HANH BUI AND MINNIE PHAN: Will Write and Illustrate for Cookies Plus Triple Giveaway


Plate of Cookies




Welcome dear friends! I’m so happy you’ve stopped by today because you are going to get a peek at a very special picture book that launches April 25th. And you are going to get a chance to find out a little bit about the creators oHanhf The Yellow Áo Dài, Hanh Bui and Minnie Phan. Plus, THREE lucky folks are going to WIN a copy!!!

I met Hanh via email in 2020 – it was #50PreciousWords time and she reached out with questions and we made an instant connection. I feel blessed because I’ve watched what may seem to some to be a meteoric path to publication…she signed with a fabulous agent early in 2021 and they quickly secured a two-book deal with Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends. But Hanh has poured her heart on the page for many years while immersing herself as much as possible (she was a teacher and is now a full-time mother of three) in honing her craft by attending writing boot camps, enrolling in workshops, and being open to revision from CPs and mentors. I knew that when her debut book launched, I’d want to share all of that with all of you. And luckily for us, through Hanh, we’re going to be able to connect with her amazing illustrator, Minnie Phan.

Inspired by her first teacher at the refugee camp, Hanh Bui pursued a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and taught second grade before becoming a full-time mother. She also served as a Development Officer for Senhoa Foundation in support of women and children who survived human trafficking in Cambodia, and has served on boards supporting children and parents in building community. Hanh’s commitment to celebrating her heritage includes giving presentations in school visits about her refugee experience to children studying immigration as part of their school curriculum. She serves as co-chair of the Equity and Inclusion Team for the Mid-Atlantic region of SCBWI. She is the author of The Yellow Áo Dài and Ánh’s New Word.
@hbui333 • Instagram photos and videos
@HanhBuiWrites) / Twitter
Hanh Bui | Facebook

Minnie Phan is a queer Vietnamese American cartoonist and illustrator born in Stockton, CA, and raised across the Bay Area. Her past clients include Google, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Chronicle Books, and the San Francisco Public Library, with which she illustrated a citywide reading campaign in 2022. Her work ranges from editorial illustrations to comics, animation, and picture books. She values inclusive image making and diverse storytelling; she hopes for all children to see themselves as whatever they dream: artists, scientists, doctors, and more. When she’s not illustrating, she teaches comics to youth in the Bay Area and advocates for safer streets for bicyclists. Her debut picture book THE YELLOW ÁO DÀI will be published in Spring 2023. She is currently working on her second picture book with a Pulitzer prize winning author, set to be published by minedition in 2024.
Instagram: @minnie_phan
Facebook: MinniePhanIllustration

ME: Welcome, Hanh and Minnie! We are so happy you stopped by to chat. I’ll get right to the questions because I know everyone is excited to learn more about both of you!
Who were your favorite authors and illustrators when you were a child?

HANH: Thank you, Vivian, for these thoughtful questions and for inviting me to be on your blog. I appreciate your time and kind support of my writing journey. My family and I immigrated to the United States when I was eight-years-old. I started school as a second-grader not knowing the English language. I was an ESL(English as a second language) student until 5th grade. I remember wishing I could read in English just like my classmates. My favorite book series were Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel and Corduroy by Don Freeman. The simple text in these heartwarming books helped me learn English and I loved the sweet illustrations by both creators.

MINNIE: Many of my favorite authors were also illustrators. As a child, I loved Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey, Peanuts by Charles Schulz, and later Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto.

ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

HANH: I wished I would have known earlier that the process from story idea to publication is not a linear one. There are many ups and downs along this journey that may cause writers to wonder if this dream is attainable. The waiting and sometimes, disappointments are challenging, but it is how we react that helps us to continue to believe in ourselves and our stories.  I’m grateful that I’ve learned to appreciate each and every milestone as a step forward.

MINNIE: In order to be good at something, we must first be bad. That’s the journey of learning. No one is born a great writer or artist. The magic is in repetition; discipline is your friend. So to my younger self: keep writing, don’t stop! Even if it’s bad, even if it’s cringey, make your mark.

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?

