• Sharon Fujimoto-Johnson

The Making of THE MOCHI MAKERS

Updated: Jun 16


I’m thrilled to finally be able to share the news that my debut picture book, THE MOCHI MAKERS, will be coming out from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books in spring 2024! (Official Publishers Weekly Announcement)


I wrote the first draft of this story during cancer treatment complications that rendered me unable to eat by mouth. What kept me alive during those four-and-a-half months was a pump that dripped liquid nutrition into my body through a PICC line in my arm. Well, that pump and a whole lot of love.


While I lay in bed in the fight of my life, I thought a lot about where family, food, and love converge. This story was born in that space, and I’ve tried to fill every page with warmth, gratitude, and love. Just as rice is an essential ingredient in mochi, this book could not have been made without love.


I come from a family descended from immigrants who, generations ago, crossed the ocean to make a life in America. In doing so, they brought their courage, their ways of eating, and their dreams and set down roots in the country that I call home. I’m so thankful for all those who passed down our family stories and recipes and also for my family for surrounding me with support.


But beyond family is community. I am indebted to friends with whom I hope to grow old. I mean the kind of friends who delivered homemade broth every day when I was in and out of the hospital, the kind of friends who are aunties and uncles to my children, and the kind of friends who kept nudging me back to my book dreams.


And then there's the generosity of the kidlit community. There are too many children’s book authors and illustrators to name here who helped me shape this story. Whether by creating books that inspired me, teaching classes, or critiquing my work, they each made it possible for me to create The Mochi Makers, and I'm honored to call some of them my friends now too.


I’m deep into the editing/revision process with my editors and art director at S&S/Beach Lane. My Team Mochi, which includes editors Allyn Johnston, Danielle Collins, and Lauren Rille, is truly a dream team. I pinch myself like mochi every day, wondering how I ended up with such brilliant, lovely people on my team. And, of course, I’m so thankful for my agent, Anne Moore Armstrong at Bright Agency who makes magic happen all the time. I will forever be grateful that on Thanksgiving morning 2021, she was scrolling Twitter and happened upon my art in a Tweet by author Sara O’Leary.


When one is on the edge of the abyss, the light at the end of the spectrum is all the more dazzling and precious. For me, adversity invited me to find clarity on what it is I want to do in this one life granted to me. Time is indeed not guaranteed for any of us. In the end, it’s quite simple: I want to treasure each day with my family and to create stories that need to exist in the world. The Mochi Makers is truly a story of my heart and also a dream come true. I can’t wait until it’s in your hands!