In 1999 Soma was invited by Shen's Books to illustrate a collection of Korean proverbs collected and translated by Peace Corps Volunteer Dan Holt during his eight-year tour in Korea. Soma was delighted because she had already begun collecting proverbs in memory of her late mother who had brought up her five children using proverbs as moral lessons. The picture book, entitled Tigers, Frogs and Rice Cakes, was named by the California Department of Education to its “recommended reading list” for use in schools statewide. (Tigers is currently out of print.)

In 2003 she illustrated and co-authored her second book on Korea for young readers, Land of Morning Calm: Korean Culture Then and Now, also from Shen's Books. This nonfiction title was selected by Skipping Stones Magazine for its 2005 Honor Award in the multicultural and international category. When Lee and Low Books acquired Shen's in 2013, they introduced a paperback edition and the title began a new life educating youngsters about "The Hermit Kingdom." It contains 13 illustrated chapters on facets of life in Korea, from food and holidays to toys and tojangs. Order from the Lee and Low Books click here: Land of Morning Calm - Lee & Low

Soma was inspired to write and illustrate Land of Morning Calm after meeting Korean children who had been adopted by American families, or were second and third-generation Korean-Americans, who knew little or nothing about their heritage. "They had lost their roots," she says.

Her third book is a family story handed down from her grandmother to her mother near the end of the Yi Dynasty. The book is dedicated to her mother. Entitled Maya and the Turtle: A Korean Fairy Tale, Tuttle Publishing brought it out in 2012. Within two years it was voted winner of the second annual Morning Calm Medal by elementary students at 15 international schools across South Korea. Brave and loyal Maya is the poster girl for the ancient Confucian virtue of filial piety. To see a 99-second trailer of the Cinderella story just click here.

mc_medalDuring 2015 Soma and her husband John were invited by the nonprofit literacy organization Read to a Child, to present Maya to elementary school children in Los Angeles. John reads while Soma shows her original watercolor illustrations. Here they are at the Sunrise School posing with the students and the adults who have volunteered to read to them every week. They are smiling because Read to a Child provided each child with a copy of the book to take home.

Founded in 1988, Skipping Stones is an award-winning, nonprofit magazine for youth that encourages communication, cooperation, creativity and celebration of cultural and environmental richness. It provides a fun forum for sharing ideas and experiences among students from different countries and cultures. It is an ecologically-aware, literary magazine printed on recycled paper with soy ink and carries no advertising. Please check out their website at


To order Maya, contact Tuttle Publishing here.