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We Can All Be Grumps with Katrina Moore

Katrina Moore shares Grumpy New Year, a story about spending time with the special people in our lives, but also making plans to sleep, too, because nobody wants to be grumpy.

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FULL TRANSCRIPT:


[1:52] Introduction


Matthew: Welcome to the Children’s Book Podcast. I’m Matthew.


I am a teacher, a librarian, and a fan of kids. And… [yawn]. Oh my word! I’m so sorry. I haven’t been getting as much sleep as I [yawn].


Oh! I was in the middle of this really great book last night and I just wanted to keep reading and keep reading and [yawn], I’ve actually been staying up way too late to read these past couple nights and [yawn]. Well, I don’t know! Maybe I am a little grumpy. But it’s not my fault! I just didn’t want to miss out on any [yawn].


Okay. Okay.


Before we get started, remember that you can shop for any of the books you hear on this podcast while at the same time supporting independent bookstores! Just head to matthewcwinner.com and click on “Bookshop”. You can also support the show and buy me a coffee. And, of course, we love seeing those 5-star reviews come in for the show. Your words are super encouraging!


Our guest today is Katrina Moore.


Katrina Moore writes in New Jersey. She holds a M.A. in Teaching and has been an elementary school teacher for thirteen years. Her mission is to create books that children will hug for ages. She is the author of several picture books, including Hope is a Hop, illustrated by Melissa Iwai, Sometimes Love, illustrated by Joy Hwang Ruiz, One Hug, illustrated by Julia Woolf, and Grandpa Grumps, illustrated by Xindi Yan. She also writes the Teeny Houdini chapter book series. When she is not writing or teaching, she is cooking without a recipe, painting outside the lines, or snuggling up with her two kids, husband, pups, and of course, a cozy book.



[3:51] Book Summary


Matthew: Grumpy New Year by Katrina Moore; illustrated by Xindi Yan



"You should sleep on the long flight," said Mama.


Daisy should have slept-

but she didn't.


She was too excited to see Yeh-Yeh!


Daisy is traveling to China, and she's excited to see her Yeh-Yeh again! She has big plans for all the fun they'll have together in preparation for Lunar New Year, like flying kites and making jiao zi. But when she arrives, she has trouble sleeping and is less jolly than she hoped. Throughout the week, Yeh-Yeh tries all sorts of things to help her have a fun holiday and get her past her grumpiness. Will Daisy be able to get some rest and have one perfect day before she goes home?



[4:38] Meet Our Guest: Katrina Moore


Katrina: Hi, my name is Katrina Moore. I am an elementary school teacher. I am a mom. I am sometimes grumpy, which is going to come into play during our conversation. And I am the author of Grandpa Grumps and Grumpy New Year, which is the book that we are going to talk about.



[4:59] Thinking of Readers


Matthew: I have known Katrina for a long while. In fact, we used to teach together! She was teaching 2nd grade and I was the school librarian and we would always be talking about books and stories and readers.


It didn’t surprise me at all when shared who was on her mind as she wrote Grandpa Grumps and its companion, Grumpy New Year.


Katrina: In general, when I write, I really try to put myself back into the kid version of myself. So whatever age I'm imagining my character to be, my main character, I try to go back to when I was that age so that when I tell the story, it feels very authentic and real to the experiences of the reader that's going to read my book.


And so in particular for Grumpy New Year, I was really thinking about the readers who are really big planners and have really big hopes for things and get really, really, really excited about something.


That was always me. That still is me. If I know something is coming up, I'm just thinking of 500 things that I wanna do and how it's gonna go, and a lot of times, as you all know, in life things don't work out that way.


And so I really wanted to write this for those readers. What do we do when things don't work out that way?



[6:27] The Real Life Yeh-Yeh


Matthew: Now, listeners, we’ve made the connection that Katrina was thinking of you and of kids like you when she wrote about a grumpy grandpa and an exuberant kid who just wants to share in the special togetherness time that she’s hoping and planning for.


We also made the connection that Katrina put a bit of herself in the character of Daisy as well, thinking of all of the things she wanted to do, but also the big feelings that come when things don’t work out.


Yeh-Yeh, Daisy’s grandpa, is also a special connection. Who might Katrina have been thinking of when creating this story? What do you think?


Point a finger to your brain if you think you know the answer to that question.


