Opening Lines: The house is hushed. The lights are low.
We’re basking in a newborn glow.
The note we post says SEE YOU SOON.
Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):
Inside the cozy house, a baby has arrived! The world is eager to meet the newcomer, but there will be time enough for that later. Right now, the family is on its babymoon: cocooning, connecting, learning, and muddling through each new concern. While the term “babymoon” is often used to refer to a parents’ getaway before the birth of a child, it was originally coined by midwives to describe days like these: at home with a newborn, with the world held at bay and the wonder of a new family constellation unfolding.
If you have baby books for your children, sit down together and peruse through those treasured times. Or go through old baby pictures and home videos together. (Using iMovie my husband takes snippets of home movies and makes a 3-6 minute “baby movie”. My junior high kids still love them to this day.)
Tell a child the story of the day they were born and what their first days/months were like.
Why I Like This Book:
A perfect reminder for any parent-to-be to stop and take stock in those early precious bonding moments. For parents whose kids are older, it’s a trip down memory lane. The book feels true to the new parent experience. While the joyous text doesn’t directly mention new parent fatigue, you can see the loving tiredness in the art. Ms. Barret has a way with words. They are lush, soothing, cozy like a warm blanket. Ms. Martinez-Neal’s warm, soft illustrations cast a tender glow on the new parents as they bond with their baby. A beautiful combination. See for yourself.
Thanks so much for stopping by for another South Asian Kidlit round-up! So many books! It fills my heart to see these diverse stories making their way out into the world. Today’s post covers Picture Books thru Young Adult that have a release date between Dec 31, 2018 to end of April 2019.
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. I’m so excited my debut picture bookwill be a part of these round-ups next year! 🙂
The books listed below are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author, contains a South Asian Main Character, or involves South Asian culture. The books are organized by Category and then Publication Date.
Title: Under My Hijab Author: Hena Khan Illustrator: Aaliya Jaleel Publisher: Lee & Low Books Publication Date: February 5, 2019 ISBN: 978-1620147924 Category-Genre: Picture Book
Grandma wears it clasped under her chin. Aunty pins hers up with a beautiful brooch. Jenna puts it under a sun hat when she hikes. Zara styles hers to match her outfit. As a young girl observes six very different women in her life who each wear the hijab in a unique way, she also dreams of the rich possibilities of her own future, and how she will express her own personality through her hijab. Written in sprightly rhyme and illustrated by a talented newcomer, Under My Hijab honors the diverse lives of contemporary Muslim women and girls, their love for each other, and their pride in their culture and faith.
Title: The Home Builders Author: Varsha Bajaj Illustrator: Simona Mulazzani Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books Publication Date: February 12, 2019 ISBN: 978-0399166853 Category-Genre: Picture Book
This vibrantly illustrated picture book celebrates a variety of woodland creatures as they make their homes and prepare for their young.
Welcome to a serene woodland where lots of expectant animal parents are in their “nesting” phase–that is, busy preparing safe, cozy homes for their growing families. As they dig, tunnel, gnaw, and gather, they create dens, burrows, lodges, and, of course, nests. Soon the woods are full of new little ones peeping, crawling, romping, and snuggling–and with artwork so gorgeous that it feels like an invitation into the scenery it’s depicting, readers will be eager to join them in their beautiful home.
Title: When I Found Grandma Author: Saumiya Balasubramaniam Illustrator: Qin Leng Publisher: Groundwood Books Publication Date: March 5, 2019 ISBN: 978-1773060187 Category-Genre: Picture Book
When Maya’s grandma makes a surprise visit from thousands of miles away, Maya is delighted. But her excitement doesn’t last long. When Grandma picks her up from school, she wears fancy clothes and talks too loudly. Grandma’s morning prayer bells wake Maya up, and she cooks with ingredients Maya doesn’t usually eat. Plus, Maya thinks cupcakes taste better than Grandma’s homemade sweets.
Maya and Grandma try to compromise, and on a special trip to the island Grandma even wears an “all-American” baseball cap. But when Maya rushes off to find the carousel, she loses sight of her mother, father and grandmother. She is alone in a sea of people … until she spots something bobbing above the crowd, and right away she knows how to find her way.
Title: The Yellow Suitcase Author: Meera Sriram Illustrator: Meera Sethi Publisher: Penny Candy Books Publication Date: March 12, 2019 ISBN: 978-0999658413 Category-Genre: Picture Book
In The Yellow Suitcase by Meera Sriram, Asha travels with her parents from America to India to mourn her grandmother’s passing. Asha’s grief and anger are compounded by the empty yellow suitcase usually reserved for gifts to and from Grandma, but when she discovers a gift left behind just for her, Asha realizes that the memory of her grandmother will live on inside her, no matter where she lives.
