Originally from Massachusetts, for over twenty-five years I've lived, worked, and raised a family in Japan. My books reflect this bilingual, insider-outsider, cross-cultural life.
I sometimes tackle difficult topics in my books--bullying, grief, displacement, loss . . . and, because I studied biology, wildlife and nature often meander through my stories. I write poetry, prose, fiction, nonfiction, and I'm always stirring up some new stories.
Lately I'm at work on picture book biographies and 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 a picture book biography written in haibun form that celebrates the life and work of this visionary Japanese American craftsman. Written by Holly Thompson, illustrated by Toshiki Nakamura (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, September 2024).
The Wakame Gatherers (now available 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. 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.
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.
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 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 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.