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?
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.
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!
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:
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 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.
2¼ cups (9 oz/270 g) whole-wheat flour, spooned and levelled
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1½ 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
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!
We first featured paper artist Marc Hagan-Guirey back in September, when his new book, STAR WARS KIRIGAMI, hit shelves. He explained how he first encountered the world of kirigami and what led him to start creating scenes, buildings and vehicles from movies.
Now, with only one week until the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga hits cinema, he has told us a little more about the book and its part in the journey to The Last Jedi.
So how do you turn the ships into paper? What is the design process?
Needless to say I watch a lot of Star Wars. There’s a ton of resource material to work from which is great to make the kirigami design as accurate as possible. Sometimes there’s a bit of artistic license involved in order to make a ship fold properly. It’s about figuring out the basic shape of the ship first and then building upon that with details. I often use the LEGO versions of ships as resource because they’re essentially simpler versions of the real thing.
Which is your favourite ship in the book and why?
A prequel ship. The Jedi Star fighter from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith stands out for me. The prequel ships are slightly more stylised than those in the original trilogy. With lots of extra details and folds, they translate really well to paper.
Is there anything else interesting about the creation of the book that you can share with us?
Apart from a new ship from The Last Jedi, I wanted to offer something a little different with my book. I’m really interested in the production design process, from concept to final product. Each project comes with a written accompaniment detailing this. There are lots of interesting facts about the designers who worked on the films and pictures of the original concept drawings. It’s a celebration of the people behind the camera.
Tell us about the Star Wars exhibition you did.
It was called Cut Scene. It had 12 kirigami scenes from the original trilogy. my exhibitions are more like a collection of tiny movie installations. Each kirigami was housed in shadow box with a strong backlit colour reflective of the tone of the movie scene. I love how lighting plays a huge effect in cinema in creating that theatre. With the kirigami you get to experience a dual personality. You can appreciate the paper for the ‘craft aspect’ when viewed in a fully lit room (with ‘the big lights’ on) and then become immersed in the effect when they are lit with colour. It’s a bit like riding a ghost train in the dark and then again with the lights on. The experiences are very different – with the lights on you get to say ‘ah! That’s how they did it’.
The pieces were arranged chronologically and floated on the walls at eye level. I loved how every morning when I’d go in to the gallery to prepare it for opening, I’d have to clean nose smudges off the perspex from when people had be peering in. They’re probably the most complex work I’ve done to date. For example, my favourite, the Carbonite Freezing scene from The Empire Strikes Back took me around 2 years to master. Tweak after tweak, I was still working on it a few days before the show opened. I’m so glad I did that show. I was nervous because the Horrorgami exhibition had garnered so much press that anything other than that would have felt like a bit of a letdown. Cut Scene ended up dwarfing it in those terms. I was also not feeling great before that. I’d lost my mum to cancer, came to the end of a 7 year relationship and moved out of our home that I’d spent 2 years renovating, so much of the effect of those experiences had compounded. I literally decided one day – what makes me happy? What will help me get back to being me? As silly as it sounds the answer was kirigami and Star Wars.
What other books have you published?
This is my third book now. My first book ‘Horrorgami’ was a follow up to my first exhibition. Just a few months ago my second book ‘Frank Lloyd Wright Paper Models’ was published. It’s a collection of his 14 most celebrated buildings. I’ve just returned from California and visited (loitered) outside quite a few of them.
What’s next for you?
I’m keen to have another solo exhibition. I’ve had 3 year gaps between them so I’m ready… that’s how long it takes to build up the energy. They’re all consuming! If enough people like this book then hopefully I can do another!
Who or what are you inspired by?
I guess there’s no one particular source. Film, TV, interior designs. I have a tendency to be drawn more towards the relatively more ‘unsung’ heroes of film & TV such as set designers and concept artists. Outside of media I find inspiration in all sorts just from being observant. I guess if I can look at something, anything be it an object or photo and I can see it has a backstory – then my mind goes into overdrive romancing what it’s history is. I’ve got lots of pals who make stuff – crafters and artists. Anyone who makes something from nothing inspires me to keep creating.
If you could meet any actor from the Star Wars films who would you most like to meet and why?
