Yesterday, it was announced that DANNY CHUNG DOES NOT DO MATHS, my debut novel, was one of three books on the Blue Peter Book Awards 2022 shortlist in the Best Story category. I couldn't believe it when I found out. I was actually a bit numb. My book? The one I'd written that I thought no-one would buy or like? Writers often get a thing called 'imposter syndrome' and for decades, we've seen that British children's authors who publish books and win prizes, don't often look like me.
But here we are and I am so proud! I've worked really hard to become a writer. The Blue Peter Book Awards are so special because they are voted on by children. It's up to them who wins and I love that. It means the people who I wrote my book for get to decide. It's lovely when parents or librarians or school teachers like my book, but it's really all about the young readers. When I wrote Danny Chung I made sure I had things in my book that I thought children today might have to deal with: parents who want them to be someone else, friendships, and finding out who you really are and what you really want to be like. I'm so happy that children everywhere, boys and girls, from six to thirteen have told me how much they enjoyed reading Danny Chung.
I didn't realise that Danny's gran - Nai Nai would be the star of the show. Everyone loves her so much. She is a mixture of my own mom, my Chinese grandmother that I met in my late 20s, my friend's gran from China and my mother-in-law. She is a warm, cuddly but really strong older woman who has joy in her heart. I've met plenty of women like that in my life who have helped me and given me hugs. I also wanted to show different types of families and so you have Danny's family, Ravi's family, the Yees and we also learn about Mrs Cruikshank's family. She's quite lonely. During Covid times I could see how sometimes old people were dismissed or how young people were expected to solve climate change, and so in my book it's a meeting of these two generations and how they're not so different after all.
The book also came out during the pandemic that affected us all. For Chinese people around the world there was a lot of difficulty and fear. People were blaming all Chinese people for Covid. And in some cities around the world, hate crime and racism raged and people were really hurt. Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths is a book about hope and kindness in these difficult times. I hope that young readers can see that we're all human and underneath our cultural differences - we are actually all the same. We all want to have friendship and to be accepted.
Being on the shortlist for this particular award is a dream come true and whatever happens I'm really thankful to those who have helped me on my writing journey. And as Nai Nai says in my book 'Hao!' GOOD!
If you want to see the Blue Peter Book Awards shortlist announcement you can click here
Congratulations to the other shortlisted authors and illustrators this year.
In the Non-Fiction categories we have the amazing Rashmi Sirdeshpande with Good News , Christiane Dorion (author) and Gosia Herba (illustrator) for Invented by Animals and Lan Cook (author) and Laurent Kling (illustrator) for 24 Hours in the Stone Age .
Good luck everyone!