Cover Reveal for Bravo Anjali!

Years ago I read Always Anjali by Sheetal Sheth. It was the book I wish I had for myself or even my daughters. Such a delight to see a South Asian character-driven story about a young girl wanting to feel like she fit in. In this story it meant finding a license plate with her name. Ironically, my older daughter’s name is Anjali and even though she was “too old” to read picture books (in her mind only) she loved it. Shalini my younger daughter was appalled at how the author miraculously got all of didi’s characteristics in that book. Shalini is now on the search for a book with her name in it. 🙂

It gives me great pleasure to tell you that @mangoandmarigoldpress is launching its twentieth book and second book in the Anjali series, Bravo Anjali. This marks the first ever children’s picture book series featuring a South Asian hero! (psst … that means there’s a third book in the works too!)

For Anjali, playing the tabla is something that comes naturally. She loves the feel of the drum beneath her fingers and getting lost in the music. But when the boys in her class give her a hard time for being better than them, she messes up on purpose. When her teacher announces a contest where the winner will get to perform with him at his next concert, Anjali is perplexed. Winning the contest would be a dream for Anjali. But it seems like the better she gets, the meaner some of the kids are. In this follow up to Always Anjali, Anjali realizes that she should never let anyone make her feel bad for being good at something. An important story for all children to remember to ‘never dim their light.’

With this launch, @mangoandmarigoldpress is also continuing our #1001DiverseBooks program to help not only bridge the diversity gap but also the accessibility gap in children’s literature. With each new book launch, Mango and Marigold Press is committed to also raise the funds to donate 1001 books to literacy and advocacy nonprofits that are working across the country to help those in need.

And what would a cover reveal be without some goodies!? Check out this AMAZING swag you can get when you order in the next couple of weeks:

  • Pre-order now through November 17, 2020 to receive: an 11×17 poster, stickers, pins, and a signed bookplate from the author, Sheetal Sheth
  • Pre-orders from November 18-November 24, 2020 will receive stickers, pins, and a signed bookplate from the author, Sheetal Sheth
  • Pre-orders from November 25-December 16, 2020 will receive stickers and pins

Pre-order link for Bravo Anjali: mangoandmarigoldpress.com/bravoanjali

Here is what folks are saying:

My kids and I love “Bravo Anjali!” I wish I’d had a book like this when I was a kid. I never saw myself represented in the books I read as a brown girl learning and performing a classical Indian instrument. It’s full of small, sharply observed moments that caught at my heart for how they detail the myriad ways we make ourselves small and silent. I wanted to cheer for Anjali as she let her light shine in all its glory. – Anoushka Shankar, Sitarist and Composer

In this gorgeously rendered tale, our beloved Anjali learns something it took me thirty years to understand: there’s nothing wrong with shining brightly. I will carry the heart of this book with me wherever I go.- Nic Stone, American New York Times best-selling author of Dear Martin

The expected ship date is September 2021.

And now time for the cover!!

 

Title: Bravo Anjali!
Author: Sheetal Sheth
Illustrator: Lucia Soto
Publisher: Mango & Marigold Press, September 2021

Pre-Order Link: https://mangoandmarigoldpress.com/bravoanjali

Sheetal Sheth:
Sheetal Sheth is an acclaimed actress, producer, author, and activist. She is known for her provocative performances in a wide range of memorable roles on film and television. She has starred in over 20 feature films and many TV shows and is a favorite in the independent film world, having won five best actress awards on the film festival circuit. She has earned a loyal, international following. Sheetal began her career at a time when few South Asians were making their living as actors. Despite being told she’d have to change her name to work, her successful career has trail-blazed paths for other women of color across media. Sheth supports marginalized communities not only through her own pioneering work as an actor, but by also appearing at workshops and panels and speaking directly to issues facing those communities. She is known as an outspoken advocate and has delivered talks and keynotes at festivals and charity galas. She’s had op-eds published on CNN, The Daily Beast, and Thrive Global. She served in President Clinton’s AmeriCorps and is currently on the advisory board of Equality Now and an ambassador for CA First Partner, Jennifer Newsom’s, The Representation Project.
IG: @beneaththesheetz
Twitter: @sheetalsheth

 

Lucia Soto:
Lucia was born in a seaside town in northwestern Spain and grew up in a sunny town in the Mediterranean. She has lived in different places and is now based in London, where she lives with her husband and a tiny palm tree. She went to Art School graduating in Design and Plastic Arts and, after a few years working as an Art Director in a busy advertising agency, decided to pursue her lifelong passion for drawing and she has never looked back.

She is interested in people and their stories through time and this is a major influence in her work. She finds inspiration in art and illustration from the early 20th century, vintage travel magazines, and the light of the Mediterranean as the landscape of her childhood.

Aside from drawing, Lucia loves Julie London, Art Deco, overdressing, and walking everywhere. She spends her days drawing things that are half nonsense and a half all sense, the stuff that makes her life silly and beautiful.
IG: @luciasoto_com

South Asian Kidlit 2020 – Fall

Dear Readers, thank you for reading these quarterly round-up posts. It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to these diverse books. During these unprecedented times with so much variability in our day-to-day lives, being able to spread the word about great children’s books has been a balm. I couldn’t do this without you, my wonderful readers. Thank you. 🙂

I am excited to share my cover reveal for my debut picture book HOW TO WEAR A SARI coming in June 2021. You can find a short interview with me and the cover here. You can add it your Goodreads list.

Congratulations to South Asia Book Award Winners: Meena Patel for PRIYA DREAMS OF MARIGOLDS AND MASALA (picture book), Padma Venkatraman for THE BRIDGE HOME (middle-grade), and Mitali Perkins for FORWARD ME BACK TO YOU (young adult)! Check out the full list of honor and highly commended books.

Today’s South Asian Kidlit Roundup covers books releasing from September through December of 2020. The books listed below are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author or illustrator, contains a South Asian main character, or involve South Asian culture. The books are organized by Category and then Publication Date.

For a list of today’s books, check out my South Asian Kidlit Fall 2020 list at Bookshop.org.

Title: Binny’s Diwali
Author: Thrity Umrigar
Illustrator: Nidhi Chanani
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
ISBN: 978-1338364484
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian-American

Synopsis:
Binny is excited to talk to her class about her favorite holiday. But she struggles to find the words. Taking a deep breath, she tells her classmates about the fireworks that burst like stars in the night sky, leaving streaks of gold and red and green. She shares with them delicious pedas and jalebis. And she shows them clay lamps, called diyas, which look so pretty all the children ooh and aah.

Title: The Nut That Fell From the Tree
Author: Sangeeta Bhadra
Illustrator: France Cormier
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
ISBN: 978-1525301193
Category-Genre: Picture Book

Synopsis:
A playful, lively story about one acorn’s difficult path to becoming a tree.
In the style of The House That Jack Built, here’s a cumulative, rhyming tale that follows an acorn on an arduous journey, as one animal after another steals it, drops it or tosses it, sending the acorn inside an old shoe, high above the trees and down to the bottom of a stream. But in the end, the rat, goose, bear and more turn out to simply be the conduits that help the acorn eventually land on a hillside, where the warm sun helps it grow into another grand oak tree, which now holds the house where Jack (Jill’s grandson) plays.

