20 Books for Young Readers To Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month & Year-Round

Looking for titles to highlight in May for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month? These 20 works, from recent award winners to debut middle grade outings, cover a diverse array of genres, time periods, and formats.
Looking for titles to highlight in May for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month? These 20 works, from recent award winners to debut middle grade outings, cover a diverse array of genres, time periods, and formats. They all feature subjects, figures, or protagonists who speak to the Asian/Pacific Islander diaspora and experience, and should be hailed and enjoyed by all young readers. Check out this post for additional titles.

Picture Books

redstarKIM, Aram. No Kimchi for Me! illus. by Aram Kim. 40p. Holiday House. Sept. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823437627.

PreS-Gr 2 –Their grandmother announces lunch featuring delicious Korean dishes while Yoomi and her brothers play. Yoomi enjoys grandma’s dried seaweed, soft egg omelets, and even the seasoned bean sprouts, but she does not like “stinky spicy kimchi!” Her older brothers, Jun and Yoon, won’t let her play with them because she’s too little; “big kids eat kimchi.” Despite trying various ways to mask kimchi—like on pizza or over ice cream—it is the kimchi pancakes that the child and her grandmother make together that delight Yoomi. They are delicious, enjoyed by all, and elevate Yoomi to big-kid status. The Korean family is depicted as personified cats reminiscent of the feline in Kim’s first picture book, Cat on the Bus. Illustrations created in pastel and colored pencil are detailed but uncluttered, expressive, and childlike. In addition to a recipe for kimchi pancakes, beginning endpapers depict the vegetables from which kimchi is made while closing endpapers show different-plated kimchi. VERDICT This fun and engaging story about food, family, and tradition is broadly appealing as a read-aloud or read-alone selection.–Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

redstarKIM, Julie. Where’s Halmoni? illus. by Julie Kim. 96p. Little Bigfoot. Oct. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781632170774.

K-Gr 2 –In this fun adventure story inspired by Korean folktales, young Noona and her little brother Joon step into a fantastical land to find their missing Halmoni (“grandmother”). Their journey partitions into three sections, each highlighting lovable or distrusted figures from traditional stories who help or hinder the kids as they search. Where’s Halmoni? has all the thrills, laughs, and morals that you could want from a good folktale for kids, but among Western libraries, you will actually find very little like it. Not only does it feature an Asian culture and characters, this title makes several distinctive design choices, as well. One example is Kim’s combination of modern and traditional Korean art styles; characters, with their less complicated and more expressive designs, both complement and distinguish themselves from the stunningly painted classic backgrounds. Another is the use of language—while the humans speak in English, creatures from the mythical world respond in Korean. Context makes clear what is being said for those who can’t read it; a pictorial chart in the back also provides a translation. One key line does include a transliteration. Many of the written and visual details (such as the hand signal for “come here”), could be used to promote discussion. VERDICT For its jaw-dropping art, encouraging bilingual attitude, and conscientious portrayal of Korean culture, Where’s Halmoni? is a perfect choice for most collections.–Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ont.

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

redstarPHI, Bao. A Different Pond. illus. by Thi Bui. 32p. Capstone. Aug. 2017. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781623708030.

K-Gr 2 –This gorgeous tale about a father/son fishing trip shows the interconnectedness of family and the inexorable way that generational history impacts the present. The story is told from the boy’s perspective, as his father wakes him long before dawn to go fishing. Although the child enjoys the outing as a special adventure with his dad, they are fishing for food, not sport, and they must be home in time for the father to leave for work. The quiet time together provides opportunities for the man to talk about his past life fishing with his brother in a different pond in Vietnam, long ago before the war and before coming to America. After they return home, triumphant, with a bucket of fish, the boy contemplates his role as the youngest in the family—no longer a baby—and even though he is sad that both his parents have to work, he knows there will be a happy, love-filled family dinner later that night. Bui’s cinematic illustrations make use of panels and weighted lines, evoking the perfect background or facial expression for each piece of text. The text placement and composition of the illustrations allow each occurrence or observation to be its own distinct event, stringing together the small, discrete moments that make up a life, a memory, and a history into a cohesive whole. VERDICT This gentle coming-of-age story is filled with loving, important aspects of the immigrant experience and is a first purchase for all libraries.–Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN

This review was published in the School Library Journal August 2017 issue.

redstarTAMAKI, Jillian. They Say Blue. illus. by Jillian Tamaki. 40p. Abrams. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781419728518.

