Let’s Chat with Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue!

Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue are the creators of KATIE THE CATSITTER, available now from Random House Graphic! Hear more about this exciting new series below! 

Katie the Catsitter is such an amazing book! Can you share a little bit about the inspiration behind the story? Where did the idea originate? 

Colleen: Like Katie, I was a latchkey kid. My parents both worked long hours at low paying jobs. We didn’t have much money to say the least—I often got made fun of for wearing the same clothes too often, which is one of the reasons Katie purposely has a limited wardrobe that rotates often in the story. I worked odd jobs for neighbors. I had friends who didn’t understand why I couldn’t do the things they did, like summer lake houses, expensive gymnastics classes, or pageants. (Ohmigosh, thank you a million times Mom and Dad for not letting me do pageants! In my defense I really just wanted to tap-dance wearing sequins. I still do!)

We didn’t have much, but we did have a TV. Every day after school, before my parents got home, I lived in front of that TV. They played reruns of the 60’s Batman show and I fell in love with Eartha Kitt as Catwoman. She was so much cooler than Batman and as a kid I kept thinking “There are all these silly henchmen around! Why doesn’t she have like a million cats that work for her?” As I got older, I noticed how horribly any woman was represented in superhero comics—no more high heels! who can fight in high heels?!—and the lack of Black female heroes. I started to think: what defines a hero? And realized that line is not completely clear.

We absolutely love the art work and ALL OF THE CAT designs! Can you share a bit about your process not only creating the setting, but the variety of cats and their many cool super powers?

Stephanie: A lot of times I cheat and sneak friends’ cats onto the pages! I also just love that cats can look so different—fat and floofy, long and thin, short hair, long hair, folded ears, smooshed face, bendy tails—and they’re all evil-I MEAN LOVABLE. I wanted the cats to look as diverse as NYC but still grounded in reality, so they’re still cat-sized and have cat anatomy but doing human or superhero things. In looking for inspiration for cat fur patterns and eye colors I ended up learning a bit about cat genetics and color inheritance!

We know this book is fun-filled and bursting with cool cats- but the heart of the story really seems to be the story of friendships and how they evolve. Can you share why this is an important message for young readers, and your personal experience with evolving friendships?

Colleen: There’s nothing harder than a friend breakup. 12 is such a hard age because kids grow-up at different rates. Some 12-year-olds have crushes and start to worry what others think of them. Others are still very much kids. One of my best friends went to a lake house every summer so I never saw her, and when she came back it was like I had been in a time freeze and she had grown up. She had a boyfriend, she understood jokes I definitely didn’t get. She had a whole set of friends at the lake that replaced me. We grew apart slowly, and I could feel it happening but the more I tried to stop it, the more the distance seemed to change us. As a kid I remember thinking it was something I was doing: I was too hyper, I was annoying, I was a baby, I was too emotional, I was too poor. It took me years to realize it wasn’t any of those things. It was just life. And luckily, like Katie, there were so many other good friends right around the corner. Though unlike Katie I never figured out how to skateboard.

Stephanie: I think a lot of early friendships stand out in memory because they’re firsts. Becoming distanced from your very first best friend can feel like the end of the world, but when you’re Katie’s age everyone is beginning some form of transition. I especially loved how Colleen wrote Katie and Bethany’s interactions because although they’re growing up at different rates and learning to navigate different interests, it’s clear they still care about each other. Neither is painted as the villain in their friendship, their pain feels real because you can tell they want to stay in each others’ lives while navigating these new and uncharted changes. It makes me want to root for them and whatever shape their friendship takes, and I think that’s a great message for young readers who might be struggling with changes in their own first friendships.

There’s friendship, jealousy, dealing with summer jobs, mystery—so many things that middle-grade readers are experiencing and dealing with. Why was a graphic novel the best way to tell this story? 

