Tag Archives: YA

AAPI Children’s and Young Adult Lit Winners and Honorees for 2012 Newbery, APALA, Sibert and More!

best teen tween picture book chapter books for asian americans JadeLuckClubI wanted to add my congratulations to these authors, illustrators, and publishers. This post is from PaperTigers.org, a wonderful website and blog for librarians, teachers, publishers, and all those interested in young readersÁ books from and about the Pacific Rim and South Asia. These are the winners from the APALA (Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association).

Winners

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang  – Children’s Literature Award

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Orchards by Holly Thompson – Young Adult Literature Award

The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China by Ed Young  –  Picture Book Award.

 

Honor Books

Vanished by Sheela Chari– Honor Book, Children’s Literature Category.

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang – Honor Book in the Young Adult Literature category.

Hot Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia, illustrated by Ken Min – Honor Book in the Picture Book category.

Other prestigious children’s and young adult honorees of Asian or Southeast Asian American or Pacific Islander descent  include:

Newbery Honor Winner

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor Award

Drawing from Memory by Allen Say

 2012 Pura Belpré Author Award and  Finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Stonewall Book Award

Money Boy by Paul Yee

William C. Morris Award Finalists

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

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Top 10: Best Southeast Asian Children’s Books (ages 2-14)

Best southeast asian children's books kidlit jadeluckclub jade luck club pragmatic mom

I posted this list on my parenting blog, PragmaticMom, and it was so popular with some great additional suggestions that I wanted to share it here as well. If you know of any books that you or your children have enjoyed, please leave me a comment and I’ll keep adding. I know I am heavy on just a few authors for this list, so it would be great to expand it. It’s just that my library didn’t have all the books I was seeking that day and I’m too lazy to reserve.

p.s. Thank you to reader Navjot for giving these links to other great list of Southeast Asian KidLit and one for Southeast Asian YA (Young Adult).

Honorable Mention

Vanished by Sheela Chari

This book came highly recommended on a number of fronts including kidlit book bloggers and authors (see comments below). I will track it down so I can review it pronto! Author Uma Krishnaswami has a interview with author Sheela Chari here.

Bindi Babes series by Narinder Dhami

My going-int0-6th grade tried to read this book but didn’t like it. I said, well it’s like an Indian American Beacon Street Girls. She countered that Beacon Street Girls is better. Maybe that is splitting hairs. It’s not that either series is bad per se, it’s just that neither are or ever will be up for prestigious children’s lit awards. BUT, there is place for everything and this series is great for East Asian girls who want to see themselves (2nd generation) in the books that they read for fun. We read Beacon Street Girls for the same reason … one character was the actual literacy specialist at our elementary school and we recognize many of the places in the book since it’s just one town over.

Bollywood Babes

 

10. The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami

Eleven-year old Dini loves movies—watching them, reading about them, trying to write her own—especially Bollywood movies. But when her mother tells her some big news, it does not at all jive with the script of her life she has in mind. Her family is moving to India…and, not even to Bombay, which is the center of the Bollywood universe and home to Dini’s all-time most favorite star, Dolly. No, Dini is moving to a teeny, tiny village she can’t even find on a map. Swapnagiri. It means Dream Mountain and it only looks like a word that’s hard to pronounce. But to that open-minded person who sounds the name out, one letter at a time, it falls quite handily into place: S-w-a-p-n-a-g-i-r-i. An honest sort of name, with no surprise letters waiting to leap out and ambush the unwary. That doesn’t mean there aren’t surprises in Swapnagiri like mischievous monkeys and a girl who chirps like a bird—and the biggest surprise of all: Dolly.

So now, Dini is hard at work on a new script, the script in which she gets to meet the amazing Dolly. But, life is often more unpredictable than the movies and when Dini starts plotting her story things get a little out of control.

This is a joyful, lively Bollywood inspired story is full of colorful details, delicious confections and the wondrous, magical powers of coincidence. Uma Krisnaswami will have you smiling from ear to ear.  [chapter book, ages 9-12]

9. The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story by Uma Krishnaswami

Hatha yoga has been practiced in India for centuries and is now a popular activity for children to help them focus and calm their minds. My middle daughter who is energetic to say the least like Vinyasa Yoga and says that it makes her feel calm. This is a good thing! If your child enjoys yoga, he or she will like this story about how Meena, who thinks she’s clumsy, uses the power of yoga to help her during her school play when she’s a wiggly tree. The yoga poses in the back include tree, frog, lotus, cat and cobra. If your child wants to explore yoga, the card deck Yoga Pretzels is a fun way for kids to explore different yoga poses! This would also make a nice gift paired together. [picture book, ages 6-9)

