Excerpt: What does it mean to be kind anyway? Maybe it’s giving. Making cookies for Mr. Rinaldi, who lives alone. Letting someone with smaller feet have my too-tight shoes. (He might win races in them, too.)
Synopsis (from Amazon website):
When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate contemplates how to make her feel better and what it means to be kind. From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving and thoughtful story explores what a child can do to be kind, and how each act, big or small, can make a difference―or at least help a friend.
Have kids do a Random Act of Kindness. Here is a link to my pastblog post to get some ideas.
There are tons of other resources on the Internet. I recommend searching Pinterest. Here is a link to get you started.
Why I Like This Book:
What’s not to love. The succinct text, the musings of a young child, cheery illustrations, with a message of empathy and compassion. A charming book which shows that kindness can be done in the simplest ways with the potential to grow. The book can be used as a springboard for discussions at home and school about kindness and can be extended with a kindness activity.
Also, check out this adorable trailer where kids answer questions about kindness.
I am so excited to bring you this year’s crop of South Asian Kidlit books. There are so many books coming out this year that I will be breaking it down into three posts over the course of this year. And for the first time ever we have over 10+ picture books coming out in 2018!!! The publishing gods have been listening.
Today I bring you 11 titles (3 PB, 3 MG, 5 YA) that are being released from January thru March 2018. These books 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. Come back in April for Part 2.
For an abbreviated pdf version of this list clickhere. Feel free to share with librarians, booksellers, teachers, and book lovers everywhere.
Title: Festival of Colors Author: Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal Illustrator: Vashti Harrison Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books Publication Date: January 30, 2018 Category-Genre: Picture Book Synopsis: Spring is here, and it’s almost time for Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors. Siblings Mintoo and Chintoo are busy gathering flowers to make into colorful powders to toss during the festival. And when at last the big day comes, they gather with their friends, family, and neighbors for a vibrant celebration of fresh starts, friendship, forgiveness, and, of course, fun!
Surishtha Sehgal was a university professor for many years and now enjoys reading to children during story time. She is the founder of a nonprofit organization that promotes social responsibility among students, and she serves on the boards of two universities and a national arts center. She lives in Atlanta.
Kabir Sehgal started his class newspaper in second grade and has been writing ever since. A bestselling author of several books, he is also a jazz bassist and Grammy Award–winning producer. He lives in New York City.
Vashti Harrison is an artist and filmmaker from Onley, Virginia. She earned her MFA in Film/Video from CalArts and BA from the University of Virginia. Festival of Colors by Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal is her first picture book.
Title: Holi Colors Author: Rina Singh Publisher: Orca Books Publication Date: February 13th, 2018 Category-Genre: Board Book – Concept Book
Synopsis: People in India welcome the arrival of spring by tossing colored powders known as gulal on friends, family and strangers.
Holi, the spectacular Festival of Colors celebrates the legendary love of Lord Krishna for his beloved, Radha. Amid the clouds of reds, blues, yellows and every color imaginable, the festival of colors and love has everyone singing and dancing in the streets. Happy Holi!
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 into 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, and a fish pond in her garden, she hopes to write many more books for children.
Title: Tales of India – Folktales from Bengal, Punjab & Tamil Nadu Illustrations: Viplov Singh & Svabhu Kohli Publisher: Chronicle Books Publication Date: February 27, 2018 Category-Genre: Folktales
Synopsis: This collection of 16 traditional tales transports readers to the beguiling world of Indian folklore. Transcribed by Indian and English folklorists in the nineteenth century, these stories brim with wit and magic. Fans of fairy tales will encounter familiar favorites—epic quests and talking animals—alongside delightful surprises—an irreverent sense of humor and an array of bold, inspiring heroines. Each tale in this book comes alive alongside exquisite artwork by a pair of contemporary Indian artists.
Bio: Viplov Singh and Svabhu Kohli are an independent artist duo who frequently collaborate to create stories in animation, film and illustration. Inspired by the earth’s ecology and myths, they create impressions intertwined with hints of fantasy. Located in the forests of Southern India they spend their days reading, exploring terrains and growing a forest in their front yard.
Title: The Serpent’s Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond – Book 1) Author: Sayantani DasGupta Publisher: Scholastic Publication Date: February 27, 2018 Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Fantasy Adventure
Synopsis: On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey . . . until her parents mysteriously vanish and a drooling rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories-like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess and how she comes from a secret place not of this world.
To complicate matters, two crush-worthy princes ring her doorbell, insisting they’ve come to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and battle demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld and the Rakkhoshi Queen in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it . . .
Bio: Sayantani DasGupta grew up hearing stories about brave princesses, bloodthirsty rakkhosh and flying pakkhiraj horses. She is a pediatrician by training, but now teaches at Columbia University. When she’s not writing or reading, Sayantani spends time watching cooking shows with her trilingual children and protecting her black Labrador Retriever Khushi from the many things that scare him, including plastic bags. She is a team member of We Need Diverse books.
