Hello!  Happy Lunar New Year!

I know for most 2020 was a year we were eager to get rid of.  And for good reason!

2020 was the Year of the Rat, but (as I said in my one of my earlier newsletters) it was also the Year of GengZi-- or the Year of Calamities--in Chinese culture. Every 60 years (when the 12 animal-year cycle complete 5 cycles) the Year of GengZi happens.

Gengzi is the year of natural or man-made disasters (or both), a time where drastic changes happens and always very difficult to get through. I would say that is apt for how thing have played out!

And we are almost through it! On Feb 12, 2021 the Year of the Rat and the Year of Gengzi will be over! In will come the Year of the Ox and our  fresh new start. 

What can we expect from the Year of the Ox? Well, the Ox is persistent, hardworking, strong and dependable. If you are born in the Year of the Ox (1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021),  you are known to be diligent and determined, and you  best achieve your goals in small, but consistent, increments. 

So, this is a year where patience and hard work is rewarded. It is also a year that will ask us to be strong and persistent. And if we are able to do so, we can depend on the year to be stable and balanced. I don't know about you, but stability sure sounds good to me!

And now is the time to welcome in the Year of the Ox and to make sure it is a good one! Clean your home (sweep all the dust and dirt out the back door so that when the new year comes it doesn't accidentally bring last year's bad luck back in), decorate and get ready to celebrate! Need decoration and celebration ideas? No worries! Just scroll down!
Decorate for The Year of the Ox 
A big part of Lunar New Year is preparing for it!

In ancient China, it was said an evil Nian monster woke up on Lunar New Year and on that day would destroy homes and villages. However, people found out that the
Nian was afraid of the color red and so they began to hang bright red banners around their doors and windows to keep the Nian away. 

Nowadays, we don't believe a Nian monster is coming to destroy us but the tradition of hanging red banners has continued. Now, we hang them as joyous decorations--as a way to welcome in the new year!

Want to welcome in the Year of the Ox in style?  Look below for two fun decorations you can make!

Grace Lin shows how to make a Chinese paper cut to celebrate the Year of the Ox
Grace Lin shows how to make a Chinese paper cut to celebrate the Year of the Ox

I designed my own simple and easy Year of the Ox paper cut that you can make! It's been kid-tested and approved, so even if you are  insecure about your crafting skills you can do it!

You need:
-my Year of the Ox template (download and print out HERE) 
-an 8x8 in (or 20cm) piece of red origami paper
-a hole punch
-a stapler
-a pair of scissors, preferably small, sharp and pointed

Just follow my directions in the video and you should easily be able to make your own Chinese-style paper cut! Hang it on your door or window to welcome in the spring!  

Grace Lin shows how to draw an Ox for Lunar New Year
Grace Lin shows how to draw an Ox for Lunar New Year
If cutting paper is not your thing, don't worry! You can just take out paper and pencil and I will show you how to draw a lucky ox to hang on your door or window.  Just follow my video HERE and you'll be set. After you practice once or twice, redraw the ox on a piece of red paper and hang that for even more luck! 

 Celebrate the New Year! 
Lunar New Year is the time for dumplings!

Well, I love dumplings (if you couldn't tell by the fact that one of my books is called Dumpling Days!  But this is the perfect time of year to make and eat dumplings! Not only does it make a warm, filling meal, dumplings have symbolic meaning for the new year. And there are two kinds of dumplings that we eat for the New Year:

To start Lunar New Year, we eat the savory meat filled dumplings called jiao zi. We eat these because the word jiao zi sounds very much like another Chinese word that means "goodbye to the old and welcome the new." Also, jiao zi, especially when it's fried, look like ancient gold ingots. So, the more dumplings you eat the more gold you'll have for the year! 

You can make your own jiao zi  using this dumpling recipe, featured in my book, Dumpling Days(fyi, this is the corrected recipe, when the book first came out there was a big typo in it so make sure you use this one!)

Make sure you start the Lunar Year right with lots and lots of
jiao zi!

Did you know traditionally the Lunar New Year celebration would last 15 days? And the last day of the New Year was the Lantern Festival.  On that evening, families gathered and ate another kind of dumpling-- tangyuan. These are sweet dumplings that are round and sticky, symbolizing the sweet togetherness of the family as well as happiness for the year. 

