Here is the link to the Youtube video of my illustrations for "Always Come Home to Me," filmed while the art was on exhibit at Monterey Museum of Art this Spring.
Last week, I was notified that "Always Come Home" had been awarded Best Picture Book of 2008 by the Chinese American Librarians Association.
The long journey of this book has been rife with disappointments. I sold a story 10 years ago to a top-notch publishing house, but due to politics, the loss of editor and, ultimately, the president who supported my adult books, the story was never published. I was told the bad news that it had been taken off the list when I was anemic, down to 85 punds and wretched.
"Fly Little Birds," gouache
But a few years after I had recovered, and subsequent to selling and publishing "Hannah Is My Name," I rewrote the rejected story entirely. The story line had changed and my agent wouldn't support it. She told me to set it aside. I wouldn't.
I went directly to the editor at my new publishing house, Candlewick Press (they are the best in children's publishing, not part of a conglomerate), and Monica Perez and I worked through countless drafts. But before it went into sketches, I also lost Monica. With a new editor, I worked several more drafts. When "Always Come Home to Me" was ready to go into final art, my trusted and immensely talented book designer departed for another house (Scott Magoon now writes and illustrates his own books).
"In Search of Butterfly and Squeaky," gouache
So after working with a third book editor, "Always Come Home to Me" finally came out last fall with little fan fare. Now, with CALA's Best Children's Book of 2008, it will find its audience.
This award is like a Chinese Restauran. If you peer into a Chinese restaurant and you see only subdued Caucasians, don't set foot inside. This restaurant sells chop suey. If the restaurant is bursting with the dark-eyed, black-haired sort, and they are yammering loudly above the din of plates and chopsticks, you are at the right place. Walk right on in!
P.S.--Moral of the story: don't let agent tell you your book won't sell. I also sold my current project as a graphic novel after my first agent rejected the story.
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