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).

AAPI Heritage Month 2020

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Happy Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! In the past, I have shared #AAPIkitlidreads books daily – something I’ve loved doing. I am on a super tight deadline so I will be unable to share books daily, but I look forward to checking in semi-regularly to share AAPI books that I have recently read and loved and books I am looking forward to reading.

In honor of Everywhere Book Fest #EverywhereBookFest (virtual book festival starting today through tomorrow) and in honor of my co-panelists for tomorrow’s Middle Grade Lunch Bunch, I’d like to highly recommend two MG novels today:

STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG! by Jessica Kim

From the publisher: One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.

On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids calling her “Yu-MEAT” because she smells like her family’s Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she’s reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage.

Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she’s a girl named Kay Nakamura–and Yumi doesn’t correct them.

As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about.

ANY DAY WITH YOU by Mae Respicio.

From the Publisher: A warm, tender story about a creative girl who hopes that by winning a filmmaking contest, she’ll convince her great-grandfather not to move back home to the Philippines. For fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Kelly Yang.

Kaia and her family live near the beach in California, where the fun of moviemaking is all around them. Kaia loves playing with makeup and creating special effects, turning her friends into merfolk and other magical creatures.

This summer, Kaia and her friends are part of a creative arts camp, where they’re working on a short movie to enter in a contest. The movie is inspired by the Filipino folktales that her beloved Tatang, her great-grandfather, tells. Tatang lives with her family and is like the sparkle of her special-effects makeup. When Tatang decides that it is time to return to his homeland in the Philippines, Kaia will do anything to convince him not to go.

Cover Reveal for my MG Debut

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I’m super excited to share the cover reveal of my middle grade debut, Keep It Together, Keiko Carter (Scholastic/May 5, 2020). I love everything about this cover – huge thanks to brilliant cover designer Stephanie Yang.

Check out my essay on the Nerdy Book Club blog, on how I came to write this novel. ❤

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 31

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Today is the last day of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and I’ve had fun sharing all of the AAPI books that I want to read. Please know that there are MORE than these 31 that I want to read, but these are the 31 I’m committing to read over the summer (and beyond I suspect). I will continue to support and read as many AAPI books as I can! I also want to give a shout out to all the AAPI authors who paved the way for the rest of us, and to the many IPOC authors who are part of this incredible community. Thank you!

Book 31 that I want to read is SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW by Maurene Goo. I loved her previous novels, THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL and I BELIEVE IN A THIING CALLED LOVE. These YA novels are exactly the kind of stories I adore and so I suspect I will love her newest as well!

From the publisher:
Sparks fly between a K pop starlet and a tabloid reporter in this heartwarming rom-com from Maurene Goo.

10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.
11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.
12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

With her trademark humor and voice, Maurene Goo delivers a sparkling story of taking a chance on love–and finding yourself along the way.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 30

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We are winding down here – day 30 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and the 30th AAPI book I want to read is one that just came to my attention recently via a tweet.

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan – the cover is striking and the title definitely caught my attention. Coming to you in June!

From the publisher:

Liang Anlei wants a life of glory and revenge

As a warrior who protects her village from shadow spirits, Anlei has never been beyond the borders of her town. All of that changes the day the viceroy and his fleet of mechanical dragons arrives. It’s the protection her village is desperate for, but it will only be given in exchange for Anlei’s hand in marriage. Torn between wanting to protect her village and her own freedom, Anlei is forced to make a sacrifice.

The day before her wedding, she encounters Tai, a young thief who is also trying to save his people. Tempted by his quest and the thrill of glory it promises, the two embark on an epic journey to the Courts of Hell to discover where the shadow spirits come from. But the secret of their existence isn’t so easily solved.

Amid dark experiments and battles on magic-fueled airships, Anlei must summon the courage to be the hero; to live the life she has always dreamed of.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 29

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Day 29 of Asian American Pacific Heritage Month and I’m sad that I won’t be able to fit in all the AAPI books I want to read in these 31 days. But glad that there are that many AAPI books to read! A big shout out to author Mike Jung because had I not seen his post about this book, I might have missed it. And can I say how thrilled I am to see more books with contemporary Japanese American characters?

All The Ways Home by Elise Chapman looks to be exactly the kind of book I will love! And it just became available for purchase yesterday! I’m looking forward to getting this book!

From the publisher:

Sometimes, home isn’t where you expect to find it.

After losing his mom in a fatal car crash, Kaede Hirano–now living with a grandfather who is more stranger than family–developed anger issues and spent his last year of middle school acting out.

Best-friendless and critically in danger repeating the seventh grade, Kaede is given a summer assignment: write an essay about what home means to him, which will be even tougher now that he’s on his way to Japan to reconnect with his estranged father and older half-brother. Still, if there’s a chance Kaede can finally build a new family from an old one, he’s willing to try. But building new relationships isn’t as easy as destroying his old ones, and one last desperate act will change the way Kaede sees everyone–including himself.

This is a book about what home means to us―and that there are many different correct answers.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 28

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It’s day 28 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I’m wishing a happy book birthday to the 28th AAPI book that I want to read!

