Children's author Janet Wong was recently in Spokane for Eastern Washington University's "Get Lit!" Festival- and she took time out of her busy schedule to do a Success By 6 "My Favorite Book" spot with KHQ.
What does this children's author remember as her favorite book from childhood? Janet Wong, author of over a dozen children's books, including "Alex and the Wednesday Chess Club," Apple Pie 4th of July", and "Dumpster Diver," remembers a small book called "The Story of Bubbles the Whale."
It took an extensive on-line search to acquire a copy of the out of print book. And once it arrived, Janet felt an immediate spark of recognition.
"Somewhere, deep down in my brain, I remembered these pictures- that, to me, is amazing that from 40 years ago- I remembered these pictures. That's really the power of a children's book."
The Story of Bubbles the Whale" is a tale about a young whale that is captured and brought to the fictional Marineland to live.
"I think what I liked most about this book is that it had a happy ending," Janet says. "But it wasn't happy all the way through. There's a lot of tension, it was very sad in the beginning and I think I felt enormous relief that it all worked out okay. I just like a story with a happy ending."
Janet has written her own story with a happy ending. She is a graduate of Yale Law School who practiced corporate and labor law before she made a dramatic career switch to children's author. A visit to a bookstore provided the inspiration to start writing children's books.
"I was looking for a present for my cousin in a little teeny, tiny bookstore and the next thing I knew I had an armload of books that I wanted to buy for myself because I loved them so much and the idea hit me- somebody wrote those books- why couldn't I be one of those people?"
Her love for reading was kindled by time spent with her father when she was young.
"My father read to me and that was really a special time, because he was busy, he worked two jobs and he didn't have a whole lot of time. So just getting him to sit down for five minutes- five minutes is all it takes to read a book- getting him to sit down for five minutes was always a special time."
Janet encourages families to make time for reading together.
"Spending time reading together- it creates a love of books, but more important- it's time that you spend together," Janet says. "It gives you an excuse to sit close to one another and just be a family. We have such busy lives- we need an excuse every now and then to just to sit and be quiet. Reading books together give you that excuse."