Authors' Corner

Authors’ Corner: LeUyen Pham

Megan McCaffrey, Governor’s State University in Chicago, Chicago, IL

Profile photo of LeUyen Pham with her black hair up against a bright white backgroundLeUyen Pham prides herself on providing multicultural representation in her books whenever possible or, as she has stated, to make sure children do “not feel excluded.” She, more than most, can firsthand relate to more than one culture and believes children should see themselves in books. LeUyen was born in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1973. She and her family were several of the last refugees on the roof of the United States (US) Embassy rescued by helicopter during the fall of Saigon in 1975. She was only 2 years old at the time Saigon fell and her family escaped. Her family made their way to the United States via several stops along the way with the help of a sponsor and settled in Temple City, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. Besides both her Vietnamese and American culture, she also has strong French connections. The most immediate connection being her mother who is half Vietnamese half French. Her husband is French graphic artist Alexandre Puvilland and her two children with Puvilland attend a French School in Los Angeles. Another French connection comes from her own Vietnamese heritage; Vietnam was occupied by the French from the late 1800s until the mid-1950s, leaving its cultural marks throughout the larger Vietnamese culture and most likely LeUyen’s parents lives. Hence, LeUyen is not only part of multiple cultures but also is also part of a culture that she did not see represented in children’s literature while growing. Continue reading

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MTYT: The Bad Mood and the Stick

As we’ve been discussing for all of June, the current emphasis in schools on developing emotional health in children prompted our selection of books. We chose books that discuss emotions common to children (loss, fear, anger) but with a twist. The emotions are personified within the story. Just as important, the books tell stories in which children are able to come to grips with these emotions. The focus is on the great story–not on a list of coping skills found at the end that are supposed to teach children and parents. This week, we discuss the emotion of anger in The Bad Mood and the Stick

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MYTY: Life without Nico

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The current emphasis in schools on developing emotional health in children prompted our selection of books. The four titles focus on emotions common to children (loss, fear, anger) but with a twist. The emotions are personified and act as a character in the story. Also important, the books tell a story of a child coming to grips with emotions. The focus is on the great story–not on a list of coping skills in the end matter meant to teach children and parents. This week, we are discussing Life Without Nico.

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MTYT: Little Fox In the Forest

While serving on award committees, we took notice of books published in 2017 that feature foxes as characters. Throughout January, we looked at a few of these books to see how, or if, authors and illustrators reflect some of the more traditional and cultural views of foxes or if this is a new generation of perceptions of foxes. This week we give our takes on one final book. We started with The Fox and the Wild, then looked at The Fox Wish, also discussed Pandora and last week we give our takes on The Secret Life of the Red Fox. This week we discuss Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin.

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MTYT: The Fox and the Wild

Several members of our group serve on literature award committees and noticed that in 2017 publishers released some interesting books about foxes. We wondered if the representation or characterization of the fox changed from the traditional portrayal as a sly personality in trickster tales, classics like Aesop’s Fables, Pinocchio and Three Little Pigs, or modern tales like Fox (Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks) and Rosie’s Walk (Pat Hutchins). Are fox characters more empathetic in recent publications such as Pax (Sara Pennypacker and Jon Klassen)? In week 1, we discuss The Fox and the Wild by Clive McFarland.

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MTYT: The Snurtch

We continue our conversation about the portrayal of emotional and behavioral disabilities in picturebooks, specifically characters who wrestle with childhood depression, anxiety, and outbursts. In the first three weeks, we looked at The Red TreeVirginia Wolf, and Jack’s Worry. This week Maria and Megan take on The Snurtch by Sean Ferrell and Charles Santoso.

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MTYT: The Red Tree

MTYT July 2017

This month we are continuing our conversation about the portrayal of disabilities in picturebooks (see August 2016 and February 2017). Our focus in the following discussions is on emotional and behavioral disabilities, so we will look at characters who wrestle with childhood depression, anxiety, and outbursts. The books we discussed last August and February won the Schneider Family Award for the Portrayal of the Disability Experience. The titles discussed this month, beginning with The Red Tree, have not won that award, but they could have!

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MTYT: Piano Starts Here

This post continues February’s My Take/Your Take conversation on books that have won the Schneider Family Award for their portrayal of the disability experience. The conversation started with The Deaf Musicians, A Splash of Red and The Pirate of Kindergarten, and continues this week with Piano Starts Here.

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MTYT: The Pirate of Kindergarten

This post continues February’s My Take/Your Take conversation on books that have won the Schneider Family Award for their portrayal of the disability experience. The conversation started with The Deaf Musicians and A Splash of Red, and continues this week with The Pirate of Kindergarten.

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MTYT: A Splash of Red

This post continues February’s My Take/Your Take conversation on books that have won the Schneider Family Award for their portrayal of the disability experience. The conversation started with The Deaf Musicians and continues this week with A Splash of Red.

My Take Your Take, global perspectives, A Splash of Red Continue reading