Tag Archives: AAPI

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.

 

AAPI Heritage Month Post 6

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Today’s featured book is a YA novel I read as an ARC and will be published on September 1st. This is a book I want everyone to read.

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

HMH Books for Young Readers

September 1, 2020

From the publisher: From New York Times best-selling and acclaimed author Traci Chee comes We Are Not Free, the collective account of a tight-knit group of young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II.

Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco.

Fourteen teens who form a community and a family, as interconnected as they are conflicted.

Fourteen teens whose lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps.

In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart.

What I think: These powerful interconnected stories of incarceration during WWII told by Nisei youth will wrap around your heart like barbed wire. With deft touches of humor, heart, pathos, and anger, We Are Not Free by the talented Traci Chee is the best Japanese American incarceration novel I’ve read. I loved this book that epitomized gaman and will be buying a copy for everyone in my family.

I fell in love with each of these 14 characters, and I know you will, too.

Pre-order the book here.

AAPI Heritage Month Post 5

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Whew! I made my deadline! And now I will be posting more frequently for the rest of AAPI Heritage Month. For the next few posts I’ll be highlighting AAPI books I’ve read in galley form that have not been released yet but will be published soon. These are books I highly recommend you consider pre-ordering or at least purchasing when they release.

 

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Aug. 4, 2020

From the publisher: Sometimes all you need is a pinch of magic…

Eva Evergreen is determined to earn the rank of Novice Witch before her thirteenth birthday. If she doesn’t, she’ll lose her magic forever. For most young witches and wizards, it’s a simple enough test:

One: Help your town, do good all around.
Two: Live there for one moon, don’t leave too soon.
Three: Fly home by broomstick, the easiest of tricks.

The only problem? Eva only has a pinch of magic. She summons heads of cabbage instead of flowers and gets a sunburn instead of calling down rain. And to add insult to injury, whenever she overuses her magic, she falls asleep.

When she lands in the tranquil coastal town of Auteri, the residents expect a powerful witch, not a semi-magical girl. So Eva comes up with a plan: set up a magical repair shop to aid Auteri and prove she’s worthy. She may have more blood than magic, but her “semi-magical fixes” repair the lives of the townspeople in ways they never could have imagined. Only, Eva’s bit of magic may not be enough when the biggest magical storm in history threatens the town she’s grown to love. Eva must conjure up all of the magic, bravery, and cleverness she can muster or Auteri and her dreams of becoming a witch will wash away with the storm.

What I think: Eva Evergreen’s journey unfurled before my eyes like a Miyazaki film, lush and mesmerizing. I cheered for Eva every step of the way, and hope to get to spend time with her on the next leg of her journey. (And I really want a flamefox!)

Pre-order here: Bookshop.org

 

AAPI Heritage Month Post 4

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I’m three days away from my deadline – and yet, I’m still happily reading AAPI books. Here are some recent favorite swoony AAPI YA novels I’ve read:

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed

From the publisher: It’s August in Paris and 17-year-old Khayyam Maquet—American, French, Indian, Muslim—is at a crossroads. This holiday with her parents should be a dream trip for the budding art historian. But her maybe-ex-boyfriend is probably ghosting her, she might have just blown her chance at getting into her dream college, and now all she really wants is to be back home in Chicago figuring out her messy life instead of brooding in the City of Light.

Two hundred years before Khayyam’s summer of discontent, Leila is struggling to survive and keep her true love hidden from the Pasha who has “gifted” her with favored status in his harem. In the present day—and with the company of a descendant of Alexandre Dumas—Khayyam begins to connect allusions to an enigmatic 19th-century Muslim woman whose path may have intersected with Alexandre Dumas, Eugène Delacroix, and Lord Byron.

Echoing across centuries, Leila and Khayyam’s lives intertwine, and as one woman’s long-forgotten life is uncovered, another’s is transformed.

The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park

From the publisher: Nate Jae-Woo Kim wants to be rich. When one of his classmates offers Nate a ridiculous amount of money to commit grade fraud, he knows that taking the windfall would help support his prideful Korean family, but is compromising his integrity worth it?

Luck comes in the form of Kate Anderson, Nate’s colleague at the zombie-themed escape room where he works. She approaches Nate with a plan: a local tech company is hosting a weekend-long survivalist competition with a huge cash prize. It could solve all of Nate’s problems, and she needs the money too.

