Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review: A Cottage in the Woods, by Katherine Coville (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015)

Release date:  February 10, 2015
Recommended for ages 10 and up.

Jane Eyre meets Goldilocks and the Three Bears in this enchanting tale of Ursula, an impoverished yet well-brought-up young governess hired to take care of adorable young Theodore Vaughn in a creepy, huge manor house in which portraits follow you with their eyes, strange unseen footsteps follow you down the hall, and objects disappear from rooms without a trace. There's mystery, adventure, small town politics, and even romance.  Sound familiar?  But in this book our main characters are all....well, bears.  Filled with tropes from gothic novels, this book draws you into its enchanted world and is hard to put down. It is sure to please tweens and even teens who enjoy fairy-tale mashups, whether TV series such as Once Upon a Time and Grimm or books by Shannon Hale, Adam Gidwitz, Michael Buckley, and others. 

Our story is set in the Enchanted Forest, populated not only by characters from the Goldilocks tale but also characters from other beloved stories and nursery rhymes such as The Three Pigs, the Old Woman Who Lived in the Shoe, and the Bremen Street Musicians.  These talking animals live in peace with their human counterparts.  But when a mute, filthy, starving little girl with golden hair is taken in by the kindly bear family, prejudice against the talking animals from the human community comes to the forefront. Will Goldilocks, who becomes a beloved foster child, be able to stay with her new bear family? And what will happen to the kindly governess, Ursula, who has fallen in love with Mr. Bentley, another member of the Vaughn family's staff? The novel is full of bears who know Latin, awkward but well meaning ministers, seemingly menacing nurses; Coville does a marvelous job capturing the formal vocabulary and images of the 19th century period in which the story seems to be set, a time in which even young proper bears must wear corsets and not spend time alone in the company of a young male bear. If you've read Jane Austen and other 19th century novelists these touches are especially endearing.

Note:  Review copy received through Amazon Vine.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Review, Giveaway, and Blog Tour: When Otis Courted Mama, by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jill McElmurry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)

Recommended for ages 4-8.

Award-winning author Kathi Appelt tackles the tricky subject of stepfamilies in her newest picture book, When Otis Courted Mama. Less than half of US families live in traditional households (i.e. two heterosexual parents in their first marriage), according to a 2014 Pew Research study. Yet most of our picture books still seem to reflect an "ideal family" that's just not the reality for most kids. Books such as When Otis Courted Mama fill a gap for many children who need books that address their own family situations.

Appelt creates an appealing protagonist in the coyote pup Cardell.  He has a "most wonderful life" for a young coyote; he lives with his "perfectly good" daddy and his step-mother and step-brother part of the time, and with his "perfectly good mama" the rest of the time at the opposite end of the desert (who knew coyote families were so complicated?)  In general, Cardell has his mama all to himself, and he likes it that way. He feels loved "through and through" by both his parents, and that's the way it should be. 

Complications to young Cardell's life ensue when Mama's neighbor Otis comes courting, carrying ocotillo flowers in one paw and a bag of cactus candies in the other.  It's clear that Mama's been dating for a while, and some of her prior suitors are comically described in the text and illustrations, but none of them was any real threat to Cardell's close ties with Mama. Otis is the first coyote caller that Mama doesn't send packing. Cardell isn't too happy about this, but his growling at Otis doesn't seem to do any good. In the end, Otis wins Cardell over and the new coyote family lives happily ever after, sticker burs and sand fleas aside.

This book deals sensitively with the many complicated feelings of jealousy that ensue for a child when a parent begins a new relationship.  Cardell learns that although Otis isn't good at the same things as his own daddy, he has other qualities to offer, and in the end he still has a "perfectly good daddy and a perfectly good mama...but now Cardell also had someone else: Otis!" The casting of coyotes instead of humans in this picture book gives what could be a serious subject a playful tone.  The coyotes are more human than animal, however, as they walk on two legs, and engage in decidedly human activities such as making flapjacks, playing instruments, reading books, dancing, and even painting pictures (Cardell's Mama is an accomplished artist). Yet they also engage in coyote behavior such as howling at the moon, and in addition to flapjacks, Cardell's diet includes more typical coyote-like fare such as rats and chuckwallas. Illustrator Jill McElmurry creates very large-eyed coyotes that look more cute than predator-like, and the coyotes are depicted wearing natty accessories like hats, scarves, and flowers in their fur. There's lots of local Southwest color in the story, both in the text and in Jill McElmurry's whimsical images, which make use of a traditional Southwestern palette, and the Southwestern landscape of mesas and cactus reinforces the setting for young readers. 

