Meet the Pond’s Favourite Aunty [Introducing The Pond’s Newest Character!]

Meet Your Newest Friend: Say Hello to the pond's favourite aunty

You heard that there was some commotion in the Pond recently. Maybe today’s a good day to check up on your friends and see how they are doing.

When you enter the Pond, you notice Xiaolong kneeling by the water and peering into it. You can’t quite hear what she’s saying in the distance, but you can hear that she sounds a little worried, perhaps a little scared. When you approach, you realise that Xiaolong is talking to… a large piece of driftwood? How odd!

An illustration of Xiaolong, by the Pond, with a green prickly 'driftwood' in the water.

“Xiaolong!” you call out, waving to her.

Xiaolong turns to the sound of your voice, and gives you her big goofy smile. “Hi friend!”

But before you can take another step, a sudden explosion from the Pond shatters the quiet.

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Author Interviews from the Authors of UNDERDOG, Part 3: Life and What Gives It Meaning

Text: Author Interviews, Underdog: Life and what gives it meaning. Image: xiaolong the pink axolotl wearing a purple flower hat, reading a book 'underdog'.

You think back to the last two weeks, fondly remembering of the wonderful conversations you’ve listened in to between Xiaolong and the authors of Underdog! And it looks like Xiaolong has another four more visitors at The Quiet Pond!

When Xiaolong enters the Pond, she’s ushering in a new group of friends! There’s a green snake wearing a little straw hat with a tattoo on its chest, a magpie wearing glasses and a beanie, a smiley koala wearing an orange dress, and a fluffy cat wearing a bandanna! Now an expert at welcoming guests, you approach and give them your biggest wave and your warmest welcome.

“Hi friend,” Xiaolong says to you. “These are my newest friends! This is Cassi, Felicity, Kaneana, and Sarah! Remember when I interviewed their friends last week and the week before? And remember when I told you about the Underdog anthology? Well, they’re here to discuss more stories today!”

You give Xiaolong your biggest grin and you tell her you’re excited to listen to another round of interviews. So you sit down by the Pond, part of their small circle, and talk about the big things: stories and life.

Welcome back to the Pond, friends! I hope you all are having a wonderful week so far and that you’re reading for the final round of author interviews for the Underdog anthology.

Today is my third round of interviews with the authors at Underdog, an amazing #LoveOzYA anthology that I had the pleasure of reading and absolutely loved. I thought this anthology was splendid and profound; it explored a variety of experiences, from everyday teenage experiences to the very big questions that teens may be grappling with.

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Author Interviews from the Authors of UNDERDOG, Part 2: Exploring The Choices We Make

Text: Author Interviews, Underdog: Exploring the Choices we make. Image: an illustration of xiaolong, her arms raised above her, holding a physical book copy of UNDERDOG.

Last week when you visited the Pond, Xiaolong had four visitors; four of the authors from Underdog anthology! You hadn’t seen so many visitors at the Pond before, but the magic at the Pond felt like it was warmer and merrier with all the good company.

And it seems like today, there are four more visitors! When Xiaolong enters the Pond, leading and talking to a group of new friends, you approach to give another round of warm welcomes. (You’re getting used to this!) Behind her is an orange octopus who, upon seeing the Pond, rushes over and dives in! The water and magic of the Pond invites him, and the octopus gives a sigh of contentment. Also behind Xiaolong is an orange fox wearing a red scarf, and an orange cat wearing a red cape!

“Friend!” Xiaolong greets when she sees you. “Please meet Jes, KM, Sophie, and Stacey! They are authors from the Underdog anthology that I told you about, and they’re here to discuss their stories with us! Isn’t that exciting?”

It sure does! You help Xiaolong usher the visitors to a comfortable and sunny spot at the Pond, and listen intently to the questions that Xiaolong will ask today.

Friends, welcome back to the Pond and I hope you all are having a wonderful week so far!

