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


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.


  • 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Gardener: 978-1515858850
Writer: 978-1515858874
Soccer Star: 978-1515858867
The Friend: 978-1515858881
Category-Genre: Early Chapter Books
Community Represented: Pakistani-American
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
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
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.

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.


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.

South Asian Kidlit 2019 – Fall

Did your summer fly by? Mine’s did. I can’t believe fall is almost here. Hope you like the new website digs. If you would like to keep up with the latest blog posts or news about my books you can sign-up here.

Today’s post covers Picture Books thru Young Adult that have a release date from the end of August through the end of the year. 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. The books listed below are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author or illustrator, contains a South Asian main character, or involves South Asian culture. The books are organized by Category and then Publication Date.

Title: Shubh Diwali!
Author: Chitra Soundar
Illustrator: Charlene Chua
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication Date: September 1, 2019
ISBN: 978-0807573556
Category-Genre: Picture Book – Holidays
Community Represented: Indian
Diwali has arrived! Rangoli art decorates the floor and strings of flowers hang around the doors. Now it’s time to ring the bells, light the lamps, and welcome the new year with family and friends. A sweet introduction to the Hindu festival of lights.

Title: The Many Colors Of Harpreet Singh
Author: Supriya Kelkar
Illustrator: Alea Marley
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
ISBN: 978-1454931843
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian-American
Harpreet Singh has a different color for every mood and occasion, from pink for dancing to bhangra beats to red for courage. He especially takes care with his patka—his turban—smoothing it out and making sure it always matches his outfit. But when Harpreet’s mom finds a new job in a snowy city and they have to move, all he wants is to be invisible. Will he ever feel a happy sunny yellow again?

Title: The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family
Author: Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali
Illustrator: Hatem Aly
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
ISBN: 978-0316519007
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Muslim-American
With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.

Title: You’re Strong With Me
Author: Chitra Soundar
Illustrator: Poonam Mistry
Publisher: Lantana Publishing
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
ISBN: 978-1911373759
Category-Genre: Picture Book
The rain clouds are long gone and the dry season scorches the land. Everything is new for the baby giraffe. As she bounds ahead and lags behind, her mother patiently explains the ways of the grasslands. And until she grows a little taller, older, and wiser, her mother reminds her: “You’re strong with me.

Title: Brave with Beauty: A Story of Afghanistan
Author: Schur Rose Maxine
Illustrator: Dewitt-Grush Patricia and Dewill Robin
Publisher: Yali Publishing
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
ISBN: 978-1949528978
Category-Genre: Picture Book – Non-Fiction
Community Represented: Afghanistani
This is the extraordinary story of Queen Goharshad, a 15th century monarch, who many historians now believe was the most powerful woman in world history. Ruling from the Timurid artistic and cultural center of Herat in western Afghanistan, Queen Goharshad ushered in a remarkable, rare period when poetry, music, calligraphy, painting and the sciences flourished as never before. A poet and an architect, she designed a complex of buildings that were considered to be some of the most beautiful structures ever built on earth.

Title: Muslim Girls Rise: Inspirational Champions of Our Time
Author: Saira Mir
Illustrator: Aaliya Jaleel
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
ISBN: 978-1534418882
Category-Genre: Picture Book – Non-Fiction
Community Represented: Muslim Women
Discover the true stories of nineteen unstoppable Muslim women of the twenty-first century who have risen above challenges, doubts, and sometimes outright hostility to blaze trails in a wide range of fields. Whether it was the culinary arts, fashion, sports, government, science, entertainment, education, or activism, these women never took “no” for an answer or allowed themselves to be silenced. Instead, they worked to rise above and not only achieve their dreams, but become influential leaders.

Title: I Am Perfectly Designed
Author: Karamo Brown and Jason “Rachel” Brown
Illustrator: Anoosha Syed
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
ISBN: 978-1250232212
Category-Genre: Picture Book
In this empowering ode to modern families, a boy and his father take a joyful walk through the city, discovering all the ways in which they are perfectly designed for each other.

Title: Let’s Eat!: Mealtime Around the World
Author: Lynne Marie
Illustrator: Parwinder Singh
Publisher: Beaming Books
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
ISBN: 978-1506451947
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Dig into this fun and informational book that explores foods from 13 countries around the world. Meet characters from countries including Sweden, Peru, Pakistan, Nigeria, and more as they enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be inspired to try something new and learn about other cultures. Let’s eat!


