What a year 2020 has been. I’m actively resisting the urge to talk and reflect on 2020 as a year, because I am sure that there will be an overabundance of thinkpieces. But all I’ll say that – it’s been a tough year, friends, and I’m so proud and glad that we all made it through together.
With books though, I think this has been one of my favourite reading years. 2017 was my last favourite reading year – that was the year where I made the conscious decision to diversify my reading choices, and I discovered so many wonderful stories. Though the years after were also good, I think 2020 was the year where I just read a series of phenomenal books that now live in a tender place in my heart and memory.
Sprout is stargazing tonight when you visit the Pond.
You find them lying on the grass, a tiny bird in a field of green, looking up at the sky. Their eyes brighten as they see you approach.
“Oh, hello friend! You made it today!” Sprout sits up and smiles at you. “I’m so glad you’re here. We’re expecting a very exciting guest today, and I’d love for you to meet them!”
At the mention of a guest, a soft breeze picks up — gentle at first, and then stronger. As the leaves rustle, from beyond the canopy of trees overhead, you hear the flapping of wings. A sooty owl emerges, starry as the night. A wreath of orange roses adorns their head, with a few skulls peeking through the flower crown. The owl flies down to join you and Sprout on the grass.
“Right on time!” Sprout exclaims happily. “Friend, this is Reimena! She’s here to talk to us about her newest book that’s coming out next week.”
Sprout hops closer, and confides in a quieter voice, “Xiaolong told me that she cried for a whole morning reading it!”
You chuckle, and sit down on the grass next to Sprout. Curiously, you also ask them about their stargazing while waiting for you.
“Oh! Yes, I was stargazing.” Sprout says sheepishly. “The book that we’re talking about today is about what it means to grow up, and I was thinking about when I was a fledgeling before I came to the Pond. But that’s a story for another time. Let’s welcome our guest!”
I love comics. I think they’re a brilliant storytelling format, and I’m always so eager to devour graphic novels in a way I rarely am with more prose-heavy stories. They’re such an accessible medium to return to over and over again — I’d honestly argue that a lot of my own formative reading experience was shaped by warm, sticky afternoons spent cramming down local comic serials by the bundle. I’m sure comics have led many more people to reading too, just like it did for tiny 7-year-old me.
And friends, Reimena’s comics are incredible. I’ve known about Reimena’s books since she first published The Carpet Merchant of Konstantiniyya through a partially crowdfunded platform, and I’m constantly awed by all the incredible stories she tells through her art. Her comics are smart, heartfelt, and filled to bursting with lush and evocative imagery. It’s such a delight and honor to have her at the Pond today, and I’m so excited to share this conversation I had with her about her upcoming middle-grade release Séance Tea Party next week!