Sunday, February 27, 2011

Interview with Author Lisa Yee


Earlier this year I interviewed children's author Lisa Yee. Find out how Yee got started writing novels for kids, if she made a conscious decision to have Asian Americans be central characters in some of her books, and how an obsession with putting marshmallow Peeps into a microwave turned into a great way to meet famous authors. Her latest book, Warp Speed is available in bookstores starting March 1, 2011.

How did you get started writing children's books? What drew you to writing children's books?
I'd been almost every sort of writer before penning novels for kids. I was a journalist, a television writer, copywriter, jingle writer, you name it! However, I had always wanted to write children's books. It wasn't until I was a mom that I realized, how could I tell my kids they should pursue their dreams, if I wasn't pursuing mine?

Since I was working full time, I had to write late at night. I didn't have an agent when I first started, so I just sent something to Arthur Levine, the editor of the HARRY POTTER series. He pulled it out of the "slush pile." I've been publishing with Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books ever since. WARP SPEED will be our seventh book together.

Many of the central characters of your books are Asian American. Was it conscious effort to create stories with Asian American characters?
It was
n't a conscious effort at first. When my first novel, MILLICENT MIN, GIRL GENIUS, came out in 2003, the main character just happened to be Chinese American, probably because I was. I didn't think twice about it. Later, I was shocked to learn that the book was the first children's contemporary fiction with a photo of an Asian girl on the cover.

My second book, STANFORD WONG FLUNKS BIG-TIME, featured a boy who was Millicent's enemy. It took place during the same timeframe as her story, only from his point of view. However, this time around I was aware that I was writing about an Asian protagonist, so I decided to go against stereotype when writing about a Chinese American jock who was flunking school.

Since then, not all my books have Asian protagonists, but they all have Asian characters. Two of my books, BOBBY THE BRAVE (SOMETIMES) and BOBBY VS. GIRLS (ACCIDENTALLY) are about a Hapa kid and his family. Plus, my most recent American Girl books, ALOHA, KANANI and GOOD JOB, KANANI also feature a Hapa girl, this time from Kaua'i.


Your latest book release is Warp Speed. What is the story about and how did you decide to write the story?
WARP SPEED is about a Star Trek geek who gets beat up everyday at school. I was inspired to write the book when a boy stood up at a school assembly and said, "I need to know what happened to Marley." I had almost forgotten who Marley was, then I recalled he was a minor character in Stanford's book--a nobody who gets pushed around. Later, the boy's teacher told me that he was exactly like Marley, and I knew I had to write that book.

As a Star Trek geek, which of the various Star Trek TV shows is your favorite? Who is your favorite Star Trek character of all time?
I love TOS, the original series. I remember watching "The Man Trap" episode as a kid and being terrified of the Salt Monster. It gave me nightmares. Like Marley Sandelski in WARP SPEED, I'd have to say my favorite character is Spock. Marley even has a temporary tattoo on his hand that says, "WWSP" -- What Would Spock Do?




Tell me about your obsession with Peeps? How did that all start? Do you find that "Peepy" your plush Peep is a great ice breaker?

I liked blowing up marshmallow Peeps in the microwave and would blog about it (http://lisayee.livejournal.com). One day a fan sent me the plush Peep that I named Peepy. Since I travel so much, I decided that she'd go with me and I'd blog about our adventures. It's so cool because when Peepy's around I'm not shy about going up to a famous author or someone and saying, "May I take a photo of you with my Peep?"

What advice do you have for other aspiring children's book authors?
Read, read, read, write, read and write. Know what's out there, but don't try to copy--instead find your own voice. Also, join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. It's the group I credit with jump starting my career.

When you are not writing, what are some things you enjoy doing in your spare time? Any guilty pleasures?
Hmmm . . . spare time? I'm not sure what that is.

I love spending time with my family. And reading's on the top of my list, too. It's also been a goal of mine to take a nap, but I haven't mastered that yet.

