From the Disney Parks Blog and written by: Allison Citino
Pixar artist, author and illustrator Mike Wu is sharing a celebration of culture and friendship with a reading of his latest children’s book, Ellie Makes a Friend. The third installment in the popular Ellie series about a young, artistic elephant at the zoo, aims to spread positivity and a reminder about the importance of friendship.
In the latest Ellie installment, Ellie is introduced to a new panda from China named Ping who shares her love for creating art. While Ellie is ecstatic to make a new friend at the zoo, she begins to question her own talent as Ping gains attention for her unique painting skills. Over time, however, Ellie learns more about Ping and finds that a new point of view can lead to inspiration and a great friendship.
This story is incredibly meaningful to the author, Mike, who says, “Ellie Makes a Friend is a really special book to me personally because it’s about a Chinese Panda named Ping, and Ellie. Being a Chinese American, it was important to me that this book was a celebration of cultural arts, friendship through diversity and accepting of other’s differences.”
When not writing books, Mike is a story artist at Pixar, where he works closely with directors and a small team of other story artists, helping to discover the shape and structure of films. Mike has worked on many films at Pixar, including The Incredibles, Ratatouille, UP, Toy Story 3, and the upcoming film, Soul.
Although he is incredibly proud of the work he’s done on Pixar films, creating his own original character, Ellie, has been one of the projects he’s been most proud of in his artistic career.
“My day job has been a highlight and a dream come true. However, being able to tell my own stories has allowed me to have a voice outside those films and be creative on my own terms,” explains Mike.