To download a free, CCSS-aligned curriculum guide, visit or Kathi’s website at  You can check out the book trailer at 

For more on Cardell, Otis, Mama, and Kathi Appelt, check out the other blog tour stops:

blog URL
Mon, Jan 5
5 Minutes for Books
Tues, Jan 6
Cracking the Cover
Wed, Jan 7
Thurs, Jan 8
Unleashing Readers
Fri, Jan 9
Once Upon a Story
Sat, Jan 10
Booking Mama
Mon, Jan 12
Geo Librarian
Tues, Jan 13
The Late Bloomer's Book Blog AND NC Teacher Stuff
Wed, Jan 14
Teach Mentor Texts
Thurs, Jan 15
Kid Lit Frenzy
Fri, Jan 16
The Fourth Musketeer

One lucky winner will receive a copy of WHEN OTIS COURTED MAMA by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jill McElmurry (U.S. addresses only)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Cybils Finalists announced on January 1, 2015!

Over the last month or so, I have not had much time for my blog since I have been very busy reading over 100 titles as a first-stage judge in the Nonfiction for Early and Middle Grades category of the Cybils awards.  Growing up in the 1960's and 1970's, when there was a lack of attractive nonfiction books for kids, I found a special delight in reading so many fabulous nonfiction books for kids on every conceivable topic, from history, biography, astronomy, animals, archaeology, and much much more.  There is a book out there for every young reader, and for many it might be one of these excellent nonfiction titles.  A list of the seven titles picked as finalists follows, along with blurbs by the committee members:

