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Biography CAREER: Writer.

Straits Times newspaper, Singapore, journalist, 1974-75; Chiengmai University, Chiengmai, Thailand, lecturer in English, 1975-76; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, English literature teaching assistant, 1978-80; Catholic Relief Services, Thai-Cambodian border, nutritionist and relief worker, 1980; Singapore University, writer-in-residence, 1983. Presenter of various writing workshops in middle schools and high schools in the United States and international schools in Switzerland, Indonesia, Thailand, Poland, and Malaysia, 1990-96. MEMBER: Authors Guild, PEN America. AWARDS, HONORS: First prize, Council of Interracial Books for Children, 1975, for Sing to the Dawn; first prize, Annual Short Story Contest of Singapore, Ministry of Culture, Singapore, 1982, and first prize, Annual Short Story Contest, AsiaWeek Magazine, Hong Kong, 1983, both for Tanjong Rhu; second place, prose section, Commonwealth Book Awards, Commonwealth Book Council, 1987, first prize, National Book Development Council of Singapore, 1988, Parents Choice Award, 1990, and Best Books for Young Adults, American Library Association (ALA), Editor's Choice, Booklist, and Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, all 1991, and all for Rice without Rain; National Council on Social Studies/Children's Book Council (NCSS-CBC) Notable Children's Book in the Field of Social Studies and Best Books selection, Parents Magazine, both 1991, "Pick of the Lists," American Booksellers Association (ABA), Notable Children's Trade Books in the Language Arts, and Children's Book of Distinction, Hungry Mind Review, all 1992, all for The Clay Marble; SoutheastAsian Write Award, conferred by the Crown Prince of Thailand, 1996; Horn Book Fanfare, Notable Book designation, ALA, Children's Book of Distinction, Hungry Mind Review, and Caldecott Honor Book, all 1997, all for Hush!: A Thai Lullaby; Notable Book designation, ALA, Best Books selection, New York Public Library, and Children's Book of Distinction, Hungry Mind Review, all 1997, all for Maples in the Mist: Children's Poems from the Tang Dynasty; "Pick of the Lists," ABA, 1997, for Brother Rabbit: A Folktale from Cambodia. WRITINGS: Sing to the Dawn, illustrated by Kwoncjan Ho, Lothrop, Lee and Shepard (New York, NY), 1975. Tanjong Rhu and Other Stories, Federal Press (Singapore), 1986. Rice without Rain, Andre Deutsch (London, England), 1986, Lothrop, Lee and Shepard (New York, NY), 1990. The Clay Marble, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (New York, NY), 1991. (With Saphan Ros) The Two Brothers, illustrated by Jean Tseng and Mou-sien Tseng, Lothrop, Lee and Shepard (New York, NY), 1995. Hush!: A Thai Lullaby, illustrated by Holly Meade, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1996. (Translator and compiler) Maples in the Mist: Children's Poems from the Tang Dynasty, illustrated by Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng, Lothrop, Lee and Shepard (New York, NY), 1996. (With Saphan Ros) Brother Rabbit: A Cambodian Tale, illustrated by Jennifer Hewitson, Lothrop, Lee and Shepard (New York, NY), 1997. Gathering the Dew, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2003, published as The Stone Goddess, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2003. Peek!: A Thai Hide-and-Seek, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004. Ho's work has appeared in anthologies such as Starwalk, Silver, Burdett and Ginn, 1989; Prizewinning Stories: Asian Fiction, Times Edition, 1991; Ripples: Short Stories, EPB Publishers, 1992; Tapestry: Selected Short Stories from Singapore, Heinemann (London, England), 1992; Join In: An Anthology of Multicultural Short Stories, Dell (New York, NY), 1994; Battling Dragons, Heinemann (London, England), 1995, and In My Grandmother's House, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003. Winter Hibiscus, TAPESTRY: SELECTED STORIES FROM SINGAPORE (Reed International, Heinemann, 1992) MORE THAN HALF THE SKY: SHORT STORIES (Times Books International, Singapore 1998)