It would have been Carrie Fisher. Her passing has a huge effect on me. It was very strange – psycho-analysing myself – her death had obviously re-surfaced the loss of my mum a few years ago. Another feisty woman who was gone too soon. On top of mourning the loss of a person you admire as a fan-base, we also are hurting due to the loss of the character too – knowing that they’ll never be able to fully complete her character’s arc. I always felt out of every character, Leia lost the most and gave the most. Luke was obsessed with his own journey whilst Leia looked at the bigger picture and sadly either her family was taken from her or they abandoned her (in the new films). She deserves a happy conclusion.
Are you excited to see the new film; The Last Jedi which is released cinemas this December?
I think tormented by the wait is the more accurate feeling!
STAR WARS KIRIGAMI is out now. Find out more here and watch Marc Hagan-Guirey in action here!
We’ve teamed up with the Anti-Bullying Alliance for #AntiBullyingWeek 2017 to share some of the many positive anti-bullying messages in JoJo Siwa’s JoJo’s Guide to the Sweet Life.
There’s even a free downloadable JoJo’s Guide poster available on their website, which you can display in your classroom, library or at home!
About the book:
You might recognise firecracker JoJo Siwa from Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, or maybe you fell in love with her on Dance Moms. JoJo’s nonfiction literary debut is the next generation’s version of a real life Cinderella story: Nebraska girl becomes Hollywood’s bell of the ball thanks to her spunky attitude and creative drive. Through the lens of JoJo’s personal experience and playful voice, she digs into themes such as finding your passion, keeping strong in the face of adversity, appreciating your individualism, the importance of being loyal, and never giving up. Most of all, JoJo’s story is meant to inspire young girls to find the courage and confidence to go after their dreams. Go Siwanatorz!
The book is available in shops now and more information can be found here.
This year’s Anti-Bullying Week theme is #AllDifferentAllEqual. This year’s theme is all the more important after a new poll found that 40% of children polled said they would hide aspects of themselves for fear of being bullied and that 41% of children would keep quiet to avoid being bullied themselves. More about these findings and the aims of this year’s campaign can be found here.
Interviews with 200 women from a variety of backgrounds provide a snapshot of female life around the globe. Interviewees include: • Jane Goodall, conservation and animal welfare activist • Margaret Atwood, author and winner of The Booker Prize • Roxane Gay, author and feminist • Renée Montagne, former host of NPR’s Morning Edition • Alicia Garza, activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter • Alfre Woodard, award-winning actor and activist • Marian Wright Edelman, head of the Children’s Defense Fund • Lydia Ko, professional golfer and Olympian • Dolores Huerta, labor activist, community organizer, and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association • Alice Waters, chef, author, and food rights advocate • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author and Macarthur Foundation fellow.
Each woman shares her unique reply to the same five questions: What really matters to you?, What brings you happiness?, What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?, What would you change if you could?, and Which single word do you most identify with?
With responses ranging from uplifting to heartbreaking, these women offer gifts of empowerment and strength – inviting us to bring positive change at a time when so many are fighting for basic freedom and equality. Each interview is accompanied by a photographic portrait, resulting in a volume that is compelling in word and image—and global in its scope and resonance. This landmark book is published to coincide with an interactive website, building on this remarkable, ever-evolving project. A percentage of the originating publisher’s revenue from book sales will be distributed to organisations nominated by the women featured in the book.
The following is an extract from 200 Women Who Will Change the Way You See the World, edited by Ruth Hobday, Geoff Blackwell, Sharon Gelman and Marianne Lassandro, photographs by Kieran Scott.
Alicia Garza was born in Carmel in California, USA. She is an activist and organiser based in Oakland, California. In 2013, Garza co-founded Black Lives Matter (BLM), an ideological and political organising network campaigning against anti-black racism and violence. In 2016, she and her two BLM co-founders were recognised in Fortune’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. Garza is the director of special projects for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She is also an editorial writer, whose work has been featured in publications including The Guardian, The Nation, The Feminist Wire, Rolling Stone and Huffington Post.
Q. What really matters to you?
I want to be able to tell my kids that I fought for them and that I fought for us. In a time when it’s easy to be tuned out, it feels really important to me to be somebody who stands up for the ability of my kids – of all kids – to have a future.
