Young Adult – JadeLuckClub http://jadeluckclub.com Celebrating Asian American Creativity! Thu, 08 Dec 2016 19:53:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 Exploring Vietnam: Kidlit and Culture GIVEAWAY http://jadeluckclub.com/exploring-vietnam-kidlit-and-culture/ http://jadeluckclub.com/exploring-vietnam-kidlit-and-culture/#comments Wed, 29 Feb 2012 09:06:07 +0000 http://jadeluckclub.com/?p=1523

Bellas Vietnam Adventure, Vietnam, picture book, Vietnam picture book,

Congrats to Nathalie. She won the book!

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I will be giving away 2 copies of picture book Bella’s Vietnam Adventure. To win, please leave a comment. You can earn additional chances to win by signing up for an email subscription, following on Networked Blogs, following me on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Please just note what you did. Thank you! I will draw a winner on March 15th.

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I’ve never been to Vietnam but it’s at the top of my list of places that I want to visit, particularly for the food which we eat at least once a week so it was a easy choice to armchair travel.  I grew up 15 minutes from Little Saigon in The O.C.  and I am a big fan of Vietnamese food.  It’s my favorite Asian cuisine.  My mom worked in a real estate office near Little Saigon years ago and she ate at almost all of the phô and seafood restaurants in the area and would bring us to her favorites. It’s only fitting that food be included.  I’ve actually made this recipe for Lemongrass Beef served Vietnamese “Burrito” style AND had my kids’ play dates enjoy this recipe which surprised me as some of my kids’ friends are fussy eaters.  I also selected a cookbook by Saveur contributor, Andrea Nguyen, who returned to her homeland to research this book.

For children’s literature, I picked two books, one picture and one chapter book, that really seem evoke the culture and spirit of Vietnam. Both have a Zen quality to their story:  spare, eloquent, and powerful.  And both stories recall the terrible war but also the ability of the Vietnamese to transcend and make peace with it. For those who might want a intricate project, I have included  a link to creating (and then possibly racing) a Dragon Boat.  It’s a pretty labor intense project, so it’s not for everyone.

Finally, I searched for something emblematic of Vietnam and found lacquered paintings that are unique as well as beautiful.

I hope you enjoy our trip to Vietnam and that it inspires you to visit or revisit Vietnam soon!

Children’s Literature

The Lotus Seed, Vietman Picture Book, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom The Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland.  This gorgeous picture book is a spare and beautifully written book that touches on the most recent history of Vietnam.  In this story, a young girl watches the emperor cry as his kingdom falls.  She takes a lotus seed from the Imperial Garden and guards it throughout her harrowing journey from war-torn Vietnam to the United States.  When her grandson plants the seed, she is inconsolable when she cannot locate her seed.  Spring comes and the lotus blooms.  The Grandmother carefully saves the seeds from the flower to give her to children, keeping one for herself.  The lotus is an enduring symbol of Buddhism:  rising from the mud comes a beautiful flower. [picture book, ages 6-12]

Bella’s Vietnam Adventure by Stacey Zolt Hara, illustrated by Steve Pileggi

I met author Stacey Zolt Hara on Twitter. She shares her experiences living as an U.S. expat in Singapore though her daughter Bella’s eyes. In this charming picture book, they all travel to Vietnam as tourists where they experience the intimidating traffic, Hoan Kiem Lake, shopping at street fairs, and the beach. This is a must for anyone thinking of taking their young kids to Vietnam! [picture book, ages 4-10]

 

The Buddha's Diamond, http://PragmaticMom.com, Teach Me Tuesday Vietnam The Buddha’s Diamonds by Carolyn Marsden. This chapter book also has a spare yet richly nuanced story conveying life in rural Vietnam.  1o-year-old Tinh works with his father to catch fish for their livelihood.  When a storm damages their boat because he fails to secure it, Tihn must go on a dangerous journey through old land mines from the war still buried in the countryside to get the engine repaired. [chapter book, ages 9-12]

Vietnamese Cookbook from Saveur Editor, Andrea Nguyen

One of my favorite magazines of all time is Saveur Magazine.  It’s a food magazine that goes deep into the culture of different countries, typically exploring home cooking.  I’ve enjoyed reading Andrea’s articles and now she’s has a cookbook published on her native cuisine.

