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Chang, Raymond 1939-

CHANG, Raymond 1939-

PERSONAL: Born March 6, 1939, in Hong Kong; naturalized U.S. citizen; son of Junsheng (a banker) and Ju-fen (a homemaker; maiden name, Li) Chang; married Margaret A. Scrogin (a librarian and writer), August 3, 1968; children: Elizabeth Hope. Ethnicity: "Chinese." Education: University of London, B.S. (with first class honours), 1962; Yale University, M.S., 1963, Ph.D., 1966.

ADDRESSES: Home—146 Forest Rd., Williamstown, MA 01267. Office—Department of Chemistry, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267-2682.

CAREER: Washington University, St. Louis, MO, postdoctoral research fellow, 1966-67; Hunter College of the City University of New York, New York, NY, assistant professor of chemistry, 1967-68; Williams College, Williamstown, MA, assistant professor, 1968-73, associate professor, 1974-78, professor of chemistry, 1978—, Halford R. Clark Professor of Natural Sciences, 1989—, chair of department, 1993-95. University of California, Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, visiting scientist at Laboratory of Chemical Biodynamics, 1972-73; Stanford University, visiting professor, 1977-78; Amherst College, visiting scientist, 1981. Olympiad Examinations Task Force, member, 1989-91, Graduate Record Examination Committee, 1994-99.

MEMBER: American Chemical Society (member of examination committees for physical chemistry, 1979-83, and general chemistry, 1983-85), American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi.

AWARDS, HONORS: Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, 1980, 1981, and 1982, all for Speaking of Chinese; Parents' Choice Honor Book award, 1990, for In the Eye of War, and 1999, for Da Wei's Treasure; outstanding children's book citation, Parenting magazine, 1994, for The Cricket Warrior: A Chinese Tale; Selectors' Choice, Elementary School Library Collection, 2000, for The Beggar's Magic: A Chinese Tale.

WRITINGS:

WITH WIFE, MARGARET SCROGIN CHANG

Speaking of Chinese, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1978, updated edition, 2001.

In the Eye of War, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 1990.

(Reteller) The Cricket Warrior: A Chinese Tale, illustrated by Warwick Hutton, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 1994.

(Reteller) The Beggar's Magic: A Chinese Tale, illustrated by David Johnson, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 1997.

(Reteller) Da Wei's Treasure: A Chinese Tale, illustrated by Lori McElrath-Eslick, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Chang's books have been published in Braille editions.

OTHER

Basic Principles of Spectroscopy, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1971.

Physical Chemistry with Applications to BiologicalSystems, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1977, 3rd edition published as Physical Chemistry for the Chemical and Biological Sciences, University Science Books (Sausalito, CA), 2000.

Chemistry, Random House (New York, NY), 1981, 7th edition, McGraw-Hill (Boston, MA), 2002.

General Chemistry, Random House (New York, NY), 1986, 3rd edition published as General Chemistry: The Essential Concepts, McGraw-Hill (Dubuque, IA), 2003.

(With Wayne Tikkanen) The Top Fifty IndustrialChemicals, Random House (New York, NY), 1988.

(With Jerry S. Faughn and Jon Turk) Physical Science, 2nd edition, Saunders College Publishing (Philadelphia, PA), 1995.

Essential Chemistry, McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 1996, 2nd edition, 2000.

Contributor of articles to chemistry journals. Member of editorial board, Chemical Educator. Contributor to instructor's manuals, workbooks, and study guides to his chemistry texts.

SIDELIGHTS: Chemistry professor Raymond Chang lives a dual life as an author. Not only has he written several highly praised chemistry textbooks for college students, but he also draws on his memories of growing up in China in the books he has coauthored for children. Together with his wife, Margaret Scrogin Chang, Chang has written In the Eye of War, a novel for children about a Chinese family living in occupied Shanghai. Also with his wife, he has created the texts for several picture books based on traditional Chinese tales, among them The Cricket Warrior: A Chinese Tale and The Beggar's Magic: A Chinese Tale.

In The Cricket Warrior, the Changs update a traditional Chinese folktale first written down by seventeenth-century author Pu Songling. When a poor farmer and his son Wei nian trap a healthy fighting cricket, the farmer promises the insect to the emperor, a man who loves cricket fights and has imposed a "cricket tax" on each family in his domain in order to keep himself well supplied. After the curious young Wei nian accidentally frees the insect, he quickly realizes that he has put his family's humble farm in jeopardy and seeks the aid of his ancestor's spirit in transforming himself into a cricket. Winning many matches for the emperor, he preserves his father's commitment and makes his family wealthy before regaining his human form. The Cricket Warrior contains what School Library Journal reviewer John Philbrook described as a "brisk, colloquial narrative," through which the Changs "skillfully render . . . each turn of plot." Praising the Chang's retelling in a review of The Cricket Warrior, a Publishers Weekly contributor noted that their "dynamic retelling" of the traditional Chinese tale "emphasizes Wei nian's concern with honor . . . and the strength of the familial bond." Recommending the story for reading aloud, Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan praised the Changs' style, which she described as "fluid" and "spiced with dramatic dialogue."

