May 1, 2018

South Asian Kidlit 2018 – Part 2: Novels

Last week I posted Part 2: Picture Books. Today, I’m posting novels from Chapter Books to Young Adult. Lots of great reads!

The books listed below are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author, contains a South Asian Main Character, or involves South Asian culture. The books are organized by Category and then Publication Date.

For an abbreviated pdf version of this list click here. Feel free to share with librarians, booksellers, teachers, and book lovers everywhere.

Title: Power Forward
Author: Hena Khan
Illustrator: Sally Wern Comport
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Category-Genre: Chapter Book

Synopsis:
From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes the first book in an exciting new chapter book series about a fourth-grader named Zayd Saleem with big dreams of basketball stardom. There are only a few small things in his way.

Bio:
Hena Khan is the author of Amina’s Voice, a Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews and NPR Best Book of 2017, the Zayd Saleem: Chasing the Dream chapter book series, and several beloved picture books including Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, It’s Ramadan, Curious George, and Night of the Moon.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/henakhanbooks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hena.khan.author
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/henakhanbooks/
Website: https://www.henakhan.com/

Title: Ramadan: The Holy Month of Fasting
Author: Ausma Zehanat Khan
Publisher: Orca Books
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Nonfiction

Synopsis:
Ramadan: The Holy Month of Fasting explores the richness and diversity of the Islamic tradition by focusing on an event of great spiritual significance and beauty in the lives of Muslims. Rich with personal stories and stunning photographs, Ramadan demystifies the traditions and emphasizes the importance of diversity in a world where Islamophobia is on the rise.

Bio:
Ausma Zehanat Khan is the author of the Khattak/Getty mystery series, which has been optioned for television. A British-born Canadian, she is a former adjunct law professor and the former editor-in-chief of Muslim Girl magazine. She lives in Colorado with her husband.

Website: www.ausmazehanatkhan.com
Twitter: @AusmaZehanat
Facebook: @ausmazehanatkhan

Title: Amal Unbound
Author: Aisha Saeed
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Contemporary

Synopsis:
Bookish Amal loves learning and dreams of becoming a teacher one day until an accidental run in with a corrupt local landlord in her Punjabi village results in her being taken into his home as an indentured servant. Amal feels hopeless at first but learns to navigate her new life and wonders if perhaps, just maybe, she could change things for her town and take this landlord down once and for all.

Bio:
Aisha Saeed is an author, lawyer, educator and mother. Her debut novel was Written in the Stars (Penguin, 2015). She lives in Atlanta with her husband and three sons.

Twitter: @aishacs
Instagram: @aishacs

Title: Damselfly
Author: Chandra Prasad
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Category-Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Synopsis:
In the wake of a crash landing on a deserted tropical island, a group of private school teens must rely on their wits and one another to endure. When their initial attempts to escape the island fail, the teens find they need to survive more than the jungle . . . they need to survive each other.

Bio:
Chandra Prasad’s first young adult novel, Damselfly, will be published this month by Scholastic. The author previously wrote novels for adults, including On Borrowed Wings, a historical drama set in early 20th century Yale University, and Death of a Circus, which Booklist called “Richly textured [and] packed with glamour and grit.” Prasad is also the originator and editor of Mixed, an anthology of short stories on the multiracial experience, which was published to international acclaim by W.W. Norton.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chandrabooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/207156.Chandra_Prasad
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Chandra-Prasad/e/B001IQZHZS
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chandra.prasad.1654

Title: My So-Called Bollywood Life
Author: Nisha Sharma
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers, Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Romantic Comedy

Synopsis:
Winnie Mehta must learn to choose between free will and destiny as she struggles to gain control of her school’s film festival. Luckily, she gets a little help from a Bollywood movie star along the way.

Bio:
Nisha Sharma lives in New Jersey with her cat Lizzie Bennett and her dog Nancey Drew. MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE is her debut novel.

Website: www.nisha-sharma.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/nishawrites
Twitter: www.twitter.com/nishawrites

Title: Mariam Sharma Hits the Road
Author: Sheba Karim
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary

Synopsis:
Three South Asian American best friends pile into a car and start driving south, making all kinds of pit stops along the way–from a college drag party to a Muslim convention, from alarming encounters at roadside diners to honky-tonks and barbeque joints, each mile of the road bringing them closer to their own truths, and each other.

Bio:
Sheba Karim is the author of Skunk Girl and That Thing We Call a Heart. She is based in Nashville, TN.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/shebakarimwriter
Twitter: www.twitter.com/shebakarim

Title: A Reaper at the Gates
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy

Synopsis:
The highly anticipated third book in #1 New York Times bestselling author Sabaa Tahir’s EMBER QUARTET.