Title: Count Me In
Author: Varsha Bajaj
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
ISBN: 978-0525517245
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Contemporary
Community Represented: Indian-American
Karina Chopra would have never imagined becoming friends with the boy next door–after all, they’ve avoided each other for years. Then Karina’s grandfather starts tutoring Chris, and she discovers he’s actually a nice, funny kid. But one afternoon something unimaginable happens–the three of them are assaulted by a stranger who targets Indian-American Karina and her grandfather because of how they look. Her grandfather is gravely injured and Karina and Chris vow not to let hate win. When Karina posts a few photos related to the attack on social media, they quickly attract attention, and before long her #CountMeIn post–“What does an American look like? –goes viral. Then, when Papa is finally on the road to recovery, Karina uses her newfound social media reach to help celebrate both his homecoming and a community coming together.

Title: The Battle
Author: Karuna Riazi
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
ISBN: 978-1534428720
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy
Four years after the events of The Gauntlet, the evil game Architect is back with a new partner-in-crime—The MasterMind—and the pair aim to get revenge on the Mirza clan. When twelve-year-old, Ahmad Mirza and Winnie begin playing a high-tech game, The Battle of Blood and Iron, time freezes over New York City. With time standing still and people frozen, all of humankind is at stake as Ahmad and Winnie face-off with the MasterMind and the Architect, hoping to beat them at their own game before the evil plotters expand Paheli and take over the entire world.

Title: Jumbie God’s Revenge (The Jumbies)
Author: Tracey Baptiste
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
ISBN: 978-1616208912
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy
When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, Corinne knows it’s not a typical storm. Corinne believes Mama D’Leau—the powerful and cruel jumbie who rules the ocean—has caused the hurricane. But when a second more ferocious storm wrecks the island, Corinne discovers the storms weren’t caused by a jumbie, but by the angry god Huracan. Now Corinne, with the help of her friends and even some of her enemies, must race against time to find out what has angered Huracan and try to fix it before her island home is destroyed forever.

Title: More to the Story
Author: Hena Khan
Publisher: Salam Reads
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
ISBN: 978-1481492096
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Contemporary
Community Represented: Pakistani-American
When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she’s one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela’s assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn’t share much, and wonders how she’ll make his story gripping enough to enter into a national media contest. Jameela, along with her three sisters, is devastated when their father needs to take a job overseas, away from their cozy Georgia home for six months. Missing him makes Jameela determined to write an epic article—one to make her dad extra proud. But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela’s world turns upside down. And as her hunger for fame looks like it might cost her a blossoming friendship, Jameela questions what matters most, and whether she’s cut out to be a journalist at all…

Title: Pavi Sharma’s Guide to Going Home
Author: Bridget Farr
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
ISBN: 978-0316491068
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Contemporary
Twelve-year-old Pavi Sharma is an expert at the Front Door Face: the perfect mix of puppy dog eyes and a lemonade smile, the exact combination to put foster parents at ease as they open their front door to welcome you in. After being bounced around between foster families and shelter stays, Pavi is a foster care expert, and she runs a “business” teaching other foster kids all she has learned. With a wonderful foster family in mom Marjorie and brother Hamilton, things are looking up for Pavi. Then Pavi meets Meridee: a new five-year-old foster kid, who is getting placed at Pavi’s first horrendous foster home. Pavi knows no one will trust a kid about what happened on Lovely Lane, even one as mature as she is, so it’s up to her to save Meridee. With help from Hamilton, brooding eighth grader Santos, and Hamilton’s somewhat obnoxious BFF Piper, they set off on an important mission with life-changing stakes. Pavi will stop at nothing to keep Meridee safe.

Title: The Best at It
Author: Maulik Pancholy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
ISBN: 978-0062866417
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Contemporary
Community Represented: Indian-American
Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather, Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you’re really good at and become the BEST at it. Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul’s brain. While he’s not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies like Brent Mason will stop torturing him at school. And he won’t be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin Emery. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge…. But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything?

