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 click here. 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.