Title: Waiting Together
Author:  Danielle Dufayet
Illustrator: Srimalie Bassani
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
ISBN: 978-0807502792
Category-Genre: Picture Book

Synopsis:
Waiting is not easy! And waiting can take a long time. Like waiting on the drip, drip, drip of rain to stop or the ding of the timer for cookies to be done baking. But there’s one thing that can make waiting go a little bit faster – a friend! A perfect read aloud, this book encourages readers to enjoy every kind of wait.

 

Title: Wildlife on Paper: Animals at Risk Around the Globe
Author: Kunal Kundu
Publisher: West Margin Press
Publication Date: September 22, 2020
ISBN: 978-1513264356
Category-Genre: Picture Book – Non-Fiction

Synopsis:
From the Peary caribou in Northwest Canada to the Galapagos Penguin in Ecuador, the Royal Bengal Tiger in India to the Hawksbill Sea Turtle in Australia, this book celebrates the rich diversity of wildlife on almost every continent. Each of the sixteen exquisitely handcrafted paper sculptures come with interesting trivia and facts about where the animal lives and how it survives in its habitat and interacts with nature. Also included is a map of where each creature lives on the globe, plus a list of helpful resources and the author’s favorite nature conservation organizations.

Title: Raja’s Pet Camel: The Magic of Hope
Author:  Anita Nahta Amin
Illustrator: Parwinder Singh
Publisher: Cardinal Rule Press
Publication Date: October 1, 2020
ISBN: 978-1733035941
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian

Synopsis:
Smashed Pots! Broken Fences! Raja loves his new pet: a mischievous, date-loving baby camel named Kamal. But his father is fed up and determined to sell it at the next fair. Will Raja find a way to keep Kamal or will they lose each other forever?

 

Title: Sugar in Milk
Author: Thrity Umrigar
Illustrator: Khoa Le
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
ISBN: 978-0762495191
Category-Genre: Picture Book – Social Justice
Community Represented: Parsi-American

Synopsis:
A young Parsi girl in modern times comes from India to live in America with her extended family. She feels so alone-like she’s not wanted-but then is told a story by her aunt about a group of Persians who were ousted from their country due to religious persecution and who sailed to the Western shores of India in search for a new home. The king of the region in India did not want to let them in and explained (using a glass of full milk) that the community was simply too full to let them in. The Zoroastrian king of the Persian refugees then dumped some sugar into the milk, stirred until it dissolved, and explained to the king that not only would his people integrate well into their society but they would also help sweeten their culture. The Indian king lets them in and they prosper. And, in the end, the young girl realizes that she, too, is being accepted by those in her neighborhood and that she can finally start feeling a part of this new American society.

Title: Bindiya in India
Author: Monique Chheda
Illustrator: Debasmita DasGupta
Publisher: Mango and Marigold Press
Publication Date: October 2020
ISBN:978-1645437130
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian/Indian-American

Synopsis:
A young Indian American girl’s first trip to India for an Indian wedding. Weaving together Hindi and English, the children’s illustrated book takes place in the 1990s. Follow Bindiya as she meets her extended family for the first time, celebrates Indian wedding traditions, and creates memories and bonds to last a lifetime.

 

Title: A Jedi You Will Be
Author: Preeti Chhibber
Illustrator: Mike Deas
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
ISBN: 978-1368057240
Category-Genre: Picture Book

Synopsis:
Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and learn how to use the Force in this hilarious and stylized picture book narrated by everybody’s favorite Jedi Master, Yoda!

 

Title: Seven Golden Rings: A Tale of Music and Math
Author: Rajani LaRocca
Illustrator: Archana Sreenivasan
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
ISBN: 978-1885008978
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian

 

Synopsis:
In ancient India, a boy named Bhagat travels to the Rajah’s city, hoping to ensure his family’s prosperity by winning a place at court as a singer. Bhagat carries his family’s entire fortune–a single coin and a chain of seven golden rings–to pay for his lodging. But when the innkeeper demands one ring per night, and every link snipped costs one coin, how can Bhagat both break the chain and avoid overpaying? His inventive solution points the way to an unexpected triumph, and offers readers a friendly lesson in binary numbers–the root of all computing.

Title: Two Drops of Brown in a Cloud of White
Author: Saumiya Balasubramaniam
Illustrator: Eva Campbell
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Publication Date: November 3, 2020
ISBN: 978-1773062587
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian-American

Synopsis:
Ma misses the sun, warmth and colors of their faraway homeland, but her daughter sees magic in everything ― the clouds in the winter sky, the “firework” display when she throws an armful of snow into the air, making snow angels, tasting snowflakes. And in the end, her joy is contagious. Home is where family is, after all.

Title: Rain Before Rainbows
Author: Smriti Prasadam-Halls
Illustrator: David Litchfield
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
ISBN: 978-1536212839
Category-Genre: Picture Book

Synopsis:
In this heartfelt story about courage, change, and moving on, a girl and her companion fox travel together away from a sorrowful past, through challenging and stormy times, toward color and light and life. Along the way they find friends to guide and support them, and when the new day dawns, it is full of promise. With gorgeous, richly realized illustrations and immense hope at its heart, Rain Before Rainbows holds out a ray of sunshine for anyone looking for light.

Title: A Passport to Pastries!
Author: Veera Hiranandani
Illustrator: Christine Almeda
Publisher: Penguin Workshop
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
ISBN: 978-0593096949
Category-Genre: Chapter Book

Synopsis:
Phoebe and her family are going to Paris with Camille’s family, and Phoebe can’t wait to see the sights and discover new foods! But when she arrives, things aren’t quite as she expected. When she can’t muster up the courage to try eating snails even though Camille loves them, Phoebe starts to wonder if she really is as adventurous as she thought. But more importantly, can she and Camille still be friends even if they don’t like the same things?

 

Title: The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel Sheela Chari
Author: Sheela Chari
Publisher: Walker Books US
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
ISBN: 978-1536209563
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Mystery
Community Represented: Indian-American

Synopsis:
Mars Patel’s friend Aurora has disappeared! His teachers are clueless. His mom is stressed out about her jobs. But Mars refuses to give up—after all, his own dad disappeared when Mars was a toddler, before he and Ma moved to Puget Sound from India. Luckily, Mars has a group of loyal friends eager to help—smart Toothpick, strong and stylish JP, and maybe-telepathic Caddie. The clues seem to point toward eccentric tech genius (and Mars’s hero) Oliver Pruitt, whose popular podcast now seems to be commenting on their quest! But when the friends investigate Pruitt’s mysterious, elite school, nothing is as it seems—and anyone could be deceiving them. Slick science, corporate conspiracies, and an endearingly nerdy protagonist make this a fresh, exciting sci-fi adventure.

Title: A Thousand Questions
Author: Saadia Faruqi
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
ISBN: 978-0062943200
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Contemporary
Community Represented: Pakistani-American/Pakistani

Synopsis:
Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal.
The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score—but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen?
Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common—and that they each need the other to get what they want most.

