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Chin-Lee, Cynthia 1958- (Cynthia D. Chin-Lee)

Chin-Lee, Cynthia 1958- (Cynthia D. Chin-Lee)

Personal

Born October 14, 1958, in Washington, DC; daughter of William (a doctor) and Nancy (an artist) Chin-Lee; married Andrew J. Pan, April 3, 1983 (divorced, 1998); married Peter Ching, June 26, 1999; children: (first marriage) Vanessa; (second marriage) Joshua. Education: Harvard University, B.A. (East-Asian studies; magna cum laude), 1980; East-West Center, graduate study, 1980-81. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, walking, swimming.

Addresses

Home—Palo Alto, CA. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Freelance writer and consultant in technical writing, 1983—. De Anza College, instructor, 1984-89; Santa Clara University, adjunct lecturer, 1988-92; professional speaker, 1991—. Sun Microsystems, documentation manager, 2003—.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Organization of Chinese American Women.

Awards, Honors

National Council on Social Studies/Children's Book Council Notable Children's Book in Social Studies designation, 2000, for A Is for the Americas, 2005, for Amelia to Zora, 2006, for Akira to Zoltán; National Parenting Publications Gold Award, Amelia Bloomer Project Award, International Reading Association/Children's Book Council Children's Choice designation, New England Book Show Juvenile Book Award, and Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented Legacy Award, all for Amelia to Zora.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

Almond Cookies and Dragon Well Tea, illustrated by You Shan Tang, Polychrome Publishing (Chicago, IL), 1993.

A Is for Asia, illustrated by Yumi Heo, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1997.

(With Terri de la Peña) A Is for the Americas, illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-six Women Who Changed the World, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 2005.

Akira to Zoltán: Twenty-six Men Who Changed the World, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 2006.

Author's work has been translated into Spanish.

FOR ADULTS

It's Who You Know: Career Strategies for Making Effective Personal Contacts, Avant Books (San Marcos, CA), 1991, revised as It's Who You Know: The Magic of Networking, in Person and on the Internet, Book-Partners, 1998.

It's Who You Know has been translated into Chinese.

Sidelights

Cynthia Chin-Lee is the author of children's picture books that allow young armchair travelers to tour the world. Her first work, Almond Cookies and Dragon Well Tea, draws on Chin-Lee's own childhood and takes place in the Chinese laundry owned by her grandparents. In A Is for Asia she leads readers on a tour of Asia, where places as diverse as Indonesia and Mongolia are brought to life in illustrator Yumi Heo's collage art. Reviewing A Is for Asia for Booklist, Hazel Rochman wrote that the book's "alphabet arrangement" provides "a panoramic introduction to the geography, culture, holidays, traditions, and animals" of Asia, while a Kirkus

Reviews contributor noted that Chin-Lee "combines facts … with the ABC format in a book admirable for its ambitions." Calling the work a "fact-filled, fun alphabet book," a Publishers Weekly critic concluded that the author's focus on "different religious observances gives [A Is for Asia] … added value."

Similar in format to A Is for Asia, A Is for the Americas finds Chin-Lee joining coauthor Terri de la Peña and illustrator Enrique O. Sanchez on a trip through North, Central, and South America, from Niagara Falls to the land of the Zuni native people. According to Rochman, the coauthors effectively showcase "the diversity of landscape, culture, and language across borders," while the book's large, colorful paintings "evoke the stretch of history" encompassed by ancient cultures such as the Aztec, Maya, and New Mexican Zufi.

In both Akira to Zoltán: Twenty-six Men Who Changed the World and Amelia to Zora: Twenty-six Women Who Changed the World Chin-Lee characteristically crosses cultural borders as well as vocation, profiling artists, athletes, politicians, scientists, and others who have made a positive impact on human society. Indian paci- fist Mohandas Ghandi, Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela are among those profiled in Akira to Zoltán, while athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, and Egyptian physician Nawal el Sadaawi are included in Amelia to Zora. In her Booklist review of the first volume, Rochman wrote that Chin-Lee's "profiles are clearly, even eloquently written, and include just the right amount of detail" for elementary-grade readers," while School Library Journal contributor Ann Welton cited the author's "succinct, readable prose." The "striking mixed media" illustrations by Sean Addy and Megan Halsey also attracted comment, School Library Journal contributor Peg Glisson noting in her review of Amelia to Zora that the book's images "illustrate … the essence of the person" depicted. In the opinion of Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper, Amelia to Zora is "very smart—in design, art, and choice of subject" and Chin-Lee's short prose entries are "enticing." Praising the author's use of anecdote and "spirited language," a Kirkus Reviews writer dubbed Amelia to Zora "an inspiration and a delight."

Chin-Lee once told SATA: "I began writing poetry when I was in sixth grade, and I kept on writing through my school and college days. I wrote for publication and for self-understanding, finding joy and comfort in the act of committing words to paper.

"Both sets of my grandparents came to the United States from China in the early 1900s, so many of my stories have an Asian theme. I majored in East Asian studies at Harvard and spent part of my junior year in Taiwan. I eventually worked in China and have led tour groups through China a few times.

"Most of my professional career has been writing for business, especially computer companies. My first book, It's Who You Know: Career Strategies for Making Effective Personal Contacts, is a career book for adults, on networking and on the Internet. When my daughter was born in 1989, I became interested in writing for children. Writing for children seemed to bring together the best of many worlds: collaboration with an artist, poetry, and my own sense that children see the world more truthfully than adults do."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of A Is for Asia, p. 1165; September 1, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of A Is for the Americas, p. 135; April 1, 2005, Ilene Cooper review of Amelia to Zora: Twenty-six Women Who Changed the World, p. 1358; June 1, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of Akira to Zoltán: Twenty-six Men Who Changed the World, p. 97.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1997, review of A Is for Asia, p. 16.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1997, review of A Is for Asia, p. 459; March 15, 2005, review of Amelia to Zora, p. 349; June 15, 2006, review of Akira to Zoltán, p. 632.

Publishers Weekly, February 3, 1997, review of A Is for Asia, p. 106; October 4, 1999, review of A Is for the Americas, p. 77.

School Library Journal, October, 1999, Kit Vaughan, review of A Is for the Americas, p. 135; April, 2005, Peg Glisson, review of Amelia to Zora, p. 147; March, 2006, John Peters, review of Amelia to Zora, p. 89; July, 2006, Ann Welton, review of Akira to Zoltán, p. 118.

ONLINE

Cynthia Chin-Lee Home Page, http://www.geocities/com/Cynthia_Chin_Lee/ (June 1, 2007).

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