Finding Pride and Joy in New Book by Chen
The Hotchkiss Library of Sharon, Conn., and the nearby Cornwall Library joined forces on Saturday, May 7, to present Litchfield County resident and New York Times bestselling children’s book author Eva Chen. She read from her latest book, “I Am Golden,” published earlier this year.
The program was a collaboration between Eiseley Kotchoubey of Cornwall and Samantha Saliter, the children’s librarian at the Hotchkiss Library of Sharon. Saliter was formerly on the staff at the Cornwall Library, so there was happiness all around.
Chen, who is a first-generation Chinese-American, said the idea for her new story came to her two years ago at the onset of the pandemic. It was a time of negative public sentiment actively directed toward the Asian community in New York City and elsewhere.
She and her parents were witnesses to some of it — enough so that Chen could imagine an illustrated book to counter potential harm to children.
Parents arrived early for the reading — among them Lauren and Baxter Wasson of Cornwall’s Cream Hill, who brought along their daughters, Margaux, 10, and Cecily, 8. “We have two voracious readers,” they confided.
“This is a celebration of how children can express themselves through love,” Chen said to the children, discussing the concept of her book. She was assisted in the presentation by her own daughter, Ren Bannister.
“This book is my story,” Chen said, pointing to the collection of actual family photos on the inside pages and noting the similarity in appearance between herself and the little girl depicted on the cover art.
“This one is the most personal of all my books,” she added.
As the tale progressed into written form, Chen said that she found her illustrator, Sophie Diao, on Instagram. This was a fairly logical decision as Chen serves as the head of fashion partnerships at Instagram. Chen explained that these days authors and illustrators may never meet in person, but they do collaborate as the book takes shape.
Joy and self-celebration are key takeaways from the book, Chen said.
“It is important that children, whatever their culture, should feel pride in their heritage,” Chen said, adding that her next book, already in the works, will be a companion to “I Am Golden.”