Title: The Boy Who Grew a Forest Author: Sophia Gholz Illustrator: Kayla Harren Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press Publication Date: March 15, 2019 ISBN: 978-1534110243 Category-Genre: Picture Book – Non-Fiction
As a boy, Jadav Payeng was distressed by the destruction deforestation and erosion was causing on his island home in India’s Brahmaputra River. So he began planting trees. What began as a small thicket of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals. The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the inspiring true story of Payeng–and reminds us all of the difference a single person with a big idea can make.
Title: No Place Like Home Author/Illustrator: Ronojoy Ghosh Publisher: Eerdmans Publication Date: April 30, 2019 ISBN: 978-0802855220 Category-Genre: Picture Book
A hilarious story about finding your place in the world. George is a bit of a grump. He doesn’t like ice cream, his tiny house, or the crowded city he lives in. Perhaps he would be happier if he could find a place that truly feels like home. And so George decides to go exploring… Young children will delight in this fun, inviting story about discovering where you really belong.
Title: Yasmin the Chef/Zookeeper/Teacher/Superhero Author: Saadia Faruqi Illustrator: Hatem Aly Publisher: Picture Window Books Publication Date: January 1, 2019 ISBN:
Superhero: 978-1515845799 Category-Genre: Early Chapter Books
Chef: Yasmin loves hosting parties! Music, friends, fun! But what she doesn’t love is the spicy food her Pakistani family serves. Yasmin puts on her chef hat and plans to make her own amazing, fantastic recipe…as soon as she figures out what that is!
Zookeeper: Yasmin’s class is going to the zoo! The students love watching the animals do silly things, but when Yasmin is chosen to feed the monkeys, she’s the one that does something silly. Can Yasmin fix her mistake and make friends with the monkeys?
Teacher: Ms. Alex gets called away―and puts Yasmin in charge! Being teacher will be a snap! But when things go wrong, Yasmin must think fast to get the class back on track before Ms. Alex gets back.
Superhero: Superhero Yasmin! She’s got the cape. She’s got the mask. Now she just needs a villain to defeat! While she’s looking for one, she meets lots of friends and neighbors who need her help, but no villains. Then Yasmin discovers that she might not need a villain to wield her super powers!
Title: Yasmin in Charge Author: Saadia Faruqi Illustrator: Hatem Aly Publisher: Picture Window Books Publication Date: March 1, 2019 ISBN: 978-1515842729 Category-Genre: Early Chapter Books
In this collection of four stories, Yasmin takes charge of some sticky situations! At home, at school, or out and about, Yasmin faces challenges head on with creativity and quick thinking. Whether she’s creating a new recipe, finding a way to rescue a stuck toy for a little friend, or calming down monkeys (and classmates!), a clever solution to any problem is just around the corner!
Title: Mangoes, Mischief, and Tales of Friendship: Stories from India Author: Chitra Soundar Illustrator: Uma Krishnaswamy Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication Date: December 31, 2018 ISBN: 978-1536200676 Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Folktale
Can Prince Veera and his best friend outsmart the king’s trickiest subjects? Inspired by traditional Indian folktales, these stories are sure to delight.
Being a wise and just ruler is no easy task. That’s what Prince Veera discovers when he and his best friend, Suku, are given the opportunity to preside over the court of his father, King Bheema. Some of the subjects’ complaints are easily addressed, but others are much more challenging. How should they handle the case of the greedy merchant who wishes to charge people for enjoying the smells of his sweets? And can they prove that an innocent man cannot possibly spread bad luck? Will Prince Veera and Suku be able to settle the dispute between a man and his neighbor to whom he sells a well — but not the water in it? Or solve the mystery of the jewels that have turned into pickles? Illustrated throughout by Uma Krishnaswamy, these eight original tales by Chitra Soundar task Veera and Suku with outwitting the kingdom’s greediest, wiliest subjects. Are the two clever boys up to the challenge?
Title: The Bridge Home Author: Padma Venkatraman Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books Publication Date: February 5, 2019 ISBN: 978-1524738112 Category-Genre: Middle Grade
Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman’s stirring middle-grade debut.
Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.
Title: Game of Stars (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #2) Author: Sayantani DasGupta Publisher: Scholastic Press Publication Date: February 26, 2019 ISBN: 978-1338185737 Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy
Saving the multiverse is no game
When the Demon Queen shows up in her bedroom, smelling of acid and surrounded by evil-looking bees, twelve-year-old Kiranmala is uninterested. After all, it’s been weeks since she last heard from her friends in the Kingdom Beyond, the alternate dimension where she was born as an Indian princess. But after a call to action over an interdimensional television station and a visit with some all-seeing birds, Kiran decides that she has to once again return to her homeland, where society is fraying, a terrible game show reigns supreme, and friends and foes alike are in danger. Everyone is running scared or imprisoned following the enactment of sudden and unfair rules of law.
