Today, people in many Asian countries and around the world are celebrating the Lunar New Year and welcoming in the Year of the Tiger. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate, than to welcome author Songju Ma Daemicke and learn more about her recent picture book biography, TU YOUYOU’S DISCOVERY – FINDING A CURE FOR MALARIA, illustrated by Lin.
Songju has generously offered to give away one copy of TU YOUYOU’S DISCOVERY – FINDING A CURE FOR MALARIA, to one lucky winner. Comment on the blogpost to enter the giveaway! And don’t miss giveaways from Julie Danneberg and Lynne Marie!
What were you like at the age of your target audience?
This is the earliest photo of me. I was in the third grade. I lived in the small town of Jilin, China during the Cultural Revolution. At that time, China was a cultural desert. There wasn’t a single library in our town. All Western and Chinese traditional arts and literature were considered without virtue and were forbidden. People read Mao’s little red book at school and in their workplaces. I loved reading and read every single book I could get my hands on including Mao’s book, text books, even instruction books. I was starving for culture and knowledge. Every time I walk into the local library of my small town in Glenview, Illinois, and see its lines and lines of shelves full of beautiful books, I am amazed and delighted. I am profoundly thankful for the privilege of being able to access all these wonderful books! (Wow, I can’t imagine growing up without a great library. I used to live near Glenview and they have a gorgeous library. So many in that suburban system where I grew up and raised 3 children who also loved the library!)
What inspires you?
I draw my inspiration from many sources:
My first book, A Case of SENSE, was triggered by the sign “Free Smells” I saw on the window of a restaurant.
CAO CHONG WEIGHS AN ELEPHANT was inspired from one of my daughters’ violin concerts, a famously clever composition by Mozart, a child musical genius. This inspired me to tell the story of our most famous Chinese child prodigy, Cao Chong.
My inspiration to write my last book, TU YOUYOU’S DISCOVERY – FINDING A CURE FOR MALARIA, was from a TV show. In beginning of 2019, I watched a BBC program called Icons: The Greatest Person of the 20th Century. Tu Youyou, a Nobel prize winning woman scientist, was one of four candidates in the science category. As a Chinese American, I had to share her remarkable journey.
What’s something you hope readers will take away from your books?
My newest book, TU YOUYOU’S DISCOVERY – FINDING A CURE FOR MALARIA, is a biography of the first Chinese woman Nobel laureate. Tu Youyou used her background in traditional Chinese medicine to develop a new medicine, saving millions of lives.
All my books are Own Voice STEAM themed stories. Tu Youyou is a great role model whose story will hopefully empower young readers, especially girls, to pursue a STEAM field career. The fields of science and engineering are not for boys only. We need more women scientists and engineers.
My message to readers: Dream big, work hard, think creatively, and you will make a difference in this world.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a few manuscripts that celebrate Chinese culture or are STEAM related. I hope they all will become books one day.
Readers can learn more about Songju and her books at: