Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Book Trailer Premiere: No Kimchi for Me! by Aram Kim

Hi, Aram Kim! Thank you for visiting Watch. Connect. Read. to finish my sentences and share the book trailer for No Kimchi For Me


Aram Kim: Hi, Mr. Schu! Thank you so much for having me over at Watch. Connect. Read. to debut the book trailer and share my stories. I am very excited!

And I am very excited you're here. I have been craving kimchi ever since I watched the book trailer. :) 


The book trailer for No Kimchi for Me is made by my good friend author/illustrator Mika Song (Tea with Oliver, 2017). She’s not only a great author and amazing illustrator, but also a very talented animator. When she so kindly offered to make me a trailer, I jumped on the chance! I went to her home studio, bugged her little one Valerie, and planned what the trailer would look like. When I say “planned,” it was basically Mika suggesting ideas and me jumping around excited and happy. Choosing the music was such a fun process, too, because I got to hear lots of jolly music and imagined how it would fit into the trailer. When Mika sent me the final trailer, I played over and over and over.

Illustration Credit: Aram Kim 
I created the illustrations using pastel, color pencils, and pencils, and a stencil technique for crisp edges. In the end, I scanned everything into Photoshop and digitally colored. My favorite part of the process was running to the print shop to print every page in colors and making them into a dummy book. That way, I could see more clearly what was missing, what was too much, and what needed to be done. I did this about three times during the final art process. Last winter when I was working on this book, one time I had to walk 20 minutes in very slushy snow to get to the print shop. I was very grumpy walking in snow and in cold, but when I printed all the pages, I was excited and joyous!
Illustration Credit: Aram Kim
I think kimchi tastes so yummy! But it certainly is an acquired taste. I didn’t like kimchi until I was about 12-years-old. But then, all of a sudden, I started liking it! After moving to New York from South Korea in 2006, for many years, when I had posted on craigslist to look for a roommate, I always said “there will be a kimchi jar in the fridge,”- a fair warning that it can be stinky if you are not used to it. My  favorite food in the world is my mom’s kimchi stew. It is just so good! Whenever I go back to South Korea to visit my family, my mom asks me what I want to eat, and my answer is always the same: “Kimchi stew, please!” Okay, writing this makes my mouth water.


Cat on the Bus is very dear to me because it is my debut picture book. It was published by Holiday House last year. I saw a blurry photo of a stray cat who was sitting on the bus seat a few years ago online. It turned out the bus driver let the cat on the bus because it was too cold outside. The kindness and willingness of the driver and the passengers who were happy to share a bit of warmth with the street cat touched my heart. Later, I turned it into a picture book Cat on the Bus. I modeled the main character after my old cat Horang. Horang herself was from the shelter and her paper said she had a big scar on the arm when found. I often imagined what kind of life she must have led on the street. Sadly, Horang died of cancer while I was working on the final art of Cat on the Bus. It was devastating, but I got comforted greatly by drawing her over and over for the book. The book was dedicated to my family and Horang.

Illustration Credit: Aram Kim
Picture books are magical! Though a picture book only has 32 pages, there is so much in it, it is truly magical. Whenever I encounter a good picture book, I am amazed and fascinated by how masterfully the book is done when it looks so simple. Picture books have the amazing universality shown through specificity, -only possible because they have pictures children can read into.  Last May, I was participating in Highlights Foundation’s workshop where they took us to present to children in a small town in Pennsylvania. I presented No Kimchi for Me! to a class of 2nd graders. No one had ever heard of kimchi, or the country South Korea. But while I told them my story and read the book together, they were totally engaged and absorbed. They resonated with characters even when they didn’t know what kimchi was. After the story time, a little boy said, “Now I love kimchi!” (Though he might change his mind if he actually tried kimchi.) The power of picture books!

Illustration Credit: Aram Kim 
School libraries and librarians rule! Since I’m not in school anymore, I go to my neighborhood public libraries, but school libraries were always my favorite places while I was in school. In college, I worked at the school library and it has been by far, my favorite job ever (except being an author/illustrator of picture books). I went in for the interview, and the librarian asked me why I wanted to work at the library. I answered honestly, “I love being surrounded by books,” but thought my answer was silly. I thought I needed to give more professional, sophisticated answer. But then the librarian said, “good enough,” and I was hired. 

When I go to school visits, I love taking a peek at the school libraries. I am always amazed by how many thoughts and efforts go into organizing the books so that children can be exposed to all these wonderful books as much as possible and as effectively as possible. School librarians are probably the most passionate and supportive group of people who exist on earth. I love talking with them about what children like, what they need, and what they react to.
  

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Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what my passion is. My passion of course is picture books, but especially contributing to the diversity in picture books and its community. There have been great movements and campaigns to represent the diverse readers in the books, and to encourage diverse creators including authors, illustrators, and staffs in publishing industries. Yet, there is a very long way to go, and I want to be a part of this great journey. Living in New York, especially in Queens where it is reportedly said that hundreds of languages are spoken, certainly helped me develop a natural instinct to show a diversity in my works. I was very happy and honored when Multicultural Children’s Book Day committee contacted me this summer for its 2018 poster. I want our children to see themselves and others in the books. I want my books to be a mirror and a window for young readers. I really think children’s books can make the world a better place. When the good stories children like to read show diversity, empathy, inclusion and tolerance, children will take them all in.


Borrow No Kimchi for Me! from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

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