What is a typical day like for Lisa Yee?
I still do most of my serious writing very late at night and quit around 2 or 3 a.m. In the morning I pretend to be awake while I answer email and do lots of business stuff like arranging for school/library visits, etc. Afternoon is time to blog, goof off on facebook, and begin writing. Just as I'm gearing up and feeling good about what I'm writing, it's time to stop. Grocery shopping, laundry, mom stuff. Later, when everyone's asleep, I start writing again.

And finally, what would you like to say to all your fans out there?
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for helping make my dream come true. I can't imagine a better job than being an author. Also, I do hope everyone likes WARP SPEED. It's about bullying, and I want kids who are being bullied to know that they are not alone.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rice Daddies Here, There, and Everywhere!

This has been quite a week for the Rice Daddies! You'll find us on the web, on the radio and in person, plus our anniversary contest ends this Saturday! The deets on our doings:

• Sorry for the short notice, but tonight from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. PST, I'm a guest on KPFA's Apex Express, an Asian American public affairs call-in program in the Bay Area. Hyphen Magazine blog editor erin Khue Ninh and teen Kai Kane Aoki Izu, son of prominent AsAm performing artists Brenda Wong Aoki and Mark Izu, will be talking everyone's favorite Asian American parenting issue—Amy Chua's Tiger Mom. You can stream the audio at kpfa.org and call in at 1-800-HEY-KPFA, and if they archive the audio I'll post a link later.

UPDATE: Here's the audio for last night's program.

APEX Express Fund Drive Show - February 24, 2011 at 7:00pm

Click to listen (or download)


• Our own InstantYang, a.k.a. OriginalSpin, a.k.a. journalist extraordinaire Jeff Yang, muses about his youngest son's 3rd birthday in his Asian Pop column on the San Francisco Chronicle's SFGate website and devotes a good part of the column to us! Read the column for some great thoughts about parenting, parenting online, and Asian American fatherhood, from Jeff, me, and some of our other great co-conspirators here on Rice Daddies. Thanks, Jeff, and thanks, guys!

• On Saturday, February 26, I will be reppin' the Rice Daddies at Banana 2, the second ever conference of APA bloggers in Los Angeles. I'll be speaking on a diverse panel in the afternoon on niche blogging, and I hope I can bring the issues and concerns of dadblogging and parentblogging to the group alongside colleagues who write about food, sex, and specific ethnic culture. If you're a reader or commenter and you're there, please introduce yourself!

UPDATE: Here's the panel on niche blogging, with me and my awesome co-panelists! I had an amazing time and will write up my thoughts more fully soon.



• Finally, our amazing 5th anniversary contest ends this Saturday. You still have time to enter to win one of five sets of the awesome Bobby Ellis-Chan middle-grade novels autographed by author Lisa Yee and illustrator Dan Santat. Just go to the post and read for instructions.

• And if you tweet, follow us on Twitter @RiceDaddies! (I'm there too @dad_strangeland.) If you need to get in touch with us, we're always reachable by email at ricedaddies@gmail.com. Thanks, y'all!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hummingbird Dad




It's been a week since a winged interloper built a nest on a string of lights in our backyard. When she briefly flew off, I grabbed my camera to see what was inside. Two eggs. Oh man. I've since become embarrassingly invested in the goings on our avian decorative light surfers -- checking out hummingbird websites, watching nesting videos on YouTube, buying a feeder. It's tapping into all those feelings of protection and stoking the anticipation of seeing two baby hummingbirds chowing down on pre-digested bugs before they split the coop. It's like we're expecting again. Awesome!

There was a big temptation to involve our 5-year-old son but I backed off. I'm hesitant to give Mace the full program to this momentous occasion. What if the mother abandons the chicks? What if the baby birds, you know, DIE. It's a bit early to get into the Circle of Life thing, right?

A friend recently had the luck of a nesting bird perched outside his window. He set up a webcam, got the kids stoked, then when the time came for the eggs to hatch they were immediately swooped on by a hawk. The webcam caught the action. The kids were inconsolable.