I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn has been on my TBR list ever since I heard about her book months ago. And then I received the ARC at the Kweli’s Color of Children’s Literature Conference! This book is near the top of my pile and I’m excited to get to read it this summer when I finally have time to read! I was thrilled to discover that she has also written a superhero book starring an Asian American! Here is an interesting conversation between her and another Asian fantasy author on Angry Asian Man’s blog.

From the publisher:

Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement.

She’s obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi’s entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.

When she arrives in Japan, she’s met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival – and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.

In I Love You So Mochi, author Sarah Kuhn has penned a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel that will make you squee at the cute, cringe at the awkward, and show that sometimes you have to lose yourself in something you love to find your Ultimate self.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 -27

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Day 27 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and the 27th AAPI book I want to read is by an author I’ve long admired for her body of work.

Forward Me Back to You by Mitali Perkins follows her critically acclaimed novel You Bring The Distant Near, a multigenerational story about love and family. I know without a doubt that Mitali’s newest book will be heart-felt, engrossing, and full of amazing characters.

From the publisher:

Katina King is the reigning teen jiu-jitsu champion of Northern California, but she’s having trouble fighting off the secrets in her past.

Robin Thornton was adopted from an orphanage in Kolkata, India and is reluctant to take on his future. Since he knows nothing about his past, how is he supposed to figure out what comes next?

Robin and Kat meet in the most unlikely of places ― a summer service trip to India to work with survivors of human trafficking. As bonds blossom between the travel-mates, Robin and Kat discover the healing superpowers of friendship.

At turns heart-wrenching, beautiful, and buoyant, Mitali Perkins’s new novel explores the ripple effects of violence ― across borders and generations ― and how small acts of heroism can break the cycle.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 26

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Day 26 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and I’m realizing I’m running out of day to post all the fabulous AAPI books that I want to read! Know that if I don’t mention a book in these 31 days, it’s either that I’ve already read it or I ran out of days!

Book 26 is

Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao. Her debut YA novel American Panda had me laughing through tears. And Wall Street Journal calls this new book “weepingly funny” – I so can’t wait to read this when it comes out in October!

From the publisher:

Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name, Ah-lee, after the mountain in Taiwan.

Her autopilot existence is disrupted when she finds out that Chase Yu, the new kid in school, is also Taiwanese. Despite some initial resistance due to the they belong together whispers, Ali and Chase soon spark a chemistry rooted in competitive martial arts, joking in two languages, and, most importantly, pushing back against the discrimination they face.

But when Ali’s mom finds out about the relationship, she forces Ali to end it. As Ali covertly digs into the why behind her mother’s disapproval, she uncovers secrets about her family and Chase that force her to question everything she thought she knew about life, love, and her unknowable future.

Snippets of a love story from nineteenth-century China (a retelling of the Chinese folktale The Butterfly Lovers) are interspersed with Ali’s narrative and intertwined with her fate.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 25

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For day 25 of Asian American Pacific Heritage Month, I’m sharing two AAPI books that I want to read.

I loved Frazzled: Every Day Disasters and Impending Doom by Booki Vivat – a fabulous and funny middle grade graphic novel! And I had the pleasure of meeting the author who is super nice, as well as talented. And so, I’ve been dying to read the two follow up books and they are on my list to read this summer! Frazzled: Minor Incidents and Absolute Uncertainties and Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes look to be amazing – and how can you not love these titles?!

From the publisher:

Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes (book 2): Things are looking up for Abbie Wu: this year she’ll run for class president and get a brand-new shiny locker. Until—she doesn’t…

In her second tumultuous misadventure, Abbie Wu tackles more unbelievably unfair and calamitous middle school days. From facing locker thieves and battling diabolical cats to having absolutely no idea what to build for her science project, Abbie Wu is still in perpetual crisis.

From author and professional doodler Booki Vivat, this second story follows Abbie Wu, your favorite hilariously neurotic middle school girl, as she tries to come up with solutions to what seems to be a series of inevitable catastrophes.

Akin to Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes is heavily illustrated, embarrassingly honest, and sure to appeal to anyone hoping to figuring out how to survive the ordinary mishaps of middle school.

Frazzled: Minor Incidents and Absolute Uncertainties (Book 3)

Abbie Wu thinks that she’s finally getting the hang of this middle school thing. That’s until her teacher announces that they’ll be going to…OUTDOOR SCHOOL!

While Abbie’s usual clique seems to adjust fine at camp, she doesn’t quite fit in—with anyone! If that isn’t bad enough, her camp counselors are totally evil and she can’t figure out what is up with the golden pig.

Abbie feels all alone. Will she learn how to fit in yet stay true to herself? Or will she finally reach her breaking point?

From author and professional doodler Booki Vivat, this popular series follows Abbie Wu, your favorite hilariously neurotic middle school girl, as she tries to come up with solutions to funny real-life middle school challenges.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 24

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We’re winding down here with Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I’m sharing an AAPI book a day that I want to read. Today’s book is by an author I fell in love with over the course of reading her previous three novels – and I am super excited that she has a fourth coming out!

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee comes out on August 13, and the author is running a pre-order campaign, so check it out here! I loved her previous books, Outrun the Moon, The Secret of a Heart Note, and Under A Painted Sky so if you haven’t read those yet,  you can read them now before The Downstairs Girl.

From the publisher:

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.