KBKL Spotlight on Canadians: Charlene Chua

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A big Kick-butt Kidlit welcome to illustrator, Charlene Chua!

Charlene Chua is a Singapore-born, Canadian illustrator who specializes in creating work for kids of all ages. She began work as a web designer, and worked in design and advertising before pursuing her dream of being an illustrator in 2006. 

Charlene has worked with clients from around the world on a wide variety of illustration projects. Her work has won awards in American Illustration, Spectrum and SILA’s Illustration West. She has also illustrated a number of picture books and chapter books.

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Tell us a bit about your latest/upcoming project?

I am currently working on some character designs for an upcoming book called Going Up!, which is written by fellow Canadian, Sherry J. Lee. The book will be published next year by Canadian publisher Kids Can Press (it’s an all-Canadian production!). It’s a very fun book that has a lot of characters, and I’m excited to try out a new style for it.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading The Great Passage by Shion Miura, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter. It’s about… a guy that loves dictionaries? I’m not sure, I just started the book!

Who is a Canadian author or illustrator that you’d like to see more people discover?

This is totally biased, but I would have to say my husband, Wayne Santos.

What’s been the most surprising part of your publishing journey so far?

I guess the whole journey has been a bit of a surprise. I didn’t get into illustration because I specifically wanted to work on childrens’ books. But that’s sort of how things rolled out over the years. I also never really thought I would write a book, but I did, and so my author-illustrator debut (tentatively titled Hug) will be coming out later next year with Kids Can Press.

When a reader picks up your books, they can always expect to find…

Something fun, I hope!

What’s the most Canadian thing you’ve put in a book?

There are a couple of kids wearing sweaters that look a little like the jerseys of a couple of famous hockey teams….

Although I wish the question extended to magazines. For magazines, the most Canadian thing I’ve done is probably the Canada 150 cover with a bunch of Canadian animals crammed into a car for a cross country road trip (while probably breaking a whole bunch of road safety rules).

What would you like to see more of in the world of Canadian children’s literature?

I would like to see more main characters who are immigrants from different backgrounds. I think the immigrant experience is challenging for anyone, however the challenges one faces are different depending on the situation one comes from. It would be nice to have a range of stories that a child could relate to, whether they are fleeing conflict or following their parents due to a job transfer.

If you could spend a day inside of any book, which one would you choose?

Maybe Mog the Forgetful Cat? I’d love to spend the day playing with Mog.

Lastly, we always end with: what’s your best piece of kick-butt advice?

This probably seems contradictory – have a destination and a plan to get there, but also, don’t get too hung up on your plan. Be flexible enough to take chances or adapt as needed, and eventually you’ll get somewhere (it may not be what you originally had in mind, but it might be more interesting!).

Yes! So true! Thank you for joining us, Charlene!

Kick-butt Kidlit friends, add Charlene’s Books on Goodreads!

Connect with Charlene on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or through her website!

Click here to enter to the Spotlight on Canadians Giveaway! You could win one of 25 prize packs featuring books from all of our amazing creators!

Charlene Chua Prize Pack – a copy of THE WIND PLAYS TRICKS

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Other available prizes:

Tanaz Bhathena Prize Pack – a copy of THE BEAUTY OF THE MOMENT

Philippa Dowding Prize Pack – a copy of OCULUM

Mahtab Narsimhan Prize Pack – a copy of EMBRACE THE CHICKEN

Mireille Messier Prize Pack – a signed copy of TELLEMENT SAUVAGE!

Jennifer Mook-Sang Prize Pack – a signed copy of CAPTAIN MONTY TAKES THE PLUNGE

Regan McDonell Prize Pack – a copy of BLACK CHUCK

Carmen Mok Prize Pack – a copy of GRANDMOTHER’S VISIT

Tom Ryan Prize Pack – the very first signed ARC of KEEP THIS TO YOURSELF

Naseem Hrab Prize Pack – a copy of IRA CRUMB FEELS THE FEELINGS

Joanne Robertson Prize Pack – a signed copy of THE WATER WALKER

Sarah Raughley Prize Pack – all three books in the EFFIGIES series

Join us on Friday, March 29th when we chat with author, Natasha Deen!

13 thoughts on “KBKL Spotlight on Canadians: Charlene Chua

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