Also based on a traditional Chinese tale first set down centuries ago by Pu Songling, The Beggar's Magic draws young listeners to a small village where a mysterious elderly stranger has captured the interest of young Fu Nan and his friends through the unknown man's ability to perform magic. The entire village benefits from the stranger's talents after he creates, almost overnight, a bountiful pear tree with fruit enough for all in the village to share. Only after the stranger leaves does Fu Nan realize that the stranger had created this "tree" by magically transporting pears from a cache hoarded by stingy and greedy Farmer Wu. Calling The Beggar's Magic a "delightful cautionary tale on avarice and selfishness," School Library Journal contributor Philbrook added that the earth-toned inkand-watercolor illustrations by David Johnson combine effectively with the Changs' "simple and elegant" prose to create "a perfect gem of a book that will linger in the mind long after a first reading." Horn Book reviewer Ann A. Flowers found The Beggar's Magic to be "a gentle and delicate tale" that would serve young listeners as a "quiet lesson in sharing," while in Booklist, Phelan praised the Changs' retelling as one done "with simplicity and elegance."

Published in 1999, Chang's retelling of Da Wei's Treasure: A Chinese Tale comes from a more personal source than The Cricket Warrior and The Beggar's Magic: it is based on a story Chang's mother told him while he was growing up in Shanghai. Da Wei is the son of a poor man who ekes out a meager living in the barren lands of northern China. The only thing of value to his father is a rock shaped like a mountain in miniature, on top of which is perched a carved miniature house. After Da Wei's father dies, the miniature scene generates a magical cart, which leads young Da Wei to a magical land that yields him not only a beautiful wife and great wealth, but also a certain amount of problems that only magic can make right. In her Booklist review of Da Wei's Treasure, GraceAnne A. DeCandido praised it as a "heartwarming story," and a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "the Changs' . . . eloquent retelling weaves together familiar strands of classic tales" in creating an uplifting readaloud. Also commenting that Chang's mother may have drawn from a number of traditional tales, such as the classic "The Crane's Wife," in her own bedside tale, School Library Journal reviewer Nina Lindsay maintained that "the narrative is long and involved but never ceases to be intriguing."

Chang's wife once explained to CA that her husband's family "moved to Hong Kong from their home in Shanghai to escape the 1937 Japanese invasion of China. Chang was born in the British Crown Colony, the youngest son of a family that already included seven children. Not long after the Japanese marched into Hong Kong on Christmas Day, 1941, the Changs moved back to Shanghai, where they lived under Japanese occupation. In 1949, they returned to Hong Kong, leaving Shanghai for good.

"Because of his family's background and the many relocations, Chang became fluent in several Chinese dialects. At home he heard his mother's dialect, Sichuanese. He talked with his playmates in Shanghainese, while in school they all learned Beijing Mandarin, the national standard for spoken language. In Hong Kong, he had to learn a completely different spoken language, the Cantonese dialect of southern China. Fortunately for him, the same written language unites all of China.

"At the age of seventeen, Chang followed his sister to London for what he thought would be a few years of study in the West. He did not return to Hong Kong for seventeen years, and then it was only for a brief visit. On the boat that took him to England, Chang soon realized that the English he had learned as a Chinese schoolboy was inadequate for everyday communication and totally useless for reading the dinner menu, which was all in French! Once in London, he set about improving his English and now speaks so fluently that most people assume he was born in the United States.

"After a couple of years in preparatory school, Chang entered the University of London to study chemistry, and he graduated with first-class honours. Partly because three of his sisters had married and moved to the United States, he decided to continue his education in the United States of America. He earned his Ph.D., married an American, and moved to a scenic corner of New England to become a chemistry professor at Williams College.

"Since for many years he was the only Asian on the faculty, Chang often went outside his field of chemistry to explain Chinese language and culture to curious students. For several years he taught a popular winter study course, a one-month introduction to Chinese language and calligraphy. When he tried to gather background materials for his course, he found no book on the Chinese language that was written for the general reader, the layman without a background in linguistics or Sinology.

"Though he was already the author of two chemistry books, he asked me to help him write a popular introduction to the Chinese language, one that people interested in China could read in bed without a pencil. Speaking of Chinese was the result. Chang drew on his boyhood experiences to select the proverbs, describe Chinese grammar, and write the calligraphy used in the text.

"In 1982, Chang led a group of Williams College students and alumni on a winter study tour of the People's Republic of China. It was his first trip home in more than thirty years. In Shanghai, he was amazed by the vast numbers of people, all so healthy and well clothed. His old neighborhood looked far more crowded than he remembered. His childhood home, shabby but still standing, housed three families.

"Like many Chinese professionals who have returned to their native land for a visit, he found the territory familiar, but he knew that the country of his childhood was no longer his."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 1, 1994, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Cricket Warrior: A Chinese Tale, p. 502; October 15, 1997, Carolyn Phelan, review of TheBeggar's Magic: A Chinese Tale, p. 407; May 15, 1999, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Da Wei's Treasure: A Chinese Tale, p. 1699.

Focus on Asian Studies, autumn, 1978, review of Speaking of Chinese, p. 40.

Horn Book, June, 1979, review of Speaking of Chinese; November-December, 1997, Ann A. Flowers, review of The Beggar's Magic, p. 690.

Journal of Chemical Education, November, 1994, Michael S. Bradley, review of Chemistry, p. A289; October, 1996, Howard D. Dewalt, review of Essential Chemistry, pp. A240-241; May, 2001, Andrew Pounds, review of Physical Chemistry for the Chemical and Biological Sciences, pp. 594-595.

Publishers Weekly, September 5, 1994, review of TheCricket Warrior, p. 110; June 14, 1999, review of Da Wei's Treasure, p. 70.

School Library Journal, January, 1995, John Philbrook, review of The Cricket Warrior, p. 102; December, 1997, John Philbrook, review of The Beggar's Magic, p. 107; June, 1999, Nina Lindsay, review of Da Wei's Treasure, p. 112.

Scientific American, December, 1978, review of Speaking of Chinese.

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