Title: Just Feel: How to Be Stronger, Happier, Healthier, and More
Author: Mallika Chopra
Illustrator: Brenna Vaughan
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Publication Date: Oct 22, 2019
ISBN: 978-0762494743
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Self-Help Guide
An engaging and easy-to-read guide that introduces kids to the building blocks of resilience and grit. The U.S. and other nations are quickly becoming aware of the importance of children’s ability to be independent and meet challenges head on; parents are eager for resources that help kids learn how to navigate life on their own. Just Feel is one of the very few books on social and emotional health that speaks directly to kids. Designed specifically with kids ages 8-12 in mind, the book clearly addresses important topics such as flexibility, responsibility, communication, creativity, and self-knowledge. Written by the respected writer and wellness expert Mallika Chopra, Just Feel will effectively teach kids how they can balance their emotions and make positive choices for themselves.

Title: Hamlet
Author: William Shakespeare
Adapted By: Malini Roy
Illustrator: Naresh Kumar
Publisher: Campfire
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
ISBN: 978-9381182512
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Graphic Novel
Once upon a time on a dark winter night, a ghost appears on the ramparts of Castle Elsinore in Denmark. It closely resembles the recently deceased king of Denmark. The guards see it first, and then the scholar Horatio confronts it. But it doesn’t speak to them. Impatient to know what the ghost’s appearance means, they summon Hamlet, the prince of Denmark. Hamlet has returned to Denmark to attend his father’s funeral. Yet, he finds himself also attending his mother Gertrude’s wedding to his uncle Claudius, who has inherited the throne. What will the ghost tell Hamlet?
One of the most intense and intriguing tragedies of all time is built upon the answer to this question. William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is not just a story of a mad prince out to avenge his father’s death. It is also the story of the struggle of a nation against Fate. It is the story of human willpower battling the odds. It is not only the story of a man at war with the world around him, but also the story of a man in conflict with his own mind. It is the story of a time when something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Title: A Match Made in Mehendi
Author: Nandini Bajpai
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
ISBN: 978-0316522588
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Community Represented: Indian-American
Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole — matchmakers — with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.” But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course. But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.

Title: House of Rage and Sorrow (Book 2 in the Celestial Trilogy)
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
ISBN: 978-1510733794
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Space Opera
Esmae once wanted nothing more than to help her golden brother win the crown of Kali but that dream died with her best friend. Alexi broke her heart, and she vowed to destroy him for it. And with her sentient warship Titania beside her, how can she possibly fail? As gods, beasts, and kingdoms choose sides, Alexi seeks out a weapon more devastating than even Titania. Past lives threaten the present. Old enemies claim their due. And Esmae cannot outrun the ghosts and the questions that haunt her. What really happened to her father? What was the third boon her mother asked of Amba? For in the shadows, lurking in wait, are secrets that will swallow her whole. The House of Rey is at war. And the entire galaxy will bleed before the end.


Title: The Taj Mahal: An Incredible Love Story
Author:  Rik Hoskin
Illustrator: Aadil Khan
Publisher: Campfire
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
ISBN: 978-9381182598
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Graphic Novel
Community Represented: Indian
This is the story behind the Taj Mahal – of the incredible love story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, how they met and fell in love, and how Shah Jahan was to lose her as she died while giving birth. This is also the story of how the Taj Mahal was built, and how the great Mughal emperor spent his last days imprisoned in his fort, pining for his beloved Mumtaz, as he gazed over the river for a view of the magnificent edifice, a monumental reminder of his love and loss.

Title: The Light at the Bottom of the World
Author: London Shah
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
ISBN:  978-1368036887
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
In the last days of the twenty-first century, sea creatures swim through the ruins of London. Trapped in the abyss, humankind wavers between fear and hope–fear of what lurks in the depths around them, and hope that they might one day find a way back to the surface. When sixteen-year-old submersible racer Leyla McQueen is chosen to participate in the prestigious annual marathon, she sees an opportunity to save her father, who has been arrested on false charges. The Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. But the race takes an unexpected turn, forcing Leyla to make an impossible choice. Now she must brave unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a guarded, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If Leyla fails to discover the truths at the heart of her world, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture–or worse. And her father will be lost to her forever.