8. Monsoon by Uma Krishnaswami

The theme of this story–a child impatiently waiting for a change in the weather-is a fairly common one in literature, especially picture books. But the heart and soul of this story is India, and properly so. It’s no surprise to anyone that reads this picture book that the author grew up in India. In the story India is not a far away or exotic place, it is home-and Ms. Krishnaswami’s poetic prose paints that love of her home on every page, with every word. The text on each page is brief, but it is text to be savored, full of rich imagery as everyone prepares for the monsoon rains. This is clear from the very first line: “All summer we have worn the scent of dust . . .” The author does not fall back on old clichés, but finds new metaphors to describe the town and the coming rains. The result is description that is refreshingly vibrant and just different enough to tantalize–but not to alienate-readers. It allows me to step into another country as if I were a native, experiencing the anticipation through the young narrator as she waits, worries and hopes for the rains to come. At the very back of the book the author has included a page of information about the monsoons and India for those who want to understand the ‘what’ and ‘where’ of the story better. The addition of the information at the back allows the author to accomplish the goal of sharing the knowledge without allowing it to bog down the text of the story itself. from Shamshad at Amazon [picture book, ages 4-8] *I’ll review this when I can get my hands on a copy.

7. Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami

Asha arrives at long last from India to her new adopted bi-racial family in the United States, just in time to celebrate Rakhi Day with her new older brother Arun. [picture book, ages 4-8]

6. Catch That Crocodile! by Anushka Ravishankar

A simple story about a crocodile who shows up unexpectedly in a village. Only little Meena knows what to do. The illustrations are two color block prints that give this picture book it’s quirky appeal. [picture book, ages 2-6]

5. Naming Maya by Uma Krishnaswami

The reviews at Amazon are a little harsh but I disagree. I really liked this chapter book about 12-year-old Maya who has returned to Southern India (Chennai) with her mother after her grandfather dies in order to sell his house. While the book is set in India and sparkles with imagery of rickshaws, crowded streets and the colorful personalities of their neighbors, the story is really about relationships:  how Maya comes to terms with her parents’ divorce, Maya and her mother’s relationship with their housekeeper Kamala Mami and Kamala Mami’s complex relationship with her own son and daughter-in-law. To me, the tangled web of relationships is true to East Asian familial relationships and is a story that not only teaches about another culture but also how very alike we all are no matter where we hail from. [chapter book, ages 8-14]

4Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins

Set in Bangladesh, the Rickshaw Girl is one of my favorite books (and it’s not just because I met Mitali Perkins who lives in my town). It’s a short chapter book about a girl who uses her artistic ability to help her sickly father support their family in an unexpected and gender bending way. Uplifting and very educational about the hardship of growing up in poverty in Bangladesh, this is a great read that transports the reader into a different culture and let’s you walk in their shoes. I find that it is as appealing to boys and girls. [short chapter book, ages 7-10]

3. My Mother’s Sari by Sandhya Rao, illustrated by Nina Sabnani

This is a gorgeously illustrated picture book that collages sari fabrics with appealing drawings of multicultural children enveloped in the richly colored sari which can be anything from clothing to a hanky to a magical world of pretend. [picture book, ages 2-7]

2. Chachaji’s Cup by Uma Krishnaswami

The beauty of making a list on a topic that I know nothing about is discovering really outstanding authors and Uma Krishnaswami was my find from this list.  I wasn’t able to find all her books at my library, but the ones I read were consistently sensitively told yet mesmerizing stories. Chachaji’s Cup is no different. This is an advanced picture book that tells of the hardships of Partition (when India was split from Pakistan and many, many people were forced to uproot and move based on their religion) but told from grandfather to grandson in a gentle way to explain the significance of a special teacup he uses every day. This teacup is symbolic of hope, resilience, memory and love, and bridges the new life in America from the old one in India. It’s a picture book that would be important in an elementary school classroom but would also be good at home for any child to understand how others arrived in America whether it’s someone in their family or a classmate. [picture book, ages 7-10]

1. Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia, illustrated by Ken Min

This is the book that started the list. It arrived in the mail and my youngest made me read it over and over again even though he’s never eaten Indian food nor knows what a roti is or tastes like. It didn’t matter. He loved this book which is a spin off Popeye but instead of spinach, it’s homemade roti that fortifies Dada-ji (and his grandson Aneel too!). The brightly colored illustrations are appealing and I also like how this book combines the old country with a modern, harmonious East Asian American family. But be careful, after reading this book, you will be craving roti! [picture book, ages 4-8]

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Top 10: Best Japanese American Children’s Books (ages 2-16)

best japanese american children's books kidlit pragmaticmom jadeluckclub jade luck club japanese american picture books best summer reading lists The story of Japanese immigration is also true for my own family history.  Changes in Japan during the Meiji Restoration from 1868 to 1912 wrought great changes in Japan as the country tried to modernize.  The old feudal system of titled landowners was abruptly stripped away, and the daimyo domains of titled landowners were turned into prefectures.   For those families including my own, they were forced to buy back their own lands as some of their lost lands included sacred family burial grounds.  To earn the money, large numbers of Japanese men found work in Hawaii in the pineapple and sugar cane plantations and from there, migrated to the mainland.