HANH: Often I’ll draft my ideas in notes on my phone. Then I’ll transfer my rough draft to my laptop and start a new document.  I write most of my stories at the kitchen table at night when everyone is asleep. I’ve spent countless hours revising my stories. Being open to revisions has helped me write stronger, more meaningful and engaging stories. Chocolates, tea and a comfy chair are all very important to the creative process.

MINNIE: I write and illustrate in my home studio. I love having a dedicated workspace! I use my laptop to write and my entire room to draw. I have a space for digital art

and another for mixed media.

ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?

HANH: I am a night owl and feel most productive in the late hours when my home is quiet. I also keep a pencil and paper by my nightstand just in case an idea comes to me when I’m in bed. If I don’t jot it down, I worry I’ll forget. I write whenever the muse strikes. Sometimes ideas come to me when I’m washing the dishes or driving in my car. I’ve pulled over and parked so I can write down my thoughts.

MINNIE: My brain seems to turn on around 7 p.m and won’t turn off until 1 or 2 a.m. Perhaps this is the result of conditioning from art school and working day jobs at the start of my career. Or maybe it’s a response to the joy of working in a quieter, sleepy world. Regardless, I tend to hit my creative stride around midnight, much to the horror of my early rising partner.

ME: Why do you write for children?

HANH: It is an honor to write for children. I write stories I wished I would have had as a child: family stories inspired by my Vietnamese heritage and refugee experiences. I want my stories to help all children know that their experiences matter. Books helped me to learn and appreciate the experiences of others. I hope my words will inspire kindness and nurture a love of reading.

MINNIE: I make art for the child within me. My stories and pictures are for that little girl who longs to be seen and held. If my art can be both window and mirror for another human, I am happy.

ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear.

HANH: Writers: Believe in your story and others will too. Parents, educators and librarians: Thank you for the important work you do to help kids grow and realize their full potential. Together we can foster a kinder world for all children.

MINNIE: Believe in yourself. Dream big. Drink water. 
Care less about what’s ‘cool’ and more about what makes you feel alive. Immerse yourself in what you love, feel the thrill of achievement. Loving yourself means taking care of yourself. If you can’t find your community, make one. Regardless of what you want, remember this: slowly but surely.

ME: I promised you all something special, didn’t I? WOW! Thank you, Hanh and Minnie. What an inspiring interview!!! Minnie, I think I need to print out several of your mantras…I already follow many of them…but I love: Care less about what’s cool and more about what makes you feel alive! And Hanh…YES…together we can make a kinder world!

Dear friends, there is more awesomeness coming your way…Hanh is sharing a special recipe with us!

HANH: My family and I love eating delicious, warm pâté chaud as a snack or appetizer with tea or coffee.  These pastry puffs are wonderful for family gatherings or kids parties too because they are easy to pick up and just enjoy. When I think of pâté chaud, I think of comfort food and the love my mother-in-law put into all of her home cooked meals. Enjoy!

Pâté Chaud Recipe-Vietnamese Meat Pastries

Pâté Chaud translated in French means “hot pastry pie” or bánh patê sô, in Vietnamese. It was introduced to the Vietnamese people during the time of French colonialism in Vietnam.  It is a delicious savory puff pastry and one of my family’s favorite foods. The pastry is made of a light layered and flaky pastry with a meat filling. Traditionally, the filling consists of ground pork, but chicken and beef are also commonly used now.

Pâté Chaud Ingredients:
2 sheets of puff pastry: For my family’s dietary needs, I used a gluten free pastry dough. Pepperidge Farm pastry sheets work great for this recipe. Defrost the pastry dough overnight in the refrigerator. If you want to make it right away from the freezer, then leave it out on the counter at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
1 package of ground chicken, ground pork and ½ pound of shrimp: Use a mini food processor to ground the washed, unshelled and deveined raw shrimp. Adding shrimp is optional.
¼ white or yellow onion: dice up into small pieces to add to the filling.
½ cup of peas and carrots: Run cool water over frozen peas and/or carrots, dry and add to filling. Peas and carrots are also optional.
2 egg yolks: Whisk two egg yolks for egg wash on top of pastry to make that classic glossy finish and golden color. The egg wash also helps to seal the edges of the pastry to keep filling inside.
1 tsp of garlic salt: to season the filling
¼ tsp of cane sugar
Dash of black pepper

