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Picturing the Stories

Oct 22, 2012

Growing up, writer and illustrator Grace Lin dreamed about becoming a champion ice skater and drew pictures of herself twirling on ice. Those drawings became her focus when she discovered she’d make a better artist than skater. But Grace found drawing things—like fruit on a table—boring. “I liked to make pictures that had stories behind them, and when I drew these pictures I would start to think about the rest of the story. What happened before this picture? What happened after? It was a natural step for me to begin writing the entire story of the pictures I drew.”

Grace tells stories she knows a lot about, such as what it was like for her and her two sisters to be the only Asian-Americans in their upstate New York school. “A lot of my books deal with Chinese culture because, in a way, I’m trying to find the culture I lost,” Grace told Pacific Rim Voices, an online literary magazine dedicated to books about the Pacific Rim region. “When I was younger, I was ashamed, sometimes even angry, about being Chinese. Most of the time, though, I forgot that I was Chinese. Sometimes I would look at myself in the mirror and be surprised to find a Chinese girl looking back at me.”

In Grace’s book Dumpling Days, the main character Pacy is headed to Thailand for a month with her family, where she is frustrated to find she looks like everyone else but can’t speak the language. Grace’s book The Year of the Rat has Pacy moving to California and dreaming of becoming a writer and illustrator. In Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!, Grace shows how different identical twins can be.

Find out more about Grace and what inspires her to write and draw on The Studio.