by Russell Freedman
Clarion Books
Nominated by: Jenna G
While Ellis Island is frequently written about in literature for young people, few Americans are familiar with its West Coast equivalent, Angel Island, off the California coast, which processed about one million immigrants from Japan, China, and Korea at the beginning of the 20th century. Using original source documents, including memoirs, diaries, letters, and “wall poems” written directly on the walls of the facility, master nonfiction writer Russell Freedman brings the moving story of this little-known facility to life. The book is abundantly illustrated with archival photographs and includes extensive back matter.
Margo Tanenbaum, The Fourth Musketeer
by Sy Montgomery
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Nominated by: Christopher Leach
This book chronicles the efforts of Laurie Marker and the Cheetah Conservation Fund to save the endangered cheetahs of Namibia through unique collaborations with the local farmers. Like most Scientists in the Field titles, it includes the story of the main scientist’s life, involvement and viewpoints of locals, and stunning photographs. This is a perfect blend of inspiration and science, encouraging kids to dig deeper and think about a popular topic. A great book for strong middle-grade readers to enjoy on their own or to read together as a family or class.
Jennifer Wharton, Jean Little Library
by Melissa Stewart
Nominated by: laurapurdiesalas
This unique look at a bird’s most obvious characteristic, its feathers, compares the many different uses of feathers to familiar items like a blanket and an umbrella. The text is layered with simple, declarative sentences and more complex factual captions and statements. Stunning artwork creates a scrapbook effect out of illustrations, with a skillful use of shadows to create a three-dimensional effect. This lovely and useful book will catch the interest of preschool through early elementary students who will pore over the art, be drawn into the text, and possibly inspired to start their own nature notebooks.
Jennifer Wharton, Jean Little Library
by Loree Griffin Burns
Millbrook Press
Nominated by: Beth Mitcham
The Very Hungry Caterpillar gets a literary partner for older children in Handle With Care, which takes readers on a visual tour of a butterfly farm in Costa Rica to further explore the miracle of metamorphosis. Accurate but restrained text complements the crisp photos popping with color. Sometimes the photos are a single, detail-revealing close-up, while others use fascinating multiples & patterns: caterpillars in a bucket, pupae sorted into piles for shipping or lined up in neat rows. Generous use of white space keeps the focus trained on the miracle – the life cycle of butterflies. More than a simple documentary of the process, Handle With Care sets the understanding of metamorphosis in the larger context of our living, global ecosystem. It introduces the more challenging concept of the values and beliefs that drive the acquisition and application of scientific knowledge. Useful across several age levels, opportunities abound to enrich school curriculum in science as well as social studies. The title skillfully spotlights the larger message that, when handled with care, the earth and its inhabitants can flourish together.
by Duncan Tonatiuh
Harry N Abrams
Nominated by: Tasha
Most school-aged children can tell you about Ruby Bridges. Far fewer, however, maybe almost none, know about Sylvia Mendez, and yet it was Mendez and her family who actually paved the way for desegregation in California in 1947, seven years before Brown vs. the Board of Education and over a decade before Ruby Bridges attended school in New Orleans. Duncan Tontiuh’s picture book, Separate is Never Equal, chronicles the story of Mendez vs. Westminster in a way that is understandable to very young children, and yet appealing to young adults. Tontiuh was born in Mexico City, and his desire “to create images that honor the past, but that address contemporary issues that affect people of Mexican origin on both sides of the border, ” is clearly reflected in his style, which draws heavily on the ancient Mixtec Indian tribe. End matter includes a note from the author, photographs of Sylvia, her parents, and the schools she attended, a glossary, a bibliography, and an index. A book that should be read in every classroom!
Carol Wilcox, Carol’s Corner
by Sandra Markle
Millbrook Press
Publisher/ Author Submission
Bats might seem a bit frightening, but they actually do all of us a huge favor. They eat about half their bodyweight in insects – roughly the equivalent of a thousand mosquitoes – each night! This means they help limit the spread of disease and protect crops. Little brown bats were once one of the most common bat species in North America, but a few years ago scientists noticed that the bats were behaving oddly and dying out in huge numbers each winter, struck down by a mystery killer.
Markle walks us carefully though the mystery, first by explaining the lifestyle of little brown bats and the important role they play in the ecosystem. Next she introduces us to a variety of scientists from different disciplines, all of whom are working together to solve the mystery and save the bats. With attractive layouts and amazing photographs, The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats neatly lays out the steps that scientists take to solve the problem – developing a set of hypotheses to investigate, collecting data in order to test each one, zeroing in on the culprit and finally proposing a range of possible solutions. This book is a wonderful introduction to problem solving for middle grade students, animal lovers, and budding scientists.
Elisa Bergslien, Leopards and Dragons
by Rebecca L. Johnson
Millbrook Press
Publisher/ Author Submission
If a good defense is the best offense, then When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses by Rebecca L. Johnson shows just how offensively awesome some animals and plants can be when it comes to protecting themselves from predators. The photography, which utilizes a combination of well-timed traditional and underwater photography, x-ray technology, and visuals captured with a scanning electron microscope, amplifies the reader’s understanding of how each animal employs its unique defenses. When Lunch Fights Back is an incredible highlights reel of gross facts about the techniques animals use to survive to fight another day. Johnson has created a compilation that will be stalked by kid-predators looking to devour the facts inside and fortunately, this book will not fight back. When Lunch Fights Back is well documented with source notes, photo acknowledgements, a selected bibliography, and a number of sources to continue to explore the topic further.
Ellen Zschunke, On The Shelf 4 Kids

For a complete list of the Cybils finalists in all 12 categories, please follow this link.  I know the second half of the committee has a hard time ahead of it choosing a winner from these 7 outstanding titles.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Blog Tour: I'm My Own Dog, by David Ezra Stein (Candlewick, 2014)

It's a special pleasure to welcome to the Fourth Musketeer author/illustrator David Ezra Stein.  David is the creator of many award-winning picture books, including Interrupting Chicken, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor, and Dinosaur Kisses.  His books are great read-alouds, and are favorites of librarians, teachers, parents, and yes, kids.  

He has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his very funny new picture book, I'm My Own Dog.  In a role reversal that will tickle all dog lovers, this dog has no need of a human owner.  He can perfectly well take care of himself (except for that one little spot he can't scratch).  But what will happen when he lets one of those cute humans follow him home?  Kids and adults alike will love the reversal of roles in Stein's newest book.  

Q:  David, my miniature poodle Buddy would love your new book--if he could read.  He definitely thinks he's in charge of the house and will even carry his own leash and throw toys to himself in play and then run and fetch them.  Was there a particular dog that inspired you to create the character in I'm My Own Dog?

my dog, Buddy

A:  Hi Margo! Maybe he can read, but doesn’t want to let on. Even if he doesn’t read English, I’m hoping this book will be translated to Doggish sometime soon. Admittedly, it’s hard to find a translator…. “Woof! Wauf! Wooooah! Wuf. Rrrrrr?” Sorry for the interruption; that was just me asking if there are any dog translators out there. I only speak a little, broken Doggish.

