Fan, Nancy Yi 1993-

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Fan, Nancy Yi 1993-


Born 1993, in China; immigrated to United States, 2000; returned to China. Hobbies and other interests: Martial arts, birds.




Student, writer.


Swordbird (young adult novel), illustrated by Mark Zug, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.

Sword Quest (young adult novel; prequel to Swordbird), HarperCollins Publishers (New York, NY), 2008.


Swordbird was adapted for audio (unabridged; four CDs), read by Colleen Delaney, HarperChildren's Audio, 2007.


Nancy Yi Fan was born in mainland China and immigrated to the United States when she was seven years old. Although she could speak no English at the time, within three years she was writing a book inspired by a dream. In Swordbird, Fan, who was disturbed by the events of September 11, 2001, writes of warring flocks of birds. She was supported by family and teachers before she completed the novel in 2005. She sent it out to various publishers, and it was accepted by HarperCollins. The book was published in the United States, China, and the United Kingdom.

While she was in third grade in the United States, Fan's classmates asked if she knew martial arts like the kung fu movie action hero Jackie Chan. She did practice with a sword, which became helpful in writing the fight scenes in Swordbird. The cardinals and blue jays in the book are the peaceful flocks of Stone-Run Forest, whose friendly relationships are threatened when eggs and food stores begin to disappear. The flocks are turned against each other by an evil hawk who enslaves birds and attempts to control the forest through his army of crows and ravens.

While reviewers consistently pointed out that the young author's accomplishment was unusual, some, like a Kirkus Reviews contributor faulted the story, saying: "Fantasy elements are both derivative and inconsistent." School Library Journal reviewer Elizabeth Bird praised illustrator Mark Zug "who took the author's imagery and made it believable as well as attractive." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the "tightly woven story delivers a manifest message promoting peace and freedom." Sword Quest, the second book of a planned trilogy, is actually a prequel to the first.

Fan continues her studies of the Chinese language and translated the bilingual version published in China. Before the book was published, she wrote a letter to Jackie Chan at his Hong Kong office asking if he would read Swordbird. When a copy was sent, a member of Chan's staff read the book and told Chan about Fan and the book. Chan made a statement in praise of Fan and her first book, in which he wrote: "I know that Nancy wrote her story partly as a reaction to the events of 9/11. I'm happy that she found a way to express her desire for peace and freedom. I think that Nancy is an inspiration to a lot of people and she is proof that if you work hard and dream big, anything can happen!"



Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March, 2007, April Spisak, review of Swordbird, p. 290.

Girls' Life, April 1, 2007, review of Swordbird, p. 36.

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2007, review of Swordbird, p. 72.

Observer (London, England), September 24, 2006, Vanessa Thorpe, review of Swordbird.

Owl, May, 2007, Cassandra Madassa, review of Swordbird, p. 38.

PTI—The Press Trust of India Ltd., September 25, 2006, "Chinese Girl Wins Global Book Deal."

Publishers Weekly, September 25, 2006, "Friedman Finds Preteen Writer in China," p. 28; January 1, 2007, review of Swordbird, p. 50; March 12, 2007, Diane Roback, "Children's Fiction Bestsellers," p. 17.

School Library Journal, March, 2007, Elizabeth Bird, review of Swordbird, p. 209.

Time for Kids, January 12, 2007, "Her Words Have Wings," p. 8; January 19, 2007, "WHO'S NEWS," p. 4.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2007, Angelica Delgado, review of Swordbird, p. 64; August, 2007, Teri S. Lesesne, review of Swordbird, p. 222.

Writing!, September 2007, "Talking with Nancy Yi Fan," p. 22.

Xinhua News Agency, May 3, 2007, Li Bo, "Interview: Swordbird Author Working on Prequel."

ONLINE, (April 6, 2007), "Chinese Girl Publishes Best-Selling English Fairy Tale."

Kids Reads, (December 21, 2007), Sarah Sawtelle, review of Swordbird.

Official Jackie Chan Web site: Kids Corner, (December 21, 2007), text of correspondence.

School Library Journal Online, (May 30, 2007), Joan Oleck, "SLJ Talks to 13-Year-Old Author, Nancy Yi Fan," interview.