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Hi Zoe! It’s Me, World

Project type:

Picture book


Two of my favorite people, Cecily and Read, were expecting their first baby. They were naming her Zoe (my original legal name), and she was going to be half-Chinese (like me!), so I felt particularly invested in celebrating her arrival with something special.

I wanted to create a picture book, but the topic, format, and visual style were all to-be-determined. I began by asking Cecily and Read to send me a list of their favorite things: plants, animals, foods, places, authors, imaginary creatures, etc. The concept then took shape around their responses, with the narrator, “World,” introducing all these things to Zoe. What I’d approached as a “fun, simple” project quickly became all-consuming; I designed every spread, drafted the illustrations and text, and painstakingly completed the final compositions.

This picture book captures a little corner of this family’s unique world. As Zoe learns to read, the book will enter a new phase of its life, and I can’t wait for her to learn more about her parents and the wider world through its pages. The book, of course, was also a gift to myself: An opportunity to tackle a new creative challenge while pouring myself into a project for people I care about.

The biggest challenge I faced was how to maintain visual consistency. It was devilishly difficult to design the “Zoe” character, and from there, keep her look consistent across pages and poses (a humbling process). Getting the ink wash right was also a learning curve; I struggled to toe the line between loose and messy (the first page is a clear example of this). My favorite spread features a pleasantly consistent color palette, and were I to do it all over again, I would determine a more selective palette from the get-go.

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