Archive for April, 2011

Book Party!

April 26, 2011

My new book is out! Mystery of the Missing Luck (Orca Book Publishers), illustrated by Leanne Franson, is a chapter book for ages 6-8 about a young girl, her relationship with her grandmother, and what happens when Maneki Neko, a lucky cat statue, goes missing from the grandmother’s Japanese bakery.

Usually, when I have a new book published, I celebrate with a launch event at a library, book store, or other physical venue. This time, I’m trying something new –a virtual book tour, online book give-a-ways, and a special Missing Luck – Lucky Cat contest. The prize is a Lucky Cat bag full of unique Maneki Neko (beckoning cat) items from Japan (including a cute plush beckoning cat, a wooden prayer plaque from Gotokuji Temple where the first Maneki Neko originated, tabi socks, hashi/chopsticks, stickers, candy, charm, etc. as well as a signed copy of my new book). Anyone can enter the Missing Luck – Lucky Cat contest here on my blog or on Facebook. All you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post letting me know you’d like to enter and telling me why you’d like to win our great prize pack. Leave a comment on my Facebook page for an extra chance to win. The Missing Luck contest is being co-sponsored by the Lucky Cat – Maneki Neko blog and Lucky Cat Facebook page, so you have even more chances of winning by leaving comments there as well. Spread the word by posting a link to the contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter, let us know, and we’ll give you an extra draw entry. We’ll be holding the draw May 20 and announcing the winner here and on Facebook.

Follow me on my tour as I hop from blog to blog, sharing stories about how I came to write Mystery of the Missing Luck, visited the home of the first Maneki Neko in Japan, and learned about an-pan, a special Japanese bun that inspired a cartoon super hero. Leave a comment after one of my blog posts, and the host will enter your name in a draw for a copy of Mystery of the Missing Luck. There will be a book given away at each blog stop (4 separate book give-a-ways, plus a book with the Missing Luck prize pack).

Teachers, if you have a class that would like to enter any of the draws, students can enter individually, or the whole class can enter as one (if a class wins the Missing Luck prize pack, I’ll make sure there are enough Lucky Cat candies for everyone in the class to try one, and I’ll add a class set of Mystery of the Missing Luck bookmarks). A downloadable teachers’ guide to the book will be available from Orca’s website.

Mystery of the Missing Luck tour schedule (2011):

April 28 – I’ll be visiting the blog of kc dyer, author of historical and contemporary fiction for kids and teens, including A Walk Through a Window and its sequel Facing Fire

May 2 – Check out my post on the site of Orca Book Publishers

May 6 – Find me at the blog of Tanya Lloyd Kyi, author of Burn: The Life Story of Fire, Jared Lester, Fifth Grade Jester, and other fiction and non-fiction titles

May 7 – I’ll be breaking with the virtual theme by joining the Burnaby Library‘s celebration of Canadian Children’s Book Week in person (at the Metrotown library branch)

May 11 – My stop will be the Children’s Writers and Illustrators of BC (CWILL BC) blog

May 18 – I’ll be joining fellow Orca authors for a group book launch (yes, this one is also live and in person) at Vancouver Kidsbooks, 3083 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC, 7pm [Note: this is a change of location from the previously announced, Ardea Books]

May 19 (or shortly after) – see photos of the group launch on Orca’s blog and the CWILL BC blog

May 20 – Missing Luck – Lucky Cat prize draw! [note: contest now closed, but if you’re interested in Lucky Cats there may be a future Maneki Neko-themed contest on the Lucky Cat blog and/or Facebook site]

Please ask for Mystery of the Missing Luck at your local book store, or order it through IndieboundAmazon.comAmazon.ca, or Chapters/Indigo. [note: if you plan on ordering the book through Amazon, please use my links -thanks!]

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Spring arrives in Vancouver’s Chinatown

April 11, 2011

I have been spending a lot of time on the computer lately, preparing for the launch of my new book (more info in a future post). But I was lured away by the spring sunshine Friday afternoon and decided to visit Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

As I neared Chinatown (walking from Stadium Skytrain station) I was met by these two Canada Geese who also seemed out for a spring walk (it’s the time of year when paired geese and their nests turn up in some strange locations around town).

Vancouver’s Chinatown is the second largest in North America (after San Francisco’s). It’s been in existence since the late 1800s, surging in growth after the Canadian railroad was completed in 1885 and many out-of-work Chinese railway workers found employment in Vancouver.

I love the colors and historic buildings in this part of the city and couldn’t resist posting some photos.


(Gate to Chinatown, looking east on Pender St. near Carrall St.)


(Shops along Pender St. –near entrance to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden)


(Tiny pink building is “Kitty’s Beauty Studio”)


(I’m not sure what purpose the niches in this old brick wall served originally, but they seem to have no current one other than to act as cozy pigoen perches)


(Like the two geese, and perhaps the pigeon pair, these crows seem to be a couple with nesting on their mind)


(Chinatown banners)

Ooops, I hadn’t mean to post so many photos of Chinatown, but actually meant to focus on Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden. So, if you’re still with me, garden photos are next.

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden is modeled after private classical gardens of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It is the first full-scale classical Chinese garden constructed outside of China, and was built through the cooperation of Canada, China, and the Chinese and non-Chinese communities in Vancouver. It is named in memory of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the “Father” of modern China, who played a role in leading the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and was the first president of the Republic of China.

(You can glimpse the moon-shaped gate to the public park section of the garden beyond the stone lion)

When I stepped into the garden, I left behind the hussle and bustle of the surrounding city (and the shouts from a nearby soccer game), and entered a tranquil oasis.

The design and materials of the garden reflect the Daoist philosophy of yin and yang. Light is balanced by dark, rugged and hard are balanced by soft and flowing, small is blanced by large. It also has the four main elements of a classical Chinese garden: buildings, rocks, plants, water.


Even the pebbled courtyard ground has symbolism. The stones are rough to balance the smooth of the water, and the pattern of one section represents “masculine,” while the pattern of the opposite section represents “feminine.”


Bamboo represents quiet resilience, bending but never breaking.


Turtles symbolize long-life, while the koi fish represent strength and perseverance (due to their ability to swim a long way against the current).


The drip tiles at the edge of the roof represent bats, which are symbols of good luck (the Chinese word for “bat”, bianfu, sounds like the Chinese word for “Good luck”). Bat images can be found throughout the garden.


The water is intentionally cloudy to intensify the reflections (Magnolia tree reflected in above photo).


The garden is open all year, with something different to see with each season. There is a fee to enter the inner courtyard and associated buildings, but the public park section (seen in the above photo) is free. More info is available on the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden website.