Anne Sibley O’Brien Inspires!

Read about the author’s visit to the Pangyo and Seoul elementary campuses.


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Anne Sibley O’Brien is a children’s book creator who has written 14 books and illustrated 33 picture books. Many of Ms. O’Brien’s works are multiracial and multicultural, perspectives she learned about from being raised in South Korea as the daughter of American medical missionaries. Africa is Not a Country, After Gandhi, the Jamaica series, I’m New Here, and many other books of hers are about different cultures from all around the world.

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Anne’s many years of experience in South Korea and her affection towards the Korean culture affected her works as well. One of her books, The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of Korea is based on a very well known Korean folktale from fifteenth-century Korea during the Chosun dynasty. Also, her very recent children’s novel In the Shadow of the Sun is about the North Korean government’s repressiveness and secrecy.

My career creating multicultural children’s books is a direct response to my childhood in Korea, which kindled in me a fascination for the beauty and glory of human differences, and a passion for the truth that, across our differences, we are all one human family. We belong to each other. That’s what I’m trying to get to, through all my work. — Anne Sibley O’Brien 

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Recently, PK-Grade 5 students at KIS Pangyo and KIS Seoul each had the privilege of meeting Anne and learning about her passions. After spending the day listening to Anne speak and share her work, students and teachers alike felt inspired and continued to have many questions for Anne. Graciously, Anne offered for students to send her questions in order to find answers and satisfy their curiosities. Read on to discover what some of our students are wondering.

How did you learn to draw so well?

Practice! I drew all the time and the more I practiced, the better I got at drawing. I also took a lot of classes and studied how to draw, and had teachers who helped me see how I could improve.

How old were you when you started writing and drawing?

I started drawing when I was two or three, just like you did. I started writing stories in 4th grade. My first books were published when I was 33 years old.

What was one of your hobbies as a child besides writing and drawing?

Reading!

What was your favorite book as a child?

Oh, I had so many. One I remember from third grade was called Jiji Lou: The Story of a Doll. In 5th grade I loved a chapter book called Baby Island.

Did your family support that you wanted to be an author?

Yes! Actually what I told them was that I wanted to be an artist. (Being an author came later.) No one in my family ever suggested that that wasn’t a great idea. They helped me get art lessons and gave me art supplies. They gave me lots of appreciation for my art, and they were very proud when my books were published.

Have you ever wanted to have a different job other than being a writer?

Nothing other than being an artist and a writer.


Thank you Anne Sibley O’Brien for visiting KIS and inspiring so many of our students! Text and photos from Kathlyn Cho, Seoul Campus Librarian; Megan Greene, Pangyo Campus Library Teacher; and 3B & 4E Pangyo students.