However, things are a lot less clear than the last time she was in the Kingdom Beyond. Kiran must once again solve riddles and battle her evil Serpent King father — all while figuring out who her true friends are, and what it really means to be a hero.
Title: Orange for the Sunsets Author: Tina Athaide Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books Publication Date: April 2, 2019 ISBN: 978-0062795298 Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Historical
Asha and her best friend, Yesofu, never cared about the differences between them: Indian. African. Girl. Boy. Short. Tall.
But when Idi Amin announces that Indians have ninety days to leave the country, suddenly those differences are the only things that people in Entebbe can see—not the shared after-school samosas or Asha cheering for Yesofu at every cricket game.
Determined for her life to stay the same, Asha clings to her world tighter than ever before. But Yesofu is torn, pulled between his friends, his family, and a promise of a better future. Now as neighbors leave and soldiers line the streets, the two friends find that nothing seems sure—not even their friendship.
Tensions between Indians and Africans intensify and the deadline to leave is fast approaching. Could the bravest thing of all be to let each other go?
Title: Firestarter (Book #3 Timekeeper) Author: Tara Sim Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication Date: January 15, 2019 ISBN: 978-1510706200 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Historical Fantasy
The crew of the Prometheus is intent on taking down the world’s clock towers so that time can run freely. Now captives, Colton, Daphne, and the others have a stark choice: join the Prometheus’s cause or fight back in any small way they can and face the consequences. But Zavier, leader of the terrorists, has a bigger plan—to bring back the lost god of time.
As new threats emerge, loyalties must shift. No matter where the Prometheus goes—Prague, Austria, India—nowhere is safe, and every second ticks closer toward the eleventh hour. Walking the line between villainy and heroism, each will have to choose what’s most important: saving those you love at the expense of the many, or making impossible sacrifices for the sake of a better world.
Title: The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali Author: Sabina Khan Publisher: Scholastic Press Publication Date: January 29, 2019 ISBN: 978-1338227017 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali has always been fascinated by the universe around her and the laws of physics that keep everything in order. But her life at home isn’t so absolute.
Unable to come out to her conservative Muslim parents, she keeps that part of her identity hidden. And that means keeping her girlfriend, Ariana, a secret from them too. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life at home and a fresh start at Caltech in the fall. But when Rukhsana’s mom catches her and Ariana together, her future begins to collapse around her.
Devastated and confused, Rukhsana’s parents whisk her off to stay with their extended family in Bangladesh where, along with the loving arms of her grandmother and cousins, she is met with a world of arranged marriages, religious tradition, and intolerance. Fortunately, Rukhsana finds allies along the way and, through reading her grandmother’s old diary, finds the courage to take control of her future and fight for her love.
Title: Beauty of the Moment Author: Tanaz Bhathena Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication Date: February 26, 2019 ISBN: 978-0374308445 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Susan is the new girl―she’s sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy―he started raising hell at age fifteen, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since.
Susan’s parents are on the verge of divorce. Malcolm’s dad is a known adulterer.
Susan hasn’t told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn’t know what he wants―until he meets her.
Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are.
Title: Internment Author: Samira Ahmed Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication Date: March 19, 2019 ISBN: 978-0316522694 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Speculative
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.
Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.
Title: Forward Me Back to You Author: Mitali Perkins Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication Date: April 2, 2019 ISBN: 978-0374304928 Category-Genre: Young Adult
Katina King is the reigning teen jiu-jitsu champion of Northern California, but she’s having trouble fighting off the secrets in her past.
Robin Thornton was adopted from an orphanage in Kolkata, India and is reluctant to take on his future. Since he knows nothing about his past, how is he supposed to figure out what comes next?
Robin and Kat meet in the most unlikely of places ― a summer service trip to India to work with survivors of human trafficking. As bonds blossom between the travel-mates, Robin and Kat discover the healing superpowers of friendship.
At turns heart-wrenching, beautiful, and buoyant, Mitali Perkins’s new novel explores the ripple effects of violence ― across borders and generations ― and how small acts of heroism can break the cycle.
Title: The Tiger at Midnight Author: Swati Teerdhala Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books Publication Date: April 23, 2019 ISBN: 978-0062869210 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
A broken bond. A dying land. A cat-and-mouse game that can only end in bloodshed.
Esha lost everything in the royal coup—and as the legendary rebel known as the Viper, she’s made the guilty pay. Now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.
Kunal has been a soldier since childhood. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has only been growing more volatile.
When Esha and Kunal’s paths cross one fated night, an impossible chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces.
