THE CHINESE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES | GROWING UP IN THE CHINESE CULTURAL REVOLUTION

To mark Chinese New Year, we wanted to share a short essay from author Ying Chang Compestine on the story behind her new picture book, The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes (illustrated by David Roberts). The book even has a how-to guide in the back for creating your own Chinese New Year parade robes!

About The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes:

Ming Da is only nine years old when he becomes the emperor of China. His ministers take advantage of the boy emperor by stealing rice, gold and precious stones. But Ming Da has a plan. He orders his tailors to make him “magical” new clothes that only honest people can see. Can Ming Da outsmart his ministers and save his country? 

The following note is extracted from the Author’s Note in The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes by Ying Chang Compestine & David Roberts


Ying in China during the Cultural Revolution
Ying in China during the Cultural Revolution

In Ancient China, the emperor often appointed his favourite son to succeed him to the throne, regardless of age. When Pu Yi, the last emperor of China, came to power in 1908, he was less than three years old!

The Chinese use a lunar calendar based on the phases of the moon. Chinese New Year usually occurs between mid-January and early February. The most important part of the celebration is a parade, which is often led by officials, followed by dancing dragons, firecrackers, acrobatic performances, and lion dancers.

According to Chinese tradition, on New Year’s Day it is important that everyone dresses in new clothes. That way they can have a fresh start, and evil spirits won’t recognize them.

I grew up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). Like the street children in this story, we were deprived of food and clothes along with many other things. For example, Western fairy tales, folktales, and novels were banned and burned. But that didn’t stop my family and me from reading: My brothers and I read every work of literature that came into our hands, and my parents read banned medical journals.

Whenever I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the forbidden books, I had to read it in a hurry, late at night, so I could pass it on to friends who were anxiously awaiting their turn. If caught, we could face public humiliation and even risked having our families sent to a labour camp. Despite the danger, the hunger for literature was so intense that we were willing to risk it. Like the boy emperor, I always searched for ways to outsmart the officials. I would hide the banned books between newspapers or wrap them in lotus leaves. My most daring trick was disguising the book with the jacket of a government propaganda book.

Due to the lack of books and other entertainment, my friends and I would pass the time by reciting stories from the illegal books we had read. On my eighth Chinese New Year’s Eve, a friend lent me a dog-eared translation of the forbidden The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. I stayed up all night, reading it over and over. I traced my fingers over the beautiful illustrations. I laughed out loud at the naked emperor marching through town.

When it was my turn to recite a story, I added my own twist to The Emperor’s New Clothes, and rewarded myself and my friends with new clothes and food for the upcoming New Year. That experience eventually led to this retelling.


Follow Ying Chang Compestine over on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and her website.
David Roberts can be found on Instagram and Tumblr.

To find out more about the book, click here!

Chinesenewyear

ALONG THE INDIGO | EXTRACT

The town of Glory is famous for two things: businesses that front for seedy, if not illegal, enterprises and the suicides that happen along the Indigo River. Marsden is desperate to escape the “bed-and-breakfast” where her mother works as a prostitute—and where her own fate has been decided—and she wants to give her little sister a better life. But escape means money, which leads Mars to skimming the bodies that show up along the Indigo River. It’s there that she runs into Jude, who has secrets of his own and whose brother’s suicide may be linked to Mars’s own sordid family history. As they grow closer, the two unearth secrets that could allow them to move forward . . . or chain them to the Indigo forever.

With a fresh concept and gorgeous prose, this novel is an intensely atmospheric read for young adults and adults alike.

Along The Indigo publishes on 20 March 2018, order your copy here.

KNOCKOUT | EXTRACT

Levi just wants to be treated like a typical kid. As a baby, he had a serious disease that caused him respiratory issues. He’s fine now, but his mum and overprotective brother still think of him as damaged, and his schoolmates see him as the same class clown he’s always been. He feels stuck. So when his dad—divorced from his mum—suggests he take up boxing, he falls in love with the sport. And when he finds out about a school with a killer boxing team and a free–study curriculum, it feels like he’s found a ticket to a new Levi. But how can he tell his mum about boxing? And how can he convince his family to set him free?

Told in dynamic shaped verse, this gripping, funny, poignant novel works as a companion to House Arrest as well as a standalone tale of a boy feeling constrained by his family’s love. Perfect for middle-grade, YA and reluctant readers.

  • Click here to read an extract from Knockout
  • Download the discussion guide for schools and book groups

Knockout by K.A. Holt publishes on 06 March 2018, order your copy here!