Title: The Night Diary Author: Veera Hiranandani Publisher: Dial Books Publication Date: March 6, 2018 Category- Genre: Middle-Grade – Historical Fiction
Synopsis: It’s 1947, and India, newly freed from British rule, has been divided into two countries, Pakistan and India. When her father decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family embark on a harrowing journey. Told through Nisha’s letters to her deceased mother, The Night Diary, is an intimate tale of India’s partition, and one girl’s search for home, for her own identity, and for a hopeful future.
Bio: Veera Hiranandani is the author of the upcoming The Night Diary, The Whole Story of Half a Girl, which was named a Sydney Taylor Notable Book and a South Asian Book Award Finalist, and the chapter book series, Phoebe G. Green. She teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute.
Title: Aru Shah and the End of Time Author: Roshani Chokshi Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents / Disney Publishing Worldwide Publication Date: March 27, 2018 Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy
Synopsis: The first in an accessible, funny, and fast-paced fantasy adventure series based on Hindu mythology, about a twelve-year-old girl who sets a cosmic showdown in motion when she lights an ancient lamp on a dare. Best-selling author Rick Riordan introduces this adventure by Roshani Chokshi about twelve-year-old Aru Shah, who has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school.
Bio: Roshani Chokshi (www.roshanichokshi.com) is the author of the instant New York Times bestselling novel, The Star-Touched Queen, and its companion, A Crown of Wishes. Aru Shah and the End of Time, her middle-grade debut, was inspired by the stories her grandmother told her as well as Roshani’s all-consuming love for Sailor Moon.
Title: Escape From Aleppo Author: N.H. Senzai Publisher: Simon & Schuster Publication Date: January 2, 2018 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Realistic Fiction
Synopsis: Nadia’s family is forced to flee their home in Aleppo, Syria, when the Arab Spring sparks a civil war in this timely coming-of-age novel.
Bio: N.H. Senzai is the author of Shooting Kabul, which was critically acclaimed and on numerous award lists. Publishers Weekly called it “hard hitting, emotionally wrenching.” Her second book, Saving Kabul Corner, was nominated for an Edgar Award. She is also the author of Ticket to India and Escape from Aleppo. Ms. Senzai lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.
Title: Love, Hate, & Other Filters Author: Samira Ahmed Publisher: Soho Teen Publication Date: January 18, 2018 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Synopsis: American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter and then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school. There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.
Bio: Samira Ahmed was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in Batavia, Illinois, in a house that smelled like fried onions, spices, and potpourri. A graduate of the University of Chicago, she taught high school English for seven years, worked to create over 70 small high schools in New York City, and fought to secure billions of additional dollars to fairly fund public schools throughout New York State. She currently resides in the Midwest. She’s lived in Vermont, New York City, and Kauai, where she spent a year searching for the perfect mango.
Title: Dark Goddess Author: Amalie Howard Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication Date: February 13, 2018 Category-Genre: Yong Adult – Fantasy
Synopsis: After a fierce struggle that unseated the Azura Lord of Death and elevated Serjana Caelum’s best friend, Kyle, to his role, the realms of existence appear peaceful, and the balance between good and evil—which Sera is sworn to protect—has been restored. But a new threat to humankind has already begun: a scourge of demons has been invading the Mortal Realm, and Kira, the living incarnation of Kali, the goddess of destruction, plans to protect the heavens at all cost, even if it means destroying all of humanity to do so. But when an even more sinister threat arises—putting not just the human world but all planes of existence in jeopardy—they must all learn to work together or lose everything they sacrificed so much to save.
Bio: Amalie Howard is the award-winning author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, School Library Journal, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Kid’s INDIE NEXT selection. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 bestseller in gothic fiction, and the sequel, Bloodcraft, was a national IPPY silver medalist and Children’s Moonbeam Award winner. She is also the co-author of the #1 bestseller in Regency Romance, My Rogue, My Ruin, in the Lords of Essex historical romance series.
Title: A Girl Like That Author: Tanaz Bhathena Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux BYR Publication Date: February 27, 2018 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk-taker. She’s also a troublemaker whose romantic entanglements are the subject of endless gossip among her classmates. You don’t want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.
Bio: Tanaz Bhathena was born in Mumbai and raised in Riyadh, Jeddah and Toronto. Her short stories have appeared in various journals, including Blackbird, Witness, and Room Magazine. A Girl Like That is her first novel.
Title: Ramayana: An Illustrated Retelling Author: Arshia Sattar Illustrator: Sonali Zohra Publisher: Restless Books Publication Date: March 20, 2018 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Classics / Hindu Epics
Synopsis: Ramayana—an unforgettable tale of love, adventure, flying monkeys and god acting in the world of humans—has been treasured by readers around the world for thousands of years. Now in an authoritative, gripping retelling by the renowned Ramayana scholar Arshia Sattar, readers have a new chance to explore this classic’s riches.