Title: Flying Over Water
Author:  N. H. Senzai, Shannon Hitchcock
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
ISBN: 978-1338617665
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Contemporary
Community Represented: Syrian-American/Refugee

Synopsis:
Twelve-year-old Noura Alwan’s family is granted asylum in the United States, after spending two years in a Turkish refugee camp, having fled war-torn Aleppo. Twelve-year-old Jordyn Johnson’s family has volunteered to help the Alwan family through their church.
The girls’ lives intersect at Bayshore Middle School where Jordyn serves as the Alwan children’s school ambassador. Noura knows that her family is safe from the civil unrest in her home country, but is not prepared for the adversity she now faces on American soil. Jordyn is sympathetic to Noura’s situation, but there are other members of their Florida community who see the refugees’ presence to be a threat to their way of life.While the president’s Muslim ban tests the resolve and faith of many, it is friendship that stands strong against fear and hatred.

Title: The Silvered Serpents
Author: Roshani Choksi
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: September 22, 2020
ISBN: 978-1250144577
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy

Synopsis:
Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God. Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into the icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all. As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined. A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

Cover Reveal for untold:defining moments of the uprooted

I am so excited to share that Mango & Marigold Press has partnered with Brown Girl Magazine to launch its sixteenth book (and first young adult book ever!) untold: defining moments of the uprooted, which is perfect for anyone 16+.

untold: defining moments of the uprooted is a collection of real stories that explores the South Asian experience in the U.S., U.K., and Canada through the lens of identity, being, and relationships. Thirty emerging voices share deeply personal moments of immigration, infertility, divorce, mental health, suicide, racisi\m, colorism, LGBTQ+ issues, and more all while balancing the push and pull of belonging to two cultural hemispheres. Every story sheds light on the authentic truths of living as womxn with hyphenated identities that have been only whispered-until now.

With this launch, @mangoandmarigoldpress is also continuing its #1001DiverseBooks program, to help not only bridge the diversity gap but also the accessibility gap in young adult literature. With each new book launch, Mango and Marigold Press is committed to also raise the funds to donate 1001 books to literacy and advocacy nonprofits that are working across the country to help those in need. Some of their past partners include Behind the Book, the Children’s Book Consul, the City of Cambridge, the City of Somerville and several more.

They need your help to make their vision a reality. Will you be a part of the change to end the diversity gap AND accessibility gap? When you pre-order your copy of untold: defining moments of the uprooted, you can also sponsor a copy for our nonprofit partner for only $10!

For all pre-orders placed between July 21st through July 28th, 2020 you will receive an immediate excerpt from the three of the 30 stories. Here’s a sneak peak of the three stories.

  • ‘BEING’: Poor Obstetric Outcome
  • ‘IDENTITY’ Coming Out Again (And Again)
  • ‘RELATIONSHIPS’ The Good Guy

The expected ship date for the anthology is January 2021.

 

Early Praise for Untold Stories

“These deeply personal, stirring, poetic accounts will knock the wind out of you. This collection lifts the veil from the South Asian diaspora, illuminating lived experiences that have for too long been considered taboo.” — Padma Lakshmi, 

“A fascinating collection of deeply personal essays, each author shares what is at once a relatable and unique journey through complex identities, acceptance, and the most unifying theme — our desire for love.” — Kal Penn, actor, writer, producer 

“Too often, only a certain type of South Asian story is allowed to enter the Western cultural lexicon. ‘untold’ is a battering ram that breaks through those barriers and offers something more.” — Sopan Deb, New York Times writer and author of Missed Translations: Meeting The Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me

“A vivid, vital, and necessary contribution to the understanding of the South Asian diaspora. The range and depth of its narratives will resonate for ages to come.”  — DJ Rekha, producer, curator, and activist

“These moments will leave your heart aching and feeling inspired, all at the same time. But more than anything else, they will empower you to pick up the phone, grab a pen, or get behind your laptop to bravely tell your own story.”  — Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code

 

And now for the cover reveal!!

 

Title: untold: defining moments of the uprooted
Editors: Gabrielle Deonath and Kamini Ramdeen
Contributors: MK Ansari, Apoorva Verghese, Jessie Brar, Kimberly + Anantha, Nupur Chaudhury, Pooja Kumarhia Patel, Priyal Sakhuja, Subrina Singh, Amrisa Niranjan, Hena Wadhwa, Julie Lalwani, Meera Estrada, Nova Aftab, Radhika Patel, Ravleen Kaur, Rita Sengupta, Shimul Chowdhury, Gabrielle Deonath, Raksha Muthukumar, Anita Wadhwani, Chandra Coats, Duriba Khan, Neha Patel, Nina Malagi, Nisha Singh, Rajvir Gill, Saahil Mehta, Radhika Menon, Aishwarya Sukesh
Publisher: Mango & Marigold Press, January 2021

Pre-Order Link: https://mangoandmarigoldpress.com/untold

South Asian Kidlit 2020 – Summer

I hope you and your families are safe and healthy. A lot has happened in the last few months. This most certainly will be a defining year in history books. I am energized by the coming together of people to protest systemic racism and police brutality. I will no longer be sitting back. I will be reading books to educate myself, having conversations about anti-Blackness sentiment within the South Asian community, and taking concrete steps to help move the needle.

If you are interested in being an ally then please read this excellent article: Performative Allyship Is Deadly (Here’s What to Do Instead)

Here are two lists I recommend for finding books on anti-Racism and anti-Blackness.

Adult Reading List curated by Loyalty Bookstore

Reading List for Kids 0-12. I also recommend sharing “Black Joy” books with kids.

Together, let’s be the change!

Now on to the latest in South Asian Kidlit.

  • Congratulations to Aisha Saeed and Anoosha Syed for receiving a 2020 APAAL Picture Book Honor for BILAL COOKS DAAL from the Asian/Pacific American Libraries Association.
  •  Congratulations to South Asia Book Award Winners: Meena Patel for PRIYA DREAMS OF MARIGOLDS AND MASALA (picture book), Padma Venkatraman for THE BRIDGE HOME (middle-grade), and Mitali Perkins for FORWARD ME BACK TO YOU! Check out the full list of honor and highly commended books.

South Asian stories are hitting mainstream entertainment.

  • NEVER HAVE I EVER is a coming-of-age comedy series about the life of a modern first-generation Indian American teenage girl, inspired by Mindy Kaling’s own childhood. On Netflix.
  • MIRA, ROYAL DETECTIVE is an animated mystery-adventure children’s television series inspired by Indian culture and customs. Disney Junior. See the first episode on YouTube.

Today’s South Asian Kidlit Roundup covers books releasing from June through August of 2020. The books listed below are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author or illustrator, contains a South Asian main character, or involve South Asian culture. The books are organized by Category and then Publication Date.

For a list of today’s books, check out my South Asian Kidlit Summer 2020 list at Bookshop.org.

Title: Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea
Author: Meena Harris
Illustrator: Ana Ramírez González
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date:  June 2, 2020
ISBN:  978-0062937407
Category-Genre: Picture Book – Inspired by a true story
Synopsis: 
Meena Harris debuts with an empowering picture book about two sisters who work with their community to effect change, inspired by a true story from the childhood of her aunt, US Senator Kamala Harris, and mother, lawyer, and policy expert Maya Harris.
One day, Kamala and Maya had an idea. A big idea: they would turn their empty apartment courtyard into a playground! This is the uplifting tale of how the author’s aunt and mother first learned to persevere in the face of disappointment and turned a dream into reality. This is a story of children’s ability to make a difference and of a community coming together to transform their neighborhood.

