Never draw a blank (page) again when looking for a good picture book!
Hong Kong is known as the hub for business and finance, but artistic careers aren’t usually encouraged or pursued, so it comes to no surprise that locally based children’s authors can be difficult to come by. Here at Sassy Mama, we’re massive fans of local talent – and there’s no arguing that there’s an abundance of that here in the 852. To save you the hassle of hunting high-and-low, far-and-wide for a great Hong Kong based picture book, we’ve put together a list of our fav Hong Kong children’s authors and books for any purpose: be it a bedtime story, learning Chinese, or just some quality reading – there’s something for everyone. Happy reading!
Written by Sarah Brennan, illustrated by Harry Harrison
After moving to Hong Kong in 1998, Sarah Brennan (previously our That Mama!) has achieved an impressive number of things: from opening up her own publishing company, to creating a series of children’s books explaining the Chinese Zodiac through this company. If you want to test the waters rather than jumping right in and buying the entire collection, ‘The Tale of Chester Choi’ follows a Chinese dragon who loves eating children… yet is lonely and longing for a friend! Teach your kids about the power of love through this poetic and witty tale that will be fun for parents to read out loud.
Written by Sarah and Luke Garner
If your little bilingual genius is starting to learn their 1, 2, 3’s, then ‘My Hong Kong Numbers’ is just the book for you! With adorable illustrations from real life scenarios in Hong Kong (like a container ship at a cargo port!), paired with numbers from 1 to 10 in English and Mandarin, you can bet that things will be fun and interactive. Made with FSC-certified paper to help promote environmental sustainability, it also makes for a cute souvenir or keepsake for anyone who has spent time in Hong Kong! Make sure to also check out ‘My Hong Kong Alphabet’ as well!
Read more: That Mama: Sarah Garner of Retykle
How much: $160
Available at: Rektyle
Written by Ritu Hemnani, illustrated by Samidha Gunjal
Yet another inspirational mama, Ritu Hemnani has been an active member in expanding the Hong Kong literary field through many facets. From taking part in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, as well as spreading love for storytelling and the arts through teaching, to writing the children’s books she’s always loved – Ritu is a positive influence.
In celebration of Indian heritage, and in support of the Home of Loving Faithfulness, Ritu Hemnani has just launched ‘Gope and Meera – A Migration Story’ which follows the heartwarming tale of two refugees, based off of her own parents. The story of Gope and Meera is told through colourful pages, and depicts one of the largest mass migrations in history, aiming to raise awareness about the Partition of India.
Written by Diana Wu-David, illustrated by Margaret Jung
Power mum and entrepreneur Diana Wu-David is involved in many areas of community support in Hong Kong, so it should come as no surprise that all profits from sales of ‘Hong Kong ABC’ go to Room To Read (more incentive to get the book!). Featuring 26 images of Hong Kong, this chunky board book is both interactive and quirky to easily help your little one remember their ABC’s the Hong Kong way.
How much: $98
Available at: Bookazine
Written by Matthew Cooper, illustrated by Fiona Lai
A stay-at-home dad based in Sai Kung with two kiddos, Matthew Cooper enjoys placing the familiar into children’s books, and has written other books such as ‘Black Rain Day’ set in the rural areas of Hong Kong. However, for mamas who have transport-obsessed kids (we know a few!), this book follows the urban part of Hong Kong that we all know and love. Follow Tim Chan as he chases his dog from Hong Kong Park to Sai Kung, and enjoy the vibrant illustrations as they bring the fast-paced Hong Kong to life on the page.
How much: $120
Available at: Bookazine
Written and illustrated by Theadora Whittington
An artist and a writer, the talented Theadora Whittington was taught traditional Chinese painting in Beijing, and returned to the UK to obtain a degree in Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. During her time in Hong Kong, Theadora’s interest in biodiversity and Chinese and Southeast Asian societies shone through her children’s picture books; two of which, including ‘The Mermaid and the Pink Dolphin’, are endorsed by WWF.
Strap your kids in for a fun adventure at sea, as they join Nella the mermaid in saving a pink dolphin named Sam, all while two hungry fisherman are trying to find fish for dinner. It’s a great way to introduce the beautiful Chinese White Dolphins of Hong Kong!
How much: $99
Available here: List of booksellers here.
Written and illustrated by Ellen WY Leou
As a Hong Kong children’s author, who is also an architect and designer, Ellen Leou should definitely be on your radar when you’re looking for local based authors.
Her beloved series ‘Lulu the Hong Kong Cat’ was inspired by her very own cat. The books are all infused with love and hand illustrated with watercolour and ink. In the newest edition of Lulu the Hong Kong Cat, join Lulu as she discovers a time machine that takes her back to a 1940 – 1950’s Hong Kong where she learns about our history and makes a few friends along the way.
How much: $186
Available at: Swindon Books
Written by Lisa Leyris, illustrated by Maxim Lo Mei Sum and Dr. M. Fraissinet
Full of wanderlust and a constant traveller herself, Lisa Leyris had worked and studied in many different countries, but when she became a mama in Hong Kong, she was interested in seeing how her son would develop in such a multicultural city. Like many other mamas out there, she couldn’t seem to find many picture books set in Hong Kong, which prompted her to create the Petit Paul Globe Trotter collection! Petit Paul Globe Trotter explores travel and multiculturalism (as the title would suggest!) in Hong Kong, a city influenced by both the East and the West.
We follow Paul as he takes in the diversity and interacts with the different cultures with the help of his parents – a perfect picture book to teach your little one to open their hearts and minds to everyone around them!
How much: $119
Available at: Commercial Press
Written by Alan Jeffries, illustrated by Mariko Jesse
A poet and children’s author, Alan Jeffries was extremely invested in stimulating the spoken word community during his time in Hong Kong, initiating “Poetry OutLoud” and, later, “Vodka Slam”. Although currently living in Brisbane, during his time here, he published ‘The Crocodile who wanted to be Famous’, inspired by Pui Pui, the famous crocodile captured in 2004 and placed in the Hong Kong Wetland Park.
Take your children on an adventure, following Crafty the Crocodile’s travels to Hong Kong with the goal of becoming famous. After some time, he starts to doubt this ambition, and learns the value of friendship, family and the environment. The edition of this book also offers a Chinese translation, making it an easy way for you to sneakily slip in a few Chinese words before bedtime.
How much: $68
Available at: Commercial Press
Written by Martha Keswick, illustrated by Mariko Jesse
As a mama herself, Martha Keswick understands the difficulty of getting your kids to learn Mandarin as a second language in Hong Kong. If your little tyke has a similar problem, the Max and Mei series makes learning fun! ‘Max and Mei meet the Dinosaur’ takes your small adventurer to the zoo and, while Max can’t wait to meet the dinosaurs, Mei is convinced that dinosaurs aren’t real… Regardless, you’ll have to read on to find out for yourself.
How much: $89.15
Available at: Mandarin Matrix
Featured image taken by jutheanh sourced via Pixabay