The author of Anna and the Bookbinder, Brushing Mom's Hair, The Year of the Book, and Eclipse is part of the Multicultural Author Panel on Tuesday, May 1, at the IRA Annual Convention. She tells Reading Today about her love of reading, family, and writing stories that may not have been told before.
Reading Today: What got you interested in writing books for children and/or young adults?
Andrea Cheng: I come from a family of story tellers, and I started writing stories and poems in the third grade. In sixth grade, I decided I wanted to be an author. I loved to read, and I read all the classic children’s books I could find at the local library. But rarely did I find children in situations like my own. I decided then that I wanted to write about immigrant children, bilingual children, African American children. I also loved art and wanted to make books with pictures. I never considered writing for adults.
RT: What do consider your best book to date and why?
AC: It is hard for me to pick a favorite from among my own books. I usually like the newest one most, and right now that is The Year of the Book. Anna Wang is a combination of my younger daughter, Ann, my older daughter, Jane, and myself. She is likeable but quirky. She has trouble fitting in and immerses herself in the world of books. But then, with the help of a cast of unusual friends, she starts to find her place in her community. I think many young readers will see themselves in Anna and will find themselves drawn to her funny and earnest personality.
RT: What can attendees at IRA Chicago expect to hear from you?
AC: People are often puzzled by the diversity of my books. I write stories about Asian American families in the US. I wrote stories that take place in Budapest or Shanghai. Some of my books are set in inner city Cincinnati. Attendees at IRA can expect to gain an understanding of where these multicultural stories come from as well as the themes that are common to all of my picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels.
Andrea Cheng Will Be There…Will You?