CENSORED BOOK II, CRITICAL VIEWPOINTS (The Scarecrow Press, 2002) SOUL-SEARCHING STORIES ( Simon and Schuster, 2003) FIRST CROSSING ( Candlewick Press, 2004) Ho's work has been translated into Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Tagalog, and French AND KOREAN. ADAPTATIONS: Sing to the Dawn was adapted as a musical in 1996 for the Singapore Arts Festival. Ho co-wrote the libretto with Stephen Clark, music by Dick Lee, performed by the Singapore Repertory Theatre, and published by Times Edition, 1996. WORK IN PROGRESS: Jataka Tales: A Selection of Buddha's Birth Stories; Duty Free, a novel about 1840s Singapore; The Ballad of Mulan, the Woman Warrior; Morenak Mayda; The Great Pond, translation of the Thai novel by Thepsiri; Sojourn, a historical novel about the first Chinese in Nantucket, 1807. SIDELIGHTS:Minfong Ho, in award-winning novels such as Sing to the Dawn, Rice without Rain, and The Clay Marble, presents realistic depictions of her native Southeast Asia. Characteristically focusing on strong female protagonists who interact with their families and friends against the backdrop of real events, Ho is often recognized for the sensitivity and understanding with which she treats the feelings of her characters as well as for her depiction of Asian life and locale. Her books include stories for young adult readers and middle graders as well as picture books for younger children. In all of these works, Ho does not avoid the harsher elements such as poverty and violent death, but she also weaves the theme of the stabilizing influence of family throughout her work. A writer in St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers explained that Ho "creates a world of great beauty and gentleness, with loving family relationships and ancient customs. But she also creates a world of poverty, drought, dreadful injustice, starvation, and death. Her protagonists are set between these two visions, but in that situation they discover their pride, integrity, and determination to love the land and overcome injustice." Ho's own life reflects an ability to interpret the East to the West, to adapt to new and sometimes confusing and troubling circumstances. Born in Burma in what might be called privileged circumstances, Ho grew up in both Singapore and Thailand. She also did most of her studying in English, making her fluent in three languages. More than that, she has said that each language rules a separate part of her. Chinese, Ho's first language, is the language of her "heart," while Thai, her workaday language, is that of her "hands." English, the language of study, is the language of her "head." The resulting fragmentation, or "linguistic schizophrenia" as she has termed it, has never been resolved for Ho. Though she writes in English, she feels that she has never been able to bridge the languages of her life; having lived in the United States for two decades, she has noted that "even now, when I cry, I cry in Chinese." In part it is this very fragmentation--linguistic as well as cultural--that led Ho into writing stories. Educated at Bangkok's Patana School and the International School as well as at Taiwan's Tunghai University, Ho came to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, to complete her undergraduate degree. At Cornell, she began a short story that later became her first novel, Sing to the Dawn. "When I wrote Sing to the Dawn, it was in moments of homesickness during the thick of winter in upstate New York, when Thailand seemed incredibly far away," Ho once commented. "Writing about the dappled sunlight and school children of home brought them closer to me; it aired on paper that part of me which couldn't find any place in America. That story was not meant to be read--it was only one hand clapping." But Ho found another hand, a reader, in the Council for Interracial Books for Children, to whom she submitted "Sing to the Dawn" for their annual short story contest. The original story describes how Dawan, a schoolgirl from a rural Thai village, encounters resistance from her father and brother when she wins a scholarship to the city high school. Ho won the award for the Asian American Division of unpublished Third World Authors, and was encouraged to enlarge the story into a novel. "The manuscript was later published (through no effort of mine)," Ho recalled. "Suddenly a whole new dimension of writing opened to me: it became a communicative

