature, and intergenerational love all tied into one story.

The way that TOFU TAKES TIME is told through the voice of a young child is pretty awesome! Learning patience is such a difficult thing for young people. I still struggle with being patient.

What special plans do you have to celebrate the book birthday of TOFU TAKES TIME on April 19?

I have a book launch event planned on the book birthday, April 19th! I’m so excited to present the book launch event of TOFU TAKES TIME with Avid Bookshop, with talented illustrator and bookseller Julie Jarema! The reading and conversation will take place on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, from 7pm – 8pm ET on Zoom. Preorders from Avid Bookshop will come with a special bonus: a 5”x7” print, bookmark, food stickers, and a bookplate signed by the author and illustrator created just for TOFU TAKES TIME. Don’t miss your chance. You can register here:

 https://www.avidbookshop.com/tofulaunch (Isn’t it a cute URL for the event?)

LOVE it! So much fun!

I love the heart in TOFU TAKES TIME, the relationship between grandmother and grandchild, and the connections between tofu and the ingredients/resources needed to make it. How do imagination and your childhood experiences impact your creativity as you work on picture books?

Thank you! Speaking of picture book writing, I didn’t have typical picture books when I was a kid growing up in China. We had black and white comic books and only in the last two decades, picture books were introduced into China. My writing career started from being part of picture book projects. Reading, especially reading all kinds of picture books, is one of the best ways for me to foster imagination, expand my knowledge, and be open to new ideas. Picture book is a magical format that I feel can perfectly encapsulate a feeling, a moment, a subject, a place and time. And as an art lover, I also find it’s very entertaining and soothing to simply enjoy the artwork of picture books.

I don’t remember reading many picture books as a child, mainly Dick and Jane readers. I do remember jumping right into chapter books. Many of them are still favorites. I’m so glad that picture books are being published for much larger audiences. And the artwork of picture books is divine!

What are you working on now?

My next picture book, LONG GOES TO DRAGON SCHOOL, illustrated by Mae Besom, will be published by Yeehoo Press in February, 2023. Inspired by my experience as a minority immigrant student, this picture book follows a Chinese dragon who struggles to breathe fire in his new Western dragon school, only to discover he must carve his own path to finding a sense of belonging. Wrapped in Eastern and Western dragon lore, this fantasy tale celebrates perseverance, self-acceptance, and cultural differences.

Oh, dragons! This sounds perfect!

What tip would you give to a new picture book author or illustrator?

Read as many books as you can in the genre you intend to write. Take picture book writing classes. Find a critique group and get feedback on your stories. Revise, revise, revise. Most importantly, keep writing and keep going.

Excellent tips. Writers, let’s get busy!

Surprise us! What else would you like to share?

I started writing and illustrating in 2012 and since then I’ve self-published over 20 picture books. TOFU TAKES TIME is my first traditional published book, my debut book. Good things take time!

TOFU TAKES TIME is such a lovely, heart-warming story! I’m excited to see it out in the world. Thanks so much for stopping by, Helen! And CONGRATULATIONS!

About Helen

Helen H. Wu is a children’s book author, illustrator, translator and publisher. She is the author of TOFU TAKES TIME, illustrated by Julie Jarema (Beaming Books, 2022) and LONG GOES TO DRAGON SCHOOL, illustrated by Mae Besom (Yeehoo Press, 2023). Helen is the Associate Publisher of Yeehoo Press, an independent children’s book publisher. Being fascinated by the differences and similarities between cultures, Helen loves to share stories that can empower children to understand the world and our connections. Currently, Helen lives in San Diego, California, with her family and two kids.

Learn more about Helen at:

HelenHWu.com

Twitter @HelenHWu

Instagram @HelenHWu


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Throwback Thursday: Take Those Wedding Photos!

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“Just one more!” says every wedding photographer. And nearly every person standing in formation for the photo replies with groans.

We finally found our wedding album. It was MIA for a few years. But now we have it. And the precious family photos we had taken are even more meaningful, especially the ones of our parents and grandparents, who have all passed away.