Title: A Gift for Amma
Author: Meera Sriram
Illustrator: Mariona Cabassa
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Publication Date: August 14, 2020
ISBN: 978-1646860616
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian
Synopsis:
In this #OwnVoices book inspired by the author’s hometown of Chennai, India, a girl explores the vibrant rainbow of delights in a southern Indian street market as she searches for a gift for her amma (mother). Endnotes explain all the items on sale and introduce readers to markets around the world.

Title: Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon
Author: Simran Jeet Singh
Illustrator: Baljinder Kaur
Publisher: Kokila
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
ISBN: 978-0525555094
Category-Genre: Picture Book – Non-Fiction
Community Represented: Indian
Synopsis:
Fauja Singh was born determined. He was also born with legs that wouldn’t allow him to play cricket with his friends or carry him to school miles from his village in Punjab. But that didn’t stop him. Working on his family’s farm, Fauja grew stronger to meet his own full potential.
He never stopped striving. At the age of 81, after a lifetime of making his body, mind, and heart stronger, Fauja decided to run his first marathon. He went on to break records all around the world and became the first person over 100 to complete the grueling long-distance race.

Title: Monster and Boy
Author: Hannah Barnaby
Illustrator: Anoosha Syed
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. BYR
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
ISBN: 978-1250217837
Category-Genre: Chapter Book
Synopsis:
When Monster (who lives under the bed) meets Boy (who sleeps in the bed), Boy starts to scream―and Monster promptly swallows him. It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
Told with a warm, cozy voice, the story is brought to life with adorable two-color illustrations. Filled with adventure and humor, this chapter book is perfect for sharing with kids just aging out of picture books and for newly independent readers.

Title: American as Paneer Pie
Author: Supriya Kelkar
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
ISBN: 978-1534439382
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Contemporary
Community Represented: Indian-American
Synopsis:
As the only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food, and School Lekha, who pins her hair over her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation at all costs, especially when someone teases her for being Indian. When a girl Lekha’s age moves in across the street, Lekha is excited to hear that her name is Avantika and she’s Desi, too! Finally, there will be someone else around who gets it. But as soon as Avantika speaks, Lekha realizes she has an accent. She’s new to this country, and not at all like Lekha. To Lekha’s surprise, Avantika does not feel the same way as Lekha about having two separate lives or about the bullying at school. Avantika doesn’t take the bullying quietly. And she proudly displays her culture no matter where she is: at home or at school. When a racist incident rocks Lekha’s community, Lekha realizes she must make a choice: continue to remain silent or find her voice before it’s too late.

Title: Orientation (Marvel’s Avenger’s Assembly #1)
Author: Preeti Chhibber
Publisher: James Lancett
Publication Date: Scholastic Inc.
ISBN: August 4, 2020
Category-Genre: 978-1338587258
Community Represented: Middle Grade – Superheroes
Synopsis:
Kamala Khan was an average middle school kid. That is, until a cloud called a Terrigen Mist swept through the New Jersey waterfront and activated her super powers! After taking on the persona of Ms. Marvel, she’s been fighting crime in Jersey City, and has caught the eye of some pretty well-established super heroes. But that’s not always a good thing…
After Kamala is caught by news cameras taking on a super villain — and accidentally destroying a building along the way — she gets a letter from Captain Marvel herself! It’s great that she’s fighting crime and sticking up for people, but maybe a regular school isn’t the best place to learn how to do that. If she wants to continue as Ms. Marvel, she’s going to need to take on some new extracurricular activities — mainly, training with other young super heroes alongside the Avengers!
Now Kamala is the new kid at the Avengers Institute. Her classmates are all kids like her, they have special powers, but most of them have gotten into some trouble or drawn attention to themselves. The big news at the Avengers Institute this year? An academic decathlon in which students will group up into teams and compete against each other in super heroics. Kamala and her friends Miles and Doreen will have to go up against a team led by some kids who fight less than fair — and have some trouble with the concept of “fighting for good” — in this funny, action-packed look at some ordinary middle school kids who just happen to have some extraordinary powers.

Title: Hunted by the Sky
Author: Tanaz Bhathena
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR
Publication Date: June 23, 2020
ISBN: 978-0374313098
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Synopsis:
Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.
Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl―Gul―in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance―and discovers a magic he never expected to find.
Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort…a world with secrets deadlier than their own.

Title: 10 Things I Hate About Pinky
Author:  Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: June 30, 2020
ISBN: 978-1534416819
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Romantic Comedy
Community Represented: Indian-American
Synopsis:
Pinky Kumar wears the social justice warrior badge with pride. From raccoon hospitals to persecuted rock stars, no cause is too esoteric for her to champion. But a teeny tiny part of her also really enjoys making her conservative, buttoned-up corporate lawyer parents cringe.
Samir Jha might have a few…quirks remaining from the time he had to take care of his sick mother, like the endless lists he makes in his planner and the way he schedules every minute of every day, but those are good things. They make life predictable and steady.
Pinky loves lazy summers at her parents’ Cape Cod lake house, but after listening to them harangue her about the poor decisions she’s made (a.k.a. boyfriends she’s had), she hatches a plan. Get her sorta-friend-sorta-enemy—who is a total Harvard-bound Mama’s boy—to pose as her perfect boyfriend for the summer.
When Samir’s internship falls through, leaving him with an unplanned summer, he gets a text from Pinky asking if he’ll be her fake boyfriend in exchange for a new internship. He jumps at the opportunity; Pinky’s a weirdo, but he can survive a summer with her if there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
As they bicker their way through lighthouses and butterfly habitats, sparks fly, and they both realize this will be a summer they’ll never forget.

Title: A Thief Among the Trees: An Ember in the Ashes Graphic Novel
Author: Sabaa Tahir and Nicole Andelfinger
Illustrator: Sonia Liao
Publisher: Archaia
Publication Date: July 14, 2020
ISBN: 978-1684155248
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy – Graphic Novel
Synopsis:
WITHIN THE EMPIRE THERE ARE NO QUESTIONS, ONLY ORDERS.
Elias, Helene and Tavi are Fivers –in training to become elite military recruits for the Martial Empire at Blackcliff Academy. When they’re sent on a dangerous mission to steal a heavily-guarded poison on Isle South, they soon find themselves up against surprising enemies — including other recruits. As the true horror of their assignment is revealed, these three will begin to confront the harrowing realities of Martial rule, their place in the system . . . and the choices they must make to survive.

Title: More Than Just a Pretty Face
Author: Syed M. Masood
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  August 4, 2020
ISBN: 978-0316492355
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Romantic Comedy
Community Represented: Pakistani-American
Synopsis:
Danyal Jilani doesn’t lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he’s funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn’t approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal’s longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect.
When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man, a school-wide academic championship, it’s the perfect opportunity to show everyone he’s smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her…the more he learns from her…the more he cooks for her…the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face.

Title: Star Daughter
Author: Shveta Thakrar
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: August 11, 2020
ISBN: 978-0062894625
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Synopsis:
The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.
Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens—and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.

