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 Book a Day 2019 – 22


Happy 22nd day of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! I’m sharing an AAPI book a day that I want to read. Today is also my birthday, so as a gift to myself I’m allowing an exception and today’s featured book is by Japanese author Mariko Nagai, who spent many years living in the States. I am a fan of her work, so I’m especially looking forward to her new novel coming out later this year.

Under the Broken Sky by Mariko Nagai won’t be out until October of this year, but is available for pre-order.

From the publisher:

Twelve-year-old Natsu and her family live a quiet farm life in Manchuria, near the border of the Soviet Union. But the life they’ve known begins to unravel when her father is recruited to the Japanese army, and Natsu and her little sister, Asa, are left orphaned and destitute.

In a desperate move to keep her sister alive, Natsu sells Asa to a Russian family following the 1945 Soviet occupation. The journey to redemption for Natsu’s broken family is rife with struggles, but Natsu is tenacious and will stop at nothing to get her little sister back.

Literary and historically insightful, this is one of the great untold stories of WWII. Much like the Newbery Honor book Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, Mariko Nagai’s Under the Broken Sky is powerful, poignant, and ultimately hopeful.


AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 21


It’s day 21 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I’m sharing an AAPI book a day that I want to read. Today’s book is a choice more for the author than the subject matter. I personally shy away from reading about WWII and internment. My father, a US citizen and a child at the time, and his family were interned. I prefer reading contemporary stories with Asian American main characters. Especially now when real life is full of challenges and darkness, I search for books that make me laugh, bring me joy, or provide a bit of escape. That being said, I love this author and her work, and so in support, I plan to read her newest book. Book 21 is

A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata

From the publisher:

World War II has ended, but while America has won the war, twelve-year-old Hanako feels lost. To her, the world, and her world, seems irrevocably broken.

America, the only home she’s ever known, imprisoned then rejected her and her family–and thousands of other innocent Americans–because of their Japanese heritage, because Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Japan, the country they’ve been forced to move to, the country they hope will be the family’s saving grace, where they were supposed to start new and better lives, is in shambles because America dropped bombs of their own–one on Hiroshima unlike any other in history. And Hanako’s grandparents live in a small village just outside the ravaged city.

The country is starving, the black markets run rampant, and countless orphans beg for food on the streets, but how can Hanako help them when there is not even enough food for her own brother?

Hanako feels she could crack under the pressure, but just because something is broken doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. Cracks can make room for gold, her grandfather explains when he tells her about the tradition of kintsukuroi–fixing broken objects with gold lacquer, making them stronger and more beautiful than ever. As she struggles to adjust to find her place in a new world, Hanako will find that the gold can come in many forms, and family may be hers.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 20


Today is day 20 of Asian American Pacific Heritage Month and I’m sharing an AAPI book a day that I want to read. This past weekend I had the pleasure of being on the faculty of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency Big Sur at Cape Cod retreat where I led two groups of 5 writers each. These writers shared their work for feedback and all 10 of the writers in my groups were talented and a joy to work with. Among the faculty was senior editor Jennifer Ung – editor of today’s featured book.

There’s Something about Sweetie by Sandhya Menon is the companion novel to one of my recent favorite YA romance novels – When Dimple Met Rishi. I’m super excited to read this one! I picked up a copy at Eight Cousin’s Books, during our author signing. (And just barely got my hands on it before Jennifer Laughran!)

From the publisher:

Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After being dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.

The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?

Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.

Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.

Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?




AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 19


Day 19 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! What a thrill it is to share AAPI books that I want to read. Last year I read and loved, Rebel Seoul. And then I got to meet the author last year when we were on a panel together at NCTE! She is not only talented but truly lovely!

Rogue Heart by Axie Oh comes out on October 8, but is available for pre-order! And by October, I hope to have more time to read so this one will be on the top of my TBR this fall! Part romance and part action-thriller set in the future, this is the kind of book I love!

From the publisher:

NEO BEIJING, 2201. Two years after the Battle of Neo Seoul, eighteen-year-old telepath Ama works by day in a cafe and moonlights as a lounge singer in a smoky bar at night. She’s anonymous, she’s safe from the seemingly never-ending war, and that’s how she’d like to stay. But then PHNX, a resistance group specializing in espionage and covert missions, approaches her with an offer to expose a government experiment exactly like the one she fled. Soon, Ama is traveling with PHNX on a series of dangerous assignments, using her telepathic powers to aid the rebellion against the authoritarian Alliance.

As the war ramps up, PHNX is given its most dangerous mission yet: to infiltrate the base of the Alliance’s new war commander, a young man rumored to have no fear of death. But when Ama sees the commander for the first time, she discovers his identity: Alex Kim, the boy she once loved and who betrayed her.

Now, Ama must use her telepathic abilities to pose as an officer in Alex’s elite guard, manipulating Alex’s mind so that he doesn’t recognize her. As the final battle approaches, Ama struggles with her mission and her feelings for Alex. Will she be able to carry out her task? Or will she give up everything for Alex again–only to be betrayed once more?

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 18


Happy day 18 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! I’m sharing AAPI books that I want to read. Today’s book is

My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva. I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since learning about it (I follow Gail and her ducks on social media). I was given a copy of the ARC of this book at the Kweli’s Color of Children’s Literature Conference in April, and I look forward to diving in this summer. It’s not for sale until July, but you can pre-order now!

From the publisher:

Light and deep, smart and funny, crushing and hopeful all at the same time, My Fate According to the Butterfly will open your eyes to both the world’s potential for magic, and to its harsh realities.

