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Originally from Massachusetts, for over twenty-five years I've lived, worked, and raised a family in Japan. Now I go back and forth between Japan and the U.S. My books reflect this bilingual, insider-outsider, cross-cultural life.


I sometimes tackle difficult topics in my books--bullying, grief, displacement, loss, and I often focus on resilience. Also, because I studied biology, trees, seaweed, birds and other wildlife often meander through my stories. I write poetry, prose, fiction, nonfiction, and I'm always stirring up some new stories. In my spare time, if I can find any, I love to translate Japanese picture books.


Lately I'm at work on picture book biographies, poetry books, J>E kidlit translations, a dual narrative YA novel, and a middle grade historical fantasy, and I'm thrilled that Listening to Trees is due out in 2024! 


Listening to Trees: George Nakashima, Woodworker, by Holly Thompson, illustrated by Toshiki Nakamura  

Listening to Trees: George Nakashima, Woodworker (October 2024) is a poetic picture book biography celebrating the life and work of the visionary Japanese American woodworker George Nakashima. Nakashima's life is narrated using haibun, a combination of haiku and prose, which twines through Toshiki Nakamura's earthy illustrations. A foreword by Nakashima's daughter Mira and robust back matter will deepen young readers' understanding of woodworking and poetry and offer added insights to the work of a master artisan. (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, October 2024). 

Preorder Listening to Trees NOW! Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, AmazonJapan


The Wakame Gatherers by Holly Thompson, illustrated by Kazumi Wilds

The Wakame Gatherers (now in paperback) features bicultural Nanami going seaweed gathering with her Japanese and American grandmothers. While translating for the two women, she comes to understand they were at war when they were her age. The 2024 Read Maine Agriculture book. A Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. Included after the story are an author’s note about wakame, a glossary of Japanese words used, and recipes for wakame by Nanami and each of her grandmothers.

Teaching Resources: View The Wakame Gatherers Read-Aloud Video with info about wakame cultivation and harvesting; download the Teacher's Guide for The Wakame Gatherers; visit Texts and Contexts: Teaching Japan Through Children's Literature online curriculum, a collection of teacher-developed, standards-based, cross-curricular K-6 lessons, featuring The Wakame Gatherers.



One Wave at a Time by Holly Thompson, illustrated by Ashley Crowley (Albert Whitman, 2018)

One Wave at a Time is a lyrical story about grief and healing, for anyone encountering loss.


Download the One Wave at a Time Teacher's Guide HERE.

Twilight Chant by Holly Thompson, illustrated by Jen Betton (Clarion/HMH, 2018)

Twilight Chant is a lyrical evocation of the transition between day and night and an exploration of the animals who thrive during this time.  


Download the Twilight Chant Teacher's Guide HERE.


Watch the Twilight Chant Book Trailer HERE

Falling Into the Dragon's Mouth by Holly Thompson

Falling into the Dragon's Mouth confronts school bullying in Japan. In this NCTAsia Freeman Book Award title, Jason--a sixth grader, orange belt in aikido, and big brother--struggles to cope with escalating aggression at school and thinks aikido will help him.


Teaching Resources

View this Falling into the Dragon's Mouth Video Read-Aloud and Writing Activity .

Watch the NCTAsia/FCCEAS Falling into the Dragon's Mouth Webinar.

Read 30 companion #NoticePoems on my hatbooks blog .


Orchards by Holly Thompson

Orchards won the APALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. Bicultural Kana is a Japanese and Jewish/American girl sent from her home in New York to spend the summer with relatives in Japan after the death by suicide of a classmate. As Kana is immersed in the mikan orchards of the tiny village of Kohama, she tries to make sense of what happened.


Download the Orchards Book Group Discussion Guide HERE.

The Language Inside by Holly Thompson

The Language Inside is about displacement, poetry, noodles, love and language. A YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults title and a Notable Books for the Language Arts selection, this verse novel is full of poetry. Read the story behind the story here,.


Download the Discussion, Writing, Activity and Service Guide for The Language Inside HERE.

Visit BOOKS for all titles.