The Art of Jimmy Liao

A couple of years ago, my children received a book in the mail from their grandmother, Sound of Colors by Jimmy Liao. I had never heard of the author but was intrigued as soon as I opened it. His illustrations are stunning, rich, and imaginative and my kids immediately wanted to read the book.

The story follows a girl who is losing her vision as she ventures into the subway. With each step, she imagines she is somewhere far far away: high among the clouds flying with the birds, in a topiary maze, swimming with dolphins. At the end, as she emerges from the subway station, she comments, “Home is the place where everything I’ve lost is waiting patiently for me to find my way back.” The story is haunting and melancholy and perhaps more appropriate for adults than young children. But the gorgeous drawings draw readers in and my four-year-old loves to look through the book herself, just staring at the pictures. They are filled with rich colors, imaginative creatures, and amazing detail. The book has become a favorite and my daughter even asked me if we could go to the bookstore to look for more books by the same author.

I was excited to be introduced to a new children’s author so unlike any other I’d seen, so I was especially thrilled when I found out that Jimmy Liao is in fact the English name of 几米, one of Taiwan’s most popular authors and artists. All of these beautiful books can be read in Chinese as well! On my husband’s next work trip to Taiwan, he scoured the bookstores and came home with a suitcase full of books for the kids, most of them by Jimmy Liao. I have since discovered that Chinese versions of some of his books are available on Amazon.

Sound of Colors is 地下铁 (Subway) in Chinese, and has been made into a feature film. Someone has also posted the content of the Chinese book online:

To see more of Liao’s artwork, visit his website or his Facebook page. I plan to introduce more of his individual books in future posts.

[When readers click on any of the Amazon links above, Hao Mama earns a very small commission.]



  1. I’m excited to see this post. I discovered JiMi a year ago when a friend gifted me a book in Chinese. Since then I’ve bought two or three more online, and they are all gorgeous and poetic. Struggling through reading the chinese (it is only characters, no pinyin), but as you say, the drawings themselves are so beautiful and evocative.

  2. I loved Jimmy Liao’s artwork, but hadn’t thought of him in context of children’s books–will definitely explore. I think of him in same category as Miyazaki, and the guy who did those beautiful Snowman books–was it Raymond Briggs? anyway, thanks for bringing to my attention,

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