What They’re Reading: Author-illustrator Lynnor Bontigao
Lynnor Bontigao remembers when libraries were places for shushing but just look at them now.
“Libraries are now so active, and they do so many things with the families and the children,” she said. “There are Lego and book clubs for adults and many activities. People go for tutoring. They’re so welcoming now.”
Bontigao is the guest author-illustrator for The Library’s 2023 Joan Y. Leopold Children’s Book Week. Appearing at three Dauphin County Library System libraries Nov. 10 and 11, she will read her new book, Sari-Sari Summers. Bontigao will do some drawings and share memories and traditions from her childhood in the Philippines. Plus, don’t be surprised if she brings out her ukulele and leads the kids and families in a song.
“I love borrowing a whole stack of books from my library – picture books, mostly,” she said. “I’m probably one of the few adults who borrows a lot of picture books. I love that it’s a no-late-fee Library because I like looking at all the pictures, and I’m always late.”
What are you reading?
When I read on my walks, I like to read audiobooks. Recently, I read Yellowface, by R.F. Kuang. It's a really interesting read. Also, I like suspense. I read a lot of Lisa Jewell books. On audio, I like narration spoken with an accent. I love languages. I like listening to and learning words and phrases.
Do you have favorite children’s books?
For picture books, I love Sophie Blackall. Her latest is Farmhouse. Hot Dog, by Doug Salati, is a recent Caldecott Medal winner. And then I love food books. There’s Ramen for Everyone, by my friend Patricia Tanumihardja, and Spicy Spicy Hot! by Lenny Wen. We’re all in the same debut group together. We have a lot of food picture groups in that group, for some reason. They also have recipes in the back, just like Sari-Sari Summers. Spicy Spicy Hot! is about sambal, which is a chili paste popular in a lot of southeast Asian countries. Ramen for Everyone is about how to make ramen and learn about Japanese culture.
So, you want kids to get their books dirty?
Food is about relationships. Food, Family, friends – it’s all similar. It’s an invitation to go to the kitchen and do something with your family member and make a core memory. It’s like that scene in Ratatouille, where the critic takes a bite of ratatouille, and he goes immediately back to childhood, in the door of his mother's kitchen. You’re transported back. Food does that. It’s the power of food and seeing that in books, and it's a way of bringing the family together.