March 16, 2018

Room In Your Heart

Title: Room In Your Heart

Author: Kunzang Choden
Illustrator: Pema Tshering
Publisher:  Kitaabworld, March 27, 2018
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-7
Theme: Kindness, Generosity

Opening Lines:

To the east of Thimphu and west of Trongsa, somewhere among the mountains high, lived an old woman in a little house.

A gray cat, a yellow dog and a brown speckled hen lived with her and shared her hearth.

Synopsis: (from Amazon website)

“Neypo shong gna? Is there room for me?” a wandering monk asks the old lady who lives on the hill. The question is repeated again and again as more and more visitors arrive. The kind lady welcomes them in one by one. But how will they all fit in her tiny little house?

This charming tale contains an important teaching about openness and generosity of spirit.


Why I Like This Book:
A folktale that will delight and enlighten while opening the eyes and hearts of readers to Bhutanese life. In this tale, a charming old lady in a small one-room home offers hospitality to a monk, a messenger, a traveler and so on without even the slightest hesitation. She shares her meal with all of her guests even though it is not much “one got a single bit of turnip leaf, another a tiny piece of bone, another got a drop of soup” and the guests “savored their dinner and licked their bowls clean“. The appreciative guests wonder how the old lady could fit them all in, to which the monk answers with a wise saying which left this reader with a warm glow deep inside. The backmatter included some interesting facts about Bhutan. For instance, the GNH (Gross National Happiness) index that measures the nation’s prosperity is based on the citizens’ happiness.

The lyrical text paired with soft watercolors is a perfect combination for this tale of openness and love for all.

Find Room In your Heart at the following spots:
Kitaabworld | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0999547623
ISBN-13: 978-0999547625

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.

February 23, 2018

Festival of Colors

The Indian holiday of Holi is coming up next week, March 1 & 2, 2018 so it seemed appropriate to review this wonderful new picture book which introduces the holiday that will appeal to both newcomers to the holiday and those already familiar.

Title: Festival of Colors

Author: Kabir Sehgal & Surishtha Sehgal (check out the interview with this mother-son duo at Children’s Book Podcast)
Illustrator: Vashti Harrison
Publisher:  Beach Lane Books, 2018
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 3-6
Theme: Indian Holidays, Colors

Opening Lines:

Guavas are ripening. Lotuses are blooming. And Holi, the Indian festival of colors, is almost here.


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!


Why I Like This Book:

A wonderful, colorful, accessible way of introducing young children to the Indian holiday of Holi. The simple structured text gently guides the reader through the fabulous colors while keeping the reader wondering what the two young characters, Chintoo and Mintoo, will be doing with the collected flowers. We then see the kids prepare the colored powders, which the authors term as petal-powder {love}. One of my favorite parts of the book is when the viewing lens expands beyond Mintoo and Chintoo’s home to show the reader that Holi is something bigger than just their family. The lines for the section read:

Chintoo and Mintoo are ready too! <page turn>
And so are their parents. <page turn>
And their friends. <page turn>
And their neighbors. And then … <page turn>

The book then conveys the sentiment of Holi being about friendship, forgiveness, and fresh starts, not just within the family but extending to the community as well. An author’s note at the end provides a brief overview of the holiday.

The artwork is dynamic and vivacious and most importantly kid-appealing.

Take a look at this wonderful 3D animated book trailer.

Find Festival of Colors at the following spots:
Kitaab World | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1481420496
ISBN-13:  978-1481420495

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

February 9, 2018

Be Kind

I’m so excited to share this lovely book. It seemed like the perfect choice since Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) week is coming up February 11-17, 2018.   

Title: Be Kind

Author: Pat Zietlow Miller
Illustrator: Jenn Hill
Publisher:  Roaring Brook Press, 2018
Editor: Connie Hsu
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Theme: Kindness


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.


  • Kindness lesson plan
  • Have kids do a Random Act of Kindness. Here is a link to my past blog 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.

Find Be Kind at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1626723214
ISBN-13: 978-1626723214

January 16, 2018

South Asian Kidlit 2018 – Part 1

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.

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.

Twitter: @rinasingh25
Instagram: rinasingh25

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.

Instagram: viplov.singh & svabhu.kholi

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.

Twitter: @sayantani16
Facebook: Sayantani DasGupta
Instagram: princesskiranmala

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 ( 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.

Twitter: @NHasnatSenzai

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.

Twitter: @sam_aye_ahm
Instagram: @sam_aye_ahm

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.

Twitter: @AmalieHoward
Facebook: @AmalieHowardAuthor
Instagram: @AmalieHoward

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.


January 1, 2018

2017 in Review, Looking Forward to 2018

Happy New Year to all my readers!

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?

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