Edmonds author’s book may break a record

Liz Wong’s ‘Quackers’ the centerpiece of Read for the Record
By Brian Soergel | Oct 12, 2017
Courtesy of: Liz Wong Liz Wong

An illustrated children’s book about a cat that thinks it’s a duck will be on the minds of more than 2 million readers on Thursday, Oct. 19.

It’s “Quackers,” written and illustrated by Edmonds resident Liz Wong. Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House, released it in 2016.

The book, for readers ages 3 through 7, was chosen as the Jumpstart 2017 Read for the Record selection. Jumpstart is an early literacy organization dedicated to preparing children to enter kindergarten ready to read.

Read for the Record is an annual event where people across the country attempt to break the world record for the most people reading the same book at the same time.

Since 2006, this 24-hour event has mobilized more than 17 million people in support of early education and literacy, including celebrity ambassadors such as Josh Duhamel, Bridget Moynahan, LL Cool J, Maya Angelou, Mandy Moore and Julianna Margulies.

“It’s about a cat that thinks he’s a duck because he lives at a duck pond,” said Wong, who has degrees in art and anthropology from the University of Washington and lives in a quiet cul-de-sac with her husband and 9-year-old son.

“He eventually meets another cat and realizes he is, in fact, not a duck.”

But it’s more than that, of course. Wong, 43, said themes essentially touch on identity, finding your place in the world, and figuring out that it’s OK to be different.

“Many readers just find it a cute story about a cat and duck,” she said over coffee at Red Twig, pointing to colorful and engaging illustrations in the book.

“Some people read it and think about a whole slew of other issues – being inclusive and about multiculturalism. I’m half-Asian and half-white, and I spend a lot of time figuring out where I fit in the world.

“There are also gender issues I did not see in the book, but kids who are going through those things say they identify with it.”

Wong’s career as a published author and illustrator began in earnest about four years ago when she met an art director at a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Seattle.

That led to an introduction with an agent and a subsequent book deal.

Today, sales figures for “Quackers” are impressive. Wong said the book, which also has been translated to Spanish, has been through two printings – the hardcover has sold more than 30,000 copies and the paperback more than 110,000.

In addition, “Quackers” is a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards in the Books for Early Readers (ages 6-8) category. It also is a nominee for the 2017-18 Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award, which is voted on by K-3 students.

Not bad for a writer who also holds a day job as assistant director of patron services for the University of Washington’s Meany Hall.

Wong says her next book is titled “Goose Egg.”

“It’s similar thematically,” she said. “It’s about an elephant who accidentally ends up a parent to a goose.”

If that book does well, Wong may just have to give up her day job.

“Being with JumpStart has been an amazing boon to me,” she said. “It has definitely given me hope that I’ll have a career.”

To see Jumpstart’s announcement video featuring actor Josh Duhamel, go to www.bit.ly/2gaPEj9. Liz Wong will read from “Quackers” at two locations on Oct. 19 – 10:30 a.m. at the Beacon Hill branch of Seattle Public Library and 7 p.m. at the University Book Store in the U District.



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