Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy post-holidays & pre-New Year

Greetings from the "slowest week of the year" - as a pal recently reminded me. Driving back and forth from LA during the holi-daze, we racked up 800 miles on the old odometer (certainly we'd have preferred driving a Prius).

But more importantly, we provided our full line of illustrated books to Burbank's best comic book store - House of Secrets (1930 West Olive Avenue Burbank, CA 91506).

There we met owner Paul and manager Eric and enjoyed the lovely view of thousands of comics, old and new. We heard the store will benefit from a quick remodel that will soon devote more shelf space to children's books, so we were glad that our timing was just right!

Meanwhile we drove a frisbee toss away to drop off a case of our newest book at the nerve center of DKE Toys. Though we missed seeing the impresario Dov Kelemer, we did admire the endless cardboard mountains of vinyl toys and collectibles, such as colorful line up of Darth Vader helmets in various states of heady expression. These were a handful of representatives of a past gallery tour, aka The Vader Project.

Unfortunately couldn't stay in the valley long enough to redeem his generous invitation to attend a Korean cuisine theme Christmas Eve party (our stomachs are still wistful at the mere possibility of partaking). But we had more appointments to keep and relatives to meet.

We divvied up and delivered one of our last cartons of the aforementioned The Year of the Rabbit. But we're already expecting our 2nd printing to arrive any day now.

The first was soaked up by Barnes and Noble as they will imminently trot out a month long "Chinese New Year" book promotion nationwide in their +700 stores, starting next week.

So, it would be great if you'd be kind dears and spread the word to family and friends and complete strangers to check out the 6th story in our Tales from the Chinese Zodiac series at a nearby B&N, local bookstore, and elsewhere.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Octonauts on TV around the world

Well, shiver me timbers and blow me down. The Octonauts are now an animated TV show and it debuted this month in the United Kingdom, France, and South America!

They started in the King's English on the esteemed BBC in the UK, on the children's channel CBeebies, which also broadcasts worldwide. Though the web episode player is restricted from operating in non-sanctioned territories (i.e. the USA), you can enjoy some fun stuff.

We always imagined what Captain Barnacles would sound like if he became James Bond. Note, Sauci dog is now called "Dashi"!

Octonauts "sub" site:

Listen to the Theme Tune!

Dance to the Creature Report

Play at the TV show's site

On the continent, the home station in France is TF1. The title translation is very debonair, and we're confident that Dr. Shellington sounds very convincing in French.

Les Octonauts

In South America, the team has found their headquarters on Discovery Kids. From the sound of it, the ocho amigos will give telenovelas on Telemundo a run for their pesos. Vegimals must be even more cute when they babble in Spanish.

Los Octonautas
"Os Octonautas e a Tempestade Submarina/Os Octonautas e a Lula Gigante"

All in all, many more adventures await. We're glad that the rest of the globe can learn not only how the Octonauts can be such a treat, but also help them learn more about the ocean and its creatures. Of course, there is no substitute to enjoy our original 4 missions - the Immedium books that started it all!

So turn in if you're travelling and let us know that your TV tube time was well spent!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Space Cadet Topo

Calling all you wanna be astonauts!

Next up is our 2nd new book of the fall season. Topo lives the dream of many a child - he monitors the universe from his rotating space station and helps out extra terrestrials in need.

Being a good space cadet, he wants to become space commander one day! That means, he is eager to undertake missions that would turn a regular terran's knees to jelly!

The following surprise assignment certainly qualifies...the sun has mysteriously turned off and needs to be turned back on before everything freezes forever! Ooops.

Well, that's not all. The only way to accomplish that impossible mission is to use the mythical "galactic torch"... and no one in eons has ever been able to do that.

Of course, Topo may be the right mole for the job. He is a cheery fellow and aided by his intrepid robot friends.

The Argentinian artists DGPH have created a colorful universe in Space Cadet Topo: the Day the Sun Turned Off. Bursting at the seams with life and wit, outer space has never seemed so much fun (let's forget about that dark matter for the moment). Kids will get a kick out of this brave astronaut's fantastic voyage, and parents can appreciate these entertaining adventures on the little printed screen.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sid the Squid

New book alert! We're a little tardy in celebrating the annual Cephalopod Awareness Day (October 10), but here goes anyway.