Prepare the puff pastry: Defrost puff pastry at room temp for 1-2 hours or in the fridge overnight. For the gluten free pastry dough, you’ll have to roll out the dough with a wooden rolling pin. I sprinkle flour onto my kitchen counter or big cutting board and roll the dough. The flour keeps the dough from sticking onto the counter.  The Pepperidge Farm pastry sheets do not need rolling out. I use a glass held upside down to cut out circles or you can also use a round biscuit cutter. I cut out 12 circles or as many as I can with the dough I have.

Make filling: Add ground meat, shrimp, onions, vegetables, garlic salt, cane sugar and pepper together in a bowl. I wear plastic food preparation gloves and combine all the ingredients until they blend together smoothly. All the ingredients listed can be customized to your liking. Add what you like, leave out what you don’t want. You can also replace peas and carrots with vegetables you like to eat.

Assemble Pastries:
Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Take cold pastry rounds and place them on the parchment paper. Use a cookie scoop or spoon to drop rounded tablespoons of filling to the center of the pastry puff. To cover stretch out a second round pastry puff over the filling. Press down the edges of the two round pastry puffs with the filling in the center to seal the top and bottom of the pastries. I use a fork and gently press down on the edges to seal it even more. Repeat with the rest of cut out circle pastry puffs and filling. Brush all of the pâté chaud with the egg yolk wash including the sides. This will help keep the filling inside the pastry puffs when it is baking.

Baking Instructions:
Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.
To reheat leftover pâté chaud from the refrigerator.  Reheat on parchment paper on a baking pan at 350 for 6-8 minutes.

Okay folks…who’s hungry? Definitely me! We’ve got a whiteboard on my daughter’s fridge and, as the week goes on, we each add items that need to be purchased on the next shopping trip. I’m definitely going to give this a try. It reminds me of Indian samosas which I love. And it’s reminiscent of Italian raviolis, Polish perogies, and Spanish empanadas. I love that every culture has similar foods – this is yet another way we can connect and celebrate our individual heritage while embracing all people!

Many thanks to Hanh and Minnie for sharing their insights…please check out their books and follow them on social media. Their upcoming book can be preordered at your local indie bookstores or:
Here is the link from the publisher, Macmillan  The Yellow Áo Dài (macmillan.com). All the links for pre-orders are listed on the Macmillan website.

And here is the link to Hanh’s local bookstore where you can get copies signed by her.  The Yellow Áo Dài (Hardcover) | Scrawl Books

I hope you all have a safe and happy weekend. Read lots of books and tell people you love them.

16 thoughts on “HANH BUI AND MINNIE PHAN: Will Write and Illustrate for Cookies Plus Triple Giveaway

  1. Thank you for the interview and yes, now I’m hungry! My favorite food from my childhood that reminds me of home are my mom’s buttermilk pancakes.


  2. This interview was inspiring and I will recommend this book to my library. I want to try this recipe and will sub tofu for the meat. It sounds delicious! Thank you for the post!


  3. Love this inspiring post! Congratulations, Hanh and Minnie! Looking forward to reading your PB.
    Springerle are delicious cookies my German grandmom baked! My Lithuanian grandmom made “blynai” (potato pancakes)!
    I’ll be sure to tune in to THE SCBWI webinar !
    Thank you. Vivian! 😉


  4. Hanh, you are a very inspiring person in how you have helped others. And I love your quote, “Together we can foster a kinder world for all children”. Thank you both for all you do for the children.


  5. What a wonderful interview and insight into both Hanh and Minni’s process. I like the idea of at first you have to be bad at something to be good. Congratulations to both of you on creating such an incredible book! It’s beautiful! 💛 I know the world will be a better place when it is here to be shared in classrooms and libraries.


  6. Yum! I’m hungry! The book sounds wonderful, and I love the idea that you will be bad before you are good, so just like learning a musical instrument, practice makes the magic happen. Congrats to Hanh and Minnie! Can’t wait to read this!


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