My very first picture book, The Little Red Fish, was originally my thesis project.

After two years of study at the SVA MFA Illustration program, I wrote and illustrated a story called The Book as my final project.

After the thesis exhibition, Dial Books for Young Readers decided to publish that book. Later the title was changed to The Little Red Fish and we kept most parts, but changed the ending of the story. Originally my story was about a boy's adventure in a library to find his little red fish. In the end, he gets stuck in a book page and his fish reads the book.
Nancy Mercado, my editor at Dial Books for Young Readers back then, was concerned that the ending of my story could be pretty scary for children. Kids will reflect themselves as the main character as they read and if they find out that the boy will never be able to come back out from the book page, they will close the book frightened.

I started to think about what I really wanted to tell through the story. I focused more on what I wanted to draw than who will read my book. I didn't try to change my story to be just friendly to children, but I wanted to refine the story to deliver a clear message with a more satisfying ending.

We decided to work on the ending and it took almost another half a year. Revising only the ending part of the story was harder than writing the whole story over again.

After several months, I finally found a solution that I was very happy with. And the very last image became my favorite illustration through the whole book.
I learned how a thoughtful editor and art director could inspire as we work together. I am very thankful for all of their feedback.

Since The Little Red Fish has been published, I have illustrated three picture books. And this year my second book as an author, You Are a Lion, is going to be published by Nancy Paulson Books.

Every book that I have worked on challenged me for many different reasons. But one thing that I keep in my mind while working is to make a picture book that children want to read many more times. How wonderful it will be if my picture book will be kept on someone's bookshelf through their childhood and hopefully for their own children.
Posted by elena at 09:01 AM Link to this post
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