Arshia Sattar has a PhD in classical Indian literature from the University of Chicago. Her translations from Sanskrit, The Ramayana of Valmiki and Tales from the Kathasaritsagara, have been published as Penguin Classics. She has also written books for children, including The Adventures of Hanuman.
Sonali Zohra studied fine art and photography and applies the principles of both to her work. From murals to illustration on ceramic, communication design, photography and illustration for books, whatever the medium, she tries to strike a balance between color, form and light.
Once again I am participating in Julie Hedlund’s anti-resolution revolution. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t accomplish, I review my successes and use that as a building base for my 2018 goals. You can see my 2017 goal setting here. I did accomplish some of my goals but I was a bit squirrely and had my hand in a few too many different project types. More on that later.
List of 2017 Successes:
Persevere in the difficult picture book revision. Review course material, favorite books, do paid critiques and above all keep trying. Start to explore early chapter books to see if that’s an option. (Check sort of – didn’t review old PB course material as I had hoped. Truthfully, didn’t have a solid plan hence didn’t make the time. I did start Chapter Book Blueprint and take a PB class through the Writing Barn.)
Take a novel craft class. Have the big elements figured out – story arc, main and secondary characters, motivations, stakes, etc.(Check sort of – I did complete the Story Genius class which was fabulous and did learn more about my characters and story arc. However, I also realized how much more there is still to do. What I accomplished in those three months was just the tip of the iceberg. Reality is doing this novel will likely take years, and right now isn’t the time for it.)
Continue research efforts for the novel. (Nope – after realizing how much time I would need to spend, I felt it was best to back-burner this one for now.)
Attend agency retreat and one conference. (Attended our agency retreat which was so wonderful and unlike anything I have ever been to.)
Write 6 new sh***y first drafts. (Check!!! – I actually ended up writing 7 new drafts. Accountability via the Writing Barn class was definitely the reason I wrote three new stories in 6 weeks.)
Revise 2-3 stories to a polished state. (Miss – Only got 1 additional PB to a polished state.)
Read/listen 20 novels. (Check!) Check out my post where I break down the numbers and list some favorite titles (Adult thru PB)
Blog once a month. (I wrote 14 blog posts but there were a couple of months where I didn’t post anything.)
Participated on a panel at our local chapter SCBWI meeting (More of a surprise than a goal, but something I really enjoyed participating in.)
My word for 2017 was PERSEVERE and to stay focused on growing as a writer. This I did do which was evidenced by focusing more on taking writing classes, working on R&R’s from editors, and creating 7 drafts. While I did persevere, I don’t think I was as focused as I could have been. Some things like starting a CB class or revising my NF PB weren’t even on the radar at the start of the year. As a result, my energy was spread at across a YA novel, a CB, my fiction PBs (my bread & butter), and a non-fiction PB. The result is I was spread too thin. So my word for 2018 is FOCUS – to stay focused on my fiction PBs and completing the first draft of my chapter book.
Goals for 2018
Keep exploring and trying new ideas, and don’t be afraid of failing. Trying to explore multiple ideas/paths early on in the project. Be free to be silly and crazy. (I have a strong editorial mind and hence am trying to work on getting the creative/exploratory side stronger and to “play” more.)
Write 8 new sh***y first drafts.
Revise 2 stories to a polished state.
Finish my Chapter Book Blueprint class.
Finish the first draft of the chapter book.
Read 350 books, which includes 23 novels.
Blog once a month. One book talk video a month. (I really want to talk about more books so hoping a 1-2 minute video will be quicker. If these tasks take up too much time will likely cut back.)
Attend 1 or 2 conferences (Already signed up for the SCBWI Winter conference)
Spend 15 mins a day on writing.
Wishing you the very best. What are some of your goals for 2018?
Opening Lines: Hi! My name is Earth. Some people call me Gaia, the World, the blue marble, or the third planet from the sun. You can call me Planet Awesome.
Synopsis (from Amazon website):
Prepare to learn all about Earth from the point-of-view of Earth herself! In this funny yet informative book, filled to the brim with kid-friendly facts, readers will discover key moments in Earth’s life, from her childhood more than four billion years ago all the way up to present day. Beloved children’s book author Stacy McAnulty helps Earth tell her story, and award-winning illustrator David Litchfield brings the words to life. The book includes back matter with even more interesting tidbits.
Why I Like This Book:
A brilliant approach to a topic that has been written about many, many times. The author cleverly portrays Earth with a child-like persona which is warm and inviting and most importantly relatable for young readers.
The reader learns about Earth’s siblings (other planets in the solar system), friends (Moon), favorite activities (spinning and circling the Sun).
Not to worry there is also something for the adult reader too. Check out this funny pun which is a nod to parenting.
“I don’t remember what it was like to be a baby. Who does? But I’ve been told I was a hot mess. Explosive. Gassy! Very cranky.”
There is a wonderful timeline with major events (presence of air, insects, dinosaurs, flowers, homo sapiens) shown against a ruler to help the reader get a grasp of the massive time scale.
