Archive for ‘Chapter Books’

July 28, 2016

South Asian Kidlit 2016

Hope you summer as been relaxing. My life seems to be a bit all over the place with writing conferences, kid camps, vacation … can’t believe summer is half over. Yesterday I did a guest post on South Asian kidlit for We Need Diverse Book’s Looking Back series. While researching for that post I felt a little sad and lost that there were no South Asian books that really made a difference in my formidable years. In fact only this past year when I watched the film MEET THE PATELS did I even realize what I was missing. What it’s like to see yourself, your experiences, your thoughts reflected in a mirror. It was wonderful. Now that we have a formidable South Asian population with people venturing into the arts, I think we’ll see an uptick in South Asian representation.

South Asian Kidlit 2016

Today I would like to shine a spotlight on some fantastic books by South Asian children’s writers that are being released in 2016. 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.

BU cover GroundwoodTitle: Book Uncle and Meuma

Author: Uma Krishnaswami
Illustrator: Julianna Swaney
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Publication Date: September 1, 2016
Category-Genre: Chapter Book

Synopsis: Nine-year-old Yasmin means to read a new book every day for the rest of her life. When her favorite lending library is threatened, she has to take her nose out of her book and do something! Explores themes of community activism and friendship in a city in contemporary India.

Bio: Uma Krishnaswami was born in India. She is the author of more
than 20 books for children. Uma teaches in the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Web site: http://umakrishnaswami.org

seatTitle: Save Me a SeatGita pic 1

Author: Gita Varadarajan & Sarah Weeks
Publisher: Scholastic Press, New York
Publication Date: May 2016
Category- Genre: Middle Grade – Realistic Fiction

Synopsis: Joe has lived in the same town all his life and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own. Ravi’s family just moved to America from India, and he’s finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in. Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common- but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.

Bio: Gita Varadarajan was born and raised in India and moved to the US five years ago. She has worked with children all over the world in India, the UAE, and now teaches second grade in Princeton NJ. She lives in West Windsor, New Jersey with her husband, Arun and two teenage sons. This is her first novel.
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/gita.varadarajan
Twitter:https://twitter.com/gitavarad1

Untitled-4Title: Mirror in the SkyAditiKhorana

Author: Aditi Khorana
Publisher: Penguin/Razorbill
Publication Date: June 21st, 2016
Category-Genre: YA – Contemporary/Speculative

Synopsis: An evocative debut, perfect for fans of The Leftovers and We All Looked Up, about the discovery of a mirror planet to Earth and how it dramatically changes the course of one Indian-American girl’s junior year.

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. She lives in Los Angeles California. Mirror in the Sky is her debut novel.
Website:www.aditikhorana.com
Twitter:@aditi_khorana
Instagram:aditi_khorana

Enter_Title_final_revealTitle: Enter Title Hererahul

Author: Rahul Kanakia
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2016
Category-Genre: YA – Contemporary

Synopsis: In order to score a book deal, an unscrupulous overachiever has to turn herself into a quirky, light-hearted YA novel protagonist. But after she’s caught plagiarizing an assignment, Reshma Kapoor will need to decide how far she’ll go to get a satisfying ending (Note: it’s pretty far).

Bio: Rahul Kanakia’s first book, a contemporary young adult novel called Enter Title Here out from Disney-Hyperion. Additionally, his stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Apex, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, The Indiana Review, and Nature. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins and a B.A. in Economics from Stanford. Originally from Washington, D.C., Rahul now lives in San Francisco.
Blog: http://www.blotter-paper.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rahkan

NewRaniCover_d02Title: Rani Patel in Full EffectIMG_1669

Author: Sonia Patel
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Category-Genre: YA FICTION

Synopsis: Almost seventeen, Rani Patel appears to be a kick-ass Indian girl breaking cultural norms as a hip-hop performer but in truth, she’s a nerdy flat-chested nobody who lives with her Gujarati immigrant parents on the remote Hawaiian island of Moloka’i. Her parents’ traditionally arranged marriage is a sham and her dad turns to her for all his needs—even the intimate ones. When Rani catches him two-timing with a woman barely older than herself, she feels like a widow and, like widows in India are often made to do, she shaves off her hair. This sets off a cascade of events and naive choices, including a relationship with an older man who leads her into an underground hip hop crew, that look like they will undo her but ultimately give her the chance to discover her strengths and restore the things she thought she’d lost, including her mother.

Bio: Sonia Patel is a child & adolescent psychiatrist. She was trained at Stanford University and the University of Hawaii. She lives and practices in Hawaii. Rani Patel In Full Effect is her first young adult novel.
Website: http://soniapatel.net/
Twitter: twitter.com/soniapatel808
Instagram: instagram.com/soniapatel808
Facebook: facebook.com/soniapatelauthor

timekeeperTitle: Timekeeper (Timekeeper #1)Author Photo_Tara Sim

Author: Tara Sim
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Category-Genre: YA Historical Fantasy-Steampunk

Synopsis: In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely. Clock mechanic Danny must figure out who’s bombing the towers around London or else risk losing the boy he loves forever. The stunning first novel in a new trilogy by debut author Tara Sim, Timekeeper is perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Victoria Schwab.

