Thong, Roseanne

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THONG, Roseanne

PERSONAL:

Born in Fullerton, CA; married; husband's name Francis; children: Maya. Education: California State University, Fullerton, B.A. and M.A.; California State University, Long Beach, earned teaching credential; Leicester University, Doctorate of Education.

ADDRESSES:

HomeHong Kong, China. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER:

Educator and writer. Hong Kong University School of Continuing and Professional Education, teacher of English. Worked variously as a journalist, elementary and secondary school teacher in California, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Negative Capability's Short Fiction Contest honorable mention, 1996; Pushcart Prize for Fiction nomination, 1998; Potato Eyes Literary Magazine, 1999, for short fiction; South China Morning Post Best Nonfiction Title of the Year listee, 2000, for Round Is a Mooncake; University of Wisconsin—Madison Cooperative Children's Book Center Best-of-the-Year Award, 2002, for Red Is a Dragon; Hunger Mountain's Howard Frank Mosher Short-Story Fiction Prize finalist, 2005; Skipping Stones Honor Award in Multicultural Understanding, 2006, for The Wishing Tree.

WRITINGS:

FOR CHILDREN

Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes, illustrated by Grace Lin, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2000.

Red Is a Dragon: A Book of Colors, illustrated by Grace Lin, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2001.

One Is a Drummer: A Book of Numbers, illustrated by Grace Lin, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2004.

The Wishing Tree, illustrated by Connie McLennan, Shen's Books (Fremont, CA), 2004.

Tummy Girl, illustrated by Sam Williams, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2007.

Gai See: What You Can See in Chinatown, illustrated by Yangsook Choi, Harry Abrams (New York, NY), 2007.

FOR ADULTS

Fruit Dreams, and Other Asian Stories, Chameleon Press (Hong Kong, China), 2006.

Contributor to literary journals, including American Studies Journal, Asian Pacific American Journal, Dalhousie Review, Dimsum, Evansville Review, Fiction International, Louisville Review, Lullwater Review, Northwoods Review, Poetry L.A., Potato Eyes, and Timber Creek Review.

SIDELIGHTS:

Roseanne Thong grew up in Fountain Valley, California, but has been a resident of Asia for more than fifteen years. As a teacher of English overseas for many years, Thong has had the opportunity to teach her native language in a number of countries, among them Guatemala, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam. When Thong's daughter was two years old, the family was living in Hong Kong. Thong attempted to find English-language books for her daughter about common shapes, colors, numbers, and themes found in Asia, but was unsuccessful. Her decision to write children's books to fill this need resulted in her first picture book, Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes.

Described by Booklist reviewer Connie Fletcher as an "enchanting book [that] provides a gentle lesson in shapes … as well as culture," Round Is a Mooncake features simple shapes such as circle, square, and rectangle through Thong's rhyming verse. The narrator of the book, a young Chinese girl, describes a number of items from her everyday life that contain these shapes, including "squares of dim sum and radish cakes, circles of rice bowls, and a rectangular Chinese abacus," as noted by School Arts reviewer Ken Marantz. Thong also includes a glossary in which she describes Chinese words and the unusual Chinese items she features throughout the book. Linda M. Kenton, reviewing Round Is a Mooncake for School Library Journal, considered the book a "useful purchase for young patrons interested in Chinese culture." A similar book by Thong, One Is a Drummer: A Book of Numbers, was praised by Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan as an "appealing counting book" that will be valuable to American children of Chinese ancestry "who want to learn a little about their heritage."

In Red Is a Dragon: A Book of Colors, Thong creates an award-winning concept book that focuses on colors. Similar to Round Is a Mooncake, Red Is a Dragon contains rhyming verses that detail the colors seen in the environment of a young Chinese-American girl. Thong describes the colors of a red dragon, a jade bracelet, and a blue wishing pool with "rhymes that bounce along quite effortlessly, buoyed by the vivid colors that echo each verse," according to a Kirkus Reviews writer. While School Library Journal reviewer Marian Drabkin commented that Thong's rhymes "sometimes outweigh the regard for exact description," she concluded that "concept books are always needed and this one offers a peek at Chinese-American culture." Critics have also acknowledged Thong's Red Is a Dragon for its universal appeal. Kay Weisman commented in Booklist that the book should be a "welcome addition to preschool story hours for children of all backgrounds."

Thong moves away from the concept format in her 2005 book, The Wishing Tree. Depicted as a "deftly woven" picturebook by a Children's Bookwatch contributor, The Wishing Tree takes place in Hong Kong and tells the story of Ming and Ming's grandmother as they carry out the yearly tradition of visiting the Wishing Tree to make wishes for the New Year. Although Ming wishes for the recovery of his grandmother's health, the elderly woman eventually passes away, whereupon Ming ceases visiting the Wishing Tree. Many years later he resumes his visit, showing that he has come to terms with the woman's death. Corrina Austin, reviewing The Wishing Tree for School Library Journal, noted that Thong's "narrative voice has a gentle and musical quality that will lure readers into the book's pages, as well into the landscape of this lovely little corner of China." In Booklist, Gillian Engberg deemed The Wishing Tree "sentimental without being saccharine," and added that Thong's story "illustrates how traditions can help us voice our deepest wishes and emotions."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 1, 2000, Connie Fletcher, review of Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes, p. 723; November 15, 2001, Kay Weisman, review of Red Is a Dragon: A Book of Colors, p. 584; June 1, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of One Is a Drummer: A Book of Numbers; February 1, 2005, Gillian Engberg, review of The Wishing Tree, p. 966.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001, review of Red Is a Dragon, p. 1369.

School Arts, April, 2000, Ken Marantz, review of Round Is a Mooncake, p. 73.

School Library Journal, August, 2000, Linda M. Kenton, review of Round Is a Mooncake, p. 166; January, 2002, Marian Drabkin, review of Red Is a Dragon, p. 111; August, 2005, Corrina Austin, review of The Wishing Tree, p. 107.

ONLINE

Paddy Field Web site,http://www.paddyfield.com.hk/ (October 6, 2006).

Roseanne Thong Home Page, http://www.greenfieldthong.com (October 6, 2006).*

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