PreS-Gr 1 –Tamaki’s picture book debut explores color and the seasons in a lyrical, philosophical way that is rooted in a child’s sensibilities. A young girl contemplates things most assume as hard truths. “They say blue is the color of the sky….Which is true today! They say the sea is blue, too.” But then she points out that it looks blue, but when she holds it in her hands “it’s clear as glass.” Then she wonders is a blue whale blue? She hasn’t seen one. In a nonlinear, vignette fashion, seasons change as do feelings of frustration to wonder, capturing a child’s imagination, mindfulness, and inquiry. Each unexpected turn from thought to thought will allow opportunities for rich discussion when using the book with children. Large swathes of acrylic paint on top of inked illustrations bring energy, color, and light to each sensitively rendered moment. Tamaki uses a motif of the young girl with her arms raised throughout, radiant with joy whether she is playing in the ocean, shedding winter clothes, or imagining that she is the tree she watches outside her bedroom window. The book ends with an intimate moment of her mother waking her in the morning, and as her mother braids her hair, they watch crows and wonder together what they are thinking. VERDICT Attuned to a child’s psychology and patterns of ­critical thinking, this visually stunning work is a must-purchase for libraries.–Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library, OR This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2018 issue.

redstarWENXUAN, Cao. Feather. tr. from Chinese by Chloe Garcia Roberts. illus. by Roger Mello. 40p. Steerforth. Sept. 2017. Tr $18. ISBN 9780914671855.

PreS-Gr 2 –Wenxuan has created a picture book that tells the hopeful tale of a single feather as it embarks on a journey to find out where it came from and where it belongs. As a feather, it travels on the wind without a particular direction, but it hopes to discover a personal connection to the world. Along the way, the feather meets many different birds and asks, “Do I belong to you?” Again and again it is rebuffed by kingfisher, magpie, heron, and others, but never loses hope. Finally, the realization that there may never be an answer is calmly accepted as it meets its fate in the talons of a hawk. Wenxuan is a professor of literature at Peking University and winner of the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award. In this folktale, he recognizes that searching does not always end in an expected result, but is still a valuable quest for truth. The story is enhanced by the incomparable illustrations of Roger Mello, who has created strikingly beautiful spreads of the feather’s encounter with each of the birds it meets. He highlights their gorgeous plumage including the tail of the peacock and the wings of the geese and then places them strategically on dynamic, full-color backgrounds that match this adventure of discovery. Garcia-Roberts has deftly translated this tale from the original Chinese with language that truly captures the poignancy of never giving up on your search for truth. “If I belonged to a bird, I could fly even higher!” VERDICT An amazing picture book that could be paired with classic titles, used to introduce a bird unit on adaptations, or just shared as the wonderful read-aloud it is. Highly recommended.–Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY This review was published in the School Library Journal November 2017 issue.

Chapter Books

Florence, Debbi Michiko. Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen. illus. by Elizabet Vukovic. 128p. Farrar. Jul. 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780374304102; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780374308346. POP

Gr 1-3 –Jasmine Toguchi is anticipating the arrival of her family members for the New Year in sunny Los Angeles. Every year to celebrate, Jasmine’s relatives spend all day making mochi, Japanese sweet rice cakes. Jasmine will have to wait two more years before she can assist with the mochi-tsuki, or mochi-making, with her grandma and aunties. Pounding the rice with the mochi hammer is a difficult feat that’s reserved for the men in the family. But fearless Jasmine is determined to be the first girl and first person under 10 to help with the New Year preparations. Obaachan, Jasmine’s grandmother, encourages her to be patient, while mean cousin Eddie relentlessly taunts the girl. In this new early chapter book series, Florence introduces readers to a bright character who is grappling with respecting authority while also forging her own path. Vukovic’s illustrations are expressive and imbue Jasmine and the Toguchi family with sweetness. VERDICT This first entry nicely balances humor with the challenges of growing up; readers will devour it.–Claire Moore, Manhattan Beach Library, CA

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2017 issue.

Middle Grade

redstarCHANANI, Nidhi. Pashmina. illus. by Nidhi Chanani. 176p. First Second. Oct. 2017. Tr 16.99. ISBN 9781626720879.