Colleen: Silent panels! Forget any words I write, the most powerful panels are always the ones without any text or dialog. Just looking at a sad expression you put your own thoughts and feelings onto that character. How would YOU feel if you were Katie? Rather than hearing exactly what she’s thinking, you have to use visual clues and empathy. I also love a good page turn reveal. And getting to visually see how Bethany’s (Beth! SOB!) letters get more and more plain. Not as long, not as many stickers. More and more talk about about boys… it’s something that strikes so much harder when you can see it on the page.

Stephanie: The graphic novel format is great for Katie because it’s so approachable, it’s easy to project yourself onto a cartoon character and immerse yourself in her world. Heartfelt moments can feel immediate without leaning on dialogue or description, and telling the story in a visual and prose medium leaves plenty of room for both wordplay and visual gags. I love that Katie the Catsitter can have these very grounded, slice-of-life moments sitting right next to pages with over the top humor!

Do you have a favorite super-cat? Who is it and why?  

Colleen: How can I pick a favorite?! They are all my babies! I feel the need to also say that nearly 200 of these 217 cats exist in real-life and are my friend’s pets. In terms of powers, the one that makes me laugh the most are Tammy Faye, who is our ribbon dancing Floor Gymnastics expert. The scene where all the other cats are charging into battle and she’s leaping through the air fiercely dancing, will always make me laugh.

Stephanie: It’s hard not to love Jolie. I like to think she hasn’t taken over the world only because she prefers to nap (I suppose this applies to most cats…). Also, her laptop has some slightly modified hacker-themed stickers as easter eggs for any older readers in that industry.

Can you share some of your favorite graphic novel recs/graphic novels on your TBR pile? 

Colleen: So many! I LOVED Snapdragon by Kat Leyh. Max Meow by John Gallagher is so pun-filled and charming. On my to-read shelf I’ve got Odessa by Jonathan Hill. I’m a huge fan of his work! And next up is a title for grown-ups: Giraffes on Horseback Salad: Salvador Dali, the Marx Brothers, and the Strangest Movie Never Made by Josh Frank and Tim Heidecker. If you’ve ever seen a Marx brothers movie, it’s not surprising that I’m a huge fan. Moritz the “Counter Attacks” cat is definitely channeling his inner Harpo, and I feel like Madeline’s cats may be the only ones that could outsmart Groucho!

Stephanie: I just recently finished The Magic Fish, it’s a truly powerful read. As a traveler and autobiographical creator, I love Guy Delisle’s stories.

You can grab your copy of KATIE THE CATSITTER now!

 

VIP Pass: Best Party Ever Preview!

Pizza and Taco return in an all-new adventure–to throw the best party ever! 

Check out a preview of this awesome new chapter below! 

 

 

You can grab your copy of PIZZA AND TACO: BEST PARTY EVER now!

It’s Year Two! Check Out What’s Coming From Random House Graphic This Spring!

COMING THIS SPRING FROM RANDOM HOUSE GRAPHIC!

We’ve got amazing sequels for the perfect binge-read, plus heroes that cat-sit, cats doing hero business, and so much more! Check out the full Spring list below! 

This January…

KATIE THE CATSITTER

by Colleen AF Venable & Stephanie Yue

Middle-Grade

Available 1.5! 

Katie is dreading the boring summer ahead while her best friends are all away at camp—something that’s way out of Katie and her mom’s budget, UNLESS Katie can figure out a way earn the money for camp herself. But when Katie gets a job catsitting for her mysterious upstairs neighbor, life get interesting. First, Madeline has 217 cats (!) and they’re not exactly… normal cats. Also, why is Madeline always out EXACTLY when the city’s most notorious villain commits crimes?! Is it possible that Katie’s upstairs neighbor is really a super villain? Can Katie wrangle a whole lot of wayward cats, save a best friendship (why is Beth barely writing back? And who’s this boy she keeps talking about?!), AND crack the biggest story in the city’s history? Some heroes have capes… Katie has cats!

Grab yours here!

PIZZA AND TACO: BEST PARTY EVER! (book 2 of the PIZZA AND TACO series!) 

by Stephen Shaskan

Chapter Book

Available 1.26! 

