Category Archives: Uncategorized

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Book Love (3)

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For the month of May, in honor of Asian Pacific Heritage Month, I’m sharing some of my favorite reads by/about Asians/Asian Americans.

The YA graphic novel, The Prince and the Dressmaker, is a recent read and firmly in my “favorite books” category! This graphic novel by Jen Wang is completely swoon-worthy, taking me back to some of my favorite manga reads when I was a teen.

Prince Sebastian’s parents are pressuring him, at age 16, to find a bride, but he is instead thrilled to have discovered a talented dressmaker. At night he becomes Lady Crystallia, a fashion icon. Frances, who dreams of a career in fashion design is at first happy to design dresses for the prince, and easily keeps his secret. But when it becomes apparent that in order to keep his secret, she must give up her dreams, she has to make a difficult decision, protect her friend or leave him to strike out on her own. A romantic tale of loyalty and being true to oneself.

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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Book Love (2)

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In honor of Asian Pacific Heritage Month, I’m sharing some of my favorite books by Asian authors. Please feel free to share your favorites in the comments. I’m always looking for good books to read!

Today’s featured book is the picture book No Kimchi For Me! by Aram Kim. I had the pleasure of meeting Aram at this year’s Kweli Journal’s Color of Children’s Literature Conference. Aram is every bit as nice as she is talented! In this foodie picture book, Kitty is teased by her brothers that she is a “baby” because she can’t handle spicy kimchi – and it seems she can’t, until her grandma makes kimchi pancakes. There’s a yummy recipe at the end of the book! I personally love kimchi, and this is a great book for introducing this Korean treat to readers. The illustrations are adorable (and yummy).

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Book Love (1)

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I’m starting a day late, but for the month of May I’ll be sharing some of my favorite reads by/about Asians/Asian Americans. Starting next week, I’ll be posting on Tuesdays and Thursday. Please feel free to share your favorites in the comments! I’m always behind on my reading and I don’t want to miss any great books!

Debut author Kelly Yang is coming out with a four-star middle grade novel, Front Desk (Scholastic/Arthur A Levine Books). Though this book doesn’t release until May 29, be sure to pre-order now because you don’t want to miss this. I was fortunate enough to get an ARC (Advance Review Copy), and I’m definitely buying the hard cover to add to my home library. So, I’m going to send the ARC to one lucky winner. Just comment on this post by Sunday, May 6 by noon EST and I’ll randomly draw a name. US mailing addresses only.

Mia Tang at 10 years old has a big sense of responsibility, helping her parents run a motel for a crooked and mean property owner. Mia takes over running the front desk while her parents run themselves ragged taking care of the motel. This was not at all the life Mia and her family expected when they came over from China. While Mia makes friends with the weeklies who live at the motel, she runs afoul of Jason Yao, the son of the mean motel owner. Mia sees and experiences first hand discrimination and cruelty and she tries to make things right. Based on the author’s childhood, this story broke my heart and put it back together again. I absolutely loved this book!

Comment below for a chance to win the ARC and to read it before the release date! Be sure to sign in with or share your email address so I can contact you if you win!

EDITED TO ADD: The winner of the ARC giveaway (using a random number generator) is Kristin C! Congratulations! Thank you to everyone for entering! I’ll be running more giveaways in the future!

#KidLitWomen – Book A Day in March (26)

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See KidlitWomen for daily links to posts by the children’s lit community, in celebration of Women’s History Month and focusing on improving the climate for social and gender equality. I plan to share my favorite books focused on girl characters and/or written by women through this month.

Today’s featured book is The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez.

I loved this book! Twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa) is not happy about moving to Chicago for two years, because of her mom’s (whom she calls Super Mexican) job, leaving behind her dad and everything she loves. As school starts, Malú feels out of place and tries to embrace her inner punk, something she associates with her dad. Her mother makes her feel “not enough,” especially when she keeps trying to push her Mexican culture on her. Malú can’t speak Spanish well, hates cilantro, and doesn’t want to be una señorita – at least not the kind her mom wants her to be. When Malú finds a group of kids and decides to form a punk rock band for the school talent show, she finally feels like she might like her new home, but will it last? And will her mom prevent her from being in this band? I rooted for Malú! Buy the book!

#kidlitwomen

#KidLitWomen – Book A Day in March (17 & 18)

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See KidlitWomen for daily links to posts by the children’s lit community, in celebration of Women’s History Month and focusing on improving the climate for social and gender equality. I plan to share my favorite books focused on girl characters and/or written by women through this month.

This weekend I’m happy to share two books I unexpectedly loved. Unexpectedly only because I thought the subject of the book,  the competitive world of ballet, wasn’t my thing. How wrong I was! I was immediately pulled into this world and devoured both books!

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

At an exclusive competitive ballet school, the top three ballerinas, Bette, June, and Gigi vie for the top spot, as well as the top guy. Bullying and harassing are not beyond what these girls are capable of in getting what they want – at least everyone but Gigi, who is the new girl from the West Coast, talented, naively friendly, and attracted to Bette’s on-and-off again boyfriend who is the top male ballerina. Told in multiple POVs, the girls reveal their vulnerabilities, their deepest desires, and their fears – and in the end, only one girl can hold the top spot. Buy the book!

Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

In this follow up to TINY PRETTY THINGS – Spoiler Alert……., Bette has been suspended and Gigi is back for level 8 and her last year, and June is determined to get one of two coveted spots in the American Ballet Company. Tension mounts as Bette tries to clear her name but finds she has burned all her bridges even with her former best friend. Gigi, goaded on by Cassie, exacts revenge by becoming the bully. And June despite her relationship with Jayhe is torn between her growing feelings for him and her desperation for ballet. Outstanding sequel! Buy the book!

If the name Dhonielle Clayton sounds familiar, yes, she is the author of the blockbuster YA The Belles! You’re going to definitely want to read that one, too!

#kidlitwomen

#KidLitWomen – Book A Day in March (14)

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See KidlitWomen for daily links to posts by the children’s lit community, in celebration of Women’s History Month and focusing on improving the climate for social and gender equality. I plan to share my favorite books focused on girl characters and/or written by women through this month.

Today’s featured book is the middle grade novel Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan.

Amina is happy to start middle school with her best friend Soojin by her side. But when a former nemesis, Emily, starts to hang out with them, Amina worries she’s going to lose Soojin. Add to that that her uncle from Pakistan is visiting and her dad wants everything and everyone to be perfect and Amina is starting to feel a little stressed. When their beloved mosque is vandalized, Amina learns the value of community and friendship, and finally is brave enough to use her voice. I loved this story – I learned so much about Pakistani, Islam, and the languages of Arabic and Urdu. The author expertly weaved all of this in without disrupting the flow of the story. So well done! And I got teary at the end. Buy the book!

Guest recommendation by Amy Losak is The Hunt a wordless picture book by Margeux Othats.

From the publisher:

Part girl-power, part cautionary tale, The Hunt (5 & up) depicts a young girl who builds and rebuilds a rock sculpture despite the efforts of two hunters to shoot her creation to bits. The girl persists, her sculpture taking shape and becoming a testament to the creative spirit and a condemnation of violence. Buy the book!

#kidlitwomen

Welcome to the Spotlight Eric Luper and The Mysterious Moonstone

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Hooray and happy book birthday to author Eric Luper! This fabulous book is the first in the Key Hunters chapter book series. A secret library? Mysterious keys? I’m there! Stay tuned below to win a copy!

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Key Hunters: The Mysterious Moonstone by Eric Luper (Scholastic/April 2016)

When their beloved school librarian disappears, Evan and Cleo are stuck with a new mean librarian, Ms. Crowley. Evan and Cleo discover a secret library hidden under their school library and follow clues left by their previous librarian- and end up inside a book! Evan and Cleo must solve the mystery and find a key in order to return to their world. Will they make it out of the book? And what other mysteries are locked in the secret library? A fun adventure that had me trying to solve the mystery along with Evan and Cleo. I’m excited to read the rest of the series!

Spotlight on Eric Luper:

You’ve written several novels for older readers prior to this. How did this chapter book series come about? It sounds like such fun to write, with each book taking readers into a different genre.

I had been working on a middle-grade adventure that took place in the New York Public Library and had to do with real life puzzles, almost like National Treasure but in a library. I spent a lot of time learning about libraries and traveling to various libraries for ideas (NYPL, Chicago, Morgan Library, Library of Congress). I was having trouble envisioning how the story would come together until my editor from Scholastic, Jenne Abramowitz, mentioned an idea about a library with magical books that could only be opened with special keys. All it took was thinking about my idea for slightly younger readers with a magical twist and KEY HUNTERS was born!

Evan and Cleo are fun to follow – Evan with his jokes and knowledge and Cleo with her bravery and gumption. How did you develop these two characters? What are the challenges and joys to writing a book about their adventures?

I needed Evan and Cleo to sort of be opposites of one another. That way, there would be lots of opportunity for fun conflict between the two. They have very different ways of approaching problems, and neither is afraid of voicing their opinions. As I moved from book to book, I learned more about the characters in the same way I hope my readers do. And sometimes one or the other surprises me with a thought or action that makes me step back and ask why they did that! It’s part of what makes writing this series exciting for me.

As far as what challenges I’ve faced, I worried about writing a series. Most series have very similar plots from book to book and, quite frankly, that would bore me a little. When I get bored, I grow disinterested and interest is what motivates me as a writer. Since each book of KEY HUNTERS takes place in a different genre of fiction, every one becomes new and exciting for me and that has kept the writing coming fast and fresh.

I love the idea of having to find a key in order for Evan and Cleo to make it home. Do keys have any special significance for you?

Keys are fascinating to me. When I was little, I thought the more keys you had on your keyring the more important you were. Keys open up possibilities in the same way books do, so the two go hand in hand in my mind. The idea that a key would open a book that the characters would be drawn into just seemed to gel perfectly. And the idea that the worlds inside these books are as real as their own world felt exciting too.

Eric Luper grew up in New Jersey and attended Rutgers University. He writes fiction for young people and is proud to have moved from starving artist to not-so-starving artist. Eric loves excitement and is always looking for his next adventure. He’s fibbed his way into a tour of the ultra-secret Pez headquarters, rebuilt a castle in France, explored the creepy tunnels under Paris and Istanbul, escaped hungry crocodiles in Costa Rica, and rafted down the Colorado River. When he’s catching his breath, Eric lives in New York where he splits his time between Albany and Lake George.

For more about Eric and his books, check out his web site!

To win a copy of The Mysterious Moonstone for yourself, a child, or a school or library, follow these directions to enter in the drawing:

1. Comment on this post by Saturday, April 30th by midnight EST. A winner will be drawn at random and contacted on Tuesday, May 3rd (be sure to include your email address).

2. Entrants must have a US mailing address.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!