The book does touch on the rough times Earth has had with asteroids, volcanoes, and ice ages. While it can seem scary, the author does a good job of reassuring the young reader that Earth is still the same on the inside and continues on. The book ends on a note of environmentalism.
The art is cute and inviting with bold colors. It is rendered through a combination of pencils, ink, watercolor paints, and digital art tools.
There is additional backmatter regarding the continents, the location of Earth in space, and the five major extinctions and a bibliography.
A great book for a preschool, lower elementary, or home library.
Synopsis (from Amazon website):
Children can experience many emotions when a parent is in jail or prison. They may be angry, sad, lonely, or scared. Sometimes friends act differently toward them. Sometimes the children begin acting differently too. In this important book, young readers will learn that even when it feels like nothing can get better again, there are ways they can improve their circumstances. Sending letters, talking to a trusted grown-up about their feelings, and even visiting a parent in jail or prison can help keep a parent close in their hearts. Use this title as a helpful tool to start a conversation with any child in this situation and to remind them they are not alone.
Why I Like This Book:
A good book is one that moves you. One where you come out knowing more, having a greater understanding and more empathy than from before. This is one of those books.
This book covers a topic that isn’t widely discussed but is deeply important to those affected – the feelings and experiences of children of incarcerated parents. According to the backmatter there are more than 2.7 million children in the United States that have a parent in prison. This book is a mirror for them to know that they are not alone.
After reading this book, I became aware of the confusing feelings a child with an incarcerated parent might have. On one hand the child loves the parent that has cared for them, but on the other hand, the child hears messages that bad people go to jail. This book thoughtfully comes from the viewpoint that the issue isn’t about whether the parent is good or bad, but rather that the parent broke the law.
The book started off a bit too direct for my taste, but as I read I got pulled and moved to the point of tears by the end. As I read the different vignettes, my heart hurt a little more for the things these children could not take for granted that so many us can. The vignettes start by exploring the confusion, loneliness of having a parent in prison, to how that could affect the child outside the home, to showing a child how they can get help.
I love that the author used different ethnicities and genders for the children and incarcerated parents giving it a broader audience but more importantly not stereotyping any particular ethnicity.
This book is a great tool to use as a conversation starter. The backmatter is helpful for the adult caregivers and educators by providing additional resources and tips.
Welcome back! Summer is flying by and we’ve got a lot of wonderful South Asian Kidlit books coming out in the next few months. It is wonderful to the see the breadth of South Asian books that are coming out from real-world stories, to contemporary, and fantasy. Last week, I was interviewed by Kristi at the Winged Pen about diversity in children’s literature. Come find out my thoughts on the current state and areas where I think there needs to be more focus.
Today I bring you nine titles (2 PB, 4 MG, 4 YA) that are being released in the second-half of 2017. What’s cool is that we have a few returnees! Folks that were featured in previous round-up posts! 🙂 These books 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. Here are links to the previous South Asian Kidlit 2017-Part1 and 2016.
Title: Lines Author: Sarvinder Naberhaus Illustrator: Melinda Beck Publisher: Little Simon Publication Date: August 22, 2017 Category-Genre: Picture Book
Synopsis: Think beyond shapes. Beyond colors. Beyond letters and numbers. With poetic text and beautiful illustrations, this board book shows us how individual pieces make up a whole. And not just a whole house or a whole town, or a whole city, but a whole universe.
Bio: Sarvinder Naberhaus immigrated from Punjab to the U.S. when she was four years old. Her first book, Boom Boom, was illustrated by Caldecott-honor winning artist Margaret Chodos-Irvine. Her second book, Blue Sky White Stars is illustrated by Caldecott-honor winning artist Kadir Nelson.
Title: Manjhi Moves a Mountain Author: Nancy Churin Illustrator: Danny Popovici Publisher: Creston Books Publication Date: >Sept. 1, 2017 Category-Genre: Non-fiction picture book biography
Synopsis: Dashrath Manjhi used a hammer and chisel, grit, determination, and twenty years to carve a path through the mountain separating his poor village from the nearby village with schools, markets, and a hospital. Manjhi Moves a Mountain is the true story of how everyone can make a difference if his or her heart is big enough.
Curriculum Guide:https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/68b71d_515070a02f9b496e9281ed433fce05f1.pdf Bio: Manjhi Moves a Mountain, Nancy Churnin’s second picture book, is a fall 2017 Junior Library Guild selection and is featured in KitaabWorld.com. Nancy’s book debut, The William Hoy Story, is on multiple book lists, including the 2017 Texas 2×2 and Topaz Reading Lists and the 2018 Illinois Monarch Award Master List. Nancy is the theater critic for The Dallas Morning News and lives in North Texas with her family.
Title: Karma Khullar’s Mustache Author: Kristi Wientge Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Publication Date: August 15, 2017 Category-Genre: MG- Contemporary
Synopsis: Karma is entering middle school and everything—from Daddy losing his job, to Mom working full time, to her best friend being preoccupied with the new girl, to discovering 17 hairs on her upper lip—is upside down. Karma has no one to turn to and must figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise.