The second in a hilarious young graphic novel series about Pizza and Taco. This time around Pizza and Taco are bored, so they decide to throw an awesome party! What could possibly go wrong?

Pizza and Taco have the oh-so-relatable problem of not knowing what to do when boredom strikes. The answer? Throw a party! They have a location, and a guest list, and decorations. Everything is perfect… until it isn’t. In fact, it’s kind of a DISASTER! Ice Cream has a meltdown, and who knew Hamburger was lactose intolerant? (Who invited Cheeseburger anyway?) Well, now they know how NOT to throw a party!!

Grab yours here!

 

This February…

HILO BOOK 7: GINA THE GIRL WHO BROKE THE WORLD (An exciting next chapter of the HILO series!) 

by Judd Winick

Middle-Grade

Available 2.2! 

Hilo’s back! Introducing an exciting, BRAND NEW epic story arc starring GINA in the New York Times BESTSELLING GRAPHIC NOVEL SERIES that kids and critics love!

Hundreds of years ago, MAGIC disappeared from Earth. At least…UNTIL NOW. Because suddenly, giant magical beings are appearing and only GINA can see them. Not to mention, Gina can somehow do magic herself. Magic is powerful. But it can also be DANGEROUS. With DJ and HILO’s help, can Gina figure out how to protect the magical beings from the creatures who are after them? AND how to use her magic to become who she was always meant to be? And can she do it WITHOUT putting the entire PLANET in JEAPARDY?! Find out in Hilo 7—a laugh-out-loud, action packed adventure filled with epic battles! friendship! annoying older brothers! annoying older sisters! good guys! bad guys! inappriate jokes! mangoes! magic! and much, much more!

Grab yours here!

BUG BOYS: OUTSIDE AND BEYOND (Book 2 of the BUG BOYS series!) 

by Laura Knetzger

Young Middle-Grade

Available 2.9! 

Little bugs, big feelings! Rhino-B and Stag-B are back for more in this all-new graphic novel perfect for readers of Investigators and Catstronauts.

These best friends are ready for new adventures! Meeting a bat? They’re on it! Getting lost in a labyrinth? Might be scary. Each day is new and exciting for these two beetles, and together they’ll face challenges and help their friends along the way.

Grab your copy here!

This March…

ASTER AND THE MIXED-UP MAGIC (Book 2 of the ASTER Duology!) 

by Thom Pico and Karensac

Middle-Grade

Available 3.2! 

Moving to the middle of nowhere has been less of a disaster than Aster expected. Her mom’s science experiments are actually pretty cool; her dad’s cooking has gotten much better; her new dog is possibly the best canine companion anyone could ask for.

And she’s gotten to save the day — and her family — and the whole valley she lives in — from various magical calamities in what even she has to admit were extremely fun adventures. So now she can have a break, right?

Guess what? Things get even more interesting.

Grab yours here!

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT: THE TEEN’S GUIDE TO SEX, RELATIONSHIPS, AND BEING A HUMAN

By Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan

Young Adult

Available 3.9! 

Growing up is complicated. How do you find the answers to all the questions you have about yourself, about your identity, and about your body? Let’s Talk About It provides a comprehensive, thoughtful, well-researched graphic novel guide to everything you need to know.

Covering relationships, friendships, gender, sexuality, anatomy, body image, safe sex, sexting, jealousy, rejection, sex education, and more, Let’s Talk About It is the go-to handbook for every teen, and the first in graphic novel form.

Grab yours here!

This April…

MAX MEOW BOOK 2: DONUTS AND DANGER! (book 2 of the MAX MEOW series!) 

By John Gallagher

Middle-Grade

Available 4.6! 

Meowza! Max was just getting used to being a SECRET SUPER HERO when his and his best friend Mindy’s evil look-alikes show up in Kittyopolis! And what’s worse, they’re determined to take over the world’s donut supply—and Max and Mindy are getting blamed! Can Max and Mindy work together to save the day—and the donuts?! Find out in Max Meow Cat Crusader Book 2: Donuts and Danger! A deliciously funny, action-packed new series that’s so good you’ll want seconds! Bonus! Includes How to Draw Mindy AND Max Meow’s SECRET Donut Scavenger hunt!

