Interview with Larissa Fan

Welcome to another #ChatWithThePBLady 🥳🎉 Today’s chat is with the fabulous Larissa Fan. We talked about her book TEN LITTLE DUMPLINGS.

Illustrated by Cindy Wume.

📚Do you have a favorite family recipe?

Dumplings of course! My dad makes great classic pork and cabbage dumplings, along with a secret sauce which involves sautéed green onions and soy sauce.

📚What’s your favorite form of transportation?

Train. I love that I can relax and watch the scenery unfolding, and that I can read without getting motion sick! And there’s an inherent romance to the train.

📚If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

Do not approach before noon.

📚What fictional character has a similar personality to yours?

I’m struggling with this one as there aren’t many introverts who are main characters. Maybe Mary Anne from The Babysitter’s Club because she’s shy and a bookworm. And while I’m not as brave or outspoken as Jo March from Little Women, I’d say I was inspired by her because she challenges convention and is determined.

📚Now, let’s talk about TEN LITTLE DUMPLINGS. What five words best describe your book?

Inspiring, feminist, cute, gentle, joyful.

📚What does this book mean to you and why was this story important to tell?

It’s based on the real story of my father’s family. He is one of ten brothers and they were locally famous in his hometown. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized he also had a sister who wasn’t mentioned in family lore. So I wanted to recognize her, and by extension all the women who’ve been left out of history. Sex selection and preference for boys is also something that still goes on, so I hope it might encourage some discussion around that (although it’s a complex issue).

📚There’s a hidden heroine that you don’t see until later on in the book. How can this heroine encourage and inspire young girls who read this story?

I think it’s important for both girls and boys to know that even though you might not be the star of the show, you’re still worthwhile. Kids might feel they’re lacking if they’re shy and quiet. But the heroine in this story finds purpose and success through quiet determination, not through grand gestures. I wanted kids to see this as a possibility.

And in a broader sense, girls and women have traditionally been left out of history. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t important and haven’t been doing worthwhile things all along. I hope that idea can inspire young girls.

📚The ending features the little girl all grown up with a little dumpling of her own. Why was it important to you to show the little girl as a grown woman?

It was important for me to show that she breaks the tradition with her own family, that she gives her own daughter the attention she didn’t get herself growing up. So things can change, we don’t have to follow the script that has been given to us. And I wanted to show that girl dumplings can also be treasured.

📚What discussion questions would you encourage parents and teachers to ask readers after reading your book?

What happens when you choose to tell one person’s story? Whose story might be left out? 

If you were to pick another character in one of your favourite books to tell their story, who would it be?

For older children: Why do you think the ten little boy dumplings are so valued in this story but the girl is mostly left out? (This will require some background knowledge from teachers and caregivers. I’m working on an educator’s guide, but this is a start: https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Culture-and-policy-explain-why-sex-ratios-are-skewed-in-Asia)

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