 

Title: The Knockout
Author: S.A. Patel
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date:  August 18, 2020
ISBN: 978-1635830590
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Community Represented: Indian-American
Synopsis:
A rising star in Muay Thai figures out what (and who) is worth fighting for in this #ownvoices YA debut full of heart. If seventeen-year-old Kareena Thakkar is going to alienate herself from the entire Indian community, she might as well do it gloriously. Shes landed the chance of a lifetime, an invitation to the US Muay Thai Open which could lead to a spot on the first-ever Olympic team. If only her sport wasn’t seen as something too rough for girls, something she’s afraid to share with anyone outside of her family. Despite pleasing her parents, excelling at school, and making plans to get her family out of debt, Kareena’s never felt quite Indian enough and her training is only making it worse. Which is inconvenient, since she’s starting to fall for Amit Patel, who just might be the world’s most perfect Indian. Admitting her feelings for Amit will cost Kareena more than just her pride shall have to face his parents’ disapproval, battle her own insecurities, and remain focused on the big fight. Kareena’s bid for the Olympics could very well make history if she has the courage to go for it.

(Disclaimer: The link to Bookshop.org is an affiliate link. Purchases made through the link results in a small commission to me at no cost to you.)

Flash and Gleam

Title: Flash and Gleam

Author: Sue Fliess
Illustrator: Khoa Le
Publisher: Millbrook Press, 2020
Book Type: STEM, Multicultural
Ages: 2-6

Opening Lines:

Lights / Rise / Open eyes

Reach/ Low / Nurture, grow

Synopsis:

The soft glow of a candle, the blink of a firefly, a burst of fireworks―light is everywhere in our world! Rhyming text and luminous illustrations follow four children as they experience many different forms of light.

Activities:

  • Fun DIY kids activities involving light
  • STEM facts, activities, and games on the concept of light from Science Kids

Why I Like This Book:

A beautiful book for both the eyes and ears. This lyrical book takes the reader on an exploration of light in nature and through cultural traditions around the world. The backmatter contains scientific information on light and details on light festivals from around the world such as Diwali, Hanukkah, and Yi Ping. The richly-hued and gorgeous digital and mixed media art adds a deep, thoughtful feel to the story from the lighted candles, flowers, and stuffies at a memorial, to a girl making a birthday wish of becoming an astronaut, to families spending time together while watching the Northern Lights or celebrating holidays. A wonderful book to make you slow down and enjoy those small moments of light in your life.

Enjoy this book trailer.

Find Flash and Gleam at the following spots:
IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1541557700
ISBN-13: 978-1541557703

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Disclosure: I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

South Asian Kidlit 2020 – Spring

Welcome Readers! Sorry for the delay. I hope you all are staying safe, healthy, and practicing your social distancing. I’m in the San Francisco Bay area where we have a “shelter-at-home” order, which basically means everything is shut down except for essentials. So life is interesting working from home with the whole family in the house. With the cancellations of author events and book festivals, independent booksellers are being hit hard with the pandemic. Please consider pre-ordering that book you are dying to read now or buy a gift certificate. Booksellers need the cash infusion now. My local bookstores are offering free or discounted shipping for a limited time.

I have 22 books to share!! If you would like to check-out past round-ups visit the South Asian Kidlit page on my website.

Today’s list covers books releasing from March through May of 2020. The books listed below are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author or illustrator, contains a South Asian main character, or involve South Asian culture. The books are organized by Category and then Publication Date.

Title: Feast of Peas
Author: Kashmira Sheth
Illustrator: Jeffrey Ebbeler
Publisher: Peachtree Publishing
Publication Date: March 1, 2020
ISBN: 978-1682631355
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian
Synopsis:
Hard-working Jiva might not be the only one anticipating a delicious feast of peas from his garden. Every morning, Jiva works in his garden. He plants peas and beans, potatoes and tomatoes, eggplants and okra in his vegetable patch. But each time Jiva is ready to pick the peas for his feast, they’re already gone. What has happened? This original story set in India features a deliciously amusing mystery about gardening, anticipation, hard work, and generosity.

Title: All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything
Author: Annette Bay Pimentel
Illustrator: Nabigal-Nayagam Haider Ali
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date: March 1, 2020
ISBN: 978-1492688976
Category-Genre: Picture Book – Biography
Synopsis:
Jennifer Keelans was determined to make a change―even if she was just a kid. She never thought her wheelchair could slow her down, but it was hard to get around. Jennifer knew that everyone deserves a voice! When the Americans with Disabilities Act was proposed to Congress, to make sure it passed, Jennifer went to the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC to convince them. And, without her wheelchair, she climbed.

Title: I am Brown
Author: Ashok Banker
Illustrator: Sandhya Prabhat
Publisher: Lantana Publishing
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
ISBN: 978-1911373940
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Synopsis:
I am brown. I am beautiful. I am perfect. I designed this computer. I ran this race. I won this prize. I wrote this book. A joyful celebration of the skin you’re in – of being brown, of being amazing, of being you.

 

Title: Like the Moon Loves the Sky
Author: Hena Khan
Illustrator: Saffa Khan
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
ISBN: 978-1452180199
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Muslim
Synopsis:
A lyrical and heartwarming celebration of a mother’s love for her children.”Inshallah you find wonder in birds as they fly. Inshallah you are loved, like the moon loves the sky.” With vibrant illustrations and prose inspired by the Quran, this charming picture book is a heartfelt and universal celebration of a parent’s unconditional love.

Title: Welcome to Your World
Author: Smriti Prasadam-Halls
Illustrator: Jaime Kim
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
ISBN: 978-1536206227
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Synopsis:
Traverse the animal kingdom, from ice-capped mountains to the depths of the sea, for a gorgeous celebration of the joys of a new baby.

 

Title: A Hatful of Dragons: And More Than 13.8 Billion Other Funny Poems
Author/Illustrator: Vikram Madan
Publisher: Wordsong
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
ISBN: 978-1684371501
Category-Genre: Picture Book – Poetry
Synopsis:
This funny poetry book is chockful of unusual characters: panda and pangolin musicians, mail-order eggs that hatch (surprise!) dinosaurs, ten aliens with a garden-gnome pal, a robot uncle, lots and lots of dragons, and a professor who uses his Page Machine to travel to multiple pages within the book. Vikram Madan’s ingenious poems take many forms, from limerick to rebus to a fill-in-the-blank poem that offers more than 13.8 billion funny combinations. All feature clever wordplay, impeccable rhythm and rhyme, and riotous punchlines.

Title: Child of the Universe
Author: Ray Jayawardhana
Illustrator: Raul Colón
Publisher: Make Me a World
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
ISBN: 978-1524717544
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Synopsis:
A lyrical meditation on the preciousness of one child and the vastness of the universe, this gorgeously illustrated picture book shares the immensity of a parent’s love along with the message that we are all connected to the broader cosmos in important and intimate ways.

Title: The Seed of Compassion: Lessons from the Life and Teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Author: His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Illustrator: Bao Luu
Publisher: Kokila
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
ISBN: 978-0525555148
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Buddhist
Synopsis:
With simple, powerful text, the Dalai Lama shares the universalist teachings of treating one another with compassion. His Holiness the Dalai Lama addresses shares lessons of peace and compassion, told through stories of his own childhood.

