Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Check Off your Reading List Challenge 2014.

Congratulations to Katrina of Vamos a Leer (for her review of What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau) and Nickle Love from Night Owl Reads (for her review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs). Please send your details (home address and phone number) to gatheringbooks (at) yahoo (dot) com so that your book prize (Julian Sedgwick’s Mysterium: The Palace of Mystery) can be sent to you by Pansing Books.


Sign up here to join us! Thanks to Iphigene, we now have our July-September linky up and running. We are also very excited to share that Pansing Books will be giving away copies of Slated by Teri Terry to two lucky CORL participants from July-September.

We are also very excited to share that Pansing Books will be giving away copies of Slated by Teri Terry to two lucky CORL participants from July-September.

9781408319468 Slated

So link up your posts now!

Carrie Gelson of There is a Book for That is also hosting #mustreadin2014.


These are picturebooks that I found at the NIE and the public library. So good to find so many Asian-themed children’s books.

IMG_3826A Single Pebble: A story of the Silk Road

Written and Illustrated by: Bonnie Christensen
Published by: A Neal Porter Book: Roaring Brook Press, 2013
Borrowed from the public Library. Book photos taken by me.

As Mei’s father is about to leave their tiny home in Chang’an, China to trade their silk, Mei gave her father a tiny pebble.

“At least my pebble can go,” she said. “A gift for a child at the end of the road.”

“But it’s only a pebble.” Her father laughed.

“No,” Mei answered. “It’s cool like the stream where I found it, and green like the moss, and smooth like the water.”


Mei’s father smiled. “But I don’t travel to the end of the road.”

“You’ll find a way,” Mei said. “Everything is possible. And if a single pebble can travel to the end of the road, so can I!”

This is a recently-published title that looks at a simple story of a young girl and how her jade pebble journeyed four thousand miles from a small town in China (where the sun rises) to Torcello, Italy via the silk road. This is one of those narratives where the setting takes center stage and become one of the main characters.


The endpapers of the book contain a detailed map that highlights the various lands of the silk road in the ninth century, and the routes of the various travelers that allowed the jade stone to journey thousands of miles to reach its destination. The story also highlights the kindness of strangers and the power of simple wishes.


I also love how the book conveys how people from various lands – no matter how divided by language, religion, and and cultural practices – are inextricably linked through quiet dreams, the beauty of the same moon, and whispered wishes blown to the wind. For teachers who wish to make use of this in the classroom, here is a downlodable PDF link of the Silk Road Project that includes the historical background, the various arts of the silk road, and the geographical setting of this massively-engineered project.

A Song for BaIMG_5589

Written by: Paul Yee Pictures by: Jan Peng Wang
Published by: A Groundwood Book: Douglas & McIntyre, 2004
Borrowed from the NIE library. Book photos taken by me.

During the Asian Festival of Children’s Content last year, we had a Teleconference Panel with Canadian author Paul Yee and Ruthanne Lum McCann as they discussed Asian American Authors and their Impact on Asia. I was embarassed to note that I haven’t really had the opportunity to read a few of their works. And so I am glad to find Paul Yee’s A Song for Ba in my institution’s library.

This is a story that encompasses three generations – Wei Lim who is born in the “New World”; his father, Ba who is a Chinese opera singer; and Wei’s grandfather who used to be a celebrated opera star in China. Predictably, Wei Lim also wanted to be like his father and grandfather as he watches his father perform the role of a powerful general in the opera with his “thick-soled boots, a brace of four flags and a helmet.” Wei Lim envied his father’s dexterity, his awe-inspiring costumes, and his beautiful voice.


Much to his chagrin, his father does not believe that this is a viable option for a young boy like him. He is tasked to concentrate on his studies, as his father refused to teach him the acrobatic moves that would enable him to become a really good opera performer.


His grandfather, however, sees Wei’s heart and teaches him secretly, without his father’s knowledge. In Chinese opera, both the male and female roles are played by the men, and Grandfather always played a maiden or a beautiful princess – and it is these parts that Grandfather taught Wei.