rather than a cathartic activity. I had always written, but now I would have readers!" Ho also began to see the writing process as one that was inherently "a political expression," as she once wrote in Interracial Books for Children Bulletin. "I had never enjoyed reading stories of Asia in my own childhood. . . . Children's books about Thailand, China, Burma, etc. were invariably about princes and emperors and/or their elephants, peacocks and tigers. The few about village life portrayed it as idyllic and easy-going, full of kites and candles and festivals at the temples. This was not the Asia I knew, and I had resented the writers--usually white--who out of condescension and ignorance misrepresented these countries." With Sing to the Dawn, Ho attempted to avoid these pitfalls and created a realistic story of one girl's struggles to get an education. Dawan achieves first place on a government exam for a high school scholarship, an exam in which her younger brother comes in second. But her real fight comes after the test: now she must convince her father and her brother that she--the girl of the family--should be allowed to go to the city and study. She enlists the aid of her timid mother, of a Buddhist monk, and of a cousin who has lived in the city. Support also comes from her grandmother and from a flower girl named Bao. Dawan learns an important lesson along the way--that she must struggle to become free. Finally she convinces her brother to give his blessing and she leaves for school, her father still resistant. "The author's love of her native countryside is evident in her vivid descriptions," commented Cynthia T. Seybolt in a School Library Journal review. Seybolt also noted that Dawan's story "provides a perspective on women's liberation far removed and much more important than breaking into the local Little League." Though many reviewers noted that this first novel was slow in parts because of frequent descriptive passages, a Kirkus Reviews critic maintained that, "underneath the delicate lotus imagery, this small, understated story is infused with passion and determination," such that Dawan confronts her battle for freedom and equality with a "rage so powerful" that it makes "this otherwise modest narrative vibrate." The book was illustrated by Ho's younger brother, Kwoncjan, and proceeds from its sales were used to help set up a nursing scholarship for village girls in Thailand. Meanwhile, Ho graduated from Cornell and returned to Asia, working as a journalist on the Singapore Straits Times and then as a lecturer at Chiengmai University in Thailand. While in Thailand, she observed firsthand the military coup of October 6, 1976. During these post-college years, Ho worked in "prisons and plywood factories," as she once explained. "I have transplanted rice seedlings and helped a peasant woman give birth; I have attended trade union meetings in stuffy attics and international conferences in plush hotels. There is so much, so much beauty and so much pain in the world around me which I want to write about--because I want to share it." But it would be another decade before she wrote her second book, using much of the material accumulated during her years in Thailand. Married in 1976 to a soil scientist she met during her Cornell years, Ho returned to the United States and settled in Ithaca, New York. She finished an M.F.A. in creative writing at Cornell while working as a teaching assistant. She also spent some time in relief work along the Thai-Cambodian border in 1980, gaining experience that would inform a later novel, The Clay Marble. In 1986, after starting a family, Ho returned to writing fiction, publishing Rice without Rain, a book which retells the experiences of another village girl in Thailand. This time, however, the stakes are higher than in Sing to the Dawn. Jinda is seventeen the summer when young intellectuals from Bangkok arrive in her remote village. Two years of drought have brought deprivations to the village: Jinda's sister has no milk and her baby starves to death. Still, the villagers greet these outsiders with suspicion, especially when they encourage the men to form a rent resistance movement. Slowly the villagers, including Jinda's father, the headman, take up the rallying cry, and slowly too does Jinda fall in love with Ned, the leader of the student radicals. When Jinda's father is arrested, she follows Ned to Bangkok where he organizes a demonstration that might help free Jinda's father. However, the military put down the demonstrators in a bloody massacre. Returning to her village, Jinda discovers that her father has died in prison. Ned and she part ways, he to join communist guerrillas fighting the government, and she to "grow things and be happy" in her village. The title, taken from a Thai folk ballad, points to the fundamental importance of rice--of agriculture--in the life of the common people. Caught up in the larger ideologies of the college students, the villagers

