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Thursday, April 20, 2017 

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New Clothes for New Year’s Day

by Hyun-Joo Bae

Up even before the sun, a girl wearing white leans on her windowsill and looks out at a pale tree, a brown wooden gate, and a grey building beyond the yard. It’s New Year’s Day in Korea, and even the clouds in the sky are new, "But the very best new things of all the new things are … "

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion

By Loree Griffin Burns

FOLLOWING FLOTSAM. Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion, by Loree Griffin Burn, follows Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer and a team of mostly amateur ocean observers from throughout the world as they learn more about the ocean and what’s bobbing out in the big blue.

The Concrete Dragon: China’s Urban Revolution and What It Means for the World

By Thomas J. Campanella

China is in the midst of the greatest building boom in human history." So began University of North Carolina professor Thomas J. Campanella’s evening talk at downtown Portland’s Powell’s City of Books last month, and so too reads the theme most central to his lively and rigorous 335 pager: The Concrete Dragon: China’s Urban Revolution and What It Means for the World.

Twinkie Chan’s Crochet Goodies for Fashion Foodies

By Twinkie Chan

DELICIOUS BY DESIGN. Twinkie Chan, author of Twinkie Chan’s Crochet Goodies for Fashion Foodies, poses with a tasty looking lemon coconut cake tissue cozy crochet project featured in her new book. (Photo/Stephanie Lee)

’Tis the season for giving, and with the economy still struggling, people are looking to do-it-yourself projects to save them from the blues of paying post-holiday bills. But before resorting to glue guns and popsicle sticks (does grandma really need another hand-painted pen holder?), take a peek at Twinkie Chan’s Crochet Goodies for Fashion Foodies.


The Fishes & Dishes Cookbook: Seafood Recipes and Salty Stories from Alaska’s Commercial Fisherwomen

By Kiyo Marsh, Tomi Marsh, and Laura Cooper

Commercial fishing in Alaska is not for the faint-of-heart; choppy, ice-cold seas, long hours, and severe weather select for adventurous, resilient, and hardy folk working to harvest the state’s seafood. Sisters Kiyo and Tomi Marsh and friend Laura Cooper, three women with more than 40 years experience between them fishing these waters, offer a window into this life with their book,The Fishes & Dishes Cookbook: Seafood Recipes and Salty Stories from Alaska’s Commercial Fisherwomen.

Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku

By Ellie Crowe

SURFING SAGE. Duke Kahanamoku faced discrimination and financial problems with determination and perseverance. By the end of his 20-year Olympic career, he was a six-time medal winner. Beloved for his modesty, sportsmanship, and amazing skill in the water, Duke remains a legendary waterman and is an inspiration to many.

One Amazing Thing

By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

As a little girl listening to her grandfather tell stories by candlelight in a rural village in eastern India, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni never thought she would become a writer. But with the release of her 16th book, One Amazing Thing, the Indian-American author continues to explain the mysteries of the universe through storytelling.

"I began writing as an action against forgetting," says the Houston-based author, who travelled to Portland this month to promoteOne Amazing Thing. "I didn’t want to forget the people, the landscape, or the way of thinking in India."


Tibetan Calligraphy: How to Write the Alphabet and More

By Sanje Elliott

PERFECT PENMANSHIP. Sanje Elliott has published a new book, Tibetan Calligraphy, that captures the elegance and grace of Tibetan calligraphy without prior knowledge of the language and art form. The book includes prayers, mantras, and seed syllables to copy and study.

The Way of Tea: Reflections on a Life with Tea

By Aaron Fisher

My grandmother drinks a mug of tea, made from a tea bag, each evening," writes tea expert Aaron Fisher in his new book, The Way of Tea: Reflections on a Life with Tea. "There’s nothing fancy about it, but she always asks us not to disturb her; and when you see her face, leaning back in her chair and slowly sipping her tea, it’s obvious that she’s completely relaxed; and I’d say that has as much, if not more, to do with the quiet time as the tea."