Andrea, vietnamese cookbook, teach me tuesday vietnam, pragmaticmom.com, pragmatic mom

Lemongrass Beef

Flank steak, cut against the grain into thin ribbons, about a pound

Marinade for a few hours or overnight in:

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon minced inner stalks of lemongrass

1 clove garlic, minced finely

1 tablespoon soy sauce (I use Kikkoman’s)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3/4 teaspoon cornstarch

Dipping sauce:

1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar (or juice from one lime)

1/4 cup Vietnamese fish sauce

4 teaspoons sugar

Stir to mix and serve in small bowls.

Serve with:

1/2 head Bibb lettuce, washed and leaves separated

2 small carrots, julienned in long strips

1 English cucumber, julienned in long strips

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 package rice paper wrappers, 6 inches in diameter

Lightly coat a cast iron grill pan with oil and heat over medium high heat. Sear steak and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until done to the degree you prefer.  Discard marinade, and arrange steak with lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, herbs on a platter.  Bring out a large bowl of water, the rice paper wrappers and the dipping sauce.   Dip the rice paper wrappers in water then lay out on a plate.  Let each diner add on the veggies they like best, then wrap like a burrito, dip into the sauce and eat.  The appeal of this meal for children is that they can make their own, it’s hands on, and it’s delicious!

Craft:  Vietnamese Dragon Boat

In Vietnam, boat racing is a national sport and has become a traditional way to celebrate Tet Nguyen Dan, the Vietnamese New Year. This boat takes about 6 hours but is broken out into about 2 hours of assembly time and 4 hours of drying time so it’s doable albeit ambitious.  Here’s the link.

dragonboat racing, vietnam, teach me tuesday, pragmatic mom

Vietnamese Lacquer Art Paintings

Vietnamese Lacquer Ware is based on the natural vegetable lacquer, a product made from the lacquer tree which is found in several Asian countries. But the resins in the lacquer trees in the province of VinhPhu, Vietnam, produce the best lacquer ware products. They are the most beautiful and durable lacquer ware items in the world today.

The origins of making lacquer ware dates back six to seven thousand years in China. These early examples were very basic and lack the number of process done today. Modern lacquer ware styles and process came about during the first century AD. Somewhere around the 8th century this form of art came to the North of Vietnam. That explains why today, Vietnam is well-known in this field. When speaking today about fine lacquer products, items from Vietnam represent the finest examples of the art today.

Lacquer painting can also be combined with gold and/or silver leaf for stunning results!

vietnamese lacquer art paintings, http://PragmaticMom.com, PragmaticMom

vietnam lacquer art, pragmaticmom, teach me tuesday vietnam

teach me tuesday vietnam, vietnamese lacquer painting, http://PragmaticMom.com, pragmatic mom

lacquer paintings vietnamese vietnam pragmaticmom.com, pragmatic mom teach me tuesday

vietnamese lacquer painting, http://pragamticmom.com, teach me tuesday

To view any book or item more closely, please click on image.

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2012 APALA Asian/Pacific American Awards for Adult, YA and Children’s Literature http://jadeluckclub.com/2012-apala-asianpacific-american-awards-literature/ http://jadeluckclub.com/2012-apala-asianpacific-american-awards-literature/#respond Tue, 28 Feb 2012 09:51:07 +0000 http://jadeluckclub.com/?p=3227

Asian chapter book, The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, Wendy Shang, JadeLuckClub

The Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature honor and recognize individual works about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage with exceptional literary and artistic merit. The awards are given in five categories, including Adult Fiction, Adult Non-Fiction, Children’s Literature, Young Adult Literature and Picture Book.

The Submission by Amy Waldman won the Adult Fiction award.

Amy Waldman imagines the fallout when a Muslim American of Indian descent, Mohammad “Mo” Khan, wins an anonymous competition for a 9/11 memorial just two years after the World Trade Center tragedy. Waldman treats her large ensemble of characters with understanding and sympathy. Through the experiences of two very different Asian American, Muslim characters—disenfranchised and privileged, immigrant and second generation—“The Submission” interrogates the definition of America.