have become pawns. Jinda chooses the simpler path in life, the eternal way. Hazel Rochman, writing in Booklist, noted that though the book has violent and sometimes gritty passages, "The violence is quietly told, never exploited." School Library Journal contributor John Philbrook, despite finding some of the characters too "predictable," felt on the whole that Ho's novel "gives an interesting and at times absorbing glimpse of class struggle in the Thailand of the 1970s. . . . Not a masterpiece, but a novel from an author to watch." A Kirkus Reviews commentator called Rice without Rain "a valuable, memorable portrait of a little-known country." Ho stayed with the land of her childhood for her third novel, incorporating experiences she had gleaned while serving as a relief worker along the Thai-Cambodia border. But with The Clay Marble, Ho created a book for middle grade readers rather than strictly young adults. Twelve-year-old Dara, with her mother and older brother Sarun, journeys to the Thai border in search of food after the fall of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge. At a refugee camp, Dara meets another Cambodian family and becomes fast friends with Jantu, while Jantu's sister falls in love with Sarun. Jantu gives Dara a clay marble which Dara believes has magical properties. When fighting breaks out between rival guerrilla factions, Dara and Jantu are cut off from their families. Surviving several adventures, the two are finally reunited with their families, but Jantu is mistakenly shot and killed by Sarun--overly zealous on watch duty. Dara, in the end, convinces Sarun not to go off with the army, but to return home with his family. Once again, Ho presents a strong female protagonist and employs the theme of family unity in the face of adversity. Some reviewers felt that Ho's characters lacked depth and that her language was at times too sophisticated for a twelve-year-old protagonist. However, other critics found, as did Maeve Visser Knoth in Horn Book Magazine, that Ho's story was "moving." Knoth noted that the book depicted a "people who have rarely had a voice in children's literature." A Kirkus Reviews critic commented that Ho "shapes her story to dramatize political and humanitarian issues" and concluded that the book was "touching, authentic," and "carefully wrought." A change of pace for Ho came with her third child and next few books. The Two Brothers, a picture book for young readers, was co-written with Saphan Ros. The orphaned brothers Kem and Sem have grown up in a monastery. Leaving the monastery for the big world, Kem takes the abbot's parting words of advice to heart and prospers, while Sem at first ignores the words of advice and leads the life of a peasant. Only after Sem remembers the abbot's words does his life turn around; he eventually becomes the king of Cambodia. "This entertaining picture book provides its own lively interpretation of one dramatic folktale from Cambodia," wrote Carolyn Phelan in a Booklist review of The Two Brothers. Margaret A. Chang, writing in School Library Journal, concluded that it was a book "to value for its authentic setting, engaging story, and portrayal of one culture's take on the balance between choice and destiny." Ho again teamed up with Ros on 1997's Brother Rabbit, a story about a crocodile, two elephants, and an old woman who prove to be no match for a mischievous rabbit. Other picture books by Ho include Maples in the Mist, her translations of sixteen short Tang Dynasty unrhymed poems, and Hush!: A Thai Lullaby, a bedtime tale that requests various animals, including a lizard and monkey, to be quiet and not disturb a sleeping baby. Kirkus Reviews dubbed Hush! a "charming, repetitive rhyme," and John Philbrook in School Library Journal called it is a "delightful, reassuring bedtime book with a unique setting." Reviewing Maples in the Mist, a writer in Five Owls noted that Ho's "translations are as clear and bright as the paintings" in a book that is "a successful example of contemporary picture book design." Karen L. MacDonald, writing in School Library Journal, called the book a "beautiful anthology." Commenting on Brother Rabbit, Horn Book Magazine reviewer Nancy Vasilakis asserted that "the back and forth between deceiver and deceived invests the tale with an unpredictability and kinetic edge that suits its theme well." With Gathering the Dew, Ho returned to books geared toward older readers. The novel, part of the "First Person Fiction" series to which many children's writers have contributed, focuses on twelveyear-old Nakri and Teeda, her older sister, Cambodian girls learning traditional dance. Teeda's desire is dance the part of Mekhala, a goddess of the sea, who won a crystal ball by filling a glass with dew. But when the Khmer Rouge take over Cambodia, their father is killed, and the two girls are separated from their family and sent to a labor camp. While there, Teeda dies of malaria, and

