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. 


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!


My Monthly Newsletters

I’ve started sending out monthly newsletters that include updates about my books and writing, a craft or activity related to one of my books, and a tidbit about Japanese culture. To see the December issue and have a chance to win an ARC of Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen, click here. But if you want to enter the drawing, don’t delay as the deadline is December 30! You can subscribe by scrolling down and joining my mailing list. I know your time is precious so I promise the newsletters will be short and sweet. Thanks for all your support and I look forward to sharing more news very soon!

Mochi Queen Cover!

I’m super excited to finally be able to share the cover of book 1 of the Jasmine Toguchi series, Mochi Queen! Ready or not, here it is!


Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen (FSG/July 11, 2017)

Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is a flamingo fan, tree climber, and top-notch mess-maker!

She’s also tired of her big sister, Sophie, always getting to do things first. For once, Jasmine wishes SHE could do something before Sophiesomething special, something different. The New Year approaches, and as the Toguchi family gathers in Los Angeles to celebrate, Jasmine is jealous that her sister gets to help roll mochi balls by hand with the women. Her mom says that Jasmine is still too young to join in, so she hatches a plan to help the men pound the mochi rice instead. Surely her sister has never done THAT before.

But pounding mochi is traditionally reserved for boys. And the mochi hammer is heavier than it looks. Can Jasmine build her case and her mochi-making muscles in time for New Year’s Day?

Big thanks and appreciation go to talented illustrator Elizabet Vukovic and awesome designer Kristie Radwilowicz! I’m so in love with this cover! The bright colors and overall design take me back to the manga I used to love to read as a child. And Jasmine – I just love her in her flamingo shirt and crown, holding a tray of delicious mochi.

I owe you all a long blog post about this entire process – it’s been so amazing and incredible. Every step fills me with great joy. I’m grateful to my editor, Grace Kendall, because she loves Jasmine as much as I do, and she makes me a better writer. I can’t wait to be able to share Jasmine and her adventures with you.

Believe it or not, you can already pre-order the books! Check out my Fiction page for the links to pre-order!