Sunday, December 31, 2006

ten pipe dreams

Alvina's post What I'd like to try/learn reminded me of the lists we made a while ago. On it we put done all the things we wished to accomplish--selfishness and hubris completely encouraged. I know they are pipe dreams, but dreaming is half the fun. Here are ten of them:

1. Be able to do a handstand effortlessly, with abs of steel.

2. Have at least one of my books become a classic, beloved by generations and never go out of print.

3. Be an illustrator for a Children's Book Week Poster

4. Be an author/illustrator of a Little Golden Book (like Dan Yaccarino's Mother Goose)

5. Decorate a cake (or cupcakes) at a professional level (I want to learn how to pipe frosting flowers!)

6. Be honored at an awards ceremony where I get to get wear a fancy Academy Awards-type dress (like this).

7. Have a nice big studio with skylights (or something like this).

8. Stand on the Great Wall of China and pat the heads of the lions on the Marco Polo Bridge.

9. Have one of the characters of my book made into a statue placed in a public space/park (like the Make Way for Ducklings statue or the Alice in Wonderland Statue)

10. Own a successful children's bookstore/bakery/gallery.

Hmm, looking over my list I'm starting to feel pangs of guilt over my narcissism. I want world peace and an end to global warming too! Though, truthfully, I would trade everything on this list for Robert to be healthy and for us to have a real chance to live the life we've always dreamed.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

i have a bad feeling

When Pandora opened her box
and let out the evil spirits of the world
she also let out
which was to be mankind's salvation
sometimes I think
it was
just another
evil spirit

Thursday, December 28, 2006

what did you get for christmas?

Santa, disguised as Robert, got me the material item I most coveted this Christmas--a bright blue (in honor of the Blue Rose Girls)standing mixer! Yippee! I was going to stop making cupcakes, but this has brought new life to my favorite baking hobby.

Though, considering my recent food habits, it probably would be best if I stopped. Fat, salt, sugar and everything else bad (but tasty) has been ingested nonstop for the past 120 hours. I also got an extra couple pounds of weight for Christmas too.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

jolly holidays

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday!

Friday, December 15, 2006

sneak peak

the background color might not be right, but I'm told there will be red foil. I guess I better finish the art for it now.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

pin cushion

I admit that I am not the epitome of what people would call a strong personality. I'm not tough as nails, able to deflect the arrows of life. Instead, I am more like a pin cushion. Each jab seems to stick deep and I am extraordinarily sensitive. Which is why the way my career has shaped is somewhat unusual. With every Asian character book that I do, every talk I give, the more I am standing on a platform, expounding my opinions and beliefs about “multicultural” books. With my character traits, it would probably be best for me to behind the curtain, not in front.

So recently, reading this blog entry Read Roger: "But she wanted a tutu" made me feel a tad squirmish. I’ve probably been quoted over a dozen times saying that I wrote “Year of the Dog” because I wanted someone that looked like me to relate to; and here was an entire discussion talking about how needing to see one’s own race on a character in order to relate to it was “repugnant.” And not only is the adult agenda patronizing (a word that sends horror into a children’s book author), it is completely unnecessary. These books don’t matter, kids are just going to want their non-multicultural books, anyway.

Yet, just as I was digesting this conversation, Rosie O’Donnell did her “ching chong” Chinese on national TV. I’m offended, yet read threads of “lighten up,” and “stop whining about being teased on the playground," which make me wonder is I am being my too sensitive self again. But then I begin reading more and more responses saying things like, “go back to ching chong and eat a fortune cookie.”

And I realize this is why I am in front of the curtain. I can’t believe that the books that I make don’t matter. I don't think I am making books with an "adult agenda," I am making the books that I, myself, would have wanted as a child. But even if my adult agenda is clouding my judgement, if kids are truly racially blind when is comes to books— then it’s all the more important for them to read these multicultural books. Because hopefully these books will plant the seeds of racial sensitivity and understanding before they start noticing. Because the step between poor taste and overt racism is a small one, sometimes less than 100 pixels.

So I stay on course, smarting and burning when people want to “stick it” to me. But I can take it. I've got a lot of room left.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

broken toe life

I guess my toe is not broken, because I have been able to walk on it with only mild discomfort. It does, however, remain purple--now with twinges of yellow.

