My sister used to call me Pollyanna because I always found something to be glad about. Our recent health crisis has negatively impacted so many people – and perhaps you might feel that there couldn’t be anything positive. But just about a year ago, I got to connect with two amazing kid-lit people, author and editor Helen Wu and author/illustrator Songju Daemicke when I hosted them for a Will Write for Cookies post to share about their book on Covid-19. So, when I discovered that Songju has an amazing nonfiction picture book launching later this year, I knew I’d want to tell the world about it. And guess what?
THIS POST IS THE COVER REVEAL!
Nonfiction! Biography! Diversity! #WOMENINSTEM!
This book checks off all the boxes – and I can’t wait to get a copy!
I was so happy when Songju agreed to stop by and share some of the story behind the story – you all know how much I love hearing about that.
SONGJU: Tu Youyou had been interested in science and medicine since she was a child, so when malaria started infecting people all over the world in 1969, she went to work on finding a treatment. Trained as a medical researcher in college and healed by traditional medicine techniques when she was young, Tu Youyou experimented with natural Chinese remedies. The treatment she discovered, Artemisinin, earned her a Novel Prize and continues to save millions of lives worldwide.
ME: That’s fascinating, Songju. But what compelled you to write this story?
SONGJU: In early 2019, I was drawn to a BBC program showcasing the 20th century’s most important, iconic and influential figures. Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Alan Turing, and Tu Youyou were the four candidates in the scientist category. I was thrilled that Tu Youyou had been selected. Everyone in the world knows Albert Einstein and Madame Curie. Lately, Alan Turing is well known as well. How many people knew Tu Youyou? Even though Tu Youyou had saved millions of lives and had won the prestigious Nobel Prize, I realized that most Americans had never heard of her. As a Chinese American, I am extremely proud of Youyou’s achievement. It became my mission to write a book for young readers to share her extraordinary journey. Tu Youyou is a role model not only for young girls in China, but throughout the world.
ME: As Professor Rudine Bishop said in an interview back in 1990, books are ‘mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors’ – your book, Songju, will be all of those things for young readers everywhere!
To find out more about Songju:
Songju Ma Daemicke, a former software engineer, grew up in China and is an award-winning Children’s book author. Her picture book Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant was a Best STEM book, the Winner of 2018 CALA Best Book, Best Juvenile Literature. Songju loves gardening and grows Tonghao, a plant cousin to sweet wormwood, which Tu Youyou extracted artemisinin from. She credits Tonghao soup for avoiding the flu in the chilly Chicago winters.
I hope everyone has a wonderful week!