It’s a moment most tea or coffee drinkers can relate to — settling back with a cup of warm


Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

By Jamie Ford

There are books that create worlds so wide and broad and deep, so multifaceted, so full of surprises and possibilities, that they seem at least as authentic as what we call the real world, at times perhaps even more so. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is such a book. Jamie Ford’s characters are ordinary people portrayed with extraordinary sympathy, sharing terrain at the intersection of actuality and imagination with luminous objects that seem on the verge of lives of their own. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweetis also, despite its complex and often troubling subject matter, a stunningly easy read.

The Otaku Encyclopedia

By Patrick W. Galbraith

It’s easy to understand the meaning of otaku when Patrick Galbraith, author of the recently released Otaku Encyclopedia, walks into Powell’s Bookstore. He is dressed in an orange jumpsuit, with tufts of orange-blond hair shooting out of his head like flames. (He admits later that it’s a wig he had specially made in Hong Kong.) For those of us who don’t read manga, watch anime, or encounter Japanese pop culture in our lives, Galbraith explains he is dressed as "Goku," a character from the popular manga and television series "Dragon Ball Z."

While Japan’s otaku culture, revolving obsessively around technology and media, was


Grandfather’s Story Cloth (Yawg Daim Paj Ntaub Dab Neeg)

By Linda Gerdner and Sarah Langford

Alzheimer’s Disease is a deeply troubling condition, even for adults who understand the reasons behind the symptoms. Imagine what it’s like for children. In Linda Gerdner and Sarah Langford’s Grandfather’s Story Cloth, Chersheng’s grandfather has begun to forget things, everything from turning off the faucet to having a grandson. Of course the boy is troubled, yet he doesn’t add to his family’s distress. "He did the only thing that always made him feel better. He drew."

Blind Faith

By Sagarika Ghose

In Sagarika Ghose’s second novel, Blind Faith, Mia, a young Indian woman living in England and drowning in the sorrow of her father’s suicide, is confronted with a choice between two ostensibly opposite men. One generously offers her a life of privilege, travel, and his hand in marriage. The other offers nothing but the opportunity to relinquish these trappings of wealth and wedlock to follow the true path toward Pure Love.

Overwhelming aromas, picturesque landscapes, and poignant characters emanate from the pages of Blind Faith. Ghose’s writing possesses an esoteric, poetic quality that makes


Sky Sweepe

By Phillis Gershator

Sky Sweeper is an unusual book right from the start: "Young Takeboki needed a job, and the monks in the temple needed a Flower Keeper." Illustrated with a boy holding a broom longer than he is tall and a black-robed monk gesturing toward a garden gate, the first page of this book sets the stage for a quiet, contemplative tale, not something children are likely to run into very often. In its understated way, Sky Sweeper is a revolutionary work.

After Takeboki has been sweeping for two years, his parents think that’s long enough. "There is no future in sweeping," they tell him. It crosses Takeboki’s mind that "it might


Kanzashi in Bloom

By Diane Gilleland

KANZASHI CRAFTS. In a new do-it-yourself book, Kanzashi in Bloom, local crafter Diane Gilleland introduces readers to kanzashi— traditional Japanese hair ornaments used for decoration.

I always come back to flowers," writes local crafter Diane Gilleland in her new do-it-yourself book, Kanzashi in Bloom. "When I design beautiful objects, floral elements always seem to


A Corpse in the Koryo

By James Church

Being a policeman in a police state should be a snap, right? Wrong. As James Church so vividly shows in his first novel, A Corpse in the Koryo, the life of a lowly policeman in North Korea is no easy task.

Following in the footsteps of Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko, a principled detective fighting the system in Soviet Moscow, Church offers us Inspector O and a murder mystery that may affect not only the future of O and his family, but of the entire oppressive North Korean regime. The result is a tightly wound thriller that will grip readers even as it offers a


Long-Long’s New Year

By Catherine Gower

Hey, Long-Long! Wake up, we’re almost there!" says Grandpa to the boy surrounded by baskets of cabbages in the back of a bicycle cart. This is Long-Long’s "first time ever to ride to town," and the onset of the Spring Festival makes the occasion even more exciting.