But I can't let a toe slow me down. Since last post, I've had my art exhibit and talk at the Groton Public Library:

Baked my Christmas Cupcakes:

(Though, I think I'm going to turn a new leaf in baking when the clock turns 2007. I don't want cupcakes to get too old. Maybe I'll move on to cream puffs.)

Saw some good friends:

And all the other stuff, too--writing, painting, school visits, the RISD sale, etc., etc. So, I've been doing all the same lovely things that add up to my life-- just a tiny bit more painfully and with orthopedic shoes.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

the agony and the ecstasy

Between my store, my work (2 books at once!) and my life, I've been pretty overwhelmed. In an attempt to try to get a handle on things, I've been pulling all-nighters, or 5 AM-er's. While this has helped to some extent, last night I paid the price. In my half-awake stupor, I walked into a chair and...broke my little toe. It REALLY HURTS. And it is a disturbing shade of purple, too.

As I nursed my toe, my inner whining chorus of "Is this even worth it?" began. But just as it the song reached its crescendo, I received this lovely e-mail. Suddenly all the juggling, stress and fatigue doesn't seem so bad. Maybe even worth it... though perhaps not to my toe.

Dear Grace,
I recommended your book to some teachers in a book discussion group I lead, and sent Booklist's review of The Year of the Dog along with it. Here is a response I got from one of the members:

".....when I read Mary's note about the new book by Grace Lin, Year of the Dog, I was thrilled. What I have tried to do through LATTICE, Grace Lin has done with her book. But more than that, she loved the Carolyn Haywood books, "a series about a quintessentially American girl whose days centered around friends and school." Well, Carolyn Haywood was a close family friend of my family when I was growing up. For a number of years, I was the model for this quintessential American girl, Betsy.

When I read the books to my own kids in the 70's, I always asked them who was missing in these stories. Their African American and Chinese American friends were definitely missing! Interestingly, by the 1960's Carolyn even realized the problem and wrote some stories about African American children. Since she was always visiting and observing children in schools in order to make her books authentic, she visited some schools in Philadelphia with African American populations. At that time the schools were definitely segregated! I don't think that she portrayed the children accurately. They looked like white children with black skin but anyway, she tried!

I like to think that she'd be very, very pleased and honored to know that Grace Lin has taken on this important challenge of providing diversity of perspective and experience in children's literature. "

The woman who wrote the above, Sally M, is the founder of LATTICE (Linking All Types of Teachers to International Cross-Cultural Education). This is an organization in mid-Michigan that works to help teachers put a global perspective in their classrooms. ( ) We meet once a month to discuss issues pertaining to education and world events. I am the co-leader of a book discussion group that reads multicultural books and then invites in a person from that country to discuss it, and the accuracy of the book. Usually these are international students at Michigan State University, in our town. We have some great discussions!

I am a librarian, too, and love all your books. Thanks for all you do for children, and for us adults, too, with your beautiful books.

East Lansing Public Library

Sunday, December 03, 2006

promoting for the holidays...

Here's a copy of my e-newsletter I've just sent out...I'm a-hoping blog readers are holiday consumers too!

Welcome to the Holiday edition of GraceNotes! In the spirit of the holidays, I’m happy to announce that…


You can now buy exclusive poster prints, greeting cards, limited editions giclee (museum quality) prints and books off of my website. Most of these items can’t be purchased elsewhere and all can be personally autographed and dedicated.

Place your order before December 18th to insure delivery before the 25th!

And as a special promo for the season I’m having a …


Add my books to your holiday shopping with a special touch! A new special edition bookplate just for the season—that I’ll personally autograph and send to you—for free!

All you need to do is e-mail Robert(at the following:

-To whom the book is for:
-Which book the plate is for:
-Your name & address:

You can order as many as you like, but this offer with these plates end on Dec. 20th (the standard bookplates will still be available with a self-addressed stamped envelope), so send that e-mail now!

What is a bookplate? Bookplates are specially designed adhesive labels that you can place in the front of the book. Kids (and adults) love have a book personally autographed by the author. Bookplates are a convenient and decorative way to have a book personally signed inscribed.

Lastly, THE YEAR OF THE DOG has been cited as a “best books of the season” by the San Francisco Chronicle and an American Library Association "recommended book for the holidays". Kirkus Reviews has also named it one of the Best Early Chapter books of 2006. So don’t forget to add it to your shopping list (and get a free bookplate!)

Best Wishes,

Grace Lin

fan mail

My agent just forwarded this to me. So cute! I wish I could write her back.