A local business writer turned children’s book author recently published her seventh book, which aims to teach kids about building bridges between cultures.
Dori Jones Yang, who began her career as a business writer but shifted to children’s fiction, published “The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball,” a historical fiction story about two Chinese brothers who are sent to learn in the United States, but struggle with their loyalty to China and love for a new home.
“When my daughter was young, she thought it was boring that I was writing business books and she wanted me to try writing children’s books,” Yang said. “That’s how I got into it.”
The Kirkland resident will have two promotional events for her book next week.
Book Tree, an independent bookstore in Kirkland, will host a book-signing event at 2 p.m. on Sept. 9. In addition, Yang will give a talk on her book.
She will also give a talk on her book during a book launch event at Island Books, an independent bookstore in Mercer Island, at 4 p.m. on Sept. 10.
The Mercer Island event will also feature the family of Peter Tonglao, who inspired Yang’s new book. Tonglao, a Mercer Island local who passed away last year, was also Yang’s close friend.
“This book in particular is dedicated to and was inspired by (Peter),” she said.
Tonglao told Yang the story of his grandfather, who was one of 120 young boys sent from China to learn English and go to school in the United States during the 1970s.
All men and boys in China had to wear a braid during this time period and the boys who traveled to the United States enjoyed baseball. This combination was the inspiration for the image on the cover of Yang’s book.
“When (Tonglao) told me that story, the image of a kid with a braid playing baseball just really stuck in my head,” she said.
Tonglao and his wife Betty were both born in China and have lived on Mercer Island since 1972, where their children and grandchildren grew up.
Tonglao retired from his job at Boeing and volunteered to drive a bus for the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation department. He became well known within the community, according to Yang, and was the first person to receive the Flash Family Inspiration Award.
“I feel sorry that he’s not around to be here for the book release,” Yang said. “But he did know about it.”
Yang originally worked in Hong Kong, where she had her daughter, as the Businessweek bureau chief. Her experience with Chinese culture comes through in her writing.
“Chinese culture is the one I know about so that’s what I write about.”
The story of “The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball” is targeted toward 10-14-year-olds and is meant to teach kids about building cultural bridges, according to Yang.
“I believe it’s very important for American kids to reach out and understand kids from other countries and other cultures,” she said. “I think, in these days, when there’s a lot of suspicion and concern about immigrants, it’s more important than ever that all of us Americans, but especially kids, get to know people from other cultures … and see the world with different eyes.”
ANOTHER AUTHOR NAMED DORI
Coincidentally, Yang is not the only Dori who lives in Kirkland and writes children’s fiction. Dori Hillestad Butler shares a name, city, profession and genre with Yang.
Butler’s work is targeted towards younger children than Yang’s and is meant to get them excited about reading.
“I write because I want to turn non-readers into readers,” Butler said. “Nothing brings me greater joy.”
She recently published the final book in her “Haunted Library” series on Aug. 15, which is the same publication date of “The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball.”
The two authors met in 2014 through a mutual friend and have formed a close friendship through their similarities. They both said they love writing and plan to continue doing it for life.
“I think that’s what it’s about,” Butler said, “finding our passion.”
“And connecting with people,” Yang finished.