On Events & Presentations 

Picturing New Neighbors

Posted by on Oct 2, 2015 in Author's Other Korean Books, On Events & Presentations  | Comments Off on Picturing New Neighbors


Anne Sibley O’Brien Immigration Illustration Exhibit

On September 30, in the midst of torrential rains and flash flooding in the city, I still managed to get in from the island to hang an exhibit of illustrations in the Children’s Room of Portland Public Library.

The exhibit, “Picturing New Neighbors,” features selected original artwork from these four books, all of which feature immigrant children:

My stellar intern, Caitlyn Hubbard, made the whole day work; I never would have made it without her. Thanks, Katie!

The exhibit will be up through November, and will culminate with a November 19th reception and workshop, “‘That’s My Story!’ Images of Immigrant Children in Picture Books,” for teachers, librarians, parents and community members.

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Story First: Using Children’s Books to Explore Korean Culture & Identity

Posted by on Aug 30, 2015 in On Events & Presentations , On Korean Books & Culture, On Other Resources for Educators | Comments Off on Story First: Using Children’s Books to Explore Korean Culture & Identity

At the National Association of Korean Schools Teacher's Conference

At the National Association of Korean Schools Teacher’s Conference

Once again I participated in a National Association of Korean Schools teachers conference – the second in a week – this one the New England chapter, in North Andover, MA. (It’s a complete coincidence that I did them back-to-back; this invitation came through another Korean acquaintance.) Annual gatherings like the two I attended offer teachers (mostly volunteers) from across a region the chance to connect and to gain new knowledge, skills and inspiration to improve the effectiveness of their instruction.


Korean schools usually meet on Saturdays or on Sunday afternoons after church, when Korean American families bring their children to study reading, writing and speaking as well as to learn more about Korean culture. The schools also attract families formed by interracial adoption or marriage, and a surprising new trend is non-Korean teens showing up motivated to learn the language based on their love of K-pop and anime!

It’s interesting to note the similarities in the two events: Korean churches as venues; a preponderance among teachers of recent immigrants whose first language is Korean, rather than 2nd- or 3rd-generation members; and opening with the singing of both the “Ae-guk-ga” – the Korean national anthem, and “The Star- Spangled Banner”. These traits seem typical of that segment of the Korean American community whose adult members are foreign-born; it’s Korean-language-based, centers around Protestant churches, and claims both Korean and American allegiance.

My presentation (in Korean again, but this one benefited from last week’s warm-up) focused on using books in Korean language school classrooms to help children absorb culture, strengthening their connection to Korea and their bicultural identities. I featured two of my titles, The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of Korea, and What Will You Be, Sara Mee? by Kate Aver Avraham, which I illustrated, as examples of how books can be used, and shared a list of titles, most by Korean American authors, for further exploration.

Some recommended books on Korean culture
Preschool – 2nd grade
Bae, Hyun-Ju, New Clothes for New Year’s Day
Park, Linda Sue, Bee-bim Bop!
Schoettler, Joan, Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth
Older Elementary (3rd-6th grade)
Park, Linda Sue, A Single Shard; Seesaw Girl; The Kite Fighters; & Archer’s Quest 
Middle/High School
Kim Dong Hwa, The Color of Earth, The Color of Water, and The Color of Heaven  (graphic novels)

Some recommended books on the Korean American experience
Preschool – 2nd grade
Park, Frances, Good-Bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong
Older Elementary (3rd-6th grade)
Han, Jenny, Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream
Yoo, Paula, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story
Middle/High School
Lee, Marie G., Necessary Roughness & Finding My Voice
Na, An, Wait for Me 
Woo, Sung J., Everything Asian
Yoo, David, Girls for Breakfast
Yoo, Paula, Good Enough 
Questions for discussion: 
How are the characters like you? Different from you? 
How was being Korean an asset for the character? A challenge? 
Did you learn anything cool about Korean culture or about being Korean? 
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More Korean Connections

Posted by on Aug 23, 2015 in On Events & Presentations , On Korean Books & Culture | Comments Off on More Korean Connections

At her invitation, I joined my friend, Dr. Agnes Ahn, one of the founders and program coordinators of the Korea Studies Workshop at University of MA Lowell, for a whirlwind trip to Philadelphia this weekend.


