Jane Park is the author of the acclaimed children’s book Juna’s Jar and an award-winning podcast and TV/ video producer. While producing a wildlife TV show, she was surprised to discover that beavers have orange teeth — even though they are a beloved animal in Canada, where she grew up. Jane lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her online at janeparkbooks.com.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
My mom took me to the library every week but I didn’t own many books of my own. My one treasured book that I received as a gift was my Alice in Wonderland pop-up book. Although I’ve never really thought about it until this moment, I think it very much influenced what kind of books I’m always hoping to create — ones that are a little bit unexpectedly delightful and magical.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
Maybe not favorite but a line that has stuck in my head from the moment I read it as a child: “Unjust! Unjust!”—Jane Eyre
Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
I don’t know if I can answer this one because I change my mind a lot! I recently discovered The Thing About Bees by Shabazz Larkin which I love. Baek Heena and Tatsuya Miyanshi’s work really resonate with me because they have such distinctly East Asian storytelling sensibilities.
Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
My third-grade teacher asked me if I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. But though I loved books, I never thought being an author was actually possible. Judging from the books in our library, they told me that it wasn’t. There weren’t any stories about kids who looked like me or had lives like mine. My first ""novel"" that I wrote when I was 11, was about a green-eyed girl whose life was like so many of the girls in the books I read, and far different from my own.
As an adult, I wanted to write so kids like me will see themselves in books and know that they are valuable and worthy of telling their stories. And to also encourage all kids to pay attention to the overlooked, question the obvious and accepted, and to look beyond the surface to find the magic in everything.
Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
There is no one right way to tell a story. Write the story you need to write, create something beautiful for the children, and worry about the industry part later.