Behind the Book: Dragon Noodle Party
last updated 08 December 2022
Bright got in touch with Paula Pang, illustrator of Dragon Noodle Party. Written by Ying Compestine, and published by Holiday House, this adorable book follows the animals of the zodiac as they make noodles and prepare for a festive party. Publishing on Dec. 9th, 2023, this book is released just in time for the start of the Lunar New Year. Read our conversation with Paula below, as she discusses her inspiration and takeaways from this project.
What inspired the artistic style in Dragon Noodle Party?
Although it is a book inspired by the Chinese zodiac, I didn’t want the art to be immediate recognizable as stereotypical Chinese book. The zodiac story is in fact pretty well known in many Asian cultures, not solely to the Chinese culture. However, I didn’t want to miss out communicating the Chinese aspect of the story, therefore, a great deal of attention was given to the background which was largely inspired by the natures of China which are less known to foreigners. Etc: The White Birch Forest, Golden Snub-nosed monkey, Chinese Straw house.
What inspired the character design?
I’m really fond of simplicity in design, so I wanted to keep the designs of the character read-able. Especially since majority of the details is focused on the background. Each animal should be simple enough to not outweigh the importance of the other characters and also be balanced between the background.
What do you love most about illustrating books? What was your favorite part of working on Dragon Noodle Party in particular?
The research was one of my favorite parts as it always widens my horizon. This is also the stage where I started having ideas for many things in which allowed me to develop depth for the artwork. I enjoyed adding a little amusement in my illustrations, so the readers could find some fun with my artwork.
Do you personally resonate with the theme of the book? If so, what are some things you do to achieve that?
Like many Chinese families, food is a meant for us to establish and express relationship between one another. Therefore, we take great care in food preparation, especially for special occasions such as the Chinese New Year. My family would spend a few days in advance for groceries shopping and then we would start preparing that one sumptuous dinner in the morning or even the day before.
In the book I wanted to show how much efforts the animals took to come together from different places with different ingredients just for that one a sumptuous meal at the end of the day. And to show how times passes through the day, colors on the page changes gradually so that our reader could feel the change in mood as well.
Is there anything specific you hope readers take away after reading Dragon Noodle Party?
I think it would be great if someone walks away and wonders during their next meal where did the food on the table came from and what was its journey after reading the book. Otherwise, I’m just extremely happy if they could enjoy this book in any way possible with their imagination.