Agnes and I keynoted at the National Association of Korean Schools, Mid-Atlantic Chapter meeting. We each shared an overview of our life stories and our work: on Agnes’ mission to get Korea and Korean history into the Common Core, and on my book, The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of Koreaas a tool to explore Korean history, culture and positive bicultural identity.

The Legend of Hong Kil Dong


 We had a warm and enthusiastic response from this delightful group of people – and a delicious Korean box lunch before we were whisked back to the airport to fly back to Boston.



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Itinerary for an Adventure

Posted by on Mar 15, 2015 in On Events & Presentations , On Travel to Asia | 4 comments

Saturday night I landed in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, the first (22-hr!) leg of a trip that will also take me to China and Malaysia.



I was invited to Mongolia for an author visit at the International School of Ulaanbataar where I’ll spend two days meeting with students grades preK-8.
Thursday, March 19, I fly to Beijing for a Friday tour of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. 
On Saturday I’ll travel to Dandong, China, on the banks of the Yalu, directly across the river from Sinuiju, North Korea. While in Dandong I plan to explore the Tiger Mountain section of the Great Wall, particularly exciting as it’s the site of the climax of my first YA novel and I’ll be following in my characters’ footsteps. The top of the Wall offers a panoramic view of the North Korean countryside.
Finally, on Tuesday, March 24, I fly from Dandong to a resort in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, for the EARCOS conference, to present a keynote address and 3 workshops for the 1100 teachers attending from more than 120 schools.
You never know where writing and illustrating children’s books might take you!
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Librarians Make the Most of a School Visit

Posted by on May 18, 2014 in On Events & Presentations  | Comments Off on Librarians Make the Most of a School Visit

As we leave Children’s Book Week, here’s an appreciation of children’s librarians, the world over.

One of my March school visits was particularly memorable because of extraordinary efforts of librarians to engage their students in my work before I arrived.

Brent Subic Library staff (left to right): Riza Bamba (elementary library assistant), Angelo Fernandez (middle school librarian), me, Debbie Kienzle (Brent International School head librarian), Rose Austria (lower school librarian).

At Brent International School Subic in the Philippines, Rose and Angelo put my books on display, put up welcoming banners, and read my work to their students.



Riza, who’d never been part of an author visit before, worked with the 4th and 5th graders to create the most amazing display of creative projects in response to my work that I’ve ever seen. She first went online to research what kinds of projects other schools had produced. She googled “author visits,” looked at Pinterest, and gathered examples to give students ideas of what was possible.

The students, in small teams of 3-5 students, used 2 library periods per week for more than a month, plus free time – a total of 10-15 hours on each project. They did online research about me and my books, then used their imaginations to craft incredibly original and delightful projects demonstrating their knowledge, including…


The result of this extraordinary investment of time, energy and creativity was palpable in the students’ response to meeting me. When the 4th-5th graders came into the auditorium for their workshop, they were bursting with excitement. It felt as if there was already a deep bond between us, as if I was theirs. What an honor and a delight to spend time with them!

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The Philippines!

Posted by on May 17, 2014 in On Events & Presentations , On Travel to Asia | 2 comments

Catching up on my spring: back in March, my second Southeast Asia stop was the Philippines, where I visited the three campuses of Brent International School. It was fascinating to experience the differences between the schools, from Subic’s 200 students (80% Korean) in a building on a former U.S. military base, to Baguio’s hillside cluster of buildings with 300 students (60% Korean), to Manila’s student body of more-than-1000 diverse students from all over the world.

And I got to travel and experience wonders of the Philippines, from Subic Bay on the western coast… starting with breakfast by the bay, and fruit bats in one protected area.


then across the central plain and up twisting roads to mountain-top Baguio,
where I was the first-ever international author to visit,

and students were very excited by autographing.

Baguio had some of the most amazing jeepneys I saw.

Then back down the mountain and across the plain, driving through Manila and to the southern suburbs…

Another  hotel breakfast with a very different view!

to the main campus of Brent Manila.



Throughout, I was accompanied by librarian extraordinaire Debbie Kienzle, and welcomed so warmly and graciously by her library staff, the schools’ personnel and students, and the Filipinos I met everywhere we traveled.

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