BOOKSHOP OF THE MONTH | CARAVANSÉRAIL

Caravansérail is a gorgeous bilingual bookshop, gallery and cultural space nestled in London’s Brick Lane, which offers a wonderful aray of adult and children’s titles in both French and English. Head there to find your newest read and grab a coffee surrounded by beautiful books, shelving and art. The shop front is spectacular (the blue is so striking and inviting) and their signage and branding is stunning.

Since opening in September 2017, co-owners Laura and Anne have hosted various events featuring authors, artists and musicians, cementing themselves as a hub within the community.

There’s something for everyone in the shop, from a carefully curated selection of cookery titles chosen by a local chef, or the wide range of translated fiction – a focus for Laura.

We caught up with Laura and Anne and asked them a few questions:

1. Congratulations on being chosen as our February Bookshop of the Month! We’ve talked a bit about you and the shop but how would you describe Caravansérail in five words?  
A home for hybrid cultures.

2. Where is your favourite spot in the store?  
The children’s nook! A place to shelter and escape from the buzz of the city. A perfect spot to read, whether you’re with kids or not.

3. Where do you like to read? 
Anne: in the wilderness! I used to live on the West coast of Canada and my favourite spot to read so far has been in Dorreen – an abandoned mining town in British Columbia that you can only access by train. A heaven lost between mountains, forest and river. Comfortably seated on the porch of a cabin, a steaming mug of coffee in one hand, a book in the other… and not too far away, a bowl of freshly picked blueberries. Sublime!
Laura: nothing beats the combination of reading and fireplace for me, wherever it may be.

4. If you weren’t a bookseller what would you be? 
Anne: aside from Caravansérail, I am running an artist residency and an artists agency. Supporting and promoting the work of emerging artists is the cement of these three activities.
Laura: I’d probably be doing something in publishing.

5. Excluding Caravansérail – what is your favourite bookshop?   
Anne: I love browsing the beautiful bookshops in the Quartier latin in Paris – a day well spent!
Laura: without hesitation Daunt Books, Marylebone.


Caravansérail can be found at:
5 Cheshire St
London
E2 6ED

Follow them on TwitterFacebook & Instagram!

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO #DRESSLIKEAWOMAN? | COMPETITION

DressLikeAWoman

What does it mean to #DressLikeAWoman?

Help us make a video for Women’s History Month and the forthcoming book, DRESS LIKE A WOMAN by ABRAMS Books (foreword & introduction by Vanessa Friedman & Roxane Gay), and be in with a chance of winning the book when it publishes!

You can enter in one of two ways:

Send a photo of yourself to us via emailTwitter, Facebook or Instagram and: 

  1. Wear an outfit that represents to you what it means to ‘dress like a woman’
  2. Hold a piece of paper or sign with #DressLikeAWoman written on it
  3. If you prefer to remain anonymous, the photo can be cropped or not include faces
  4. Landscape format preferable but not essential

OR

Send one sentence on what it means to you to ‘dress like a woman’ via any of the same channels.

We’ll be accepting submissions until Monday 5th March 2018.


See the full Terms & Conditions here

Find out more about the book here

Dress Like a Woman 4

A TAXONOMY OF WHY I WROTE ‘A TAXONOMY OF LOVE’ | BY RACHAEL ALLEN

Firstly, a bit about the book – which is out now

The moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, it’s . . . something at first sight. He knows she’s special, possibly even magical. The pair become fast friends, climbing trees and planning world travels. After years of being outshone by his older brother and teased because of his Tourette syndrome, Spencer finally feels like he belongs. But as Hope and Spencer get older and life gets messier, the clear label of “friend” gets messier, too. Through sibling feuds and family tragedies, new relationships and broken hearts, the two grow together and apart, and Spencer, an aspiring scientist, tries to map it all out using his trusty system of taxonomy. He wants to identify and classify their relationship, but in the end, he finds that life doesn’t always fit into easy-to-manage boxes, and it’s this messy complexity that makes life so rich and beautiful.

Rachael Allen is the author of 17 First Kisses and The Revenge Playbook. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two children and two sled dogs. Visit her website here.


We fell in love with Spencer’s taxonomy charts in the book so we couldn’t resist asking Rachael to make a taxonomy about… Taxonomy! See her beautiful hand-written creation below:

a taxonomy of why i wrote taxonomy

From sibling relationships to neurodiverse characters to peach ice cream (x3), not only does A Taxonomy of Love span 6 years of the characters’ lives, it also incorporates some of the most important aspects of family, friendship, love and loss while subverting stereotypes in the process.


If you’re still not sure, you can dive into an extract here!

