On the blog this week, I am very excited to have one of my favorite Asian American children’s authors, Newbery Honor receiving author and illustrator Grace Lin! (See my review of her adorable book Dumpling Days.)
1) Which of your characters do you most identify with and why?
Grace Lin: Well, I guess that would have to be Pacy from the Year of the Dog, Year of the Rat, and Dumpling Days, since those are almost autobiographies! Those books are fictionalized, but most the events that happened as well as the characters are pretty true-to-life. So true that even the names are real. My Chinese or middle name is Pacy and my sisters are Lissy and Ki-Ki, just like in the book. I took quite a bit of inspiration from classics like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books and Little Women, books where the stories are straight from the author’s real life.
2) If you could give your Asian American kid readers one piece of advice, what would it be?
GL: Well, this would be for their parents as well as for the kids…you will never be Asian and you will never be American. You will always be Asian-American. Don’t try to choose a side, because it is not a dividing line. And while there will definitely be points in your life where that hyphen between the two identities seem like it is subtracting from the other, in the end you’ll find it’s actually a wonderful bridge. Life with a hyphenated-identity is actually doubly richer. My hope is my books show people a glimpse of that richness.
3) Who is your favorite Asian American children’s author right now (other than yourself)?
GL: I admit I am behind on the newer Asian-American authors–I’ve heard great things about Wendy Shang and Kat Yeh, though I haven’t had the opportunity to read their books yet (I have a two-year old toddler!). But my “old” stand by favorites are Lenore Look (LOVE the Ruby Lu books), Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese is a really a masterpiece), Linda Sue Park (A Single Shard…sigh), Lisa Yee (Asian American girl? Yes!) and I could go on and on. I think there are so many great Asian-American authors out there with amazing books, the difficult part is making sure their books are read more widely.
About the Author:
Grace Lin is the author and illustrator of picture books, early readers and middle grade novels. Grace’s 2010 Newbery Honor book WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON was chosen for Al Roker’s Today Show Kid’s Book Club and was a NY Times Bestseller. LING & TING, Grace’s first early reader, was honored with the Theodor Geisel Honor in 2011. An Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee for the US, most of Grace’s books are about the Asian-American experience because she believes, “Books erase bias, they make the uncommon everyday, and the mundane exotic. A book makes all cultures universal.” Her next book, LING & TING: TWICE AS SILLY will be out this fall and she is hard at work on another novel. See more about Grace and her work at www.gracelin.com or her blog http://www.gracelinblog.com