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Article  •  23 June 2022


Author shares the one theme nobody has noticed in new children’s book

All about Gabrielle Wang's new book, Zadie Ma and the Dog Who Chased the Moon.

Zadie Ma and the Dog Who Chased the Moon is a beautiful new book by beloved children’s author, Gabrielle Wang.

Already a favourite amongst little ones and grown-ups alike, the heart-warming tale speaks of the love between a girl and her dog. Infused with the magic of storytelling, the book is as captivating as it is cute.

To learn a bit more about it, we chatted with the author to get some insight into the book, her writing process, and the one theme that nobody has noticed yet.

Read on to learn more; these fun facts are perfect for sharing with young readers who love Gabrielle’s books.

About Zadie Ma and the dog Who Chased the Moon

Zadie is a shy girl who’s struggling to find her place; in her family, at school, and with friends. But she knows exactly what will solve that problem . . . a pet dog. Dogs love unconditionally, and Zadie can only imagine how amazing it would be to have one of her own.

If she had a pet dog, she’d finally feel understood, she wouldn’t care about her lack of friends, and her mum’s mean words wouldn’t hurt so much.

As great as it sounds, though, it’s only a dream. That is until Zadie discovers her magic power. She doesn’t know how or why, but when Zadie writes down stories, they start coming true. The more she writes, the more she tests the boundaries of her powers until she wishes for her heart’s desire: a dog.

As her story unfolds, Zadie realises that stories don’t always turn out the way we think they will. In a series of trials and tribulations, she learns many important lessons about friends, family, and love.

About Gabrielle Wang

Just like Zadie, author Gabrielle Wang is a lover of animals and imagination. ‘As a child, I wanted to be either an archaeologist or a zookeeper when I grew up,’ she shares. ‘I love animals, and I love to dig up old things – uncover ancient cities and treasures.’

But just like Zadie, Gabrielle’s magic power lies in her creativity. ‘Most of all, I wanted to be an artist – and that’s what I did become.’

For the author, writing about Zadie and her adventures came naturally, and (as Teddy aptly explains in the book), she’s more of the ‘writer downer’ rather than the ‘maker upper’.

While there is a lot of hard work that goes into writing a novel, the stories come naturally to the author. ‘Often I feel I’m just writing down a story that’s floating out there,’ she shares. ‘For example, I saw a dandelion growing through a crack on the footpath. Then I went to my local café, wrote for half an hour with a soy chai latte, and came back with a finished story. I did that with fifteen short stories, and eleven of them went into the book.’

But being the writer downer isn’t the only thing she has in common with Zadie. In fact, in many ways, Zadie is a younger version of Gabrielle herself.

‘I’m totally like her!’ she says. ’I was shy when I was at school. . . I loved dogs, and while I couldn’t afford to buy a lead like Zadie, I would walk around with my skipping rope and pretend to have a dog on the end of it – there was a dog on the end of that rope for sure. That was my greatest wish, apart from wanting to be white.’

Like Zadie, Gabrielle is also a Chinese-Australian, and including cultural aspects in her stories is something she does intentionally. Those bits about racism and discrimination all happened to me,’ says Gabrielle. ‘It’s all stored there inside me and still raw, still emotional. And that’s why I continue to write about it.’

In addition to showing representation for Chinese-Australian children who read her books, the author also hopes that her stories can help children relate to one another, even if racism is something that they’ve never experienced firsthand.

She hopes that Zadie Ma and the Dog Who Chased the Moon can show children from all backgrounds ‘what it feels like to be in the head of someone who is different. Who has a different skin colour, different lifestyle or culture to their own. That’s what provides children with empathy.'

The theme that nobody has noticed

The story of Zadie and Jupiter is rich with meaning, making it hard to find just one central message. While the book covers a range of topics, Gabrielle has been surprised that one key theme hasn’t been picked up on: Love.

‘I don’t want to be sentimental or cliched’ she says, ‘but one theme that nobody has ever mentioned in the reviews is that the book is really about all the different kinds of love there are.’ Indeed, it’s true: the book explores the love between siblings, familial love, the love between friends, the love of a pet, and the love of what you do.

Today, Gabrielle thinks that we can tend to use the word flippantly, ‘I love spaghetti, I love ice cream.’ In sharing Zadie’s story, however, the author hopes to touch on that deeper love that’s a little harder to come across.

What the author hopes readers can get from the book

In addition to an understanding of this deeper love, Gabrielle hopes that readers walk away with a newfound appreciation for imagination. As the 2022-2023 Australian Children’s Laureate, her focus of the year is all about imagination.

Reading out a quote that she shared recently at the Australian Booksellers Association conference, Gabrielle sums up her vision. ‘This is what I believe,’ she starts. ‘Nourish a child’s imagination. Encourage them to read diverse books by diverse authors. Give them a sense of belonging and self-worth. Let them draw, and doodle and play. Show them to look up and out at the world.’

Needless to say, Zadie Ma and the Dog Who Chased the Moon is the perfect place to start. With depth, emotion, and plenty of imagination, this book definitely deserves a spot on the bookshelf, in your classroom curriculum, or on your family’s roster of bedtime stories.

Want more? Check out the Zadie Ma and the Dog Who Chased the Moonand download the book's teachers' notes

Feature Title

Zadie Ma and the Dog Who Chased the Moon
Meet Zadie Ma, a girl who writes magical stories that sometimes come true. Can Zadie bring to life her most important story of all . . . the one where she finds Jupiter, the dog of her dreams? From the Australian Children's Laureate for 2022-23. Shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards, the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature in the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, and the Queensland Literary Awards.
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