Frequently Asked Questions
Why did you write ASTRID AND APOLLO?
When I was a little girl, I loved books so much that I spent almost all of my free time reading. But I rarely saw Asian children in the books I read. I never saw any Hmong children in any books. I never saw myself represented. I dreamed of writing my own books someday and I knew I would write stories with Hmong characters so that Hmong children could see themselves represented. Representation is important to me but more important is authentic and updated representation. I wrote ASTRID AND APOLLO because I want Hmong people to be represented positively and accurately in books. I hope Hmong readers will see themselves and their families reflected in ASTRID AND APOLLO, and I hope readers of any background will enjoy these stories.
Why do you like books?
For hundreds of years, Hmong people had no written language. Our history was passed down orally from each generation to the next. This means that my great grandmother told my grandmother stories about our people, my grandmother told my mom the stories, my mom told me the stories, and so on. I grew up hearing stories about my people's history, my family's experiences, and Hmong folk tales and fairy tales all the time. Each time I heard the stories, I imagined them clearly in my mind. Stories fascinated me as a child and they fascinate me today. This is why I love books--so I can read, imagine and experience the stories on their pages.
Is there a real-life Astrid? Is there a real-life Apollo?
Both Astrid and Apollo are inspired by the many lovely Hmong children I know in my life, from the amazing Hmong students I met when I worked in local elementary schools to my wonderful nieces and nephews and my own terrific children.
Do you like camping? Do you like fishing?
Camping can be fun so I do enjoy camping with my family, but like Astrid, I don't like mosquitos or camp bathrooms! I like fishing with my family when we're on a boat because it's very peaceful and relaxing out on the water.
What is your favorite Hmong snack/treat?
I like so many Hmong snacks and treats, but if I had to pick one, I would pick sesame balls! Please note this is not only a Hmong treat but a treat enjoyed in countries across Asia and Southeast Asia.
Frequently Asked Questions about Hmong
The Hmong are a group of people who originally lived in southern China. (Even though we came from
China, we are not ethnic Chinese.) In the late 1800s, Hmong people moved to Laos and other countries in Southeast Asia. Hmong also refers to the language that Hmong people speak.
How do you say the word Hmong?
The "h" in Hmong is silent. Hmong can be pronounced "Mong" (like "song"), but some people also say "Mung" (like "sung"). In the Hmong language, the word Hmong is pronounced with a long "o" sound (like "go," "snow," or "doe"), which is how I usually pronounce it.
How did Hmong people come to live in the United States?
In the 1950s, there was a war in Vietnam called the Vietnam War. This war spread to other countries in Southeast Asia, including Laos. When the U.S. joined the Vietnam War, they asked the Hmong people in Laos to help them. When the U.S. lost the war, the Hmong had to leave Laos. After 1975, many Hmong people arrived in the U.S. as refugees.
Where do Hmong Americans live today?
Hmong people live all over the U.S. The states with the largest Hmong communities are California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. In Minnesota, there are over 80,000 Hmong.
Where can I get good Hmong food to eat?
There are several Hmong restaurants and markets in the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs. If you want to buy Hmong food from a food court, visit Hmong Village and Hmongtown Marketplace. These two shopping centers have food booths that sell many delicious Hmong meals, snacks, and drinks!