So we're keeping it chill for now. Mace keeps us aware of the bird's whereabouts. He knows there are two eggs in there. Aren't hummingbird nests supposed to be good luck in some Asian cultures? Let's hope so.

SD

P.S. On a soccer note, Maceo was invited to join a local U-6 team that caters to French-speaking families. We speak no French. This is going to be interesting. I can't wait for the end-of-season potluck.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Late, Messy Reaction to this Amy Chua stuff...

Hello all, thank you for creating this necessary space, and for giving me a spot on it. Here's the post, which has also been posted over at Racialicious. It is slightly revised from its original version, which was semi-private on Facebook.

I was going to work on an essay in response to Ms. Chua’s article. I had several pages of notes, and was going to take the two or three hours it took to condense those notes into some type of narrative. Since I have a guest spot on the Strib’s blog, I was thinking about posting it there, just because I think alternative perspectives from Asian Americans need to exist – but I was also a bit wary about the energy it would take to endure the hateful comments that were sure to be leveled at me. As a parent, these days I have little time and even less patience for stupidity.


Part of me was trying to talk myself out of it. Plenty of Asian American bloggers have responded, covering such issues as whether or not the controversial Wall Street Journal excerpt really did justice to her book (see Jeff Yang’s excellent article on that subject), to whether or not raising a child in this fashion is really a good idea.


So, why should I write anything at all? This is not my fight, I said to myself. Even though there seems to be some conflation of Chinese with Asian American, and you have some Chinese blood in you besides, why throw down and risk a flame war over this? It has nothing to do with you. It’s not like Ms. Chua cares what you think – after all, it’s clear that people like me are not her target audience.


But then, don’t Asian Americans like Ms. Chua, who have a large mass market platform to express themselves, have some power over how the perceptions of me, and my family, are shaped? And if so, shouldn’t I use my own platforms to express an alternative perspective?


Damn, it’s recycling night though. It just snowed and I still gotta shovel the walk. And tonight is my partner’s night to have writing time while I watch baby…


Okay, let’s do this.


In this essay, I was going to be careful to point out that my feelings and opinions were not an attack on Ms. Chua, as she has the right to write about whatever she wants. As I have the right not to read her book, a right I fully intend to exercise.


I was going to be careful to say that my critiques had more to do with representation, rather than a debate on parenting. Ms. Chua’s reality is her reality – this is not an attack on her authenticity. I am more interested in the reaction, from Asians and non-Asians alike. There seems to be an acceptance that there is some true essential “Chinese” (and “Asian”) way to raise your kids and some “Western” way, and by “Western” it seems the author means straight upper middle class white male, and no one seems to be talking about the problematics of such assumptions. That no one is talking about how these assumptions play into very specific consumptions of Asian Americans – culture without politics, as if we live in a vacuum devoid of things like race, class, gender, sexuality. At this point in my essay, I’d take my partner’s advice and say that the idea that there is an essential, Western (male) and Eastern (female) way to raise children, and the idea that the melding of the individualist male West and the feminine East as some sort of liberating, uplifting redemption narrative is a colonialist social construct straight out of Said’s book Orientalism…


Aw man, I really don’t want to write this.


Then I was going to talk about my own upbringing. How my parents literally saved my life, as a baby, as they shielded me from harm in their arms, bombs shaking the shelter we hid in with other Vietnamese families as the Communist Party tried to kill us and prevent our escape. How I grew up in America trying to understand contradiction: that people said this was the greatest country to live in, while as refugees we lived in a neighborhood made up of mostly impoverished and disenfranchised Native Americans, African Americans, Southeast Asians, and Chicano/as. How my parents wanted me to know my culture but lie about my ethnicity and tell everyone I was Chinese because they felt Americans would blame us for the war and hated Vietnamese people.