Today is my second round of interviews with the authors at Underdog, an amazing #LoveOzYA anthology that I had the pleasure of reading and absolutely loved. This anthology is one of the few that really explores meaningful and relatable teen experiences, and I think teens everywhere will find a piece of themselves in this anthology.

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Author Interviews from the Authors of UNDERDOG, Part 1: Discussing Relationships and How They Shape Us

Text: Author Interview, Underdog: Discussing Relationships and how they shape us. Image: Xiaolong the pink axolotl, holding a copy of UNDERDOG edited by Tobias Madden, walking towards you and waving.

You’re sitting by the Pond, talking to Amina about her travels across distant lands and the many different magical beings she’s met, when you hear Xiaolong calling to you in the distance.

You know by the sound of her calling your name that there’s probably a visitor at the Pond today. So when you turn away to see her, you notice that it isn’t just a visitor – there are four visitors trailing behind her! You’ve never seen so many visitors at the Pond before.

“Friend, come meet my new friends!” she calls to you.

You get up, and shuffle over. There’s a meerkat wearing a blue plaid shirt, a red panda wearing glasses, an otter wearing a red shirt, and a bunny wearing a black shirt! They were chatting among themselves, but now they’re waving over at you, introducing themselves.

“These are four of the twelve authors that contributed to the Underdog anthology! Remember how I told you about the book? I loved it so much that I had to ask them to come and visit me so we could talk about it more!”

That sounds like a lovely idea, and a nice way to spend your day. You help Xiaolong welcome the visitors to the Pond, help them make themselves comfortable by the Pond, and listen as Xiaolong asks them big questions about the book.

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Year of the Asian Reading Challenge – Book Recommendations for June’s Prompt: Pride!

Text: Book recommendations, queer Asian characters. Image: Varian the toad, wearing a rainbow skirt and holding a rainbow flag over their head, smiling.

Today is the first day of June! And you know what that means: it’s the first day of Pride! 🏳️‍🌈

You visit the Pond, feeling a lot of emotions today. You decide to visit Varian the Toadshifter – they’ll know exactly what you need.

An illustration of Varian the toad, wearing a rainbow skirt and holding a big rainbow flag about their head, smiling. They wear a sash that says, #YARC, with an aromantic and asexual pin.When you find Varian, they are wearing their rainbow skirt (the one that they wore a few months ago when you first met them!) and they’re holding a really big rainbow flag.

“Happy Pride, friend!” they greet, jumping over to you while waving their big rainbow flag. They sense how you are feeling, and they give you a smile in solidarity. “I understand, my friend. Pride can bring out a lot of feelings – some are positive and joyful, some may be feeling like they are not enough, and some may feel like they don’t belong. But the thing is, friend, you and the others who feel like they are not enough or feel like they don’t belong? They are enough. And they do belong.”

Image: Varian pointing to a pin attached to their sash; the pins are of the aromantic and asexual flag.They point to the pins stuck to their sash. “I’m wearing these pins in solidarity of my asexual and aromantic friends out there. Pride month is for all queer friends, and all I want is for my queer friends, especially asexual and aromantic friends, to feel joy and love.”

They settle down by the Pond, and gesture for you to join them by the water. “Today, I want to share with you some books that you can read! Xiaolong is still helping out with the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge, so she asked me to recommend some books with queer Asian characters to you!”

This sounds delightful! And you’re always looking for more books to read. You tuck in, set yourself down next to Varian, and listen to the books they have to recommend.

Hello friends! Welcome to June and our sixth month of the Year of the Asian reading challenge!

In case you haven’t heard, myself and three brilliant book bloggers (Lily, Shealea, and Vicky) are hosting the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge (or YARC!), a year-long reading challenge dedicated to reading Asian literature by Asian authors.

Now that it’s June (I… can’t believe it’s June already?) it’s time for a new prompt to help you find some reads! This month’s prompt is PRIDE, just in time for Pride Month where we celebrate all our queer friends. Therefore, for June, our recommendations are centered around novels with queer and Asian main characters. This month, read a book in which the main character is queer, whether it is stated outright or mentioned more subtly.Read More »