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Celebrating Children’s Day in Taiwan: Margaret Chiu Greanias Talks About Her Latest Book “Amah Faraway” Ep 177

By Felicia Lin

A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

April fourth is Children’s Day in Taiwan, which is great timing for this interview with children’s book author Margaret Chiu Greanias. She spoke with me about her latest book Amah Faraway, which has many of its scenes set in Taipei, Taiwan. Margaret shared how she became a children’s book author, what she loves about picture books, how they get created and what she’s working on next.

This episode of Talking Taiwan has been sponsored by the Taiwan Elite Alliance 優社 and the Taiwanese United Fund.

The Taiwan Elite Alliance 優社 was established in 2000 to promote Taiwanese and Taiwanese American arts and literature, and to protect and enhance the human rights, freedom and democracy of the people in Taiwan.

The Taiwanese United Fund is an arts and culture foundation that celebrates the cultural heritages of Taiwanese Americans. Established in 1986, the foundation’s mission is to facilitate cultural exchange between the Taiwanese American community and other American cultural communities, hoping to enrich and expand our cultural experiences. To learn more about TUF visit their website 


Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • How Amah Faraway is written as a reverse poem
  • What is a reverse poem
  • The reverse poem, “The Lost Generation” by Jonathan Reed that inspired Margaret to write Amah Faraway as a reverse poem
  • What inspired Margaret to write Amah Faraway
  • How much of the book was based on Margaret’s relationship with her amah and on her children’s relationship with their amah (Margaret’s mother)
  • How Margaret’s children react to reading her books
  • Margaret’s memories of visiting Taiwan as a child
  • How Margaret got connected with the illustrator of Amah Faraway
  • Tracy Subisak the illustrator of Amah Faraway who is half Taiwanese and her special contributions to the book, which included the use of Mandarin Chinese
  • The Two Tigers nursery rhyme that amah sings to Kylie in Amah Faraway
  • How children’s picture books can be written first without an illustrator or written with a specific illustrator, in which case the manuscript and sketches would be sent together to an editor
  • How Margaret’s first book Maximillian Villainous was created with illustrator Lesley Breen Withrow, and the manuscript and sketches were sent together to an editor
  • How the movie Despicable Me inspired the idea for Margaret’s first children’s book Maximillian Villainous
  • When the editor chooses the illustrator for a picture book usually the author and illustrator aren’t introduced to each other, and the illustrator works independently to interpret the words of the story in their own way
  • How picture books are half about the words and half about the art
  • How Margaret decided to become a children’s book author
  • What Margaret was doing before she became a children’s book author
  • Margaret’s favorite books as a child
  • How Margaret decides to write about
  • Margaret’s writing process
  • Margaret writes picture books for ages 3-8 but would like to also write chapter books for middle grade (8-12 years old)
  • What Margaret loves about picture books and writing for the 3-8 year old age group
  • World Read Aloud Day
  • The Five Chinese Brothers, an American children’s book written by Claire Huchet Bishop
  • What’s involved in the process of getting a children’s book published
  • The challenge of writing a story in 500 words or less
  • Children’s books that Margaret recommends
  • Margaret’s next book, Hooked on Books that will be coming out next summer


Related Links:


Margaret Chiu Greanias’ website:


Margaret Chiu Greanias on Facebook:







Ink Splat: Interview with Margaret Chiu Greanias:



Amah Faraway by Margaret Chiu Greanias:



Maximillian Villainous by Margaret Chiu Greanias:


“The Lost Generation” by Jonathan Reed:


Night markets in Taiwan:


Pillow Pets:


Red envelopes:


Tracy Subisak:


Daan Park:


Beitou Hot Springs:


Illustrations from Amah Faraway with side conversations written in Mandarin Chinese:


End papers at the beginning of the book with illustrations labeled in English:


End papers at the end of the book with illustrations labeled in Mandarin Chinese:


The Two Tigers nursery rhyme:


Maximillian Villainous on the Kid YouTube channel:


Despicable Me:


Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak:


Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson:


Corduroy by Don Freeman:


The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop:


World Read Aloud Day:


Children’s books recommended by Margaret:

The Day You Begin
 by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Raphael Lopez:


The Book of Mistakes by Corinne Luyken:

How to Wear a Sari
 by Darshana Khiani and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff:

Same, Same But Different
 by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw:


Friends Are Friends, Forever by Dane Liu and illustrated by Lynn Scurfield:


Other children’s books by Taiwanese authors:


I Dream of Popo by Livia Blackburne and illustrated by Julia Kuo:


Eyes That Kiss In The Corner by Joanna Ho and illustrated by Dung Ho:


The Fan Brothers:


Author-Illustrator Spotlight: Eric Fan and Terry Fan:

About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

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