Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Wendy Wan-Long Shang is a middle-grade author who focuses on the many experiences of Chinese-Americans. Her books include The Great Wall of Lucy Wu and The Way Home Looks Now, stories with humor, heart, and a sense of history. She hopes her books inspire young readers to find the powerful stories, both great and small, in their own families.

In this interview, Wendy talks about being the first Chinese-American kid in her school, the freedom she had as a young child in choosing books to read, why she likes to write about 10-12 year olds ("kids on the cusp"),  life-changing books for reluctant readers (including kids with dyslexia), co-writing This Is Just a Test with Madelyn Rosenberg, why we need diverse books, and much more.

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Wendy has always loved reading. She says, “As a child, books meant freedom. If you could read in my kindergarten class, you were allowed to go to the library by yourself, and libraries were the loveliest freedom I could imagine. If I had a book, I had a companion for a long dinner with grown-ups. I could learn about anything, go anywhere, pretend to be anyone.” Some of Wendy’s favorite books from childhood: the Little House books, the Great Brain books, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and books by Ellen Conford and Judy Blume.

Wendy’s debut novel, The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, portrays the struggles of a tween balanced between two cultures. The book follows Lucy’s path from stubborn resistance to pride in her Chinese heritage. Her second novel, The Way Home Looks Now, explores the struggle of Peter Lee and his family to recover from loss through baseball and the understanding that expressions of grief and love come in many forms.

Wendy has worked on behalf of children as a library volunteer, juvenile justice attorney, a tutor at an elementary school and a juvenile facility, and a Court-Appointed Special Advocate, but her most joyful roles have been as a mother and children's book author. 

Wendy lives in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC, with her husband, three children, a cat and a dog.