Leche by R. Zamora Linmark was selected as the Honor Book in the Adult Fiction category.

The Woman Who Could Not Forget: Iris Chang Before and Beyond the Rape of Nanking – A Memoir by Ying-Ying Chang won the Adult Non-Fiction award.

Ying-Ying Chang had the unfortunate task of writing her own daughter’s memoir after her tragic death. This moving memoir takes the reader into the world of Iris Chang, journalist and author of “The Rape of Nanking” (Basic Books, 1997), following her childhood imagination, creative writing, triumphs, motherhood, depression and suicide. Ying-Ying Chang did what she thought was important; to share the story of Iris’s illustrious as well as obscure life, which makes for a touching and poignant tribute to her daughter.

The Bangladeshi Diaspora in the United States after 9/11: From Obscurity to High Visibility by Shafiqur Rahman  was selected as the Honor Book in the Adult Non-Fiction category.

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang won the Children’s Literature award.

Twelve-year old Lucy is going to have the best year yet: she will be a sixth grader, be the captain of her basketball team and have a bedroom all to herself. Her plans change, however, when her Yi Po (great aunt) visits from China and Lucy has to share her room with Yi Po for a few months. This is a hilarious first children’s book for Shang, with a serious undertone as she explores the complexities of racial identity in a Chinese-American family with traditional parents and American-born children.

Vanished by Sheela Chari was selected as the Honor Book in the Children’s Literature Category.

Orchards by Holly Thompson won the Young Adult Literature award.

Kanako Goldberg wants nothing more than to spend the summer with her friends in New York, but the loss of her classmate Ruth changes everything, and her parents believe that the best thing for Kanako to do is to be shipped off to her grandparents’ mikan orange farm in Shizuoka, Japan. Written entirely in verse, Kana’s intimate narrative captures the reader as she not only grapples with the death of a friend, but also navigating a place that is not entirely familiar, even if it is a part of her.

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang was selected as the Honor Book in the Young Adult Literature category.

The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China by Ed Young won the Picture Book award.

Fragments of artist Ed Young’s childhood are gathered in this memoir, displayed in a variety of hand drawn images, paintings and collages of cut paper and personal photographs. While addressing the issues of World War II and their effect on China, much emphasis is placed on warm vignettes of small, personal moments that all readers can relate to.

Hot Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia, illustrated by Ken Min was selected as the Honor Book in the Picture Book category.

Special thanks to the APALA Literature Awards Committee, including Jury Chair Dora Ho; Adult Fiction Chair Michelle Baildon and members Suhasini L. Kumar, Karen Fernandez, Eileen Bosch and Jerry Dear; Adult Non-Fiction Chair Buenaventura “Ven” Basco and members Eugenia Beh, Samanthi Hewakapuge, Monica Shin and Yumi Ohira; Children’s Literature Chair Ngoc-Yen Tran and members Shu-Hsien Chen, Tamiye T. Meehan, Laksamee Putnam, Katrina Nye and Maria Pontillas; Young Adult Literature Chair Lana Adlawan and members Jade Alburo, Lessa Pelayo-Lozada, Karla Lucht and Candice A. Mack and Picture Book Chair Susan Hoang and members Jeannie Chen, Kate Vo-Thi Beard, Amber Painter and Danielle Date Kaprelian.

An affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) was founded in 1980 by librarians of diverse Asian/Pacific ancestries committed to working together toward a common goal: to create an organization that would address the needs of Asian/Pacific American librarians and those who serve Asian/Pacific American communities. For more information about APALA, visit www.apalaweb.org.

To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

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KidLit and Culture: Burma (Myanmar) Children’s lit, recipes, history and more… http://jadeluckclub.com/kidlit-culture-burma-myanmar-childrens-lit-recipes-history/ http://jadeluckclub.com/kidlit-culture-burma-myanmar-childrens-lit-recipes-history/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2012 09:47:06 +0000 http://jadeluckclub.com/?p=3020

Why Burma? A trio of serendipitous events collided:

  • A Mom Friend from Burma hosted a Mystery Dinner School Fundraiser and 8 parents from my school went to her dinner.
  • I had brunch with one set of parents who raved about her dinner, a Burmese Noodle Dish — recipe below –, and reminisced about his own travels to Burma.  He was there during the student protests (see history bullet points below) which was a crazy and somewhat unsafe time to be a tourist in Burma.
  • I was at a U2 concert a year ago, and Bono dedicated a song to Aung San Suu Kyi, who was I barely aware of.

