Episode 29: Asian Americans: Not Exactly The Same!
Join Grace and Alvina as they record episode #29 in Northampton, MA with their very good friend and author, Lisa Yee! Lisa has written many wonderful books such as “Millicent Men, Girl Genius”, “Bobby Ellis-Chan” books, “DC Superhero Girls”, and “American Girl” books. On today’s episode you’ll hear stories about all three women growing up as Asian Americans and how they currently navigate their cultural identity in the children’s book world.
Lisa grew up in L.A. where there was a high percentage of Asian Americans in her community. She really hadn’t given much thought to race until she later moved to Florida in her adult life and realized she was definitely in the minority. Grace had the opposite experience while growing up. She explains how her family was really the only Asian family in this small upstate New York town. Alvina had a mixture of both experiences as she moved around from one predominately Asian community to places where she was clearly in the minority.
Grace and Lisa talk about how the community in Western Mass often mixes the two of them up because they are both Asian Americans and both authors. Even though, they don’t look anything alike and they write different kind of books! Once time Grace was going to Lisa’s apartment and while walking up the steps, Lisa’s neighbor said to Grace, “Hi Lisa!”. Well, there you have it. The mix-up happens far too often than it should.
Grace, Alvina, and Lisa discuss what’s on their minds as they always do. They talk about their thoughts and experiences with dating as Asian Americans and how the standard of beauty has always been and is based on the caucasian look. As a little girl, Lisa always wanted to be a princess but believed because she was Asian, that it was impossible. Grace experienced similar feelings and this ultimately inspired her to write and illustrate books with a different kind of heroine/princess.
As usual, the episode ends with everyone sharing what they are grateful for today. Lisa is grateful for the See’s chocolates in her fridge, her fiance, and her family. Grace is grateful that school is back in session and she is hoping to get a little bit more work done. Alvina is thankful for the Asian American community in children’s literature that has brought the three women together and even though they are not exactly the same, she’s grateful for their long-standing friendship and professional ties.
New Addition to the podcasts…2 minute book reviews! By Alison Morris.
Alison Morris is a nationally recognized children's book buyer with an infectious enthusiasm for reading and 20 years' experience matching books to readers. As the Senior Director of Title Selection for nonprofit First Book, she oversees the curation of children’s and young adult books on the First Book Marketplace, hand-selecting a diverse range of titles that speak to and address the needs of kids in underserved communities, with a keen eye to inclusion, authenticity, and kid-appeal. She previously served as Senior Editor at Scholastic Book Clubs, Children's Book Buyer for Wellesley Booksmith and The Dartmouth Bookstore, and was the founding blogger of the ShelfTalker children’s book blog for Publishers Weekly. She'll be joining us from her home near Washington, DC where she spends LOTS of time discussing books with her husband, illustrator and graphic novelist Gareth Hinds.
Alison gives us a quick review of the book, “Stargazing” by Jen Wang.