If the two of them team up, Nate has a real shot of winning the grand prize. But the real challenge? Making through the weekend with his heart intact…

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

From the publisher: Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

From the publisher: “Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zero supervision.

And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turnGone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop.

But not every student is quite what they seem:

Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance.

Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret.

Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye.

And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.

When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.

 

Stay tuned for more AAPI Kid Lit reads recommendations!

AAPI Heritage Month Post 3

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Thanks for being patient with me as I post sporadically this month! Today I want to share some of my recent favorite reads of chapter books, all of these are part of a series for young readers to gobble up.

Nina Somi, Former Best Friend by Kashmira Sheth, illustratrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky

From the publisher: The first title in a new series featuring a lovable, distractible Indian-American girl and her family and friends.

Nina tried as hard as she could, but still somehow she forgot about her school project. Fortunately, a class lesson about Alexander Fleming suggests how she might make a great discovery―and thus a great project! But with little sister Kavita’s birthday party right around the corner, and her longtime friendship with Jay on the rocks, Nina has a lot to keep track of.

Readers are sure to relate to author Kashmira Sheth’s endearing Nina Soni and her slightly scatter-brained efforts to manage her life with lists, definitions, and real-life math problems.

 

Diary of an Ice Princess, Frost Friends Forever (#2) by Christina Soontornvat

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.

Astrid & Apollo and the Starry Campout by V.T. Bidania, illustrated by Dara Lashia Lee

From the publisher: Astrid is afraid of the dark and doesn’t want to go on her family camping trip. But her twin brother, Apollo, is excited. When they encounter scary things such as crawly bugs and the creepy dark, Apollo helps his twin through them. And when they encounter the scariest thing of all, Astrid might just be the one to save the starry campout.

Note: I read the advance galley of this book to be released on August 1, 2020.

 

Farah Rocks Fifth Grade by Susan Muaadi Darraj, illustrated by Ruaida Maanna

From the publisher: Farah and her best friend, Allie Liu, are getting excited to turn in their applications to the Magnet Academy, where they both hope to attend sixth grade. But when new girl Dana Denver shows up, Farah’s world is turned upside down. As Dana starts bullying Farah’s little brother, Samir, Farah begins to second-guess her choice to leave him behind at Harbortown Elementary/Middle School. Determined to handle it on her own, Farah comes up with a plan–a plan that involves lying to those closest to her. Will her lies catch up with her, or can Farah find a way to defeat the bully and rock fifth grade?

Happy reading!

AAPI Heritage Month 2020 post 2

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HI again! Forgive me for not posting books daily as I have in the past for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month – I am on deadline – but I will post as often as I can.

Today I’d like to share some AAPI picture books I read recently and have loved.

Magic Ramen by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz

From the publisher: Inspiration struck when Momofuku Ando spotted the long lines for a simple bowl of ramen following World War II. Magic Ramen tells the true story behind the creation of one of the world’s most popular foods.

Every day, Momofuku Ando would retire to his lab–a little shed in his backyard. For years, he’d dreamed about making a new kind of ramen noodle soup that was quick, convenient, and tasty for the hungry people he’d seen in line for a bowl on the black market following World War II. Peace follows from a full stomach, he believed.

Day after day, Ando experimented. Night after night, he failed. But Ando kept experimenting.

With persistence, creativity, and a little inspiration, Ando succeeded. This is the true story behind one of the world’s most popular foods.

 

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson, illustrated by Rebecca Huang

From the publisher: When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. This engaging biography follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism and racism to become what Newsweek magazine called the “Queen of Physics” for her work on beta decay. Along the way, she earned the admiration of famous scientists like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer and became the first woman hired as an instructor by Princeton University, the first woman elected President of the American Physical Society, the first scientist to have an asteroid named after her when she was still alive, and many other honors.

 

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang, illustrated by Charlene Chua

From the publisher: Meet the funny, fierce, and fearless Amy Wu, who is determined to make a perfect bao bun today. Can she rise to the occasion?

Amy loves to make bao with her family. But it takes skill to make the bao taste and look delicious. And her bao keep coming out all wrong.

Then she has an idea that may give her a second chance…Will Amy ever make the perfect bao?