As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both the soldier and the rebel must decide where their loyalties lie: with the lives they’ve killed to hold on to or with the love that’s made them dream of something more.
A very belated Happy New Year! I’ve been away too long from the blog and all of you. Lots going on. My debut picture book was announced last fall. You can find out about it here. I am doubly-excited to share today’s book. First, I absolutely adored their first collaboration, BEAUTIFUL. The colors, the energy and most importantly how they re-defined beauty. You can check out my review of it here. The second reason is Ms. Lew-Vriethoff is the illustrator for my book! I can’t wait to see what she creates for it. 🙂 Now onto the review!
Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):
What is love? Can you only express it in fancy meals, greeting cards, and heart-shaped chocolates? Kids will find love everywhere in this delightful book. It can be found in everyday moments such as baking cookies with grandma, notes from Mom in your lunchbox, or a family singing together on a car trip, and it isn’t always what you expect!
Do a Random Act of Kindness. Here is my blog postwhich has loads of ideas from when I did 40 Random Acts of Kindness in 40 Days.
Why I Like This Book:
The wonderful duo has done it again. LOVE is the third book in a series that take smarter and thoughtful interpretations of age-old sayings. The first two books were BEAUTIFUL and BRAVE, do check them out.
LOVE re-interprets the traditional ways of showing love to someone you care such as giving a fancy dinner or a designer card. A fancy dinner is preparing a doggie bowl with a flower in it for your injured dog. A designer greeting card is a child drawing a hand-drawn card with a crayon. It also reinterprets ideas such as ‘love at first sight’. You’ll have to read to find out. It’s charming.
This book can be used as a springboard for discussions about how one can show empathy and love in simple ways. It’s perfect for kids. The book shows how kids can do an act of kindness for someone without having to buy something, which is important in our consumer-driven world.
The art is vibrant and engaging and full of details. The large type and big illustrations make it perfect for a group read-aloud.
It’s that time of the year to tally up. Here are my stats according to Goodreads.
TOTAL BOOKS READ IN 2017 = 350
1 Adult; 14 YA; 8 MG; 11 CB/ER; 313 PB
Listed below are my favorite reads from this year. This list contains titles published in 2018 and past years.
YOUNG ADULT: Dumplin’ (Julie Murphy), Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo), Caraval (Stephanie Garber), Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Mackenzi Lee), You Bring the Distant Near (Mitali Perkins), I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Erika L. Sánchez)
MG: Ghost Boys (Jewell Parker Rhodes)
The Truth About Hippos: Seriously Funny Facts About Your Favorite Animals (Maxwell Eaton III)
How to Be an Elephant (Katherine Roy)
Grandma’s Purse (Vanessa Brantley-Newton)
The Rabbit Listened (Cori Doerrfeld)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G vs Inequality (Jonah Winter and Stacy Innerst)
I Dissent: Ruther Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark ( Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley)
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist ( Jess Keating and Marta Álvarez Miguéns)
Opening: Mina was feeling sad. She was watching peacocks walk past the mango tree outside her house, when one of them let out a piercing cry. Mina knew the monsoon rains were coming. She was going to be stuck indoors all day.
Synopsis (from Amazon website):
Mina loves to play soccer all year round. Nothing comes close to it. But when the monsoon arrives, Mina is stuck indoors and she can’t help feeling restless and bored. Her ammi doesn’t understand. The doodhwalla doesn’t understand. That’s when Mina decides she’ll find ways of chasing away the clouds herself. In doing so, she makes an unexpected discovery. Soccer will never be the same again for Mina!
In a charming story that any kid who loves a sport will relate to, soccer-mad Mina tries just about any trick to stop the monsoon clouds from raining on her game. In doing so, she shows us glimpses of her life in a village in eastern India, highlighting the important role played by monsoon rains in this part of the world. The heart of the story, however, is the bond forged between a mother and her daughter on a gray, gloomy day.
Check-out this list of picture books about India. I would add to this listFestival of Colors by Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal and Monsoon Afternoon by Kashmira Sheth.
Why I Like This Book:
A delightful book for any child who has ever longed for something and wishing somebody else understood.
Mina is a soccer-loving girl from a rural village in India. Mina is feeling blue about the impending monsoon rains. Her mother appears to be unaware of Mina’s passion for soccer as she suggests having chai and samosa instead. Spunky Mina is not about to give up and tries one thing after another to chase away the rain. During this time we learn about Indian village life: tablas that beat din-din-dah, the doodhwalla with his milk cans, Indian clothing and dance, and the importance of the monsoons. Mina stumbles upon an item she hasn’t seen before which leads to a heartfelt bond between Mina and her mom.
