I am thrilled to be returning to my Kid Lit Love series featuring picture books from members of the Kid Lit Community! Today’s book is titled THE PAPER KINGDOM by Helen Ku Rhee, illustrated by Pascal Campion, published by Penguin Random House.
Take a look at this gorgeous cover art!
Based on the author’s childhood, “The Paper Kingdom” is about little Daniel who goes to work with his parents to their job as night janitors, where he expects dreariness but finds magic and wonder, thanks to the power of imagination.
I asked Helena a few questions about her new book and writing for children in general. It was a pleasure to connect with her.
1. Tell us how you came to write books for children. I think I’ve always loved picture books for the synergy between the words and illustrations. In fact, I won my first story contest in the third grade, and pencil drawings accompanied that story — so I think I was training to be a picture book author at a very young age!
2. Tell us about the inspiration for your book. I was driving through Los Angeles one evening when something about the empty, quiet street triggered childhood memories. The Paper Kingdom is based on my childhood when my parents worked as night janitors. They couldn’t afford childcare, so they often had to take me to work. And to keep me entertained, they made up funny stories. They did their best to turn drudgery into magic, and I wanted to capture that sense of wonder in the story.
3. Share your advice for children’s writers. Read what’s out in the marketplace. It’s great to be familiar with the classics, but it’s just as important to read new output from current writers. Also, keep in mind that the illustrations will help illuminate the story, so no need to go into lengthy descriptions. Also, I truly value the process of putting away my draft for a few weeks, and then evaluating it with fresh eyes. That’s probably one of the best tools for making your book as clean and as lean as possible, because that distance helps you quickly spot the slow parts or the unnecessary passages or even characters.
Thank you Helena Ku Rhee for being a guest on Kid Lit Love!
Twitter handle: @HelenaRhee
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