Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Happy Holidays from Max the Monkey

Everyone's heard of the Monkey King right? 

The Journey to the West has inspired countless adaptations across the centuries. As legend has it, Wu Cheng'en wrote this Chinese novel during the 16th century's Ming dynasty. Later the story became renowned as one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. The others are Water Margin, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Dream of the Red Chamber.

Modern versions of Journey to the West include the popular manga and anime Dragon Ball Z, created by Japan's prolific comics artist Akira Toriyama in 1984 As a little child, Goku starts off with a nice brown tail... but then it gets cut off! Ouch! A nice cartoon version of a boy's timeless rite of passage into adulthood, wouldn't you say? As a small consolation, at least in the future Goku gains a power that would put Clairol and many hairdressers out of business - our spiky headed hero enjoys free and instant hair coloring when he goes Super Saiyan.

In 2008, Hollywood was inspired. Lion's Gate got the bug with its Hong Kong flavored flick The Forbidden Kingdom. Here martial arts maven Jet Li transforms into old furry face himself to square off against the drunken master Jackie Chan. It's sort of the Asian cinematic equivalent of the Street Fighter IV but with better actors than Kylie Minogue and Jean Claude Van Damme.

In 2013 Kung Fu Hustle's Stephen Chow directed (but not starred) in a film aptly title Journey to the West. Therein the Buddhist hero undertakes the famed adventure by protecting a town from demons, falling in love with another fetching fighter, and searching for the fabled Mon-king.

Naturally, given the homegrown subject matter, this movie earned the most of any film in  China in its first day (beating the Transformers: Dark of the Moon only to be bested by the Transformer's even more boffo sequel Age of Extinction in 2014). Soon Chow's Journey became the highest grossing Chinese-language motion picture ever. Poor Wu Cheng'en. If he only had Walt Disney's lawyers, then he'd still be earning royalties.

Here is our first copy hot off the presses, nicely couched in the heavens.
Our first copy hot off the presses, nicely couched in the heavens.
Now what room in the world is left to say or show anything about the mythic Monkey King?

Well, we knew the upcoming turn of the calendar into 2016 (February 8th to be exact) would herald The Year of the Monkey.

What better way to commemorate this tradition (which has been celebrated for millennia) than to create a brand new character?


Max is the son of the legendary Monkey King and Monkey Queen!

Sure this tyke has a lot to live up to (don't we all)...but even the sky is the limit for Max! But like kids everywhere, Max is learning how to learn...as well as squeezing in as much fun as possible!

Amazingly illustrated by the DreamWorks animator Kenji Ono, The Year of the Monkey will inspire readers to fly high! We look forward to sharing this fabulous new 11th adventure in our series Tales from the Chinese Zodiac in the coming year.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May is Asian Heritage Month

Well it's that time of year again, when the USA commemorates the contributes of Asian Americans.

The official commemoration was officially designated three decades ago by President Jimmy Carter (later the entire month of May by President George H. Bush). However, Asian voices still strain to be heard and recognized on a national level. 

A case in point is how President Obama won't even attend the "White House summit" on Asian Pacific American Islanders (AAPI) held in Washington DC this week, as reported by the Daily Beast.

We still live in an era of mixed signals, and where society seems to take one step forward and then drift one step back.

Yet, we firmly believe that sharing children stories is a great way to instill not only understanding cultural differences but also appreciating them.

Sora and the Cloud
Kids (as opposed to ossified adults) have a awe-inspiring capacity to soak in new experiences and resiliency to redefine their view of the world. It is no coincidence that polls regularly note how younger generations of voters have become more tolerant of social issues that have inflamed, divided, and bedeviled their elders.

Since 2006, we've been dedicating to publish more new Asian American authors, artists, and characters. These include:
All told, more than 1/3 (of our nearly 40 books) features Asian American themes.