I was not inspired by any one dog, but by my inner dog, I suppose, who wants to be his own master. To be able to choose how he responds to the world, and not be lead around by a leash of fear or knee-jerk reaction. That is a kind of mastery. That is a dog who walks himself.

some examples of Stein's humor and artwork
Q:  Who are some of your favorite fictional dogs, either in children's or adult literature?

A:  Harry the Dirty Dog.

Q:  Could you discuss a bit using animals or monsters as protagonists in children's books instead of actual children?  I've always wondered if this decision was made in order to avoid having to choose a specific race if children were used, or is it really just because it's much more fun to draw chickens and dogs than kids?  

A:  Sure. I don’t know that there’s only one answer to this, but it does seem to me an animal or monster or whatever non-human character we employ in literature, is used to give a higher degree of universality. Kids tend to be open to animals in a way that they are not open to people.
It is perhaps easier to achieve a timeless quality using non-humans, because you can circumvent the trappings of fashion, technology, etc.

And yes, I do think it’s effective to use animals when it comes to race and even gender, in that it helps focus on the subject matter, and I think it is more relatable for all children.
Additionally, although we live mainly in cities, there is still an archetypal wilderness inside each of us, populated by wolves, bears, rabbits, owls, snakes, and such. Whether this stems from Fairytales, or Aesop’s Fables, or much deeper times when we ourselves lived in the woods, I don’t know.

Lastly, from an illustration standpoint, it is more fun to draw creatures or animals. I am not that into drawing kids, for some reason. Animals and monsters and such can be designed to an extent that allows for a lot more leeway.

David, thanks so much for visiting The Fourth Musketeer!  I look forward to reading I'm My Own Dog in one of my library storytimes soon!

In addition to his website, you can find David Ezra Stein on Facebook.  Here's the schedule for the complete blog tour:

  • 11/3/2014 Smart Books for Smart Kids
  • 11/4/2014 Read Now, Sleep Later
  • 11/5/2014 Cracking the Cover
  • 11/6/2014 Elizabeth Dulemba's blog
  • 11/7/2014 The Fourth Musketeer
  • 11/8/2014 Picture Book Palooza
  • 11/9/2014 Randomly Reading
  • 11/10/2014 Children's Corner
  • 11/11/2014 Flowering Minds
  • 11/12/2014 Teach Mentor Texts
  • 11/13/2014 KidLit Frenzy
  • 11/14/2014 Literacy Toolbox
  • Monday, November 3, 2014

    More on Hello Kitty Con...

    a hug from the famous Kitty
    When I started blogging a number of years back, I didn't know there might be special perks associated with being a blogger.  Recently I was thrilled that I was able to snag a special invitation to the Hello Kitty Con press preview and VIP party because of my blog!  I've lived in Los Angeles nearly all my life, but I'm not exactly a regular at red carpet events.  This was my first time attending such a large gathering as "press"--not only did we get to see the convention's exhibits without the massive sold-out crowds that were there during the convention, we got a fabulous swag bag filled with Hello Kitty themed freebies (many of which you had to stand in line for FIVE or SIX hours during the convention to buy at a special store for convention attendees only!)

    with my swag bag and several Hello Kitty girls
    I also attended a glamorous party on-site, complete with open bar (Hello Kitty-themed grown-up drinks, of course), adorable Hello Kitty food, and of course music as well.

    cupcakes featuring Hello Kitty and her iconic bow

    This was the first-ever Hello Kitty convention, which lasted for four days in Los Angeles and completely sold out the 25,000 tickets available.  Organized by Sanrio in celebration of Hello Kitty's 40th anniversary, fans came from all over the country to attend (and perhaps all over the world, although I didn't talk to any from abroad).  Like Comic-Con, Star Wars cons, and other such events, the four days were filled with exhibits, expert panels, workshops, costume contests, art classes, and of course, plenty of shopping opportunities.  The press preview had just a few hundred guests, so it was great to be able to see all the exhibits without the huge crowds that were there when I came back with my regular ticket on Friday.  The convention was held in the Geffen Contemporary, a large, warehouse like space in Little Tokyo that is part of Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).  It is conveniently next door to the Japanese-American National Museum, which is also hosting a special Hello Kitty exhibit (Hello! Exploring the Supercute world of Hello Kitty) which runs until the end of April.  The museum (and of course its store) was open to all convention attendees free of charge.

