Born in Brooklyn, NY; married Chris Soentpiet (an artist); children: one son. Education: Bachelor's degree (finance). Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, biking, travel, cooking.
Home—New York, NY.
Children's book author. Brown Bros. & Harriman, New York, NY, former financial writer.
Gold Award for Best Picture Book, Parents' Choice Foundation, 2001, and International Reading Association (IRA) Book Award and American Library Association Notable Book designation, both 2002, all for Coolies; IRA Teachers' Choice designation, 2007, for Brothers.
Coolies, illustrated by husband, Chris Soentpiet, Philomel Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Dear Santa, Please Come to the Nineteenth Floor, illustrated by Chris Soentpiet, Philomel Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Brothers, illustrated by Chris Soentpiet, Philomel Books (New York, NY), 2006.
The writer Yin focuses on the lives of Chinese immigrants of the mid-nineteenth century in her picture book Coolies. In a text brought to life in accompanying paintings by her husband, Chris Soentpiet, Yin describes the struggles and challenges faced by the many Asian men who traveled to the United States and worked to support their families back at home by engaging in the brutal labor required to establish the infrastructure of a growing nation. Through the story of Shek and his younger brother Wong, Coolies depicts the harsh working conditions these two young men endured in the Utah desert while laying track for the transcontinental railway. While noting that Yin portrays her protagonists as "more saintly heroes than real people," Booklist critic Hazel Rochman added that the presentation of "American history is powerful" in Coolies. In Horn Book Roger Sutton also had praise for the author's effort to shine a light on an overlooked aspect of America history, writing that Soentpiet's large-scale "watercolors have cinematic coloring and grandeur." Remarking on the negative connotation of the book's title, Margaret A. Chang maintained in her School Library Journal review that in Coolies Yin "transforms the familiar ethnic slur into a badge of honor."
The story of Coolies is continued by Yin in Brothers, as youngest brother Ming travels to San Francisco to help in Shek's general store and make extra money by working on a nearby farm. A friendship with a young Irishman allows Ming to learn English and then use his talents to promote his older brother's struggling enterprise. "Soentpiet's luminescent, photo-realistic paintings … perfectly complement Yin's thoughtful text," noted Booklist critic Kay Weisman, while in School Library Journal Barbara Scotto concluded that the "determination that drives" Shek and Ming makes Brothers "a good addition to stories of the immigrant experience."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, February 1, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of Coolies, p. 1059; August 1, 2006, Kay Weisman, review of Brothers, p. 94.
Horn Book, March, 2001, Roger Sherman, review of Coolies, p. 204.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2006, review of Brothers, p. 855.
School Library Journal, March, 2001, Margaret A. Chang, review of Coolies, p. 230; October, 2002, Maureen Wade, review of Dear Santa, Please Come to the Nineteenth Floor, p. 65; November, 2006, Barbara Scotto, review of Brothers, p. 116.
Chris Soentpiet Home Page,http://www.soentpiet.com/ (October 15, 2008), "Yin's Corner."
yin / yin/ • n. (in Chinese philosophy) the passive female principle of the universe, characterized as female and sustaining and associated with earth, dark, and cold. Contrasted with yang.