Mary-Jo Balman is a world traveler whose first book,Jenny in China, is a humorous, informative account of a teenager's travels in China. Her second, Escape by Death, takes place in New York and Australia, and her third, Mr. Kurihara's Return, takes place in Japan. Her colorful characters, her entertaining dialogues, as well a her insight into human foibles, evokes the reader's own awareness of the human condition. Although a native New Yorker, she spent two years working in Europe and three years in Japan. After returning from Japan, she decided to make San Francisco her home, and on her return, she attended and received her BA and her MA in Linguistic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and a teaching credential at San Fransisco State. She taught school for three years and then decided to return to her first love after three years in the classroom. She continued thereafter to author articles as she made repeated trips back to Europe and Asia as well as to Africa, Central and South America, Mexico, Egypt, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, a host of other countries and, of course, more trips to China and Japan. Her prolific writing, an inate sense of humor and her knowledge of foreign languages, dialects and linguistic speech patterns are a distinct advantage in making her characters human and recognizable to all who encounter them.