    Japanese-American National Museum

    Sanrio was founded 55 years ago as a company to promote friendship through small gifts, and the first Hello Kitty product produced cost less than the equivalent of $1 (in yen, of course).  The company was known for small inexpensive products such as pencils, stickers, and small toys, although now Sanrio licenses with celebrity designers such as Tarina Tarentino (see my last post for more on that topic) for more upscale products as well.  As one would expect, the exhibits were full of Hello Kitty products on display, including the original first coin purse, now kept in a vault in Japan but sent to the convention for exhibit.

    original Hello Kitty coin purse
    It was displayed in its own darkened room, with a beautiful display case, much as one might see the Crown Jewels or the Hope Diamond!  There was also a huge reproduction of the original coin purse, set up for photos ops.

    In a Hello Kitty house, each room was filled with Hello Kitty merchandise from over the years.  I particularly admired the office.

    Hello Kitty's office

    The highlight of the convention for me was the pop-up designer shops, set up as a Japanese marketplace, complete with Zen garden.

    These pop-up shops included special items produced for the convention by Sanrio licensees such as Sephora (which was doing free makeovers), Dr. Dre (who knew he liked Hello Kitty?) Dylan's Candy Bar, Spam, and a variety of toy and clothing manufacturers, including Japan LA, a fashion designer who featured special SimpsonsXHello Kitty clothing.

    There were lots of fun photo ops with very kawaii (Japanese for cute) Lolita girls decked out in Hello Kitty gear, and even a chance to have a photo with the Kitty herself.  Art was also a big part of the displays--there were lots of Hello Kitty inspired paintings, ceramics, and even a tattoo studio tattoo where you could get free tattoos. Sanrio artists were even signing free personalized drawings.

    I returned on Friday for the actual convention, and was exceedingly grateful I had been there for the press preview since during the regular convention the place was packed with happy Hello Kitty fans of all ages!  Lots of fun but lots of lines.  Luckily I had had a chance to peruse all the exhibits when I was there Wednesday night.  I was impressed by the very well-behaved smallest fans--I didn't overhear any whining from the kids about lines or anything else.  Kids and grown-ups could participate in special art classes to learn to draw Hello Kitty (not as easy as she looks), decorate a Hello Kitty pumpkin, and make Hello Kitty sand art and coloring sheets, among other activities.  There was even an arcade where you could play games for free and win Hello Kitty prizes, all lots of fun for the kids.  Hello Kitty fans attending ranged from babies in strollers to an elderly Japanese couple I noticed, who must have been in their mid-80's at least.  I even met a group of 3 generations of Hello Kitty fans--a mom, grandma, and daughter, all decked out in costumes.

    grandma and granddaughter Hello Kitty fans

    On Friday I was able to attend a highly coveted workshop (these all sold out well in advance) with jewelry designer Onch Movement.  We were all able to make a special Hello Kitty necklace that was designed by Onch and available only to those who participated in the workshop--very exclusive!  Onch himself was adorable and came around to help everyone and pose for pictures.  Luckily I was sitting next to a very nice lady who had lots of jewelry making experience because I needed a lot of help working with those tiny rings.

    Onch and there I am in the second row with my red Hello Kitty shirt!
    When I left the convention I was on a definite Hello Kitty high with all the adorableness of Sanrio and the nice people I had met.  Here's hoping the Hello Kitty con will become an annual event!

    For more on Hello Kitty and reading, I will be doing a guest post on the ALSC blog later this month.

    If you're a real Hello Kitty fan, you can check out my on-line photo album at Flickr--lots more really fun pictures.  As you scroll over the pictures, you can read my captions as well.

    Saturday, November 1, 2014

    The answer you've been waiting for? Is she a cat or a girl? Hello Kitty Con Post #1

    Off my usual blogging subjects, I am going to share some details of the first ever Hello Kitty con!

    I was so fortunate to be able to attend the sold-out con going on in Los Angeles this weekend.  I love all things "kawaii" (Japanese for cute) and signed up for the convention as soon as I read about it on Sanrio's website.  I attended the press preview and VIP party (!) on Wednesday night (more on that to follow) and then went to the Con as a regular participant on Friday.  My favorite experience was an all-star panel  on Friday with Yuko Yamaguchi, Sanrio Tokyo’s head Hello Kitty designer, and fashion jewelry designer to the stars Tarina Tarantino.