I love the rustic and colorful art which nicely complements Mina’s energy and the specificity of the South Asian village life. The author seamlessly sprinkles in some Hindi and Urdu words giving the book a richer feel. A glossary can be found in the back.
A wonderful book for those new to South Asian culture and those already familiar.
Diwali is coming up on November 7th this year. We tell our kids Diwali is big like Christmas is here in America. I personally haven’t celebrated Diwali in India but I hear it’s quite amazing. This lovely board book is a wonderful introduction for those new to the holiday and those who already celebrate it. Enjoy!
Title: Diwali (Celebrate the World series) Author: Hannah Eliot Illustrator: Archana Sreenivasan Publisher: Little Simon, 2018 Book Type: Fiction Ages: 2-4 Theme: Diwali, Indian Holiday
Opening: Each year in October or November, we celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights! Diwali is a Hindu festival honored by many people all over the world. During the holiday, we celebrate the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.
Synopsis (from Amazon website):
Each autumn we gather with our friends and family and light our brightest lanterns. It’s time for Diwali, the festival of lights! In this lovely board book with illustrations from Archana Sreenivasan, readers learn that the five days of Diwali are a time to pray for a bountiful season, celebrate the special bonds between siblings, and rejoice in the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.
A Pinterest board containing Diwali crafts, food, decor and more!
Why I Like This Book:
A wonderful book to introduce the holiday of Diwali. It provides a good overview for non-Indians as well as Indians. The text is simple and explains the origins of the Hindu religious holiday and then goes on to explain the five-day celebration. The art is colorful and rich with details and authenticity. The Indian illustrator brings to life Diwali celebrations on the streets of India. I love that she depicts inter-generational families which is very common over there and the use of different skin tones.
While the format is a board book the depth of text and illustrations makes it more suitable for kids in elementary school rather than preschool. For example, in the opening spread, the text says Diwali is celebrated around the world with one scene from the US and other from South East Asia, however, there is no text speaking to it. Therefore, it is easy to miss. One other criticism I have is that with only two small spots from outside and Indian combined with the rest of the scenes being set in India does not adeptly convey the largeness of this holiday around the world but rather makes it seem like a holiday just in India.
It’s unfortunate to be in this small format as it would’ve been great for story time during Diwali celebrations in school. It’s still a wonderful read and one I highly recommend. Take a look at the art below!
I am excited to be featuring Hannah Holt’s debut picture book. Hannah and I met years ago through the 12×12 Picture Book group. And became closer over the years as our writing journey took twists and turns. Now on my family trips to Portland, Oregon we make a point to meet-up. Hope you enjoy the review and interview.
Synopsis for The Diamond and the Boy: The Creation of Diamonds and the Life of H. Tracy Hall (from Amazon website):
Told in a unique dual-narrative format, The Diamond and the Boy follows the stories of both natural diamond creation and the life of H. Tracy Hall, the inventor of a revolutionary diamond-making machine. Perfect for fans of Rosie Revere, Engineer, and On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein.
Before a diamond is a gem, it’s a common gray rock called graphite. Through an intense trial of heat and pressure, it changes into one of the most valuable stones in the world.
Before Tracy Hall was an inventor, he was a boy—born into poverty, bullied by peers, forced to work at an early age. However, through education and experimentation, he became one of the brightest innovators of the twentieth century, eventually building a revolutionary machine that makes diamonds.
From debut author Hannah Holt—the granddaughter of Tracy Hall—and illustrator Jay Fleck comes this fascinating in-depth portrait of both rock and man.
What I Like:
Love, love the parallel stories of the creation of the diamond and the journey Tracy Hall took to become an inventor. I love how the lyrical prose and emotional beats match at every spread. Brilliant writing!
Find The Diamond and the Boy at the following spots: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
Now onto the interview with Hannah!
1) Writing for children is not your first career. Tell us about your background and how you came to write picture books.
Sure! My degree is in civil engineering, and I used to design transportation master plans for cities. My former career was all about keeping communities connected physically. My current work is about making emotional connections.
I enjoyed engineering, but my job had a demanding schedule with many public open houses. When my children were born, I transitioned to a work-from-home editing job. Then one Christmas, we were short on cash, and I thought, “I could write stories for family members for presents.” That launched a decade long journey into children’s publishing.
2) I understand this book is based on your grandfather’s life. Did telling a personal story, present any unique challenges? Any particular joys?
Young Tracy Hall
Writing about my grandfather was mostly a joy! My uncle let me wade through his garage one afternoon and bring home boxes of Grandpa’s personal papers. I also enjoyed interviewing family members and researching my grandfather’s successes.
