I’m Erin Dealey, and I write books for kids. I’m a teacher, presenter, rhymer, blogger, and proud Drama Mama.

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Happy (almost) #BookBirthday = 9 Qs with Mia Wenjen + BOXER BABY BATTLES BEDTIME + Bonus AAPI resources!

May 21, 2024

Hooray! It’s an Asian AAPI Heritage month blog post with Mia Wenjen featuring Boxer Baby Battles Bedtime, coming next week, May 26th, 2024 (Illus. Kai Gietzen /Eifrig Publishing)

We last chatted with the very busy Mia Wenjen –(aka pragmaticmom) last November about her book: FOOD FOR THE FUTURE: Sustainable Farms Around the World

And now she’s back with a unique take on bedtime battles, using actual boxing terminology.

Fun, right?

And we have questions!

Interior Illustration by Kai Gietzen from Boxer Baby Battles Bedtime,
written by Mia Wenjen (Eifrig Publishing)


Q 1. What a clever idea to frame a child’s battle with bedtime around boxing terminology.

  • Are you a boxing fan or a boxer, yourself? 
  • What inspired this concept? 
  • Did you base the go-to-bed battles on experiences in your own life, as a mom or a kid?

Mia Wenjen: I am an avid fan of boxing and I have been training as a boxing fighter for 11+ years now. Because I love boxing, I have been wanting to write a boxing picture book for some time. It was when I finally figured out how to combine figurative language, a boxing match, with a toddler who doesn’t like to nap that it all came together.

My husband was a stay-at-home dad with our oldest and he would often drive a one-hour loop from Boston’s South End to Cape Elizabeth to get her to take a nap. This route has no stops, a necessary feature because she would wake up when the car stopped.

Illustration surprises

Q 2. What’s your favorite spread?

Mia Wenjen: It’s the spread where Boxer Baby is riding her toy horse. I love how Kai managed to make this page explode with action!

Interior Illustration by Kai Gietzen from Boxer Baby Battles Bedtime,
written by Mia Wenjen (Eifrig Publishing)

Q 3. Were there any surprises that illustrator Kai Gietzen brought to the book?

Mia Wenjen: Our Easter Eggs include the dog holding the boxing round signs. He drew him as an homage to my Golden Retriever, Wally, who passed away a few years ago from cancer at age 11.5.

Interior Illustration by Kai Gietzen from Boxer Baby Battles Bedtime,
written by Mia Wenjen (Eifrig Publishing)

I also used the photo album wall from Sumo Joe in which Nat Iwata put Easter Eggs of his Japanese grandparents to highlight a few female icons of boxing.

Boxing is like a #kidlit journey…

Q 4. Which of these boxing terms best apply to your own #kidlit journey, or perhaps this book’s path to publication? (Please explain why.) :

  1. Bobbing and weaving – rejection both for this manuscript and others. I find rejection feels like a mortal blow to my gut that requires several days to recover from. My agent serves as my bobbing and weaving shield to protect me from rejection.
  2. Throw in the towel – Sometimes it’s hard for me to know when I am done with writing a manuscript and throwing in the towel can actually be a good thing because I can send it to someone else for feedback.
  3. Lightweight – Working with a tiny independent publisher can feel like our book won’t make it in the marketplace. There are so many hurdles to selling books, but don’t count us out :)!
  4. Shadowboxing – It’s important to visualize success both in the ring and as a writer. Shadowboxing is pretending to fight someone and it can feel silly and awkward but it really does work to train your body in repetitive motion. For writing, those piles of rejected manuscripts that I have in a cupboard are my way to train for a fight. Keep writing and getting rejected. It’s the path to success.
  5. Roll with the punches – With every manuscript rejection, I try to brace for impact and recover as a fast as I can to try again.
Interior Illustration by Kai Gietzen from Boxer Baby Battles Bedtime,
written by Mia Wenjen (Eifrig Publishing)

Olympics 2024

Q 5. Since Boxer Baby Battles Bedtime releases a month before the Paris Olympics, I have to ask—which sports will you be following? 

Mia Wenjen: Boxing to be sure! But I also love to watch swimming and track and field. And because the marathoners run near me during the Boston Marathon, I will be rooting for the winners at the upcoming Olympics as well.

BONUS: Teacher resources for AAIP Month

Q 6. In honor of AAIP Month, can you suggest some resources or ways readers might “celebrate” or help to raise awareness of Asian American contributions to our society?  

Mia Wenjen: Thanks for asking! I put all of my resources from my blog here: pragmaticmom.com


Q 7. Speaking of contributions and AAIP Month, your middle grade anthology, CHANGING THE GAME: Asian American Female Athletes, which began as a Kickstarter project and from that, Scholastic purchased reprint rights (Wow!) for their bookfairs and flyers. How did this come about? How was this release affected by the push back against diverse titles for their Scholastic book fairs? Any updates? 

Mia Wenjen: My agent tried to sell this during 2020’s COVID lockdown when Asian American females were being attacked and killed in SF and NYC’s Chinatown. Many were elderly. Unfortunately, Scholastic wasn’t interested so I did it as a Kickstarter. Then, two years later I got two nibbles from Scholastic from two different editors.

The first one asked for a copy but didn’t move forward but the second one did. My agent and I were elated. I credit his tenacity. It was supposed to be printed last June but due to the changes in creating a “diverse box of books” for Scholastic’s School Fairs, it was not printed. That position was reversed but I am not sure if my book has been printed. I need to check on that!

Q 8. Which of the female athletes featured in CHANGING THE GAME do you relate to most? 

Mia Wenjen: I think Julie Chu is the Mia Hamm of ice hockey and I would love to see her get the credit for growing the sport in the same way Mia Hamm is elevated. Both deserve this level of publicity but I haven’t noticed that for Julie. 

What’s next?

Q 9. What’s next for you? Anything you can share?

Mia Wenjen: I have 8 more picture books coming out after Boxer Baby, starting with We Sing from the Heart: How the Slants®  Took Their Fight for Free Speech to the Supreme Court illustrated by Victor Bizar Gomez and published by Red Comet Press. It comes out on Oct. 15, 2024, and is a Junior Library Guild Gold selection.

Fortune Cookies for Everyone, illustrated by Colleen Kong-Savage with Red Comet Press. It comes out in the Fall of 2025.

Postcards from Malcolm X: How Yuri Kochiyama Became a Civil Rights Activist, illustrated by Keith Henry Brown. This picture book comes out in the fall of 2025 through Red Comet Press. 


Endless thanks to Mia Wenjen for joining us on the blog today,


To learn more about her books and projects, check out these links:

PragmaticMom blog: https://www.pragmaticmom.com/

Mia Wenjen Website: https://miawenjen.com/

PragmaticMom Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pragmaticmom/

PragmaticMom X/Twitter: PragmaticMom (@pragmaticmom) / X (twitter.com)

PragmaticMom Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064493391981

PragmaticMom Pinterest: PragmaticMom (pragmaticmom) – Profile | Pinterest

Mia Wenjen YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe4MtvQVGVFcnikXF96ikLA

TikTok: ReadYourWorld (@readyourworld) | TikTok

Up next: May 28th we’ll be celebrating the Book Birthday of Andrew Hacket’s Hope and the Sea.  

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