it is only after the Vietnamese take over that Nakri manages to find the remaining members of her family. With her mother and brothers, Nakri travels to America, but struggles to adjust without the support of her sister. But through Nakri's love of classical dance, she manages to connect to her sister and survive her grieving. Susan P. Bloom wrote in her Horn Book Magazine review that Ho writes the story "heartbreakingly," and Linda Perkins of Booklist called Gathering the Dew "a compassionate portrait of a young Cambodian refugee." A critic for Kirkus Reviews noted that Ho "never strays from the intimacy of Nakri's strong, but vulnerable, voice." In School Library Journal, Kathleen Isaacs praised, "This moving, first-person account rings true, both to Cambodian history and to the immigrant experience." Ho continues to write novels for young people, and is presently at work on a story set on eighteenth-century Nantucket Island, focusing on its links with the Far East through its China Trade. Informing all of her work is her emphasis on sharing her cross-cultural experiences with others, sometimes in the guise of fiction, sometimes in retellings of folktales or poems. "I have grown up in Thailand and Singapore, and lived in Taiwan, Laos and the United States--and yes, sometimes it's been a bit of a stretch, to try to absorb and adapt to the different cultures, but it's been very enriching as well," Ho stated. "If my writing has helped other children become more `elastic' in their appreciation of Southeast Asian cultures, then my stretching would have been truly worthwhile!" BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES: BOOKS: Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volume 29, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999. Children's Literature Review, Volume 28, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992. Karolides, Nicholas J., editor, Censored Books II: Critical Viewpoints, 1985-2000, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 2002. St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999. Twentieth-Century Young Adult Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1994. PERIODICALS: Booklist, July, 1990, Hazel Rochman, review of Rice without Rain, p. 2083; March 1, 1995, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Two Brothers, p. 1244; April 15, 1996, Janice del Negro, review of Hush!: A Thai Lullaby, p. 1443; May 1, 1997, Karen Morgan, review of Brother Rabbit, p. 1499; March 1, 2003, Linda Perkins, review of Gathering the Dew, p. 1206. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 1975, p. 46; June, 1990, p. 241; December, 1991, p. 92; April, 1996, p. 266; May, 1997, p. 324. Five Owls, January-February, 1997, review of Maples in the Mist, p. 57. Horn Book Magazine, November, 1990, p. 749; January-February, 1992, Maeve Visser Knoth, review of The Clay Marble, p. 71; July, 1995, p. 471; November-December, 1996, Hanna B. Zeiger, review of Hush!, p. 725; May-June, 1997, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Brother Rabbit, pp. 333-334; MayJune, 2003, Susan P. Bloom, review of Gathering the Dew, p. 348. Interracial Books for Children Bulletin, Volume 8, number 7, Minfong Ho, "Writing the Sound of One Hand Clapping," 1977, pp. 5, 21. Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1975, review of Sing to the Dawn, p. 604; May 1, 1991, review of Rice without Rain, p. 649; October 1, 1991, review of The Clay Marble, p. 1287; February 1, 1996, review of Hush!, p. 227; February 1, 2003, review of Gathering the Dew, p. 231; March 1, 2003, review of In My Grandmother's House, p. 380. New York Times Book Review, October 7, 1990, p. 30; April 26, 1992, p. 25; August 13, 1995, p. 23. Publishers Weekly, March 25, 1996, p. 82; April 14, 1997, review of Brother Rabbit, p. 75; January 6, 2003, "Series Set in the Past," p. 61; March 3, 2003, "Family Affair," p. 78. School Library Journal, March, 1976, Cynthia T. Seybolt, review of Sing to the Dawn, p. 104; September, 1990, John Philbrook, review of Rice without Rain, p. 250; October, 1991, John Philbrook, review of The Clay Marble, p. 122; June, 1995, Margaret A. Chang, review of The Two Brothers, p. 102; March, 1996, John Philbrook, review of Hush!, p. 175; September, 1996, Karen L. MacDonald, review of Maples in the Mist; May, 1997, Ellen Fader, review of Brother Rabbit, p. 120;