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Should you be at a wedding-online, Zoom, social distanced, streaming-and someone asks for just one more, and “Smile for the camera!,” just grin and bear it. One day, sooner and later, those photos may become treasured memories for the wedding couple and their families.

Reflections on 35 years of marriage.

And, trivia for you, my mom made my dress! First from a sheet-to make sure all the pieces fit, since I had requested my dress be created from 2-3 different patterns-and then from chintz. I might have had the worlds’ least costly wedding dress-until we came to the wide cotton eyelet lace. A wonderful memory of my precious mama. And, another trivia, notice that my dad is smiling. Only in ONE photo, but capturing one of his smiles on camera was indeed a rare treat.

Smile, friends. Make those memories.

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Book Report: How Long Is Forever? by Kelly Carey, Illustrated by Qing Zhuang

 

How Long Is Forever?

Written by Kelly Carey

Illustrated by Qing Zhuang

Charlesbridge, 2020

 

Who loves blueberries, farms, kitties, and grandparents? I do! Thank you, Kathy Temean, for hosting Kelly Carey and Qing Zhuang. Thank you, Kelly Carey, and Qing Zhuang, for sending me a copy of this lovely picture book! I was thrilled to read it and I can recommend How Long Is Forever? to young readers (and their grandparents) everywhere. Happy reading!

And while you’re at it, let’s have blueberry pie.

 

News from Charlesbridge

Waiting for pie takes a long time, but not forever.

Mason is waiting for Nana’s blueberry pie and complains that it’s taking forever. So Grandpa challenges him to figure out how long forever really is. Is it as long as Grandpa has had his tractor? No. As long as it took Nana to grow the roses to the top of the chimney? Not even close. After a trip around the farm to figure out the answer, Nana’s pie is ready.

 

What I LOVE About This Book:

~ Nana! I am a Nana, so I love that the grandmother is named Nana

~ Blueberry pie!

~ The kitty included on almost every spread (I love kitties)

~ The concept of forever and how it is explored through the eyes of a young child

~ The lovely story

~ Wonderful, colorful illustrations

~ Farm and farm house!

 

Amazon Blurb:

Mason is waiting for Nana’s blueberry pie and complains that it’s taking forever. So Grandpa challenges him to figure out how long forever really is. Is it as long as Grandpa has had his tractor? No. As long as it took Nana to grow the roses to the top of the chimney? Not even close. After a trip around the farm to figure out the answer, Nana’s pie is ready. And Mason’s finally got the answer: forever is how long he’ll love Nana’s pie and how long he’ll love Nana and Grandpa, too.

 

 

 


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Throwback Thursday: Flowers and Me

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I was pleased to find this little gem of a photo in my baby book. After losing mom in May, every treasure I uncover has become much more precious. My mama loved her little Angie.

I don’t remember seeing this photo before, though I know I’ve had it for years. Mom despaired of my hair growing and I was often seen sporting a comb-over wave to give the appearance of ample hair. Curly and fine, just like it is today. Though with much more gray.

These irises bloomed in front of my Grandma Wheetley’s house in Sunnyside, Washington. We visited often, I imagine, and this is also the town where my mother and father met and started the journey of lifelong marriage.

Little Angie, as I was nicknamed by grandparents on both sides, is nearly as tall as the gorgeous irises. What I love, besides seeing a much younger, cuter me, is that I obviously love flowers. Just like I do now. These days finds me planting more sunflowers, wildflowers, and blooming bushes, but the beginning of my love affair with gardening sprouted right there with me playing in the irises.

My mama was an excellent seamstress. I can’t ask now, but I think she or my grandmother probably made this dress. I so wish I could sit and pour over these childhood photos with her one more time. My siblings and I were blessed to have a mother who loved us unconditionally. Not that we didn’t get called on the carpet, but good mothers have to do that to straighten out our stubborn bits.

What special memories do you have of your parents or grandparents?