The unpaid jobs of hard-working parents celebrated in new books

Mar 26 2019, 10:44 pm

A Vancouver author, whose children’s books crafted with wool characters are celebrated around the world, is now shining a spotlight on a seldom written about topic: Giving a name to all the daily unpaid jobs of hard-working parents.

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Lawyer Holman Wang and his twin brother Jack have sold several hundred thousand copies of their 12-part Cozy Classics series, which abridge classic novels –including War & Peace, Les Miserables and Pride & Prejudice — into just a dozen words and images.  Translated into Spanish and Chinese, they are basically in every bookstore in the English-speaking world.

Courtesy Holman Wang

What makes these children’s books really stand out is the signature style they use: Life-like needle felted characters, which Holman Wang learned to craft out of wool by watching YouTube videos. Each of the unique figures can take up to 40 hours (!) to make by hand.

Now a father-of-two living in East Vancouver, he has taken on a new solo book project intended as odes to hard-working parents everywhere. Great Job, Mom! and Great Job, Dad!, released this week, name all the unpaid jobs that parents do.

Knowing that parents wear a lot of hats in their daily lives (chauffeur, chef, coach, to name a few), Wang wanted to play with that theme.

“So, when mom is choosing art for the fridge, she’s a ‘curator,’ and when dad is building play forts, he’s an ‘architect,'” he tells Daily Hive.

“When it came time to felt the figures in the books, I naturally drew inspiration from what was right in front of me – my own family. The books star myself, my wife and my kids (and our dog, Henry), so the books wound up being love letters to my own family, too.”

Courtesy Holman Wang

Wang believes the topic is a natural way to celebrate what parents do, while “providing a means for young children to learn about real-world occupations by drawing from their main experiential universe – their own home life with mom or dad.”

Even though they were just released, art from the book Great Job, Dad! was selected for the Illustrators Exhibition at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, in Italy — just one of 80 illustrators chosen out of nearly 3,000 entrants from around the globe.

Courtesy Holman Wang

As for what comes next, Wang has an idea for an ahistorical fantasy story with all kinds of magical creatures.

The public is invited to celebrate the new books at a free April 2 book launch for Great Job, Mom! and Great Job Dad! where you can meet the author and check out the new series.

Here’s a look at Holman Wang’s creative process and the inspiration behind his newest picture books:

Courtesy Holman Wang