Here’s an email that came over the wire . . . all the way from South Korea!
Hi, James, how do you do? 안녕하세요?
I’m a mom living in Korea (South) with a 4th grade son (Jisuk ) and a 6th grade girl (Jiwon) and a 43 year-old husband.
All of my family enjoy reading your “Jigsaw Jones” books. Especially we enjoy listening to the story recorded. The voice actor sounds really great!!
I admire that your idea with childhood with courage, curiosity, friendship, and family union. Jigsaw and his friends have made me think about many kinds of virtues. I’ve felt sorry about me on many things for a long time, but when Jigsaw lost Rags, his grandmother helped him get up.
I, now, do not feel sorry about me and my circumstances.
I can learn many good things from Ms. Gleason also. Ralphie and Justin are my favorite brothers. Among the books, The Case of the Bicycle Bandit is my favorite one.
My two kids cannot speak or read English so well, but they love your books much. I majored in English at a college, so I can understand English books. In Korea, most people want to speak English very well to enter a good college or to get a good job. But Korean and English are so different languages that generally it is very hard to learn English for Koreans.
I learn English (with a bc ) in my middle school for the first time. English was a sort of fantasy to me, and I could enjoy the mysterious foreign language with both fun and enthusiasm. But now, most Korean little girls and boys lost this taste of the foreign lannuage, for them English is just an annoying subject. They hate English because of the stress caused by some advices and real homeworks. But I think all languages are precious and useful.
I do not force my kids to learn English. But I read them good books. James I really appreciate your great books. The characters are good. My English proficiency is so low that I can’t express my appreciation for your work fully.
I hope that I could meet your books recorded in audio type. And above all I wish you would write good books continuously.
Hoping your health and happiness.
감사합니다. 한미영 올림
Dear Mi-Young HAN (감사합니다. 한미영 올림):
Two days ago on my blog I announced that one of my books, Six Innings, was given an award. I wrote that I felt honored to receive it. But believe me, receiving your kind letter feels like the greater reward. I’m truly fortunate that we are able to connect in this way, through our shared love of books, across this vast geographic and cultural distance. Maybe we are nearer than I thought.
I’m glad that you appreciate the positive values that I try to convey in my Jigsaw Jones series. While I never wish to be moralistic in these stories, it is my intention to show good kids acting with kindness toward one another. Happy families, wise teachers, creative classrooms, good friendships. My readers are young. And if indeed the world can sometimes be a hard, cruel place, it’s a lesson that can surely wait. All writers have to make decisions about what we put out into the world, and with these books, at least, I hope to offer stories that kids will enjoy and parents can appreciate.
As for the difficulties of learning English: I hear you. For much of my education, I thought it was “an annoying subject,” too! You are too humble about your own proficiency, for you expressed yourself very well. I am grateful for that.
You might be interested to know that my baseball novel, for ages 10-up, was recently translated into Korean.
How cool is that?
I searched for some kind of link to share with you, but came up empty. Hopefully you’ll have better luck tracking down the book, if you so wish.
Thanks for that great letter.
What, International fan mail. That’s so cool. Though this letter reminds me how bad I feel when customers come in asking for books and they keep apologizing for not speaking much English. I am like are you kidding me you should hear my Spanish and forget about Italian.