A flat tire on the cart doesn’t dampen the boy’s spirits. "I’ll push, you pull!," he tells Grandpa, and the two of them move the cart full of cabbages to market so Grandpa can begin selling


The Kittens of Boxville

By Ryosuke Handa

Welcome!! At last you have discovered the fair seaside village of Boxville Sur la Mer! I see that you, like so many before you, wear upon your face a look of wonder and disbelief." With an opening like that, who can resist a tour of a town unlike any other, especially when your guides are the mischievous kittens who reside here "blissfully in cardboard houses beside the ocean."

The Kittens of Boxville comprises a group of linked narratives — all documented with some


The Day the Dragon Danced

By Kay Haugaard

So what’s a dragon got to do with New Year’s?" Grandma asks Sugar. "It isn’t even New Year’s. Here it is February already."

You can’t get a whole lot more multicultural than this rollicking romp for Lunar New Year.


Peaceful Painter: Memoirs of an Issei Woman Artist

By Hisako Hibi

Hisako Hibi painted a wealth of images during the three and a half years she was incarcerated at Tanforan Assembly Center and Topaz Relocation Center. Some are monochromatic and bleak, others a riot of joyful color. Her memoirs too are a bittersweet testimony to what is described in the foreword to Peaceful Painter as "the triumph of art over adversity." It is our good fortune that Hisako Hibi both painted and wrote, and this


Niwaki: Pruning, Training and Shaping Trees the Japanese Way

By Jake Hobson

Get a sheet of paper, pick up a pencil, and draw a tree. That is a niwaki," writes Jake Hobson in his matter-of-fact introduction to a rarefied topic. Next he encourages the reader to build a tree, then to grow one. It’s at this last stage that "you run into trouble; the tree appears to have a mind of its own. It does not look anything like the sketch you drew or the model you built." Unlike their western counterparts, Japanese gardeners and nursery workers approach growing a tree in the same way they approach drawing or building one, "coaxing out those features believed to signify ‘the essence of the tree’: gnarled trunks,

Looking for Asian America: An Ethnocentric Tour by Wing Young Huie

By Wing Young Huie

VISION QUEST. In search of contemporary Asian America, photographer Wing Young Huie travelled with his wife across the United States to explore and document the intersections

Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family

By Lauren Kessler

Oregon will celebrate 150 years of statehood in 2009, and to commemorate this event, almost every library in the state will encourage reading and discussion of Lauren Kessler’s monumental pageturner, Stubborn Twig, the story of three generations of the Yasui family and their century in Oregon.

As Lauren Kessler writes in her preface, "We want to be proud to be Americans — not with aggressive jingoism but with sincerity, with respect for land, people, and principle. But it is sometimes difficult, for our



By Natsuo Kirino

Natsuo Kirino’s first book translated into English, Out, was an odd little novel about a group of oppressed Japanese women who form a body disposal cartel. I didn’t utterly dislike it, but was skeptical of its supposed feminism, in part because the protagonist fantasized about being raped and killed by her antagonist — not the best recipe for a strong female character. Kirino’s swirling new novel, Grotesque, takes on similar ideas of sex, violence, and feminism, but with far stronger results. Told from multiple points of view, the book explores the relationship between a plain woman and her strikingly beautiful older sister, reaching conclusions about true beauty and its effects on women (and men) on both sides

Love Hotels

Essays by Natsuo Kirino and Rod Slemmons

Love hotels are a unique Japanese institution, hotels exclusively for sex," writes author Natsuo Kirino in one of the essays preceding this unsettling book of photographs. They have a long history, she continues, starting with "the geisha teahouses in the Edo period." Recently, however, love hotels have begun to change. "Themed hotels and rooms have appeared, with fantasy elements in every room: a bathtub, for instance, in the shape of an

Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America

By Erika Lee & Judy Yung

The United States has always had a very complicated relationship to immigration," says Judy Yung, professor emerita of American studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz and co-author of Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America. "Not all immigrants have been welcomed to this country and not all immigrants have realized the American Dream."

