From School Library Journal
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
In Her Own Words...
"I grew up on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand. Home was an airy house next to a fishpond and a big garden, with rice fields, where water buffalo wallowed in mudholes, on the other side of the palm trees. I liked the usual things--eating roasted coconuts and fried bananas, chasing catfish in the grass in the rain.
"Although I write in English, my first language was Chinese. Because my parents are from China, they praised me, scolded me, told me long bedtime stories, and recited poetry to me all in Chinese. No wonder, then, that I think of Chinese as the language of my heart. As I grew older, I absorbed Thai from interacting with people in the busy streets and marketplaces and temple fairs of Bangkok. Thai for me is a functional language, and I think of it as the language of my hands. Only much later did I team English from strict teachers in school, and so I think of English as the language of my head.
"I started to write only after I left home, as a way to conjure up Thailand for myself, to combat homesickness white Studying at Cornell University. There was a greenhouse on campus with a single potted banana tree in it. During my first winter, I used to sit near that tree and imagine that I was home. Soon, however, I realized that words could evoke images of home even more effectively than the banana tree, and I began to write down notes about the things I missed. My first book, Sing to the Dawn (1975), grew naturally out of those notes.
"I met my husband, John Dennis, at an antiwar demonstration while we were both students at Cornett. In 1976, six years and more than three hundred letters later, we were married. It took a Catholic church wedding and a Chinese tea ceremony (both in Singapore) and a Buddhist wrist-binding ritual (in a Thai village) to satisfy our families and friends.
"I am lucky that John has learned fluent Thai and some Chinese, and that his work often takes us to Asia. Our three children--Danfung, Mei-Mei, and Chris-have had a chance to live in Thailand, Laos, and Singapore, so they have experienced many of the sounds and sights that I did as a child. Like me, and I hope like many children today, they are growing up comfortable with a blend of several cultures and languages."