Let us know your thoughts at @ACBYA using #TaxonomyOfLove

HEALTHYISH | RECIPE

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Healthyish is recipe developer Lindsay Maitland Hunt’s totally doable, delicious, and dead-simple cookbook, helping us to eat how we all want to eat – healthy, but with an occasional bit of decadence.

Lindsay Maitland Hunt is an expert recipe developer who has created recipes for everyone from college students to busy families to seasoned home cooks. Now, she brings her trademark skillset to her debut cookbook, Healthyish.

For anyone on the move, working long hours, and trying to eat a bit more healthfully, Healthyish offers 131 satisfying recipes with straightforward instructions, using as few pots and pans as possible and ingredients that won’t break the bank. Not to mention, you can find the ingredients at your everyday grocery store (no garam masala or açai berries here!).

Emphasising balanced eating rather than fad diet tricks, Hunt includes guilt-free recipes for every meal of the day, from breakfast to snacks to dinner, and yes, even Healthyish treats, such as:

  • Banana–Avocado Chai Shake
  • Peanut Butter Granola
  • Salty Watermelon, Feta, Mint, and Avocado Salad
  • Miso–Butter Toast with a Nine-Minute Egg
  • Pozole with Pinto Beans and Queso Fresco
  • Spiced Chicken and Chickpea Flatbreads with Cucumber–Dill Tzatziki
  • Single-Serving Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookie

Designed for novices and experienced cooks alike, Hunt’s meticulously considered recipes offer crowd-pleasing flavour profiles and time-saving tips and tricks, and her vegetable-centric dishes, with an occasional dash of meat, dairy, and decadence, are showcased in vibrant, mouthwatering photographs.

Destined to be an everyday kitchen essential, filled with splattered and dog-eared pages, Healthyish is a call for simple ingredients, food that makes us feel good, quick prep and even quicker cleanup, so we all can enjoy what’s most important at the end of a long day: getting back to the couch.

Lindsay Maitland Hunt is a recipe developer and food writer living in Brooklyn, New York. A former editor at Real Simple and BuzzFeed Food, her clients have also included Country Living, Delish, Food Network and Food & Wine. You can follow her on Instagram here.

The following recipe is from Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt.


Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

MAKES 24 BARS

These bars have a classic chocolate chip cookie flavour, but made Healthyish with whole-wheat flour. Instead of scooping individual cookies, you’ll save time by scraping all the dough into a pan and cutting after baking.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2¼ cups (9 oz/270 g) whole-wheat flour, spooned and levelled
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • teaspoons kosher salt, or ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1¼ cups (9 oz/250 g) packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup (3½ oz/100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces (340 g) chopped bittersweet chocolate, or 2 cups (345 g) bittersweet chocolate chips

HOW TO MAKE IT

  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175°C), with a rack set in the centre. Butter a 9-by-13‑inch (20-by-30-cm) baking dish and line with parchment; leave a 2-inch (5-cm) flap overhanging on two sides. Set aside. Whisk the flour, espresso powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Whisk both sugars in a large bowl, making sure to break up any lumps. Add the melted butter and whisk vigorously for about 1 minute, until the mixture forms one mass. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula.

3. Whisk 1 egg into the sugar-butter mixture, stirring until it’s fully mixed in. Whisk in the second egg and the vanilla and scrape the sides of bowl again.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir with the spatula to fully combine until there are no streaks of dry ingredients left. Stir in the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.

5. Refrigerate the dough for at least 10 minutes while the oven preheats. Bake, rotating halfway through, for 25 to 30 minutes, until the bars are golden brown and the crust is matte (not wet or glossy looking). Cool completely before cutting into 24 bars.

You can make and refrigerate the dough up to 2 days in advance, or freeze the unbaked bars for up to 3 months. They’ll take longer to bake, 30 to 35 minutes.


Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt is out now – find out more here!

BOOKSHOP OF THE MONTH | BUTTON & BEAR

Kicking off 2018, our January Bookshop of the Month is Button and Bear, a children’s bookshop in Shrewsbury owned and run by Louise Chadwick, former director of programmes at BookTrust.

Button and Bear has been designed with children and parents in mind with the goal of getting children interested in books as early as possible. Opening in September 2016 the bookshop also has a café, a gift shop, a breastfeeding area and what can only be described as a magical woodland events space. They run a multitude of regular events including their highly praised Stories & Rhymes in the Woodland (check out their Facebook reviews) and they’ve cemented themselves as a community hub for customers.

We caught up with Louise to ask her a few questions:

1. Congratulations on being chosen as our January Bookshop of the Month! We’ve talked a bit about you and the shop but how would you describe Button and Bear in three words?
Friendly, knowledgeable & unique

2. Where is your favourite spot in the store?
Our hidden woodland room downstairs where we hold storytimes, events & birthday parties. There are no windows & it feels cosy & magical.

