Any parent knows that picture day is never without its challenges—just ask Eva Chen.
The author, head of fashion at Instagram and NYC mom focuses on the symbolic school milestone in her new picture book, Juno Valentine and the Fantastic Fashion Adventure (out now).
In the story, young Juno experiences a fashion conundrum on this important day. Florals? Ruffles? What's a girl to choose?! To add to the tension, her little brother decides to escape into the magical hall of shoes, and in turn, she is whisked on a journey through time.
While on this chic adventure, the little fashionista comes into contact with many inspiring women—Annie Oakley, Michelle Obama and Simone Biles, to name a few. It's through these interactions that she finds her way, as well as inspiration for her moment in front of the camera.
We caught up with Eva Chen to discuss her new book and Juno-inspired clothing collection for Janie and Jack (which features adorable headbands, purses, dresses and other fun garments).
She not only provides us with the scoop on her new projects, but she also shares her recs for her favorite bookstores in NYC, kids' library branches and more Gotham goodness. Check it out!
How did you go about selecting the famous icons mentioned in Juno Valentine and the Fantastic Fashion Adventure?
I feel lucky that in 2019 there were too many women to choose from! I knew I wanted some of the women to be as iconic as Audrey [Hepburn], but also knew that I wanted vanguards like Grace Jones and historical figures like Marie Antoinette! I have a running list of women at all times that I keep adding to.
What are you hoping parents and young readers take away from the second book, as well as the series as a whole?
It's fun to experiment with clothing and it can make you feel strong—and that it's always best to be yourself!
What will NYC parents (and kids!) love about the Janie and Jack clothing collection?
There's something for everyone, just like NYC—whether it's the fluffiest of tulle dresses to a sharp, urbane black and white look. This was SO fun to create with the Janie and Jack team. The bathing suits were especially fun, I love the Josephine Baker one in particular.
You're a big advocate for children's lit. What NYC library branches and bookstores do you recommend for families? Why?
I love Books of Wonder in Chelsea, it's a gem of a store, where kids can sit and read for hours and the sales clerks are so knowledgeable. I also love the library at Jefferson Market in the West Village. It looks like a castle! I grew up going to that library.
What makes NYC a great place to raise little readers?
I think so much of NYC is a learning opportunity—from the different cultures and accents of the people everywhere to the amazing architecture and history. It's the perfect opening conversation for so many learning moments with children.
How does your love for the city translate into the Juno Valentine series?
I see Juno as living in (the dream!) Greenwich Village brownstone. You'll see more of the city and its environs, possibly in a future book.
If you're visiting Eva's go-to bookstore or library, make sure to check out some of the best children's books!