Sid is no ordinary squid. Given the fact that he has 10 appendages (8 tentacles + 2 arms), he wants to use them all to the best of his ability. He's scoured the seas and had no luck. So he is willing to travel up to the human world on a rumor that he could find the perfect job there.

In that sense, Sid is the same as you and me. Everyone likes a little adventure. But certainly one is willing to travel the extra yard in the hope they could find some fulfilling work. Self-actualization is as important for a cephalopod as it is for a homo sapiens.

Sid the Squid and the Search for the Perfect Job is the first story by David Derrick, a story artist at Dreamworks. Dave recently contributed to the summer flick How to Train Your Dragon and the upcoming Megamind.

Take a gander at Sid's adventures, and you'll enjoy seeing not only how an everyman becomes emblematic of our age, but also how a lush world of color and whimsy is created which both kids and adults can simply savor.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Culture Camp in Colorado

We hope you had a good Labor Day Weekend. Immedium author Oliver Chin spent his holiday at the final summer Heritage camp of the year in Fraser, Colorado. There he shared his Asian American (Tales from the Chinese Zodiac, Julie Black Belt) and other story books with families nationwide.

A two hour drive from Denver, the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch is nestled in the Rocky Mountains. The facility grounds cover a startlingly wide expanse. For the car-less, this made walking a necessary and good workout in the mile high air.

The camp's area seems even wider to those campers who remember how a forest used to blanket the terrain between the lodges. It was so thick that one couldn't even see the next cabin through the trees. After the arrival of the infamous pine beetle, the trees died in the thousands during the past few years. These multi-story matchsticks had to be chopped down (and sometimes are visible in big piles, looking like a stack of twigs in the distance), leaving the surroundings strangely barren to those who remember verdant green woods.

However this desolate contextual memory stands in startling contrast to the vibrant proceedings of the camp itself. This year the theme was "Folktales". Attendance was the highest ever in the camp's 14 year history. Dozens of programs for preschoolers to parents filled three days to the brim.

Oliver taught one hundred precocious 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders how to create their own "zodiac" animals stories as 4 page comic books. Plus he managed to sooth the savage beasts of "post lunch" preschoolers by drawing a big dragon and reading The Year of the Dog.

One of many culture camps held during the summer, this was the 2nd Chinese session. which is aimed at families who have adopted children from China. The program (staffed by local college students who act as counselors) offers many sessions for kids (mainly girls with a handful of boys and non-adopted children) to learn and participate in cultural traditions from a land they don't quite remember. Parents volunteer in a myriad of ways (from cooking to teaching), and learn some ways to help their children come to grips with their dual Asian and American-ness, while their families simultaneous cope with a spectrum of "adoption" issues.

This was a whirlwind weekend full of inspirational friendship that spanned age and geography. Immedium was privileged to be a part of it, and appreciated the opportunity to meet new people who are eager to learn about and proud of their Asian-American identity.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Artist at 2010 Anime Expo AX in LA

Animator Brianne Drouhard attends Anime Expo this weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Brianne (www.potatofarmgirl.blogspot.com) is a veteran artist who has contributed to popular Cartoon Network TV series such as Teen Titans, Batman Brave and the Bold, Class of 3000, and Transformers Animated, Brianne will dispense pearls of wisdom on a boffo panel:

Breaking In! Working in Animation!
(July 3rd, Saturday, 8pm, room lp2):
Giving tips on how to break into the domestic animation industry. Speakers will discuss how they got in and how anime influenced their work. Guest speakers will vary from writer, creator, director, character designer and production.

Brianne will hand out super cute buttons and postcards of her Spring 2011 children's adventure Billie the Unicorn (website www.billietheunicorn.com to come!).

