Chinese New Year begins Sunday, January 22, 2022, and it’s the Year of the Rabbit! Celebrate with Maria Wen Adcock’s debut children’s book, It’s Chinese New Year, Curious George. We also have a Q&A to learn more about this Chinese New Year board book and her author journey.
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Chinese New Year Board Book: Author Interview
It’s Chinese New Year, Curious George by Maria Wen Adcock
Everyone’s favorite curious little monkey celebrates Chinese New Year with his friend Mei in this playful rhyming tabbed board book. Curious George joins his friend Mei and her family as they prepare for and celebrate Chinese New Year!
From cleaning house and finding red clothes to wear, to hanging decorations and enjoying a family feast, to fireworks and a dragon dance, George and readers will enjoy learning about many Chinese New Year traditions.
With a rhyming text, colorful illustrations, and sturdy tabbed pages for the littlest hands, this playful board book makes a great read for all fans of Curious George—those who celebrate Chinese New Year, and those who are learning about it for the first time! [board book with tabs, ages 0 and up]
Q&A with Maria Wen Adcock, Author of It’s Chinese New Year, Curious George
1) What was your journey to becoming a children’s book author?
I’ve known since I was a child that I wanted to write a book. I just didn’t know how. None of the books I read in school or from the library were written by authors who looked like me. It was almost as if writing books was what other people did, not people like me.
As a child of immigrants, I saw how hard my parents worked to provide for our family. Dreams were nice, but they didn’t necessarily put food on the table. It was engrained at an early age that I needed to do something practical in my life that would provide financial stability. Writing was never even an option. As such, I tucked that idea in the back of my head and left it there for many decades.
Looking back, I realize that even though I didn’t work directly as a writer, I had always stayed close to the writing world. In high school, English was my best class, and I won several writing competitions. In college, I worked at the school newspaper — not in Editorial, but on the business side. After I got my MBA, I worked at Time Inc. in New York City doing magazine marketing. Although I enjoyed the marketing side, there were times when I wondered what it would have been like to work on the editorial side.
After my first daughter was born, I decided to bow out of the corporate world to raise her. I looked for work-from-home options, but these opportunities were rare pre-pandemic. So I decided now was a good time to dust off the idea of becoming a writer.
Since I had no professional writing experience, I worked as a freelance writer doing many jobs for free or at very low pay just to get experience. I then started BiculturalMama.com, a parenting blog focusing on Asian American culture. To learn about writing children’s books, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators (SCBWI) non-profit organization. By attending their workshops and conferences, I learned the craft of children’s book writing.
In the meantime, I wrote picture book manuscripts and queried them to agents and editors. I have a spreadsheet that tracked all my rejections – dozens upon dozens of them. After the birth of my second daughter, I stopped querying and writing because I was too overwhelmed. It wasn’t until the local Long Island chapter of SCBWI opened up that I got back into writing books. It inspired me to write new manuscripts.
Eventually I found my literary agent through a Twitter event where authors pitched their books in a tweet. The process to acquire an agent took over 10 years. Having patience and perseverance was important. But the wait was worth it because having an agent opened doors.
2) How did you get involved with It’s Chinese New Year, Curious George?
HarperCollins published a Curious George tabbed board book series which included many holidays, and they wanted to expand it to Chinese New Year. The publisher contacted agents to search for authors familiar with this holiday. I had recently submitted a picture book about Chinese New Year to my agent. As such, she knew I would be a fit and reached out.
Before I could officially write It’s Chinese New Year, Curious George, I first needed to apply by submitting samples of what I would write for the book. I quickly created my writing samples. To my delight, the publisher loved my ideas and hired me to complete the book.
3) Chinese New Year versus Lunar New Year? Can you please explain the difference?
In the media, Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. Chinese New Year is only one of the many festivals celebrated under the umbrella of Lunar New Year in Asia.
Many other countries such as Vietnam, Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia also celebrate the new year. For example, Vietnam’s Lunar New Year is called Tết nguyên đán. While some new year traditions may be practiced across several countries, others are unique to the country’s culture. Chinese New Year specifically celebrates Chinese culture.
4) Why do you think it’s important for Curious George to be celebrating Chinese New Year?
Curious George is a beloved character for children of all backgrounds. The Curious George tabbed board book series includes traditional American holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The series also includes holidays like Ramadan and Hanukkah that Americans also celebrate. Chinese New Year is a natural extension.
In my book, Curious George learned about the culture of his Chinese American friend, Mei. In the process, he also grew in his awareness about the world. Being curious about other cultures like Chinese New Year can open children’s minds to the wonderful diversity of people around them.
5) What are you working on now?
I have several completed picture book manuscripts my agent is subbing to publishers. In the meantime, I’m developing a picture book as part of a series with other multicultural authors who are represented by my same agent. I’m also working on a middle grade novel inspired by the true-life experiences of my father growing up as a young boy in rural China. I’m always brainstorming new books to write. The challenge is finding time to write between working my day job, volunteering, and raising a family. Sometimes writing is slow-going, but when inspiration hits, things click and fall into place. Authors write for the love of writing and to share their stories. If we can inspire a child along the way, that’s the best feeling.
Where to Buy It’s Chinese New Year, Curious George by Maria Wen Adcock
Maria Wen Adcock is the author of It’s Chinese New Year, Curious George published by Clarion Books/Harper Collins. Maria is a first-generation Chinese-American writer and founder of the award-winning multicultural parenting blog www.BiculturalMama.com. She has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, Bloomberg News, Newsday, and Huffington Post. Maria is a board member of Multicultural Kid Blogs, an organization supporting diverse parenting bloggers, and co-host of the annual publishing event Multicultural Children’s Book Day. She resides on Long Island with her husband and two children.
To learn more, connect with her on social media and visit her website!
Facebook Maria Wen Adcock Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/mariawenadcockauthor
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