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Mother Essentials: Grace Lin

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

If you’re looking for kids’ books to ring in the Lunar New Year this week, chances are, you’ve found multiple titles by Grace Lin in your research, including the 2013 classic Bringing In the New Year. Over the last 20+ years, the prolific author-illustrator has created dozens of books—many of them award-winning and best-selling. She’s also become a champion of diversity in kid-lit, podcaster, TED Talk’er, and mother to a now tween-age daughter, Hazel. From stunning board books and picture books, to the early reader series Ling & Ting and beloved middle-grade novels, Grace’s work is a great addition to one’s bookshelf, no matter the age of your kiddos. Below, the busy, Massachusetts-based mother shares her current Mother Essentials—including some favorite titles of her own!

Fuzzy Sweaters. “Hazel adores these super soft, warm sweaters. I bought 3-4 different ones and she pretty much wears them on rotation. I don’t blame her—I wish they made some for adults!” Super Soft Pullover, $40.60, Hanna Andersson.

Sculpey. “When the pandemic first shut down schools, we had to pivot to our own homeschool curriculum. Our most successful activity was channeling Hazel’s love of making sculpey ducks into an entrepreneurial charity venture—QuackDucks! She sold her little sculpey duck creations to benefit her school and she is still making them! She makes all kinds of other creative sculpey objects as well—dragons, chickens, magic wands—though she doesn’t sell those. She says she wants to be a sculptor someday.” Sculpey.com.

A Big Mooncake for Little Star. “Kids almost always ask me which of my books is my favorite and I have to say this one. That is because Little Star is based on Hazel! Not only was the story inspired by her (eating all the mooncakes at the Moon Festival!), but I took photos of her and used them as photo reference for the book. So, she is very much Little Star and if I say any other book is my favorite she gets mad at me!” A Big Mooncake For Little Star, $17.46, Bookshop and Amazon.

When the Sea Turned to Silver. “It took a long time to convince Hazel to read my books, she pretty much flat out refused to read any of my novels for 8 years! But this year, Hazel finally began to read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and then Starry River of the Sky and now she is almost finished with this book. It is such a joy to have her read the books and enjoy them—she often calls out to me in the middle of a scene when she is surprised—’He’s the Ginseng Boy???!!!’ and I love it.” When The Sea Turned To Silver, $11.03, Bookshop and Amazon.

Chickens. “We have 6 pet chickens and we love them. During the holidays, we had a special Chicken Cluckmas celebration for them and sang the modified carols! We especially recommend the Easter Egger chickens because they lay blue or greenish eggs!” MyPetChicken.com.

Down Dog App. “When I’m not able to go out for a run or find time to go for a walk (or it’s too cold), I usually am able to do a short yoga routine using this app! They make routines as short as 5 minutes that I can squeeze in.” DownDogApp.com.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picturebook Art. “We live close to this museum and visit it regularly when we are able to! Our favorite place is the art studio and making the different projects they have.” CarleMuseum.org.

Crio Bru. “I am obsessed with crio bru! It’s brewed cacao, so it’s kind of a cross between coffee and hot cocoa, but no caffeine and no sugar (unless you add some, which I admit I do!). My favorite flavors are double chocolate, caramel, and peppermint!” Double Chocolate Light Roast, $14.95, Crio Bru.

Leggings with Pockets. “Sometime in the fall, Hazel asked me to get her leggings with pockets, as she doesn’t like ‘real’ pants. It took me quite a long time to locate some, but I did. And when I did I saw they also made adult leggings with pockets and it changed my life! We wear these all the time. She likes the patterned ones; I admit I just go for the plain colors. But I do enjoy how this brand, Svaha, has so many science-themed designs!” Black Adults Athletic Fit Leggings with Pockets, $34.99, Svaha. Dream Big Kids Leggings with Pockets, $14.99, Svaha.

Night Sky Sneakers. “I find that if I don’t go for a run at least 2 or 3 times a week, I get a little depressed and grumpy. I find the sneakers that work best for me are Merrells and when they came out with these Night Sky sneakers not only did I love them, but so did Hazel! We ended up getting a pair for both of us!” Night Sky Sneakers, $95, Merrell.

Gozen. “My husband and Hazel got in a car accident in the fall and, naturally, since then Hazel has had a bit of anxiety. So, we’ve been doing this online program together—just watching a couple 3-minute animated videos a night and talking about it. It’s been really great! It’s really helped us name when we are having negative emotions and work through them faster.” Gozen.com.

Persimmon Canister. “Speaking of sugar, I keep my sweetener in this persimmon canister, which makes me happy every time I use it. Persimmons are one of my favorite fruit and in Chinese culture they symbolize harmony and good luck.” Ceramic Tea Storage Container, $9.90, Amazon.

Daruma Dolls. “Daruma was a Buddhist monk who was known for his persistence, but you don’t have to be Buddhist or know his story to use these dolls. They are fun, visual goal-setting objects! You dot in one eye of the daruma doll when you set your goal and when you finish it, you dot in the other eye! I use them when I start a book and it’s always so satisfying when I can dot in the other. Also, I feel a little proud when I see a row of finished daruma dolls on my shelf!” EDOYA Daruma Dolls (Set of 7), $32.99, Amazon.

For more Mother Essentials, peep our recent past columns with the co-founders of ODDOBODY, Happy Family Organics’ CEO Anne Laraway, YA author J.Elle, kid-lit authors Karen Chan and Suzanne Greenlaw, the founders of EADEM, Minimalista author Shira Gill, Domino’s Chief Content Officer Kate Berry, the two-mom duo behind Morrow Soft Goods, mega-influencer Nabela NoorAngela O’Brien of Cleobella, Nikki Osei-Barrett of District Motherhued, Blair Paysinger of Post 21, Idia Lanlokun of Ola & Mide, Karam Kim of Bluecut aprons, children’s authors Evan Sargent and Joanna HoEli Yonas of Toki Mats, Shaina Kerrigan of Molly J., Jenna Levine of LINNÉ botanicals, Eunice Byun of Material, and Sandra Lin of Kiwi Co.


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