3. Where do you like to read?
Everywhere! But mostly when I can lose myself in the book and become part of the story.

4. If you weren’t a bookseller what would you be?
I previously worked for a book charity inspiring people to read focusing on children & parents, which is what I do now through Button & Bear. If I wasn’t a bookseller I would still be out there championing the importance of reading for pleasure & making sure as many children & parents had access to books.

5. Excluding Button and Bear – what is your favourite bookshop?
Tricky to choose just one but I would say that Booka Bookshop in Oswestry is a lovely environment and has brought some great authors to the market town.


Button & Bear can be found at:
28 Castle St
Shrewsbury
SY1 2BQ

Follow them on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram!

COOK BEAUTIFUL | STYLE YOUR WINTER TABLE WITH ATHENA CALDERONE

Athena Calderone cooks with internationally acclaimed chefs, hosts stunning dinner parties for luxury publications, and showcases it all on EyeSwoon, an online destination for food, fashion, and design. And in Cook Beautiful, she’s revealing the secrets to preparing and presenting gorgeous meals. Included are 100 seasonal recipes with step-by-step advice on everything from prep to presentation—from artfully layering a peach and burrata salad, to searing a perfect steak. Organised by season, each section ends with a menu for entertaining and ideas for table decor. Following in the tradition of EyeSwoon, this book is where design meets food, where culinary tradition marries food styling, where home chefs become experts. These are beautiful, tasteful dishes to make for friends and family, with advice that will inspire you to create visually stunning, and still wholly delicious, culinary masterpieces.

The following is an extract from Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone (ABRAMS Books)


THE WINTER TABLE

Rather than mourn winter’s waning light, embrace the darkness with lush, moody décor and a warm, cosy vibe. Here, saturated grey linen, rumpled for added texture, serves as the backdrop for simple black ceramics, mismatched brass candlesticks, and a rambling arrangement of delicate flowers and ferns. A handmade touch—no matter how small—is the best way to add warmth to a table. For this meal at home with friends, I made ink-stained paper menu cards, adorning them with fragrant eucalyptus leaves. The overall feel is intimate, refined, and just a little decadent—like the perfect winter meal. 

N o . 1 

O N  T H E  M E N U

There are few things more festive than handwritten menus—even when they’re not actually written by hand. Rather than hiring a calligrapher, select a scrolling script font and pop some pretty paper into your printer. Here, I used watercolour paper, tearing the edges and dabbing on watered-down ink, which bleeds to form a subtle, organic pattern.

N o . 2 

W E L L  S E A S O N E D

During citrus season, I love to flavour sea salt with a blend of zest and herbs. My recipe not only livens up roast fish or poultry, it also serves as a mouth-watering memento of the meal for guests to take home.

N o . 3 

D A R K  M AT T E R

We change our wardrobes with the seasons, so why not our dishes? These days, investing in darker, moodier place settings for winter isn’t particularly pricey. Chic—and cheap!—pieces can be found at stores like West Elm, CB2, and even IKEA.

N o . 4 

L E T  T H E R E  B E  L I G H T S

A matched pair of candlesticks in the middle of your table can feel a little predictable. Instead, add visual interest—and set a casual, modern mood—with an odd-numbered grouping of vintage finds in a variety of heights and styles. Dark-colored tapers are an especially cosy touch on cold nights.

N o . 5 

S P I C E  T H I N G S  U P

Whole spices like nutmeg, allspice, star anise, and cinnamon are too beautiful to keep hidden away in a drawer. And, especially during the holiday season, their sweet, warm scents feel festive without being overpowering. Here, I used the sculptural little gems to decorate a side table, alongside spicy sachets that guests can use at home to simmer mulled wine.

N o . 6 

P R I Z E  R I B B O N S

Words to live by: Never pass up a spool of pretty ribbon. If you keep some on hand, you’ll find many lovely ways to use it, from holding together cutlery to binding bouquets—and, of course, tying up presents. Velvet varieties add elegant texture and subtle sheen to winter décor.

N o . 7 

W R A P  S TA R

Gauzy linen, available at most fabric stores, can serve as a beautiful and unexpected alternative to wrapping paper. Simply cut or tear a large square—leaving the edges unfinished—place a gift in the centre, and form a loose knot on top, tucking in a few green sprigs for a decorative touch.

N o . 8 

C I R C L E  O F  L I F E

Get the look of a handmade wreath without the hassle of starting from scratch by purchasing the simplest evergreen option from your local market or nursery and embellishing it with seed pods, ornamental berries, feathers, sprigs, and other foraged finds.