My daughter and I make tangyuan every year! We can teach you how here:

Grace Lin shows how to make sweet dumplings for the Lunar New Year
Grace Lin shows how to make sweet dumplings for the Lunar New Year

The recipe we use is adapted from Celebrating Chinese Festivals by Sanmu Tang.

Don't forget to decorate the table!

And a fun way to decorate your table for the new year is this fun (and safe) Chinese New Year Firecracker! Even though this firecracker is fire-free, it still pops!

You'll need:

*bubble wrap
*toilet paper roll 
*red and yellow (or gold paint) & paintbrushes

Click here for instructions! 
Share some stories for the Lunar New Year!
Grace Lin reads from
Grace Lin reads from "The Year of the Rat"

If you've ever wondered about the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, you can learn about them here in this video where I read a part from my book, Year of the Rat! 
You can also enjoy these books of mine that celebrate the Lunar New Year: Bringing in the New Year, Year of the Dog, Year of the Rat, Red is a Dragon: A Book of Colors, Dim Sum for Everyone!, and Dumpling Days.  

Happy Reading!

In The World of Podcasts 

Check out our latest episode #70 with award-winning author, Floyd Cooper: "What illustration took you the longest to make and why?"

The Kids Ask Authors podcast would like to welcome you to their Patreon page! Please consider becoming a member to help support the podcast.

Kids Ask Authors is a weekly 5-10 minute podcast and you can subscribe here! Most episodes will end with a book review, poem, short story or a joke by kids! This podcast is a way to get kids who may not get to hear an author in real life a taste of the experience-and hopefully encourage them on their own creative journey!

Alvina and I created a Patreon page for our podcast and we would love to have your listener support! If you become a patron you get: 
  • A small blank notebook with an illustrated cover (by Grace) inspired by  Alvina's Mom quote "If it is to be, it is up to me."  (While supplies last!)

here to Learn more about how to become a member and why we created a Patreon page. Thank you! 

Grace Happenings 

Yes, that was me!  I was so honored and thrilled to be featured for a story in the Sunday Boston Globe!

I truly hope it inspires all of us to encourage kids to look outside their world through books, since this pandemic has made our immediate world so much smaller. 
What I'm working on...

Well, the good thing about the pandemic is that I'm able to focus on making books! I'm actually working on a novel AND a picture book right now!

The novel is just in it beginning stages and I am laying out all the chapters--with sticky notes! I won't say too much about it as it will probably change...but I think there will be a dragon in it!
Here's a sneak peak at the picturbook I am working on! It's called "Once Upon a Book" which I co-wrote with Kate Messner. It should (hopefully) come out in Summer 2022!
Yes, I have adjusted for the pandemic and have created presentations for zoom! I'm quite proud of my new presentations--I've take into account the concentration challenges while watching an online presentation and have made mine as interactive (yet still low-tech!) as possible with pop-quiz questions and drawing lessons! Check out my school visit info HERE!

For all visits, Keynotes and programs for parent groups, please contact  Aimee at gracelinvisits@gmail.com
A Big Bed for Little Snow in translation! 
A Big Bed for Little Snow is now in Chinese and Korean! If you are in those countries (or know someone who does), you should be able to get these at any bookstore!

For those in the US, the Chinese version is available to order at jojolearning with A Big Mooncake for Little Star!  Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure where  you can get the Korean version, but if you can read Korean, you might be able to find it at Aladin US.
 Upcoming Online Events 

Feb 23, 2021, 8:30 pm,  Drawing Across the Colorline webinar with Grace Lin, Oge Mora, and Yuyi Morales in conjunction with EmbraceRaceRegister now!

From the Chicken Gallery 
Our Chicken Christmas caroling was a great success!

In lieu of caroling we sang to the chickens, so I made this...carols arranged for chickens! I admit I might just be a little too proud of it. 

The chickens seemed to like "Jingle Beaks" the best. I think I have a big hit (for hens).

That's it!  I'll see you again in the spring! My next newsletter will notify you when my etsy store reopens with brand new prints, so stay tuned! In the meantime, wishing you a wonderful and lucky Lunar New Year! Happy Year of the Ox!

Best Wishes,
Grace Lin
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