Author Archives: Debbi Michiko Florence

About Debbi Michiko Florence

Author of children's books. Coming July 11, 2017, JASMINE TOGUCHI, MOCHI QUEEN and JASMINE TOGUCHI, SUPER SLEUTH (FSG).

Picture Books by Black Creators

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There are amazing resources for picture books by Black creators – the links are below. Please visit them! I’m going to share the names of a few Black picture book authors and illustrators with the titles of some of their amazing books. Please click on the titles for more information and to purchase. This is NOT an all-inclusive list. A way you can support Black Lives? Buy books by Black creators.

Here are some authors/illustrators who have created picture books I love:

 

Floyd Cooper author/illustrator- The Ring Bearer, Max and the Tag-Along Moon, The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas

 

Kelly Starling Lyons author – Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon, illustrated by Laura Freeman; Tiara’s Hat Parade, illustrated by NIcole Tadgell; Sing a Song, illustrated by Keith Mallett

 

Don Tate author/illustrator – Carter Reads the Newspaper by Deborah Hopkinson, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, Hope’s Gift by Kelly Starling Lyons

 

Alice Faye Duncan author – A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks illustrated by Xia Gordon; Honey Baby Sugar Child illustrated by Susan Keeter; Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop illustrated by P. Gregory Christie

 

Jacqueline Woodson author – The Day You Begin illustrated by Rafael Lopez, This is the Rope illustrated by James Ransome, Each Kindness illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Baptiste Paul author – I am Farmer by Baptiste Paul and MIranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon; The Field illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara

 

Jerry Pinkney author and illustrator – In Plain Sight by Richard Jackson, A Place to Land by Barry Wittenstein

 

Angela Johnson author – A Girl Like Me illustrated by Nina Crews, Daddy Calls Me Man illustrated by Rhonda Mitchell, When I am Old With You illustrated by David Soman

 

E.B. Lewis illustrator – Across the Alley by Richard Michelson, All Different Now by Angela Johnson, Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson

 

Here are some excellent resources for finding more pictures books by Black authors and illustrators:

The Brown Bookshelf is hosting a summer book club for all ages – Generations Book Club

31 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism, and Resistance

Just Us Books – publishing house founded and run by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County: Black Joy Booklist for Children and Young Adults 

Please feel free to share your favorite books by Black authors and illustrators in the comments below. Thank you!

 

 

#BlackLivesMatter

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art by Kalaya’an Mendoza

Standing in solidarity with my Black brothers and sisters. I want to share a few names of some amazing books I love by Black authors and illustrators you should check out. Click on the book title to purchase at bookshop.org to support independent bookstores.

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The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert

Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi

Jada Jones series by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Dread Nation and Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

Dyamonde Daniel series by Nikki Grimes

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

So Done by Paula Chase Hyman

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

New Kid by Jerry Craft

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Laura Freeman

The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate

This is by no means and all-inclusive list and I know I’ll kick myself later for some books I’ve neglected to mention. I commit to reading more books by Black authors and illustrators. I hope you will, too.

Please check out the Brown Bookshelf for more books and resources.

 

AAPI Heritage Month Post 14

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Ah, it’s the last day of May and officially the last day of Asian American Pacific Islander Month. I managed to post for almost half of it. Again, apologies for not being able to post daily while I was on deadline. I hope that I’ve introduced some new books to you and that you will be buying and reading AAPI books throughout the years, not just during AAPI Heritage Month. It is my greatest pleasure to bring these books to your attention.

Today’s recommended read is a graphic novel by the amazingly talented Gene Luen Yang.

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

From the publisher: In his latest graphic novel, Dragon HoopsNew York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang turns the spotlight on his life, his family, and the high school where he teaches.

Gene understands stories―comic book stories, in particular. Big action. Bigger thrills. And the hero always wins.

But Gene doesn’t get sports. As a kid, his friends called him “Stick” and every basketball game he played ended in pain. He lost interest in basketball long ago, but at the high school where he now teaches, it’s all anyone can talk about. The men’s varsity team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that’s been decades in the making. Each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships.

Once Gene gets to know these young all-stars, he realizes that their story is just as thrilling as anything he’s seen on a comic book page. He knows he has to follow this epic to its end. What he doesn’t know yet is that this season is not only going to change the Dragons’s lives, but his own life as well.

Buy the book here: bookshop.org

There are many great AAPI books out there and more coming your way. This is good news! I haven’t been able to keep up with all the books (also good news). Here are a select handful I hope to buy/read in the near future – there are many more on my list. Please share in the comments any AAPI books you recommend! Thank you!