N o . 9 

S AY  C H E E S E

When artfully composed, a cheese plate can double as table décor. The most inviting platters feel abundant, so fill in vacant areas with fresh or dried fruit. The cheeses themselves should look natural and gooey. Break up any pristine wedges by hacking off a few messy chunks and let soft cheese sit at room temperature until properly runny.


Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone is out now, find out more here.

Star Wars | The Wish-List Awakens

The Last Jedi is now officially in cinemas, Christmas is around the corner and, if it hasn’t already, the force of the wish-list awakens… 

Here’s our guide to 5 of the galaxy’s greatest gifts for the Jedi/Sith/Droid/Porg in your life:  

1. For the fan who’s already booked repeat viewings:

The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Phil Szostak

Star Wars: The Force Awakens shattered box-office records as one of the highest-grossing films of all time, and its eagerly awaited sequel, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is sure to do the same. Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, The Brothers Bloom, Brick) and production designed by Rick Heinrichs (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Captain America: The First Avenger), this episode, like every episode before it, owes its visual language and fully imagined cinematic landscape to an incomparable art department: the Lucasfilm ‘visualists.’ The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi explores their vision and illuminates their creative process in stunning detail. Featuring concept art and costume sketches, storyboards, and blueprints, fans will take a deep dive into the development of the fantastic worlds, characters, and creatures—both old and new—of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Featuring unforgettable art and exclusive interviews with the filmmakers, this visual archive highlights moviemaking magic at its finest.

Find out more here


2. The (Star Wars) mindfulness convert

Darth Vader and Family Coloring Book
By Jeffrey Brown

Jeffrey Brown’s reimagining of the Star Wars universe has delighted adult fans and young Jedi alike. This new adult colouring book is equally fun to share, featuring a careful translation of artwork from the bestselling Darth Vader and Son™ series to a large-format collection on crisp white paper, plus nine new images to colour.

Find out more here


3. For the Star Wars crafter:

Star Wars Kirigami: 15 Cut and Fold Ships from Across the Galaxy
By Marc Hagan-Guirey

Celebrated paper artist and designer Marc Hagan-Guirey has applied his genius to the Star Wars galaxy in this book of 15 unique kirigami (cut-and-fold) ships featured in the saga’s films. Ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert, each beautifully detailed model features step-by-step instructions and a template printed on cardstock—all that’s needed are a utility knife, a cutting mat, and a ruler. Clear tips and guidance through the tricky stages help readers craft their own X-wing, Imperial Star Destroyer, Millennium Falcon, and a dozen more ships and vehicles, each accompanied by colourful and inspiring photographs of the final model on display (or ready for a jump to Hyperspace).

Find out more here


4. For the Star Wars collector: 

Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie (100 Postcards)

Ralph McQuarrie is the most iconic artist in the history of Star Wars. He worked hand-in- hand with George Lucas to help establish the saga’s visual aesthetic, its inimitable look and feel. Carefully selected from the definitive volume, Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie, these postcards are a celebration of Star Wars as a masterpiece of design and world-building. The deluxe keepsake package also functions as a display frame: the box features a die-cut window, so fans can rotate their favourite production design paintings into view.

Find out more here


5. For the joker: 

99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire by Greg Stones

Ninety-nine Stormtroopers join the Empire, and then their troubles begin. One takes a lunch break in the carbon freezing chamber. Two underestimate a princess. One picks the wrong time to ask for a promotion. Another fails to show Jabba the proper respect. And one interrupts Lord Vader’s private time, failing him for the last time. A lifelong Star Wars fan, Greg Stones brings a playful wit and sympathy for the plight of the troops as they meet their amusing ends, filling each colorfully painted scenario with fun Star Wars details and appearances by Han, Luke, Chewie, K-2SO, and many other characters. As the trooper count ticks down, how will the last one fare as he receives a very special assignment (on the Death Star)?

Find out more here


BONUS ROUND:

The Star Wars Cookbook: BB-Ate
Awaken to the Force of Breakfast and Brunch
By Lara Starr, photography by Matthew Carden

BB-Ate is rolling into shops in the New Year so store up any gift tokens or pre-order now for some delicious recipes from across the galaxy!

Fuel up with Hans Soloatmeal, battle hunger with Admiral Ackbars, and so much more!

These easy-to-make, mouth-watering recipes feature characters and scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as from the upcoming film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And photographs action figures Star Wars figurines re-creating epic moments from the films provide an extra helping of humour.

Find out more here


When it comes to Star Wars, there’s something for everyone. Now to watch The Last Jedi again