Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Mentor Text Talk with Hope Lim

Surprise! As we gear up for the Reading for Research Month Challenge in March, we wanted to reward you with a second Mentor Text Talk interview this month. It's through this series that we experience mentor text value through multiple perspectives, and that's what the challenge is all about. We will reveal our 7th-annual ReFoReMo team of presenters next week!

We are thrilled to welcome Hope Lim to our blog today. Please help her celebrate the upcoming release of her debut picture book, I am a Bird, illustrated by Hyewon Yum and published by Candlewick Press, by requesting it at your library for mentor text study.

How do you utilize picture books as mentor texts? 

When I have a complete draft, I check out picture books with similar themes. One example is a work in progress on childhood anxieties. I checked out books that use worry as a central topic. I have noticed how “worry” is portrayed as its own character in many books. My draft has a different direction, and I am able to use mentor texts to inform my decisions and how my stories develop.


Were there any particular mentor texts that inspired you when writing or revising I AM A BIRD?


After I had my first rough draft, I read two books of poetry, BOOK OF NATURE POETRY and WINTER BEES. After reading these books, lines started to pour out of my heart, and I simply transferred them onto paper. It was one of those rare, exhilarating experiences that I hope to have more often. I realized again the importance of reading poetry, especially when your mind is still fresh with a story idea.


Has reading picture books helped you discover anything about yourself as a writer?


Reading picture books helped me discover what I truly love: art and words. A picture book is a special medium that mixes the art and the story, and when the two are matched perfectly, magic happens, evoking profound emotions in readers. And the magic can be revisited anytime, easily.


How would you advise other writers hoping to learn from picture books as mentor texts?


You can always learn something by reading picture books, sometimes without realizing that you are learning. You may appreciate how the art complements the text or how white space is employed for a specific reason. For me, reading picture books is about discovering new stories told by creators, which often leads to improving my craft and learning of many new things about the world.

Thank you for sharing your mentor text perspective, Hope, and congratulations on your upcoming book birthday!

Hope Lim is a children’s book author from South Korea and currently lives in San Francisco. Her debut book, I AM A BIRD, is to be released by Candlewick on February 2, 2021. Her debut will be followed by MY TREE, Neal Porter Books/Holiday House in May 2021 and MOMMY’S HOMETOWN, Candlewick, in Fall 2022.


  1. Thank you. I love how you say "After reading these books, lines started to pour out of my heart, and I simply transferred them onto paper." This happens to me, especially with poetry...

  2. So excited for the launch of this beautiful book.

  3. Hope, I love your thoughts about mentor texts and especially how one can always acquire new knowledge without realizing it.

    Suzy Leopold

  4. Great post - especially how the mentor texts can inform you on a direction for your manuscript.

  5. I love how poetry inspired your writing. Book of Nature Poetry is going on my TBR list along with your books.

  6. Hope-thank you for sharing your utilization of mentor texts to inspire your writing. Congratulations to you and Hyewon!

  7. Hi Hope, Now I understand why I connect so deeply with your writing. Many of my PB mss are poems. Thanks for sharing!

  8. What a great point about reading poetry regularly! Makes so much sense since picture books speak in a spare way that reminds me of poetry. I AM A BIRD definitely has that poetic, lyrical quality - so beautiful!

  9. While I love poetry, it’s time to read more. Thanks for your insights!

  10. The moments where inspiration strike are indeed special.