Not Great at Comebacks? Write a Picture Book ‹ Literary Hub

Every week on NewberyTartJennie and Marcy, two book-loving mums (librarian and bookseller respectively), read and drink through Newbery’s entire catalog of books and interview authors and illustrators along the way.

In this episode, Marcy and Jennie talk to Andrea Wang, author of Cressa Newbery 2022 Honor Book, Caldecott Medal Winner and APALA Award Winner.

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From the episode:

Andrea Wang: My books have been my way of responding to things happening around me or personal experiences. I’ve always written as a form of communication and conversation because I’m not one of those people who really speaks in the moment. I’m still thinking about the answer to a question four days later. And so the books give me time – years and years – to find the perfect answer.

The Nian Monster, my first picture book, was a response to a neighbor I ran into after my family and I had returned from spending three weeks in China visiting my in-laws. She stopped to welcome me and said, “Welcome to civilization.” I didn’t know what to say at the time. I’ve just come home. And The Nian Monster came out of this micro-aggression. It was my way of showing people that China is not backward. It’s very modern. It can be very contemporary. And it is one of the oldest continuous civilizations.

That’s how this book was born – it was that conversation I wanted to keep having. And Cress it’s also very much a conversation with my parents, who are no longer there.


Andrea Wang is the award-winning author of The Nian Monster and Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando. She was inspired to write Cress by his experience growing up in rural Ohio as the child of Chinese immigrants. Andrea holds a Masters in Environmental Science and a Masters in Creative Writing for Youth. She lives in Colorado with her family.

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