Title: Color outside the Lines: Stories about Love
Editor: Sangu Mandanna
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publication Date: November 12, 2019
ISBN: 978-1641290463
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Anthology
When people ask me what this anthology is about, I’m often tempted to give them the complicated answer: it’s about race, and about how being different from the person you love can matter but how it can also not matter, and it’s about Chinese pirate ghosts, black girl vigilantes, colonial India, a flower festival, a garden of poisons, and so, so much else. Honestly, though? I think the answer’s much simpler than that. Color outside the Lines is a collection of stories about young, fierce, brilliantly hopeful people in love.—Sangu Mandanna, editor of Color Outside the Lines

Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala

Welcome to the new site! Today I’ve got a charming tale about the sharing of culture between a grandparent and grandchild. I wish this book had been around when I was a child growing up in rural Pennsylvania. While I didn’t hide my culture, I wasn’t always forthcoming in school either. A detail that warms my heart is that I am Gujarati, same as the family in this book, and my Ba lived with us for a while when I was a kid too. I am so grateful for the diversification of children’s books in the United States.

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Title: Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala
Author/Illustrator: Meenal Patel
Publisher: Beaver’s Pond Press, 2019
Book Type: Multicultural, Family
Ages: 4-8

Babi Ba tells her India is the smell of roasted cumin and the masala at the spice market that tickles your nose.

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Priya lives in the United States and her family is from India. She feels the magic of the place her family comes from through her Babi Ba’s colorful descriptions of India–from the warm smell of spices to the swish-swish sound of a rustling sari. Together, Priya and Babi Ba make their heritage live on through the traditions that they infuse into their everyday lives.

Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala is a celebration of the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren, the threads that connect each of us to our heritage, and the power of sharing our traditions with others.


Why I Like This Book:

A beautiful, poignant story for any child that straddles two cultures or knows of a child that does.

Priya lives in a multi-generational home in the United States. She enjoys making rotli with her Ba everyday after school. During this special bonding time of grandmother and granddaughter, Ba tells Priya stories of India. From the “roasted cumin and the masala … that tickles your nose” to the “taste of a steaming cup of cha” and “marigolds strung up on the storefronts and the doorways of homes.” After hearing these wonderful memories, Priya asks her Ba if she misses India. This is the where the beauty shines through of the story and helps to differentiate itself from the many other immigrant Indian stories; her Ba explains that India is here in their home, from the marigolds in their garden to the smell of roasted cumin coming from the kitchen. It is the carrying of culture within you. When winter comes and there is snow on the garden instead of marigolds, Priya worries Ba will miss India more. So she shares her Indian stories with her classmates and recruits them to help her with a project to cheer-up Ba. The story ends on a lovely note about how sharing your culture is the best way to carry it with you.

There is so much to treasure in this book from the concern Priya shows for her Ba, to the theme of carrying culture in your heart, to the Gujarati vocabulary, and the easy-to-read text. Notice how Ms. Patel seamlessly shifts from the warm oranges-pinks for the India scenes to the cool blue-greens for the American ones. Beautifully done.

Some other special extras in this book are the colorful endpapers, a poem at the beginning and the end of the book each representing a different home, and backmatter containing additional information on the cultural significance of marigolds, glossary with art, and an author’s note.

Find Priya Dreams of Marigold & Masala at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1643439553
ISBN-13: 978-1643439556

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

South Asian Kidlit 2019 – Summer

Thanks so much for stopping by for another South Asian Kidlit round-up! So many books! Today’s post covers Picture Books thru Young Adult that have a release date between the end of April through early August. 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.

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: I Will Be Fierce
Author: Bea Song
Illustrator: Nidhi Chanani
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: April 23, 2019
ISBN: 978-1250295088
Category-Genre: Picture Book
I Will Be Fierce is a powerful picture book about courage, confidence, kindness, and finding the extraordinary in everyday moments.

Today, I will be fierce!
It’s a brand new day, and a young girl decides to take on the world like a brave explorer heading off on an epic fairytale quest. From home to school and back again, our hero conquers the Mountain of Knowledge (the library), forges new bridges (friendships), and leads the victorious charge home on her steed (the school bus).