Published to commemorate the Angel Island immigration station’s 100th anniversary, Angel Island tells the story of the "Ellis Island of the West," which from 1910 to 1940 was the main Pacific gateway into and out of the United States, with around a half a million people passing through as they entered or departed the country. The station was


Filipinos in the Willamette Valley

By Tyrone Lim and Dolly Pangan-Specht

IMAGES OF AMERICA. Filipinos in the Willamette Valley, part of Arcadia Publishing’s "Images of America" series, is a treasure trove of words and pictures. Pictured is the book’s cover, which features a sepia-toned photograph of Filipino musicians at a 1949 Christmas party.

Since 1993, Arcadia Publishing’s "Images of America" series has chronicled the history of communities throughout the United States, each containing more than 200



By Tao Lin

Bed is the title of a collection of nine short stories. Publisher Melville House co-released it along with the novel Eeeee Eee Eeee. Both are the work of recent New Yorker Tao Lin — a rather confident, pretty funny, and super-smart young writer.

There actually is no "Bed" in Bed, not in the way most short story collections are named after one of the selections inside. But you’ve got to admit it’s clever. A tempting title.



Eeeee Eee Eeee

By Tao Lin

Bed is the title of a collection of nine short stories. Publisher Melville House co-released it along with the novel Eeeee Eee Eeee. Both are the work of recent New Yorker Tao Lin — a rather confident, pretty funny, and super-smart young writer.

There actually is no "Bed" in Bed, not in the way most short story collections are named after one of the selections inside. But you’ve got to admit it’s clever. A tempting title.

Mr. Lin likewise works the terrific title "Love is a Thing on Sale for More Money Than There


A Song for Cambodia

By Michelle Lord

In a country of sugar palms, whispering grasses, and bright sunshine, there lived a boy named Arn. His home was filled with the sweet sounds of music and laughter." So began the life of Cambodian musician and activist Arn Chorn-Pond, but the Khmer Rouge changed all that, separating Arn from his parents, grandparents, and 11 brothers and sisters. "I come from a family of performers," he says in the afterword to A Song for Cambodia. "I am the only one left."


By Packy & Me: The Incredible Tale of Doc Maberry and the Baby Elephant Who Made History

By Dr. Matthew Maberry, with his wife, Patricia Maberry, as told to Michelle Trappen

PRIDE OF PORTLAND. The birth of Packy on April 14, 1962 — the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years — catapulted Portland from relative obscurity to the city with "the world’s preeminent captive elephant breeding facility." Packy, pictured above at his first birthday, has served as an ambassador for Portland for 49 years. Packy & Me: The

Wisdom of the Last Farmer: Harvesting Legacies from the Land

By David Mas Masumoto

In front of a packed audience at Powell’s Books last month, writer and organic farmer David Mas Masumoto read from his newest work, Wisdom of the Last Farmer: Harvesting Legacies from the Land.

Masumoto is best known for his critically acclaimed memoir Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm, which chronicles his attempts to save the luscious but delicate Sun Crest heirloom peach in an economy that values durable and transportable peaches. The peach becomes a symbol of a fading cultural icon — the family farm — and the importance of preserving it in an era of corporate agribusiness.


Down the Rat Hole: Adventures Underground on Burma’s Frontiers

By Edith Mirante

When Edith Mirante writes in the author’s note leading into Down the Rat Hole that an excursion "had all the traits of a good adventure: a train trip, getting lost, breaking the law, and a core sample," she is making an unlikely connection between the MAX Westside Line and Bangladesh, China, India, and Laos — countries that border her beloved Burma. Finding common ground in uncommon places is one of the things the Portland author does best.

The first chapter, "Insurance," serves as a brief, surreal introduction to Burma, though the


Chinese Feasts & Festivals: A Cookbook

By S.C. Moey

RECIPES REVEALED. S.C. Moey’s book, Chinese Feasts & Festivals: A Cookbook, provides readers with detailed recipes to make special dishes, with ingredients listed in both metric and English units. Pictured above is Dried Sweet Barbecued Pork, a common New Year gift.

Wondering what dishes to prepare to ensure an auspicious Year of the Rabbit? Malaysia-based author and cook S.C. Moey provides answers to this dilemma in her book Chinese Feasts & Festivals: A Cookbook.


