Grace Lin (1974–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1974; Education: Rhode Island School of Design, B.F.A. (illustration), 1996.
Office—P.O. Box 401036, North Cambridge, MA 02140.
Freelance illustrator and author, beginning 1997. Formerly worked in a children's bookstore.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
The Ugly Vegetables, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 1999.
Dim Sum for Everyone!, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2001.
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Kite Flying, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2002.
Okie-dokie, Artichokie!, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.
Olvina Flies, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2003.
Robert's Snow, Penguin (New York, NY), 2004.
Jingle Bells, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.
Fortune Cookie Fortunes, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2004.
Deck the Halls, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.
The Twelve Days of Christmas, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.
Merry Christmas! Let's All Sing! (three board books and sing-along CD), Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.
The Year of the Dog, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.
Our Seasons, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 2006.
Shelley Gill and Deborah Tobola, The Big Buck Adventure, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 1999.
Roseanne Thong, Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2000.
Paul Yee, The Jade Necklace, Crocodile Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Roseanne Thong, Red Is a Dragon: A Book of Colors, Chonicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2001.
Dana Meachen Rau, My Favorite Foods, Compass Point Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2001.
Frances Park and Ginger Park, Where on Earth Is My Bagel?, Lee & Low (New York, NY), 2001.
Cari Meister, A New Roof, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2002.
C. C. Cameron, One for Me, One for You, Roaring Brook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2003.
Kathy Tucker, The Seven Chinese Sisters, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2003.
Roseanne Thong, One Is a Drummer, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2004.
Work in Progress
Olvina Swims, for Henry Holt; Lssy's Friends, for Viking; The Read Thread, for Albert Whitman; First Moon Baby, for Henry Holt; more picture books for children.
Boston-based illustrator and author Grace Lin shares her Asian-American heritage in the colorful artwork she creates for both original stories such as Robert's Snow and Olvina Flies and picture-book texts by other writers. Praising the illustrations Lin created for her first published book, 1999's The Ugly Vegetables, about a young girl's first impressions of her family's Chinese vegetable garden, a Horn Book contributor praised the author/illustrator's "lively, color-saturated paintings." "With slightly distorted, flattened perspectives and rounded, comforting shapes," the critic added, "Lin's style borders on the naive with a fresh folklike quality."
In Dim Sum for Everyone!, which Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan dubbed a "simple, well-designed picture book," Lin follows three sisters and their parents as the family visits a Chinatown restaurant to enjoy the traditional meal in which diners feast on small portions from many dishes. The same family appears in several more books, dining in another Chinese restaurant in Fortune Cookie Fortunes, and engaging in a traditional sport in Kite Flying. In Kite Flying, Ma-Ma makes the kite frame, Ba-Ba attaches the paper body, and the three sisters add eyes, whiskers, and paint to create the colorful dragon kite that takes to the air. Citing Lin's appropriately "spare" text, Julie Cummins wrote in Booklist that the book's "overall simplicity is effective and appealing." "Bright, lively colors and scenes presented from unusual perspectives are hallmarks of Lin's art," added Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper, writing that the pen and watercolor artwork for Fortune Cookie Fortunes is "no exception."
A young hen takes to the air for the first time in Lin's 2003 picture book Olvina Flies. Hawaii is too far to go on chicken wing-power, but since she wants to join her feathered friends at an island bird conference, Olvina boards an airplane, where she meets a penguin in a similar situation. Lin's "reassuring story gets a madcap twist" from the author/illustrator's "jelly bean-colored" gouache paintings, noted Ilene Cooper in Booklist, calling Olvina Flies a tale that will encourage "first-time fliers." In Booklist Susan Dove Lempke noted that Lin's artwork contains "dozens of details for observant children to find," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer praised Lin's use of "comical details" and use of "boldly hued patterns" on walls, clothes, and picture borders.
Animals again take center stage in Robert's Snow, about a young mouse named Robert and his family. The mouse family makes their home in an old shoe, which the playful young mouse thinks is fine, whatever the weather. When the snows begin to fall, others in the shoe start to grumble, but Robert remains unconcerned
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until he plays outside too long during a storm and cannot find his way home. Noting that young children will share Robert's fear of becoming lost when his home is buried by show, Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper wrote that "Lin's bright water-colors combine sweetness and humor," while in Publishers Weekly a critic praised the book's "fetching, rotund mice" that "beam with familial closeness."
Lin once told Something about the Author: "My most vivid memory of childhood is lying on the living room floor reading a book. I would sprawl next to my mother's banana plant (big plant!) and read. My mother would call throughout the house, 'Grace, where are you? Clean your room!' I would cozy up closer to the banana plant, which hid me from view, and continue reading.
"It's this love of books that has been a constant in my life. When I became old enough to think about the future, I wanted to be either an Olympic figure-skater or a book illustrator. When I realized that I fell down every time I tried to lift one foot off the ice, my direction became clear.
"Now I write and illustrate books that I wish I could have had when I was younger. As a child, I was hungry for books with an Asian-American character. I wanted the main character to be someone just like me. Back then, the few books with Asian characters were folktales, not something that fit into my contemporary life. It's much better now, but I don't forget the desire I had.
"I hope my books bring some joy into the world and, maybe, make someone smile and think: 'This book is about me.'"
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, June 1, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Dim Sum for Everyone!, p. 1880; February 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Olvina Flies, p. 1001; September 1, 2003, Diane Foote, review of Okie-dokie, Artichokie!, p. 135; February 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Fortune Cookie Fortunes, p. 1063; October 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Robert's Snow, p. 411.
Horn Book, September, 1999, review of The Ugly Vegetables, p. 595; May-June, 2003, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Olvina Flies, p. 329.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1999, p. 966; June 1, 2002, review of Kite Flying, p. 806; March 1, 2003, review of Olvina Flies, p. 390; September 1, 2003, review of Okie-dokie, Artichokie!, p. 1127; April 15, 2004, review of Fortune Cookie Fortunes, p. 397; November 1, 2004, review of Robert's Snow, p. 1052.
Publishers Weekly, July 5, 1999, p. 69; March 10, 2003, review of Olvina Flies, p. 71; October 6, 2003, review of Okie-dokie, Artichokie!, p. 83; November 29, 2004, review of Robert's Snow, p. 39.
School Library Journal, July, 2001, Genevieve Ceraldi, review of Dim Sum for Everyone!, p. 84.; July, 2002, Marianne Saccardi, review of Kite Flying, p. 108; April, 2003, Marianne Saccardi, review of Olvina Flies, p. 132; June, 2004, Bina Williams, review of Fortune Cookie Fortunes, p. 114.
Grace Lin Home Page, http://www.gracelin.com (July 16, 2005).
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