“The power of picture books is painting the world the way you want see it.”
Yesterday I sat in on illustrator LeUyen Pham’s talk “Wandering Wonderful: How an Outsider Found Her Way In.” Pham shared intimate stories from her childhood and related her experiences to her favorite books. It was a beautiful glimpse into a reader’s journey to the woman and artist she is today. I am really inspired by author and illustrator talks, especially from artists like Pham who allow us in.
Hearing their personal stories helps me connect their books with kids. When you can say, “You know I met this illustrator. She was really cool. She loved Charlottes Web and told us a story about her pet ducks. And yes, her family ended up eating the ducks, but she didn’t”, kids see the creator of the books they love as real people who even were once kids themselves.
Pham also talked about rereading the Harry Potter books (is it really 20 years!) aloud to her child. She pointed out how some of themes in the books, especially Goblet of Fire, are relevant to current events. Xenophobia. Modern day Death Eaters.
Yet, she ended hopefully. Hopeful that in 2018 a a girl who was once an outsider can now as a woman redefine what being an American can be. I‘ve always enjoyed Pham’s art. I can’t wait to see more of the world that Pham imagines.