On Sunday 27th November, author Alice Pung and illustrator Sher Rill Ng appeared at the museum to chat about their brilliant collaboration, Be careful, Xiao Xin!, a bilingual picture book.


Image captions: Alice Pung sharing to an audience at the Artist's Insight's talk.

The book focuses on the day-to-day life of a young Chinese boy whose parents are stiflingly overprotective. Alice remarked that the story is kept “pedestrian” to remain realistic. Several audience members with Asian heritage found the piece relatable. “Me and my husband read this book to our daughter and thought, that’s exactly how we were raised!” mentioned one attendee, her daughter seated on her lap. Another guest called it “a great work for Chinese Australian and Asian parents to experience with their children.”

Sher Rill and Alice’s collaboration was a very smooth process. They both fondly remember clicking immediately. While Alice gave voice to Xiao Xin and his family, Sher Rill’s kinetic illustrations brought the characters to life.

Our guests also spoke about their personal and professional lives outside of writing and illustration. Not only is Alice a full-time lawyer, but she and her husband have raised three children together!

Sher Rill meanwhile has had her own work, Our Little Inventor adapted into a children's opera recently and performed by the West Australian Opera company, premiering in October 2022. She is also a skilful tai chi instructor, as one of her former students in the audience reminded us!

 Alice and Sher Rill had very different experiences growing up. Alice grew up in Footscray, where a lot of immigrants gathered. According to Alice “everyone was racist, but they respect each other”. It got harder for her as she sought her first job as a lawyer. “Big law firms did not want you, because you were not a cultural fit…it was much less diverse at the time”. Alice agreed when her friend explained it this way: “People like you usually sit at the front desk [rather than practice law].”

Sher Rill on the other hand grew up in the more affluent eastern suburbs and did not really experience anything like Alice did despite being the only Chinese person in her school. “There are advantages to being Asian now, your stories cut through the conversation”, says Sher Rill. 


Image captions: Alice Pung & Sher Rill Ng presenting at Artist's Insight's talk.

We are so happy to have Alice Pung and Sher Rill Ng wrap up the Artist’s Insights series for 2022. The Chinese Museum extends a massive thank you to every artist who gave talks in the series this year: Gabrielle Wang, Jun Bin Lee, John Young, Grace Feng Fang Juan, Tony Ayres, Wang Zheng-Ting, Alice Pung, and Sher Rill Ng. We are grateful for your support!


Do you know of any Chinese-Australian artists you would like to see speak in the Artist’s Insights series next year? Please send your suggestions to [email protected]. See you next year!