Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – A Conversation with Sylvia Bi, Publishing Design Assistant, On the Joy of Diversity in Fanart

Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month, a conversation with Sylvia Bi. Assistant designer at random house children's books, on the joy of diversity of fanart. illustration depicts sprout the sparrow, their wings spread out wide like they are showing off something, with sylvia drawn as a deer, winking and with dangling earrings.

Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)

Hello friends! Welcome to our last round of posts for Asian Heritage Month here at the Pond. Today we’re changing tracks a little from our usual bookish tune, and talking about fanart from the margins! Art is undoubtedly one of the pillars of the reading community—I know I’m always overjoyed to find some good good art of my favorite bookish characters. And recently we’ve also been seeing bookish fanart pop up more and more around the industry too, in places like pre-order promo swag and book subscription box perks. As this happens, it’s also important to acknowledge the role of fanart in increasing visible representation and diversity in books as well!

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Our Friend is Here! Lauren Shares Her Experiences as a Multi-Ethnic Reader

Our Friend is Here! Lauren is here; experiences of a multi-ethnic reader. Art depicts Xiaolong the pink axolotl showing off a kitsune (nine-tailed fox) with red-tipped tails.

You take your first step into the Pond and, right on time, you hear —


Right on cue as well, Xiaolong comes dashing towards you. You can feel her almost vibrating from excitement. It looks like something fun is going to happen at the Pond today!

“Friend, come quick! We have a friend visiting us today!”

lauren_oficsA visitor! You think back to the time when Sprout invited Christina Soontornvat to the Pond and smile a little bit to yourself.

You follow Xiaolong to the heart of the Pond and over by the water is a beautiful kitsune, her nine tails sway gently around her. You can feel something ethereal and powerful about her, and when she turns to look steadily at you, the red markings on her face seem to glow faintly.

“Friend, this is Lauren!” says Xiaolong, her arms wide by way of showing off her visiting friend. “Lauren is visiting to tell me a little bit about her experiences. Do you want to join us?”

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, ‘visit’ the Pond with their very own unique character and we talk about anything related to books or being a reader.

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Want to Read More Diverse Books? Here are Six Tips to Diversify Your Reading! 🌈

Text: Six Tips to Diversify Your Reading. Image: Amina the Hedgehog, playing her lute, with rainbow-coloured magic swirling around her with music notes.

You are sitting by the pond, discussing the intersections of written-magic and sewing-magic with Varian the Toadshifter, when you hear, what seems to be, Xiaolong’s approaching footfalls and her yelps of delight.

“Friend! Everybody!” says Xiaolong, emerging from the brush with a massive smile on her face. “Amina’s coming! She’s almost here!”

Oh that’s right, Amina the Hedgehog Bard! Xiaolong had mentioned her when you first met all your pond friends, but you haven’t had the chance to meet her yet. Seeing how excited all your pond friends are at seeing Amina again warms your soul a little bit, you can’t help but feel a little excited too.

Amina the hedgehog, wearing a red and green hat, pushing grass aside, smiling.You feel a ripple in the air, a light wobble at your core, and – look! Over there, Amina, carrying a beautiful lute and a knapsack, is wading through the thicket of bushes. When she looks over and sees all her friends, she smiles.

“Oh, how I missed you all so much,” are her first words, her voice gentle and soothing.

“Amina!” they all yell, running over to her. Xiaolong tackles her in a big hug, and Varian looks absolutely delighted. Even shy Gen is grinning from eye to eye and is nuzzling Amina’s cheek. Cuddle approaches shyly – it’s the first time Cuddle has met Amina too! They all seem so happy to be together.

Over Varian’s shoulder, Amina spots you and smiles knowingly. “Who’s this, my darlings? Is this our newest friend?”

“Oh yes!” exclaims Xiaolong, pulling Amina over to you. After Xiaolong introduces the both of you, she turns to Amina, her gills bouncing. “Amina, what stories do you have to tell today? Did you learn new kinds of magic? Did you meet new magical beings from other places of magic?”

“Yes, Xiaolong! I had the most wonderful adventure and I’ll tell you all about them, but first!” She sits down on the floor, opens her knapsack, and pulls out what appears to be a well-loved and worn journal. “I have to share this piece of wisdom for you. Sit down friends, let me tell you about…”

Hello friends, and welcome back to The Quiet Pond! I hope you all are reading some lovely books and are enjoying your current reads. ✨

Today’s post will be on how to read more diversely. This is, interestingly, quite a common question that I receive on Twitter, and the question always excites me! Reading diverse books is something I am incredibly passionate about and I’m always happy to help people diversify their reading. So for those of you who are thinking of reading more diverse books but aren’t quite sure how to, or even for those of you are reading diverse books at the moment but want tips on how to find more books — this post is for you. 💛

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