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Author Interview: Jack Cheng

I still haven't gotten over See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng(Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017). So after I reviewed the book here and cooked up some classroom and book club activities for it, I just had to grill Jack about his influences and creative process. Read our interview below! 


Hi, Jack! What motivates and inspires you to write for young readers?

Getting to meet kids (both in school and through my books) who are at a time in their life when they're really starting to form their values. It's a time when they're really starting to ask the big questions about life and the people around them—the same big questions that we keep asking, I think, even when we grow into adults.
I was excited when I saw that the main character of See You in the Cosmos, Alex Petroski, was Filipino American. Is there a particular reason you made Alex Filipino American?
To be honest, I thought about making Alex Chinese American but I felt like it would've been a different novel. I wou…

Ako'y Isang Mabuting Pilipino (I Am A Good Filipino) by Noel Cabangon and Jomike Tejido

This one is a real crowd pleaser: Ako'y Isang Mabuting Pilipino, Lampara Books' 2012 picture book adaptation of Noel Cabangon's song, with Cabangon's original Filipino lyrics, functional English translations by Becky Bravo, and illustrations by Jomike Tejido!

Cabangon's inspiring lyrics remind children of the ways they can be good Filipinos, such as doing their best in school and obeying their parents. There are plenty of reminders for adults too, such as following traffic rules and not selling their votes during elections. Tejido's illustrations are warm and wholesome, acrylic paintings on hand-woven mats that depict different ways to be good citizens.   


You just can't go wrong with Ako'y Isang Mabuting Pilipino! Children and adults will understand and appreciate the lyrics and paintings. The chords of the song are provided, so music lovers can play and sing along. There are notes and guide questions for educators. There is even a treat for book…

Fusion Story: The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin

This was originally posted at Into the Wardrobe on May 3, 2008.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. I want to honor it by celebrating all things Asian American and by reading Asian American children's and young adult literature - particularly Fusion Stories.

The Year of the Rat, a semi-autobiographical novel written and illustrated by Grace Lin, follows a year (one Chinese New Year to the next) in the life of Pacy, a young Taiwanese American. The Year of the Rat is the first year of the Chinese twelve-year cycle and therefore it symbolizes new beginnings. The Year of the Rat is the time to make a fresh start and to change things. And Pacy does experience important changes during the Year of the Rat: her best friend Melody moves away, there's a new boy who is the only other Asian in her elementary school (aside from her sister Ki-Ki), her favorite cousin Clifford gets married, and she starts doubting her dream to become a writer and illustrator. Pacy does not like mos…