Julia Liu and Bei Lynn
Q&A with author Julia Liu and illustrator Bei Lynn and book giveaway!
Julia Liu and Bei Lynn are the author and illustrator of picture books Leilong the Library Bus, published last year, and Leilong’s Too Long! released in April 2022. Read on to find out their memories of visiting libraries and how you can win copies of both Leilong books!
In Leilong the Library Bus, Leilong’s friends are taking him to story time at the library. But it’s difficult for a large, clumsy brontosaurus without a library card to follow all the rules. Especially when enthusiastic Leilong gets caught up in the story and joins in, threatening to flatten the library. Is Leilong too big for the library, or is the library too small? In Leilong’s Too Long! an overeager dinosaur school bus causes problems for the city’s transportation system—so the children find a way to help their long friend fit in and a place where oversize is perfect.
Was there an inspiration for the story of Leilong the Library Bus?
Julia Liu: I remember as a child reading a news article about a Children’s Dinosaur Encyclopedia, and I was totally stunned to see a picture of a girl standing next to a model of a dinosaur. The image of the small girl and the big dinosaur, the idea that something could be so gigantic, struck my young mind. I still remember the feeling back then of my heart pounding fast. Since then, I have become addicted to reading about these worlds that are far away in time or space but real to me.
What is one of your early childhood memories of going to the library?
Julia Liu: I hardly ever had the chance to visit a library when I was little, but I frequently accompanied my father to the famous Book Street in Taipei in Taiwan while he looked for reference books. Sometimes I would wait for him in a children’s bookstore. I imagined the bookstore was my library. There, I could read as much as I wanted and sometimes, I bought books to take home where I had my very own “book castle”. This was a structure held together by huge boxes that was taller than an adult with all my books crowded next to each other inside.
Bei Lynn: I don’t have memories of libraries as they are now. I only went to the school library once in a while. All the books were very old and the children were told to be quiet. I had to be very cautious and felt nervous even when moving a chair—much like how Leilong is seen as disruptive in this book.
Do you have an early reading memory?
Julia Liu: I had a car accident in elementary school that left my left leg in a plaster cast, which meant I had to stay at home for the whole semester. I was in the care of an old grandpa who lived nearby because both of my parents needed to work. But I never felt lonely because I had my books around, ready for me to go through every day. Even though I couldn’t run or jump, I participated in all kinds of adventures in the realm of books.
Bei Lynn: A book I remember well was one about Pablo Picasso. I knew him as an artist but was also excited when I found a connection while reading the book: he passed away the same year I was born.
Do you have a favourite library book?
Julia Liu: Those out-of-print books or books I can’t find anywhere else, which can only be seen all together on the shelves of libraries, none missing or lost. They are placed on the shelves neat and clean, and I feel calm, knowing they will always be there. They have their place in the world.
Do you have a particular library you like to visit or remember well?
Julia Liu: Back in college, I sometimes studied in the General Library of Taiwan University. The building was very old: bricks, arch doors, huge wooden window frames and the smell of old books. I was immersed in all of these. After I became an editor and a writer, I worked with a well-known illustrator, Leo Tang, to create many picture books. The National Taiwan Library had two of his illustrations from picture books I had worked on hanging on the walls of a reading room in the library for twelve years. Every time I walked into that room and saw children there with all the animal characters from my books, it felt like I had jumped into Alice’s rabbit hole in Wonderland. I couldn’t help but feel excited and happy. To me, that scene is the most wonderful memory related to a library. I hope those children feel the same way.
Julia Liu (left) has worked as an editor of children’s fiction at several Taiwanese publishers and has written over fifty picture books. Bei Lynn (right) is an award-winning author and illustrator from Taiwan whose first book with Gecko Press was Bibbit Jumps (2020).
In Leilong the Library Bus, a library-loving dinosaur reminds young readers how it feels to be transported by story. In Leilong’s Too Long!, an overeager dinosaur school bus causes problems for the city’s transportation system—so the children find a place where oversize is perfect.
Win copies of Leilong the Library Bus and Leilong’s Too Long!
If you would like to win a copy of each of Julia Liu and Bei Lynn’s books, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading ‘I want to win the Leilong books”. Entries close at 23.59 on Thursday 9 June 2022 and one winner will be selected at random. The giveaway is open to UK residents only.
Both books are suitable for children aged 3 to 6.
Julia Liu, Bei Lynn, Helen Wang
Find out more about Gecko Press here.