By Tim Cross
Ming Chen (left)
and Wah Chen '92
Mama! Take them back! Manuella's shoes are from the rack,"
complains the title character about her sister's hand-me-downs in
Sassparilla's New Shoes, a children's book co-authored by
twin sisters Ming Chen and Wah Chen '92. In the 40-page hardcover,
which is written entirely in verse, Sassparilla imagines all the
types of shoes she would prefer to her sister's, then takes the old
pair and uses her imagination and creativity to produce a unique
pair that reflects her own taste.
collaborators - and identical down to their fingerprints - the two
sisters didn't follow the same academic track. While Wah went to
Columbia, Ming attended Harvard (Class of 1992), where she later
earned an MBA. After their college graduations, both worked for a
while in Asia, where Wah was an on-air television host and reporter
and Ming became a presenter on a pan-Asian cable
Wah says it's
ironic that both ended up on television "because growing up we
rarely watched TV. We've always had much more of an affinity for
books." Inspired by the example of their father and uncle, who
co-authored several medical books, Wah and Ming began collaborating
on writing for children when they were college juniors. This is the
duo's first book.
Sassparilla's New Shoes was
illustrated by Mariko Jesse and Adam Bartley and is focused on the
"pre-professional, under-12 set," as Wah describes the target
audience. In writing the book, the sisters were inspired by their
own background. "We feel strongly about making our heroines look
Asian, but let them star in stories that are universal," says Wah.
"We grew up with few books that featured multicultural characters,
and [creating them] has been a motivating force."
positive responses to the book (the 11 customer reviews on
Amazon.com all give the book five stars) and a desire to write
more, neither sister is quitting her day job just yet. Wah is a
book editor at eToys, a Los Angeles-based Internet firm, while Ming
is vice president of global marketing for Boston-based EF
Sassparilla's New Shoes is
published by E.M. Press and sells for $19.95.