Juliese Padgett was adopted through Holt in 2008 from Guangzhou, China when she was three. Now, as an 11 year old, she is sharing her first published book — a children’s story that encourages all kids to respect the differences in each other. And, she is donating all the proceeds to Holt to help children who are waiting for families. Here, Juliese shares what inspired her to write The Newest Flower.
When I was in second grade, my class was doing a study on Martin Luther King, Jr. We were talking about different skin tones, and my teacher held up a fan of colored construction paper: black, brown, tan, beige, white, and some other primary colors. Then, the class came up and held their hands to the paper; the point of the lesson was to show us that skin tones are not “black” or “white”. Because everyone in my class was Caucasian, my Asian-colored skin looked even darker and was pointed out by a classmate. This experience made me feel like an outcast, and eventually, my parents decided that it would be better for me to finish out the year being homeschooled with my two brothers.
Once home, my mom decided to teach us how to write and illustrate a children’s book. You see, my mom was a middle school English teacher for many years and taught students how to write and illustrate their own children’s books. Before writing our books, mom wanted us to study about themes and illustrations, so she had us read many children’s books! The best part, though, was celebrating Dr. Suess’ birthday by going to the movies and watching The Lorax. We also read stories that were written and drawn by my mom’s previous pupils. Ironically, there was this one story about a sweet flower who was terribly afraid of the rain but ended up becoming friends with a certain storm cloud. I loved how my Mom’s student created a story based on what she knew how to draw, and at age seven, I knew how to draw flowers, clouds, raindrops, and of course, the sun! In the end, my picture book ended up being a personal narrative. Calli, the main character, was just like me!
Honestly, I hope this book reaches many adoptive families, and anyone else who feels different based on their race. This book was made to help others embrace the differences in both themselves and in each other. All profits of my book will go to Holt International because they were the adoption agency that gave me my forever family. I was also a Holt Sponsored Child which is another reason why I wanted to give back to them. People gave money to help me and now it is my turn. I want to see many kids, from around the world, find their forever families. Please consider buying a book to help others get the help they so so desperately need. Thank- you!