And that is all it took.  Plus me realizing that I knew nothing about Burma, to the point that I didn’t fully realize that Myanmar is Burma.  Such is Teach Me Tuesday … I teach myself (that’s the Teach Me part) and then I share what I hope is also interesting to others.  I’m not sure if I would feel safe traveling to Burma now with my family so this is my way to arm chair travel — through children’s literature, food, photo essays,  and the briefest pit stop into the history.  I hope you enjoy the trip.  And please share in the comments section any experiences you have had in Burma.  And if you have more children’s books suggestions, please share!

Children’s Literature

Picture Book

The challenge for this Burma post was finding picture books and middle grade or YA books on Burma.  My Burmese Mom Friend had asked her children’s librarian friend to help with this search but all of us came up with zippo.  So I started to dig deeper on the web and came up with a really interesting not-for-profit project created by refugee children from Burma and benefiting the Burma Cyclone Relief Fund called My Beautiful Myanmar.  The drawings and stories are created entirely by refugee children about why they left Myanmar, what their lives are like in Malaysia, and what their hopes and dreams are.  100% of proceeds go to the Burma Cyclone Relief Fund.  Here’s an interesting way to teach your children about a different country and do good at the same time!

Young Adult Book

The next book I found was by Mitali Perkins, an author from my town, who is lovely and talented.  This YA book gets rave reviews:

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins (Young Adult Fiction)

  • “A graceful exploration of the redemptive power of love, family, and friendship.”  Publishers WeeklyStarred Review
  • “With authenticity, insight, and compassion, Perkins delivers another culturally rich coming-of-age novel.”  School Library Journal Starred Review
  • “Mitali Perkins has written something here that is so fine, so rare, so beautiful, that I am loath to move on to another book too quickly because I want to think and remember and savor this exquisite story.” —Bookmoot

And here’s the plot summary:

“Chiko isn’t a fighter by nature. He’s a book-loving Burmese boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. Tu Reh, on the other hand, wants to fight for freedom after watching Burmese soldiers destroy his Karenni family’s home and bamboo fields.Timidity becomes courage and anger becomes compassion as each boy is changed by unlikely friendships formed under extreme circumstances.This coming-of-age novel  takes place against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma. Narrated by two fifteen-year-old boys on opposing sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of the many ethnic minorities in Burma, Bamboo People explores the nature of violence, power, and prejudice.” From Mitali Perkin’s Website.
I found this event on Paper Tigers Blog (I subscribe): Global Read of Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins

You are invited to join us for a discussion of the young adult novel, Bamboo People, by Mitali Perkins — a compelling coming-of-age story about child soldiers in modern Burma. The online discussion forum will begin tomorrow – Wednesday, January 12th. Then join the author for a live chat on January 19th.

Online discussion forum: January 12th-19th, 2011
Live chat session with the author: Wednesday, January 19, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. EST

Register online here (registration is free but participants are responsible for obtaining their own copy of the book). All are welcome – teachers, students, parents, and anyone interested in global issues!

Young Adult Photo Essay Book

Finally, “a picture speaks a thousand words” in this photo essay book built around a single letter of correspondence to a young soldier (and would be interesting paired with Bamboo People for middle grade or older):

Burma: Something Went Wrong by Chan Chao [non fiction photo essays for Young Adult]

The book is built around a single letter of correspondence sent to Chao in 1997 by Aye Saung. The brief letter relays news of a friend’s death, a fighter’s struggle, and a movement’s dreams and setbacks. While the letter and accompanying portraits are specific to Burma in 1997, the themes found in Letter from P.L.F. are universal, making this an artists’ book of the highest order.Letter from two of the guerilla fighters: “Hallo! Dear Naing Naing, I am so sorry for not writing you earlier. Do you remember Myint Zaw, General Secretary of D.A.B.? He died in March by sickness. All the place you had been with us in Hteekabalae are fallen into enemy’s hand. I was in the area when the enemy approached. I sent my men to the front and have to leave quickly. I was told by my men to leave they don’t let me know because they didn’t want me to worry.”