Beyond the Martial Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger. Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, is desperate to protect her sister’s life and the lives of everyone in the Empire. But she knows that danger lurks on all sides. Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that demands his complete surrender–even if that means abandoning the woman he loves.

Bio:
Sabaa Tahir is the New York Times bestselling author of the young adult fantasy An Ember in the Ashes.  She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks, and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sabaatahir
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SabaaTahirAuthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sabaatahir/
Tumblr: http://sabaatahir.tumblr.com

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April 25, 2018

South Asian Kidlit 2018 – Part 2: Picture Books

Sorry, this is a little late. Things have been busy, busy, busy. In my last round-up post, I mentioned it was a bumper crop year for South Asian books – picture books in particular. It turns out I missed a handful of books and decided to include them in Part 2. I had so many books that I had to break it down into two posts! Yowza! I never would have imagined I’d have so many books to share. This post is the first one which covers just picture books.

The books listed below are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author, contains a South Asian Main Character, or involves South Asian culture. The books are organized by Category and then Publication Date.

For an abbreviated pdf version of this list click here. Feel free to share with librarians, booksellers, teachers, and book lovers everywhere.

Title: Little Sid: The Tiny Prince Who Became Buddha
Author: Ian Lendler
Illustrator: Xanthe Bouma
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Category-Genre: Picture Book-Buddhist Fiction

Synopsis: Little Sid weaves traditional Buddhist fables into a new tale of Siddhartha as a spoiled young prince, who gets everything he asks for, until he wants something that can’t be given– happiness. So he sets off on a journey of discovery and encounters mysterious wise-folk, terrifying tigers, and one very annoying mouse.

Bio: Ian Lendler is the author of the award-winning Stratford Zoo graphic novel series, as well as the picture books An Undone Fairy Tale, Saturday, and One Day A Dot. He lives near San Francisco, CA.

Website: IanLendler.com
Twitter: @ianlendler

Title: The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art 
Author: Barb Rosenstock
Illustrator: Claire A. Nivola
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: February 2018
Category-Genre: Picture Book – Non-Fiction

Synopsis: The incredible story of the world’s largest visionary environment: the Rock Garden of Chandigarh, kept secret by outsider artist Nek Chand for fifteen years.

Bio: Barb Rosenstock is a children’s book author who loves true stories. Her work includes The Camping Trip That Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein; The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, illustrated by Mary GrandPré; and many others. Barb Rosenstock lives in Chicago.

 

Title: Ramadan
Author: Hannah Eliot
Illustrator: Rashin
Publisher: Little Simon
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Category-Genre: Board Book

Synopsis: In the ninth month of the year, when the first crescent moon rises in the sky, it’s time to celebrate Ramadan! In this lovely board book with illustrations from Rashin Kheiriyeh, readers learn that Ramadan is a time to reflect on ourselves, to be thankful, and a time to help others.

Bio:
Hannah Eliot is a children’s book editor who lives in Manhattan, New York. Her favorite activities include editing (of course), writing, painting, and doodling all over every piece of notebook paper she uses.

Rashin Kheiriyeh is an internationally recognized, award-winning author, illustrator, animation director, and painter who has published over sixty children’s books. She has a PhD in children’s book illustration from Tehran, Iran, and her MFA in graphic design from Alzahra University. She also studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Currently, she is an art professor at the University of Maryland.

Title: You’re Safe With Me
Author: Chitra Soundar
Illustrator: Poonam Mistry
Publisher: Lantana Publishing (distributed by Lerner Books)
Publication Date: April 1, 2018
Category-Genre: Picture Book

Synopsis:
When the moon rises high and the stars twinkle, it is bedtime for the baby animals of the Indian forest. But tonight, when the skies turn dark and the night grows stormy, the little ones can’t sleep. SWISH-SWISH! CRACK-TRACK! FLASH-SNAP! goes the storm. Only Mama Elephant with her words of wisdom can reassure them. “You’re safe with me.”

Bio:
Chitra Soundar is an Indian-born British writer and storyteller. She is inspired by the rich epics and folktales of India, its diverse culture and its natural beauty. She has over 30 books in print worldwide and has been published by Otter-Barry Books, Walker Books and Red Robin Books.