The Last Chinese Chef

By Nicole Mones

Maggie McElroy, protagonist of The Last Chinese Chef, is a food writer who doesn’t cook. Until the opening pages of Nicole Mones’ wonderful novel, Maggie has "travelled each month to a different American community for her column." She has written about "ethnic food, of course," but when some unsettling news propels her to China, she takes an assignment to interview a Beijing chef, Sam Liang. "It would keep me sane," she tells her editor. What she doesn’t say is that she has "never really liked Chinese food."

Sam Liang is the grandson of Liang Wei, imperial chef and author, whose book Sam is


Tsunami Warning

By Taylor Morrison

SEISMIC STUDIES. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami swept over entire islands, wiping some of them completely off the map and killing more than 230,000 people. In Tsunami Warning, author and illustrator Taylor Morrison explains how scientists developed the first

Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan

By Greg Mortenson

Since the hit book Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace and Build Nations … One School at a Time propelled Greg Mortenson into the spotlight as America’s most popular humanitarian in 2006, the mountaineer-turned-school-builder has received a lot of invitations to tea.

The account of how Mortenson began building schools for girls in Pakistan after a failed


Miles from Nowhere

By Nami Mun

Miles From Nowhere, Nami Mun’s poignant debut novel, is a stark departure from many popular Asian-American novels. Rather than focus on the family drama of cultural difference and intergenerational conflict, it delves into the hidden lives of runaways and the precariousness of survival on the streets.

The novel follows Joon, a 13-year-old Korean-American runaway in New York City in the early 1980s. For Joon, living on the streets was an escape from the isolation and neglect of life at home. The stress of moving to a new country had driven a wedge between her parents, and her father left them for one of his many mistresses. In grief, her mother


The Lonesome Puppy

By Yoshitomo Nara

I was always hoping for someone, somewhere, to be my friend," said the Lonesome Puppy, whose downcast eyes reflect his sadness: A sentiment most kids can identify with at one time or another in their lives.

The Lonesome Puppy, the first children’s book written and illustrated by Japanese


The Shanghai Tunnel

By Sharan Newman

Sharan Newman’s informative and engaging mystery The Shanghai Tunnel takes readers back to Portland’s roots as a frontier port, where rough-hewn men came to make a living in the forests or on the sea. And the taverns along Front Street catered to these men’s baser desires, providing them with liquor, opium, or ladies of the evening. Many of these saloons also turned their patrons into unwilling sailors on the ships in the harbor, in a process called "shanghaiing."

A victim would be drugged or otherwise incapacitated and delivered via trapdoor or false wall into a saloon’s basement. From there, he would be transported through an


Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hells Canyon

By R. Gregory Nokes

HISTORIC HATE CRIME. Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hells Canyon, by author R. Gregory Nokes, is the culmination of six years of research and effort to track down what little evidence remains of one of the most heinous crimes in Oregon history.

In 1887, more than 30 Chinese gold miners were murdered on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon in one of the most heinous crimes in state history. Yet for more than a century the massacre was covered up and forgotten — until seasoned reporter and amateur detective R. Gregory Nokes took on the case.


Waiting on the Weather: Making Movies with Akira Kurosawa

By Teruyo Nogami

In the world of Asian film there is no greater name than Akira Kurosawa, the director whose career spanned six decades, who ultimately transcended any regional or ethnic designation to become one of the world’s finest cinematic craftsmen. Throughout his prolific career his script supervisor, Teruyo Nogami, was almost always at his side, orchestrating the complex shots and sets demanded by the meticulous Kurosawa, and Nogami became a firsthand witness to his genius, as well as his faults.

During the 1990s, Nogami produced a series of essays for a Japanese film magazine


The Convict’s Sword

By I.J. Parker

In the pantheon of mystery books, I.J. Parker’s stand alone. Far from simple potboilers, her mysteries weave multiple plot threads into a lush tapestry of Japanese society in the Heian period. Her latest book, The Convict’s Sword, features her detective, the judicial clerk Akitada Sugawara, trying to clear the names of two friends, even as he makes decisions about his family more serious than he ever imagined. The result is one of her best — if not the best — books yet, a complex and heady mix of suspense and Asian culture written with authority and flair.