This book shows us a region in constant turmoil, whose people have been at war with themselves for generations, where violence and death, nevertheless, provide a backdrop to what is still a golden land.

Photos of Burma — Shangri La Lost?

I have heard people speak of the beauty of Burma and when I found these photos I was really quite stunned by their beauty.

These photos are from Molon Gallery in Burma
Thabyinnyu Pagoda
Evening View of Bagan Plain
The Shwedagon Pagoda, Rangoon, Burma

Briefest History of Burma: Colonization and Coups Never End Well…

Burma has one of the most eclectic cultural mixes in all of Asia. This began with the migration of three groups, the Mons from present-day Cambodia, the Mongol Burmans from the Himalayas and the Thais from northern Thailand. The territory that is now Burma, was first united under King Anawratha in present day Bagan. However, this unification was short lived and it took 250 years before Burma was reunified in the mid-16th Century under a series of Taungoo kings.  Since then, and even now, Burma’s history has been troubled and violent.

  • Border clashes with British troops, economic potential and empire expansion lead the British to invade Burma. It took three invasions to control the whole of Burma in 1824, 1852 and 1883. Burma, under the British rule was annexed to India.
  • In World War II,  the Burmese National Army, which fought along side the Japanese to drive the British out of Burma. However, before the end of the war, the Burmese National Army changed sides and fought with the allied forces to expel the Japanese.
  • Following World War II, the British agreed to Burma’s independence and elections were held in April 1947. However, most members of the new government were assasinated three months later.
  • Despite this on January 4, 1948, Burma gained independence and became the Union of Burma. In 1948 the Burman’s controlled the area surrounding Rangoon, the rest was controlled by the different ethnic groups.  Many ethnic groups and religious minorities revolted and formed armed resistance groups.
  • In 1958 Prime Minister U Nu invited the army to help restore the government’s political power, which for 18 months, had limitless power.
  • In 1962 Burma’s troubled democracy was ousted in a military coup by General Ne Win. During the coup the constitution was abolished and a military government took over the running of the country. Consequently, the government’s policies also changed, they became xenophobic and put the country on the path to socialism.
  • Very quickly the country changed. In 1939 under the British Burma was the world’s largest rice exporter and it had a successful export business in teak and gems. Burma was one of the richest countries in South East Asia. After 1962, it became the poorest. All business were nationalized, all privately owned stores were closed and replaced with ones that were controlled by the state. No one received compensation for these seizures. Many people lost their jobs. A black market emerged and it was the only way to find essential items.
  • Also due to the xenophobic nature of the military leaders, people who were not Burmese were encouraged to leave the country. A lot of Indian and Chinese who were entrepreneurs were expelled from Burma.
  • After student protests in 1988, there was another military coup and Ne Win was replaced by General Saw Maung and his State Law and Restoration Council (SLORC). Maung declared Burma to be in a state of emergency which resulted in the military-law. Maung also suspended the constitution and changed the name of the country to the Union of Myanmar, because the Union of Burma, as it had previously been known, was an outdated colonial term.
  • However, he also agreed to hold free elections in 1989. A group quickly formed a coalition party in opposition to the military run dictatorship, called the National League of Democracy (NLD). Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of independence crusader Aung San, emerged as the leader of the NLD. Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of the NLD were put under house arrest. Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in July 1995. In 1991 she was received the Nobel Peace Prize.  She continues to be under house arrest.
  • At the end of October 2004, there was another coup in Burma, with General Khin Nyunt being allowed to resign for “health reasons” while being under house arrest. He was allegedly ousted for being too inclined for democratic reformed, and his successor, General Soa Win, is a military hardliner.

Recipes:  Ohno Khaw Swe (Burmese Noodles with Coconut Sauce)

& Burmese Crunchy Cucumber Salad

If that was too dreary for you, let us leave on an upbeat note.  Here’s that Burmese Noodle Dish that everyone raved about.  The Mom Friend who made it says that it’s a favorite family meal for them because everyone can customize their own which is especially great for children!