On the flip side, it was difficult reading about the bullying my grandfather experienced as a child. I don’t delve into specifics in The Diamond and the Boy, but there’s a reason he learned to hide in the walls of his school. Reading about these hard times helped me understand his life and development better, but it was gut wrenching at times. This sounds like a really special experience.
3) The story has two parallel narratives. I love how you lined up the beats of the two stories. How did you decide upon this structure?
My parallel version of this story came as a result of responding to failure. My first agent and I did not part ways on happy terms. She wrote a long and hurtful note when we separated, and after that I wasn’t sure if I could or should go on writing. For the next month, I didn’t write a thing. Instead, I did a lot of soul searching. In the end, I came to the following conclusions:
I liked writing and missed it.
I couldn’t control whether or not anyone else liked my writing.
I could improve my craft.
I could become smarter about how and where I submitted my work.
This story, THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY, was one of the first stories I revised after this writing break. Previously, I had tried writing the story about Tracy’s cleverness or rocks that sparkle, but those ideas no longer seemed important.
Instead, I saw the need for resilience.
Graphite needed to become resilient…Tracy had to become resilient…
And I needed to get over myself, too, if I wanted to write this story well. So I threw out all my old drafts and started from scratch. Writing a story in parallel about change and resilience seemed natural because it was the journey I was on myself.
This story went on to attract interest from multiple houses.
Lasting success takes hard work and resilience. I’m really glad I didn’t give up!
Thank you for sharing that personal story. I’m so glad you were resilient!
4) Pretend this is the year 2028, what types of books would I see your name on?
I’d like to have a middle grade novel accepted for publication. However, I’m also happy to keep writing more picture books. I love the challenge of telling complex stories in 800 words or less. Picture books are my favorite creative outlet.
5) Any books in the near future we should be on the lookout for?
My second book, A Father’s Love, comes out this year just in time for Father’s Day. It’s a lyrical non-fiction picture book that celebrates different types of animal father’s from all around the world.
*************************************************** Some rapid fire questions.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?
Napping. I’ve spent the last month prepping for a book launch. Napping sounds really good right now.
If you could interview any person living or dead, who would it be?
Edwin Chadwick. That’s just my answer today. Ask me next month, and I’ll come up with someone different.
Favorite pick me up snack/drink?
What book is on your bedside table?
Smart But Scattered
About the Author:
Hannah is a children’s author with an engineering degree. Her books, The Diamond & The Boy (2018, Balzer & Bray) and A Father’s Love (2019, Philomel) weave together her love of language and science. She lives in Oregon with her husband, four children, and a very patient cat named Zephyr. She and her family enjoy reading, hiking, and eating chocolate chip cookies.
Thank you, Hannah, for stopping by today and sharing a bit about yourself. Wishing you many future successes!
Last Friday, I shared the heart-warming Maximillian Villainous. Today I am excited to share with you my interview with my dear friend and debut author Margaret Greanias.
Who are your creative influences – in books, art, or any other media?
Oh wow, this is a tough question! I have many creative influences when it comes to books, and I’m sure I can’t name them all because sometimes influence is a subconscious thing.
During my early years, my favorite authors and stories that I read over and over again were:
Tammi Sauer’s “Mostly Monsterly” and “Nugget and Fang” for the humor and full circle structure.
Bonny Becker’s “A Visitor For Bear” for the writing, humor, and voice.
Kelly Di Pucchio’s “Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet” and “Zombie in Love” for the humor.
Pat Zietlow Miller’s “Sophie’s Squash” and “Quickest Kid in Clarksville”
Michelle Knudsen’s “Library Lion” and “Big Mean Mike” for the storytelling and read-aloud ability.
Peter Brown’s “Mr. Tiger Goes Wild” and “Children Make Terrible Pets” for turning concepts on their heads.
Tara Lazar’s “Little Red Gliding Hood” and “7 Ate 9” for clever wordplay.
More recently, I’ve really enjoyed the lyricism of Megan Wagner Lloyd’s “Finding Wild” and Katherine Applegate’s “Sometimes You Fly.”
Can you see any of these influences in MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS?
As writers, we take in our surroundings and experiences and sometimes put it into our writing. Are there any details in MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS that have come from your life?
Most of the details and actions in MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS were inspired by real life. For example, the idea of writing about villains came because my kids were loving the Despicable Me movies. The idea of wanting a pet came from my own childhood experience of pining away for a dog.
Also, smaller elements of the story — from the way Max pesters his family to get what he wants to making the leprechaun trap — all were inspired by my kids and what they were doing at and around the time I was writing the story.
Were there any specific challenges you encountered during the process of writing this story? Any particular joys?
I encountered many challenges in writing MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS — it took two years from concept to ugly drafts to completion.
One challenge was creating a fresh story. I tried addressing this by mashing up two different concepts (villains and wanting a pet).