Poonam Mistry is a UK-based illustrator of Indian heritage. Her work is heavily influenced by nature, folklore and traditional Indian art. With a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration, she produces artwork for clients around the world.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChitraSoundarAuthor/
Twitter: @csoundar
Instagram: @chitrasoundar

Twitter: @pmistryartist
Instagram: @poonammistryart

Title: Nimesh the Adventurer
Author: Ranjit Singh
Illustrator: Mehrdokht Amini
Publisher: Lantana Publishing (distributed by Lerner Books)
Publication Date: April 1, 2018
Category-Genre: Picture Book

Synopsis: Nimesh is walking home from school. Except…there happens to be a shark in the corridor. And a dragon in the library! And why would crossing the road lead to the North Pole? A fun-filled story about a little boy with a BIG imagination, Nimesh the Adventurer will surely make even the dullest journey a dazzling adventure.

Bio:
Ranjit Singh is a British children’s book author of East Asian heritage. He uses words to reach out and inspire people in his community. This is his debut picture book.

Mehrdokht Amini is an Iranian-born illustrator who has won the Children’s Africana Best Book Award and been nominated for a Kate Greenaway Medal for her work on Chicken in the Kitchen (Lantana).

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ranjittheauthor
Twitter: @RanjitTheAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mehrdokht.amini.1

Title: Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes
Author: Hena Khan
Illustrator: Mehrdokht Amini
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Category-Genre: Picture Book

Synopsis:
From a crescent moon to a square garden to an octagonal fountain, this breathtaking picture book celebrates the shapes—and traditions—of the Muslim world. Sure to inspire questions and observations about world religions and cultures, this beautiful sequel to Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns is equally at home in a classroom reading circle as on a parent’s lap being read to a child.

Bio:
Hena Khan is the author of Amina’s Voice, a Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews and NPR Best Book of 2017, the Zayd Saleem: Chasing the Dream chapter book series, and several beloved picture books including Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, It’s Ramadan, Curious George, and Night of the Moon.

Mehrdokht Amini is an Iranian-born illustrator who has won the Children’s Africana Best Book Award.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/henakhanbooks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hena.khan.author
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/henakhanbooks/
Website: https://www.henakhan.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mehrdokht.amini.1
Website: https://www.myart2c.com/

Title: Iqbal and his Ingenious Idea: How a Science Project Helps One Family and the Planet
Author: Elizabeth Suneby
Illustrator: Rebecca Green
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: May 1, 2108
Category-Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: Motivation, science problem-solving skills and the help of a little sister—that’s what it takes for Iqbal to come up with an idea for his school’s science fair. If he wins, he can buy his mom a gas-fueled stove so during monsoon season she doesn’t have to cook over an open fire inside which is making her and the baby sick.

Bio: Elizabeth loves to play with words. Its how she thinks through ideas, learn new things — and earn a living. She write books, magazine articles, and websites.

Website: elizabethsuneby.com/books
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethKellnerSunebyWriter/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/pressed4words 

Title: The Manic Panic
Author: Richa Jha
Illustrator: Mithila Ananth
Publisher: Creston Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Category-Genre: Picture book

Synopsis: How can a family survive when the internet goes down? Clearly the parents have no solution. Luckily, their daughter knows exactly what to do!

Bio(s):  Richa Jha is an Indian author, publisher and picture book enthusiast. Her picture books have been nominated for several prestigious literary, industry and popular awards in India. She is an active member of the kidlit community.

When not illustrating books and dreaming up characters, Mithila Ananth can be found smelling books, collecting stationery, and relaxing with 90s cartoons. She likes happy endings. The Manic Panic is her first children’s book.

Richa Jha
Website: richajha.com
Facebook:@richajhabooks
Twitter: @RichajhaJha
Instagram: @richajharj

Mithila Ananth
Website: doodlekaari.com
Facebook: @Doodlekaari
Twitter: @doodlekaari
Behance: Doodlekaari

Title: Always Anjali
Author: Sheetal Sheth
Illustrator: Jessica Blank
Publisher: Bharat Babies
Publication Date: May, 2018
Category-Genre: Picture Book

Synopsis: When Anjali and her friends want to get matching personalized license plates, she can’t find her name. To make matters worse, she gets bullied for her ‘different’ name, and is so upset she demands to change it. When her parents refuse and she is forced to take matters into her own hands, she winds up learning to celebrate who she is and carry her name with pride and power. A timeless story about appreciating what makes us special.

Bio: Sheetal Sheth is an award-winning actress and producer, known for her provocative performances in a wide range of memorable roles on film and television. Sheetal puts a spotlight on under-represented groups, not only through her trailblazing work as an actor, but also by being an outspoken advocate. Sheetal served in President Clinton’s AmeriCorps, is currently on the advisory board of Equality Now, and is an ambassador for The Representation Project. This is her first children’s book.

Website: http://www.sheetalsheth.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OfficialSheetalSheth
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sheetalsheth
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beneaththesheetz/

 

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.

Activities:

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.

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!

Activities:

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

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.

Activites:

  • 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

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