I still have copies of the stories I wrote in fourth grade, in which not much happened but setting down the names and ages of all the children in my very large imagined families. These stories were sometimes illustrated with figures cut out from the 1960's Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs which arrived at our home in the city of Taegu, Korea, where my father worked as a doctor at the missionary hospital.
I didn't immerse myself in writing again until adulthood when, as a newly-published children's book illustrator, I began to create stories so I'd have something to illustrate. The significance of the writing process expanded until it became the nucleus of my creative life, the center from which all expression emerges and through which it is processed.
I've illustrated twenty-five picture books, eleven of which I also wrote, including The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of Korea, a graphic novel retelling of a classic hero tale, which won the Asian-Pacific American Award for Literature and the Aesop Award, and was named one of Booklist's "Top Ten Graphic Novels for Youth 2007." Upcoming books include After Gandhi: 100 Years of Nonviolent Resistance, which I co-wrote with my son Perry, and A Path of Stars, a picture book about a young Cambodian-American girl living in Maine. I have at least seven projects in process - three novels, a family history/memoir and three graphic novels.
I'm an actor and singer as well as a writer and illustrator. I have written and performed a solo theatre piece, "White Lies: one woman's quest for release from the enchantment of whiteness." I also write a bimonthly column, "The Illustrator's Perspective," for the Bulletin of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Books I've written and illustrated (both Charlesbridge) - AFTER GANDHI: 100 YEARS OF NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE (2009) with Perry O'Brien; A PATH OF STARS (2010); Books I've illustrated - JAMAICA IS THANKFUL (Houghton Mifflin 2009) by Juanita Havill; WHAT WILL YOU BE, SARA MEE? (Charlesbridge 2010) by Kate Avers
Charlesbridge; Houghton Mifflin; Tilbury House; Shen's Books
acting & singing
reading political news online
Children's Defense Fund
Habitat for Humanity
National Public Radio
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