Title: Lali’s Feather
Author: Farhana Zia
Illustrator: Stephanie Fizer Coleman
Publisher: Peachtree Publishing
Publication Date: April 1. 2020
ISBN: 978-1682631294
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian
Synopsis:
Lali finds a little feather in the field. Is it lost? Lali sets out to find feather a home, but one bird after another rejects it. The feather is too small for Rooster, too slow for Crow, and too plain for Peacock. Once Lali decides to keep the little feather and discovers all the things she can do with it, the other birds begin to recognize its value.

Title: The Life of Buddha
Author: Heather Sanche
Illustrator: Tara di Gesu
Publisher: Bala Kids
Publication Date: April 28, 2020
ISBN: 978-1611806298
Category-Genre: Picture Book – Biography
Community Represented: Buddhist
Synopsis:
So begins the extraordinary story of the life of Siddhartha Gautama, the prince who would become the enlightened Buddha, the Awakened One. This classic tale follows Prince Siddhartha’s journey of truth-seeking and discovery, including his life-altering encounters with human suffering and his realization of the Four Noble Truths. Today, millions of people all over the world follow the Buddha’s teachings on meditation, selflessness, and compassion. Rendered here in exquisite original watercolor illustrations, this inspiring story is brought to life for young readers curious about one of history’s most monumental and influential figures.

Title: Grandmother School
Author: Rina Singh
Illustrator: Ellen Rooney
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
ISBN: 978-1459819054
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian
Synopsis:
Every morning, a young girl walks her grandmother to the Aajibaichi Shala, the school that was built for the grandmothers in her village to have a place to learn to read and write. The narrator beams with pride as she drops her grandmother off with the other aajis to practice the alphabet and learn simple arithmetic. A moving story about family, women and the power of education―when Aaji learns to spell her name you’ll want to dance along with her. Based on a true story from the village of Phangane, India, this brilliantly illustrated book tells the story of the grandmothers who got to go to school for the first time in their lives.

Title: The Fighting Infantryman
Author: Rob Sanders
Illustrator: Nabi Ali
Publisher: Little Bee Books
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
ISBN: 978-1499809367
Category-Genre: Picture Book-Biography
Synopsis:
In 1861, the winds of war blew through the United States. Jennie Hodgers, a young immigrant from Ireland, moved west to Illinois and soon had a new name and a new identity–Albert D. J. Cashier. Like many other young men, Albert joined the Union Army. Though the smallest soldier in his company, Albert served for nearly three years and fought in forty battles and skirmishes. When the war ended, Albert continued to live his life as a man. His identity fits him as snug as his suspenders.

Title: Finding Om
Author: Rashmi Bismark
Illustrator: Morgan Huff
Publisher: Mango & Marigold Press
Publication Date: May 12, 2020
ISBN: 978-1645433873
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian-American
Synopsis:
Anu, an American girl of Indian and African descent, explores the mantra Om with her beloved grandfather, Appuppa. Through this story, she begins to develop techniques of mindfulness, that readers can explore along with her. This wonderful multicultural, inter-generational story is sure to become a staple in classrooms and homes across the world.

Title: Desert Girl Monsoon Boy
Author: Tara Dairman
Illustrator: Archana Sreenivasan
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 12, 2020
ISBN: 978-0525518068
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian
Synopsis:
One girl. One boy. Their lives couldn’t be more different. While she turns her shoulder to sandstorms and blistering winds, he cuffs his pants when heavy rains begin to fall. As the weather becomes more severe, their families and animals must flee to safety–and their destination shows that they might be more alike than they seem. The journeys of these two children experiencing weather extremes in India highlight the power of nature and the resilience of the human spirit.

Title: Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes
Author: Roshani Choksi
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
ISBN: 978-1368013857
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Fantasy
Synopsis:
War between the devas and the demons is imminent, and the Otherworld is on high alert. When intelligence from the human world reveals that the Sleeper is holding a powerful clairvoyant and her sister captive, 14-year-old Aru and her friends launch a search-and-rescue mission. The captives, a pair of twins, turn out to be the newest Pandava sisters, though, according to a prophecy, one sister is not true. During the celebration of Holi, the heavenly attendants stage a massage PR rebranding campaign to convince everyone that the Pandavas are to be trusted. As much as Aru relishes the attention, she fears that she is destined to bring destruction to her sisters, as the Sleeper has predicted. Aru believes that the only way to prove her reputation is to find the Kalpavriksha, the wish-granting tree that came out of the Ocean of Milk when it was churned. If she can reach it before the Sleeper, perhaps she can turn everything around with one wish.

Title: The Chaos Curse (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #3)
Author: Sayantani DasGupta
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
ISBN: 978-1338355895
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Fantasy
Synopsis:
Kiranmala must leave the Kingdom Beyond and travel to her hometown of Parsippany to save Prince Lal, who has been spirited to the unlikeliest of places — a tree in the yard of her best-enemy-for-life. She also faces evil serpents, plus a frightening prophecy about her role in the coming conflict between good and evil. Most troubling of all, though, is the way reality all around her seems to waver and flicker at odd moments. Could it be that the Anti-Chaos Committee’s efforts are causing a dangerous disruption in the multiverse?

 

Title: A Place at the Table
Author: Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: May 12, 2020
ISBN: 978-0358116684
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Contemporary
Community Represented: Pakistani-American
Synopsis:
Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class. The girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens, and they make plans to create the most amazing, cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners . . . but can they learn to trust each other enough to become true friends? A novel that explores themes of food, friendship, family, and what it means to truly belong.

 

Title: Diana and the Island of No Return
Author: Aisha Saeed
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
ISBN: 978-0593174470
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Fantasy
Synopsis:
Young Princess Diana is fierce and whip-smart, and she loves her island home of Themyscira. Her deepest wish is to be able to train with the rest of the Amazons and protect her homeland–but she’s told it’s out of the question. This is the year Diana hopes to persuade her mother, Queen Hippolyta, to let her learn how to fight when the world’s most powerful women gather on Themyscira for a festival to celebrate their different cultures. But at the start of the festivities, an unexpected and forbidden visitor–a boy!–brings news of an untold danger that threatens Themyscira and all of its sacred neighboring lands. It’s up to Diana and her best friend, Princess Sakina, to save them, even if it means tangling with a cunning demon who reveals that a terrifying force is out to capture Diana against her will.

Title: Thorn
Author: Intisar Khanani
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
ISBN: HarperTeen (March 24, 2020)
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Synopsis:
Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life, but when her mother betroths her to a powerful prince in a distant kingdom, she has little hope for a better future. Until Alyrra arrives at her new kingdom, where a mysterious sorceress robs her of both her identity and her role as princess—and Alyrra seizes on the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl. But as Alyrra uncovers dangerous secrets about her new world, including a threat to the prince himself, she knows she can’t remain silent forever. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds, and ultimately must decide who she is and what she stands for.

