Tell me a little about yourself I was born in South Korea, and moved to the U.S. when I was just 4 yrs old. I actually did not like books when I was little because I could not read them, and neither could my parents. We didn’t read or speak a word of English at the time. I actually learned a lot of English from watching Sesame Street. Even though we didn’t own many books at home, the few that we did have made an impression on me. I loved looking at the illustrations because you didn’t need words to understand them. I could make up my own stories! Enjoying the pictures made me want to be an artist myself. But I never dreamed that I’d be an author/illustrator of children’s books. That dream occurred to me only after college—as an adult!
How many books have you written & illustrated? Over 160… but I don’t know exactly. It’s hard to keep track after the first 100!
How did you become an author/illustrator? I wanted to be an artist ever since I was a kid. It was one thing I felt like I was good at and enjoyed. As I pursued art in my high school and college years, I learned that there weren’t many jobs out there for artists. I looked at children’s books and saw so much art in them, and it really appealed to me. I started off by illustrating very young children’s books that required very few words because I was still very afraid to write. It took me ten years of publishing before I wrote my first children’s story, “Penguin and Pinecone.” And now, I can’t stop!
Do you have a favorite book or character you have created? Penguin will always be my favorite book character of mine because it was my very first one. And he was inspired by my son, Max, who once brought home a pine cone he wanted to befriend.
Do you have words of encouragement for a kid like me? Whatever it is that you love, keep doing it! Don’t be discouraged no matter the obstacles you face. The biggest obstacle for most people is their fear of failing. Just remember that you HAVE to fail in order to succeed! You can’t have one without the other, so think of each failure as a step towards success!
Do you have a favorite author or illustrator? I have many, but at this very moment, I choose Peter Brown because I just finished reading The Wild Robot, and it was amazing! You should read it!
Why are you so awesome? I’m awesome because I don’t give up! I’ve received hundreds (maybe thousands) of rejections over my career, but I don’t let that stop me from doing what I love. I keep going until I get it right.