Bio: Kristi Wientge grew up in Ohio and studied to be a teacher for children with special needs. Since graduating university she has spent several years exploring the world from China to England teaching her students everything from English to how to flip their eyelids. She’s spent the last 12 years raising her family in her husband’s home country, Singapore.
Title: Rise of the Jumbies Author: Tracey Baptiste Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers Publication Date:September 19, 2017 Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy, Fairy Tale
Synopsis: Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne.
Bio: Tracey Baptiste is the author of RISE OF THE JUMBIES, a sequel to THE JUMBIES. Her other books include ANGEL’S GRACE and THE TOTALLY GROSS HISTORY OF ANCIENT EGYPT. She volunteers with We Need Diverse Books, The Brown Bookshelf, I Too Arts Collective, and teaches in Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA program.
Synopsis: In 1942 India, after Gandhi asks each family to give one member to the freedom movement, Anjali is devastated to think of her father joining the cause. But her father isn’t the one going. Her mother is.When Anjali’s mother is jailed, Anjali must step out of her comfort zone to take over her mother’s work, ensuring that her little part of the independence movement is completed.
Bio: Supriya Kelkar was born and raised in the Midwest. She learned Hindi as a child by watching three Bollywood films a week. After college she realized her lifelong dream of working in the film industry when she got a job as a Bollywood screenwriter. AHIMSA is her middle grade debut.
Title: Pashmina Author & Illustrator: Nidhi Chanani Publisher: First Second Publication Date:October 3, 2017 Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Graphic Novel
Synopsis: Pashmina tells the story of an Indian-American girl who struggles to fit in at high school, then discovers more about her family’s history with the help of her mother’s magical pashmina.
Bio: Pashmina is Nidhi Chanani’s debut graphic novel. Nidhi Chanani is a freelance illustrator and artist, and the owner of Everyday Love Art. Nidhi draws and dreams every day with her husband, daughter and their two cats in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Title: The Library of Fates Author: Aditi Khorana Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin Publication Date:July 18th, 2017 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Historical Fantasy
Synopsis: A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn. The Library of Fates is the story of two women – Princess Amrita and the oracle Thala, an escaped slave, who must band together to overthrow the ruthless emperor Sikander. To do this Amrita must find the Library of All Things which can reverse fates so that they can return to an earlier time. Caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, Amrita must decide whether to restore what was lost, or does another life – and another love – await?
Bio: Aditi Khorana has worked as a journalist, a researcher, and an entertainment research executive. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in International Relations and has an MA from the Annenberg School for Communications. MIRROR IN THE SKY was her first novel. Her second book is THE LIBRARY OF FATES, a feminist historical fantasy. She lives in Los Angeles and spends her free time reading, hiking, and exploring LA’s eclectic and wonderful architecture.
Title: Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story Author: Sonia Patel Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press Publication Date:September 12, 2017 Category-Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Jaya Mehta detests wealth, secrets, and privilege, though he has them all. His family is Indian, originally from Gujarat. Rasa Santos, like many in Hawaii, is of mixed ethnicity. All she has are siblings, three of them, plus a mother who controls men like a black widow spider and leaves her children whenever she wants to. Neither Jaya nor Rasa have ever known real love or close family―not until their chance meeting one sunny day on a mountain in Hau’ula.
Bio: Sonia Patel is a psychiatrist who works with children and adults. She lives and practices in Hawaii. Her YA debut, RANI PATEL IN FULL EFFECT, received many awards, including: finalist for the Morris Award, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of 2016.
Title: You Bring the Distant Near Author: Mitali Perkins Publisher: Macmillan / FSG Publication Date: September 12, 2017 Category-Genre: Young Adult
Synopsis:This elegant young adult novel captures the immigrant experience for one Indian-American family with humor and heart. Told in alternating teen voices across three generations, You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse.
Bio: Mitali Perkins was born in Kolkata, India and immigrated to the USA with her family when she was seven. She’s the author of ten novels, including TIGER BOY, which won the South Asia Book Award, BAMBOO PEOPLE, and RICKSHAW GIRL (coming soon to the screen from Sleeperwave films.)
Title: Dare Mighty Things Author: Heather Kaczynski Publisher: HarperCollins/HarperTeen Publication Date: Oct 10, 2017 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Sci-Fi
Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down…even if it costs her everything.
Bio: Heather has a degree in biology and works in a military library near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where she buys books for children and teens. She lives in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband and her young daughter.
I can’t believe we are almost half-way through summer. Hope you and your families are having a wonderful, relaxing, and joyous time. When I first started my writing journey back in 2011, I was fortunate to be a reader for the Cybils early chapter books category. I loved the spunkiness of the characters and the fast-paced storylines, but what I found myself missing was diversity. So last winter when I heard about the Jasmine Toguchi books by Debbi Michiko Florence, I was thrilled.