Katrina: Oh, thank you for asking that. Yes, Yeh-Yeh is inspired by my Yeh-Yeh, which is the Cantonese word for “grandpa on your father's side”.


I grew up in a Cantonese and English speaking household. Both my mom and my dad were born in China and came over to the United States. So I am one of five children.

And so we grew up with my grandpa, my Yeh-Yeh, living with us. He came over from China when he was three. And so I remember just trying so hard to talk to him, but I was speaking English and he was speaking Cantonese, and we just had so many misses.

And so I spent a lot of time doing charades, trying to, like, show the things that I was saying. And he would just stare at me and when I was younger, I remember thinking, “Gosh, he's so grumpy.” And so I have that memory like, “He's grumpy. He's my grumpy grandpa.”


When I look back on it now as a grownup, I realize he wasn't grumpy. We were just missing each other in communication.


But at the time, it felt like he was grumpy. But even though in my mind, when I was younger, I felt like he was grumpy, we still spent a lot of time together and I loved him. I loved him so much, and some of my favorite memories were when we were doing something and we weren't talking at all.


And so what that was for me when I was growing up was cooking because he was a chef in China. And so then his way to really help out around the house, um, was to cook dinner for us every night. So every night we'd have a family dinner and he would spend all day preparing it. And so when I would come home from school, and even when I was younger, before I was even old enough to go to school, I would just sit at the countertop and I would just watch him cook.


And then when I got older, he let me help him. And so that was a thing that we did together. And so that memory has stayed with me. And when I wanted to write a story for children that would really resonate with them, I was thinking about one of my favorite relationships. And that's the one with my grandpa.



[9:27] Visiting Yeh-Yeh for Chinese New Year


Matthew: Much of what Katrina just shared was written into Grandpa Grumps. But in Grumpy New Year, Daisy travels with her aunt to China to stay with Yeh-Yeh and the tables are turned. What I mean by that is in this story, Daisy is the grumpy one.


We’ll get to that in a minute, but first I wanted to invite Katrina to share some of her Chinese New Year experiences with you. I bet that a number of you celebrate the Lunar New Year.


Put a finger on your chin if you and your family celebrate the Lunar New Year.


I knew it!


We all come from different traditions. We celebrate different occasions and we even celebrate the same occasions differently.


Let’s listen to how Katrina has celebrated Chinese New Year with her family.


Katrina: Absolutely. So for Lunar New Year, very much like how we, you know, all kind of celebrate New Year in a new beginning, that's really the theme.


For the new year, you wanna prepare for a new beginning. And so for the Lunar New Year, there's a lot of preparation that goes on. Before that you have to clean the house. You wanna sweep away all the bad things that happened that year, maybe any arguments that you had. You wanna kind of, you know, clean that away so that you can start the new year fresh. So there's a lot of preparation for that.


There's a lot of food. Everything is about the food. So you hear sizzling. The dumplings are really big. You want round foods, things that are circular and go on and on forever. They remind you of like gold coins and prosperity. And so having a really prosperous new year.


The color red is everywhere, at least. So not for, um, all lunar New Year. So Lunar New Year kind of refers to all of the countries and cultures that celebrate the new year according to the lunar calendar, however different, um, cultures will celebrate it differently.


And so specifically for Chinese New Year, red is a lucky color and it's a color of happiness. And so you decorate with red everywhere. So on Grumpy New Year, on the cover you see that Yeh-Yeh is wearing a red festive jacket and the words are red. So I remember red being everywhere. My parents would buy these like red banners and they would hang them up and they would have these beautiful gold words. And I could not read Cantonese, so I didn't know what they said, but they were red and they had gold and they were beautiful.


So, everything red, everything clean. You can't clean on the actual New Year because then you will wash away your good luck. So all the cleaning happens before.


So on New Year's Day, it's all about visiting with family and friends and being together. You have to eat really, really, really long noodles, that you have a long life. I made the mistake one year of cutting my noodles. And I never saw my grandpa cry like he cried when I cut my noodles. You can't cut your noodles because you'll cut your life short. And so he threw out those noodles and he gave me a new bowl with like, really, really long noodles, cause you need to have a long life, so you eat long noodles.


So there's a page that I'll read where I really kind of captured all the things that I kind of. think about when I think about like the new, the new year, and it's from Daisy's perspective, who's the main character in Grumpy New Year.