Another challenge was giving each family member a unique voice to distinguish them from each other especially since two family members (the dad and the grandfather) don’t have any action, only dialogue.
Another challenge was letting go of an ending I loved to find the right ending that worked best for the story. I initially had Max solving his problem and then the family rejecting his solution even though he met their requirements. I got the very astute feedback that the story should wrap up quickly once Max solves his problem. I always keep this feedback in mind even with current projects so that I don’t repeat the same mistake.
My biggest joy was when I found a way for Max to solve his problem in a surprising yet inevitable way (you’ll have to read the book to find out how he does it!). It gave me the same sort of satisfaction as solving a tough puzzle.
******************************************* Some rapid fire questions.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?
Favorite pick me up snack/drink?
drink: green tea
snack: berries or stone fruit
If you could have any kind of animal as a pet, what would it be?
Of course, a bunny. 🙂
What book(s) is on your bedside table?
The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh
War Storm by Victoria Aveyard
I am so excited to tell you about this wonderful book by debut author Margaret Greanias. This is extra special since Margaret has been my critique partner and friend since 2011! I saw this book in its nascent forms and to see it today with sparkling text and colorful pictures– I’m in awe. <3 Come back next week for an interview with the author!
Excerpt: When his father stole Santa’s sleigh, Max gave Santa keys to the family car. When his grandfather robbed the Tooth Fairy, Max left her an apology and his piggy bank.
Synopsis (from Amazon website):
Maximillian Villainous is a monster who doesn’t have the heart to be a villain. His famous family pulls pranks on the likes of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, and Max spends his time undoing them. So when he brings home a bunny to be his sidekick, Max’s disapproving mother hatches a plan. She challenges Max and the bunny to become a devious duo; otherwise . . . the bunny hops. If they want to stay together, Max and the bunny have no choice but to go against their nature. They blunder into villainy with comical effect until Max discovers that embracing his good heart may just be the key to pulling off the most devious deed of all and winning his family’s acceptance.
Why I Love This Book:
Warm-hearted Max and bunny are sure to win over readers young and old in this tale about staying true to yourself. My favorite parts are seeing the ways Max has subverted his family’s devious deeds in the opening pages and then his own blunders in trying to complete the tasks from his mother’s challenge. The ending is the perfect culmination proving to all he is a Villainous, and the reader will want to cheer Max on since he got what he wanted and he did it his way! The author has also done a magnificent job providing distinct character lines for the three older family members. Read for yourself:
“Oh, evil up already!” said his father.
“Thirteen generations of first-class villainy wiped out by a bunny, said his grandfather.”
“If that bunny is still here tomorrow, I will launch him into space,” said his mother.
The childlike, colorful illustrations are endearing and joyous and compliment Max and bunny’s personality beautifully. I do like the addition of the baby sister. Could we get a sequel with the two siblings … that would be fun! 😉
The large trim size and bold colors make it perfect for group storytime or reading at home.
Dear Faithful readers, thanks so much for stopping by for another South Asian Kidlit round-up! Last one for 2018. You can use the rest of this year to catch up on your reading since there are a whole bunch of new books coming out in 2019! 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. Also stay tuned, since I will have some very exciting news of my own to share. 😉
The books listed below are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author, contains a South Asian Main Character, or involves South Asian culture. The books are organized by Category and then Publication Date.
Title: Diwali Lights Author: Rina Singh Publisher: Orca Books Publication Date: August 28th, 2018 Category-Genre: Board Book – Concept Book
Synopsis: Every year in October or November, most Indians come together to celebrate Diwali.
All the stories of Diwali celebrate the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.
Diwali is the biggest and the brightest of all Indian festivals. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, is a central figure of the festival. Diwali is a time of great joy. Happy Diwali!
Bio: Rina Singh has published several critically acclaimed books for children inspired by her Indo-Canadian heritage. Her book – A Forest of Stories has been translated in many languages. Her book – Diwali: A Festival of Lights was nominated for the Red Cedar Award. This is her third book with Orca. She lives in a blue house in Toronto. Surrounded by tall trees, birds, squirrels, a rabbit, and a fish pond in her garden, she hopes to write many more books for children.
Title: A Dog Named Haku, A Holiday Story From Nepal Authors: Amish Karanjit and Nicole Karajit, co-authored with Margarita Engle Illustrator: Ruth Jeyaveeran Publisher: Lerner Books Publication Date: September 1, 2018 Category-Genre: Picture Book
Synopsis: Two adventurous young boys search Kathmandu for a stray dog to feed during a dog-honoring festival.
Bios: Amish Karanjit is from Nepal, and currently works as a medical biotech research associate near San Francisco. A Dog Named Haku was inspired by events from his own childhood, and by his family’s survival after the 2015 earthquake.
