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Behind the Book: What is God Like?

last updated 13 August 2021

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New York Times #1 best-selling title What is God Like? (Convergent Books), illustrated by Bright Artist Ying Hui Tan, has resonated with young readers for its message of love and hope. Since hitting shelves in June, Tan’s whimsical illustrations and the writing of the late Rachel Held Evans (completed by Matthew Paul Turner) has put language to important lessons that children can understand and implement into their personal lives. We were able to sit down with Ying Hui and hear more about the details behind this book. Enjoy!

Artwork from What is God Like?

How does it feel for your illustrations to be in a New York Times #1 Best Selling book? Why do you think this book resonates with young readers?

I did not expect that would happen to me personally, it is truly a blessing! Thank you to The Bright Agency and those who shared in the effort to make this book with me. I guess it is the love and hope we receive from this book. Young readers are like sponges, they can absorb the lessons in the books they read. I think they simply want to feel loved and hopeful.


Cover of What is God Like?

What inspired the artistic themes in this book? We would love to hear about your experience illustrating from beginning to end.

When I first read What is God Like? I had a dream-like and colorful vision in mind. It didn’t take me long to finish the first set of rough sketches, set up the basic lighting, and design the overall flow and rhythm from spread to spread. Then I thought this could be the book for me to express myself without limitations or third-party art influences. I am quite proud of myself that I managed to finish the illustrations the way I wanted them to be. The overall experience was smoother than I would hope for. My team was supportive, especially Matthew and Dan, they are amazing people. They were really kind and supported me all the way, they believed in me as their illustrator which was the key motivation for me to give all my best from the beginning to end.

If you could describe the artistic style of What is God Like? in one word, what would it be? Explain.

It is hard to say, I thought of post-impressionism when I started this book. I enjoy experimenting with colors and using brushstrokes to create the connection from each moment to another. I also like to add a little mysterious or cute element for extra sparks and fun.


Colorful interior spread from What is God Like?

Describe the message of this book to us! Why do you think it is important for young readers to learn the lessons it teaches?

We are not alone, we are loved and blessed with all the things we have and had. I hope we never lose hope and faith in what we believe, in ourselves and other people too.

What is your favorite spread from the book?

One of my favorites is the shepherd spread!


Shepherd spread from roughs to final result

Thanks for reading all about What is God Like? with Bright Artist Ying Hui Tan! Stay tuned to hear more about the upcoming sequel, also illustrated by Ying Hui, hitting shelves in spring 2024! Miss last month’s Behind the Book blog on Stop that Poem illustrated by Bright Artist Jieting Chen? Click here to read the full blog!

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