Author Chat with Rebecca Evans (Alone Like Me), Plus Giveaway! ~ US Only

Today we are chatting with Rebecca Evans, author of Alone Like Me

Read on for more about her, her book, and a giveaway!

 

 

Meet Rebecca Evans!

Rebecca Evans is a first-time children’s book author who has illustrated several picture books written by others, including Two Is a LotPlants Fight Back, and If Animals Built Your House. She also illustrated Mark Weston’s Finding the Speed of Light, which Kirkus called a “highlight” in a starred review. Rebecca is the co-regional advisor for the SCBWI Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia region. She lives in Maryland with her family.

 

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About: Alone Like Me

In this beautiful, heartfelt picture book, a young girl moves from a small village to a big city in China, where she longs to find a friend…and ultimately meets someone very much like her.

Liling and her family have moved from their rural farm to an overwhelming urban city. Because of Chinese law, Liling can’t go to school and spends her days with Mama or Baba at work. At the playground, the other children throw sand at her and tease her old red coat and dirty shoes.

But after she shares a smile with a girl in a bright yellow jacket who lives in an apartment beneath hers, Liling has a big idea! She draws a picture and lowers it down to the girl–Qiqi–who returns it with a drawing of her own. When the new friends meet face to face, Liling takes Qiqi’s hand, and they walk bravely into the park–together.

With luscious watercolor illustrations and lovely poetic text, this achingly beautiful story is about our universal desire for connection, and the comfort we feel when we find a true friend.

 

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~Author Chat~

YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

My daughter was adopted in Korea as an infant while my son, Tyson, ran into our arms yelling “Mama! Baba!” (Mommy! Daddy!) on his 9th birthday in Hangzhou, China. During the adoption process, we spent multiple weeks in China touring the markets, visiting the parks and historical sights, working with the Chinese government, speaking with the Chinese people, and trying to navigate a new language and culture.

The road to becoming a Chinese-Korean-American family has not been easy. When he came home with us, our son spoke only Mandarin and had no concept of what America was like. Nothing prepared us for the rollercoaster of emotions, cultural differences, and tangled communication we faced. Our son was part of our family but at the same time he felt alone. He missed his friends and worried he might never belong.

Little by little, we discovered how to be a family together. As our son learned about America, we learned about China: the language, the culture, the social norms, and the government systems. The more he shared about the country where he was born, the more I wanted to learn.

As an artist, a memory of a specific day in China haunted me—a busy early morning market, a little girl in a sea of bicycles staring back at me through the smog. I put my brush to paper to capture the essence of the memory, but once captured, I wonder what this little girl’s story was. Why was she so sad? Why was she alone? Where were all the other children? I began to ask questions about Chinese children and that’s when I learned about the hùkǒu system. I’d never heard of hùkǒu before. When I learned about how difficult it makes life for poor families, that it caused a whole generation of children to be left behind physically, socially, or academically as their parents sought work in the teeming cities, I wanted to tell others. Maybe, if more people know, we can encourage the hùkǒu system to change.

Because of my son’s story, I also wanted to share a universal story about loneliness and hope. Everyone feels lonely sometimes, but you never know when a new friend (or a new family even) might walk into your life and change it forever.

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

Lìlíng, of course. I think that there’s a little bit of each author, however small, in their main character. For me I think it was my sense of loneliness as a child. We moved a lot when I was young, and I was a shy little girl. Making friends was difficult for me. When I moved to a new place, I always looked for other girls who sat alone at lunch, or by themselves on the playground. I guessed if they were alone like I was, then they might be willing to make a new friend. My heart really goes out to Lìlíng because I see so much of the feelings I experienced in her.

YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?

Interestingly, neither! An illustration was actually what came first. Just one image that I painted that inspired anyone who saw it to ask— what is that little girl’s story? Why is she so sad? The illustration inspired the story, and then the story inspired the title. In fact, “Alone Like Me” wasn’t even the original title. The title changed a few times throughout the editing process until I landed on “Alone Like Me.”

YABC:  Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

In order to make it real, as an author you have to find yourself in the book. It doesn’t have to be narrative or biographical at all. But what makes your story touch the reader’s soul is the connection to your own story—the connection to their own story. Without that connection I might as well be shouting my story in the middle of a city street to no one in particular. If my story doesn’t speak to someone else’s life, then what purpose does it serve? I don’t want meaningless books. I want my books to impact people and help them see the world in new and interesting ways. In order for me to do that I have to put myself out there and let the world see my hurts and my hopes. I have to make it personal.

YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I love how the cover hints at the relationship between the two girls, but they are still separate, surrounded and pulled apart by the crowds of people and the flow of the life around them. I also love their expressions, how Qíqi has a shy smile and Lìlíng’s face is filled with a kind of sweet hope. I really think it captures the essence of the story.

YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?

That’s nearly impossible for me to answer. J There are too many good books! I gravitate toward YA in my personal reading, and there’s so much to love out there! Recently it was Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim, Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi, and Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

YABC:   Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?

The most difficult scene for me is the scene where the children at the park are mean to Lìlíng, where they call her names because of her old clothes, and she hides under the slide at the playground instead of playing. This particular situation strikes a little too close to home for me. As I said, we moved a lot when I was young. We were also poor. My wardrobe consisted of hand-me-down clothes from friends and neighbors and the few purchased items were from Good Will or, if there was no other option, Kmart. Kids can be cruel, and I can’t remember how many times I was teased because my clothes weren’t in fashion or new. I remember hiding on the playground to escape their mean taunts or refusing to raise my hand in class so as not to call attention to myself. It’s a difficult memory, but also one I’m sure others have experienced. I hope that kids can relate to a little piece of Lìlíng’s and my story, and it will help them feel less alone.

YABC:     Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?

Brittany’s Hope is the organization that helped us bring our son home and I will be thankful forever for that aid. https://www.brittanyshope.org They work to empower families and communities to make real and lasing change in the lives of orphaned and at-risk children through international special needs adoption grants and humanitarian initiatives. We couldn’t have adopted without their help, and I can’t imagine our life without our son. We are truly blessed that God gave him to us and used Brittany’s Hope to see it accomplished.

YABC:   What advice do you have for new writers?

Don’t be afraid to fail! Because you will, multiple times. It took me years of writing before I felt I had a story good enough to share. And even now I get plenty of rejections and go back to the drawing board with stories on a weekly basis. Learning is a never-ending process, and there’s always something new to try or some different skill to master. I’ve talked to so many author/illustrators, yours truly included, who feel like imposters calling themselves an author at all, even after they’ve published multiple books. I don’t know why we put ourselves down like that. I wish I could have more confidence when putting my writing out there. But the best advice is, don’t give up. It may take years, but you can do it if you keep trying.

 

 

 

Book’s Title: Alone Like Me

Author/Illustrator: Rebecca Evans

Release Date: 5/3/22

Publisher: Anne Schwartz Books

ISBN-10: 0593181921

ISBN-13: 9780593181928

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Age Range: 4-8

 

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

 

Three winners will receive a copy of Alone Like Me ( Rebecca Evans) ~ US Only

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Author Chat with Rebecca Evans (Alone Like Me), Plus Giveaway! ~ US Only”

  1. The cover is a work of art and matches this emotional book.

  2. Morgan Jones says:

    Looks like a meaningful book!

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