KidLit Review: When the Clock Strikes on Halloween

I was eight when I experienced Halloween for the first time. It was our first year in the US, and my Aunt took me trick-or-treating with my cousins. Remember those costumes in a box, plastic mask on top of the neatly folded outfit underneath? I was Supergirl. When that first door opened and candy dropped into my orange pumpkin basket, the entire scope of my being focused completely on the singular goal of getting and devouring more sugar. As a mom, the thing of wonder Halloween became for me that day is something I enjoy sharing with my kids. Lisa Ferland’s bedtime picture book, When the Clock Strikes on Halloween, brings back those memories. It is Halloween. Mummies and goblins and witches all know it’s a big day, and we follow … [Read more...]

Reading: Beliefs about the Mrenh Gongveal: Chasing the Elves of the Khmer

I've just had a chance to flip through this book. It's a photo essay on the Khmer tradition of providing a home to beings (elves) believed to provide them protection, guidance and advice. Look around Phnom Penh and it is such a common sight on the streets outside of residences, that it barely registers in your peripheral vision. … [Read more...]

Book Review: Never Give Up: How I Turned My Biggest Challenges into Success

I'm fortunate for my background where good enough is simply not enough, and to constantly aim high. Working in foreign aid and development has opened my eyes to poverty and the reasons behind it, perpetuating it, situations that unintentionally(?) encourage it. When most peoples' realities means that the basic aim of survival is aiming high, it's difficult to keep occasional bouts of disillusionment and apathy at bay. To keep upbeat, I seek out the occasional motivational book from the meager selections of used bookstores in Phnom Penh.While the motivational messages (e.g. productivity, financing/ investing, self-help) tend to be regurgitated and re-packaged by points of view in different books, the nuggets of advice are useful reading for … [Read more...]