Following in the wake of the Chinese immigrants marked the Japanese immigrants as a part of that group, and resulted in a negative attitude towards the Japanese immigrants almost immediately and this negative attitude lasted for more than 50 years.  At war with Japan during WWII brought prejudice and fear of Japanese Americans to new heights and resulted in forced internment camps, a low point for American history.

Throughout it all, Japanese Americans perserved, pushing their children into lucrative careers in the sciences and trying to assimilate post WWII so that they would encounter less prejudice.  I think this is the reason for a relative dearth of well known Japanese-American children’s authors, which the  one exception being Cynthia Kadohata.  It was strange to me that many important Japanese stories were not told by Japanese Americans.  I tried, therefore, to focus my list on lesser known authors telling important stories.  I hope this list will inspire more authors in this genre!

For a brief history of Japanese immigration, please see this link:  http://library.thinkquest.org/20619/Japanese.html

Honorable Mentions

Umbrella by Taro Yashima

With Japanese words throughout, this is a sweet and gentle story of a little girl, Momo (peach in Japanese),  who is excited to use her new present of an umbrella and new rain boots. [picture book, ages 4-8]

The Inn-Keepers Apprentice by Allen Say

I tire a little of all the WWII internment story lines.  I do think it’s important, but there is more to the Japanese American experience that just that period of time. When I found this book at the library, I was surprised that Allen Say wrote middle grade fiction. I always thought of him as a picture book illustrator and author. I read the book, expecting not to like it and was pleasantly surprised to find that it kept my interest. First of all, though the book is set in post WWII Japan, the book focuses on a coming-of-age story of a middle grade boy who is unusual for many reasons.  His mother comes from a Samurai aristocratic background but married a Korean.  Then got divorced! That is very unusual for this time. And the boy is determined to apprentice with a famous cartoonist. I wondered if the story rang so true because it was Say’s own story. I finished the book, satisfied by a good read and then researched it.  Yes, it is his own story and what a fascinating person he is! [chapter book, ages 9-14]

The Bracelet by Yoshiko Uchida

I read this story a long time ago and remembered that it was a particularly sad story of internment that I couldn’t bring myself to read to my girls. The little Japanese girl is given a bracelet by her American friend that she brings to internment camp that gets lost.   [picture book, ages 8-12]

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

A story about post bombing Hiroshima where Sadako, who loves to run, becomes ill due to the radiation from the bomb.  It is believed in Japan that folding a thousand paper cranes brings girls good luckand good health.  [chapter book, ages 8-12]

[chapter book, ages 10-14]

An Illustrated History of Japan by Shigeo Nishimura

A gorgeously illustrated history of Japan.  It would be a great reference book, particularly to look through for the artwork.  Each period of history is briefly detailed.   [picture book, ages 8-12]


10. Suki’s Kimonoby Chieri Uegaki

Even though Suki’s sisters teaser her, she wears her beloved kimono (yukata) to the first day of school.  It was a gift from her obachan, grandmother, and she has especially fond memories of spending time at a (obon) street festival dancing with her.  But is it a good idea to look so different?  [picture book, ages 4-7]

 

9. Yoko’s Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells

Rosemary Well’s has incorporated traditional Japanese art themes into her luscious illustrations about Yoko communicating with her grandparents back in Japan.  A sweet and endearing story.  [picture book, ages 2-6]

8. A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai

A bi-lingual (Japanese/English) story about the author’s grandmother who was interned at Topaz and really did grow 8 foot sunflowers in the desert.  A stoic story about coping with internment.  This is the author’s first book.  [picture book, ages 7-11]

 

7. A Jar of Dreams by Yoshiko Uchida

11-year-old Rinko lives in Berkeley, California during the Great Depression and life isn’t easy, especially when you are Japanese American because she encounters prejudice almost daily. When her family opens a small laundry, their local competitor, a well known bigot and bully, threatens them.  Things change when her Aunt Waka comes to visit from Japan,  and she helps to convince them to chase their dreams, even if it seems improbable that they will be given the same opportunities as non-Asians.  Despite the prejudice that her family faces, Rinko learns to take pride in her Japanese self.

