Diversity is beautiful!

By Himanshu Nimbhorkar

Share on

Image Credits: Ref
“He watched her small figure disappear and brought the bag back to his shoulder to continue onward. But before he took another step, he looked at the tall mountain that touched the moon, its peak soaring into the sky as if holding it up. Misty clouds draped softly, but up where the mountain met the moon, Rendi thought he could still see what he expected to be there. There was old Mr. Shan, the Spirit of the Mountain, who sat at the mountain’s tip with the book in his lap.”

Born in New York, Grace Lin is a celebrated children’s author and illustrator, with more than 25 books to her credit as a writer. Lin writes about racial identity, cultural representation, harmony, peace and love. Incorporating the tender nuances of Asian-American life, with characters retaining these identities, while emphasizing upon the cultural diversity, with a lens that’s much more grounded and sensitive as compared to that of the generalized stereotypical versions available in the global pop culture. Colorful, vibrant and minutely intricate, Lin’s illustrations further raise the bar of her storytelling, with a steady engagement and a fun reading experience. Regular mentions or influences of folk tales and their legacy pave their way into Lin’s writings.

Her most popular titles include the ‘Pacy’ series and ‘Where the mountain meets the moon’ series. ‘Ling & Ting’, ‘Robert’s Snow’, ‘Fortune Cookie Fortunes’, ‘Bringing in the new year’, ‘The ugly vegetables’, ‘Olvina Flies’, ‘The twelve days of Christmas’, ‘A big mooncake for little star’ and many other titles constitute the long list of Lin’s body of work.

Lin has repeatedly spoken about her book ‘The Ugly Vegetables’, the making of it, and the inspiration behind the book. She reminisces her childhood memories where her mom used to grow Chinese vegetables in their garden, as compared to all the other adjacent gardens where flowers blossomed. This odd one out Chinese vegetables idea embarrassed her big time, especially being an Asian family living in the United States. But now when she looks back and revisits those days, the heartwarming and affectionate memories of those Chinese vegetables makes her smile and inspires her to write. An adorable childhood photo of Lin and her mother standing in that very Chinese vegetable garden also served as an inspiration for one of the primary artworks in her book, loved and appreciated by her editors and readers alike.

Lin has been constantly advocating for and passionately endorsing the idea of increased and steadily rampant awareness of diversity in children’s books. The significance of education revolving around race and culture has been one of the central things she keeps rooting for, while specifically emphasizing upon the importance of literary education through stories and books which paint a sensitive, nuanced picture of race and culture.

“Because stories are how we share our lives and what we truly mourn when they are lost. Stories are what connect us to our past and carry us to our future. They are what we cherish and what we remember.”

As the beautifully penned excerpt from Lin’s ‘When the Sea Turned to Silver’ states, the stories are what makes us who we are, and these stories allow us to embrace our vulnerabilities, become a better version, and celebrate humanity, and eventually return back to them when we feel the need to smile.