Did you know that in 2016, only 7 percent of children's stories published in the United States have Asian children? A father realized this and his love for his roots and his daughters led him to make a request that has touched the hearts of many people.
Zerri Zhang, of Chinese origin, grew up in North America, and battled to find his own identity in a cosmopolitan country where he never felt identified. However, an idea came to him when his daughter Madison questioned him why there were no Chinese children in the stories he read before sleeping.
Her father understood what she felt
One day, my oldest daughter, Madison, told me that she did not want to be Chinese, just when she was reading Madeline and Eloise. She kept asking me why I was Chinese and the girls were not, and why she did not have blond or red hair like Madeleine and that broke my heart.
Zhang began an exhaustive search and found that very few Asian children appeared in the books, but always talking about Chinese culture as their festivities, for example the Chinese New Year or some similar subject, but there was no case where the hero was originally from Asia and live adventures.
A beautiful gift
It was when I reflected on my own childhood in the United States and remembered my struggle to find an identity, for a long time, I did not want to be Chinese either.
So he decided to make the first book of this type called Pepper Zhang! Artist Extraordinaire, where the main character is based on his little daughter, who loves art and music and is an amazing girl. He had to be a great character and happy to be Asian.
A unique book of its kind
It was then that the project began with the help of illustrator Trisha Hautéa, who did an extraordinary job. But the most difficult task came, getting the necessary funds to publish the book on his own, without an editor telling him how the character should be.
Madison now thinks it's the best book of all time
At present, the book has raised six times the money that was initially required. The true message of the book is to help the children to accept themselves as they are, to love their roots and to understand that we live in a multicultural world that requires acceptance, first of the individual and then of the rest of the people.
Pepper Zhang, is an extraordinary artist
This project was born because I wanted to write for Madison and Everly the book that I did not have as a child, says Zhang.
It is not another book of an Asian child, but the opportunity to accept diversity through a story for children and at the end of the day, help children understand that we are all different but at the same time, special and unique.