Ohno Khaw Swe (Burmese Noodles with Coconut Sauce) by Jenny Tun-Aung
Ingredients:
  • Chicken (breast, thighs, skin removed)
  • Chicken stock/broth
  • Coconut milk can
  • Gram flour
  • Turmeric and Paprika
  • Fish sauce
  • Onions (cut into big chunks or use whole if small. Pearl onions will do also).
  • Oil
  • Garlic
  • Can of Cream of Chicken Soup (optional)
  • *Noodles (your choice – small flat rice noodles or linguini)
Condiments to serve on the side:
  • Lemons or limes, sliced
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Fish sauce
  • Crispies (like crispy chow mein noodles)
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Sliced green onions
Cut up chicken to about one-inch cubes or desired size and marinade with Turmeric and Paprika, some fish sauce, garlic powder or diced garlic. Heat the ready-made chicken broth, or make chicken stock. In a cup, add gram flour with some water to mix well and add to soup stock, stirring occasionally. Add chunks of onions (makes soup thicker and sweeter), let onions cook/soften.  Then add the coconut milk and keep slowly simmering to cook all the ingredients and thicken a bit. Heat oil in another pan while the soup is simmering. In small cup, mix turmeric, paprika and a tiny amount of either water or the soup to form a bit of paste. Put this into the heated oil and immediately add the marinated chicken and cook until meat is done. Chicken should have a nice color and flavor from spices. Add the cooked chicken into the simmering stock and coconut milk pot. Continue simmering and keep stirring occasionally on low heat. Cream of Chicken can be added if you want to make the sauce a little thicker. Cook noodles. Put noodles in bowls, add sauce, add the sides (where people add their choices of condiments to their own taste – I like little bit of sauce, lots of sour and spicy! Others like it a more like soup with more sauce. Whatever you like!).You can cook it ahead of time and keep simmered until ready or heat it up when ready to serve.
ENJOY! HAVE SECONDS. FREEZE THE EXTRA SAUCE.
Burmese Crunchy Cucumber Salad (by Tun Aung)
Ingredients:
  • Cucumbers (skin on, halved lengthwise and sliced about ¼ inch thick or so). Estimate about 1-2cucumber a person (it will really shrink!)
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Sesame seeds if desired
  • Slivered ginger
  • Slivered garlic (if desired)
  • Oil
  • Optional: Crispy fried sliced onions
Marinate the sliced cucumbers with sea salt (be generous, some of the salt will drain out with the liquid in next step). Put in colander and press down with a heavy weight for at least half a day or overnight. The salt will soak in and drain the water from cucumber. Drain (squeeze out) excess liquid from cucumber.  You can simply squish with your hands over the sink or put into a tea towel or cheesecloth and squeeze.  Mix with the above rest of the ingredients. Top with sesame and/or crispy fried onions and add to taste.The good thing about this recipe is that you can make most of it ahead of time.
Bon Appetit!If you are interested in examining any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.
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Bangladesh: KidLit and Culture (Alpanas, Chholey recipe and more) http://jadeluckclub.com/bangladesh-kidlit-and-culture/ http://jadeluckclub.com/bangladesh-kidlit-and-culture/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2011 08:37:59 +0000 http://jadeluckclub.com/?p=1536

White Alpana Bangladesh JadeLuckClub Exploring Asia for Families kids children

We are exploring the country of Bangladesh, a country I knew so little about that I didn’t actually know how to spell it. Thank you spell checker!  I do have a friend from Japan who was born and raised in Bangladesh.  He speaks perfect English, Japanese, and Bengali, so clearly he’s among the elite of his countrymen.  My other Bengali experience is when I had the great pleasure of meeting author Mitali Perkins when she visited my 3rd grade girls’ book club (she does school visits also).  During the book club meeting, Mitali captivated the girls and boys (3rd Grade Boys Book club also attended) with stories about growing up in Bangladesh as well as the power of micro lending that is transforming the country today so I included a picture book on that as well.  The main character in her book, The Rickshaw Girl, is the best painter of alpanas in her village and this proves to be a transformative skill.