March, 2003, Kathleen Isaacs, review of Gathering the Dew, p. 233; October, 2003, review of The Stone Goddess, p. S60. Straits Times, September 26, 1996, p. 4. Times Educational Supplement, February 13, 1987, p. 44; September 22, 1989, p. 30. Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1995, p. 302.*

Minfong Ho is an award-winning Chinese American writer. Her works frequently deal with the lives of people living in poverty in Southeast Asian countries. Despite being fictions, her stories are always set against the backdrop of real events, such as the student movement in Thailand in the 1970s and the Cambodian refugee problem with the collapse of Khmer Rouge regime at the turn of 1970s and 1980s. Her simple yet touching language and her optimistic themes have made her writing popular among children as well as young adults. Ho was born in Rangoon, Burma, better known now as Yangon, Myanmar, to an economist father and chemist mother, who were both of Chinese descent. Ho was raised in Thailand, near Bangkok, where she attended the Patana School and the International School Bangkok. She was enrolled in Tunghai University in Taiwan and subsequently transferred to Cornell University in the United States, where she attained her Bachelor's degree in economics. Ho is the daughter of the famed philanthropist Ho Rih Hwa. Her brother Kwon Ping is the Executive Chairman of the Banyan Tree Group. It was in Cornell when she first began to write to combat homesickness. She submitted a short story, titled Sing to the Dawn, to the Council for Interracial Books for Children for its annual short story contest. She won the award for the Asian American Division of unpublished Third World Authors, and was encouraged to enlarge the story into a novel. This she did, and through the process Ho began to see writing as "a political expression," as she once wrote in Interracial Books for Children Bulletin. She resented the stories about Thailand, Burma, and China she previously read, for she thought that their mostly idyllic portrayal of lives there misrepresented the Asia that she came to know during her childhood. In Sing to the Dawn, Ho brought her readers into a realistic rural Thailand through the eyes of a young village girl Dawan, whose struggle to convince those around her to allow her to take up a scholarship to study in the city reflected the sexual discrimination faced by girls in Thailand, especially in the countryside. After graduating in 1973, Ho returned to Asia and began working as a journalist for The Straits Times in Singapore. She left two years later for Chiang Mai University in Thailand, where she worked as a lecturer in English. The subsequent two years she was going to spend in Chiang Mai had a deep impact on her. Together with her students and colleagues, Ho spent several periods living and working in nearby villages, as part of the ongoing student movement to alleviate rural poverty. While the student leaders were preoccupied with organizing the peasants into a political group in their search for democracy, Ho became more aware of the emotional world of the women and children there. She later commented that there was "so much beauty and so much pain in the world" around her that she wanted to write about. However, on October 6, 1976, Ho observed firsthand the massacre of student protesters by paramilitary force under the army and the subsequent restoration of military rule in the kingdom, which had generally been labeled in the West as a coup. But she did not stay long under such circumstance. After marrying John Value Dennis, Jr., an international agriculture policy person whom she met during her Cornell years, Ho left for her alma mater again, where she completed a Master's course in creative writing while working as an English literature teaching assistant. She had also spent some time in relief work along the Thai-Cambodian border in 1980.