Gr 4-8 –Priyanka is a teenage girl who loves to draw. Her mother emigrated from India years ago, leaving Pri’s father behind. Pri is eager to learn about her father and her Indian heritage, but her mother refuses to discuss the subject. Then Pri finds an old pashmina in her mother’s suitcase, and when she puts it on, she is magically transported to the India of her dreams. Pri is greeted by an elephant and a peacock, who offer to show her around the country. Though they provide some answers, they inspire even more questions, and Pri must figure out how and why reality and her dream world overlap. This heartwarming story about family problems and female empowerment will inspire readers to make their voices heard. Much of the artwork is reminiscent of the illustrations in Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost: black-and-white with clear thick lines. Whenever someone dons the pashmina, the pages are suddenly drenched in rich colors. VERDICT This dazzling blend of realistic fiction and fantasy is perfect for fans of characters who have to overcome obstacles on their way to growing up.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

redstarCHOKSHI, Roshani. Aru Shah and the End of Time. 368p. Disney-Hyperion. Mar. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781368012355. POP

Gr 3-6 –Seventh grader Aru should never have lit the ancient lamp. When she put the lighter to the wick, the world froze and she released the awful Sleeper. Aru is suddenly launched into the world of the gods and surrounded by mythical characters come to life. Aru discovers she is a Pandava, born with the soul of one of the five brothers featured in the Mahabharata. She also has a soul sister, Mini, to assist her in this quest—highly unusual for a Pandava. Aru and Mini must enter the Kingdom of Death to find out the secret that will destroy the Sleeper. Rick Riordan writes the introduction to this book that has a similar tone and pacing to his popular “Percy Jackson” series, but Chokshi brings her own sensibility and style. Using Hindu mythology as the foundation, Chokshi has created an exciting adventure around a coming-of-age tale. A glossary provides readers with a basic introduction to the various traditional stories that Chokshi drew from. Just as “Percy Jackson” led tweens to a deeper exploration and appreciation of classic Greek mythology, Chokshi’s tale will likely inspire a similar demand for traditional Indian mythology. VERDICT An enthralling start to a series that Riordan fans and anyone in the mood for a high-octane adventure will love.–Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2018 issue.

redstarDASGUPTA, Sayantani. The Serpent’s Secret. 368p. (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond: Bk. 1). Scholastic. Feb. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338185706.

Gr 5-7 –On her 12th birthday, Kiranmala gets a lot more than she expected: a rakkhosh (an Indian demon) roars onto her home, wanting to eat her; even more surprising, a set of handsome princes arrive to help her escape. Thus begins Kiran’s adventures in the Kingdom Beyond, an alternate dimension where her parents are being held captive and will end up as a meal for a baby rakkhosh unless Kiran and her friends can solve the riddles, complete their journey, and rescue her parents. Debut author Dasgupta includes many references to Bengali folktales, with asides that playfully detour the narrative for a few pages while someone’s mustache is stolen or a famous nursery rhyme is quoted. The subplots are interesting and the overall story will appeal to fans of Rick Riordan and those who like their adventures fast and furious. The strong female protagonist and the integration of generally under-explored Indian mythology make this a compelling choice for most libraries. VERDICT Purchase for upper elementary and middle school libraries where Percy Jackson still rules.–Elizabeth Friend, Wester Middle School, TX

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2018 issue.

redstarGLASER, Karina Yan. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. illus. by Karina Yan Glaser. 304p. HMH. Oct. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544876392.

Gr 3-5 –Glaser’s pitch-perfect debut novel set in Harlem introduces the endearing biracial Vanderbeeker family. Twins Isa and Jessie, along with siblings Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney (ranging from ages four-and-three-quarters to 12), plus a dog, a cat, a bunny, and their parents, all live together in a brownstone on 141st Street. Unfortunately, cantankerous landlord Mr. Biederman refuses to renew the lease. They have the five days before Christmas to change his mind or they will have to move out of the only home they have ever known. Each child has a plan and a distinct personality to match; the neighbors and friends all do, too. Glaser’s detailed line drawings of the block’s brownstones emphasize that this book is not just about one family; rather, it encompasses the stories of an interconnected community. Jessie creates a Rube Goldberg contraption that makes music while watering the building garden. Elderly Miss Josie and Mr. Jeet live above the Vanderbeekers and count on their support. A school dance, sibling rivalry, and preparing just the right gifts for Christmas are all subplots that Glaser deftly uses as a tool to both develop the characters and engage readers in the family’s entertaining daily chaos. Glaser’s love for the Vanderbeekers shines through in her prose and stick drawings. Readers will look forward to future adventures. VERDICT A highly recommended purchase for all middle grade collections. Fans of Sydney Taylor and Jeanne Birdsall are sure to be satisfied by this contemporary urban update of the family-centered novel.–Eva Thaler-Sroussi, Glencoe Public Library, IL

This review was published in the School Library Journal August 2017 issue.

redstarHIRANANDANI, Veera. The Night Diary. 272p. glossary. Dial. Feb. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780735228511.