Personally, I find the alpanas stunning.  I hope they inspire the inner artist in you or your child.  Our book club activity was creating our own Alpanas by painting white designs on brown tag board and the results were incredible.  I wish I had saved my daughter’s!  In Bangladesh, women also create alpanas using colored spices and powdered rice and I’ve included some gorgeous examples below. Today, you will notice how the designs  in the alpanas are applied to things like jewelry. I’ve included the talented contemporary jewelry designer, aptly named Alpana Gujral, should you need holiday gift ideas.

Finally, my Coop Preschool Mom Friend gave me the recipe for my favorite Spicy Indian Chickpeas called Chholey.  And yes, I’ve made then and they are delicious but mine are never as good as my Mom Friend’s.  Some things just don’t translate!

map of bangladesh, http://pragmaticMOm.com, Teach Me Tuesday

The Books

micro lending, a basket of bangles, ginger howard, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

A Basket of Bangles by Ginger Howard and Cheryl Kirk Noll.  This picture book demonstrates the power of micro-lending and the huge impact it can have improving impoverished lives in Bangladesh.  The book is out of print but might be at your local public library.  This book would be great for grades 3-5 though, as a picture book, the writing and pictures would connect with a younger audience though the idea of poverty and micro financing might be to advanced for them. [picture book for ages 6-12]

Rickshaw Girl, Mitali Perkins, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom, Bengladesh,

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins. Naima is a ten-year-old girl, too young and the wrong sex to help her impoverished family with their family business of  pedaling a rickshaw.  Her father is ill and there isn’t much money for the medicine he needs so Naima tries to pedal the heavy rickshaw.  Disaster happens and the rickshaw, their family livelihood, is damaged.  Naima ultimately finds that she can use her talent as an artist, honed by creating the best alpanas in her village, to help create a better life for her family.  [chapter book, ages 8-12]

Brief History of Bangladesh

I knew so little of Bangladesh history that I searched online for information and found a useful but brief summary from Bengla2000.  I’ve further condensed it to four paragraphs but please go to the site if you want more information.  Who knew that Bengal was a wealthy and prosperous country during the 16th century but was decimated by a series of invaders including Turkistan, Great Britain, and Pakistan??!!

“Bangladesh came to today’s shape through a long history of political evolution. Bengal was probably the wealthiest part of the subcontinent up till the 16th century. The area’s early history featured a succession of Indian empires, internal squabbling, and a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance. All of this was just a prelude to the unstoppable tide of Islam which washed over northern India at the end of the 12th century. Mohammed Bakhtiar Khalzhi from Turkistan captured Bengal in 1199 with only 20 men.

The decline of Mughal power led to greater provincial autonomy, heralding the rise of the independent dynasty of the nawabsof Bengal. Humble East India Company clerk Robert Clive ended up effectively ruling Bengal when one of the impetuousnawabs attacked the thriving British enclave in Calcutta and stuffed those unlucky enough not to escape in an underground cellar. Clive retook Calcutta a year later and the British Government replaced the East India Company following the Indian Mutiny in 1857.

Inequalities between the two regions i.e. East and West Pakistan soon stirred up a sense of Bengali nationalism that had not been reckoned with during the push for Muslim independence. When the Pakistan government declared that `Urdu and only Urdu’ would be the national language, the Bangla-speaking Bengalis decided it was time to assert their cultural identity. The drive to reinstate the Bangla language metamorphosed into a push for self-government and when the Awami League, a nationalistic party, won a majority in the 1971 national elections, the president of Pakistan, faced with this unacceptable result, postponed opening the National Assembly. Riots and strikes broke out in East Pakistan, the independent state of Bangladesh was unilaterally announced, and Pakistan sent troops to quell the rebellion.

The ruined and decimated new country experienced famine in 1973-74, followed by martial law, successive military coups and political assassinations. In 1979, Bangladesh began a short-lived experiment with democracy led by the overwhelmingly popular President Zia, who established good relationships with the West and the oil-rich Islamic countries. His assassination in 1981 ultimately returned the country to a military government that periodically made vague announcements that elections would be held `soon’. While these announcements were rapturously greeted by the local press as proof that Bangladesh was indeed a democracy, nothing came of them until 1991. That year the military dictator General Ershad was forced to resign by an unprecedented popular movement led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Awami League.”