Diversity in publishing is vital because it reflects the variety of real life. Maybe more interestingly, it is even more important since it underscores how we as a community need to learn from each other and develop bonds for a greater good.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy Year of the Sheep

February 19th is the start of the Chinese New Year...and we're ready to celebrate The Year of the Sheep!

We've created original adventures in our annual series Tales from the Chinese Zodiac for a decade. Now the latest yarn centers on Sydney - this lamb redefines (in very positive ways) what it means to be sheepish!

Already we have shared this energetic story with dozens of schools, libraries, and cultural associations...and have seen kids go baaa-baaa-bonkers with enthusiasm :)

Artist Alina Chau illustrated a brand new world for Sydney and our readers to explore - full of color, humor, and the beauty of nature. Well known for her expert use of watercolors, Alina imbues her illustrations with intimate and impressionistic detail. Plus Alina will present the March 1st storytime at Books, Inc. in Burlingame, CA.

Meanwhile author Oliver Chin is reading at many other locales. See our events calendar for a venue near you.

In addition, we are translating Tales from the Chinese Zodiac into Chinese, due to regular requests from teachers and parents from Chinese immersion classes. Now you can download free PDFs that have either the simplified and traditional Chinese translations for The Year of the Sheep and prior Tales.

May 2015 be full of health, wealth, and prosperity for you, your family, and your community.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The real Guardians of the Galaxy

Sure, Marvel's surprise summer blockbuster featured a unique cast of good guys. But that film's stars surely can't hold a candle to the real heroes of history, found all around our world, and believed in by millions of people for thousands of years.

On every continent, in every country, families have found inspiration in legendary champions. Elemental gods such as the Norse Thor. Skilled deities such as the Greek Artemis. Mythic avengers such as the Monkey King. Supreme defenders such as the Aztec's Quetzalcoatl.

Discover them and more in Good Dream, Bad Dream, created by Juan Calle and his team at Liberum Donum studios in Bogota, Colombia, and co-written by Serena Valentino. Our first Spanish bilingual book, it was successfully funded on Kickstarter by hundreds of fans who were excited by the fantastic artwork and multicultural themes.

In this universal tale, a boy named Julio is afraid of having nightmares. His Papa comes to the rescue, by telling his son that people have always relied on superheroes to make their dreams good. Next come panaromic examples from around the globe of powerful protectors facing off against equally infamous foes.

Illustrated in a dynamic comic book style, Good Dream underscores the common experiences we share, both as individuals and as cultures and as a species. Human nature is rooted in the primal need to belong but also to stand out and for principles that are bigger than any one of us and ultimately can unite us all.

The prequel to Jurassic Park

Before the famous reptiles Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, and Triceratops existed, there was the Permian Era. In this span from 299-250 million BC, the terrible lizards were technically not considered "dinosaurs". But that doesn't mean they weren't always hungry!

So starts Dave Derrick's fourth storybook Play with your Food. Now an animator at Disney, Dave has created yet another fun, fascinating, and fully immersive adventure that kids and adults can both enjoy.

True to his track record of depicting charismatic animals (Sid the Squid; Animals Don't, So I Won't!; and I'm the Scariest Thing in the Jungle!), Dave populates this lost world with a rainbow of swimming, crawling, and flying beasts. But two in particular stand out...

The first is a little lizard called a coelurosauravus. Unfortunately it's timing is off, as it lands on the menu of a larger predator - the dimetrodon. Can the small fry convince the big cheese that it is better to play with your food? Remember that the law of the jungle is that it is the survival of the funnest!

Check out Dave's animated trailer and discover how these two cutups could teach Miss Manners what proper and practical etiquette really was...prehistorically! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month... but still needs more diverse children's books

As you may know, the month of May commemorates the contributions and cultures of Asian Pacific Americans.

So it is notable that recently American publishers have recognized (again) that 90% of their children's books don't include diverse faces and themes.

A March New York Times article "Where are the People of Color in Children's Books?" rekindled the debate. The ensuing media coverage prompted New York publishers to form "task forces" to address the issue, get photographed doing so, and create Twitter hashtags - that's sort of like an interagency SWAT meeting without the guns or vans or deadlines. More concretely, School Library Journal dedicated their May issue to the topic of diversity.

