South Asian Kidlit 2020 – Fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Responses to “South Asian Kidlit 2020 – Fall”

  1. Darshana

    Title: Lunch Will Never Be the Same! #1
    Author: Veera Hiranandani
    Illustrator: Christine Almeda
    Publisher: Penguin Workshop
    Publication Date: October 6, 2020
    ISBN: 978-0448466958
    Category-Genre: Chapter Book
    Synopsis:
    Phoebe loves her pet fish, Betty #2 (named after Betty #1, may she rest in peace), making lists, and her best friend Sage. But when Camille, a tall French girl, arrives at school with unusual lunches, Phoebe’s friendship with Sage doesn’t seem so important anymore. Thanks to Camille, Phoebe discovers goat cheese, butter lettuce, and cilantro (although she’s convinced that’s not a real word). She’s determined to get invited to her new friend’s house for dinner to see what other mysterious food Camille eats. But what about Sage? Can Phoebe make a new friend and keep an old one?

    Reply
  2. Darshana

    Title: Farm Fresh Fun #2
    Author: Veera Hiranandani
    Illustrator: Christine Almeda
    Publisher: Penguin Workshop
    Publication Date: October 6, 2020
    ISBN: 978-0593096918
    Category-Genre: Chapter Book
    Synopsis:
    Phoebe’s class is going on a field trip to a farm to learn about where food comes from. Phoebe and her friends can’t wait to collect eggs from chickens, watch goats get milked, pick apples, and help make a farm fresh lunch. But when Phoebe and Sage decide to help goats by opening their gate, a peaceful field trip turns into a wild, noisy adventure. Before long, they learn an important lesson about farm animals–and in telling the truth!

    Reply
  3. Darshana

    Title: Little Thief! Chota Chor!
    Author: Vijaya Bodach
    Illustrator: Nayantara Surendranath
    Publisher: Reycraft Books
    Publication Date: September 30, 2020
    ISBN: 978-1478868132
    Category-Genre: Picture Book
    Synopsis:
    When a strange noise awakens Anjali, she discovers items missing from her home. Who could the thief be? As the neighbors join in the search, Anjali discovers the surprising truth, a little thief (a chota chor) unlike anyone expected. How will she convince this banana-eating thief to return her stolen things?

    Reply

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