Nicole Karanjit is a linguist and adult ELL instructor from California, currently working as a full-time mom and mixed-media artist near San Francisco.
Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of picture books such as Drum Dream Girl and All the Way to Havana. She is currently the Young People’s Poet Laureate. Nicole is her daughter, and Amish is her son-in-law. They collaborated on A Dog Named Haku to provide two-year-old Maya Karanjit with a mirror book about her father’s culture.
Title: Super Satya Saves the Day Author: Raakhee Mirchandani Illustrator: Tim Palin Publisher: Bharat Babies Publication Date: October 2nd, 2018 Category-Genre: Picture Book
Synopsis: Super Satya is ready to have a super day, including finally conquering the tallest slide in Hoboken. But her day takes a not-so-super turn when she realizes her superhero cape is stuck at the dry cleaner. Will she be able to face her fears, help her friends and be the true hero everyone knows she is? Super Satya Saves The Day introduces Satya, a precocious Indian-American superhero.
Bio: Raakhee Mirchandani is an writer, editor, Jersey Girl and pediatric cancer crusader. Her work has appeared in Elle, Glamour, Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, New York Post, Redbookand HuffPo. She’s the Editor-in-Chief of Moneyish, published by Dow Jones. “Super Satya Saves the Day” is Raakhee’s first book and is inspired by her own fiery 4-year-old daughter Satya.
Title: Shubh Raatri Dost/Good Night Friend Author & Illustrator: Nidhi Chanani Publisher: Bharat Babies Publication Date: October 2018 Category-Genre: Board Book-Bilingual, Animal Primer
Synopsis: As day turns to night, follow Bhai (brother) and Behan (sister) in their Indian farm home while they bid their animal friends a good night. Children will love this sweet sleep tale that builds their Hindi and English vocabulary. Every page includes Hindi language script, Romanized Hindi, and English language, which makes each language accessible to your whole family.
Bio: Nidhi Chanani is a freelance illustrator, cartoonist and writer. She was born in Calcutta and raised in suburban southern California. She creates because it makes her happy – with the hope that it can make others happy, too. In April of 2012, she was honored by the Obama Administration as a Champion of Change.
Title: Meet Yasmin Author: Saadia Faruqi Illustrator: Hatem Aly Publisher: Picture Window Books/Capstone Publication Date: August 1, 2018 Category-Genre: Early Chapter Books
Synopsis: Yasmin is a spirited second-grader who’s always on the lookout for those “aha” moments to help her solve life’s little problems. Taking inspiration from her surroundings and her big imagination, she boldly faces any situation, assuming her imagination doesn’t get too big, of course! A creative thinker and curious explorer, Yasmin and her multi-generational Pakistani American family will delight and inspire readers.
Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American writer, essayist and interfaith activist. She writes for a number of publications including the Huffington Post, and is editor-in-chief of Blue Minaret, a magazine for Muslim art, poetry and prose. Her adult short story collection Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan was published in 2015.
Hatem Aly is an Egyptian-born illustrator whose work has been featured in multiple publications worldwide. One of the books he illustrated is The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz, which won a Newbery Honor and other awards despite Hatem’s drawings of a farting dragon, a two-headed cat, and stinky cheese.
Title: Murder at the Grand Raj Palace Author: Vaseem Khan Publisher: Redhook, Hachette Publishing Publication Date: June 12, 2018 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Crime Fiction
Synopsis: When American billionaire Hollis Burbank is found dead in India’s most iconic hotel the authorities are keen to label it a suicide. But the man in charge of the investigation is not so sure. Inspector Ashwin Chopra is called in – with his baby elephant sidekick – and discovers a hotel full of people with a reason to want Burbank dead…
Bio: Vaseem Khan is the author of the Mumbai-set Baby Ganesh Detective Agency series. The first book The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra was a Times bestseller and an Amazon Best Debut. Born in London, Vaseem spent a decade working in India. He now works at University College London’s Department of Security and Crime Science.
Title: A Spark of White Fire Author: Sangu Mandanna Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication Date: September 11, 2018 Category-Genre: Young Adult-Space Opera
Synopsis: Inspired by the Mahabharata, A Spark of White Fire tells the story of Esmae, an orphan and servant who enters a competition and reveals herself to be the lost princess of a kingdom on the brink of a civil war. With an unbeatable, sentient warship on her side, she sets out to end the war and restore the crown to the rightful ruler.
Bio: Sangu Mandanna was four years old when an elephant chased her down a forest road and she decided to write her first story about it. Seventeen years and many, many manuscripts later, she signed her first book deal. Sangu now lives in Norwich, a city in the east of England, with her husband and kids.