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American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar

I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

Lift by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat

Rogue Heart by Axie Oh

Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha

The Dragon Egg Princess by Ellen Oh

 

 

AAPI Heritage Month Post 13

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We’re nearing the end of the month, but I hope you all will continue to read and share amazing books by and about Asian American Pacific Islanders. Today’s recommended middle grade book is another I had the honor and pleasure of reading as a galley:

The Comeback by E.L. Shen

FSG/January 19, 2021

From the publisher: Twelve-year-old Maxine Chen is just trying to nail that perfect landing: on the ice, in middle school, and at home, where her parents worry that competitive skating is too much pressure for a budding tween. Maxine isn’t concerned, however―she’s determined to glide to victory. But then a bully at school starts teasing Maxine for her Chinese heritage, leaving her stunned and speechless. And at the rink, she finds herself up against a stellar new skater named Hollie, whose grace and skill threaten to edge Maxine out of the competition. With everything she knows on uneven ice, will Maxine crash under the pressure? Or can she power her way to a comeback?

Set in Lake Placid, New York, this is a spunky yet stirring middle-grade story that examines racism, female rivalry and friendship, and the enduring and universal necessity of love and support.

What I think: While Maxine Chen feels at home skating on the ice, she struggles to find a place to belong in school as she navigates the twists and turns of changing friendships and mean boys. I cheered for the spirited and determined Maxine both on and off the ice in this fast-paced story that made me laugh out loud and cry tears of joy and heartbreak. A story deserving of a gold medal!

Pre-order here: bookshop.org

AAPI Heritage Month Post 12

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I am so thrilled to be able to share this gorgeous cover for a book I read as a draft. It made me cry, and then again, and again, each time I read this amazing, touching, and heart-filled story. Not only is this story incredible but the illustrations match the tone and emotion beat-for-beat and will sweep you away.

Watercress by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin

Neal Porter Books/2021

From the publisher: This beautiful story is inspired by Andrea’s experience growing up as the daughter of Chinese immigrants.

What I Think: Full disclosure, Andrea is a very dear friend, but even if she weren’t, I would be just as much as in love with this emotionally evocative story that starts will the embarrassment of having to pick watercress along the side of a highway and morphs into understanding and empathy as her parents’ history is revealed.

Be sure to keep an eye out for this book in early 2021!

AAPI Heritage Month Post 11

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Today’s recommended AAPI book is

Kudo Kids: The Mystery of the Masked Medalist by Maia and Alex Shibutani

Razorbill/September 8, 2020

And yes, this book is written by Olympic ice skating medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani! I had the pleasure of reading this book as a galley. I thoroughly enjoyed it and know kids will, too!

From the publisher: Andy and Mika are going to Tokyo!

The Kudo Kids have never been to Japan before, so they can’t believe they get to attend the Summer Olympics there. The siblings plan to eat tons of delicious Japanese food, watch every event they can, and win a super-popular new game called OlympiFan.

Developed by a mysterious former medalist, OlympiFan brings players together from all over the world to search Tokyo for virtual medals and clues to the secretive creator’s identity. Andy loves puzzles, and he’s determined to crack this one, especially since the winning team will get to be beta testers for the Masked Medalist’s future games!

Mika wants to find as many clues as she can, but she also has a secret goal of her own–one that could get her into big trouble. But when someone sabotages the game, the Kudo Kids have an even bigger mystery to solve than the Masked Medalist’s identity. If they want to capture the gold, Mika and Andy have to figure out who’s trying to stop their team before someone beats them to the grand prize!

What I Think: An exhilarating page-turning romp through Tokyo for fans of puzzle games and mysteries! This book made me hungry for Japanese food and for more in this series.

Pre-order the book!

AAPI Heritage Month Post 10

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Today’s recommended Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month book is another I read as a galley.

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat

Candlewick/October 13, 2020

From the publisher: A unique account of the amazing Thai cave rescue told in a heart-racing, you-are-there style that blends suspense, science, and cultural insight.

