Monday, August 10, 2009

Michigander Monday: Wong Herbert Yee

I'm pleased to welcome Wong Herbert Yee to Michigander Monday!

Debbie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Herb: I was born in Detroit and still live in the metro area. In grade school, there are usually one or two kids tagged as class artists. I was one of them.

This ability to draw eventually led to studying art at Wayne State University. The interest in children's books came about much later when my daughter was born. Our weekly trips to the library opened my eyes to all the wonderful stories and artwork being created for kids. I myself learned to read with Dick and Jane. See Dick run. See Jane run. See Spot run . . . and so on, nail biting stuff. Now, here I am illustrating and writing picture books myself. My newer releases are early readers like Dick and Jane (more thrilling though, I hope!). Who would have guessed? (Not I for one!)

Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your latest book.

Herb: I tend to work slowly (my daughter's term for this is: slacker!) and usually have one book published each year. There are other projects being developed, in various stages. Again, I like to let them stew a bit. My first book EEK! There's a Mouse in the House was published in 1992. A board book version is coming out this fall — YIPPEE! Having your books remain in print is not so easy. Also due for Fall 09 is the next Mouse and Mole adventure titled: Mouse and Mole, Fine Feathered Friends. It is the fourth book of the early reader series begun in 2005. The second book, Abracadabra! Magic with Mouse and Mole recently received the Maryland Blue Crab Early Reader Award. Apparently there are other folks who love Mouse and Mole besides me (thank goodness!).

Debbie: The people of Maryland have good taste!

Other books, and and projects on the horizon?

Herb: On my desk now is Mouse and Mole, A Winter Wonderland. I've just begun the final art. MM5 is scheduled for the fall of 2010. What else is bubbling in the pot? I did a picture book Tracks in the Snow for Christy Ottaviano at Henry Holt. It was followed by the sequel Who Likes Rain? (Spring 07). In the flap copy, Christy referred to the book as the second of a seasonal quartet. Good news for me! The manuscript for Summer Days and Nights has gone through editing; the dummy as well. All that remains is for me to get cranking on the illustrations. It's nice to have another project waiting in the wings. Something I did not consider after my first book was published. Fortunately, I took my editor's advice and didn't quit my day job. I'm also working on another Mouse and Mole tale. The manuscript is completed but not submitted as yet (set dial to simmer).

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Herb: The only thing on the calendar write now is Writers on the River in Monroe this November where I happened to be sitting next to one Deborah Diesen last year. (Not pouting at all since her book had sold out!)

Debbie: I'll be there again this year - hope we are seated together again!

How about your favorite place in Michigan?

Herb: Any of the rail to trails conversions crisscrossing Michigan on any one of my bikes.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Herb: The Michigander bike ride which takes place in July on the Kal-Haven bike trail.

Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Herb: Tracy Gallup; such talent, such craftsmenship! The Bookbeat; best independent bookstore. Located in Oak Park and owned by Colleen Kammer and Cary Loren. Both big promoters of Michigan writers and artists.

Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?

Herb: Michigan ranks second in the country for rails to trails conversions. (Can you tell I'm batty about bikes?)

Debbie: Bikes are a good thing to be batty about!

Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Herb: A Michigander of course! I'm also a birder and a fine feathered friend! For more info visit:

Debbie: Herb, what a pleasure to have you here today. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy learning more about you and your books, you've inspired me to head out for a bikeride!


Ann Finkelstein said...

Great interview! And I really appreciated the link that shows MI trails for bikes and XC skis.

Boni Ashburn said...

When I got to "...and so on, nail biting stuff", I knew I would enjoy meeting Mr. Yee someday :) He's funny!

Can't wait for Fine Feathered Friends- I really like the Mouse and Mole books.

Another lovely Michigander Monday Debbie!