one little boy ran up to the child and asked, “what are you supposed to be?” Miu Lan didn’t know how to answer.
Written by: Kai Cheng Thom
Illustrated by: Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching
For ages: 3-8 years
Topics Covered: Gender Identity, Non-binary Identity, Friendship, Self-Acceptance, Family
Summary: from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea is an incredible portrait of what it feels like to be a child in between. Gorgeously illustrated by Way-yant Li and Kai Yun Ching, it tells the story of Miu Lan. “Born when both the moon and the sun were in the sky”, Miu Lan “couldn’t decide what to be.” Supported and loved by their mother, Miu Lan is a “strange, magical child” with the ability to adopt various animal characteristics. This empowering home environment is contrasted with Miu Lan’s experience at school, where the other students are all “either boys or girls”. Challenging gendered expectations, Miu Lan must discover how to express themself fully without fear.
- Was it ever hard for you to make a decision about an aspect of yourself?
- Do you think Miu Lan should have to choose?
- Has there ever been a time when your caregivers helped you feel better after a hard day?
- How can you be a good friend when someone tells you something about themselves?
- What might you want a friend to say to you when you tell them something important about your inner-self?
- What can we do every day to make others feel comfortable to express who they are?
Continuing the Conversation:
- Taking inspiration from Miu Lan’s changing animal features, have a discussion about why Miu Lan might have chosen those characteristics.
- “Who I Am Inside” Lesson:
Children are given a human outline, they cut out magazine pictures of “what they are inside” (favorite food, colors, activities) emphasis on things others cannot see (haircolor for example, is something others can usually see).
About the Author and the Illustrator:
Kai Cheng Thom (she/her) is a fiery writer, performer, spoken word artist and drag-dance sensation. Her first novel, Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir was recently published by Metonymy Press. Kai Cheng has been widely published as an essayist and poet. She is currently a Feature Writer at Everyday Feminism. Her work also appears in xoJane, Arc Poetry Magazine, and Youngist. She was a a featured columnist on race, sexuality, and gender at The McGill Daily for two years running. Her poetry has appeared in, Matrix Magazine, ditch, OutWrite: A Queer Review, and What If? Magazine, as well as the anthology Where the Nights are Twice as Long: Love Letters of Canadian Poets. She also holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work from McGill University, and is the co-founder of Monster Academy Montreal, a radical mental health initiative for youth.
Wai-Yant Li (they/their) is a ceramicist by trade, and they illustrated from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea along with Kai Fun Ching. Wai-Yant works in and runs a studio called 3 tables, a space composed of 3 ceramicists and 3 illustrators – each doing their own thing, but they are also definitely very much inspired by each other. Every Créations Li critter is designed and made entirely by them – from early sketchbook sketches, to its birth from a box of clay, to the roundabouts on the pottery wheel, to the final firings in the kiln.