When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly, an omen of death, she knows that she’s doomed! According to legend, she has one week before her fate catches up with her — on her 11th birthday. With her time running out, all she wants is to celebrate her birthday with her entire family. But her sister, Ate Nadine, stopped speaking to their father one year ago, and Sab doesn’t even know why.

If Sab’s going to get Ate Nadine and their father to reconcile, she’ll have to overcome her fears — of her sister’s anger, of leaving the bubble of her sheltered community, of her upcoming doom — and figure out the cause of their rift.

So Sab and her best friend Pepper start spying on Nadine and digging into their family’s past to determine why, exactly, Nadine won’t speak to their father. But Sab’s adventures across Manila reveal truths about her family more difficult — and dangerous — than she ever anticipated.

Was the Butterfly right? Perhaps Sab is doomed after all!

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 17


Day 17 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I’m sharing an AAPI book a day that I want to read. This next book came to my attention after I shared a very pleasant train ride with the author after the Kweli’s Color of Children’s Literature Conference. Book 17 is

A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai! Everything about this novel is what I look for in a great YA book and I can’t wait to read it! It comes out in September but you can pre-order now!

From the publisher:

Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole –– matchmakers — with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.”

But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.

But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 16


Continuing from yesterday, I’m sharing another #ownvoices picture book for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I don’t always see “ninja” picture books (and mentions in media) done accurately or respectfully, so I particularly love the Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl books by Japanese American author-illustrator Sanae Ishida. I own both of the first books and was tickled to see there is a third!

Ba-chan: The Ninja Grandma looks to be another winner! And Ba-chan is what my daughter calls my mom! (The proper term for grandma is Obaachan, but we shortened and “cute-tified” it.)

From the publisher:

In this new edition to the Little Kunoichi series, author and illustrator Sanae Ishida introduces us to Ba-chan, Little Kunoichi’s wise, creative, and eccentric grandmother. Anything is possible with Ba-chan!

It’s summer and Little Kunoichi’s friends are away on vacation. After exploring every nook and cranny of her super, super secret island home with her pet, Bunny, she is bored, bored, BORED! Little Kunoichi shares her ideas to spice things up–a new bike, another pet–with her parents. But they have a better idea: a visit to her wise, quirky, and creative grandma, Ba-chan!

Little Kunoichi, joined by her little brother and Bunny, is excited for her visit. They are met with many surprises as they spend time with Ba-chan on an island she made herself and together learn that curiosity, resourcefulness, love, and imagination have more value than things money can buy.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 15


It’s day 15 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I’m sharing an AAPI book a day that I want to read. I have been mostly focusing on chapter books and novels, since that’s what I mostly write and read, but today I’m sharing a picture book I’m looking forward to!

Sumo Joe by Mia Wenjen with captivating illustrations by Nat Iwata releases on June 11 and is available for preorder. As a Japanese American, I am always on the look-out for #ownvoices books about Japanese Americans and this one looks like it’s going to be great!

From the publisher:

In this sweet and funny story, Sumo Joe and his friends enjoy pretending to be sumo wrestlers. But when his little sister wants to join their boy-only game, what should Sumo Joe do?

On Saturday mornings, Sumo Joe is a gentle big brother to his little sister. But on Saturday afternoons, he and his friends are sumo wrestlers! They tie on makeshift mawashi belts, practice drills like teppo, and compete in their homemade dohyo ring. They even observe sumo’s ultimate rule: no girls allowed! But when Sumo Joe’s little sister wants to join in the fun, Sumo Joe is torn between the two things he’s best at: sumo, and being a big brother.

Fists, feet, and martial art forms collide in this sweet yet spirited rhyming story by author Mia Wenjen and illustrator Nat Iwata.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 14


It’s day 14 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I’m pleased to be wishing a happy book birthday to the 14th AAPI book I want to read!

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai releases today! I’ve been anticipating this book ever since it came up on my radar a few months ago – I’ve been following the author/illustrator’s social media feeds. This illustrated middle grade book looks to be both humorous and poignant.

From the publisher:

Sometimes life isn’t a piece of cake . . .

When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he’s often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao.

To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she’s at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they’ll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama.

In her hilarious, moving middle-grade debut, Remy Lai delivers a scrumptious combination of vibrant graphic art and pitch-perfect writing that will appeal to fans of Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s Real Friends, Kelly Yang’s Front Desk, and Jerry Craft’s New Kid.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 13


I’m sharing an Asian American Pacific Islander book a day that I want to read every day during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It’s day 13 and please feel free to share your favorite or TBR AAPI books with me – either by using #aapikidlitreads on Twitter or sharing in the comments here.

The lucky 13th book that I want to read is book 2 in the Diary of an Ice Princess chapter book series:

Frost Friends Forever by Christina Soontornvat. I have already read book 1 – Snow Place Like  Home and love this adorable new fantasy series for younger readers. I am already firmly in love with Lina and can’t wait to see what new adventures she has in the rest of this series! Books 1 and 2 release in July – but you can pre-order now!

From the publisher:

It’s Winter Break at Hilltop Academy and Lina couldn’t be more excited. With time off from school, Lina’s parents say it’s all right for her best friend, Claudia, to come up to their cloud palace for a sleepover (as long as she double pinkie-swears never to tell the royal family secret!). Claudia can’t wait to see what it’s like to actually be a real princess!

But she soon learns that all the stuffy palace protocol isn’t nearly as fun as it sounds. The girls just have to get out and play! Claudia suggests they go down to the ground and have some fun with Lina’s winter magic. They have a blast sledding and skating in the snow until an actual winter blizzard moves in. The girls are stuck on the ground, lost in the storm. They will have to get resourceful, be brave, work together – and use Lina’s magic in a creative way – if they are going to find their way out.