These struggles that my mom and dad (YES, my dad, America! Asian men and Asian fathers DO EXIST) faced. How my father sewed designer labels onto handmade clothes so we could pretend we were more well-off than we really were. How a group of kids stood on one end of a block for an entire hour and relentlessly shouted racial slurs and taunts at my mother as she worked outside of our house, knowing she could do nothing to them, knowing she did not have the words to shout back. How my father had to deal with the contradictions of being a war veteran invisible because of his race, and see two of his sons enlist in the American military.


And yes, those dynamics, combined with my parents’ own personalities, effected how we were raised. There were days I was scared of my parents, days I felt guilty that I disappointed them, days when I had no idea what they wanted from me, days I tried to run away from home and days I wanted to kill myself.


I’d also write about joy – how my parents would take me to work and I would sit in their break room, drawing pictures and reading books for hours while waiting for their 15 minute break so they could come hang out with me. How my mom would bike around town with me clinging to her, how my dad would sew stuffed animals out of bargain bin fabric for me. I was going to write about the magic of going to a friend’s birthday party and playing his Atari, how my dad taught me to ride a bicycle in an empty parking lot, how a Black Panther saw me get bullied on my block and offered to teach me martial arts. And how our poverty led to my love of books and stories, because loaning books from the library was free.


In this essay, I’d own up to my own privilege – both as a male and as the youngest son, and while I went through struggles of race and class, I’ll admit that expectations were less for me than for my sisters and my older brothers. I will not dismiss patriarchy or make excuses for it - at the same time I’d assert that patriarchy and male privilege is far from just an Asian problem, it’s a problem and has been a problem in many cultures the world over. And the expectations and gender roles for Asian men are also limiting and damaging, albeit in a different way than for women.


I’d also write how, as I got older, I came to understand that a lot of the pressure I felt to pursue a white collar career came from my parents wanting me to escape the life of poverty and violence that they lived through. Around us was gang warfare, drugs, injustice, genocide – and all this to a family who just lost their country to war. I can understand why they would want me to pursue anything that would get me out of there.


I’d write about how my parents have come to understand that I can survive while working at something called a “nonprofit.” Though sometimes my dad does suggest to me that it’s still not too late for me to go to nursing school.


Then I’d write about my own struggles, and joys, of being a father to an amazing, hilarious daughter. That if Ms. Chua’s book, or any book, could contain the answers on being a good parent, I’d have read it 10 times over by now. I would write about how this process has been difficult, challenging, amazing. That I fear how my past, both as a child and as an adult, may have negative consequences on how I parent. And how nothing scares me more than the things I want to protect our child from, in this world. Sure, my partner and I have a say and choices to make, we have a duty to make informed choices about how to raise our child.


But there are some things we can only try to prepare her for. Homophobia, classism, sexism, racism. How can we, as Asian American parents, prepare her adequately for these things? How do we teach her about tragedies like the recent death of young father Jason Yang, and young son Fong Lee, both to police brutality – how can I teach her about these things when I barely know how to deal with them myself, how these things effect me on an emotional level so intense that I want to retreat entirely from the world when I think about them? Jason Yang’s kids will never see their father again. Or how it seems trivial to me to think about piano lessons and sleepovers when I try to imagine what it’s like to be Fong Lee’s parents, dealing with indescribable loss as well as continued systematic injustice. Then I’d apologize for making references to piano lessons.


I was going to stress that I offer these things not as some type of authentic substitute for Ms. Chua’s experience, but rather to question if there are certain Asian American stories and voices are privileged and consumed, more than others. If certain perspectives and stories from Asian Americans that carry specific racial, gendered, class-based assumptions keep getting reinforced time and again, within our communities and outside of them.


My story and opinion are not meant to replace Ms. Chua’s, but to question perception and consumption of Asian American identity – an identity that we are often powerless to shape ourselves in the mainstream. And my story is not the only one being neglected: what about Asian American Adoptee parents and children, Queer parents, parents who have to deal with deportation of their sons and daughters? And what about those Chinese American families that don’t have the same socio-economic leverage that Ms. Chua has? I’m not insinuating it is Ms. Chua’s responsibility to tell these stories – I am saying that these stories exist, and it is worth asking whether certain perspectives and stereotypes are constantly being reinforced and consumed.


