Happy Book Birthday!

Today is my book birthday! The culmination of 17 years of writing, revising, learning, growing, accumulating rejections, and writing again. I talk more about this dream come true on Emu’s Debuts, the blog for The Erin Murphy Literary Agency’s debut authors.

There are so many people I want to thank, because without them, I would not be celebrating today. This list could be so much longer because along the way so many people have helped me, encouraged me, buoyed me, but in the interest of keeping this short and sweet, here are the people I want to thank most for Jasmine Toguchi.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to – my editor Grace Kendall of Farrar, Straus and Giroux and my agent Tricia Lawrence of The Erin Murphy Literary Agency because without either of them, Jasmine would not be in the world today. My husband Bob and my daughter Caitlin, and my mom, stepdad, and sister for believing in me all along. My writing group of well over a decade, Jo Knowles and Cindy Faughnan, who have read and critiqued many manuscripts and many drafts over the years – and never gave up on me. To my additional writing partners who read and offered feedback for Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen – Jennifer Groff, Cynthia Lord, and Debby Garfinkle. To Elizabet Vukovic for bringing Jasmine and her friends to life and to Kristie Radwilowicz for the fabulous book design that made me nostalgic for the Japanese manga of my childhood. To the entire FSG team for being so enthusiastic about Jasmine. And to all of my friends, family, and writing pals (including the LiveJournal community back in the mid-2000s) who supported me, cheered me on, guided me, and helped me – THANK YOU!

The day after: And thank you to everyone for sharing and posting and blogging and tweeting. You all made my book birthday more amazing and special than I ever dreamed. Stay tuned next week for a fun opportunity to get signed bookmarks!

 

 

 

What People Are Saying…

 

Here are a few lists and interviews of me/Jasmine Toguchi:

NEW as of 4/3/18

An interview with me on First Book

Q&A with the Westerly Sun (Rhode Island)

On KidLitExchange: I talk about my inspiration for writing the Jasmine Toguchi series

On Book Riot: Karina Yan Glaser shares her top 20 favorite book releases for April 3, including Drummer Girl!

On Bank Street College’s 2018 Best Children’s Books of the Year

 

Previous interviews and lists:

On Emu’s Debuts: Interview with Jasmine Toguchi editor, Grace Kendall

On Alphabet Soup: Chatting with Debbi Michiko Florence about Jasmine Toguchi

On Chicago Public Library’s Best Fiction for Younger Readers of 2017

On Amazon’s Best Children’s Books of 2017

On Evanston Public Library’s 101 Great Books of Kids List (2017)

A 2017 Nerdy Book Club Award Winner

On the 2018 Amelia Bloomer Booklist

On Washington Post: These Books Can Help Build Strong Girls – and Boys – for Today’s World

On Clever Cookstr podcast: Why Mochi is the Perfect Dessert for Kids

On Kirby Larson’s Blog for Friend Friday: 10 Things about Jasmine Toguchi and Me

On Romper: 16 Books For Kids That Challenge Gender Stereotypes and Open Their Minds

On Bridget and the Books: A review for Jasmine Toguchi Super Sleuth

On Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook: new transitional chapter book series

On The Book Wars: Jasmine Toguchi, Chapter Book Star!

On Pragmatic Mom: Recognizing Children’s Books for #AAPIHeritageMonth

On 100 Scope Notes: 1o to Note Summer Preview 2017

On Amazon’s Summer Book Club: New Favorite Series for Kids

On Read Brightly: 17 New Authors of Color Writing Writing Much-Needed Stories for Kids

On Chris Barton’s Blog: an interview with me “I hope I wasn’t the mean cousin Eddie…” 

On Flowering Minds, Children’s Book Review Site: Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen plus Interview

On John Valeri’s Blog: Child Culture: Debbi Michiko Florence on Jasmine Toguchi

On Little Crooked Corner: Summer Reading Picks

On KateOnKidsBooks: book review

On Read It Real Good: book review

On Mom Read It: book review

On School Library Journal: SLJ’s June 2017 Popular Picks

On Elizabeth O. Dulemba’s blog: My Journey

 

And what trade reviews are saying about Jasmine Toguchi Mochi Queen:

“Florence paints a lovely picture of a warm, extended family whose members truly care about one another and take each other seriously. New readers thirsty for series fiction will look forward to more stories about Jasmine and her family.” –Kirkus Reviews 

“Florence introduces readers to a bright character who is grappling with respecting authority while also forging her own path. This first entry nicely balances humor with the challenges of growing up; readers will devour it.”School Library Journal

“Florence warmly traces Jasmine’s efforts to get strong (and fast), her clashes and tender moments with her family, and the ins and outs of making mochi (a recipe is included). Vukovic’s b&w spot illustrations evoke Japanese Sumi-e painting while playfully capturing Jasmine’s willfulness and her family’s closeness.”Publisher’s Weekly

“…an adorable and heartwarming story about a kid who wants to feel special and do something first for once, along with a nice overview of a Japanese New Year celebration.”Booklist

This first in the series handily introduces a plucky, strong-willed girl whose family traditions may be new to many readers but whose frustrations will be familiar to nearly all.”The Horn Book

“The Toguchi family’s warmth and affection for one another will leave readers eager to spend more time with them.”Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Plus, I’m thrilled to share that Mochi Queen is a Junior Library Guild selection for September 2017!

 

Thank you for letting me share my joy and excitement here! Please check out my Visit & Events page for information about my upcoming appearances. If I show up near you, I’d love to meet you!