On June 23, 2018, twelve young players of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach enter a cave in northern Thailand seeking an afternoon’s adventure. But when they turn to leave, rising floodwaters block their path out. The boys are trapped! Before long, news of the missing team spreads, launching a seventeen-day rescue operation involving thousands of rescuers from around the globe. As the world sits vigil, people begin to wonder: how long can a group of ordinary kids survive in complete darkness, with no food or clean water? Luckily, the Wild Boars are a very extraordinary “ordinary” group. Combining firsthand interviews of rescue workers with in-depth science and details of the region’s culture and religion, author Christina Soontornvat—who was visiting family in Northern Thailand when the Wild Boars went missing—masterfully shows how both the complex engineering operation above ground and the mental struggles of the thirteen young people below proved critical in the life-or-death mission. Meticulously researched and generously illustrated with photographs, this page-turner includes an author’s note describing her experience meeting the team, detailed source notes, and a bibliography to fully immerse readers in the most ambitious cave rescue in history.

What I Think: Wow! Even with knowing the outcome of this amazing rescue, I couldn’t stop turning pages. The author not only does an outstanding job with writing this story with heart and emotion, but she obviously took her job as researcher very seriously. An incredible book for both young and older readers.

Pre-order the book now.

AAPI Heritage Month Post 9

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Happy book birthday to Kelly Yang’s debut YA novel, Parachutes! I read this novel as an ARC and was absolutely mesmerized by Dani and Claire as they were faced with making decisions about their lives and futures. Intense and powerful!

Parachutes by Kelly Yang

Katherine Tegan Books/2020

From the publisher: Speak enters the world of Gossip Girl in this modern immigrant story from New York Times bestselling author Kelly Yang about two girls navigating wealth, power, friendship, and trauma.

They’re called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the United States while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d be one of them, until her parents pluck her from her privileged life in Shanghai and enroll her at a high school in California.

Suddenly she finds herself living in a stranger’s house, with no one to tell her what to do for the first time in her life. She soon embraces her newfound freedom, especially when the hottest and most eligible parachute, Jay, asks her out.

Dani De La Cruz, Claire’s new host sister, couldn’t be less thrilled that her mom rented out a room to Claire. An academic and debate team star, Dani is determined to earn her way into Yale, even if it means competing with privileged kids who are buying their way to the top. But Dani’s game plan veers unexpectedly off course when her debate coach starts working with her privately.

As they steer their own distinct paths, Dani and Claire keep crashing into one another, setting a course that will change their lives forever.

Buy the book: bookshop.org

 

 

 

AAPI Heritage Month Post 8

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I’m currently featuring Asian American Pacific Islander books I’ve read in galley form that will be published in the upcoming months that I highly recommend. Today’s book:

The Boys in the Back Row by Mike Jung

Levine Querido

October 6, 2020

From the publisher: Best friends Matt and Eric are hatching a plan for one big final adventure together before Eric moves away: during the marching band competition at a Giant Amusement Park, they will sneak away to a nearby comics convention and meet their idol-a famous comic creator. Without cell phones. Or transportation. Or permission. Of course, their final adventure together is more than just that-really, it’s a way for the boys to celebrate their friendship, and their honest love and support for one another. That’s exactly what we love so much about The Boys in the Back Row: it’s an unabashed ode to male friendship, because love between boys, platonic or otherwise, is something to celebrate. And of course, because this is Mike Jung, we’ll be celebrating it with hilariously flawed hijinks and geekiness galore!

What I think: A story of friendship between two 6th grade boys – sweet, funny, and endearing. I fell in love with Matt and Eric and their tight friendship. A fantastic book for all!

Preorder here: bookshop.org

AAPI Heritage Month Post 7

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Today is my birthday so I hope you will forgive a bit of self-promotion. My debut middle grade/tween novel published on May 5 and I’m thrilled beyond belief to have it out in the world.

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence

Scholastic/2020

From the publisher: A sweet story about first crushes, friendship drama, and finding the courage to stand up for yourself.

Seventh grade is supposed to be a game changer. And Keiko thinks she’s got it covered, especially with Audrey and Jenna by her side to shop for a new look, pick out a prime lunch spot, and even hit up that cute new bubble tea place after school. Her trio is ready to tackle life as they always have… together.

But when Audrey decides they need boyfriends before Fall Ball, it looks like things may be changing in all the wrong ways. Jenna is sick of caving into Audrey’s demands, and soon Keiko’s besties are barely talking, leaving her caught in the middle. While she’s been dreaming about triple-dates, first kisses, and a boy she really shouldn’t have a crush on, the friendship she’s always thought was rock-solid is beginning to crumble.

Keiko feels pulled in two directions. Should she try to help her friends — even if it means losing one of them — or follow her heart? When it comes to flirting, friendships, and fallouts, how is Keiko supposed to keep it all together?

This reader review made my day:

For more about the book including reviews and interviews.

You can also buy personalized signed copies of the book at Bank Square Books.