Books From Asia with Love It's Monday What Are You Reading Picture Books Read-a-Latte Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Four Multicultural Picture Books and a New Tale from Team Almond-McKean

Mon Reading Button PB to YA



Hello. Fats here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen and Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts (and brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Two of our blogging friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have inspired us to join this vibrant meme.

Last Week’s Reviews and Miscellany Posts

Here are a few of the reviews we have done last week. We are also inviting everyone to join our Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge. We hosted the AWB Challenge last year and we are thrilled to be able to host it again. Do sign up if you are looking for exciting reading challenges with monthly book prizes. Click on the titles/images below to be taken to our blog posts.




[Photo Journal/A-Z Photo Challenge] Z is for Zoo in Brisbane


[Meet the Storyteller] A Witch who Lost her Sparks in Singing Shijimi Clams plus Q and A with Naomi Kojima

Naomi Kojima photo1




Poetry Friday: Mnemonic

Click on the image to be taken to the websource.

[Illustrator Sketchpad] A Night at the Opera with Auntie Susanna Goho-Quek



[BHE 59] The Calm in Books


Below are multicultural picture books that I have acquired last week, and I think that they fit perfectly for our current theme, From Asia with Love. Here are books written by authors from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and India. In addition, because it has been quite a productive reading week for me, I am also featuring David Almond’s new book that was illustrated by none other than Dave McKean. I’d love to hear your thoughts about these!

Emily’s Balloon998349_10151634948663700_826996923_n

Story and illustrations by: Komako Sakai
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Book borrowed from the library.
Book photo taken by me.

I picked up Emily’s Balloon while I was browsing for books by Jon Scieszka. The cover speaks for itself. Emily’s Balloon is so adorable. It’s a very light and very sweet picture book about a little girl named Emily – aged 2 ½ or 3, probably – and her yellow balloon.

With minimal text and soft textured pastel illustrations, Emily’s Balloon is perfect for the little ones. I especially love the parts where Emily would share her daily routine with her balloon. Emily and her balloon are lost in Emily’s world. What do you think would happen if Emily loses her balloon?

It was noted in the jacket flap of the book that Komako Sakai worked in textile design before beginning to illustrate children’s books. Through Emily’s Balloon, Komako Sakai reminds us of the joys of childhood, the vulnerability of a young heart, and the gift of friendship.

The Green Frogs: A Korean Folktale1014313_10151634948583700_156370929_n

Retold by: Yumi Heo
Illustrations by: Yumi Heo
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Book borrowed from the library.
Book photo taken by me.

I love, love, love the cover art of The Green Frog, Yumi Heo’s retelling of a Korean Folktale. The brightly colored illustrations in the book are done in pencil and oil paint. If you like reading about fables and folktales, then you might want to check this book out.

While I truly adore Heo’s artwork, I think that this book – the story, itself – would have worked better if it contained fewer words that could deliver a straightforward yet witty storytelling. The witticism is lost in the clutter of words and ideas. On second thought, if more words were needed to capture the essence of the original tale, then there should be a smooth transition from one “scene” to the next, which this book lacks.

All these thoughts aside, The Green Frogs offers a valuable lesson to readers. It is a good book about parent-child relationship, particularly about children’s disobedience and lack of respect for their parents and elders.

The Beggar’s Magic: A Chinese Tale944179_10151634948503700_1916562868_n

Retold by: Margaret and Raymond Chang
Illustrated by: David Johnson
Publisher: South China Printing Co.
Book borrowed from the library.
Book photo taken by me.

Of all the picture books on the shelf written by Chinese authors, I chose Margaret and Raymond Chang’s The Beggar’s Magic for two reasons. First, I like the classic feel of the cover illustration. Second, I like books that have “a (blank) tale” in the title because I am always fascinated by stories around the world.

The story of The Beggar’s Magic is longer than your average picture book. But what a tale it spoke of! While this book is mostly about kindness (and perhaps the kindness of strangers), there is no denying that children are naturally drawn to magic and the supernatural. I think this is what makes the story work despite its length.

On a nerdy level (meaning, anime), I like how this book portrays Alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exchange in the Japanese animated series called FullMetal Alchemist. According to this law, Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. If you grab a copy and read the story of The Beggar’s Magic, you’ll understand.

The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story1011359_10151634948428700_1089304530_n

Story by: Uma Krishnaswami
Illustrated by: Ruth Jeyaveeran
Published by: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Book borrowed from the library.
Book photo taken by me.

When I saw this book, I could not help but think that Uma Krishnaswami’s The Happiest Tree is Myra’s book! With her jovial, yoga-embracing personality, it most definitely is! However, jovial and yoga-embracing are certainly not the words to describe the Meena, the girl in the story.