    The two first met ten years ago at the time of Hello Kitty’s 30th anniversary, when Tarina designed her first Hello Kitty collection.  Tarina, looking suitably kawaii (cute) with her signature bright pink hair, told us that she discovered Hello Kitty in the late 1970’s when her grandparents brought her some small gifts from Japan decorated with the very simple but adorable cat.  Soon after, Hello Kitty went on sale in the US and Tarina reminisced about collecting Hello Kitty from a Bullocks (a now defunct department store) display when she was a girl in Los Angeles.  “I have to pinch myself” Tarina said, when she thinks that now she designs jewelry collections featuring the iconic figure.  She called Yuko her Japanese soul-sister and says she wants to play dress-up in Yuko’s closet some day when she is in Tokyo!

    I furiously took notes during the panel so that I could share some of the fascinating accounts.  Here's some of the highlights...

    Tarina: Could you tell us about the back story of Hello Kitty?

    Yuko:  When I first met Hello Kitty in 1980, it was two years after I started working for Sanrio.  At that time Hello Kitty was not the most popular Sanrio character.  Even I didn’t think of Hello Kitty as a valuable asset.  At that time, Little Twin Stars was the most popular Sanrio character and dominated their sales.  Sanrio’s founder was concerned that Hello Kitty’s popularity was not growing, and was looking for a designer to take on the task of building her brand.  But no designer wants to be assigned to a character that’s not popular.  The Sanrio founder asked all the designers to present new designs for Hello Kitty.  I thought that the key to re-invent Hello Kitty was not the visual, but creating different stories.  According to Sanrio’s own newsletter, Hello Kitty dreamed of becoming a professional pianist, but you never saw her playing the piano, so that’s what I drew.  As a child I took piano lessons and had a grand piano at my home, so I imagined Hello Kitty had a grand piano.

    I also imagined that Hello Kitty’s mom was a pianist, and her father must have a well-paying job to be able to afford that grand piano.  I presented the story of Hello Kitty and her family and then was told that I should be the Hello Kitty designer—not because I was the best artist but because I had the imagination and was willing to present my ideas, that’s why I was chosen. 

    There was a lot of pressure to develop a character that wasn’t popular.  I was talking to Hello Kitty every day.  When did Hello Kitty talk back?  I will never forget in the fall of 1985 she spoke back to me for the first time.  After five years she because the #1 character at Sanrio.  This is what Hello Kitty told me after five years:  “We did it!”  At that time I decided to take it up a notch, for her to be the #1 character in Japan.  But Hello Kitty didn’t say anything.  In the spring of 1997 many years later she became the #1 brand in Japan...

    Hello Kitty has become another form of myself.  At that time I wasn’t sure if I was Hello Kitty or Hello Kitty was me.  I made a promise to make her the #1 character in the world!

    Tarina:  On the question that has consumed portions of the Internet lately, as to whether Hello Kitty is a cat or a girl…

    Yuko:  Since I met Hello Kitty, I thought of her as Hello Kitty.  She’s not a cat and she’s not a human.  I just want Hello Kitty to be a role model and the question as to whether she’s a cat or a human is not relevant.  But I can tell you for sure that Charmmy Kitty (Hello Kitty’s pet cat) is a cat.  Snoopy is a dog—because he only speaks the language of dogs.  So what’s Mickey Mouse?  I don’t think he’s a mouse, he’s Mickey Mouse.  So Hello Kitty is Hello Kitty and it is my wish to continue to nurture her as a very special brand.

    Charmmy Kitty 

    Tarina:  What characters were you influenced by growing up?

    Yuko:  As a child I loved Mickey Mouse and Disney.  I always wanted to go to Disneyland as a child but the US seemed much farther away in those days.  [When I finally went to the United States and visited Disneyland] I asked Mickey Mouse to autograph my passport.  I got into a lot of trouble with immigration!

    Yuko concluded by saying that what she wants for Hello Kitty is not the life that Mickey Mouse lives.  "I want her to be a role model—a singer, dancer, and of course, pianist.  Then she can be an actress and win an Oscar." She also compared Hello Kitty to Lady Gaga!

    More on the con (and more photos) to follow!