There is nothing new under the sun, but the problem is real.

Capitalism is the wheel that drives industry. Superheroes, wizards, vampires, and female archers sell books. Publisher may wonder if Asians, Latinos, and Blacks buy enough books that feature characters like themselves. But it seems like publishing is even lagging behind TV and movies (which can't brag about their track records either) in including minority (soon to be the majority) actors. Even when you factor out the ubiquitous presence of Samuel Jackson, the boob tube is doing a better job than book publishing.

We founded Immedium in 2005 to address this very issue.

One-third of our stories (a dozen and counting) have been multicultural.  We've introduced Asian American characters in Tales from the Chinese Zodiac, Julie Black Belt, and Sora and the Cloud, who appeal to readers universally. This fall, we'll produce our first Spanish bilingual adventure with Liberum Donum, artists from Bogota, Columbia.

This week School Library Journal cited Sora & the Cloud in their culturally diverse book lis:

"An adventurous young boy takes flight on a friendly cloud in this delightful whirlwind of a daydream. The story is artfully structured, with reality turning to fantasy as Sora (a name that means “sky” in Japanese) climbs a tree and hops aboard a cloud for a whimsical journey above the city. His fanciful vision gently gives way to reality again when he drifts to sleep on the cloud and dreams of pleasures grounded in everyday life, like splashing in puddles and digging in sand at the beach. Sora’s airborne fantasy is charmingly depicted with a dreamlike palette of pastel colors. The San Francisco setting in combination with the bilingual text deftly shows the child’s Japanese American identity."
Therefore we celebrate the symbolism of May with you. We hope to continue sharing your journey of cultural exploration and appreciation.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Happy Chinese New Year - 2014 is The Year of the Horse!

We ring in the lunar new year with the 9th adventure in our Tales from the Chinese Zodiac series -  The Year of the Horse!

9 years already? Boy, time flies when you're having fun.

That we've certainly had in abundance during the past decade. Yet when we started, we knew we'd have a lot of ground to cover too. Think about it...when was the last time you've willingly embarked on a 12 year project where you had to make a product every year?

You parents out there know what we're talking about, when I say that having a child becomes much more than a 12 year project. But then would you want to have another baby the next year, and so on, and so on?

Well, without getting too philosophical about it (or straying into the familially fraught territory of TLC's reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting), let's just say we embarked willingly and with brio.

One of our goals was to publish fresh, meaningful stories about Asian American themes and characters. So this hitting upon concept was just too good of an opportunity to pass up. I mean no one had ever published a series of stories on each of the Chinese zodiac animals before in English (only later did we learn that a Chinese publisher had done so in Asia, but the tales were much different).

But let's get back to FUN.

2014's heroine is Hannah the Horse. She exemplifies the positive can-do attitude of kids who want to make their mark in the world and enjoy their journey at the same time.

Artist Jennifer Wood notches her 3rd straight hit (following Dragon and Snake) and displays her personal predilection for horses with vibrant scenes of Hannah and her pal Tom energetically romping through colorful vistas. These friends are simply joyful, just like any kids at play.

January 31, 2014 was the first day but the celebrations will kick into higher gears in the coming weeks. Jennifer presented at Kidspace Children's Museum in Pasadena today, and will read at Vroman's Bookstore on 2/8.

Meanwhile author Oliver Chin visits Southern California this week as well. He participates in the Bowers Museum's festival in Santa Ana tomorrow on 2/2 (quite a Super Sunday). Then he'll travel to many schools and libraries across Los Angeles - check out our event calendar.

In a way, the creators are emulating Hannah's trek to share the fruits of artistic creativity, one of which is the common experience of fun.www.immedium.com/products/yearofhorse.htmlwww.immedium.com/products/yearofhorse.htmlwww.immedium.com/products/yearofhorse.html