Author/Illustrator Interview: Edna Cabcabin Moran, part 2 of 2

Hi there, here’s part 2 of Edna’s interview. You’ll be hungry by the end of it.

One of the latest books you illustrated, Can You Catch a Coqui Frog, published in 2009 by BeachHouse Publishing, takes the readers on
a discovery journey of the animal kingdom in Hawai’i; it is also a tale about family
and friends…

The Coqui Frog book is a light rhyming picture book that introduces the animals of Hawai’i. When I read the manuscript, I envisioned a secondary story featuring children from different places around the island, having a connection of sorts with the animals
highlighted in the book. I also wanted the page spreads to share something special
about the animals in their habitat.

I found this book tricky to illustrate because the animals ranged in size from the wee little happy-face spider to the large, very rotund monk seal. I wondered how to give each animal its due attention plus keep the “wordless” tale going. I was able to find a happy solution with the creation and use of “borders” for each two-page spread.

On your path to publication and as a multicultural author/illustrator, what is the
most valuable lesson you’ve learned?

I’ve learned a number of lessons but here’s a key one: Do your homework about the culture or tradition. There are reasons why stories are told a certain way. Take the time to find out why. When I first started my research for The Sleeping Giant, I came across many different versions. I wore the hat of a sleuth, half the time, at the beginning as I tried to uncover as much as I could about the story’s origins. It was an enriching experience that led me to many wonderful sources such as the Kupuna (elder) storytelling program in Kapa’a, Kaua’i. Also, a good retelling does not imitate another’s voice or copy a tale verbatim. I liken it to sculpting with clay–massaging tale and shaping it with your own touch. So, develop a solid perspective and write in your own voice.

Are there any resources you would recommend to writers and/or illustrators
working on multicultural stories?

The public library is full of excellent multicultural books and folk tales. Also, check out: Tarie Sabido‘s multicultural literature blog, Into The Wardrobe, articles on writing multicultural stories by award-winning PB author Aaron Shepherd; and Papertigers.org which introduces and reviews multicultural kid lit.

What are your current projects?

I’ve several illustration assignments in other book genres, a couple of illos and book dummies for several PB’s (not yet contracted) and WIP’s for a number of stories and poems.

You are in Kaua’i with three of your favorite writers or illustrators. Who are they and where do you take them?

This is a difficult question to answer as I have many, many favorites! Off the top of my
head, I’d love to spend a day with Maurice Sendak (he’s the reason I fell in love with
picture books), Naomi Shihab Nye (her words are paintings) and Yuyi Morales (her
paintings are poetic).

I’d take them on a hike into the forests of Mt. Wai’ale’ale where
we would listen and look for the native ‘i’iwi bird, explore the plants and enjoy a picnic
lunch. Next, we’ll break out our sketch books and draw and paint whatever we wanted.
Then we’ll talk story for a while–but they’d do most of the talking because I’d love to
hear about their writing and illustrating adventures.

Any Hawaiian dish and drink you’d recommend? 🙂

A must is fresh poi~just scoop it up with your fingers! 🙂 I really like it with lomi lomi
salmon (a fish salsa type of dish). Another favorite is Chicken Lau Lau which is
prepared with butterfish and chicken, wrapped with ti or taro leaves and steam cooked
to perfection. Yum. I’m getting hungry just answering your question. As for a drink… try
drinking the water straight out of a coconut. It’s very refreshing and delicious.

Last but not least, is there any question you wish I had asked?

Nathalie, 🙂 These questions are perfect. Mahalo nui loa!

Edna, thank you again for your time and for sharing your experience with us. I wish you the best in your current projects, and look forward to your next books.

To keep in touch with Edna, visit:
o Edna’s website
o Edna’s blog, Just Sketch

GUEST POST: What I Learned at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, by Tarie Sabido

Let’s begin with an exercise, shall we?

1. Name three Asian authors of children’s books.
2. Name three Asian illustrators of children’s books.
3. Name folk heroes or folk stories from three different Asian countries.
4. Name three African authors of children’s books.
5. Name three African illustrators of children’s books.
6. Name folk heroes or folk stories from three different African countries.
7. Name three Latin American authors of children’s books.
8. Name three Latin American illustrators of children’s books.
9. Name folk heroes or folk stories from three different Latin American countries.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. How did you do on the exercise? How would your child/grandchild/godchild/niece or nephew/student/library patron do on the exercise?

This exercise is an excerpt from “The Imperative for Multicultural Literacy,” a talk by bookseller Lynette Thomas at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC). The 2010 AFCC was the inaugural AFCC. Authors, illustrators, editors, publishers, booksellers, librarians, teachers, and other children’s book lovers from all over the world converged in Singapore from May 6 to 9 to celebrate children’s content for education and entertainment. They came from India, France, the Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, the U.K., the U.S., Hong Kong, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, and many more countries.

(I know that most readers of Multiculturalism Rocks! are from the U.S. You may be interested to know that the speakers from the U.S. were author Uma Krishnaswami, children’s technology reviewer Warren Buckleitner, media consultant Bill Rosenblatt, writer and editor Jeff Yang, playwright Jonathan Dorf, and education professor Susan Harris-Sharples.)

Sixty-two percent of the world’s population is in Asia, and there are one billion children in Asia. Asia is a gold mine for both Asian and Western children’s book industries! The AFCC was about Asian content for Asian children – and Asian content for the WORLD’s children. According to Claire Chiang, AFCC advisory board chair, “We [Asians] have had easy access to, and benefited from, a wide selection of educational and entertainment content from the West. In contrast, Asian materials, even those already available in the marketplace, are seldom translated and promoted, and therefore largely unexplored. This is a big loss for children worldwide, and an untapped industry with tremendous potential.”

Indeed, one of the most important things I learned at the AFCC is that it isn’t enough for children to be aware of how multicultural their own country is. They must be aware of our multicultural WORLD. And children shouldn’t just accept in their heads the multiculturalism in their country and world. They should also be truly comfortable with that multiculturalism in their hearts. We all know that one way to help children be comfortable with multiculturalism is through multicultural books. Furthermore, multicultural books respect and empower children in the different cultures featured!

The AFCC has given me more motivation and inspiration to seek out and promote multicultural children’s books. For shouldn’t we share and give children access to good books, whether they are from Europe, Asia, North America, or any other place in the world?

For pictures and more information on the AFCC, please check out the links below:

Day 1 of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content
http://asiaintheheart.blogspot.com/2010/05/day-1-of-asian-festival-of-childrens.html

Day 2 of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content
http://asiaintheheart.blogspot.com/2010/05/day-2-of-asian-festival-of-childrens.html

Day 3 of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content
http://asiaintheheart.blogspot.com/2010/05/day-3-of-asian-festival-of-childrens.html

Day 4 of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content
http://asiaintheheart.blogspot.com/2010/05/day-4-of-asian-festival-of-childrens.html

Women Writers of Color at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content
http://coloronline.blogspot.com/2010/05/women-writers-of-color-at-asian.html

About today’s guest:
Tarie Sabido is an English teacher, a Filipino editor and a Cybil judge. She is staff at Color Online, a website dedicated to women writers of color. She is also a prolific blogger and book reviewer, and an advocate for Asian children’s literature in particular. If there is anything you ever needed to know about Asian authors and illustrators, if you wonder about children’s books in the Philippines and beyond, visiting her blogs is a great way to start:
oAsia in the Heart, World on the Mind
oInto the Wardrobe
o Follow Tarie on Twitter!