In this episode, we’re celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with New York Times bestselling comic artist Betty C. Tang. Betty talks with host Suzanne McCabe about her extraordinary new graphic novel, Parachute Kids.
The story introduces readers to 10-year-old Feng-Li, a Taiwanese girl who can’t wait to vacation in the United States with her family. But she gets shocking news along the way. Her parents will be heading back to Taiwan after the family’s vacation, leaving Feng-Li and her older brother and sister to fend for themselves. By turns harrowing and hilarious, the story shows the siblings learning to navigate a strange new country and language on their own, while struggling to hold the family together.
Betty is the New York Times bestselling illustrator of the Jacky Ha-Ha series of graphic novels by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. She has worked for several Hollywood animation studies, including Disney TV and Dreamworks Animation. She also co-directed an animated feature called Where’s the Dragon?
Parachute Kids:Betty C. Tang’s graphic novel about three siblings living on their own as undocumented new immigrants is inspired by her experiences growing up as a parachute kid.
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Betty C. Tang, author, Parachute Kids
“A lot of times, books tend to make parents the bad guys, [but] parents who want an opportunity to provide a new life for their children are not villains.”
“I wanted to be a manga artist, and I couldn’t. So now here I am creating a graphic novel.”
“[Feng-Li’s] purpose is to hold her family together before she loses everything.”
“To the immigrant readers, whether they’re parachute kids or not, I would like them to realize that they’re not alone and that they can get through this.”
“Sometimes, as a newcomer, you really feel like you’re the only one.”
“I hope the book will help foster a sense of empathy.”
→ Special Thanks
Producer: Constance Gibbs
Sound engineer: Daniel Jordan
Music composer: Lucas Elliot Eberl
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Scholastic Art & Writing Awards