A former second place winner in the Palo Alto Weekly's annual Short Story Contest has penned an illustrated children's book, titled "Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments," which she will debut this weekend at Kepler's Books.
Palo Alto resident Emily Jiang, took second place in the Weekly's 24th Annual Short Story Contest, held in 2009. Her story, "One Small Step," is a story about a young boy, his family and his memories of his grandfather. You can read it by clicking here.
Jiang, who holds an MFA in creative writing from Saint Mary's College of California, has written and published several short stories, poems and non-fiction articles. "Summoning the Phoenix" is her first children's book.
"I've always loved the stories in children's books and the straightforward story telling," Jiang said, reflecting on why she chose to write "Phoenix."
Before moving to Palo Alto as an adolescent, Jiang lived in Texas. She has fond memories of checking out stacks of books at the local library near her Dallas home. "I was a huge reader when I was young," Jiang explained. "I was pretty shy, pretty introverted. What gave me huge confidence and really expanded my horizons was reading." Books, she added, were her "best friend" when she was young.
Jiang said she hopes that her book might have the same impact on the children who read it.
The book is organized into two-page sets. Illustrated by April Chu, each set features a poem about a traditional Chinese instrument and then non-fiction background information about that instrument. A few of the spreads feature a traditional Chinese myth associated with an instrument.
Chu's illustrations depict children of all ethnicities playing the instrument. In this way, Jiang said, it's truly an "American book," because it embraces the multicultural society we are increasingly becoming.
Jiang will be at Kepler's, located at 1010 El Camino Real in Menlo Park, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on April 19. For more information on the event, call 650-324-4321 or go to keplers.com.
For more information on Jiang, visit her website, emilyjiang.com.