Gr 5-8 –Nisha writes to her Muslim mother, who died giving birth to her and her twin brother, Amil, in a diary she receives on their 12th birthday. Through her diary entries, Nisha documents the changes brought about by India’s independence from the British. Nisha and Amil live with their Hindu father, paternal grandmother, and the family’s Muslim chef, Kazi, and they must flee their city after independence. Hiranandani creates a world full of sensory experiences: “I ate a samosa. I ate it slowly, savoring the crispy outside tingling with the tart green chutney I dipped it in.” Readers see the depth of Hiranandani’s characters during the family’s walk to the border, particularly Nisha’s rarely affectionate father who gently cares for her brother and grandmother. Without contrivance, Hiranandani weaves parallels into Nisha’s story—Nisha cooking with Kazi and Rashid Uncle, and Rashid Uncle’s inability to speak along with Nisha’s extreme shyness. She evenly and powerfully communicates the themes of family, faith, humanity, and loss. In the back matter, Hiranandani includes information about how her Indian father’s experiences influenced this story and provides a glossary of Indian terms. VERDICT This rich, compelling story, which speaks to the turbulence surrounding India’s independence and to the plight of refugees, should be in all libraries serving middle grade readers.–Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2018 issue.

redstarKELKAR, Supriya. Ahimsa. 304p. Tu Bks. Oct. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781620143568.

Gr 4-6 –Ten-year-old Anjali’s comfortable life changes dramatically when her parents decide to honor Mahatma Gandhi’s request that every Indian family give one member to the fight for freedom from British rule. Anjali’s mother takes the active role, first learning to spin cotton on the charkha in order to make khadi, or homespun clothes, and teaching others to do the same. Her aspirations expand to helping the Dalit community, referred to with the pejorative “untouchables” by most in the town. It is Anjali’s observation that the Dalit children in their town should be able to go to school, and Ma is determined to make that happen. The road ahead is not smooth, as violence breaks out between Hindus and Muslims in their town and across the country, and Ma and other freedom fighters are jailed unjustly for their efforts, though they follow the principles of “ahimsa,” or nonviolent resistance. Anjali continues her mother’s crusade to integrate their school, knowing that before she can change others’ beliefs, she must first change her own. Inspired by the author’s great-grandmother, this well-written, accessible middle grade debut is powered by strong, fully developed characters who make mistakes and learn over the course of the story. Anjali and Ma in particular, though well-intentioned, are guilty of several missteps, which make them even more realistic and relatable to readers. They learn that change is not easy or straightforward, and Anjali especially learns how important it is to recognize and confront inequality. VERDICT A historical, timely, and informative story that is full of heart and belongs in most library collections.–Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

redstarKELLY, Erin Entrada. Hello, Universe. illus. by Isabel Roxas. 320p. ­HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062414151.

MG-SL-Kelly-HelloUniverseGr 3-7 –The universe comes together unexpectedly when a unique set of circumstances cause four tweens to cross paths. Central to the story is Virgil, an 11-year-old Filipino American whose grandmother, Lola, helps him to come out of his shell and face the world. When Virgil and his pet guinea pig, Gulliver, end up trapped in a well in the woods at the hands of a bully, Chet, it is up to the stars to align before it’s too late. Coming together like spokes on a wheel, everyone converges in the woods—Valencia, a Deaf girl on whom Virgil has a crush; Kaori, an adolescent fortune-teller and free spirit; Kaori’s sister, Gen, her jump-roping apprentice; a feral dog Valencia has befriended; and a snake, which is the only thing Chet fears. Unlikely friendships are formed and heroism abounds as the group of young people try to find their way in the world. Plucky protagonists and a deftly woven story will appeal to anyone who has ever felt a bit lost in the universe. VERDICT Readers across the board will flock to this book that has something for nearly everyone—humor, bullying, self-acceptance, cross-generational relationships, and a smartly fateful ending.–Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2017 issue.