Title: Gandhi (Little People, Big Dreams)
Author: Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Illustrator: Albert Arrayas
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
ISBN: 978-1786037879
Category-Genre: Picture Book – Non-Fiction Biography
New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the life of Mohandas Gandhi, the father of India, in this true story of his life. As a young teenager in India, Gandhi led a rebellious life and went against his parents’ values. But as a young man, he started to form beliefs of his own that harked back to the Hindu principles of his childhood. Gandhi began to dream of unity for all peoples and religions. Inspired by this idea, he led peaceful protests to free India from British rule and unite the country—ending violence and unfair treatment. His bravery and free-thinking made him one of the most iconic people of peace in the world, known as ‘Mahatma’ meaning ‘great soul’.

Title: Bilal Cooks Dal
Author: Aisha Saeed
Illustrator: Anoosha Syed
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
ISBN: 978-1534418103
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Six-year-old Bilal is excited to help his dad make his favorite food of all-time: daal! The slow-cooked lentil dish from South Asia requires lots of ingredients and a whole lot of waiting. Bilal wants to introduce his friends to daal. They’ve never tried it! As the day goes on, the daal continues to simmer, and more kids join Bilal and his family, waiting to try the tasty dish. And as time passes, Bilal begins to wonder: Will his friends like it as much as he does?

Title: Leila in Saffron
Author: Rukhsanna Guidroz
Illustrator:  Dinara Mirtalipova
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
ISBN: 978-1534425644
Category-Genre: Picture Book
A colorful journey of self-discovery and identity, this sweet, vibrant picture book follows young Leila as she visits her grandmother’s house for their weekly family dinner, and finds parts of herself and her heritage in the family, friends, and art around her.

Sometimes I’m not sure if I like being me.

When Leila looks in the mirror, she doesn’t know if she likes what she sees. But when her grandmother tells her the saffron beads on her scarf suit her, she feels a tiny bit better. So, Leila spends the rest of their family dinner night on the lookout for other parts of her she does like.

Follow Leila’s journey as she uses her senses of sight, smell, taste, touch to seek out the characteristics that make up her unique identity, and finds reasons to feel proud of herself, just as she is.

Title: A Girl Called Genghis Khan: How Maria Toorpakai Wazir Pretended to Be a Boy, Defied the Taliban, and Became a World Famous Squash Player
Author: Michelle Lord
Illustrator: Shehzil Malik
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
ISBN: 978-1454931362
Category-Genre: Picture Book
This compelling, timely, and empowering picture book introduces children to Maria Toorpakai Wazir, a Pakistani girl who braved threats from the Taliban in order to play the sport she loved.

Meet Maria Toorpakai Wazir, a Pakistani girl who loved sports and longed for the freedom that boys in her culture enjoyed. She joined a squash club to pursue her dream, and was taunted, teased, and beaten—but still continued playing. Then, when Maria received an award from the President of Pakistan for outstanding achievement, the Taliban threatened her squash club, her family, and her life. Although forced to quit the team, she refused to give up. Maria kept practicing the game in her bedroom every day for three years! Her hard work and perseverance in the face of overwhelming obstacles will inspire all children.

Title: The Seekers
Author/Illustrator: Hari & Deepti
Publisher: Knopf Books
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
ISBN: 978-1524701529
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Mio and Nao live in the valley of Krum, above a great river that provides everything they need to survive. As children, their grandfather told tales of the Silver Fox and Fire Wolf, tales everyone else believed were only legends–everyone, that is, but Mio.

When the life-giving river that flows through their village is mysteriously threatened, Mio and Nao set out beyond their valley to find out what has gone wrong. The farther they get from home, they find lifeless trees and skies filled with smoke. The other villagers grow weary of their mission until they are confronted with their childhood legends come to vivid life and have to risk everything to save their home.

Depicted through intricate cut-paper art, this memorable tale will remind readers of the importance of home while still striving to discover the world around you.

Title: Aladdin: Far from Agrabah
Author: Aisha Saeed
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
ISBN: 978-1368031707
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Fairytale
This stunning original novel will tell an all-new story set in the world of the new film, featuring Aladdin and Jasmine. A magic carpet ride full of adventure, suspense, and wonder written by New York Times Bestselling author Aisha Saeed, this story will be a must-read for any Aladdin fans who find themselves drawn into and enchanted by the magical world of Agrabah and beyond.

