A New Thai Fable

Dow Phumiruk is an author and/or illustrator of several children’s picture books, including illustrations for the 2019 Cook Award winning picture book biography Counting on Katherine, written by Helaine Becker, One Girl, written by New York Times best-selling author Andrea Beaty, Hugsby, her author/illustrator debut, and An Equal Shot: How the Law Title IX Changed America, written by Helaine Becker. Dow’s book, Mela and the Elephant, was a Colorado Book Awards Finalist in the Children’s Literature category in 2019.

It was such a pleasure to receive the honor of Colorado Book Awards finalist in 2019 for my picture book Mela and the Elephant. This book was my debut as an author, and it made me so proud. The original draft was a winner of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Emerging Voices Award in 2013, and the book was ultimately published by Sleeping Bear Press in 2018. Since then, the book has represented Colorado at the National Book Festival in Washington D. C., has been named on the list of 50 Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2018, and has been featured recently by the Oakland Asian Cultural Center for a Southeast Asian story time presentation this year. The recognition of my book has been an ongoing reward.

With the tragic rise of anti-Asian racism in the United States, I am so grateful that a book set in Thailand was embraced by our Colorado Humanities group, promoting an acceptance of diversity ahead of the issues we face today. The attention to our books because of these awards directly encourages families to pick up and read our work. In this case, they read a story from a diverse perspective, showing children that people have so much in common, even if they look different or live on the other side of the globe. It’s an honor to help share the common threads of humanity that connect our world as one in this way. In addition, I feel that there can never be enough books reminding children about kindness in general. I hope Mela’s story, including her growth as a big sister who models kindness after the lessons of her adventure, will impact all readers positively. I appreciate that the Colorado Book Awards has promoted kindness by its support of Mela and the Elephant.

Lastly, this award has given me confidence in my work as a writer and has fostered my desire to create more own-voices stories for children. This book was my second publication, and I have had the fortune of over a dozen projects since (as author and/or illustrator). I will always appreciate this early recognition that continues to lift me up as I create more stories.

Purchase Mela and the Elephant through our friends at BookBar.