Title: Brown Girl Ghosted
Author: Mintie Das
Publisher: Versify
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
ISBN: 978-0358128892
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Paranormal Thriller
Synopsis:
Violet Choudhury may be part of the popular clique at school, but as one of a handful of brown girls in a small Illinois town, all she really wants to do is blend in and disappear. Unfortunately for her, she’s got a knack for seeing spirits, including the dead—something she’s tried to ignore all her life. But when the queen bee of Violet’s cheerleading squad ends up dead following a sex tape that’s not as consensual as everyone wants to believe, Violet’s friends from the spirit world decide it’s the perfect time for Violet to test her skills and finally accept the legacy of spiritual fighters from whom she’s descended. Her mission? Find the killer.

Title: We are Totally Normal
Author: Rahul Kanakia
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: March 31, 2020
ISBN: 978-0062865816
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Synopsis:
Nandan’s got a plan to make his junior year perfect, but hooking up with his friend Dave isn’t part of it—especially because Nandan has never been into guys. Still, Nandan’s willing to give a relationship with him a shot. But the more his anxiety grows about what his sexuality means for himself, his friends, and his social life, the more he wonders whether he can just take it all back. Is breaking up with Dave—the only person who’s ever really gotten him—worth feeling “normal” again?

 

Title: Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know
Author: Samira Ahmed
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
ISBN:  978-1616959890
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Historical Fiction/Contemporary
Synopsis:
It’s August in Paris and 17-year-old Khayyam Maquet—American, French, Indian, Muslim—is at a crossroads. This holiday with her parents should be a dream trip for the budding art historian. But her maybe-ex-boyfriend is probably ghosting her, she might have just blown her chance at getting into her dream college, and now all she really wants is to be back home in Chicago figuring out her messy life instead of brooding in the City of Light.
Two hundred years before Khayyam’s summer of discontent, Leila is struggling to survive and keep her true love hidden from the Pasha who has “gifted” her with favored status in his harem. In the present day—and with the company of a descendant of Alexandre Dumas—Khayyam begins to connect allusions to an enigmatic 19th-century Muslim woman whose path may have intersected with Alexandre Dumas, Eugène Delacroix, and Lord Byron.
Echoing across centuries, Leila and Khayyam’s lives intertwine, and as one woman’s long-forgotten life is uncovered, another’s is transformed.

South Asian Kidlit 2020 – Winter

Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were everything you wanted them to be. Thanks so much for stopping by for another South Asian Kidlit round-up. I have over 50+ books to share with you this year! I think this will be the most prolific year yet!

If you would like to check-out past round-ups click on this link which will take you to my past South Asian Kidlit posts.

Today’s list covers books releasing in January and February of 2020. The books listed below are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author or illustrator, contains a South Asian main character, or involve South Asian culture. The books are organized by Category and then Publication Date.

 

Title: Ravi’s Roar
Author/Illustrator: Tom Percival
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
ISBN: 978-1547603008
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Synopsis:
Ravi never minded being the smallest in his family. Until one day, his short arms can’t reach the monkey bars, he can’t find anyone during hide-and-seek, AND he’s too little to ride the big slide. Ravi is so mad that he can’t control his temper anymore . . . and he becomes a roaring TIGER! But who wants to play with a wild tiger who won’t share or behave? Ravi is about to discover something very important about voicing his feelings.

Title: The Lion Queens of India
Author/Photographer: Jan Reynolds
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
ISBN: 978-1643790510
Category-Genre: Picture Book – Non-Fiction
Synopsis:
In the far west of India, in Gir National Park, dwells one of the rarest big cats on Earth: the Asiatic lion. Known for its distinctive belly flap and the bushy tassels on its tail, the Asiatic lion once roamed from the Mediterranean Sea to the Bay of Bengal. But human hunting and expansion into their territory eroded the lions’ numbers, until only twelve remained alive.

Now more than six hundred lions stalk the forest and savannahs of Gir — thanks in part to the work of the “Lion Queens,” a team of female rangers who specialize in caring for the Asiatic lions. Join Rashila and her friends on a journey around the park as they visit the lions in their habitats, monitor the web of life that encompasses all of the animals, and work with local villagers to preserve harmony between the human and animal populations. Readers will discover not only the many factors that influence the lions’ lives, but what they can do to help ensure the lions’ survival. Illustrated throughout with compelling photographs, The Lion Queens of India is an inspiring portrait of the lives of these female rangers and animal conservation efforts across the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Titles: Yasmin the Gardener / Writer / Soccer Star / The Friend
Author: Saadia Faruqi
Illustrator: Hatem Aly
Publisher: Picture Window Books
Publication Date: January 1, 2020
ISBNs:
Gardener: 978-1515858850
Writer: 978-1515858874
Soccer Star: 978-1515858867
The Friend: 978-1515858881
Category-Genre: Early Chapter Books
Community Represented: Pakistani-American
Synopsis:
Gardener: It’s spring! Yasmin and her baba are excited to plant their garden, and Yasmin chooses a flower seedling. She gives it plenty of sun, water, and good soil . . . so why is it wilting? Watching Nani sit in the sun gives Yasmin a bright idea and she knows just what her little plant needs.

Writer: Ms. Alex has assigned Yasmin’s class to write about their heroes. Yasmin loves to write, but she can’t decide who her hero is. After dismissing lots of ideas, could it be that Yasmin’s hero has been right beside her all along?

Soccer Star: Everyone in Yasmin’s gym class is excited to play soccer, except for Yasmin. She’s seen the pros play, and it looks scary! When Yasmin is chosen as goalie, will she step up or back out? Courage, Yasmin!

The Friend: Yasmin knows exactly what she wants to play when her friends come over. But it turns out her friends have their own ideas. Could a creative compromise make everyone happy?

Title: Scavenge the Stars
Author: Tara Sim
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
ISBN: 978-1368051415
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Synopsis:
When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide. Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception-and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down-the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one?

Title: Curses and Kisses
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
ISBN: 978-1534417540
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary Fairytale Retelling
Synopsis:
A brand-new series set at an elite boarding school. This first book is a contemporary spin on Beauty and the Beast.
An Indian princess must con her worst enemy, a misanthropic British aristocrat, into falling in love with her in order to restore honor to her family.

My Book Reading Report for 2019

It’s that time of the year to tally up. Here are my stats according to Goodreads.

TOTAL BOOKS READ IN 2019 = 326
11 Adult; 11 YA; 14 MG; 2 ER; 288 PB

Listed below are my favorite reads from this year. This list contains titles published in 2019 and previous years.

