My new chapter book, Mystery of the Missing Luck , is fresh out of the oven (so to speak). It’s about the relationship between a young girl, Sara, and her grandmother, Obaachan, and what happens when Maneki Neko, the lucky cat statue goes missing from the grandmother’s Japanese bakery.
Ten years ago, if you’d told me I was going to write three books with a connection to Japan, I would have been surprised. My interest in Japan and Japanese culture came about somewhat by accident. It started when I was a university student with a summer job working for the Cowichan Valley Intercultural and Immigrant Aid Society on Vancouver Island. Through the job, I learned about the Japanese and East Indian history of a nearby sawmill town and heard, for the first time, about the internment of Japanese-Canadians during WW II, something that hadn’t been mentioned during any Canadian history lessons I’d had at school. That led to the writing of The Reunion, my first book with Orca.
Later, a friend who had been living in Japan for some time, invited me to come for a visit. That experience inspired the YA novel, Manga Touch, as well as several other story ideas. While in Japan, I became intrigued with Maneki Neko, the Japanese beckoning cat statue that is said to bring good luck. The statue eventually found its way into Mystery of the Missing Luck (for more on my interest in Maneki Neko, see the previous stop on my blog tour: author kc dyer’s blog).
Another key component of the Mystery of the Missing Luck is the grandmother’s Japanese bakery. It wasn’t until I was back in Vancouver, Canada, that I visited a Japanese bakery and tasted my first an-pan (Japanese-style bun filled with red bean paste). One of the exciting things about living in a large multicultural city is the kaleidoscope of different people and cultures that together create a rich community full of many possible friendships and experiences. Sara, the main character in Mystery of the Missing Luck, experiences some of this as her friendship with school-mate, Jake, grows and she interacts with the people in her neighbourhood as she searches for the missing cat statue and attempts to gain more customers for her grandmother’s bakery.
As you read the book, I hope you’ll smell the delicious scent of fresh-baked buns, and wonder about what really happened to the missing lucky cat.