Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Happy Year of the Dog!
I have every intention of blogging about Thailand, but as more time goes by, I'm not sure if I'll get to it. I'll try. I kept up with my journal while I was there, so I can always refer back to it. I also wanted to talk about the Kindling Words retreat (http://www.kindlingwords.org/) that I attended this past weekend. But first, I wanted to blog about THE YEAR OF THE DOG before Lunar/Chinese New Year is too far in the past.
All of the books I edit are my babies and I love them dearly, and I know you aren't supposed to pick favorites amongst your children, but this one is so near and dear to my heart. It's a very special book about friendship, identity, and finding one’s passion in life, and for many reasons is exactly the book I wished I had growing up, and exactly the book I hoped to publish when I became a children’s book editor.
As childhood friends when I lived in Upstate NY, Grace and I were two of the few Asian children living in our small town. We bonded over our love of books, and devoured any book with Asian American characters (at that time, there weren’t many!). Grace and I remained close even after I moved away, and twelve years later, we were roommates in Boston just as we were both starting out in the children’s book industry: Grace as a children’s picture book author and illustrator, and I as an editorial assistant at Little, Brown. As the years passed, we both progressed in our careers, and at the same time, Grace’s picture book audience was growing older and asking for older books. Little, Brown was also looking to publish more novels, and I kept asking Grace if she'd ever considered writing one. One day (at Kindling Words in 2004, in fact) she told me, “I wrote it.”
I read it in one sitting, and imagine my surprise and delight to find that I was a character in the book! (My name is Melody in the book, because I thought it would be weird to edit a book with a character of my same name. When my parents were deciding what to name me, they narrowed it down to either Alvina or Melody, which is why Grace chose that as my name.) Many of the stories in this novel are based on events that really happened to us as children: our struggles with our ethnic identity, as well as school issues, friendships, and crushes—it isn’t too often that an editor gets to work on a book that tells her story, too!
THE YEAR OF THE DOG is both hilarious and poignant, and very powerful in its own way. I am thrilled to have played a role in introducing it to the world. Please go out and buy it, for yourself, for a friend, for a relative. If you do read it, I'd love to know what you think! It's gotten rave reviews so far, including a starred review, which is a rare thing. I'm hoping it'll sell a bazillion copies and becomes a classic. It deserves it!
And yes, this year is the Year of the Dog. It's a good year to discover your passion in life, if you haven't already.
You can check out grace's website at: http://www.gracelin.com/. She also has a great blog here: http://pacyworks.blogspot.com/