Bio: Tara Sim is the author of Timekeeper and can typically be found wandering the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not chasing cats or lurking in bookstores, she writes books about magic, clocks, and explosives.
Website: http://www.tarasim.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EachStarAWorld
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaraSimAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25760792-timekeeper?ac=1
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tssim53/
Tumblr: http://tarasimauthor.tumblr.com/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tssim53/

March 6, 2012

The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird

Title: The No.1 Car Spotter and the Firebird
Author: Atinuke
Illustrator: Warwick Johnson Cadwell
Publisher: Walker Publishing 2011
Themes: Family, Village Life, Understanding the world around
Ages: 6-10
Pages: 95

This is the second book in a planned series. In the previous book, we were introduced to village life in Africa through the eyes of a youthful, inventive, courageous boy, called No. 1. This book has a similar format of four stories with one leading into the next.

In the first story, No. 1 and the Catapult, we learn about village dangers when a leopard enters the village at night to steal goats. No. 1, who is ridiculed by friends and even family for not being able to use a catapult to help defend the family’s property, uses his noggin once again to come up with a clever, spicy idea which rids the village of the predator.

In the second story, No 1 and the Flood, a small flood in the region halts traffic that runs past the village. Once again, No 1 comes to save the day when he brings the Cow-rolla (from Book 1) to help transport people from one side of the road to the other. This story lightly touches upon class tensions. I did enjoy when Grandfather responded to the rich people “we only have public transport solutions here. People with private cars and aeroplanes have to find their own way. Unless you want to take the bus?

The third and fourth stories seemed like one larger story. Mama Coca-Cola’s traditional mud hut has a leaky roof and is in need of a new house. She jumps at No 1’s suggestion of building a modern concrete house. It seems that neither Mama Coca-Cola nor No 1 really understand everything about modern houses and concrete. No 1 almost gets stuck in the concrete when he tries to help out. Mama Coca-Cola realizes there are some unexpected downsides to having an iron roof and a four-cornered house, maybe Grandmother was right about traditional huts. Not to worry as No 1 figures out how to help Mama Coca-Cola and help her become the No 1 Chop House (restaurant).

In the end No 1 does get his dream come true when the university professor stops at the Chop House and wants to hear all about No 1’s ideas and gives him a ride in the famous red Firebird. What child doesn’t want to be discovered.

Overall the stories were entertaining, but I had a harder time relating to some of the situations. For instance the first story with the leopard, I felt that the villagers should have been more scared. Also, in the last story Mama Coca-Cola complains about flies liking the concrete house which is why her babies keep getting bitten at night. Why are the flies not an issue later when the house is used as a chop house (restaurant) instead of living quarters. In this book, I had a lot more questions like this and found it harder to just go with the flow of the story. Still a good book, and a series I would recommend.

This book was not available in the US libraries at the time of the interview. You can check WorldCat. I was able to get this book through the Interlibrary Loan system at my local library. Here is the most awesome thing, I think my copy of the book came from Great Britain!!! I love the public library system.

February 28, 2012

The No. 1 Car Spotter

Title: The No.1 Car Spotter
Author: Atinuke
Illustrator: Warwick Johnson Cadwell
Publisher: Kane Miller 2011 (US), Walker Publishing 2010 (Great Britain)
Themes: Family, Village Life, Understanding the world around
Ages: 6-10
Pages: 111

Come meet Oluwalase Babatunde Benson, better known as No. 1, and journey into a new world, a village in Africa. Take in the sight of the iroko tree that Grandfather sits under, the delicious smells of akara from Mama Coca-Cola’s roadside stand, but be sure to have your running shoes on to keep up with No 1.’s adventures.

No. 1 Car Spotter is the first book in a chapter series geared towards boys by Nigerian born author Atinuke. The book is composed of four stories which seamlessly flow from one to the next.  No. 1 is an energetic, curious, helpful young boy trying to find his place in village life.

In the first story we learn that No 1 lives with a large extended family and his day is filled with collecting firewood, herding the goats, and other family errands. But he has a special talent, naming the cars that drive by just the sound of the motor; it has earned him the name the No 1 Car Spotter. However, this talent is frowned upon by the village ladies after all it does not get the work done. But No 1 will prove them wrong, when their village cart breaks down the night before market day. He comes up with an ingenious solution involving a broken down Toyota Corolla and some cows. Maybe having knowledge of cars isn’t so bad.

Next we are taken to the marketplace where a nosey No 1 follows his sister to the cosmetic stand, only to get caught, and later is told to purchase lipstick for an Auntie. How embarrassing.

No. 1’s best friend’s mom, Mama Coca-Cola, runs a roadside stand. No 1 loves her food and helps them out for the day by fetching soft drinks, since he knows he will get to have a large, belly-bursting meal at the end of the day. The next day something unexpected happens, the village starts calling him 7up. This is not good as 7up is the number two soft drink.  No. 1 returns to his daily chores as he likes being number 1 and realizes he is irreplaceable to the village.

