Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – An Interview with Julie Abe, Author of Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch; On Japanese Influences and Writing Empowering Stories

Our Friend is here, asian heritage month edition. author interview with julie abe, author of eva evergreen, semi-magical witch. on japanese influences and writing empowering stories. illustration depicts xiaolong the axolotl with her arms wide and showing off julie as a shiba inu, wearing a turquoise yukata and holding a wand and an onigiri

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)

I’ll say this time and time again, because I firmly and strongly believe it: middle-grade literature is such an exciting and transformative space right now. From the wealth of diverse stories coming out in middle-grade to the wonderful and empowering stories that center on children from a diversity of backgrounds, middle-grade is delivering some of the coolest and best stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

Earlier last year, I had the utmost pleasure and fortune of crossing paths with Julie Abe. When her book was announced, I was delighted. Japanese-inspired fantasy! About a twelve year old girl facing the possibility of losing her magic forever! And witches!

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Five Reasons To Read: This Time Will Be Different by Misa Suguira – Wonderful in Its Messiness; About Social Justice, Reparations, and The Power of Protest

This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura.

Blurb:

Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

CW’s Review:

Have you ever read a book that made you wish, so deeply, that it had existed just a little bit earlier so that it could have helped you go through a tough part in your life? This Time Will Be Different is definitely that book for me. Specifically, I wish that this book had existed when I was a teenager – when I was grappling with the big questions that all teens face: Where is my place in the world? What do I care about so deeply that I can dedicate myself to? And when I see something that doesn’t sound right, how do I speak up?

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Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando by Andrea Wang – A Wonderful Picture Book About The Inventor of Instant Ramen

Text: Magic Ramen, The Story of Momofuku Ando; Written by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz. Image: An illustration of Momofuku Ando holding up a massive bowl of ramen, with the title of the book in the bowl of ramen.
Blurb:

Inspiration struck when Momofuku Ando spotted the long lines for a simple bowl of ramen following World War II. Magic Ramen tells the true story behind the creation of one of the world’s most popular foods.

Every day, Momofuku Ando would retire to his lab–a little shed in his backyard. For years, he’d dreamed about making a new kind of ramen noodle soup that was quick, convenient, and tasty for the hungry people he’d seen in line for a bowl on the black market following World War II. Peace follows from a full stomach,he believed.

Day after day, Ando experimented. Night after night, he failed. But Ando kept experimenting.

CW’s review:

I received a copy of this book from the author. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

When I discovered this book whilst looking for books to read for the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge, I was absolutely delighted to discover Magic Ramen, a picture book about the inventor of instant ramen, Momofuku Ando. To be honest, before discovering this gorgeous picture book, I was completely ignorant of the history, and so reading this autobiographical picture book and learning about the history of instant ramen was such a delightful experience.

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