Keiko Kasza

About Keiko

Keiko was born on a small island in the Inland Sea of Japan. She grew up in a typical Japanese extended family with her parents, two brothers, and grandparents. Uncles, aunts, and cousins also lived nearby. She came to the United States in 1973 to continue her education, and in 1976 she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in graphic arts from California State University at Northridge.

While working as a graphic designer, Keiko read Leo Lionni’s masterful work, Frederick, and she became interested in picture books. She began experimenting with picture books in her free time. Her first book was published in 1981 in Japan and thereafter she continued to publish in her native language. The Wolf’s Chicken Stew, a 1987 ALA notable book and the winner of the 1989 Kentucky Bluegrass Award, was her first work to be published in the United States. She has now published 22 books and her work is translated into 16 languages.

Keiko compares the process of creating a book to acting on stage under the lights: “I become the character that I’m working on at that moment. I pretend that I’m a bird looking for a mother, or a pig trying to impress his girlfriend. When I’m acting, I’m a child myself.” Her ambition is not to create a hundred books but to create one really good book that will be kept on the bookshelves for generations (although a hundred good books would be even better, of course!)

Keiko Kasza lives in Bloomington, Indiana with her husband, a professor of Japanese politics at Indiana University, and they have two sons.