A Jar of Dreams is an accurate protrait of what life was like for Japanese immigrants pre- WWII, but it also details the determination, hard-work, and strong familial bonds that propelled them to succeed.  [chapter book, ages 10-14]

 

6. Tokyo Friends by Betty Reynolds

Katie is a young American girl living in modern-day Tokyo.  Spend time with Katie and her Japanese friends learning about Japanese culture, holidays and the Japanese language. And the story rhymes! [picture book, ages 2-12]

5. Tea With Milk by Alan Say

May’s parents return to Japan and it’s a tough adjustment for her to make.  She prefers her tea with milk and sugar but in Japan, she must drink green tea, go to high school all over again to learn to be a proper Japanese lady, and assume her Japanese name, Masako.  Finally, she rebels and  moves to Osaka where she gets a job and meets a man that prefers his tea with milk and sugar.  This is the love story of Alan Say’s parents. [picture book, ages 6-9]

4. Kira-Kiraby Cynthia Kadohata

This Newbery Award winning novel is a Japanese Grapes of Wrath story about the Takashima family as they move  from Iowa to Georgia in the 1950’s and work menial, grueling jobs at a non-unionized poultry farm.  The three kids, Lynn, Katie and Sammy,  manage to have fun and dream of better times ahead despite their difficult conditions until Lynn comes down with a fatal illness.  The book manages to portray life for post-WWII Japanese Americans  in an insightful and realistic way.  [chapter book, ages 10-14]

3. Weedflowerby Cynthia Kadohata

From Starred Review, School Library Journal. Grade 5-8–When Pearl Harbor is attacked, the lives of a Japanese-American girl and her family are thrown into chaos. Sumiko, 12, and her younger brother, Tak-Tak, live with their aunt and uncle, grandfather Jiichan, and adult cousins on a flower farm in Southern California. Though often busy with chores, Sumiko enjoys working with the blossoms, particularly stock, or weedflowers (fragrant plants grown in a field). In the difficult days that follow the bombing, the family members fear for their safety and destroy many of their belongings. Then Uncle and Jiichan are taken to a prison camp, and the others are eventually sent to an assembly center at a racetrack, where they live in a horse stable. When they’re moved to the Arizona desert, Sumiko misses the routine of her old life and struggles with despair. New friends help; she grows a garden with her neighbor and develops a tender relationship with a Mohave boy. She learns from him that the camp is on land taken from the Mohave reservation and finds that the tribe’s plight parallels that of the incarcerated Japanese Americans. Kadohata brings into play some complex issues, but they realistically dovetail with Sumiko’s growth from child to young woman. She is a sympathetic heroine, surrounded by well-crafted, fascinating people. The concise yet lyrical prose conveys her story in a compelling narrative that will resonate with a wide audience.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA .  [chapter book, ages 12-16]

2. So Far From the Sea by Eve Bunting

Laura Iwaski and her family visit her grandfather’s grave at the Manzanar War Relocation center where he died during internment.  Both her parents were relocated though at different camps.  Her father was a little boy when this happened and this marks the last time they will visit before moving to Boston.  Their final visit sums up the attitude of most Japanese-Americans who were forced to relocate:  a terrible thing that happened to them.   But , as the Dad says, “Sometimes in the end thre is no right or wrong.  It is just a thing that happened long years ago.  A thing that cannot be changed.”  [picture book, ages 8-12]

1. Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki

Ken Mochizuki’s were interned at Minidoka Internment camp in Idaho, and this is the story based on true events, of how they used baseball to cope.  The little boy in the story is small for his age, but perserves to become an excellent player.  The story continues post-internment and things are not better.  Luckily, the boy’s skill in baseball helps to bring everyone together.  This is the author’s first picture book. [picture book, ages 8-12]

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What Happened to Harvard Plagiarist Kaavya Viswanathan Anyway? How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life…Updated

Kaavya Viswanthan How Opal Mehta Got Kissed Got Wild and Got a Life and How Kaavya Got Rich Got Caught and Got Ruined Harvard student JadeLuckClub http://JadeLuckClub.com

I just learned of Kaavya’s recent tragedy. Her parents were in a fatal airplane crash recently. My deepest sympathy for her loss. Her neurosurgeon father was the pilot of a small plane and her obstetrician mother was the passenger. The cause of the crash is still being determined.

———————————

…and how Kaavya Viswanathan, then 17-years-old and a freshman at Harvard University, Got Rich, Got Caught, And Got Ruined.

