book reviews for preschoolers and young readers
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Welcome to Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Nicole Chen: Picture Book Author and Middle Grade Novelist

nicole chen: picture book author, children's author, kidfslit, middlegrade novelist
We conclude Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with an insightful interview featuring children’s author Nicole Chen. Initially, Nicole’s writing didn’t focus on Asian/American characters. However, in response to the surge of hatred stemming from the Covid pandemic, she pivoted to crafting stories about Taiwanese children and their families.

Taiwanese culture is a vibrant blend of various Asian influences, with unique elements forged over time. Historically, Taiwan experienced Japanese occupation before transitioning to Chinese control post-World War II. Presently, Taiwan asserts its identity as an independent democracy, while China claims sovereignty over it. Nicole’s books reflect this cultural tapestry, with characters speaking English, Mandarin, Japanese, Taiwanese, or a mix thereof.

kids lit, children's author, middle grade novelist

Throughout her literary journey, Nicole aims to dismantle stereotypes about Asians. In “Lily Xiao Speaks Out,” the protagonist challenges the stereotype of the passive Asian student by advocating for innovative ESL teaching methods. Despite familial apprehensions regarding repercussions from the authorities because of Taiwanese historical reprimands from Chinese and Japanese governments,, Lily persists in her pursuit. Similarly, “It’s Boba Time for Pearl Li!” defies expectations as Pearl rejects the path of a computer engineer, opting instead to pursue her passion for art.

In her debut work, “How We Say I Love You,” Nicole illustrates how expressions of love vary across cultures. Drawing from her personal experiences, she emphasizes the significance of actions alongside words. 


Reflecting on her journey, Nicole would advise her younger self to leverage her privilege to uplift fellow immigrants and marginalized communities. With anticipation, we await Nicole’s future literary endeavors, hoping for more thought-provoking narratives that challenge societal norms.

You can find the interview on Elisabeth’s podcast, Mindful, Happy Kids: 

and the YouTube video at:

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