Krasno, Rena 1923-

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KRASNO, Rena 1923-


Born December 4, 1923, in Shanghai, China; daughter of David (a writer) and Aida (in business; maiden name, Kriger) Rabinovich; married Hanan Krasno, August 30, 1949; children: Dafna, Maya. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: French Municipal College, earned certificat d'études, brevet supérieur, and baccalauréate; studied for three years at Jesuit Aurora University (later called Shanghai School of Medicine No. 2), Shanghai, China, during World War II. Religion: Jewish.


Home—255 South Rengstorff, No. 106, Mountain View, CA 94040. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer. Worked as a simultaneous interpreter in Europe and Asia for international organizations such as UNESCO, the International Labor Organization, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, and the Olympic Committee; languages include fluent English and French, along with Russian, German, Hebrew, and Spanish. Served as honorary chancellor of Austria in Seoul, Korea. Sino-Judaic Institute, in charge of public affairs, member of board of directors, and member of editorial board. Krasno is one of the primary subjects of Exil Shanghai, a documentary film by Ulrike Ottinger of Berlin; also participated in the making of Sanctuary Shanghai, by Chen Yifei of Shanghai Yifei Culture and Film Communication Co., which was broadcast on Chinese television in 1998.


Medal of honor, French government, Shanghai, China; Benjamin Franklin Prize, Publishers Marketing association, 2001, for Floating Lanterns and Golden Shrines: Celebrating Japanese Festivals.


(Coauthor) The Banana Also Has a Heart (children's book of Filipino legends; in Hebrew), Keter (Jerusalem, Israel), 1972.

Strangers Always: A Jewish Family in Wartime Shanghai, Pacific View Press (Berkeley, CA), 1992, revised edition, 2000.

Kneeling Carabao and Dancing Giants: Celebrating Filipino Festivals (children's nonfiction), illustrated by Ileana Lee, Pacific View Press (Berkeley, CA), 1997.

Floating Lanterns and Golden Shrines: Celebrating Japanese Festivals, illustrated by Toru Sugita, Pacific View Press (Berkeley, CA), 2000.

The Last Glorious Summer: Summer 1939, Shanghai-Japan, Old China Hand Press (Hong Kong, China), 2001.

Cloud Weavers: Ancient Chinese Legends, illustrated by Yeng-Fong Chiang, Pacific View Press (Berkeley, CA), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Points East, Jerusalem Post, Japan Times, Korea Times, Korea Herald, Die Presse, Filipino Journal of Education, and South African Chronicle.


Rena Krasno is the author of Kneeling Carabao and Dancing Giants: Celebrating Filipino Festivals, a children's book that surveys numerous festivals celebrated on the more than 7,000 islands that comprise the Philippines. Krasno's description of the festivals includes their associated legends, recipes, songs, and games. Although Filipino immigrants and their descendants are the second most numerous Asian group living in the United States, there are few books for children about the country or its culture, according to Ilene Cooper, who reviewed Kneeling Carabao and Dancing Giants for Booklist. Cooper maintained that Krasno's writing is "several notches above [the] typical standard" for series nonfiction. Krasno's book reflects the diversity within Filipino culture itself, which is a blend of vestiges of the cultures of the many descendants of immigrants from China, Spain, and the Middle East who populate the islands. A Kirkus Reviews commentator called Kneeling Carabao "a robust sampler of an obviously rich and varied culture."

Krasno is also the author of Strangers Always: A Jewish Family in Wartime Shanghai, a book for adults based on the diaries she kept as a college student living in China during World War II. Shanghai was host to thousands of Jewish refugees during the first half of the twentieth century, beginning with those who fled Russian pogroms and the Russian Revolution, and including many who sought refuge during Hitler's anti-Jewish campaigns. Krasno's father arrived in China in 1921. He was the publisher and editor of a weekly printed in Russian, English, and Yiddish. When the Japanese occupied Shanghai completely, after Pearl Harbor until the end of World War II, the city became a less hospitable place for Jews, and Krasno provides a rare, first-person account of life for this isolated community of Jews under Japanese occupation. Kenneth W. Berger, who reviewed Strangers Always for Library Journal, described the book as "a remarkable combination of personal experiences and short essays" on the history of the Jewish refugee community in Shanghai.

Krasno told CA: "I want my children's books to build bridges between different ethnic groups of children. My work is influenced by my education, which taught me to study for the sake of acquiring knowledge and understanding of the world, and my parents, who imposed standards of decency and honesty."



Booklist, December 1, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Kneeling Carabao and Dancing Giants: Celebrating Filipino Festivals, p. 620.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1997, review of Kneeling Carabao and Dancing Giants, p. 1459.

Library Journal, November 1, 1992, Kenneth W. Berger, review of Strangers Always: A Jewish Family in Wartime Shanghai, p. 102.

Publishers Weekly, November 16, 1992, p. 56.


Rena Krasno Home Page, (August 28, 2004).