Author Showcase: Lan Nguyen & Steve Starke Spread the Message of Self-Acceptance
By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 3, 2010
TCBR: Your new book, Mrs. McGee’s Garden, focuses on the message of self-respect and accepting who we are. Can you tell us a little about the story and why you chose to tell the tale through the eyes of a blade of grass?
Lan Nguyen: A blade of grass on the surface appears to be just like any other blade of grass in the yard. It often gets overlooked and underappreciated. As a child moves from the home into pre-k and grade school, they can have the same type of feelings. They move from the comfort of their parent’s home, where they are the center of attention, to an academic environment, where they are a part of a sea of other children and they can sometimes feel lost.
Steve Starke: Being able to animate this story through a blade of grass we thought was a way for children to relate to this situation to something they see every day, but also re-enforce the message of self-respect and accepting who you are in a very entertaining way.
TCBR: Learning that self-acceptance is more important than fitting in is a very valuable lesson. What inspired you to create a book about this particular value?
LN: Being of Asian descent and growing up in a predominately white neighborhood, it was easy to get these priorities mixed up and feel the strong need to try and fit in. Luckily I had a very loving and strong family environment that really emphasized this value of self-acceptance and allowed me to be myself and better accept people for who they were as well.
TCBR: You have two small children. How do you nurture self-respect and self-acceptance within in your family?
LN: We constantly encourage our children to go after the things they like and try to discourage them from just doing things because their friends were doing it. I know that’s easier said than done, but a lot of love is what is needed. Both my husband and I always remind our children on a daily basis that we love them for who they.
TCBR: The illustration process was a husband-and-wife collaboration. Can you tell us about the creative evolution behind your images?
LN: Both my husband and I have worked together before through our careers, so working together was not really a challenge. We are both very task oriented, so we basically broke down and split up the illustrations between the two of us based on which pages we wanted to create, and then we split up which pages were left, in order to tell the story.
SS: We reviewed each other’s work along the way to make sure the illustrations were consistent, and shared creative ideas which were incorporated into some of the details within the drawings.
TCBR: Do you have any other books in the works? A book with a different intrinsic value, perhaps?
LN: Nothing on paper just yet… you will have to stay tuned for our next creation.
TCBR: Thank you so much for your time!
The Author Showcase is a place for authors and illustrators to gain visibility for their works. This article is a feature in our showcase and was provided by the author. Read more …