About a year-and-a-half ago, Kirstin Hepburn won a contest to create characters and branding for Coquitlam's inaugural dumpling festival.
The event drew some 25,000 visitors to Town Centre Park — many of whom fell in love with the Port Coquitlam resident's digital artwork.
So when the Asian Arts and Culture Society, which hosted the fest, asked Hepburn to refer a writer for a new kids book, she raised her hand.
After all, not only could Hepburn illustrate but, during the pandemic, she also took a course on how to write and market children’s literature.
Hepburn reached for her “massive collection of books” to figure out how to tell a tale to a younger audience using her dumpling characters.
“I just sat down one day and it tumbled out,” she said of the storyline that flowed last fall.
“I used pictures of the festival as my reference.”
Titled The Lost Dumpling, the book — told in rhyming couplets — describes a journey of a Chinese dumpling that falls off a plate and bounces around the Town Centre Park festival site, meeting different dumplings along the way.
Hepburn said when she presented her draft to society president Gina Chong, she was in tears and blown away by Hepburn’s narrative, which relates the society’s ongoing messaging of equality, diversity and inclusion.
Tomorrow (Feb. 3), Hepburn and the society will officially launch the children’s book at the Outpost (3001 St. Johns St.) in Port Moody, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Copies of the book will be available for a minimum $15 donation, and Filipino-style steam buns — prepared by the famous Mr Siopao De Langley — will be for sale.
Geared to children in kindergarten to Grade 3, The Lost Dumpling “is a way for us to reach out to kids about multiculturalism,” said Chong, a Port Moody Secondary graduate (Class of 1998) who has daughters ages seven and nine.
Besides the story, the work also has a glossary for young readers and their caregivers to learn about dumplings, as well as a pronunciation guide.
The book is the first for the non-profit group, which fundraises through its signature festival and other multicultural activities in the Tri-Cities. (Its next dumpling-making class is Feb. 12; to save a spot, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Chong is hoping for more publications and, soon, a map of Coquitlam — designed by Coquitlam artist Rose Kapp — for businesses.
Since last summer’s dumpling festival, Chong said several business owners and entrepreneurs around the Tri-Cities have reached out to her, wanting to team up with the society to spread the word about multiculturalism.
“We want to continue to do more for the community.”
To learn more about the Asian Arts and Culture Society, to sign up for an activity or purchase The Lost Dumpling, visit asianartsculture.ca.
The second annual BC Dumpling Festival is Aug. 12.