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Before WATERCRESS, THE MANY MEANINGS OF MEILAN, and LULI AND THE MAGIC OF TEA, Andrea Wang had focused on research-heavy projects—some for the educational market, and of course MAGIC RAMEN, which is part picture book biography, part science, part foodie heaven. When she and Arthur Levine were kicking around ideas for historical picture book topics, Andrea came across the mention of Chinese Americans who fought in the American Civil War and both she and Arthur were fascinated to think of all the implications.

After much research, Andrea was able to focus in on one man: Joseph Pierce, whose father sold him into slavery in China and ended up on an American battlefield. But of course his story was even more complex than those two pieces of information would imply. I’m sure you won’t be any more surprised than I was to find that Andrea was very much up to the task of telling this almost-forgotten story in picture book form—and now that an illustrator has been attached, we are very happy to tell the world about WORTHY. Here is the PW Children’s Bookshelf announcement:

Arthur Levine at Levine Querido has acquired world rights to Watercress author Andrea Wang (l.) and illustrator Youa Vang's picture book Worthy: The Brave and Capable Life of Joseph Pierce, based on the true story of a Chinese boy who was sold as a slave and worked to prove himself, eventually becoming a corporal during the Civil War and later, an American citizen, exemplifying the complexity of being Chinese American in the years before and after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. Publication is slated for spring 2024; Erin Murphy at Erin Murphy Literary Agency represented the author, and the illustrator represented himself. 

So many congratulations, Andrea!