See SLJ's profile of Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly.

redstarRESPICIO, Mae. The House That Lou Built. 240p. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Jun. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781524717940.

Gr 4-6 –Lou Bulosan-Nelson’s dream is to build a tiny house—a structure of only 100 square feet—on a plot of land that she inherited from her deceased father, who passed away before she was born. Living in San Francisco with her vibrant, extended Filipino family, Lou intends for her house to be a space of her own that is environmentally sound and honors her dad’s memory. If only her mother wasn’t considering uprooting them both to Washington state. Lou hopes that if she finishes her house in time, her mom won’t make them move. When Lou discovers her land is on the auction block, she ramps up her building schedule, but not without ample help from friends, cousins, and her attentive crush. A celebration of Filipino culture, this big-hearted debut novel examines the definition of “home.” Readers will be buoyed by the warmth and candor of Lou’s close-knit, intergenerational support system and will enjoy meeting Lou, a resourceful protagonist who knows who she is and is comfortable in her own skin. A sweet touch of romance will appeal to many tweens, without overshadowing the messages of environmental awareness, honesty, and the value of being oneself. VERDICT Cheerful and hope-filled, with an idiosyncratic female protagonist, this is a worthy choice for any middle grade collection.–Melissa Williams, Berwick Academy, ME

This review was published in the School Library Journal April 2018 issue.

TAN, Susan. Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book Is a Classic. illus. by Dana Wulfekotte. 272p. Roaring Brook. Mar. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781626725539. Gr 3-5–Cilla Lee-Jenkins is back. The spunky protagonist readers first met in Cilla-Lee Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire is now writing “a classic” with a focus on family traditions. Cilla, who is biracial, Chinese and White, is now in the third grade, and Gwendolyn, her baby sister whose arrival Cilla was dreading in the first book, is beginning to crawl. Cilla is an observant child which is an important quality for an aspiring author. She recognizes and is curious about the differences between her Chinese American grandparents and her White grandparents, and she wonders about her place in a biracial family. While Cilla is trying to understand how families work, she’s increasingly jealous that her “best best friend,” Colleen, is beginning to share jokes and playdates with another classmate. Cilla loves the traditions she shares with Colleen, but she experiences a few bumps and bruises on the path to learning that it’s possible to welcome new friends. The most important event of Cilla’s third grade year is her Auntie Eva’s upcoming wedding, a celebration that gives Cilla many opportunities to explore traditions and adventure. Cilla loves her aunt and is committed to being a “perfect flower girl” at the wedding, but, as she learns, weddings are also the perfect settings for drama. Cilla’s year is full of lessons about family and friendship, and Tan successfully gets into the head of an inquisitive and exuberant young girl. Wulfekotte’s gentle line drawings enhance a jubilant story that will leave young readers wanting to hear more about Cilla’s adventures. VERDICT A strong choice for most collections.–Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA

This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2018 issue.

Vivat, Booki. Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes. 208p. (Frazzled: Bk. 2). HarperCollins/Harper. Sept. 2017. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780062398819.

Gr 4-6 –Abbie Wu has started middle school, and finally gets her own locker! But there’s a catch: She’s forced to share it with the new girl. Then Abbie’s teacher assigns her a science project partner—and it’s the very same girl. At home, things aren’t any better. Abbie’s family has a new cat named Felix who hates her. Vivat’s second entry into the “Frazzled” series has Abbie’s relatable adventures punctuated on each page with doodles. The charming art style will appeal to fans of popular series such as “Big Nate” or “Dork Diaries.” While there are plenty of middle grade series about starting middle school and the various trials and tribulations that go along with it, this is a bit gentler than most. VERDICT Funny, relatable, and fast-paced. Ideal for reluctant readers or any kids who enjoy hybrid novels.–Jessica Ko, Los Angeles Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal October 2017 issue. redstarYANG, Kelly. Front Desk. 304p. Scholastic. May 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781338157796.