Contest Alert! The first person who pre-orders Billie from us gets a special prize! Get free copy of Brianne's brand new "Girly Poo" sketchbook iPhone app (33 pages, $2.99, free with redeemable promo code for the iTunes store)! Take a peek and you will be happy!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Kung Fu Kid showing at a bookshelf near you

Such is the fate of Generation X - to watch another wave of recycled stories from our youth. Oh, where do new stories come from? It seems the path of least resistance is clear. It is easier, cheaper, and less risky to bank on nostalgia and name recognition by redoing the Flintstones, Josie and the Pussycats, and Scooby Doo on the big screen. Yeech. What we're they drinking? Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook were better off imitating Valley Girl, which copied Pygmalion. Next up are the A-Team and The Karate Kid.

Plus it is even savvier to appeal to the world's most populous nation and biggest emerging consumer market. The NBA opened the doors to the Middle Kingdom with the Trojan Horse of Yao Ming. Kung Fu Panda won over the hearts of the Forbidden City by denaturing the ideal a revolutionary action hero into a fat furry toy. Cue Will Smith and Jada Pinkett who wish to establish gainful employment for their son Jaden. Studios want their films to be #1 for their first weekend at any cost (creative or otherwise), so I'm sure that Columbia Pictures loves it when a plans comes together.

I never equated Jackie Chan with Pat Morita. But I'm sure that Jackie would have been better off reprising the role of Arnold from Happy Days. Jackie was a great Drunken Master, but I don't think Bruce Lee would have been caught playing a shadow of his former self, while simultaneously following the footsteps of a former burger flipper. Despite his prominent turns talking pidgin-English, at least Pat Morita helped raise the profile of Asian Americans as a lonely actor among a homogeneous eggshell-tinted cast. Mr. Miyagi was authentic in his limited way. Jackie just seems caught in a cycle of diluting whatever made him notable in the first place. (What else could have been the reasons to make Rush Hour 3 and Shanghai Knights?) You can blame it on aging or economic opportunism, but whatever it is, P.T. Barnum must be laughing because of it.

Let's forget for the time being the disingenuous mis-titling of the retelling of Ralph Macchio redux - that this weekend's remake is set in China with kung fu, as opposed to Japan (or Japantown or Okinawa) with karate. Or that the original writer of the screenplay was denied a credit. Or that Jaden only got the job because of his famous parents or that he acts like a typical 12 year old (i.e. not good enough to get the job in the first place). Or that we have a new target for the whole Avatar social-political criticism (i.e. a Westerner comes to a "native" culture, and shows he's the new savior and best warrior and gets the girl). The question is why can't we have some new stories with new characters. Do we have to swallow reheated leftovers from the cinematic microwave?

Sure, a movie can serve a good purpose - this flick can inspire children to take a martial arts class and learn discipline, good listening and exercise habits, and piety for peers and elders. (These are all laudable goals.) Or it can exploit the actual opposite values like a wolf in sheep's clothing - promoting the sexiness of violence, instant gratification, and egotism while ostensibly upholding the values of self-defense, self-respect, and self-mastery. Let viewers be the judge, but don't settle for the concept of "voting" with your pocket book by refusing to open it. That's like trying to tell Arizona that you disapprove of their recent immigration law by saying you won't vacation there.

If a movie piques your curiosity, great! Take some time, search some more. Dig a little deeper, beyond the superficial layer of merchandising (though Toy Story 3 may be a unique case now that Pixar was assimilated by the Disney Borg).

Check out www.julieblackbelt.com - we're proud of the book and Charlene Chua's dazzling artwork - and how that is based on a real story and a real kid. Here a girl can be the heroine (and not just a prize). Here a both man and a woman, and a mother and a father, can be inspirational teachers. Here stereotypes are challenged, not pandered to. Plus there's our itty bitty You Tube trailer :)

Though Julie Black Belt was published a few years ago, it may be new to you - and still seem new after the 10th reading.

If so, that's great too.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May = Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

We're halfway through May, but it's not too late to remember that it is officially Asian Pacific American Heritage month (APAHM).

Our friends at Asian American Curriculum Project (AACP), Japanese American Citizens League (San Mateo, JACL), and the Organization of Chinese Americans (San Mateo, OCA) have helped organized a commemoration at the Foster City Public Library (1000 E. Hillsdale Blvd, Foster City, 94404) on May 22nd (10 am - 6:30 pm).