Sugawara’s unconventional approach to life often gets him into trouble, chafing with his


Ani’s Raw Food Desserts

By Ani Phyo

My idea of a good dessert is a homemade chocolate cake with a pound of butter, eggs, brown sugar, and the best melted chocolate on the market, dense enough that even frosting seems unnecessary. However, I recently moved into an apartment with an oven that heats to only one temperature: fiery hot. So, I resigned myself to a summer sans baking.


Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life: A Story of Sustainable Farming

By Jan Reynolds

A food staple for half the planet’s population, rice is one of the most important crops on earth."

So begins Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life, which focuses on "the small Indonesian island of


The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families

By Susan L. Roth & Cindy Trumbore

It would be difficult not to become bitter after being locked up because you were of the "wrong" ethnicity at the wrong time. Gordon H. Sato, a Japanese-American teenager, and

Untold Civil Rights Stories

Edited Russell C. Leong and Stewart Kwoh

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has released a new textbook focused on the Asian-American experience. Representing more than 15 million Asian Americans in the United States, Untold Civil Rights Stories is the first book created for high school and freshmen college students to learn and discuss the social struggles Asian Americans have faced before and after September 11, 2001. The book is co-edited by UCLA Asian American Studies adjunct professor Russell C. Leong and Asian Pacific American Legal Center president and executive director Stewart Kwoh.


Tea with Milk

By Allen Say

In some ways, it’s the best of both worlds for the protagonist of this story. She has two names, Masako and May, and speaks two languages, Japanese and English. In her home overlooking San Francisco, "She had rice and miso soup and plain green tea for breakfast. At her friends’ houses she ate pancakes and muffins and drank tea with milk and sugar." But when her parents decide to return to Japan, their homeland, after her high school graduation, she is sad to leave "the only home she had ever known."

It’s even worse when the family arrives in Japan, which she thinks she will never get used


Tree of Cranes

By Allen Say

When I was not yet old enough to wear long pants, Mama always worried that I might drown in a neighbor’s pond. Time and again she warned me not to play there, but I never listened because the pond was filled with carp of bright colors." It’s winter the last time Allen Say’s narrator visits the pond. The fish "never came out from under the rocks, and all I caught was a bad chill." This is the beginning of Tree of Cranes and also of a very strange, very good day.

When the boy returns home, his mother is folding cranes — "Maybe even two thousand …"


Yaku: Haikus about Yaks in Tibet

By Kathy Schroeder and Anna and Clara Gustafson

TREASURE OF NOMADS. Yaku: Haikus about Yaks in Tibet is a children’s book written by St. Mary’s Academy students Anna and Clara Gustafson. The book features haiku accompanied by photographs taken by Anna and Clara’s mother, Kathy Schroeder. Yaku is available at Wallace Books, located at 7241 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue in Portland.


Rabbit’s Gift

By George Shannon

What would you do with an extra turnip?

It’s hard to write much about this charming and humorous retelling of a Chinese fable, in which the central character is a root vegetable, without giving the ending away, so here are a few suggestions for getting to know Rabbit’s Gift.


Ten Mice for Tet

By Pegi Deitz Shea and Cynthia Weill

It’s time for Tet!," opens Ten Mice for Tet, a book that offers insight into the Vietnamese New Year while allowing kids to count along with the 10 steps the joyful, titular mice use to get ready for the holiday. Preparations range from one mouse planning a party by making a guest list, two mice going to the market for supplies, and three mice painting and polishing their house, all the way to 10 mice who gather to watch the celebration’s fireworks at the


My Dadima Wears a Sari

By Kashmira Sheth

There is a special relationship between grandmothers and granddaughters, and the very first page of this lovely book draws us into one. The dimpled narrator, Rupa, a girl whose age hasn’t reached two digits, smiles lovingly at a beautiful woman with long gray hair and a dancer’s physique who radiates serenity and grace as she arranges lilies, roses, and


Divining the Asian Zodiac: Ancient Guide to Life and Love

By Fumio Shiozawa

Did you know that Albert Einstein said, "Make friends with a few animals. Then you will become a cheerful man once more and nothing will be able to trouble you?" That’s just the beginning of what you’ll learn if you take a look at Fumio Shiozawa’s gorgeous book,Divining the Asian Zodiac. And speaking of beginnings, the Year of the Rat is right where it all gets started.