Grab yours here!

Stay tuned for more!

 

An EPIC interview with Lincoln Peirce!

 

Max and the Midknights are back in an epic new sequel and NYT bestselling creator Lincoln Peirce shared his inspiration for this new quest!

Max and the Midknights have returned and we are so excited! Can you tell readers what inspired this story (book 1 and 2!) and its 14thCentury setting? 

I have always loved adventure stories that include a healthy dose of comedy, like the Tintin books or Carl Barks’s “Uncle Scrooge”  A number of years ago, I wrote some comic stories that were spoofs of classic adventure tales — a pirate story, a mountain climbing story, etc.  The one that I liked the best was set in medieval times.  It combined elements of two classic adventures, “The Sword In The Stone” and “Robin Hood,” but the emphasis was on humor.  There was a lot of slapstick, wordplay, and anachronistic dialogue.  I really enjoyed working on it, but the format wasn’t all that practical.  It was too long for a comic book and too short for a graphic novel.  So I set it aside and didn’t think about it for quite some time.  Years later, when I looked at it again, I realized that with a little work I could transform it into a full-length novel.  As it turned out, I changed a lot of things about that original story.  I added a number of new characters, and the overall narrative is quite different.  But other elements that I liked — particularly the medieval setting — remained in place.  I enjoyed working on Max & the Midknights so much that what I’d first thought would be a single book is now going to be a 3-book series.

What is it about medieval times and heroes that fascinate young readers (in your opinion)? 

I think kids always enjoy reading about worlds that seem exotic.  There’s something exciting about immersing yourself in a story that is utterly unlike your own life.  Max’s world is one filled with epic adventures, fantastic creatures, and magical misdeeds — just the sort of highly imaginative story elements that I would have loved reading about as a kid.  But the colorful settings and legendary events are only part of the appeal.  As much as kids may enjoy reading books that are pure fantasy, they also love discovering parts of their own lives in those stories.  That’s why I think it’s important that Max and her fellow Midknights are children.  They’re the same age, more or less, as the kids reading the books, and they have many of the same problems, vulnerabilities and fears.  My hope is that young readers identify with Max and her companions.  Heroes are more compelling when you realize that they’re not superheroes, but ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations.

Can you share a little bit about how you came up with the designs for the characters and setting? Since it is set in the Medieval Ages, what kind of reference material did you use? Was having some historical context really important to you or did you embrace making it more of your own concept?  

I’m not a historian by any means!  What little I know about the Middle Ages in Europe (I imagine the kingdom of Byjovia as part of Europe) is that it was a difficult time to be alive.  There was violence, widespread disease, malnutrition, mass illiteracy — not fun!  So I knew that I didn’t want to write a realistic story about the Middle Ages.  That would have been too depressing.  I was interested in telling a story that takes part in a world that has the trappings of medieval times — castles, moats, swords, armor — but is filtered through a modern sensibility.  I’ll confess that most of my visual reference points back when I started the book weren’t scholarly works but pop culture pieces like comic books, TV, and Robin Hood movies.  But I subsequently consulted a number of books about medieval architecture, armor, clothing, etc.  And I did quite a few Google searches so that when I drew a wheelbarrow or a gargoyle or a tapestry from the 14th century, I’d get it right.  Language was something else to consider.  I knew it wouldn’t be interesting reading if all the characters expressed themselves in language consistent with 14th century Europe.  Instead, all of them — especially the kids — speak with modern voices.  So overall, I’d say that it wasn’t important to me for the Max & the Midknights books to be accurate historical documents.  Job #1 was to make them funny, and fun to read.

Can you share some of your favorite comics to read/ recommend?

