Thursday, March 19, 2009
Read Aloud Thursday - Author Highlight: Jama Kim Rattigan
I love blogging. I really do. I tried MySpace and I tried Facebook but blogging is home. It's comfortable and I like it here. One of the things that I like about blogging is that it offers more opportunity to really connect with others. When I started blogging it was strictly to stay in touch with family and close friends. No one else even KNEW about my blog. It was nothing but a little diary. Then I started blogging about books - just for fun - and somehow everything exploded in my face. (Some explosions are good.)
Over time, I consistently participated in Semicolon's Saturday Reviews and every so often I'd click on Jama Rattigan's blog and read her review of some children's book she'd read and was talking about. I'm ashamed to admit it but it took me a really long time to figure out that she was an author. A published author. Of a children's book. *Gulp* Sometimes I'm a little slow . . . (forgive me)!
Her blog is cool. I love the way she highlights other authors, illustrators, noodles, and people she cares about. She has always seemed like a genuinely warm person. The kind you'd want to know. (She even participated in a meme I did around here some time ago cementing her cool factor.)
So I kept reading her blog and then one day not so very long ago she posted about a Recipe for a Picture Book in which she told the story of how her own picture book came to be. It really helped me, as a general book reviewer, to understand the process of what an author goes through to see their book come to life. It's very interesting. (Stop everything and go read her post about it. Then come back and we'll finish up what we're doing here.)
The next thing that happened was that Jama Rattigan started leaving comments here. On MY blog. Consistently. Well, if I wasn't curious about her books before (and I was) I sure was now! I like to know the people who come to visit me and so yesterday my little guy and I trekked off to our local library and snatched up both of Rattigan's books, Dumpling Soup (her first) and Truman's Aunt Farm (her second). (That's your very long introduction to this post introducing this author. I'm sorry but I can't be more brief.)
After nap time we cuddled up and read her books. Dumpling Soup, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, is about a family celebrating The Chinese New Year together. This particular family lives in Hawaii and is made up of Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiians and haole (i.e., white folk). As they prepare to celebrate this holiday, the young girl in the story, Marisa, learns to make dumplings with her mother, grandmother and aunts. It is a story of family togetherness and tradition and it is very well-told. I really loved it. After I read the story I went back through and just looked at the pictures without reading the words. The illustrations by Lillian Hsu-Flanders compliment the story very well and practically tell the story all by themselves. It is a nice combination of an author/illustrator and a heart-warming story to boot!
Upon completing Dumpling Soup, I promptly picked up Truman's Aunt Farm. I thought this story was clever and funny. It tells the tale of young Truman who receives a package from his Aunt Fran. Inside the package are two envelopes - one addressed to Truman and the other addressed to an Ant Farm. Truman is instructed to send off the letter in order to claim an Ant farm. He mails off the letter post haste and receives an instant response -- lots of aunts. Truman eventually has so many aunts that he doesn't know what to do with them so he advertises them off to other little boys and girls who might be in need of such friendly relations. Very, very cute idea and, again, well told. I liked it very much.
Turns out that apparently Rattigan's mother was one of twelve children and so Jama had plenty of aunts growing up that she loved spending time with.
Overall I have the strong sense that Jama Rattigan is big on family and togetherness. Her personal blog suggests nothing less, nor do her stories. If you haven't checked out her books, I'd urge you to do so - and not just because she reads this blog from time to time! No, I'd urge you to check them out because they are genuinely GOOD! If I didn't think so, I wouldn't have created this post.
Dear JKR - Thank you for your superb work which I will now share with my kiddoes as they grow up! I'm so glad to know of this and I appreciate all that you do and say to encourage other people in their personal journeys!