Andrea Wang

Click here to watch the 2022 ALA Youth Media Awards press conference.

I asked Donna Barba Higuera, Rajani LaRocca, Darice Little Badger, Kyle Lukoff, and Andrea Wang to answer two questions and finish two sentence starters. 

Hello, Andrea Wang! Congratulations on winning a 2022 Newbery Honor and an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Watercress! I love hearing about the CALLS. What was running through your heart when the committees were clapping and cheering for you?

Andrea Wang: Hello and thank you, Mr. Schu! I heard about the APALA award from my editor, Neal Porter, and about the Newbery Honor directly from the ALA. I think the main thing running through my heart during the calls was adrenaline. Seriously, it was beating so fast my watch (which has a heart rate monitor) sent me alerts! And then I was just overcome with disbelief and gratitude and cried many happy tears. My husband was sitting beside me during both calls and heard all my incoherent responses, but he was thrilled for me. I texted the news to my kids after the ALA YMA ceremony and they expressed their excitement with unprintable exclamations. đŸ€Ł

What does a Newbery Honor and an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Watercress mean to you?

Andrea Wang: I read somewhere that around 30,000 books for young people are published in the U.S. every year. And so many amazing, deserving books came out in 2021. I had hoped that Jason would receive Caldecott recognition, but I honestly didn’t expect that I would win anything myself. So to win a Newbery Honor and an APALA Award is an incredible validation. I write in the hopes that young readers will feel seen and understood, and the awards made me feel seen and understood by my peers in a way that I had never believed possible. It moves me deeply. I believe winning the awards also shows that books like Watercress, which depict the lives of immigrants, people of color, and people who have been marginalized or othered, are important and needed. Best of all, the awards mean that Watercress will be in schools and on library shelves for a long time, reaching even more readers.

Please finish the following sentence starters: 

Story is everything. Stories are how I escape from reality, but also how I process my own life. I wrote Watercress because I had a memory that felt pivotal in my life, but I didn’t know how or why. The act of writing it was cathartic – it allowed me to let go of a lot of resentment and guilt. Stories are everything Rudine Sims-Bishop says they are: windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors – not just into other people’s lives but into the writer’s own life as well. With Watercress, I feel like I stepped through a sliding glass door and took my childhood self by the hand.

School librarians are crucial for a just and equitable society. Ideally, they provide access to books and resources that show the true breadth and width of humanity. They guide young people toward independent thought, show them connections between themselves and others, and instill in them the hope for a better future and the knowledge that they can be changemakers.

Thank you for having me on Watch. Connect. Read. again!

Thank you, Andrea!! Congratulations! 

Andrea Wang is the award-winning author of The Nian Monster and Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando. She was inspired to write Watercress by her experience growing up in rural Ohio as a child of Chinese immigrants. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in Colorado with her family.


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