I mentioned him earlier, but it bears repeating:  Carl Barks was the king of Walt Disney comic books during the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.  I particularly enjoy his Uncle Scrooge stories, but his Donald Duck comics are every bit as entertaining.  His work is easy to find in book form.  I’ve recently discovered Luke Pearson’s Hilda series, which is tremendous.  Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series is pretty great, too.  And because my own background is in comic strips, I always like to recommend some of the classics that are great for readers of all ages:  Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, and — lesser known but just as wonderful — Richard Thompson’s Cul de Sac.

You can join the quest today! Click Here!

 

 

a SUPER interview with SUPER SIDEKICKS creator Gavin Aung Than!

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your creation of this awesome series?

I definitely wanted to do a kids series and I naturally gravitated towards superheroes. I was obsessed with comics growing up, superhero comics in particular, and they helped me develop a love of reading, art and comics that I still have today. I wanted to try and get the current generation hooked on comics like I was, so I thought why not create my own superhero series that I would loved to have read as a middle grader.

Superheroes (and sidekicks!) are such a huge foundation for the comics world—can you tell us more about your approach to creating this series—what makes it standout and why superhero comics lovers will love it?

Since it’s for kids, I thought having superheroes the same age as the reader made sense – that’s why book 1 is called ’No Adults Allowed.’ Plus, being a younger brother, I was always kind of like my big brother’s sidekick. I would follow him around like a puppy, so I wanted to focus on the often forgotten sidekicks! That’s why I thought kid sidekicks rebelling against their adult partners, who are all mean jerks, would be a fun concept. Kids will love it because it has loads of action, adventure and laughs. I wanted to keep it as fun and light-hearted as possible – heaps of jokes, funny facial expressions, but also with lots of great big action scenes.

Where there any particular superheroes you grew up loving and why?

There were so many! Growing up and loving comics in the 90s meant I loved all the cool anti-heroes that were so popular during that time – Wolverine, Batman, the Punisher, Gambit and Spawn just to name a few!

We love that these sidekicks are getting their chance to be in the spotlight! What do you think is going to be their hardest lesson with taking on this greater role and responsibility as heroes?

They learn an important lesson in Book 3 about leadership and trying to be accepted by their peers, but for Book 1, it’s all about fun and friendship! It’s about the young heroes finally escaping the adults, going on their first big adventure together, building their dream headquarters and fighting crime on their terms!

Do you have a favorite character and why?

That’s a tough one – it’s like asking a parent to pick their favourite child! I love all the Super Sidekicks, but if I had to pick one, then it would be Goo. He’s so sweet, innocent and well, just … gooey! Book 1 is all about Goo, his origin story and how he meets and joins the rest of the team.

Finally—can you tell us some of your favorite kids/YA graphic novels for readers?

Sure, I’ve always loved the Amulet series. Cleopatra in Space and the HiLo series are also fantastic. Some newer books I’ve enjoyed are Cardboard Kingdom and 5 Worlds. It’s a great time to be a fan of kids comics!

Deck Your Shelves with these great books!

The Holidays are here and we’ve got a great selection of graphic novels, perfect for any young reader on your list!

Check out a couple of our recs below!

Stories of Family!:

Real life isn’t a fairytale.

But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through?

Is there a way to tell them he’s gay?

Find it here!

Jen did not want to leave the city. She did not want to move to a farm with her mom and her mom’s new boyfriend, Walter. She did not want to leave her friends and her dad.

Most of all, Jen did not want to get new “sisters,” Andy and Reese.

As if learning new chores on Peapod Farm wasn’t hard enough, having to deal with perfect-at-everything Andy might be the last straw for Jen. Besides cleaning the chicken coop, trying to keep up with the customers at the local farmers’ market, and missing her old life, Jen has to deal with her own insecurities about this new family . . . and where she fits in.

Find it here!

Let’s Laugh Out Loud Together!:

Best friends are the BEST! But WHO is the BEST? Is it Pizza or Taco? The question is debatable! They both love water slides. They both are friends with Hot Dog and Hamburger. In fact, maybe they should have a debate and get their friends to VOTE for who’s the best! Can their friendship survive the race for top spot on the popularity food chain? Cast your VOTE!

Find it here!

Rhino-B is a brash, but sweet guy. Stag-B is a calm and scholarly adventurer. Together these two young beetles make up the Bug Boys, best friends who spend their time exploring the world of Bug Village and beyond, as well as their own — sometimes confusing and complicated — thoughts and feelings.

In their first adventure, the Bug Boys travel through spooky caves, work with a spider to found a library, save their town’s popular honey supply from extinction, and even make friends with ferocious termites!

Join these two best bug buddies as they go above and beyond for each other and the friends they meet in their adventures.

Find it here!

Norma and Belly would really really really really really like a donut.

With a burned breakfast and a cranky donut seller at the local food truck, they may be stuck with only nuts to eat . . . unless they can steal the biggest, most delicious donut of their tiny lives!

Find it here!

I Need a Hero!:

Max is just a regular cat in Kittyopolis, trying to make it big as a podcaster UNTIL he accidentally takes a bite of an RADIOACTIVE SPACE MEATBALL at his best friend, scientist Mindy’s, SECRET LAB. Then before you can say MEOWZA, Max becomes…(drum roll!)…The CAT CRUSADER! Being a super hero is fun (Super strength? Check! Flying? YES!!!)–but not if you get so cocky, you forget your best friend! Will Max learn to listen? Will he and Mindy make up? And together, can Max and Mindy save Kittyopolis from the evil Agent M and BIG BOSS?! Find out in Max Meow: Cat Crusader-a laugh out loud, furr-ociously funny, action-packed new series filled with so many twists, turns, and terrific jokes it makes bad guys FLEA and kids cheer with glee! BONUS: Includes how to draw Max Meow!

Find it here!

*This is Book 6 (yep 6!) in this awesome series– you can find all of these fantastic books here!

Take off on an epic adventure with the biggest, greatest HILO box set yet! Dog Man meets Big Nate in this hilarious New York Times bestselling graphic novel series that kids love!

Six times the FUN! Six times the LAUGHS! Six times the ACTION! Follow the EPIC battle between Hilo and Razorwark from BEGINNING to END in this collectible box that includes the first SIX books in the New York Times bestselling series: Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth; Hilo: Saving the Whole Wide World; Hilo: The Great Big Boom; Hilo: Waking the Monsters; Hilo: Then Everything Went Wrong; and Hilo: All the Pieces Fit.

A Touch of Magic!

Trung Le Nguyen shares his inspiration for The Magic Fish

 

What inspired this beautiful story for your debut?

        The Magic Fish originally started out as several different art projects. I realized through exploring fairy tales that, at this point in my life, I had an interest in certain themes of transformation, sacrifice, and flight. The Magic Fish wound up being the project where I did my best to connect those fairy tale themes to a human element. I wanted to see what happens when different characters with their own points of view started iterating on fairy tales made up of flat archetypes. Broadly speaking, my book became a project about how similar stories take on different shapes depending on who tells them.

 

Was it important to you that this story be told through the comics medium? 

It was super important! The graphic narrative is my preferred method of storytelling, but it comes from a place of caring about the ways people access and interpret information beyond just the letters and symbols. I think the way we envision literacy is evolving. We are starting to examine how images are really great at facilitating context-specific information and how that can be its own sort of literacy. Really, the crudest drawings can communicate so much, and I love how thoroughly that can be explored in comics, both from the creator end and the reader end. I imagine there’s been more discussion about it in the context of children’s picture books, but the derisive thing I always heard about picture books growing up is that they don’t give you room to exercise imagination. There’s a misapprehension that pictures dampen the desire to imagine because a scenario is already presented, and I really disagree with that sentiment. A drawing in a comic has to be economical. Because we’re human beings with only so much time on our hands, the pictures we draw more often suggest than depict. Even live action movies work this way. In every mode of storytelling, there is an expectation for the audience or the reader to fill in the gaps, to suspend disbelief, and to hold room for curiosity. That’s what keeps us reading and watching. That imaginative legwork keeps us invested. And for immigrant families or even just for people engaging with literature at different reading levels, a picture offers an anchor for their imaginations to connect with each other. Pictures help our own imaginations share space with others. 

