I love being a school librarian for many reasons, but the most important one is that I get the opportunity to introduce my readers to interesting and talented authors and illustrators – and Mika Song is one of them! Donut Feed the Squirrels and Pizza My Heart are a popular choices in my elementary school library, and rarely stay on my bookshelf for long as they are in the hands of another enthusiastic reader. Norma and Belly’s next adventure, One Smart Cookie (August 2023) is going to be equally as loved!
Mika Song is a featured presenter at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 20, 2023, and will be sharing Pizza My Heart (A Graphic Novel). She and her friend, Isabel Roxas (The Adventures of Team Pom: The Last Pom (Team Pom Book 2)) will be presenting their books and leading a workshop together entitled, “Sticky Situations”, at 1:15 pm in the Graphic Novels and Workshops Pavilion.
I hope you enjoy my visit with Mika Song!
Who encouraged or inspired you to become an author/illustrator?
My father is a photographer and my mother is a magazine editor and they both encouraged me to draw and write. My grandmother was a writer and jewelry designer. As a kid I loved visiting her tiny bedroom where she worked with her many art supplies, typewriter and crafts books. I still remember her showing me how to put a watercolor wash around a figure to make a drawing look more cohesive. I realize I still use that trick all the time. I learned so many things that I am not even conscious of from her.
What is your writing space like?
My work space is a big desk in the corner of my bedroom next to the window with a good view of the street. I can hear the train and people walking by. I get many of my ideas this way. The plot of my early-reader graphic novel, DONUT FEED THE SQUIRRELS, came to me when I was working at home and I smelled something delicious outside my window. On the street below me was a donut truck, CARPE DONUTS. I imagined a hungry squirrel jumping into the chimney of the truck from a tree branch above.
What do you love most about the cover art and illustrations in your current book? Describe your art style and your art process.
The thing I love most about my Norma and Belly covers is that each title mentions a specific snack. Patrick Crotty, the designer at RHG, came up with a really fun way to design the cover so it looks like a pizza box but also still fits in with the template of the previous books in the series. I like that the squirrels are eating while running with the pizza because it is such a New York thing to eat your pizza while walking.
I think my art style for these books is approachable to a young reader. The characters are composed of a few expressive handmade lines and shapes that are not always perfect or regular but fun and lively.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
My favorite character is Belly the squirrel because she doesn’t let things get her down. She keeps her eyes on the donut, not the hole. She’s a breeze to draw and always cute. Most of the time I am actually like Norma, always thinking about some plan or worrying about the future.
How (or in what ways) do you hope librarians will promote your book?
Librarians have been helpful in getting my books to young readers. I remember during lockdown in 2020 watching a librarian do a read aloud of DONUT FEED THE SQUIRRELS which had come out very recently. Even though they are graphic novels for independent readers, I hope they get shared as read alouds too. One student told me it only takes 13 minutes to read all the chapters.
I draw new Norma and Belly comic strips once a week on SundayHaha.com, a free comic newsletter by KidLit creators, that is another way to share the world with readers. I think it’s a good resource for librarians running comics clubs and makerspaces. I hope it shows the diversity of the comics format.
Who is the reader you are writing for? Please describe them.
My reader is anyone who is having a long day or work at school and just wants to sit in the trees of Fort Greene park with Norma, Belly, Gramps and Little Bee and imagine a world where the only thing that matters is a donut guarded by a very uptight food truck seller.
What is something that you really want your readers to know about you?
One thing readers should know about me is that my next book in the Norma and Belly series is coming out on August 8, 2023. It is called ONE SMART COOKIE. It takes place partly in a fortune cookie factory and we learn something important about Little Bee. It was fun to make this book because I learned about the history of the fortune cookie and its significance in Asian American history. I also learned while working on the book that my grandmother’s first job as a young adult was typing up fortunes for fortune cookies.
Another thing readers should know about me is I enjoy getting letters from them. Write to me at
Mika Song, PO Box 4594, Sunnyside, NY 11104.
Which book review or award has been most meaningful to you?
One of the first honors Donut Feed the Squirrels received was from the Texas Library Association’s Children’s Round Table. They put it on the 2021 Little Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List. I didn’t know about the list at the time because graphic novels for kids were not as popular. It made me happy to see that librarians love comics for kids and that my book was one of their favorites.
What are you most looking forward to at our book festival?
The thing about the Gaithersburg Book Festival that I am most looking forward to is drawing with my friend Isabel Roxas (THE ADVENTURES OF TEAM POM) and the kids. I just never know what will happen when we draw together. And making up comics with kids on the spot always makes me see new things in my work.
What message do you have for your readers?
My message to readers is life is beautiful – stay curious about the world around you so you don’t miss anything fun.
Want to learn more about Mika?
Elena Reads and Reviews: With the Stroke of Her Brush, Mika Song Brings Diversity to Books
Mika Song Draws author website
Mika Song Printables – fun for kids (and adults!)