In 1986, Ho gave birth to her first child, a son. And finally, a decade after returning from Thailand, she began writing fiction again. The result was Rice without Rain, a story centering around Jinda, a seventeen year-old girl from the fictitious Maekung Village which was caught up in the political winds sweeping across the country when a group of university students from Bangkok arrived to encourage the landless farmers to take up a rent resistance movement. Set against the very same historical background as Ho had experienced herself, Jinda's realization that the peasant class was but pawns in the ongoing political tug-of-war and her journey to find her own path in life told the untold stories during those years of turmoil that shrouded Thailand. Five years later Ho published her third book, The Clay Marble. This time she drew her inspiration from the interaction with Cambodian refugees during her relief work on the Thai-Cambodian border. Once again, she presented a strong female protagonist, a twelve year-old girl named Dara who was one of the thousands of refugees escaping to the border at the end of the Khmer Rouge regime when Vietnam invaded the country. She also employed the theme of family unity in the face of adversity, as Dara persuaded her elder brother not to join the army but to return with family, which had already lost the father, to restart life back at home. In 1983, Ho returned to Singapore, where she worked as the writer-in-residence at the National University of Singapore for the next seven years. As a result, she is widely referred to there as a "local writer". Her works had been selected as teaching material for English literature in lower secondary schools. Since 1990, Ho has been living with her family in Ithaca, New York. She has also traveled and made presentations at various writing workshops in middle schools and high schools in the United States and international schools in Switzerland, Indonesia, Thailand, Poland, and Malaysia. After the birth of her third and last child Ho shifted her focus to writing books for children. Collaborating with Saphan Ros, executive director of the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, she published two books on traditional Cambodian folktales, The Two Brothers and Brother Rabbit: A Cambodian Tale. In the meantime, she even translated sixteen Tang poems into English and compiled them into a picture book titled Maples in the Mist: Children's Poems from the Tang Dynasty. In 2004, she returned to writing for more mature readers with Gathering the Dew, a story of how a young Cambodian girl who lost her sister during the Khmer Rouge regime learnt to reconcile with life's harsh realities and live on. Literary criticism Minfong Ho, in her four novels, presented to her readers realistic depictions of her native Southeast Asia. Despite being fictions, her stories were all set against the backdrop of real historical events that she herself had experienced or at least observed firsthand. Her optimistic central theme remains similar throughout all four books. So do the central figures, who are all young girls facing harsh realities of life unimaginable by their more fortunate contemporaries in developed countries. With her sensitivity for the emotional world of her characters, Ho showed her readers the humane side behind atrocities of the October 6 massacre of student protesters in Bangkok and the Khmer Rouge regime. Against poverty, sexual discrimination, oppression, war, loss of loved ones, she maintained that human spirit should prevail. Ho's ability to interpret the East to the West came chiefly from her own upbringing. Having been born in the then Burma to Chinese parents, she was brought up both in Singapore and Thailand, allowing her to acquire three languages. According to her, Chinese, her first language, is the language of her "heart", Thai the language of her "hands", and English that of her "head". This multifaceted linguistic ability, coupled with her childhood experiences, has perhaps given her a unique insight into the world she writes about, which is not easily attainable by foreign writers. [1] Although she does not avoid relatively mature subjects such as poverty and war, Ho's writings have been hailed as excellent reading materials for children and young adults. She had received many awards, including Commonwealth Book Awards from the Commonwealth Book Council and Best Books

for Young Adults from the American Library Association for Rice without Rain, Pick of the Lists from the American Booksellers Association for The Clay Marble, and Best Books selection from the New York Public Library for Maples in the Mist: Children's Poems from the Tang Dynasty , among others. Bibliography Cover for Sing to the Dawn, first novel by Minfong Ho (1975) Sing to the Dawn (1981) The Clay Marble (1986) Tanjong Rhu and Other Stories (1986) Rice without Rain (1995) The Two Brothers, with Saphan Ros (1996) Hush!: A Thai Lullaby (1996) Maples in the Mist: Children's Poems from the Tang Dynasty (translator and compiler) (1997) Brother Rabbit: A Cambodian Tale, with Saphan Ros (2003) Gathering the Dew(The Stone Goddess) (2004) Peek!: A Thai Hide-and-Seek Selected works of Minfong Ho have been translated into Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog and French. Among these, Sing to the Dawn had also been adapted into a musical in 1996 for the Singapore Arts Festival.