Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Happy Holidays from Max the Monkey

Everyone's heard of the Monkey King right? 

The Journey to the West has inspired countless adaptations across the centuries. As legend has it, Wu Cheng'en wrote this Chinese novel during the 16th century's Ming dynasty. Later the story became renowned as one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. The others are Water Margin, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Dream of the Red Chamber.

Modern versions of Journey to the West include the popular manga and anime Dragon Ball Z, created by Japan's prolific comics artist Akira Toriyama in 1984 As a little child, Goku starts off with a nice brown tail... but then it gets cut off! Ouch! A nice cartoon version of a boy's timeless rite of passage into adulthood, wouldn't you say? As a small consolation, at least in the future Goku gains a power that would put Clairol and many hairdressers out of business - our spiky headed hero enjoys free and instant hair coloring when he goes Super Saiyan.

In 2008, Hollywood was inspired. Lion's Gate got the bug with its Hong Kong flavored flick The Forbidden Kingdom. Here martial arts maven Jet Li transforms into old furry face himself to square off against the drunken master Jackie Chan. It's sort of the Asian cinematic equivalent of the Street Fighter IV but with better actors than Kylie Minogue and Jean Claude Van Damme.

In 2013 Kung Fu Hustle's Stephen Chow directed (but not starred) in a film aptly title Journey to the West. Therein the Buddhist hero undertakes the famed adventure by protecting a town from demons, falling in love with another fetching fighter, and searching for the fabled Mon-king.

Naturally, given the homegrown subject matter, this movie earned the most of any film in  China in its first day (beating the Transformers: Dark of the Moon only to be bested by the Transformer's even more boffo sequel Age of Extinction in 2014). Soon Chow's Journey became the highest grossing Chinese-language motion picture ever. Poor Wu Cheng'en. If he only had Walt Disney's lawyers, then he'd still be earning royalties.

Here is our first copy hot off the presses, nicely couched in the heavens.
Our first copy hot off the presses, nicely couched in the heavens.
Now what room in the world is left to say or show anything about the mythic Monkey King?

Well, we knew the upcoming turn of the calendar into 2016 (February 8th to be exact) would herald The Year of the Monkey.

What better way to commemorate this tradition (which has been celebrated for millennia) than to create a brand new character?


Max is the son of the legendary Monkey King and Monkey Queen!

Sure this tyke has a lot to live up to (don't we all)...but even the sky is the limit for Max! But like kids everywhere, Max is learning how to learn...as well as squeezing in as much fun as possible!

Amazingly illustrated by the DreamWorks animator Kenji Ono, The Year of the Monkey will inspire readers to fly high! We look forward to sharing this fabulous new 11th adventure in our series Tales from the Chinese Zodiac in the coming year.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May is Asian Heritage Month

Well it's that time of year again, when the USA commemorates the contributes of Asian Americans.

The official commemoration was officially designated three decades ago by President Jimmy Carter (later the entire month of May by President George H. Bush). However, Asian voices still strain to be heard and recognized on a national level. 

A case in point is how President Obama won't even attend the "White House summit" on Asian Pacific American Islanders (AAPI) held in Washington DC this week, as reported by the Daily Beast.

We still live in an era of mixed signals, and where society seems to take one step forward and then drift one step back.

Yet, we firmly believe that sharing children stories is a great way to instill not only understanding cultural differences but also appreciating them.

Sora and the Cloud
Kids (as opposed to ossified adults) have a awe-inspiring capacity to soak in new experiences and resiliency to redefine their view of the world. It is no coincidence that polls regularly note how younger generations of voters have become more tolerant of social issues that have inflamed, divided, and bedeviled their elders.

Since 2006, we've been dedicating to publish more new Asian American authors, artists, and characters. These include:
All told, more than 1/3 (of our nearly 40 books) features Asian American themes.

Diversity in publishing is vital because it reflects the variety of real life. Maybe more interestingly, it is even more important since it underscores how we as a community need to learn from each other and develop bonds for a greater good.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy Year of the Sheep

February 19th is the start of the Chinese New Year...and we're ready to celebrate The Year of the Sheep!

We've created original adventures in our annual series Tales from the Chinese Zodiac for a decade. Now the latest yarn centers on Sydney - this lamb redefines (in very positive ways) what it means to be sheepish!

Already we have shared this energetic story with dozens of schools, libraries, and cultural associations...and have seen kids go baaa-baaa-bonkers with enthusiasm :)

Artist Alina Chau illustrated a brand new world for Sydney and our readers to explore - full of color, humor, and the beauty of nature. Well known for her expert use of watercolors, Alina imbues her illustrations with intimate and impressionistic detail. Plus Alina will present the March 1st storytime at Books, Inc. in Burlingame, CA.

Meanwhile author Oliver Chin is reading at many other locales. See our events calendar for a venue near you.

In addition, we are translating Tales from the Chinese Zodiac into Chinese, due to regular requests from teachers and parents from Chinese immersion classes. Now you can download free PDFs that have either the simplified and traditional Chinese translations for The Year of the Sheep and prior Tales.

May 2015 be full of health, wealth, and prosperity for you, your family, and your community.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!