Today I’m excited to interview Tarie, book reviewer and blogger extraordinaire! Tarie started the blogs Asia in the Heart, World on the mind, as well as Into the Wardrobe. Both blogs focus on multicultural literature for children and young adults, with a generosity of information about Asian writers and illustrators through book reviews and interviews. Tarie is also a staff member for Color Online, a website dedicated to empowering women writers and readers. Tarie is a grad student in Anglo-American Literature, an editor of EFL instructional material, as well as a former (and future) English teacher. She currently lives in the Philippines. Her websites are a living illustration that multicultural books know no borders!
Hi Tarie, thank you for joining us today!
Tarie: Thank you so much for having me, Nathalie. It’s great to be here at Multiculturalism Rocks! =D
Please, further develop the statements implied in the names of your blogs, and tell us what prompted you to start them.
Here is my blog story:
I started Into the Wardrobe in early 2005. Even though it was a personal blog, many of my posts were about children’s and YA books because I started reading a lot of children’s and YA books around that time. (But I didn’t know the kidlitosphere and YA blogosphere even existed!) I named my blog Into the Wardrobe because a book takes us to a different world, just like the magical wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe took the Pevensie siblings to Narnia. I love traveling to different worlds by reading books and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis are some of my favorites.
In late 2007, I received an email from an author in the UK asking if I was interested in reading and reviewing her YA fantasy novel for my blog. I was really bemused. I thought, “How does this author know about me and my blog? Why is she sending me her novel and wow, she cares about what I will think of it???” I said yes to the author because I love fantasy novels for young readers and because reading and reviewing a book for my blog was a new and exciting thing to do.
Then the personal assistant of an author in the US contacted me about reviewing a picture book. A YA fantasy author, also in the US, invited me to be part of her blog tour. I had a lot of fun reviewing books and participating in a blog tour. I also discovered that there was an entire community of people blogging passionately and seriously about children’s and YA books. I discovered blogs like A Fuse #8 Production, Chicken Spaghetti, and Big a Little a and was so inspired by them that I decided to blog passionately and seriously about children’s and YA books too!
In 2008, I started searching for a blog just on Asian children’s and YA books. I couldn’t find one and told myself that I would wait until such a blog was created and fully support it. In 2009, I discovered and was inspired by Color Online and Reading In Color, but there was still no similar blog for Asian children’s and YA books. Of course there are many, many blogs that feature Asian books, authors, and illustrators. But I couldn’t find one that was WHOLLY devoted to Asian children’s and YA books. And I was looking for an international blog. I wanted to read interviews of Filipino and Filipino American children’s book authors. I wanted to read reviews of YA books by Japanese and Japanese Canadian authors. I wanted to see the work of Chinese illustrators from Sydney and Melbourne, not just from Hong Kong and Taipei. I was interested in Indian kid characters in India and Indian kid characters in the UK. I was interested in Persian teen characters in Tehran and Persian teen characters in Paris.
So I started Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind in 2009 because I wanted to celebrate, share, and promote Asian children’s and YA books, authors, and illustrators from around the world. I love my Asian heritage and Asian cultures and I love children’s and YA books. My second blog allows me to combine those loves.
I started Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind because it was needed.
If a Djinn were to appear and tell you he would grant any wish regarding Asia in the heart, World on the Mind and Into the Wardrobe, what would you ask? (note: this is a twisted way to ask you what you wish to accomplish through your blogs)
I would wish that both my blogs would inform, entertain, and inspire readers. And I would wish (I get more than one wish, right? =D) that Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind would become an invaluable resource and help the development and visibility of Asian children’s and YA books around the world.
May your wishes be granted, though if you ask me you’re well on your way to experience them already. As a member of Color Online, what are your functions?
For Color Online, I can contribute any reviews of books by women writers of color and interviews of women writers of color. The books can be for children, teens, or adults, but I try to focus on books for children.
This is a strange question, but I need to ask. In America multicultural books are not considered mainstream. Is this the case in Asia, meaning from your experience would a teen in the Philippines easily pick up a MG or YA book with characters from a culture other than his? Hispanic for example ?
A young reader in the Philippines would easily pick up a book from another country, especially books from the U.S., the U.K., and Japan! I think that in some ways Filipinos are open to other cultures. This is partly because of our history (we have been under the Spanish, American, and Japanese governments), partly because of the Filipino diaspora, and partly because geographically the Philippines is at a global crossroad.
Now the problem is that a young reader in the Philippines would not easily pick up a book from his own country. This is mostly because there aren’t a lot of Philippine books to choose from. Philippine picture books are going strong, but there aren’t a lot of Philippine middle grade and YA books – yet. We’re working on it! =D
I look forward to MG and YA Filipino books! What is the latest book that made you cry?
I knock on your door one evening, in the middle of a life crisis, an unprecedented emergency: I have nothing to read! Without skipping a beat, you slap a book in my hand. What’s its title? (And why that one)
Ha! If you knock on my door, that means you are in the Philippines. I would give you Naku, Nakuu, Nakuuu! written by Nanoy Rafael and illustrated by Sergio Bumatay III. You’d have to spent the night of course. Naku, Nakuu, Nakuuu! is a touching story about a boy who is about to become a big brother. We would oooh and aaah over the playful and surreal illustrations. I would explain to you the Filipino words and details in the illustrations. And we’d eat all the dried mangoes and durian candy in the refrigerator!
I am so coming to visit you, now! Which Filipino children’s book author would you recommend?
Candy Gourlay! She has a fresh voice and a wonderful combination of Filipino humor and British dry wit. Everyone should watch out for her debut novel for young readers, Tall Story. Tall Story is set in the Philippines and in the U.K. It’s out in the U.K. and in the Philippines this year, and next year in the U.S.
Note from MR: Amazon.com lists the release date of Tall Story as May 27, 2010, so the book might be available online at that date as well.
And regarding a Filipino picture book?
Check out Naku, Nakuu, Nakuuu! written by Nanoy Rafael and illustrated by Sergio Bumatay III.
Favorite Asian MG and YA?
Tarie, thank you so much for your time and for sharing your knowledge with us. I look forward to your reviews and author/illustrator interviews on your blog. Thank you for highlighting multicultural books and their authors!
Nathalie, thank you for making multicultural children’s books so much fun through your blog!
For more information about Tarie and her blogs, visit
o Asia in the heart, World on the Mind
o Into the Wardrobe
o Tarie’s Review Policy
o Color Online
o Follow Tarie on Twitter
o To contact Tarie: firstname.lastname@example.org