Publishers' Preview: Picture Books and Graphic Novels: Five Questions for Dung Ho

This interview originally appeared in the November/December 2021 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Picture Books and Graphic Novels, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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For Laura Ruby’s picture book Me and Ms. Too, illustrator Dung Ho shows us a family — and a home — that is changing.

1. Such a cozy house! Is your house cozy?

For me, it is a cozy house. It’s where I feel the most relaxed and comfortable. And I always want to bring that cozy sense into my illustrations, too!

2. What is the most difficult thing to draw?

Every part of a drawing is hard. But the most difficult thing for me is backgrounds. I always struggle to set the scene, to figure out how to add light, and to create an atmosphere that invites readers into the world of the story.

3. You live in Vietnam. What do you most wish Americans knew about your country?

There are so many things that I wish Americans and people from other countries knew! Vietnamese people are welcoming and open-minded to everyone, from ­everywhere, who comes to experience and understand our people and our culture.

4. What makes you want to illustrate a manuscript?

I get approached to do a ton of different kinds of subjects, which gives me the chance to challenge myself and explore new things. I’m drawn to warm, heartfelt stories that deal with self-discovery and identity and allow readers to feel seen. I’m also interested in multicultural stories that show the diverse world around us. I would especially love to illustrate a story set in the present day in my home country.

5. The palette in Me and Ms. Too is cheerful, while in your other new picture book, Joanna Ho’s Eyes That Speak to the Stars, it’s more mysterious. Which one is more you?

I think I’m more like Eyes That Speak to the Stars because I’m a pretty quiet person.

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Photo courtesy of Dung Ho.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978.

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