On New Year's Day, Daisy stretched her arms. She smelled something sweet like tangy oranges, as well as something steamy like zong zi. Something sizzled–dumplings, fresh from the wok. The breezy air buzzed with jingles and jangles and jovial voices.


So that's really what I remembered: everybody laughing, everybody sitting around the table, eating food, being together. Those are the sounds that I remember growing up and bring a smile to my face.



[13:35] Not Enough Sleep


Matthew: Have you ever noticed that your day feels a little different when you haven’t gotten enough sleep? Maybe you went to bed too late. Or you were so excited that you didn’t really sleep through the night. Or your mind had a hard time settling down.


If you’ve had an experience like that, where you wake up knowing that you didn’t get enough sleep, I wonder… How has that felt for you? How does it affect your ability to face the day?


Julia: Um… sometimes. Sometimes I’ve had nightmares. Yeah. A lot of times I guess I stay up too late. Um… I get really, like, tired in my body and I just sleep in sometimes. Yeah, I kinda feel grumpy, I guess.


Katrina: Well, you know, I'll say I'm a person who needs a lot of sleep. I need a lot of sleep. I need a full night's sleep.


And I am a very light sleeper. So if the wind is blowing outside or a very quiet car is driving by, I hear it and that will interrupt my sleep.


And on nights where my sleep is interrupted, the next day I'm really grumpy. I'm really grumpy. Things that would not normally bother me do. And so I find myself just being very, very irritable because I haven't gotten a good rest. So I know that about myself and especially on days where I know I need to be well rested, I make sure that I am otherwise I am a very, very grumpy person.



[15:13] BREAK


[15:20] Xindy Captures All the Anticipation


Matthew: Xindi Yan created the illustrations for both Grandpa Grumps and Grumpy New Year and her skill at communicating through unspoken moments is just so fantastic!


And not only did Katrina and I both share the same favorite spread from Grumpy New Year, but it’s a page that doesn’t contain many words at all.


I don’t have that illustration to share with you, but I will include a different and also beautiful page spread along with the transcript for this episode on my website.



And I’ll let Katrina have the honor of describing our favorite spread to you.


Katrina: My absolute favorite spread is the one where there's a parade and it's, it's, it's the Lunar New Year parade and Daisy is looking for Yeh-Yeh. And so I'm just gonna read the page before, because that what I love about the way that Xindy captured this is all the anticipation that is there. And then we really feel for Daisy in it.


And so the spread before, what has happened is Daisy has woken up on New Year's Day and prior to New Year's Day, she has been really grumpy. And she hasn't been sleeping because she's been so excited about everything that she wants to do, but she hasn't gotten as much sleep as she needed.


And so she wakes up on New Year's Day and she goes to find Yeh-Yeh, and he's not there.


Daisy peeked into Yeh-Yeh's room. No Yeh-Yeh... What was this? Lucky money, but no Yeh-Yeh. Yeh-Yeh wants to celebrate the new year without me, thought Daisy. Maybe I've been too grumpy. But wait–what was this? A map?!


So, Yeh-Yeh has drawn her this map with the direction for her to go, and she is so worried that she's ruined the new year.


So when we flip the page, we see Daisy in the crowd and she's looking for Yeh-Yeh and the text reads. “Daisy hoped she would find Yeh-Yeh…” And you can just see the worry and the anticipation on her face, and she's looking in the opposite direction and she can't see him. But we, the reader, can see him. And so I love that the reader gets to experience something before Daisy. And we as the reader know she's gonna be okay and she's gonna get that happy ending that she wants, but she doesn't know it yet.

So I really love how, um, how brilliantly Xindy brought that to life.


Matthew: I would even go a step further and say that Daisy can't see. Yeah. Yeah. , but we can see Yeh-Yeh and Yeh-Yeh can see Daisy. Yes. We sort of make this triangle where we are looking at her worry, but we see his face that it's just, I mean, he's in a parade and all he's doing is looking with tenderness at his granddaughter.

It's really, it's a special illustration.


Katrina: Yes. Yeah. It brought, it brought me to tears. She, the way that Xindy has brought these characters to life. It, it just feels so, so real. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Xindy feels that this story is very personal to her, too. And I think that's a lot of the magic of picture books as I wrote this based off of my relationship with my grandpa and my experience.