Synopsis for Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen (from Amazon):
Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is a flamingo fan, tree climber, and top-notch mess-maker!
She’s also tired of her big sister, Sophie, always getting to do things first. For once, Jasmine wishes SHE could do something before Sophie―something special, something different. The New Year approaches, and as the Toguchi family gathers in Los Angeles to celebrate, Jasmine is jealous that her sister gets to help roll mochi balls by hand with the women. Her mom says that Jasmine is still too young to join in, so she hatches a plan to help the men pound the mochi rice instead. Surely her sister has never done THAT before.
But pounding mochi is traditionally reserved for boys. And the mochi hammer is heavier than it looks. Can Jasmine build her case and her mochi-making muscles in time for New Year’s Day
What I Like:
Jasmine is a charming, spunky character, and Japanese-American. I like that it’s a book that has a universal truth where the multicultural aspect is part of the backdrop rather than the focus. I enjoyed learning about the Japanese tradition of mochi-tsuki while feeling that Jasmine could be the girl next door. It’s a perfect blend of East meets West.
The first two books in the series Mochi Queen and Super Sleuth release TODAY! Here are some links to help you easily find them: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound
Now onto the interview with Debbi!
******************************************* 1. Can you tell us a little about your writing journey? Ups/Down/Anything in Between
It has been a very long and bumpy road and a good lesson in perseverance. I talked in detail about my journey on my blog. (http://debbimichikoflorence.com/2015/10/the-long-bumpy-road/)
Since then, I’ve gone through revisions and copyedits for the first three books in the series. Recently, I handed in the last round of revisions to my editor for book 4, Jasmine Toguchi, Flamingo Keeper. It’s mind-boggling to realize that I’m pretty much done writing all four books for the series, just before the first two books launch! I have loved every single step along the way of writing this series, particularly working with Grace Kendall and FSG, and my illustrator Elizabet Vukovic, and designer Kristie Radwilowicz – I’m grateful to this fabulous team!
Around the same time I made my sale, I signed with my dream agent, Tricia Lawrence, of The Erin Murphy Literary Agency. She’s a tireless advocate of my work and has been so amazing – guiding me along this path to publication while also giving me support and feedback on my works-in-progress. She’s a wonderful friend and partner and I couldn’t ask for a better agent to have along on this journey!
2. What aspects of childhood do you like to capture in your writing?
I seem to be fixated on relationships in flux – like Jasmine’s changing relationship with her older sister throughout the series and when Jasmine has a falling out with her best friend in Super Sleuth. In my novels/works-in-progress, the focus is also on changing relationships, between friends and family, and also the aspects of first love. I’m fascinated by relationships.
3. Can you share your writing process with us? Panster/plotter, paper/pen. Specific habits or tips that have served you well? I’m a panster in that I start my first draft with only a premise and a character or two in mind. I don’t outline, but I think my first drafts are basically very long rambling outlines.
I draft in Scrivener. I LOOOOVE Scrivener! I take notes and brainstorm in a notebook (each project has a separate notebook), but I write all my drafts on my laptop. I print up hardcopies in between drafts and write all over them before revising.
4. Can you tell us a little about how you came up with Jasmine Toguchi and her stories? How did you develop Jasmine as a character?
I was inspired by a newspaper article about a multigenerational family that made mochi the traditional way. I wondered what would happen if a little girl wanted to do the “boy job” of pounding mochi, and Jasmine Toguchi was born. Jasmine talked to me in my head for many months before I sat down to write a word of her story, so by the time I started writing she felt very real to me.
5. I understand Mochi Queen was initially written as a stand-alone, but then your editor asked you to extend Jasmine into a series. That is so cool! How did you go about conceiving other storylines?
Honestly? The minute I got on the phone with Grace, the ideas poured forth. Suddenly, I had many stories I wanted to write about Jasmine. I also knew that I wanted each story to contain a thread of Japanese culture while focusing on a universal theme: wanting to do something before an older sibling/breaking family tradition, figuring out how to mend a fight with a best friend while hanging on to a family tradition, learning how to find a talent, and making a wish come true.
6. One of the things I loved about Mochi Queen was the inclusion of the extended family. Was this an important aspect for you to have in there? Will they be appearing in future stories?
Thank you! Some of my fondest memories of growing up include extended family. Visiting relatives in Japan for long stays in the summer, celebrating birthdays and holidays with extended family, etc. I miss that as an adult now that I live across the country from my family. I particularly miss my grandparents and wish they were still around. Obaachan will make a small appearance in book 4. If I were to write more books for the series, I can see the extended family appearing again. (Yes, I do have ideas for more stories!)
7. Any other books we should be on the lookout for?
Book 3, Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl and book 4, Jasmine Toguchi, Flamingo Keeper will be out in April 2018 and July 2018 respectively. I’m super excited for these books to make their way into the hands of readers, too!
Some rapid fire questions.
Fact that most people don’t know about you?