Alpanas

These stunning creations are made from ground rice and spices and are created by women or girls in celebration of the Hindu holiday, Diwali, the festival of lights (a.k.a. Dawali or Deepavli). We made alpanas for our book club meeting on the Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins.  Here’s what you need:

  • Some examples of alpanas for inspiration
  • Brown poster board or cardboard from a box
  • White poster paint
  • Paint brushes (thin ones are best)

We did not attempt the colored spice version.  You could try that if you are a brave soul, but that sounded awfully messy to me!  If I were to do that, I’d probably use stick glue or white glue with paint brushes and purchase ground spices at a discount store.  To create the designs, I would have the children create the first shape with the glue, sprinkle the the spice over the glue, and shake off the excess. Yes, it probably would create an epic mess!  Another idea is to let them draw them on paper using crayons, paint, oil, or chalk pastels.

Here are some gorgeous examples.  Isn’t is amazing how creativity is like a beacon that can brighten any environment, no matter how poor? And from such humble materials, something so visually stunning can be created?

Rangoli designs, alpanas, bengali, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic momrangoli designs, alpanas, rickshaw girl, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

Rangoli, Diwali, home decorations in India Bangladesh, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic MomRangoli, alpana, http://PragmaticMom.com Pragmatic Momalpana white, diwali, rickshaw girl activity for book club, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom, PragmaticMom

Alpana Jewelry

Holidays are approaching so jewelry ideas might be appropriate here?!  I found a jewelry designer aptly named Alpana Gujral who has gorgeous stuff evocative of alpana patterns.  Here’s the link to her site and blog. I wish I had more images of her jewelry but they were impossible to hijack from her website.  If you go to her website, be sure to see her Necklace Sets and Bracelets.  They are going to be on my Christmas wish list!

Alpana Gujral jewelry, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic MomAlpana Jewelry, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

The Recipe

Spicy Indian Chickpeas (Chholey)

I love Indian food but my husband does not so I usually eat the kind out of pouches when I need a fix.  I am sorry that I don’t have a recipe that is specific to Bangladesh, but I learned from the history that culturally, that the cuisine is SPICY and resembles East Indian food.  Vegetarian curries such as Chholey are a staple.  For more information on Bangladeshi cuisine, click here.

2 cans chickpeas (or 2 cups dried chickpeas)

3 medium sized tomatoes

2 medium sized onions

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, sliced

3 cloves garlic

1 small stick of cinnamon

3-4 whole cloves

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric (powdered)

1 teaspoon coriander (powdered)

red chili powder to taste

1 tablespoon plain yogurt

Canola or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon Punjabi Chholey powder (online source: Shop Organic or make your own)

1) Soak the dried chickpeas overnight and boil them until tender OR used canned ones.  (I use canned).

2) Cut onions and tomatoes into big pieces (quartered).

3) Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok and heat it using medium high heat.  Add cloves, cinnamon, and cumin seeds.  As they sputter, add the onions. Cook onions until lightly brown in color, about 10 minutes.

4) Add ginger and garlic and saute for two minutes then add tomatoes and stir them until the juices are released.  Turn off heat and let the mixture cool down.

5) Use food processor or blender and pour in mixture from wok.  Process or blend until the mixture forms a paste.

6) Using the same wok at low heat and add another tablespoon of oil and heat it.  Add the paste to the oil.  Keep stirring until the sides of the paste is leaving oil.

7) Add powdered turmeric powder, powdered coriander, salt to taste, red chile powder, and Punjabi Chholey powder to the pan.  Stir for a minute then add the chickpeas.

8) Add a little water if the mixture is dry.

9) Add yogurt.

10) Simmer for 10 minutes.

11) Garnish with fresh cilantro if you wish.

12) Serve hot with rice or any kind of bread (Naan is nice!).

This freezes nicely.  From Kashmira, my Coop Preschool Mom Friend.

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