 

While this is a YA story about a young boy, the mom and her own story and history plays such a prominent role throughout. Can you share why her story was an essential piece of the narrative?

For any story about a young person, I find that their relationships to their guardians or caretakers to be really illuminating. I wonder if that’s a cultural thing. When I think about American stories, there’s so often this urgent desire to set oneself apart from one’s parents, right? And me being a kid who grew up in a totally different world than my parents, I don’t really have that urge. That individual distinction was baked into my experience. I’m more interested in figuring out what parts of my parents I carry on, and I wanted to explore that between Tien and Helen. I wanted readers to consider that this parent character lived a robust and complicated life before she had a kid, and that colors the ways she loves him and her hopes for his future. 

One of the tougher aspects to read through this is how much Tien has to act as his own advocate since his parents English is more limited—which is something I don’t think is considered a lot for kids of immigrant parents from non-English speaking countries. Was this your own experience, and what are aspects that you wanted to share with readers who are unfamiliar with this life experience?

Certainly yes, this was colored by my experiences. I’m sure a lot of children of immigrants grew up with the experience of witnessing their parents experiencing horrible racism or xenophobia from other adults. Kids see that stuff, and they clock it, and they carry it with them. I remember being really little and watching people treat my parents with totally unvarnished condescension and feeling a complicated mixture of shame and indignation. When you’re a kid, what can you do in that situation? You can’t act out because it’ll make your already-embarrassed parents look worse. My strategy as a kid was to divert my parents away, tell them I needed to use the bathroom or that I was urgently thirsty or something. I imagine it’s something almost a little bit like a YA protagonist being embarrassed at their terminally uncool parents in front of their friends. I’m sure there were shades of that. For me, as a bilingual immigrant kid, it came with the added weight of, “My parents maybe don’t know how to get out of this situation, and I need to protect them from these mean people.” So by the time I hit middle school I remember doing my best not to involve my parents in my school life or social life, thinking it would just be easier for everyone. I think I wrote that in with Tien a bit. He’s so hesitant to admit that he needs an adult because he doesn’t want his parents to go to the immense amount of trouble it would take for them to navigate an English-speaking institution.

Is there a message that you hope readers get from reading The Magic Fish?

Yeah! The Magic Fish is a story about not having all the pieces to get your point across, but still doing your best to make it work anyway. I hope readers walk away with being a little more mindful of all the ways we might not know how to show up for each other. It takes so much heart to keep on trying. And it also takes a lot to let other people try again. I hope people leave more room for trying whenever they can.

Witchy Reads All Year Round!

We LOVE spooky, witchy, magical stories and we know you do too! So if you’re looking for the perfect read for this very spooky weekend (or all year round!) here are some suggestions.

Mood: SPOOKY VIBES

The Book: SEANCE TEA PARTY by Reimena Yee

Mood: WITCHY MYSTERY

The Book: THE MONTAGUE TWINS: THE WITCH’S HAND by Nathan Page and Drew Shannon

Mood: GOOFY WITCH FUN

The Book: WITCHES OF BROOKLYN by Sophie Escabasse

Mood: LET’S GET INTERACTIVE

The Book: THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS by Johan Troianowski

Mood: GET LOST IN AN ENCHANTED FOREST

The Book: KERRY AND THE KNIGHT OF THE FOREST by Andi Watson

Grab yours today!

Draw Your OWN Séance Tea Party!

What better way to celebrate the spooky season than drawing your OWN Séance Tea Party! Check out how creator Reimena Yee and RH Graphic book designer Patrick Crotty brought this beautiful cover to life in this step-by-step visual!

Want to create one of your own?

  1. Grab some paper, pencils, colored pencils, whatever you’d like!
  2. Add in a dose of inspiration (and magic!) G
  3. Get Drawing!

Grab your copy of Séance Tea Party today!

 

 

 

 

 

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