And in the end, I came to a compromise. It would have taken me hours to write the essay I aimed to write. Instead I wrote this messy, and perhaps poorly written, essay, so that it exists. That my parents exist, that I exist. That many different stories exist.


And I plan on spending the time I saved by hanging out with my baby daughter and my smart, lovely partner. I don’t pretend to have the answers and for damn sure I’m not going to write a book about it. But my family and my people are worth fighting for, in the way we raise our child, the way I struggle to maintain my relationship with my parents, and at the very least throw down with some messy words on an essay. Because my family is worth it. They are absolutely worth it.


p.s. I should also probably go visit my parent’s house and see how that whole ceiling-falling-down-because-of-ice thing is working out. My parents are worth it, too.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Doing Battle with Tiger Mom - Tiger Mom, Tiger Mom, What Do You Say?

Crosspost from TimeOutDad





So, I recently wrote a short book review on BookDads of Amy Chua's, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I actually had my Mother-in-law read it, too, and initially, as she started reading it, she was a bit infuriated with Amy Chua. As she continued reading it (because it's hard to put down once you get started), the book definitely grew on her, and it made for lots of interesting conversation.

Writing a book review is one thing. Doing battle with Tiger Mom is not something I was prepared for...

Malachy had his first little recital yesterday at school. As performance day drew near, I discovered there was a bit of Tiger Mom inside me, and I didn't like it at all. I found myself saying ugly things, like:

  • Come on! You can do better!

  • If you don't play it right, then I'll...

  • If you don't make any mistakes, then we'll...

  • Stop looking at me every time you make a mistake!

  • Don't rush! Slow down!

  • You're playing it too slow! Hurry up!


Ai ya! There I was judging and mocking Tiger Mom for being so harsh to her daughters, and here I was doing and saying things that should and could have been edited. Do we all have a bit of Tiger Mom within us? What were my reasons for pushing him to practice? Was it for him? Was it for me? Tiger Mom, Tiger Mom, what do you say?

As Malachy practiced, I sensed that he was feeling the stress and pressure coming from within me. I knew he wanted to please me. When he made a mistake, he just stopped to check how I would react. Sometimes I would get upset, and other times I just let it go. At the end of the day, he always received praise and hugs from Mom and Dad. Most importantly, he enjoys practicing and playing, and he definitely has more showmanship than his dad.

The bottom line is that if you want to do something really well, you HAVE TO practice. Once in a while, you can rely on raw talent, but 99.99% of the time, it's about hard work. For things like music and some schoolwork, it's about repetition, repetition, repetition. With the piano, if he didn't practice, he wouldn't have done as well. The crazy thing is that after all the practicing, there was still the chance he would "mess up." Watching ice skating on television comes to mind... So, what's the reward? I guess you feel accomplished when you do it right and do it well. You prove to yourself that you can do it if you work hard. Plus, you get to have all those around you cheering you on.

After the recital, we could tell that he was pleased with performance. Later on, he called PoPo and GongGong (who were at the airport) and told them he didn't make any mistakes. They were so proud, because I had posted it on YouTube, and they had already seen it on the iPhone minutes later. Technology is amazing! He thanked Gong Gong for the practice sessions he had with him when grandpa was in New York.

Gong Gong had him stop and start over every time he "messed up," and Malachy never complained. From the other room, we would hear him play, Father, I Adore You, again and again and again. He only got a check mark from Gong Gong when he played it without any mistakes. Gong Gong was tough, but never mean. When Malachy came out of the room, he felt good about his practice session. I learned from Gong Gong that Malachy didn't mind some hard work. ;)

Here's to more doing battle with Tiger Mom again and again and again... ;)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jobs for our Kids?

