A child drew this picture after hearing my book, with Blia Xiong, 9 in 1, Grr! Grr! It was the first
Hmong story in picture book form in the US, and was named one of the Notable Books of the Year,
by the ALA. It was first published in 1989, but has been reprinted a number of times, made into a CD,
and delighted thousands of children as they learned a little about the Hmong culture.
It is a very clever story, about a tiger mother to be, who goes up to the great Shao to find out how
many cubs she will have. He blesses her with many cubs to come (9 each year), but a clever black
bird, the Eu bird, tricks tiger into singing "1 in 9" instead of "9 in 1" thus saving to humankind
from being overrun by tigers.
I've had brain cancer for almost 7 years. It has not been easy, but I've had great support from
family,friends, and medical staff. I also think that my writing keeps me going. I exercise daily,
use a walker and a wheelchair, eat very healthy meals by my talented husband, and keep up a good
spirit (most of the time!). It's hard for me to tell stories the way I used to: my sign
stories, paper tales, and Asian longer epics are not possible at this point. But luckily, I can still write,
thanks to Dragon Naturally Speaking software. I have an enormous backlog of stories that I collected
over the years, as well as numerous journals that I wrote on my travels through Asia. My wonderful
mother also kept most of the letters that I sent home, so I have those as well to work from!
I have 17 books out, a CD and tapes, and many articles, all circling around my work and study in
Asian tales and tellers. I'm also writing the story of my life, from my birth in Greenwich Village through my years in Asia including a trial in Afghanistan, and so much else. Of course, also I write about my struggle with cancer, to help anyone else going through that ordeal.
The picture below was taken outside of the house that we built ourselves; it features part of my great support group, and a very stunned Cathy. This was taken after I was was out of the hospital for a while, my hair is just starting to grow back! But my expression and face I hardly recognize now, thank God!
Judge Rabbit and Tiger
Tiger was mad.
Judge Rabbit had tricked him once again.
Poor Tiger had hurt his tail because of that trick.
And so he raced fiercely after Rabbit, to teach him a lesson.
“ I'll get you, Rabbit,” he roared
as he ran through the forest.
Rabbit ran and ran and ran, as quickly as he could.
But he heard Tiger close behind.
“Tiger runs fast,” thought Judge Rabbit.
“So I'll have to think even faster.”
Just then, Rabbit saw a bee's nest on a tree.
He climbed quickly up and sat next to it.
Carefully, he took a leaf, licked it, and used it to cover
the tiny doorhole.
Angry bees were suddenly trapped inside the nest.
They wanted to get out.
They buzzed and buzzed very, very loudly.
And the buzzing sounded like a special kind of drum.
Judge Rabbit pulled back his paw, then swung it almost to the nest.
He pretended to hit the nest, but of course he was most careful not to.
Back and forth his paw waved, as if beating a fine steady sound on a
drum. Tiger came up and stood under the tree.
“I've got you now, Rabbit,” he growled. “And I'm going to eat you up.”
“Not now, Tiger,” cried Rabbit. “ Later you can eat me. Right now
I'm too busy.”
“Busy doing what?” asked Tiger as he watched Judge Rabbit,
who seemed to be hitting something.
“ I'm playing the drum for the gods above,” he replied.
“ They love this music so they'll give me grand gifts.”
Tiger listened. BZZZZ BZZZZ BZZZZ.
It did sound quite nice, like a finely tuned drum.
He didn't think about bees.
He didn't recognize the bee's nest.
He just thought about all the gifts Judge Rabbit was getting.
So Tiger felt jealous.
“ Rabbit, I want to play the drum and get gifts,” he said.
“Sorry, Tiger,” said Rabbit. “ It's my turn.”
“Please, Rabbit,” pleaded Tiger. “ Please let me play.”
“But if you come up here, you'll eat me,” Judge Rabbit replied.
“No, no, I promise I won't,” said Tiger.
“Let me play and I'll be your friend forever.”
“Welllll,” said Rabbit.
“Pleeeeeease,” begged Tiger.
“Oh, all right,” said Judge Rabbit. “I'll go find another drum.
You climb up here and watch me.
When I jump up and down three times, hit that drum as hard as you can.
You will surely get your reward!”
“ Akoon, akoon,” said Tiger, thanking Rabbit again and again.
Then Rabbit came down and started to run.
Tiger climbed up slowly and sat next to the drum.
He watched and waited for Judge Rabbit's signal.
At last he saw the three big jumps.
With a grin, he took his hand and gave the drum ONE HUGE HIT!
BZZZZZZZZ BZZZZZZZZZZZZZ BZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
The nest broke. Hundreds of furious bees raced out.
Tiger jumped down and tried to run, but the bees followed right behind.
Those angry bees chased him for a long, long time.
As for Rabbit, he was far, far away and quite safe.
He wiggled his ears, munched his favorite cucumbers,
and thought about poor Tiger,
Just received a wonderful reply to my blog. I'm thrilled. So many times you don't think anyone is listening, but she was, hurray! She reacted to my story about Judge Rabbit, a marvelous trickster very well known in Cambodia. In fact, I heard from refugee friends that, in the past, his image was on the Chief Magistrates' seal in Cambodia (anyone else know of that?).