After awhile, the opera found itself in danger financially, necessitating the troupe to come up with a brand new show to entice more people to watch. With so many of the good actors going back to China, Wei’s father found himself performing the role of a woman – something that he has never done before. Whether he does succeed in his performance, and Wei’s role in this, I shall leave for you to discover.


The artwork in this story is awe-inspiring. There is a deep sense of quiet pride in this story that is even more keenly felt because it is so subtly interwoven into the narrative. It talks about the difficulties most immigrants find in a foreign land, without the story being highly explicit about it. It is matter-of-fact yet richly textured with meaning, hard work, and the steadfast glow of what it means to be your father’s son.

Currently Reading…

I am glad to share that I have finished reading Morris Gleitzman’s Once while my family and I had an overnight stay at the Siloso Beach Resort after my 12 year old girl finished all her tests for the Singapore School of the Arts Talent Academy.


Much-deserved rest, really. It was great to catch up both on my recreational and academic reading.


And now I am currently reading Ying Chang Compestine’s Revolution is not a Dinner Party.


This was sent to me by Pansing Books in preparation for an interview that I will be conducting with Ying Chang Compestine at The Arts House in 9 July (Wednesday). Plus, it’s the perfect book for our upcoming reading theme.



Reading Challenge Update: 127, 128 (25)

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

18 comments on “[Monday Reading] Silk Road and Chinese Opera

  1. At first, I thought you had read Father’s Chinese Opera by Rich Lo. Have you heard of that one? I hadn’t heard of any of these two books. Have a great reading week!


  2. Lovely book illustrations!
    Book Dilettante


  3. I love how both those picture books bring another time and place to life. I listened to Once last summer and loved it.


  4. A Song for Ba sounds especially interesting to me. I love generational books that connect families members to one another through history and experiences. You are right, the artwork is awe inspiring. When you hear people refer to rich illustrations, this is exactly what they mean. Simple beautiful.


  5. Love all your books, the book for children, A Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk Road is so brightly colored on the inside pages. Also, loved the excerpt. It’s written like poetry. I also like Revolution Is Not Like A Dinner Party. The title makes me want to know what’s going to happen.


  6. Ricki Ginsberg

    I agree with Topazshell. The brightly colored illustrations of A Single Pebble: A story of the Silk Road really sucked me in! I am glad to hear that you finished Once. I loved that whole series. 🙂 I learned a lot of new titles on your post, so thank you for sharing them all with me. I hope next week proves just as fruitful as this week for you!


  7. I love the picture of the endpapers from A Single Pebble! I find them so interesting to pour over after reading!


  8. I really want to get my hands on A Single Pebble. I am always trying to find books about African cultures to read to my son, but he shows much more interest in the titles I get about Asian cultures. I think I need to start developing his interest and knowledge.


  9. What a beautiful reading spot, Myra. I have heard so much about Once – so glad that you have read it, too.


  10. How exciting! Thanks so much for the book. I’m sure we will enjoy it!


  11. Such beautiful books. I am most intrigued by A Single Pebble. Thanks for sharing these.


  12. Revolution is Not a Dinner Party is such an amazing book. One of my favorite historical fictions.


  13. bargerj

    A Single Pebble looks wonderful. Revolution is Not a Dinner Party is a great title for a book. Good luck to your daughter!


  14. Once and its sequels are so good! Enjoy the rest!
    Happy reading this week! 🙂


  15. I loved Revolution is Not a Dinner Party – so great that you will get to meet the author and discuss it. 🙂


  16. I loved A Single Pebble Read it with my children and they were very intrigued.


  17. Hmmm…don’t remember seeing a post with A Casual Vacancy in it! I read it and although it took some getting used to that style writing for J. K. Rowling, it was ultimately a very compelling read once I got all the characters straight!


  18. Pingback: [Nonfiction Wednesday] The Life and Times of Galileo Galilei | Gathering Books

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