Helena Ku Rhee spent many nights during her early childhood going to work with her Korean-born parents, who worked as nighttime janitors at a corporate building in Los Angeles when they first immigrated to the U.S.
It was during those long, tiresome nights when Helena's parents inspired her with the gift of imagination. What could've been an unpleasant, dull experience for a child became enchanting, fun and adventurous.
Through storytelling, her parents created a sense of wonder and magic in that empty office building, an experience that ultimately shaped Helena's dreams, self-drive and writing aspirations.
The Yale graduate is the author of "The Paper Kingdom," a children's book based on this part of her childhood when her parents worked as night janitors.
"I always wanted to be a writer. That was probably my biggest dream," Helena said. "I wanted to end (my book) with this note of big dreams. I'm the child of former night janitors, who went off to Yale, and became a lawyer and now, a children's book author."
Helena's life journey exemplifies how with hard work, grit and imagination, many limitations can be overcome.
"The Paper Kingdom" is full of heart and is a tribute to all working-class families as well as the immigrant experience. With stunning illustrations by Pascal Campion (an artist based in Southern California), the book celebrates the power of resilience and hope.