The other thing that really motivates me is wanting to make sure we achieve our goals. As I was coming up as an organiser, we were told we were fighting for something we might never see in our lifetime. I’m just not satisfied with that; I think change can happen much faster, but it requires organisation, and an understanding of power and how we can shift it from its current incarnation. We need to transform power, so that we’re not fighting the same battles over and over again. This is what I wake up thinking about every single day. And every night when I go to sleep, I’m thinking about how we can get closer to it tomorrow.
Women inspire me to keep going. My foremost in influence was my mother; she initially raised me on her own, having never expected to be a parent at twenty-six. She taught me everything I know about what it means to be a strong woman who is in her power. I’m also very much in influenced by black women throughout history. I’m inspired by Harriet Tubman, not only for all the work she did to free individual slaves – which, of course, was amazing – but for everything she did to eradicate the institution of slavery, the alliances she built to do so and the heartbreaks she endured in pursuit of her vision. And it’s not only women in the United States who inspire me. In Honduras in 2016, Berta Cáceres was murdered while pursuing her vision of ecological justice and a better life for the people in Honduras being preyed upon by corporations and the United States government.
Black Lives Matter has been a big part of my activism. When it came onto the scene, there was a lot of pushback; people responded by saying, ‘All lives matter.’ I think the intensity of these reactions against Black Lives Matter is a testament to how effective our systems are in isolating these kinds of issues – they make them seem as though they impact individuals, as opposed to entire communities. The all-lives-matter thing is simultaneously fascinating and infuriating to me, because it’s so obvious. Obviously all lives matter; it’s like saying the sky is blue or that water is wet. But, when people say, ‘Actually, all lives matter,’ it feels like a passive-aggressive way of saying, ‘White lives matter.’
People seemed shocked that police brutality was an issue, but I thought, ‘Um, where have you been?’ The police are supposed to serve all communities, but instead, they aren’t accountable to black communities in the same way they are to white communities. The United States is rooted in profound segregation, disenfranchisement and oppression in pursuit of profits. And it feels like the country is being powered by amnesia.
Q. What brings you happiness?
My community – absolutely. This includes both of my families, blood and chosen – because my family is also my friends, the people I’ve been through things with. These are the people who stand with me, support me and love me. They are the people who feed me, and we just let each other be, because we understand each other.
Q. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
I’d call it capitalism. There is nothing on earth that makes people as miserable, that kills people as avidly and that robs people of their dignity so completely as an economic system that prioritises profits over human needs. Capitalism prioritises profits over people and over the planet we depend on. There are millions and millions of people living on the streets without homes because of capitalism. And there are millions and millions of people suffering from depression and other emotional and mental afflictions because of it – because the things we are taught should drive us and make us happy are unattainable for the majority of people on this planet. Capitalism shapes every understanding you have of who you are and of what your value is. If you have no monetary value – if you can’t sell something that you produce in this economy – then you are deemed unusable, unworthy and extraneous. There is no other force in the world that is so powerful and that causes so much misery for so many people.
Q. What would you change if you could?
I would start with all of the people who are suffering right now. I would give whatever is needed to every mama who is living in a car with her kids and is trying to figure out how she’s going to make it another day – if not for herself then for the people who depend on her. I would give to all the people who are dying in the deserts right now, trying to cross artificial borders pursuing what they think will be a better life here in the United States – if I had a wand I’d make it so that that journey was easier and that there wasn’t punishment on both sides. In fact, I would ensure that no one ever had to leave their homes in pursuit of survival – they would have everything that they needed right there at home.
The other area I would work on is within our own movements. I spend a lot of time thinking about how we could be clear about what we’re up against and how we each fight it differently; I think about how we can advance our goals without tearing each other up along the way. So, if I could wave a wand, I would also change some of the suffering of organisers and activists in our movements who are tired and burned out, who feel disposable and don’t feel seen.
Q. Which single word do you most identify with?
Courage. It takes real tenacity to be courageous.
200 Women is out from 31 October, find out more here. You can view the official project website here, which includes the trailer and additional extra media content. Follow 200 Women on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
For our August Bookshop of the Month post we have chosen the magnificent Libreria!
