Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Author Spotlight: Grace Lin

Grace Lin is the author of more than 20 children’s books, ranging from picture to middle grade fiction.  She covers a wide array of subjects from animal stories to Chinese-American realistic fiction to myths and fairy tales.

The first book I read was the middle grade fantasy fairy tale Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.  I could not put this book down!  It is a beautiful mingling of myth and fiction, sacrifice and friendship.  The two follow ups, Starry River of the Sky and When the Sean Turned to Silver, are on my reading list!

She has also written the Pacy Lin series of contemporary realistic fiction for middle graders, featuring a Chinese-American family.

Next, I spent time with her delightful series—Ling and Ting. The text and illustrations exude positive motifs like cooperation, creativity, and kindness. You will want to add this adorable duo to your Early Reader library. 

Some of her picture books feature animal characters learning valuable lessons.

In Olvina Flies, a chicken learns to overcome her fear of flying. 

In the follow up, Olvina Swims, the protagonist deals with her fear of the water and swimming the ocean. 

Finally, Okie-Dokie, Artichokie stars a Marklee the monkey.  He initially misjudges a neighbor, but he realizes his mistake before it is too late. 

My favorite of her picture books is The Red Thread: An Adoption Tale.  A king and queen have a beautiful and peaceful land, but they have a relentless pain in their chests.  A peddler’s magical spectacles reveal the red thread pulling at their hearts, leading them to the baby they are destined to adopt.  This adoption fairy tale illustrates the parental love that begins long before a child comes to live with his adoptive parents and the important bond that connects them.

Grace Lin has written several picture books celebrating Chinese-American culture.  Her stunning illustrations use rich colors, expressive faces, and energetic children.  The text is minimal, but Lin always includes additional information for teachers and parents to read or to expand on in lesson plans.

Bringing in the New Year.  This lovely picture book illustrates the New Year traditions of many Chinese and Chinese-Americans, such as getting a fresh hair cut, making dumplings, carrying lanterns, and welcoming the dragon.  Simple text and energetic pictures provide an ideal introduction to the holiday. 

Kite Flying. Flying kites is a beloved past time in many Asian countries, including China, Japan, Thailand, and India.  In this picture book, a family works cooperatively to make a kite. Then, they take it to a nearby park to fly. 

Dim Sum for Everyone.  A family visits a dim sum restaurant in Chinatown.  Dumplings, cakes, buns, and tarts are presented to them on rolling carts.  They each have to pick what to eat from the many delicious traditional dishes. (Sharing is encouraged.)

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.  With lanterns and the full moon glowing, they eat sweet mooncakes and drink warm tea.  Join Mei-Mei and her family for this festival celebrating gratitude, prosperity, and community. 

Fortune Cookie Fortunes.  While visiting a Chinese restaurant, each family member receives a fortune cookie. The sisters disagree whether the fortunes will come true or not.  One sister learns to see the world (and the fortunes) in a different way.  This fun tale ends with fascinating background information on the origin of the fortune cookie.  

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