Adult: Educated (Tara Westover),Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Trevor Noah),  Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty), Atomic Habits (James Clear), The Idea of You (Robinne Lee)

Young Adult: Patron Saints of Nothing (Randy Ribay), The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees (Don Brown)

Middle Grade: All the Impossible Things (Lindsay Lackey), No Fixed Address (Susin Nielsen), Front Desk (Kelly Yang), The Bridge Home (Padma Venkatraman), The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl (Stacy McAnulty), Stargazing (Jen Wang), The Year of the Dog (Grace Lin)

Early Reader: The Itchy Book! (LeUyen Pham), We Are Growing! (Laurie Keller)

Picture Book:

  • Bird Count (Susan Edwards Richmond and Stephanie Fizer Coleman)
  • Dandy (Ame Dyckman and Charles Santoso)
  • The Moon’s First Friends: How the Moon Met the Astronauts from Apollo 11 (Susanna Leonard Hill and Elisa Paganelli)
  • Little Brown (Marla Frazee)
  • Saturday (Oge Mora)
  • Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao (Kat Zhang and Charlene Chua)
  • Island: A Story of the Galapagos (Jason Chin)
  • The Don’t Worry Book (Todd Parr)
  • The Undefeated (Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson)
  • Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime! (Cate Berry and Charles Santoso)
  • The Scarecrow (Beth Ferry and The Fan Brothers)
  • Thunder Trucks (Cheryl Klein, Katy Beebe, and Mike Boldt)
  • How to Walk an Ant (Cindy Derby)
  • What is a Refugee? (Elise Gravel)
  • Here and Now (Julia Denos and E. B. Goodale)
  • My Papi Has a Motorcycle (Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña)
  • Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet (Curtis Manley and Jessica Lanan)
  • The Remeber Balloons (Jessie Oliveros and Dana Wulfekotte)

What were some of your favorites reads this past year?

Cover Reveal for FINDING OM and Interview with Rashmi Bismark

I have a wonderful treat for you today. The cover reveal for FINDING OM, information about the #1001DiverseBooks program, and a lovely interview with the author Rashmi Bismark!

Bharat Babies is a wonderful small indie press bringing South Asian experiences to children’s literature. They are launching their fourteenth book, FINDING OM. This is a story about Anu, an American girl of Indian and African descent, who finds mindfulness and peace through an exploration of the mantra Om. This story helps children to find the calm strengths of awareness within themselves and is a wonderful multicultural, multi-generational story.

With this launch, Bharat Babies is also launching its #1001DiverseBooks program, which will help not only bridge the diversity gap but also the accessibility gap. With each new book launch, Bharat Babies is committing to also raise the funds to donate 1001 books to literacy and advocacy nonprofits that are working across the country to help children in need. They need your help to make this vision a reality. Will you be a part of the change to end the diversity gap AND accessibility gap? When you pre-order a copy of FINDING OM, you can also sponsor a copy for a nonprofit partner for only $10. The expected ship date is May 2020.

And now for the cover real! It’s gorgeous!!!

Title: Finding Om
Author: Rashmi Bismark
Illustrator: Morgan Huff
Publisher: Bharat Babies, May 2020

Pre-Order Link: https://bharatbabies.com/collections/finding-om

Interview with Rashmi Bismark

1. What inspired you to write a children’s book?

Nowadays there are many authors sharing beautifully illustrated retellings of Indian mythology. Now imagine if there might be a book, or better yet, a series of books, that could bring the sacred philosophical teachings of South Asian heritage, like yoga and mindfulness, to life in the same way. Imagine if they could reflect the experiences of brown kids and mixed families who are part of the diaspora in ways that all kids could relate to… These were my inspirations

2. How did you come up with the concept for the book FINDING OM?

With this first book, I wanted to portray what meditation might look like for a child while including an exploration of some key aspects of practice like: (1) curiosity, courage, kindness, and trust; (2) focused and receptive attention; (3) present moment awareness of thinking, feeling, doing and being; (4) resting into that naturally whole, awareful presence; and (5) opening to the harmony, insight, and wisdom right here. I wanted it to be a book about meditation and inquiry simply for the joy and wonder of it, versus being a tool or technique for handling stress or tough emotions. It is definitely that too… and it can also be something more.

It felt very natural to use my family as the characters. My father and my kids are some of my biggest teachers in life. Allowing their hearts to tell this story just made sense. In fact, much of the book portrays direct experiences my daughters have shared. Though Anu never had this exact interaction with Appuppa, it is an exchange that melds together both the girls’ and my own memories with him.

3. Is this a part of a series? 

Finding Om is the first book in an intended series to share concepts from South Asian philosophy like yoga (connection) and mindfulness (wise remembrance of innately present awareness) through treasured mantras from these traditions.

4. Where did you start and how has your book changed?

Interestingly, Finding Om wasn’t the first book I wrote for this intended series. I reached out to Sailaja and Bharat Babies with four other manuscripts on four different mantras that my girls have loved. As I began working with Amy Maranville, their senior editor, she suggested making the introduction I had originally written for parents and educators about meditation into a first book. So I guess you could say the original first draft of Finding Om was more of an informative description of mantra, mindfulness, yoga, and meditation for adults. It was nowhere near a picture book! It has certainly come a long way.

 

About the Author:
Rashmi S. Bismark, MD, MPH is a physician specialized in Preventive Medicine with expertise from public health, health behavior, lifestyle medicine, and complementary & alternative therapies. Her clinical practice is focused on holistic mindfulness-based interventions tailored to individuals and communities. With over two decades of exploring traditional healing practices from India, including Ayurveda, energy healing, meditation, and yoga, Dr. Bismark is also a teacher trainer at Yoga Medicine by Tiffany Cruikshank where she contributes to curriculum and co-leads advanced modules on Yin Yoga and Meditation for yoga teachers from around the globe. Dr. Bismark feels very fortunate to travel the world with her husband’s job, raising two little yoginis-in-training, and sharing mindful ways of nurturing life and healing.

You can find out more about Rashmi at these places on the Internet.
Website: https://www.rsbismarkmd.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rashmibismark
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rashmibismark/

 

The Yin-Yang Sisters and the Dragon Frightful

Title: The Yin-Yang Sisters and the Dragon Frightful

Author: Nancy Tupper Ling
Illustrator: Andrea Offermann
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2018
Book Type: Siblings, Teamwork, Dragons
Ages: 4-8

Opening Lines:

The villagers of Woo lived in fear of the dragon Frightful. His shadow wrapped around their town. His claws dug into their land, and when he snored, their houses shook like grains of rice. Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, they did.

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

When a fearsome dragon takes over their village bridge, twin sisters Mei and Wei have opposing views of how to fix the problem. Wei wants nothing more than to confront that stinky old dragon head on, but Mei favors a more thoughtful approach. With Wei’s confidence and gumption plus Mei’s creativity and diligence, it’s only a matter of time before everyone can be happy again.

This empowering sibling story is about celebrating differences and finding that what makes us different is also what makes us a powerful team.

Activities:

Why I Like This Book

A wonderful tale to remind readers of any age, that our differences make us stronger together.

In this charming tale set in rural China, Wei and Mei, twin sisters have grown-up seeing their parents always worn out from the long arduous walk over the hills to the other side. A pesky dragon has taken residence on the nearby bridge and won’t budge. Wei, full of confidence and courage, decides to take on the dragon. But when things get a little scary for Wei, thoughtful and caring Mei is always there to help her sister. While Wei’s approaches are more confrontational, Mei spends her time constructing a dragon shield and reading up on dragons. Together they are successful in getting the dragon to move and all are happy.

The storytelling style reminded me of old folktales. The pen and ink and watercolor illustrations are gorgeous. I especially loved the zoomed-out view of the village in the opening scene, and the quaint details such as terraced rice patties and brick and tiled-roof homes with the dragon looming in the foreground. The art transports the reader back in time.

Find The Yin-Yang Sisters and the Dragon Frightful at the following spots:
IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | AmazonGoodreads
ISBN-10: 0399171150
ISBN-13: 978-0399171154

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.