If you haven’t already been to Libreria all we ask is, what are you waiting for?! Located on Hanbury Street, E1 – just off Brick Lane – Libreria is a beautiful destination bookshop that appears to go on forever thanks to a stunning mirrored wall and ceiling. Coupled with gorgeous yellow shelving throughout – the colour of happiness, optimism and creativity – you can’t help but feel inspired from the moment you walk in the door. Libreria also offers a unique browsing experience “designed to help you discover new books and ideas.” Books are not organised by genre or author rather by a theme, topic or idea to encourage serendipitous finds so you’ll leave not only with the book you wanted but with many more too. You will also find artists prints on the shelves often made on the risograph machine they have downstairs – you can attend a workshop and have a go yourself if you fancy! We recently attended a book launch here and had a great night, their entire cultural programme is impressive, including regular Beer & Browse nights where you can grab a drink, buy some books and catch a classic movie. So, if you’ve not yet been get down to East London soon – we challenge you to leave Libreria without buying something!
These are just some of the reasons we have chosen Libreria as our Bookshop of the Month for August. We caught up with Paddy Butler, Creative Director/Curator, to congratulate the team and ask a few questions:
1. Congratulations on winning Bookshop of the Month! How would you describe Libreria in three words? Discover, Create, Reimagine
2. Where is your favourite spot in the store? Oh, at present it has to be our Utopia shelf near our big mirror at the back – It has so much in there including fiction by Tom McCarthy, Kafka, Laline Paul, political/philosophy by Peter Singer, Plato’s Republic, Thomas More’s Utopia (of course), Erik Reece’s Utopia Drive, Mark O’Connell’s To Be a Machine, and lots on architecture; Stephen Graham’s Vertical, Geoff Manaugh and Dejan Sudjic to boot!
3. Where do you like to read? Great question – in winter, well mainly in bed or the British Library, in summer it’s gotta be Brockwell Park, on the hill overlooking London, very beautiful. When I’m back there, those old Joycean pubs in Dublin (Mulligans of Pool Beg Street and the Grave Diggers, Glasnevin (Glasnevin Cemetery is where Bloom goes to Paddy Dignam’s funeral at the beginning of Ulysses) and then there’s the West of Ireland; always pretty special, wild and inspiring.
4. If you weren’t a bookseller what would you be?
Either an artist, or an advertising canvaser like Leopold Bloom; for is he not gifted with a creative mind of the most endearing, wondrous kind?
5. Excluding Libreria – What is your favourite bookshop?
Skoobs second hand bookstore; an Aladdin’s Cave in Russell Square, and then there’s The Long Room in Trinity, Dublin, hallelujah, a bookstore in the old sense I guess…
You will find Libreria at:
65 Hanbury Street
London E1 5JP
To celebrate the final day of Independent Bookshop Week, we have chosen a wonderful indie for our July Bookshop of the Month: Queens Park Books!
Queens Park Books is everything an independent bookshop should be. Their wonderful window displays make it virtually impossible to not go in and when you do it’s a place where you can happily lose yourself in the bookshelves. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming with a traditional look that makes you feel like your home away from home. We especially like how they use the feature tables to showcase genres and themes with a focus on the book covers – it’s such a lovely touch to have the books facing outwards showcasing the designs.
Now that’s just the shop – all bookshops would be nothing without it’s booksellers and Lisa, Laura and the team are the best of book champions. You can tell they love books (good thing too considering their day job) and getting them into the hands of readers is something they do so well. They know their customer and are always on hand to get the right book to the right person.
This is a short summary of why we have chosen to award Queens Park Books our first Bookshop of the Month award. Many congratulations to you all from all of us at Abrams and Chronicle Books.
We caught up with the lovely Laura from the shop and asked her some very important questions:
1. Congratulations on winning Bookshop of the Month! We’ve talked a bit about you and the shop but how would you describe Queen’s Park Books in three words?
Creative, energetic, attention-to-detail.
2. Where is your favourite spot in the store?
The children’s and sci-fi reading areas.
3. Where do you like to read?
My favourite place to read is on holiday. I go back to my parents house a few times a year, who live in Stratford Upon Avon. I go for a few days and will take loads of books to read while I’m there!
4. If you weren’t a bookseller what would you be?
Some kind of writer – I used to be a fashion journalist.
5. Excluding Queen’s Park Books – what is your favourite bookshop?
I have a payday routine where I go to Foyles on Charing Cross Road, I get a hot chocolate and then head for Forbidden Planet. I couldn’t choose between the two!