China was one place Leonard never expected to visit when in 2014 an email arrived with the surprising news that a Beijing-based publishing company, King-In Culture, Ltd., had acquired Simplified Chinese rights to Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom. The news was baffling at first, but one generation after the devastating Cultural Revolution, China for the first time in its long history had become deeply committed to providing its children with Western-style children’s books. Ursula Nordstrom had been identified as a wise person and mentor, and Dear Genius seized upon as the key to learning from her. A first speaking trip to China followed publication later that year, including a full-dress lecture at the National Library, in Beijing, that was attended by hundreds of publishers and followed by a question-and-answer session that lasted for more than three hours.
Leonard’s interpreter on that occasion was a young Chinese woman with a PhD in children’s literature from the University of British Columbia named Xiaoyan (Sha-yen) Huang. A few months later, Leonard received another surprising email from China, this one from Xiaoyan, who wrote to say she had just been given the opportunity to found a publishing company. She planned to call it Ever After Books and wondered if Leonard might like to work with her as her editorial adviser. The answer was yes! This led to more visits to China for more lectures and workshops at libraries, universities, and bookstores in several cities, and to an ever-growing admiration for Chinese culture and the people there who care so much about children and their books.