A couple of weeks back, I asked my 4 year old son Gun what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said, "I want to be a doctor...and a cowboy."

I liked the answer. I said, "A doctor? That's great!"

Gun was silent for a moment, and then he said, "But wait...where am I going to get a white shirt?"

Doctors will always have jobs, as will dentists, plumbers, Xerox machine technicians, and government bureaucrats. I worry about everyone else, including cowboys. In the computer age, most work can be outsourced. A lot of entertainment is now online, created and consumed for free.

I recently put up a post on bigWOWO referencing David Brooks and the Economist's opinion on Tyler Cowan's recent book "The Great Stagnation." Read it here. Cowan's theory, according to Brooks and the Economist, is that big growth takes place in a society where there is low hanging fruit--when there is a something that people need--food, education, a new technology. Now that almost everyone has computers, food, education, etc., there are no more big gains to be had in the U.S. The knowledge-heavy companies like Facebook and Twitter don't create that many jobs. Compare that with China and India--that's where the growth is going to be, according to the low hanging fruit theory.

Do any of you worry about the job prospects for the next generation? If so, what are your thoughts?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The P to the D to the A

I was among the little boys who chased the little girls in the schoolyard. Back then girls were icky. I joined the slightly older boys who chased the slightly older girls in between classes in high school and college. They weren't icky anymore.

When my eldest was in pre-K and the parent of a student in his class told me that my son had kissed her daughter, my initial reaction was fear. I was afraid because I know the rules of the school yard had changed but I didn't know how. Living on the liberal Lower Eastside does not exclude you from being slightly prudish when it comes to sex. I have written about an incident involving my eldest son, his best friend, and two cats. Suddenly, the body of the self-appointed World’s Coolest Dad was inhabited by the spirit of a prudish old school marm screaming, “Avert your eyes young ones! Avert your eyes from the filth and sin of the flesh!”

I think it is safe to say non-Asian - and some Asian - people generally accept that Asians in general (despite the eroticizing and fetishizing) are not very touchy-feely. Articles like the BBC's "No Kissing Please, We Are Indians" should not be a shock to 2nd Generation Asian American parents.

I can still vividly see my grandmother making the sourest of faces witnessing a couple holding hands and kissing. She turned to me and said something that loosely translates into English as: "Oh God, how disgraceful and unsanitary!"

The funny thing about it though was that I don't remember her looking away.  Then again it was a long, long time ago. I think I was still in elementary school.

The A-sensual Asian is portrayed in Roberta Coles'  book, Race and Family: A Structural Approach (2005):

Perceptions of public displays of affection vary by culture as well... In Asian cultures, hugging and touching may even be considered dangerous. For instance, in America patting children on the head, or even giving "nuggies," is a sign of affection, whereas in Vietnamese culture touching people on the head is thought to rob them of their spirit (Binh, 1975). Asian children may withdraw, therefore, from shows of affection from teachers or other adults.

While I am glad there is a book like Roberta’s on race and family that includes healthy and insightful sections on the Asian population in Western countries (often books like this exclude the Asian American community), I am wary of her conclusions leading to a new set of stereotypes about Asians. The challenge to any book dealing with race and culture is neither are stagnant. Peoples in contact assimilate; picking and choosing the most desirable traits of each others’ cultures.

Jalal-e-Ahmad is credited by the BBC’s No Kissing article with coining the term, "Westoxication," meaning "superficial consumerist display of commodities and fads produced in the West."

I like the term: Westoxication. It accurately describes my upbringing. Newly American, my parents were in love with the promise of Chevrolets, apple pies, baseball, and necking beneath the bleachers - but when it came to us kids, it was strictly “Chinese” (at least the version they wanted us to believe). Realistically speaking, they probably did more to promote the stereotype of the A-sensual Asian than even the Whitest of White Western media.