While The Happiest Tree has something to do with yoga, it also focuses on building one’s self-confidence. This is a good book to help children recognize their worth and make them believe that anything is possible. In addition, this book contains a few Hindi words that readers can learn. It also provided a short description of yoga and illustrations of yoga poses mentioned in the book. 

The Happiest Tree is a feel-good picture book not only for kids but for adults as well. While I don’t do yoga, deep breathing helps me get through the worst shifts at work. When you’re feeling down, pick up this book and join Meena in finding joy in stillness and quietude.

A Captivating New Tale from David Almond and Dave McKean


I know David Almond from the enchanting tale of Skellig, and I’ve been a fan of Dave McKean since I read Neil Gaiman’s The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, which McKean illustrated. Mouse Bird Snake Wolf is David Almond and Dave McKean’s most recent collaboration. I found a copy at Barnes & Noble, just lying on the shelf, waiting to be picked up.

Hands down to the lyrical storytelling of David Almond and the visually stunning illustrations of Dave McKean. Nevertheless, Mouse Bird Snake Wolf is not a book for everyone. It toys around with man’s ability to create and destroy, but such concept might be frowned upon by people with strong religious beliefs. 

If you’re familiar with the works of David Almond and Dave McKean, then you will not be surprised that Mouse Bird Snake Wolf is a gothic fable. There’s more to the story than meets the eye, and it’s certainly a picture book that must be handled with care when sharing with younger children.

Currently Reading…


Ah, yes. Neil Gaiman’s new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was released on June 18th. The book only has 180 pages, yet it’s taking me quite a while to finish it. Don’t get me wrong. This book is beautiful in so many ways that it makes me cry with every turn of a page. I’m swamped with a lot – and I mean A LOT – of books in preparation for our next bimonthly theme. Amy Hest’s Remembering Mrs. Rossi is one of them. I finally started reading John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things but got stuck on page 23 because of the need to finish my current book list. With one more day off, here’s to hoping that I finish The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Remembering Mrs. Rossi. 

How about you, dear friends? What have you been reading this week?


Read-a-Latte Challenge Update: 136, 137, 138, 139, 140 of 150

9 comments on “[Monday Reading] Four Multicultural Picture Books and a New Tale from Team Almond-McKean

  1. I loved each book you reviewed, Fats! I’d love to find The Beggar’s Magic, think it would be a very nice one to have in the classroom, plus I am excited to hear about this latest by David Almond. I love his books in all their quirkiness! Thank you for the great reviews and good picks!


    • Fats Suela

      Oh Linda! I’m so glad to see you here! This is my first contribution to It’s Monday What Are You Reading, and I’m happy that you enjoyed reading my short reviews. It took me almost the entire day to get all my resources – from hyperlinks to photos – and put them all together. Every time Myra writes for this meme, my head spins just by looking at all the photos and links! But this has been the most fun I’ve had hyperlinking, and I’m really happy with the outcome.

      Yes, I think The Beggar’s Magic is definitely a good book to have in the classroom. It is a constant reminder of the goodness in people and for people to keep believing in magic. I was also very happy about finding David Almond’s book by accident. It was a very good read. I highly recommend teachers to share it with students because of its take on imagination and the power to create.


  2. Charming picture books, Fats! I need to pick up Neil Gaiman – my students love him, but I never can get into his books. Perhaps it’s time…


    • Fats Suela

      Oh thank you so much, Tara! Glad you like them! Maybe you will like The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I enjoy his writing more when he writes about childhood or his protagonist is a child. I like his adult novels, too. My favorite is his short story collection called Fragile Things. However, after I started reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Fragile Things may have dropped to spot #2. Heh. Are you also familiar with his picture books?


  3. Hey baby girl, lots of love from Bratislava! Such a great Monday post!!!! Hooray for all the hyperlinks! I knew you’d be able to do it! Wonderful books dearest! We did feature a 2-in-1 of Yumi Heo’s artwork here several weeks back, glad to see this. And Uma Krishnaswami and yoga, it does sound like a book I’d enjoy. Uma was one of our guest speakers for AFCC last year! 🙂


  4. I Just joined It’s Monday! What are you Reading? too! Thank you for mentioning Mouse Bird Snake Wolf. I love David Almond and didn’t know about this one. I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane last week and it is beautiful, beautiful. Be sure to go back to The Book of Lost Things. It kind of goes with Gaiman’s new book–finish and you’ll see. I also read Doll Bones by Holly Black and that has some amazing things to convey about childhood.


  5. I am reading Neil Gaiman’s book as well. And I loved The Book of Lost Things!


  6. Oh, you HAVE to share about the Neil Gaiman book. I haven’t bought it yet. 🙂


  7. Enjoy your week.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My It’s Monday, What Are You Reading


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