I love umeboshi, Japanese style pickled plums.
Favorite type of mochi?
Azuki (red bean)
If you could have any kind of animal as a pet,what would it be?
Oh goodness! I think I’ve reached a limit with pets for now. Right now, we have two ducks (Darcy and Lizzy), a minilop (Aki), and a puppy (Kiku). In the past I’ve had hamsters, snakes, fish, a guinea pig, dogs, cats, and many birds including an Amazon parrot.
What book is on your bedside table?
I have piles of books all over the house that I want to read. So. Many. Books! Right now I’m almost finished reading (and loving) WANT by Cindy Pon.
Hope everyone is keeping warm this winter. Here in California, we’re just trying to stay dry in one of the wettest winters ever. Not that I’m complaining. It’s better than the string of drought years. I am still working away on my picture books and have started working on a YA historical novel. Speaking of picture books, I would love to see more South Asian titles in that category. 😉
Last summer, I postedsome fantastic South Asian children’s and young adult books that released in 2016. Thanks to the We Need Diverse Books movement, #ownvoices, #diversity, and a general interest in the publishing and reading communities there has been an uptick in books that contain diversity as well as by diverse authors. Today I bring you nine titles (1 PB, 4 MG, 4 YA) that are being released in the first-half of 2017. These books 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. Come back in July for Part 2 containing books being released in the 2nd half of 2017.
Title: Blue Sky White Stars Author: Sarvinder Naberhaus Illustrator: Kadir Nelson Publisher: Penguin Publication Date: June 13, 2017 Category-Genre: Picture Book
Synopsis: Wonderfully spare, deceptively simple verses pair with richly evocative paintings to celebrate the iconic imagery of our nation, beginning with the American flag. Each spread is sumptuously illustrated by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson
Bio: Sarvinder Naberhaus immigrated from Punjab to the U.S. when she was four years old. Her first book, Boom Boom, was illustrated by Caldecott-honor winning artist Margaret Chodos-Irvine. She also has an upcoming board book, Lines.
Synopsis: The first year of middle school is tricky for stage-shy Amina, when her best friend Soojin starts talking about changing her name and, even worse, spending time with Emily—a girl that used to make fun of them! Amina’s older brother seems to be getting into a lot of trouble and when her uncle comes to visit from Pakistan, her parents try awfully hard to impress him. But when Amina’s mosque is vandalized, she find her voice, and learns that the things that connect us will always be stronger than the things that try to tear us apart.
Bio: Hena Khan is the author of several award-winning books including Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, It’s Ramadan, Curious George, and Night of the Moon. She’s also written choose your own adventure style novels and books on space, spies, and more. Hena was born and raised in Maryland, where she still lives with her family.
Title: The Gauntlet Author: Karuna Riazi Publisher: S&S/Salaam Reads Publication Date: March 28, 2017 Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy
Synopsis: A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.
Bio: Karuna Riazi is a born and raised New Yorker, with a loving, large extended family and the rather trying experience of being the eldest sibling in her particular clan. Besides pursuing a BA in English literature, she is an online diversity advocate, blogger, and publishing intern. Karuna is fond of tea, Korean dramas, writing about tough girls forging their own paths toward their destinies, and baking new delectable treats for friends and family to relish.
Title: Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh Author: Uma Krishnaswami Publisher: Tu Books/Lee & Low Publication Date: May 1, 2017 Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Historical Fiction
Synopsis: In Yuba City, California, in the spring of 1945, Maria Singh longs to play softball. But even as Maria’s world opens up, her parents—Papi from India and Mamá from Mexico—can no longer protect their children from prejudice and from the discriminatory laws of the land. When the family is on the brink of losing their farm, nine-year-old Maria must decide if she has what it takes to step up and find her voice in an unfair world.
Bio: Uma Krishnaswami is the author of more than twenty books for young readers. She teaches in the low-residency MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Vermont College of Fine Arts. Born in New Delhi, India, Uma now lives and writes in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Title: Finding Mighty Author: Sheela Chari Illustrator: R. Kikuo Johnson Publisher: Abrams Publication Date: May 30, 2017 Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Mystery
Synopsis: Along the train lines north of New York City, twelve-year-old neighbors Myla and Peter search for the link between Myla’s necklace and the disappearance of Peter’s brother, Randall.
Bio: Sheela Chari is the author of FINDING MIGHTY (May 2017) and VANISHED, an Edgar Award nominee for best juvenile mystery, an Al Roker book pick on the Today Show, and an APALA Children’s Literature Honor Book. She has an MFA in Fiction from New York University and teaches writing at Mercy College. She lives in New York with her family.
Synopsis: Irish empath Liam Whelan is forced to find his fated soul mate and is drawn to Indian-American Laxshmi Kapadia–only she’s not an empath and would derail his father’s plans for when they did find “The One.” Laxshmi struggles with her own parental expectations in the form of ultimatums that leave her neither the option of pursuing dance as a career, nor an interest in her handsome new Irish neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny, or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price?