Knitted Socks East and West

By Judy Sumner

IN STITCHES. Judy Sumner’s Knitted Socks East and West features 30 different projects matching design and color with various aspects of Japanese art and culture.

Socks, to me, are like a canvas you have to put your art on," says Judy Sumner, the author of a new book, Knitted Socks East and West, which brings Japanese stitch patterns to western knitters.


In the Convent of Little Flowers: Stories

By Indu Sundaresan

Indu Sundaresan’s collection of short stories, In the Convent of Little Flowers, is a poignant and tragic portrayal of an India caught between the progress of the 21st century and a past locked in tradition. Inspired by her own experience growing up in India, the collection both describes and evokes intense emotion.

The first tale is of a young Indian girl, Padmini, adopted by American parents and now an adult confronting the memory of her birth mother. Lucid and elegant, but not flowery, prose brings this and every story in the collection to life.


Celebrating the Chinese New Year

By Sanmu Tang

Little Mei is happy the New Year is approaching, but she is not content to celebrate a holiday she doesn’t know the reason for, so she asks. And asks. And asks. Celebrating the Chinese New Year is the story of a little girl’s inquisitiveness and persistence, and those of us who are acquainted with little people unaccustomed to settling for the first answer they get to an important question will see our young loved ones in wonderful Little Mei.

Celebrating the Lantern Festival

By Sanmu Tang

It is the 15th day of the Lunar New Year calendar, and Little Mei is confused by all the activity around her. "Grandpa, Daddy, what are these lanterns for?" she asks in the book Celebrating the Lantern Festival. Readers can learn along with Little Mei the traditions and history of the Chinese festival.


Sacred Mountain: Everest

By Christine Taylor-Butler

SHERPA STORY. Many stories have been told about the dangers and triumphs of climbing to the summit of Mount Everest, but few have been written about the Sherpa — the people who have lived on the mountain for centuries and consider it sacred. Christine Taylor-

The Wishing Tree

By Roseanne Thong

An enormous banyan tree with thick, leafy branches grew in the center of a village near an ancient temple in a green valley with a gurgling stream." The Wishing Tree begins with these words and a depiction of the idyllic locale: The leafy landscape is almost a bird’s-eye view, except that the bird, a swallow, is also a part of the picture. It’s a lovely beginning, and the book just keeps getting better.

When Ming is five years old, Grandmother takes him to the tree to make his first wish. It is


American Chinatown: A People’s History of Five Neighborhoods

By Bonnie Tsui

Bonnie Tsui’s American Chinatown: A People’s History of Five Neighborhoods is an intimate look at a cultural icon of Chinese immigration and settlement in the United States. Part memoir, part oral history, part travel writing, part geography, and part ethnography, Tsui takes Chinatown as an organizing trope to present a complex view of Chinese and Chinese-American experiences. The book reclaims Chinatown from its stereotypically touristy and exotic image and reveals the lives of the people who call it home.


The Chinese Astrology Kit: Discover Your Personality, Compatibility and Destiny

By Derek Walters and Helen Jones

Little Mei is happy the New Year is approaching, but she is not content to celebrate a holiday she doesn’t know the reason for, so she asks. And asks. And asks. Celebrating the Chinese New Year is the story of a little girl’s inquisitiveness and persistence, and those of

Chinese Astrology: Plain and Simple

By Suzanne White

Chinese legend has it that the order of the twelve animal signs was determined thousands of years ago by Buddha himself," Suzanne White writes in the introduction to this updated edition of her 1976 classic.