Mochi-Tsuki

In Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen, 8-year-old Jasmine wants to participate in the family tradition of making mochi or mochi-tsuki, but family rule says she must be 10 to help roll mochi with the women. Jasmine is determined to join in. She comes up with a plan to help not the women, but the men, and she wants to pound mochi. If you’ve never seen mochi-tsuki, here is a YouTube video of mochi-tsuki in Nara, Japan. Pretty awesome, right?

Cover Reveal for Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl!

I’m thrilled to share with you the cover for Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl, book 3 in my chapter book series! I’m grateful to talented illustrator Elizabet Vukovic who brings Jasmine and her friends and family to life, to fabulous designer Kristie Radwilowicz, and of course to my wise and wonderful editor at FSG, Grace Kendall.

Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl (FSG/April 3, 2018)

It’s talent show time at school, and eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is excited to show her stuff. But as she thinks about her strengths–tree-climbing, mochi making, collage–none of them feel quite right to perform on-stage. Jasmine’s friends already have a talent: Tommy yo-yo’s, Daisy dances, and Linnie plays piano. Plus, Maggie Milsap (aka Miss Perfect) is saying she’ll have the best talent.

When Jasmine’s mom introduces her to the taiko, a traditional Japanese drum, Jasmine finally finds an activity that feels just right. But will she be good enough at taiko in time to beat Maggie Milsap?

Join Jasmine as she discovers her talent–and the difference between being the best and trying your best.

While April 3 is almost a year way, you won’t have long to wait until the first two books of the series release in less than 3 months, on July 11, 2017. Look for Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen and Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth in bookstores this summer. Or preorder, here.

Thank you for your support and I promise more news and some fun activities and information  here soon! I also send out a monthly newsletter with news, activities, and facts on Japanese culture. You can sign up at the bottom of this page.

Less Than 3 Months Until Launch!

Wow! Time does fly. In less than three months, my debut chapter book series, Jasmine Toguchi will launch with the first two books: Mochi Queen and Super Sleuth!

 

I’m thrilled and honored to share that Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen has been chosen as a Junior Library Guild Fall 2017 selection!

This has been a time of firsts for me, and my first professional review of Mochi Queen has posted.

Florence paints a lovely picture of a warm, extended family whose members truly care about one another and take each other seriously. New readers thirsty for series fiction will look forward to more stories about Jasmine and her family. 

-Kirkus

I’ll be giving away an ARC (advance review copy) of Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen to one of my newsletter subscribers next month, so if you’re interested, please sign up for my newsletter (scroll down).

Additional note: If you tried to contact me in the last 6 months, my contact form wasn’t working. I apologize! The issue has been fixed.

 

Happy Girl’s Day!

 Me with my mom and our Girl’s Day doll display.

Today, March 3, is Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival) or Girl’s Day. I have fond memories of this Japanese celebration while growing up in California. Girl’s Day features prominently in Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth, the second book of my upcoming chapter book series (FSG/July 11, 2017).

For more about my thoughts and memories about this special day, please check out my guest post on the Children’s Book Council Diversity Blog.

World Read Aloud Day Part 2

Yesterday, on World Read Aloud Day, I read to five classrooms of first and second graders in four different states via Skype. It was the first time I spoke to kids as a fiction author and it was a thrill!

I’ve always loved speaking with kids – starting from when I did school visits as a staff member at a raptor rehabilitation center, to my fresh-out-of-college job as an outdoor educator, to teaching fifth grade in Los Angeles, to my then-dream job of Associate Curator of Education at a zoo. My most rewarding moments were working with students. I did school visits for my nonfiction books, but yesterday was another dream come true – speaking as a fiction author.

The students were good listeners and asked great questions! Some of my favorites were — “Which was your favorite Dorothy and Toto book to write?” (Answer: Dorothy and Toto: The Hunt for the Perfect Present – I can’t answer in full here without a spoiler, but if you know me, you’ll understand why when you read it.) “What job did you have before you were an author?” ” When did you start writing?”

It was especially fun when kids told me they loved to write. I encouraged all of them to keep writing, drawing, and reading! The fifteen minutes flew by! I look forward to doing more Skype visits and actual school visits in the future. Thanks LitWorld for running World Read Aloud Day! And many thanks to my publisher, Capstone, for donating a set of my Dorothy and Toto books to each of the schools I spoke to!

World Read Aloud Day

I am absolutely thrilled to participate in World Read Aloud Day. I have the pleasure of doing author Skype visits to schools in North Carolina, New York, Maryland, and Alabama. I’ll be reading from my book Dorothy and Toto, What’s YOUR Name? (Picture Window Books/2016). I’ll check in tomorrow to share my experience. Happy reading everyone!

Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth Cover!

I’m so thrilled to share the cover of book 2 in the Jasmine Toguchi series, Super Sleuth!

It’s a big weekend for Jasmine Toguchi! She’s excited to celebrate Girl’s Daya Japanese holiday honoring women and girlswith her sister, mother, and best friend, Linnie. When Linnie comes over to plan for the Girl’s Day celebration, Jasmine’s neighbor lets them play dress up in her garage. But the garage is dark, which is kind of scary. And Linnie decides to go home early, which is kind of weird. And Jasmine’s big sister, Sophie, doesn’t seem to want to join in the Girl’s Day fun this year, which is kind of confusing. WHAT is going on?

As her big weekend plans start to unravel, Jasmine must use her sleuthing skills to spot the clues around her. Then maybe, just maybe, she can fix things and make sure the Girl’s Day celebration happens!

Both Mochi Queen and Super Sleuth will be available on July 11, 2017, but you can pre-order here.

Many thanks go to illustrator Elizabet Vukovic and designer Kristie Radwilowicz!