Bio: Shaila Patel is a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Her award-winning novel Soulmated debuts on 1/24/17. She enjoys traveling, craft beer, tea, and loves reading books—especially in cozy window seats. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or connecting with other readers online.
Title: That Thing We Call a Heart Author: Sheba Karim Publisher: HarperTeen Publication Date: May 9, 2017 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Synopsis: As Pakistani-American teen Shabnam falls for Jamie and begins to mend her friendship with her estranged best friend Farah, she learns powerful lessons about love and the true story of happened to her family during the 1947 Partition of India.
Bio: Sheba Karim’s first YA novel was Skunk Girl. Her third, The Road Trip Effect, will be out in 2018. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Nashville, TN.
Title: When Dimple Met Rishi Author: Sandhya Menon Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster Publication Date: May 30, 2017 Category-Genre: Yong Adult – Romantic Comedy
Synopsis: A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.
Bio: Sandhya Menon is the author of the upcoming YA novels WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI (Simon Pulse/May 30, 2017) and THE STORIES WE TOLD (Simon Pulse/Summer 2018). She was born and raised in India on a steady diet of Bollywood movies and street food, and pretty much blames this upbringing for her obsession with happily-ever-afters, bad dance moves, and pani puri. Sandhya currently lives in Colorado, where she’s on a mission to (gently) coerce her husband, son, and daughter to watch all 3,220 Bollywood movies she claims as her favorite.
Title: Saints and Misfits Author: S. K. Ali Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster Publication Date: June 13, 2017 Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Synopsis: Saints and Misfits follows Janna Yusuf, a geeky, hijabi Arab-Indian-American girl, as she navigates high school and the possibility of first love—even though Muslim girls aren’t supposed to date, right? She’s trying to figure herself out, along with her place in the world, especially if that means revealing a shattering secret that just might send ripples through her tight-knit Muslim community.
Bio: S. K. Ali was born in south India. She lived there until the age of three, at which point she found herself in Montreal, Canada. After a brief stint learning how to read, write and paint, all in French, she made her way to Toronto, where she ended up getting a degree in Creative Writing.
Once again I am participating in Julie Hedlund’s anti-resolution revolution. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t accomplish, I review my successes and use that as a building base for my 2017 goals. You can see my 2016 goal setting here. It worked quite well in that I was able to stick to my plan for the most part.
List of 2016 Successes:
Got an Agent!! (THE highlight of the year. This wasn’t a listed goal since it wasn’t fully under my control, but I did have a goal to finish revisions for prospective agents. So Check!)
Going on submission with several PB stories. (another highlight, but again not a goal since it wasn’t entirely under my control.)
Wrote 8 NEW first drafts of picture books! (My goal was to write 12, but I’m still happy with 8. My previous record was only 5.)
I finally attended the NJ SCBWI conference!! This had been on my bucket list since I first started writing five years ago. Also attended the SCBWI Summer conference. (Goal met. Check!)
Took the Nonfiction Archaeology class and completed a draft of my first picture book biography. (Check!)
Read two craft books, Story Genius and Big Magic. (My original goal was to finish reading Writing Irresistible Kidlit which didn’t happen. These two books were more of what I needed at the time. Lesson learned – be flexible.)
Read/listen to 23 novels and 230 picture books. (My goal was 25 novels, so I almost met my goal. Check!) Check out my post where I break down the numbers and list some favorite titles (Adult thru PB)
Added one more polished story to my portfolio. (Had set a goal of two. Will be working on this again in 2017.)
Kept up my blogging. Still a little sporadic. (My goal was to blog at least once a month. Check!)
Wrote 3K words for a YA novel. From this, I learned I need to have more structure laid down. This ties into a 2017 goal.
Became involved in South Asian kidlit. I wrote a piece for WNDB on South Asian kidlit and did a promotional post for 2016 South Asian books and authors. Hadn’t planned for any of this, but will definitely continue.
Got two accountability partners. 🙂
Volunteer PB application reader for We Need Diverse Books
My word was for 2016 was CREATE and that I did by completing 8 new PB drafts and starting my YA novel. The last few months have ended with a pile of rejection slips which while expected is still a downer. I had one story which I spent 6 months revising in 2016 and that I thought was done, only to realize I may have to tear it up and start again. So my word for 2017 is PERSEVERE – to stay focused on growing as a writer. And if I get a book deal along the way that’s a bonus.
Goals for 2017
Persevere in the difficult picture book revision. Review course material, favorite books, do paid critiques and above all keep trying. Start to explore early chapter books to see if that’s an option.
Take a novel craft class. Have the big elements figured out – story arc, main and secondary characters, motivations, stakes, etc.
Continue research efforts for the novel.
Attend agency retreat and one conference.
Write 6 new sh***y first drafts.
Revise 2-3 stories to a polished state.
Read/listen 20 novels.
Blog once a month.
Wishing you the very best. What are some of your goals for 2017?