Gr 4-6 –Mia Tang and her parents expected to work hard when they came to the United States, but they had no idea how difficult things would be. After a year or two struggling to make ends meet, they find themselves managing a motel for a cruel and exploitative owner. The work is exhausting and the problems are many, but the Tangs approach their new responsibility with determination, creativity, and compassion, making friends everywhere and sheltering a trickle of immigrants in worse straits than themselves. Ten-year-old Mia takes over the front desk, and makes it her own, while dreaming of a future as a writer. Based on Yang’s own experiences as a new immigrant in the 1980s and 1990s, her novel speaks openly of hardship, poverty, assault, racism, and bullying, but keeps a light, positive tone throughout. Mia herself is an irresistible protagonist, and it is a pleasure to see both her writing and her power grow through a series of letters that she sends to remedy injustices. The hefty and satisfying dose of wish fulfillment that closes the story feels fully earned by the specificity and detailed warmth of Yang’s setup. Many young readers will see themselves in Mia and her friends. ­VERDICT A swiftly moving plot and a winsome protagonist make this a first purchase for any collection, especially where realistic fiction is in demand.–Katya Schapiro, Brooklyn Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2018 issue.

redstarYEH, Kat. The Way to Bea. 352p. Little, Brown. Sept. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316236676.

Gr 5-8 –Seventh grader Beatrix Lee puts a lot of faith in haiku. Since her family and friendships are changing dramatically, Bea abandons her love of free verse poetry and takes solace in the haiku’s dependable five-seven-five rhyme scheme. After an embarrassing incident at a pool party causes a painful rift with her longtime best friend, Bea writes most of her poetry in invisible ink, a reflection of the loneliness she feels at school and at home, where her parents are happily preparing for a new baby. Bea’s love of words starts to reemerge with the encouragement of a supportive librarian who introduces her to the kids at Broadside, the school newspaper. During lunch time, Bea takes refuge in the Broadside office, where she meets Briggs, the paper’s editor, who makes her feel like a valued member of a team, and Will, who is obsessed with labyrinths. When Bea decides to show Will a labyrinth that belongs to a wealthy and mysterious local resident, she learns the identity of the person who is leaving notes for her in a secret spot near her house. As Bea works her way through the maze of new friendships and a new role in her family, she begins to see herself and her friends more clearly. Readers will connect with Bea’s first-person narrative of her winding path toward discovering her strengths. VERDICT This character-driven story is a winning combination of humor, heart, and redemption. Recommended for all libraries.–Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA

This review was published in the School Library Journal July 2017 issue.


redstarRUBIN, Susan Goldman. Maya Lin: Thinking with Her Hands. 112p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. Chronicle. Nov. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452108377.

Gr 4-8 –For many, Maya Lin’s name is synonymous with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This biography moves beyond that singular project to provide readers with a fuller picture of Lin. Born in the United States to Chinese parents and a “Class A nerd,” she never felt that she fit in until college. Rubin incorporates information about Lin’s life and family, while putting the primary focus of each chapter on a specific project. Lin’s thinking is outlined in each case, whether it is how to help people understand the civil rights movement (the Civil Rights Memorial, Montgomery, AL) or how to raise hopes and spirits with her design for a chapel for the Children’s Defense Fund in Clinton, TN. Pages of large text alternate with black-and-white family photos and striking color images of her designs, both as they were taking shape, and upon completed construction. The spare writing style and the book’s uncluttered layout provide a reading experience as thoughtful and emotionally connected as one of Lin’s installations. The narrative represents the artist’s body of work from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to her current involvement with What Is Missing?, a project bringing attention to endangered species. VERDICT Thoughtfully written and visually engaging, this biography is a must for elementary and middle school libraries.–Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

Tales of India: Folktales from Bengal, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu. illus. by Svabhu Kohli & Viplov Singh. 176p. bibliog. websites. Chronicle. Feb. 2018. Tr $22.95. ISBN 9781452165912.

Gr 5 Up –Among the characters found in these 16 folktales are a clever rat that prides himself on his bargaining ability, a prince who returns to life, a shape-shifting tiger who tricks a Brâhman’s daughter into marrying him, and a ghost who impersonates a Brâhman living with his wife. The tales are broken up into categories: “Animal Tales,” “Outwitting and Outwitted,” and “Life and Death.” Each spans four to 16 pages, with footnotes providing longer explanations of words and phrases. The folktales from Bengal always end with a series of lines that, according to a footnote, have been traditionally said by orthodox Bengali storytellers at the tale’s end. This allows readers to see the connection to the original oral tradition and to the culture sharing it. While there is no artwork to break up the text, each story begins with a full-page vibrant illustration that succinctly captures the essence of the tale. VERDICT Recommended for robust folktale collections, as well as libraries looking specifically for tales from India.–Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

This review was published in the School Library Journal April 2018 issue.

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