"Buddha felt that the Chinese nation was sadly in need of some reorganization," and "called all the animals in the kingdom together for a meeting. But only twelve beasts showed up for this convention." What you may not know is that "the hardworking Ox" was the second to arrive, preceded only by the Rat.


Listen to the Fragrance

By Charles Wu

HIDDEN TREASURES. Charles Wu’s Listen to the Fragrance offers a closer look at the hidden treasures in Portland’s classical Chinese garden with translations of and commentary on the literary inscriptions found throughout the garden.

Any time is a good time to visit Lan Su Yuan, Portland’s classical Chinese garden, with a copy of Listen to the Fragrance, but this year — near the end of the garden’s 10th anniversary year — is an especially good time. If you’re far away and missing the garden or wishing you could visit for the first time, Listen to the Fragrance, Charles Wu’s extraordinary


My Mom Is a Fob: Earnest Advice in Broken English from Your Asian-American Mom

By Teresa Wu and Serena Wu

FOB-BULOUS MOMS. My Mom Is a Fob: Earnest Advice in Broken English from Your Asian-American Mom, a new book by Teresa Wu and Serena Wu, includes humorous messages sent with unconditional love by their immigrant mothers. The book is based on the duo’s hit blog, <>.

If your mom is a FOB like mine, you will want to read this book. FOB is an acronym for "fresh off the boat," and blog founders Teresa Wu and Serena Wu do a wonderful job of


A Case of Two Cities

By Qiu Xiaolong

Corruption in China has been a hot topic in the news this past year, with recalls of faulty Chinese pet food and children’s toys, along with the execution of one of its own top drug administrators. In the West, we sometimes deride these latter efforts as mere show trials, but to the Chinese they are serious business, a way of showing the world they’re a commercial and political superpower, not some bad copy of the failed Soviet state. Corruption becomes even more difficult to control as the world’s most populous country experiences an explosion in modernization, and cities expand rapidly to house the workers migrating from the country. Dollars and yuan fly around at a dizzying pace, and the temptation to grab some of this can be irresistible.

Daughter of Xanadu

By Dori Jones Yang

Over the 10 years of writing and rewriting Daughter of Xanadu, author Dori Jones Yang questioned what Marco Polo would look like from a female Asian perspective. Polo must certainly have had a lover during his time at the Mongol court — what was she like? These questions led to the development of protagonist princess Emmajin’s character — the female foil to Polo’s romantic, peace-loving western tendencies.

Yang’s book explores themes of war, gender, and otherness in a story about a headstrong



By Nancy Yi Fan

In her acknowledgements, Nancy Yi Fan notes she was inspired to write Swordbird "when I was a child of ten." What she doesn’t mention is that she was 11 when she wrote this debut novel. Keep an eye on this writer; she’s got a good start and her whole life ahead of her.

The characters in Swordbird are various species of birds, and their names encourage us either to get to know them better or give them a wide berth. The narrative begins with the villains: Bug-eye and Slime-beak are crows, and there’s a hawk named Lord Turnatt, "the Evil, the Conqueror, the Slayer, and Tyrant of soon-to-be-Glooming," the name of a fortress


Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story

By Paula Yoo

PIONEERING PERFORMER. Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story, a new book aimed at readers age six to 11, shows a glimpse of the difficulties faced by Asian Americans in the early 20th century and provides a good role model for what a truly determined person

The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir

By Kao Kalia Yang

"When the Americans left Laos in 1975, they took the most influential, the biggest believers and fighters for democracy with them, and they left my family and thousands of others behind to wait for a fight that would end for so many in death. A third of the Hmong died in the war with the Americans. Another third were slaughtered in its aftermath."

The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, in addition to being a repository of devastating statistics like these, is the story of a family and a heritage that flourish in spite of such tragedy.


A Father Like That

By Charlotte Zolotow

I wish I had a father. But my father went away before I was born." So begins a children’s book with an astonishing premise: how a boy imagines his father, "if he were here."

"He’d make coffee for you and for him, and he’d make you sit down with him before dinner," he tells the woman who has clearly raised him right all by herself. "When something bad happened, I could always talk to him. His voice would be very low, and when he was angry, he would speak slowly and be kind."