Title: Aru Shah and the Song of Death
Author: Roshani Choksi
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
ISBN: 978-1368013840
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Fantasy
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents best-selling author Roshani Chokshi and her sequel to Aru Shah and the End of Time. Aru is only just getting the hang of this whole Pandava thing when the Otherworld goes into full panic mode. The god of love’s bow and arrow have gone missing, and the thief isn’t playing Cupid. Instead, they’re turning people into heartless fighting-machine zombies. If that weren’t bad enough, somehow Aru gets framed as the thief. If she doesn’t find the arrow by the next full moon, she’ll be kicked out of the Otherworld. For good. But, for better or worse, she won’t be going it alone. Along with her soul-sister, Mini, Aru will team up with Brynne, an ultra-strong girl who knows more than she lets on, and Aiden, the boy who lives across the street and is also hiding plenty of secrets. Together they’ll battle demons, travel through a glittering and dangerous serpent realm, and discover that their enemy isn’t at all who they expected.

Title: Laila and the Sands of Time
Author: Shirin Shamsi
Publisher: Clear Fork Publishing
Publication Date: May 17, 2019
ISBN: 978-1946101778
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Fantasy
Thirteen-year-old Laila, still grieving over her father’s death, goes on their planned pilgrimage with her aunt and uncle. When she is transported back in time to 7th century Arabia, she faces the dangers of the desert, takes on a disguise, and saves a baby’s life. But will she ever return to her own time?

Title: Midsummer’s Mayhem
Author: Rajani LaRocca
Publisher:  Little Bee Books/Yellow Jacket
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
ISBN: 978-1499808889
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Fantasy
MIDSUMMER’S MAYHEM is an Indian-American middle grade mashup of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and competitive baking shows in which 11-year-old Mimi dreams of winning a celebrity chef judged baking contest, meets a mysterious boy in the woods, and stirs up all kinds of trouble with her baking.

Title: Love from A to Z
Author: S.K. Ali
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
ISBN: 978-1534442726
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Suspended from school for standing up to an Islamophobic teacher, Zayneb is headed to Doha to stay with family, resigned to be “nicer” and let the injustices of the world slide off her shoulders from hereon.

Adam is headed to Doha too, struggling with a recent diagnosis, and resigned to keep his illness from friends and family.

Alone, both are playing roles for others. Together, will they learn to live their truths?

Title: Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens
Author:  Tanya Boteju
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
ISBN: 978-1534430655
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary LGBTQ+
Perpetually awkward Nima Kumara-Clark is bored with her insular community of Bridgeton, in love with her straight girlfriend, and trying to move past her mother’s unexpected departure. After a bewildering encounter at a local festival, Nima finds herself suddenly immersed in the drag scene on the other side of town.

Macho drag kings, magical queens, new love interests, and surprising allies propel Nima both painfully and hilariously closer to a self she never knew she could be—one that can confidently express and accept love. But she’ll have to learn to accept lost love to get there.

Title: There’s Something About Sweetie
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
ISBN: 978-1534416789
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
The irresistible companion novel to the New York Times bestseller When Dimple Met Rishi, which follows Rishi’s brother, Ashish, and a confident, self-proclaimed fat athlete named Sweetie as they both discover what love means to them.

Title: Symptoms of a Heartbreak
Author: Sona Charaipotra
Publisher: Imprint
Publication Date: July 2, 2019
ISBN: 978-1250199102
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Most 16-year-olds cause at least some damage on their path to adulthood. But Saira Sehgal has vowed to first do no harm. A girl genius, she’s the youngest MD in America—and she hasn’t picked an easy specialty: She’s working on the cancer ward. Saira’s always been good at getting what she wants, but she’s new to adult challenges—like getting out from under the thumb of her doting mother, who works at the same hospital; like proving herself to coworkers who don’t take her seriously; and crushing on a cute boy who happens to have stage-two leukemia. Turns out “heartbreak” is one ailment Saira still doesn’t know how to treat.


Title: Babymoon
Author: Hayley Barrett (check out the interview at Children’s Book Podcast)
Illustrator: Juana Martinez-Neal
Publisher: Candlewick, 2019
Book Type: Love, New Baby
Ages: 3-6

Opening Lines:
The house is hushed. The lights are low.
We’re basking in a newborn glow.
The note we post says

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.

Find Babymoon at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0763688523
ISBN-13: 978-0763688523

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

BABYMOON. Text copyright © 2019 by Hayley Barrett. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Juana Martinez-Neal. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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