Throughout the day many authors will present and artists will peform their work. The event is free so come and enjoy!

AACP helps distribute some of Immedium's books to schools and libraries, and we've participated in APAHM events in the past. AACP's mission is to:

to educate the public about the great diversity of the Asian American experience, through the books that we distribute; fostering cultural awareness and to educate Asian Americans about their own heritage, instilling a sense of pride. AACP believes that the knowledge which comes from the use of appropriate materials can accomplish these goals.

Unfortunately, we can't attend this year due to a prior commitment. But we wholeheartedly support May's theme and celebrations such as this!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Immedium at CAIS Institute conference on Chinese Education

This weekend, we’ll present this weekend (April 11th at noon) at the Chinese Education Conference in San Francisco, CA.

The conference is sponsored by the CAIS Institute, founded in 1989 to advocate Chinese language and culture education nationwide. It is related to the Chinese American International School (CAIS), the nation’s first Mandarin-English immersion school.

Our session is titled “Immedium: Bringing Chinese Culture Alive through Children’s Picture Books”. Here's the official description:

We’ll share how modern children’s literature can bring Chinese culture into the classroom and energize students, teachers and parents. The popular series “Tales from the Chinese Zodiac” (The Year of the Rat, Pig, Dog, Ox, Tiger) dovetails perfectly with annual New Year celebrations at elementary schools. Other titles on martial arts, “Julie Black Belt”, sports “The Tao of Yao: Insights from Basketball’s Brightest Big Man” and graphic novels “9 of 1: A Window to the World”, can engage middle and high school students and provide rich opportunities for classroom discussion, group activities and self-exploration. Learn how a new wave of children’s books can invigorate traditional subject matter, and inspire both kids and adults to learn more.

Whew! It sounds like a mouthful but we'll spice it up with the books' lovely illustrations, useful handouts (which we're diligently working on), and reader feedback. We share our new stories with first graders at CAIS every year (as well as those enrolled in other Chinese language programs), so we're glad to meet more teachers from around the nation and introduce our tales to them.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Barbara Traub revisits Desert to Dream

Photographer Barbara Traub will present a 25 year slideshow survey of her work at Books, Inc., 2251 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94123 on Tuesday, March 30th at 7:30 pm.

Following her presentation, she will gladly sign copies of her recent book Desert to Dream: A Decade of Burning Man Photography.

You're welcome to join this meetup group and rsvp or else just show up!

During the publication of Desert to Dream, Traub presented at venues such as the Commonwealth Club of California with Burning Man co-founder and director Larry Harvey, Litquake, and the Crucible's Fire Arts Festival. Afterwards Traub became a photographer teacher at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

Larry Harvey said, "This book is a landmark. It does more than illustrate a so-called counter-cultural event. Rather, it exhibits the integrity and singleness of vision of a complete work of art...It does not merely display Burning Man in pictures or explain it in words: It manifests the spirit of our culture through its style."

Relive the magic all over again, and get inspired for another glorious Labor Day Weekend 2010!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Immedium talks about Kid Lit at Book Passage

Join Immedium as we share our children's books at the Kid Lit Salon, held at the literary landmark Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA. We present on Monday, March 22nd, from 7 - 9 pm.

Hosted by moderator extraordinaire Lissa Rovetch, The Kid Lit Salon is for both established and beginning children’s book writers, illustrators, and lovers of fun kids’ books. (New members welcome! Just $10 per meeting.) Previous guests have included Lemony Snicket, the brothers Robert San Souci and Daniel San Souci, and Ashley Wolff.

Now come socialize with like-minded, creative types for an evening of casual conversation with author Oliver Chin, soon-to-be author Attaboy, and graphic designer Stefanie Liang.

As you may know, Atta is a boffo vinyl toy creator and co-founder of the cutting-edge (increasingly popular) art magazine Hi-Fructose. Now he is concocting his first children’s picture book, You Might be a Monster: and Other Stories I Made Up!, due to be published with us in the oh so near future!