But when it came to her as the illustrator now, um, I don't know if all the readers know this, but a lot of times the author and the illustrator don't even know each other before they make the book. And so the publisher buys the book and the words from the author if they've only written the words, and then they choose an illustrator who has to agree to come on board and, and do the art for the book.


And so that's what happened with Grandpa Grumps, and then for Grumpy New Year, Xindy again was on board to illustrate it, which I was so excited about. And she based Daisy's character and Yeh-Yeh's character off of herself and off of her two grandparents and the setting, um, of the book because this one takes place in a small village in China where Yeh-Yeh is she based that off of the village that she grew up in, in China.

And so there, there's so much of her in the book and I feel that that love comes through, which makes it even more special.



[19:57] Look For the Cat


Matthew: I hope that a number of you will go request these books from your library after hearing this podcast. And when you do, I hope you’ll enjoy these stories. And I hope you’ll look closely at the art. Because Katrina had one more thing, a secret, hidden thing, that she wanted to share with all of you.


Katrina: Whether you find this book at the library or the bookstore or you, you just come across it at some point, I want you to look for the cat character.


So the cat character in both Grandpa Grumps and Grumpy New Year is one of the most important and funny and sweet characters. And this character gets no words in the book, so there's no mention of the cat in the words.


But through the art, because all good readers like you, all brilliant readers, know that you have to read the pictures just as much as you have to read the words. And so good readers already know about the cat. But I wanna point out that there is a cat and he is, or she actually, we actually don't have a name for the cat. So actually if you also find me later on my website and you wanna give me a suggestion for the name for the cat, maybe, we'll maybe we'll name the cat in if there's a next book, but Cat doesn't have a name. But, um, there is a cat who follows along in these stories and is very important to Daisy. And so I want you to look for the cat.



[21:25] A Message from Katrina Moore


Matthew: Look for the cat! That cat will have you cracking up. Such a silly kitty.


Well, listeners, I certainly hope that if you were feeling grumpy earlier, that this conversation cheered you right up. But also, if you’re still feeling a little grumpy, maybe be sure to get a good night’s sleep tonight. I know that’s something I’m [yawn] definitely going to remember.


As I prepare to head back to my library full of children, I hope that you will remember this special message from Katrina Moore.


Katrina: The message I would like to leave with you all is to share the things that you love to do with the people that you love. And that way when you're doing that thing, but you're not together it's like you still are.

And I will also end with a note to remember the importance of a good night's sleep.



[22:30] Closing


Matthew: The Children’s Book Podcast is written, edited, and produced by me, Matthew Winner.


Follow the show wherever podcasts are found, and leave us a rating or review when you do. That helps us out a whole lot because it helps the show get discovered by and recommended to new listeners.


Katrina? Where can listeners find you?


Katrina: The best place to find me is on my website, which is www.katrinamoorebooks.com. And I have a contact page. And I keep tabs of that myself, so if you reach out to me there, then I will get back to you.


Matthew: Visit matthewcwinner.com for a full transcript of this episode plus some questions that you can use as you think about this episode.


You can also reach out and let me know how you and your family celebrate the new year. What are your traditions? And do they involve food, by any chance? I wonder!


Write to me or send me a message at matthewmakespods@gmail.com. That’s M-A-T-T-H-E-W M-A-K-E-S P-O-D-S at gmail dot com.


Want a copy of Grumpy New Year? Jules, where should our listeners look?


Julia: Check your school or public library, your classroom, or, if you want to support independent bookstores, you can purchase a copy at Bookshop.org.


Matthew: I’ll have a link in the show notes.


Our podcast logo was created by Duke Stebbins (https://stebs.design/).


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You can support the show and buy me a coffee at www.matthewcwinner.com.


We are a proud member of Kids Listen, the best place to discover the best in kids podcasts. Learn more at kidslisten.org.


Fellow teachers and librarians, want a way to explore building a stronger culture of reading in our communities? In The Reading Culture podcast, Beanstack co-founder Jordan Bookey hosts conversations that dive into beloved authors' personal journeys and insights into motivating young people to read. And I am a big fan! Their recent episode with James Ponti was fantastic! Check out the Reading Culture Podcast with Jordan Bookey, from Beanstack. Available wherever podcasts are found.


Anything else you want to share, Julia?


Julia: Yeah. I guess get some sleep and don’t stay up too late.


Matthew: Right on theme. Nice.


Be well. And read on.




End Of Episode

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