I happened to find a copy of the book that I heard to much about at my favorite bookstore in the overrun bins. It was reported that her book was yanked from the shelves and destroyed which is little sad but happily this copy and few others have survived. My 5th grader read it and liked it and while she hasn’t read many YA books referenced in her book, it will be fun to read them and find the similar passages. Kaaya’s plagiarized book list reads like a who’s who of YA authors. (Actually, that might be a fun post for my other blog!).

This post, however, is the story of Kaavya, a successful college student (pre-med at Harvard no less), who got a reported $500,000 publishing contract and then published a young adult novel (about an Indian American girl who gets into Harvard) that was fraught with egregious examples of blatant plagiarism. The full extant is actually rather impressive in its depth and breadth. If you remove her plagiarism from this novel, it appears that her book becomes Swiss Cheese with holes everywhere.

The sad thing is that Kaavya was very young and also pre-med at Harvard. Having “been-there-done-that” myself, I know that this is an academically challenging load. No doubt that her book commitments coincided with mid-terms, finals and life in college. I suspect that if she just had more time, say the summer off to write her book or even an extra year, she would have written a similarly engaging book minus the assist via other authors. Can you really blame her for poor judgement? Yes and no but at the end of the day, it was the error of an immature teen. Not fully formed. Not fully baked. And Crispie from being in several simultaneous pressure cookers.

My 5th grader was intrigued with both the book and the plagiarism and we both wondered what happens when the media storm is so intense yet the child — and really, she’s just a child — is promising and clearly talented. Does it all turn out right in the end, minus lifelong embarrassment not to mention permanent lifelong detention?

Happily, she has landed on her feet. Kaavya, while no publisher will touch her with a ten foot pole as yet, is now a law student. Her dad is a doctor so kudos to her for forging a new path. She is a student at Georgetown Law which is not shabby at all, and has summer interned at a prestigious law firm.

So what is the lesson here kids? I think that it’s stay true to yourself and that like the story in Zen Shorts, good news is also bad news, which is the philosophy of 4th Century Chinese philosopher, Chuang Tzu. And take the path less trodden. And don’t lie, steal or cheat. Or… if you are good at that, become an attorney!

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APALA Awards for Children’s Books and Young Adult Literature. Have You Heard of These?

Yasmin's Hammer Best Asian American Picture Book Apala Awards Jade Luck Club JadeLuckClub http://JadeLuckClub.com best Asian American books for kids children adultsIt came as big surprise to me to learn that there is, indeed, an Asian American Children’s and Young Adult Lit Award. It was Faye Bi from Little Brown who kindly pointed it out to me. I am pretty surprised because I spent the last year tracking Google Alert words “Children’s Book Award” in search of award winning children’s books. I also googled “Asian American Children’s Book Award” and this award did not come up on the first page so maybe they just need help getting the word out. I’m happy to help.

The winners of the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature from APALA (Asian Pacific American Librarians Association) were announced on March 25, 2011. The prizes promote Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage and are awarded based on literary and artistic merit.  Past winners from 2005 and onward are here. I’m glad it exists and I hope that it becomes more widely known! Thanks Faye!

I am excited to learn about these authors and books; most are new to me. I know Mitali Perkins because we live in the same town and she graciously came to my daughter’s book club to speak about The Rickshaw Girl. She is a fabulous and wonderful person and I will feature her soon on my blog. I have The Heart of a Samurai on my bedside table to read. Unfortunately, there’s a stack of books there waiting to be read. My fifth grader tried it out and rejected it but I am not sure why.

How about you? Have you read any of these books or authors and what did you think of them?

Picture Book Winner

Malaspina, AnnYasmin’s Hammer. Illustrated by Doug Ghayka.


Picture Book Honor
Thong, RoseanneFly Free! Illustrated by Eujin Kim Neilan.

Children’s Literature Winner
Preus, Margi. Heart of a Samurai.

Children’s Literature Honor
Perkins, MitaliBamboo People.

Young Adult Literature Winner
Senzai, N. H. Shooting Kabul.

Young Adult Literature Honor
Bazaldua, BarbaraA Boy of Heart Mountain. Illustrated by Willie Ito.

Adult Fiction Winner
Yamashita, Karen TeiI Hotel.

Adult Fiction Honor
Truong, Monique.  Bitter in the Mouth.

Adult Non-Fiction Winner
Lee, Erika and Judy Yung. Angel Island: Immigration Gateway to America.

 

Adult Non-Fiction Honor Book
Huang, Yunte. Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History.

Adult Non-Fiction Honor Book
Vaswani, NeelaYou Have Given Me a Country.

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