Stefanie is one of our treasured Adobe InDesign gurus, and has designed books ranging from Desert to Dream: A Decade of Burning Man Photography and Julie Black Belt to Welcome to Monster Isle and the newest Octonauts adventures.

We'll provide a colorful PowerPoint and be pleased to autograph scintillating stories and sundry swag!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Reading all day 3/16 at College Park Elementary, San Mateo, CA

We're honored to be invited to College Park Elementary School (715 Indian Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401) to celebrate Literacy Week. We visit tomorrow, March 16th, and stay for the entire day!

Immedium has visited a few San Mateo public schools during the past few years, so we're pleased to see College Park's Gate (California's program of Gifted & Talented Education) and Mandarin Magnet Programs in person. Mandarin Immersion education is a hot topic nowadays, as schools nationwide are incorporating Chinese language curriculum. College Park is unique because it also houses a preschool program on site, which then feeds into the elementary school (kindergarten-5th grade).

Given the latest news of the severe budget cuts to California public schools next year and the resulting statewide protests by teachers, parents, and students, it is more important than ever to support our schools. Having traveled recently to dozens of schools, both public and private, we take great pride in sharing our stories and reinforcing an enthusiasm in kids for writing, drawing, and creating. Certainly parents and teachers have challenging jobs, so it is rewarding when they tell us that our books' themes reinforce their instruction and spur their students to love reading.

Never let it be said that we don't "put out" - we've been training for months for this day! Three presentations to six grades, another visit to the pre-K tykes, a book signing in the library, staff luncheon, plus a special drawing workshop to "lottery" winning 4th & 5th graders. Whew! By the time this day is over, our Powerpoint and PDF files will be melted, Teddy the Tiger will be officially put out to pasture, and we'll feel how it is to be a teacher...for one day.

We appreciate their kind staff and generous PTA for hosting us, and continued good luck to them.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Eh, Canada! 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics mascots

Meomi, the creators of The Octonauts series, designed the mascots for the Winter Olympics Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, which start today.

The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) chose Meomi's proposal from 177 entries. "They had to appeal to children from all over the world, they needed to represent the people, geography, and spirit of British Columbia and Canada, and they had to personify the values and essence of the 2010 Winter Games…. In short, they needed to be many things all at once," said John Furlong, VANOC CEO,

The three official ambassadors are Quatchi (a young Sasquatch). Sumi (a mythical Thunderbird), and Miga (a Sea-Bear). Plus don't forget their sidekick Mukmuk the Marmot.

'When we met Meomi Design's Vicki Wong, and saw the portfolios of her and her partner, Michael Murphy, I think we all felt they were born for this project," said VANOC Brand & Creative Services director Ali Gardiner. "Not only is her work warm, endearing and imaginative, but she's a very proud Vancouverite and Canadian, and was excited to share our culture and environment with the world through these Vancouver 2010 mascots. Vicki also understood immediately how the mascots could communicate Olympic and Paralympic ideals and values to children, and get them engaged in our Games."

Though Vancouver has no snow, it has the first 21st Century mascots - modern, fun, and adaptable.

Ask a Canadian friend to send you a commemorative hockey puck with a mascot stamp...or better yet collect all four adventures of their aquatic cousins The Octonauts. Their newest trek is The Octonauts and the Great Ghost Reef.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Roar at the SF Asian Art Museum

Enjoy the annual Chinese New Year family program at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum this weekend, Sunday, February 7th. The agenda is:

Lion Dance - 12:00–12:30 pm
Hands-on activities 1:30–4:00 pm
Author Reading 2:00–2:45 at Samsung Hall

At 2 pm, listen to author Oliver Chin read the newest book from his Tales from the Chinese Zodiac series, The Year of the Tiger, a charming tale about Teddy the tiger and his human friend, Su. Stick around and color pictures from the book, illustrated by Justin Roth, have your face painted like a tiger, create your own red envelopes (hung bao), decorate them with auspicious symbols, and fill with chocolate coins to give to friends and family.

This is a "Target First Free Sunday"— enjoy free admission on the first Sunday of every month. First-come, first-served! We look forward to seeing you there and we hope you enjoy our new hero Teddy, his friend Su, and the other characters from the lunar new year.