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The Race for the Chinese Zodiac By Gabrielle Wang Illustrated by Sally Rippin Picture Book / Chinese Folklore Find at Amazon.com for $7.14

Mary Jeneverre Schultz Asian Avenue magazine

Learn more about Gabrielle Wang on her website www.gabriellewang.com.

During a Lunar New Year’s celebration, attendees, participants and children ask each other how did animals get assigned to different years? The question goes unanswered as the festivities continue through the night and multi-course meals are enjoyed by everyone. In the latest children’s book release, author Gabrielle Wang of Australia retells an old traditional Chinese tale from her childhood. This new release marks her 21st book for children. “This is a traditional Chinese tale that I thought I would give new life to,” Wang said. “It is perfect for a picture book as it features animals and a race – two elements that young children love.” The myth of the rat and cat becoming mortal enemies is explained in a playful manner through this short story. The race brings out the mean competitiveness, illustrated well in this traditional Chinese tale. Summary of book A long time ago in ancient China, the Jade Emperor, ruler of heaven and earth, held a great race between the animals. He declared that the first twelve animals to cross to the other side of the mighty river would have a year named after them and thereby be forever immortalized on the Chinese Zodiac. The animals lined up on the shore eager to begin. Some chose to race honestly. Others were more devious. Some helped their friends along the way, while others raced alone. Some were distracted, while some focused with all their might on winning. But thirteen animals raced for only twelve places on the Zodiac.

Who would come first? And who would miss out? Published internationally, the books are sold in China, United Kingdom and the United States through three perspective publishers: Hubei Children’s Press, Walker Books UK and Candlewick Press. Beautiful illustrations captivate young readers as Wang weaves the tale through the cultural lenses of Chinese culture. “I hope children will enjoy this timeless story and the beautiful illustrations Sally Rippin painted,” Wang said. “I hope they will want to read it again and again. Wang includes cultural awareness of her Chinese heritage, adding that it is meant to inspire the young readers to understand the world around them. As a fourth-generation Chinese Australian, Wang draws her inspiration from her childhood adventures with her friend Wendy. “When I grew up we were allowed to roam free,” Wang said. “We didn’t have to tell anybody where we were going.” Her storytelling talent started during these carefree, youthful days when she and Wendy created tales from their bicycling to the beach, climbing trees, hanging out at the local railway station, building cubby houses and catching tadpoles at the local creek. Around age 11, Wang realized her Chinese features were different than her friends and neighbors. These differences compelled her to write her book about the problems of a young girl faces as part of a minority group. Other than cultural awareness, she also blends fantasy into real life, in telling stories.

Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp A Nisei Youth behind a World War II Fence Lily Nakai and her family lived in Southern California, where sometimes she and a friend dreamt of climbing the Hollywood sign that lit the night. At age ten, after believing that her family was simply going on a camping trip, she found herself living in a tar-papered barrack, gazing out instead at the nightly searchlight. She wondered if anything would ever be normal again. In this creative memoir, Lily Havey combines storytelling, watercolor, and personal photographs to recount her youth in two Japanese American internment camps during World War II. She uses short vignettes— snapshots of people, recreated scenes and events—to describe how a ten-year-old girl grew into a teenager inside these camps. Vintage photographs reveal the historical, cultural, and familial contexts of that growth and of the Nakai family’s dislocation. They reveal the recollected lives of her mother and father in Japan and then America, where they began

their arranged marriage and had two children. Havey’s vivid and poignant watercolors depict decades-old memories and dreams and reflect moments of daily camp life illuminated by the author’s adult perspective. The paintings and her animated writing draw readers into a turbulent era when America disgracefully incarcerated, without due process, thousands of American citizens because of their race. These stories of love, loss, and discovery recall a girl balanced precariously between childhood and adolescence. In turns funny, wrenching, touching, and biting but consistently engrossing, they elucidate the daily challenges of life in the camp. When, in 1980, Havey travelled across the Pacific and for the first time met her uncle Iwatake, a Zen Buddhist priest, she finally understood, in retrospect, the words her mother had spoken years earlier in camp: “You are American, but you are also Japanese.”

Lily Havey was born in Los Angeles. In 1942, along with 120,000 persons of Japanese descent, she was incarcerated at the Amache Relocation Center in Colorado. After World War II her family moved to Salt Lake City where she attended West High School and the University of Utah. She graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music and pursued an MFA at the University of Utah.

By Lily Yuriko Nakai Havey Western History Autobiography and Memoir Find at Amazon.com for $21.74 Book Previews | asian avenue magazine

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Asian Avenue magazine - May 2014  

Cover: Asian American Heroes of Colorado