Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Legend Grows

Congratulations to Anne Sibley O'Brien and The Legend of Hong Kil Dong!

Annie has been selected to receive the 2007 Global Korea Award given by the Council on Korean Studies at Michigan State University.

Since 1995, this award recognizes individuals or groups who have made significant contribution of cross-cultural understanding, global education, and well-being of Korean people around the world.

The selection criteria for the award include:
  • Demonstrated commitment and unselfish devotion to the well-being of the Korean community and global society.
  • Significant contribution to the improvement of understanding between Korea and people around the world.
  • Exceptional devotion to quality education for young generations in Korea and the world.
  • Outstanding achievement in scholarly and creative work that advances global understanding of Korea in the global community.
The Legend of Hong Kil Dong has made a significant impact on readers. Awards and accolades keep piling up. Just to name a few:

  • Booklist's Top Ten Graphic Novels for Youth
  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature
  • Bank Street College of Education's Best Books of the Year (Outstanding Merit)
  • Bookbuilders Guild of New England
  • And reviews, reviews... check 'em out!

"From today I must wander like a cloud with no direction until I find my destiny." - Hong Kil Dong

Monday, July 16, 2007

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

I just got back from a fun and fleeting weekend in NYC. I was there to sells books (Meet the Meerkat and Hello, Bumblebee Bat) for Prospect Park Zoo's Wild Arts Weekend. The Zoo invited author Darrin Lunde and illustrator Pat Wynne to participate in the inaugural event. A big shout out to Karen Tingley, the zoo's curator of education, and the rest of her staff for being gracious hosts. They even had pizza for us! The Zoo was the perfect size for little ones -- not too big and many of the exhibits are indoors.

We had absolutely gorgeous weather the entire weekend. It was hot, but umbrellas and trees provided great shade, and meerkat fans (courtesy of Animal Planet's Meerkat Manor) kept us cool. Our tables were located on prime real estate, near the sea lion court. Many parents and children stopped by to make a meerkat puppet (actress Emily Watson and her daughter made a puppet!), to watch Pat's drawing demonstration, and of course to chat with Darrin and get a signed copy of the books. Darrin was even interviewed by a local Brooklyn news channel. We did have some competition from the dancers of the Philippa Kaye Company, an interpretive dance group. They really got in touch with their inner wild animal. The noises they made prompted Darrin's niece to ask if they were human.

Meerkats are definitely a popular animal at the Zoo. We quickly ran out of the meerkat fans and books. Many people recognized the animal from the exhibit in the Zoo and, of course, from Meerkat Manor. However, I like to think that the real reason we sold out of books was because Darrin's 7-year-old daughter Sakura is a marketing genius! She drove a lot of people to our table, handing out fans and talking to kids. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of Sakura in action as she doesn't like her picture being taken. Darrin apparently only has pictures of her running away!

To my surprise, many people thought the bumblebee bat (the world's smallest bat) was a scary animal. Even Pat's incredibly cute illustrations couldn't persuade them otherwise. Pat informed me that the Zoological Society of London just released the Top 10 Most Endangered Species, and poor bumblebee bat is #9 on the list. I think they have more reasons to be afraid of us than we have to be afraid of them.

Hopefully, we'll be able to participate in next year's Wild Arts Weekend. Zoo staff suggested the red panda as the subject of Darrin and Pat's next book. Darrin and Pat will also be at the Staten Island Zoo in late September to celebrate the completion of the zoo's renovated meerkat habitat.

And of course, I have to thank my good friends, Liz and Sean, for not only letting me stay at their apartment, but also for helping out this weekend.

Posted by Jenny

Friday, July 6, 2007


While staring out the window thinking about ad copy, I'm temporarily distracted by firemen, Old Glory, and St. Pat's.

Posted by Donna, hard at work.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Behind the scenes of "Little Lost Bat"

I’d been warned to expect to be awed, but that hadn’t prepared me. As I stood watching the bridge in downtown Austin, Texas, I saw what looked like a few black wisps of smoke float up and drift away. Then, suddenly, a black cloud burst from beneath the bridge and engulfed the sunset-orange sky. Thousands—more, probably millions—of bats had emerged from their roost and were launching their nighttime hunt. In that instant, I was hooked. I had to know more about bats.

One of the things I love about writing my books is they give me an excuse to experience things and to talk to researchers who’ve spent years investigating and discovering. The experience part that led to my writing Little Lost Bat took me first to a zoo that had a breeding colony of bats. I was able to visit with the keeper and get an up-close peek at mother bats nursing their babies. Next, I went along with a wildlife biologist as we hauled a bulky black box into a meadow. As day became night, I caught glimpses of bats swooping through the air overhead. The black box was a special instrument that also allowed me to “listen” to the bats hunting with bursts of sound too high for human ears to hear without assistance. Wow! I felt like I was getting to know the bats now.

Then I talked to bat researcher Barbara French who described her work inside TexasBracken Cave, a nursery cave for millions of Mexican free-tail bats. She said, “Imagine wading through powdery guano (bat droppings) so deep you sink to your knees while all the insects living there scurry around you. And imagine the constant sound of all the mothers’ and their babies’ voices plus all of the echoes reverberating off the cave walls. Then looking up in the shadowy dimness, you can see all of the bats—the dark bodies of the mothers and the pink babies.” I could imagine it! And Little Lost Bat was born.

I always loved reading stories aloud to my son and daughter, taking different voices to bring the characters to life. I wrote Little Lost Bat especially to be read aloud. Even better, I encourage you to invite the children you share the story with to take the little bat’s part and read along with you.

I believe books should transport readers into the story and share special experiences. I hope you enjoy the world you’ll explore and characters you’ll get to know in Little Lost Bat.

Posted by Sandra Markle.