I picture how Mr. Brady and Bobby and would have done it. Maybe there’d be an age appropriate anatomy textbook there too. He’d say, “You see Bobby, when a man and a woman love each other…”

My father was not Mr. Brady. He and I never had “The Talk.” I don’t remember how or when I learned about sex (In fact, I might just still be doing it wrong). I did take a Human Sexuality course in college as a part of my General Education requirement. They showed a film starring a cloth penis puppet and vagina puppet and brought in a Transgender wo/man to speak to us.

I’m not Mr. Brady. I shamefully admit I don’t know that I would be able to speak to my children about sex. I thank whatever entity might watch over us my eldest has forgotten his first kiss. His life now filled with LEGOS and Star Wars and Harry Potter. When they kiss in the movies, it does not seem to disturb dorment memories within him (but I can’t say for sure). For right now, I am assuming I have some more time.

This 2009 Singapore student PDA discussion I found on RazorTV is entertaining and even a little informative:

It is interesting to me how the speakers rationalized their limits.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Rice Daddies Turns 5! To Celebrate, We're Giving You Gifts!

Rice Daddies, the group blog by Asian American dads, launched on February 6, 2006. Which means that yesterday, we turned 5! And we're still here! I mean, happy birthday to us! Heh. Five years ago, I wrote:

We're a group of dads of the Asian persuasion, most of us only 2 years or less into the parenting game. We're bicoastal and multiethnic, Chinese- and Japanese- and Filipino- and Korean- and biracial- Americans. We're writers and lawyers and businessmen and teachers (oh my!), stay-at-home and work-at-home and wish-we-could-work-at-home dads. We're dads who happen to be Asian, and Asians who happen to be dads. And we mention both, matter-of-factly, because they both matter.

Which is not to say that this is gonna be all serious all the time, or all political, or all race-centric. Of course, we're not promising that when we try to be funny, that'll work all the time either. (Except for MetroDad. We give you a money-back guarantee that he will always be piss-your-pants funny.) But really, this is just a place where we can muddle through our own experiences of what it means to be raising the next generation of Asian American young'ns in the technicolor 21st century.


Since then, we've seen old contributors go and welcomed new voices on board, and we've gotten more diverse in terms of ethnic background, geographic location, and length and breadth of parenting experience. (And we're always looking for more, so shoot us a note at ricedaddies@gmail.com if you wanna add your voice to the fray.) We've enjoyed making connections and building community with other Asian American parents, parents of color, and parents of children of color both on- and off-line (and we hope to meet a lot of you at the big Banana 2 AsAm blogger confab on Feb. 26 in LA!), and we look forward to continuing the discussion as our kids get older and teach us more about what it means to Asian Americans who are dads and dads who are Asian American.

To celebrate our 5th blogaversary, the amazing and prolific author Lisa Yee has graciously donated 5 sets of her two Bobby Ellis-Chan books to give away to Rice Daddies readers, signed by both her and illustrator (and AsAm dad) Dan Santat. Lisa's middle-grade novels have always featured Asian American characters, like Millicent Min, Stanford Wong, and her American Girl books, and her Bobby Ellis-Chan books portray the everyday life of an interracial family, comprised of a boy trying to find his place in his family and school, his princess-obsessed little sister, his football star older sister, their Chinese American businesswoman mom, and their non-Asian pro-football-player-turned-stay-at-home-dad, with humor, a keen, sensitive eye, and a matter-of-factness about the family's racial background that I found refreshing. And my six-year-old daughter absolutely loved them!



To enter to win a set of autographed copies of Bobby Vs. Girls (Accidentally) and Bobby The Brave (Sometimes) for your young readers, leave a comment on this post by midnight PST on Saturday, February 26, listing your or your kids' favorite children's book either by an author or illustrator of color or featuring characters of color. At the end of the contest, we'll compile all of your recommendations into a single post and we'll have a random drawing for five winners.

Thank you for all of your support over the years, for reading, commenting, linking, and coming back. You're why this isn't just a blog, but a community. (Okay, sappiness over. Heh.)

Sunday, February 06, 2011