In the last story, the family is faced with an illness. Grandmother is very and they do not have enough money to take her to the doctor. One day an NGO volunteer worker gives the village two wheelbarrows and tells No. 1 they must use it to make village life better and not sell it. Papa takes the wheelbarrows to the city and is able to send money home for a doctor. No 1 at first takes the NGO’s words literally and is upset that Papa took the wheelbarrows to the city. Later Uncle explains that Papa is able to get a job in the city now and send home money to make Grandmother better. With Grandmother better and able to watch the little kids, the aunties are able to work the field, so the village can have food next year. No 1 realizes the wheelbarrows did help make life better for the village after all; their lives are all interconnected.

No 1’s world may seem foreign but the themes are universal. The speaking voice of the characters is true to that world; it may take readers a few pages to get acclimated.

Stay tuned next week for my review of the latest book in the series, No 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird.

These books are not readily available in many public libraries. If your local library does not have it I recommend using your library’s interlibrary system if possible. It is well worth the wait.

November 21, 2011

Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus

This book is the fourth book in the Anna Hibiscus series written by Nigerian author, Atinuke.

Anna Hibiscus is a young helpful, caring, brave, adventurous girl who lives in Africa. She has never been away from Africa, where she is surrounded by her parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Anna Hibiscus is going to go to Canada to visit her grandmother. There are a number of first experiences in this book for Anna Hibiscus: traveling on a plane, seeing snow, having a dog in your home, meeting Granny Canada, playing with kids from a different background. Anna Hibiscus beautifully handles the ups and downs, that come with experiencing a new culture and place. When it is time to return home to Africa she is sad to leave, but is anxious to tell her family about all the wonderful things she did like sledding, her best friend Qimmiq, and of course chocolate cereal!

This book has a great balance telling a story that any child could relate to and introducing aspects of multiculturalism.

Anna Hibiscus may be from Africa, but some of the experiences she has such as seeing snow, trying to make new friends, being around a dog for the first time. She could have easily been a girl from Florida visiting a cold, snowy, Canada for the first time. The author does a great job at capturing the excitement and the not so great things that come along with being in a cold environment. For instance being in a cold place means getting used to wearing lots of layers of clothing and being cold when you first get out of bed in the morning. But being able to see snow falling or go sledding makes it all worthwhile.

Aspects of multiculturalism can be observed, when you see Anna Hibiscus adapt to Western food which comes in packages and isn’t quite as spicy as her native food. But, she does love her new discovery chocolate cereal. She is afraid of dogs since in her hometown dogs are strays, running around carrying diseases. Neither she nor her family can fathom having a dog in your home. Anna Hibiscus learns a dog can be your best friend.

This book as so much heart, which is why I love it. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Anna Hibiscus responds back to a statement made about her inability to ice skate since she is African. Anna Hibiscus replies “My name is Anna Hibiscus … I could not skate because it was my first time. Not because I am African.” I love this line and only wish I had this book, when I was growing up in rural Pennsylvania as one of a handful of immigrant Indians. I love Anna Hibiscus’s courage to stand proud. One of the funniest scenes for me was early in the book when Anna and Auntie Jumoke are on the plane and Anna gets hungry. Auntie Jumoke comments on the food cart “That is not food … It is plastic, pretending to be food.” Auntie then pulls out of her bag boxes filled with their native food. This totally reminded me of my grandmother and Aunty who take food with them whenever they travel.

I think this book is applicable to all young girls no matter whether they be Caucasian, African, Asian, Latino, or any other place in the world. It has something for everyone.

Recommendation: Add to Home Library

Author: Atinuke
Illustrator: Lauren Tobia

Have Fun, Anna Hibiscus

This book is not readily available in many public libraries. If your local library does not have it I recommend using your library’s interlibrary system if possible. It is well worth the wait.

NOTE: This book was nominated by Madigan McGillicuddy for the 2011 Cybils Awards in the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book category. I am a first-round panelist in this category, but this review reflects my opinions only, not those of any other panelist, or the panel as a whole. Thanks!

November 2, 2011

Bad Kitty Gets a Bath

There is one thing you will never, ever, ever forget after reading this comical, witty, fun-fact filled, low on words but high on laughter story and that is

CATS  HATE  BATHS !

Each chapter contains numerous illustrations to keep the reader engaged page after page, such that the young reader may not even mind when they get to a page of entire text! Uncle Murray appears several times to even provide some scientific facts about cats.

This book will appeal to all kids. I am not a “pet” person (probably since I never had one) and even I enjoyed it. I read this book since I thought it was on my Cybils reading list, only to realize I had the wrong title. But I didn’t mind reading it one bit, and I look forward to reading his newer book Bad Kitty Meets the Baby.

For more books in the Bad Kitty Series.

Author & Illustrator: Nick Bruel

Bad Kitty Gets a Bath

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