Happy Tuesday, kidlit friends! May is a very full month for me: my husband and I celebrate our anniversary, it’s my birthday month, and there’s Mother’s Day. It’s also one of my favorite months weather-wise. I hope you all have a lovely May full of sunshine and flowers!
Before I review new releases and some biographies for AAPI month, I wanted to tell you about Book Riot’s newest podcast, First Edition. Book Riot’s co-founder Jeff O’Neal explores the wide bookish world, featuring interviews, lists, rankings, retrospectives, recommendations, and people who know and love books. Subscribe to First Edition on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your podcatcher of choice. I’m especially interested in checking out the episode where Kelly and Vanessa discuss the legacy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Giraffe Reading Sticker by RaffasBookClub
Giraffe lovers will adore this super cute bookish sticker. $3
Night Market Rescue by Charlotte Cheng, illustrated by Amber Ren (picture book)
This sweet picture book takes place in a night market in Taipei. A stray dog named Gogo smells something yummy and follows his nose to a bustling night market, where delectable treats are sold at every corner. Gogo is used to being alone and having to scrounge around for food, but then he discovers a little girl who is also alone, lost in the night market. He decides to help her, and in doing so, finds himself a forever home. Such a charming book, and the vibrant illustrations brought the night market alive.
Shark Party by Nidhi Chanani (early reader graphic novel)
I just read this early reader graphic novel to my 5-year-old last night! It’s the second book in the Shark Princess series, though both books can be read as stand alones. In this one, Mack invites Kitani to a shark party, but Kitani doesn’t really want to go. She doesn’t like large crowds. To make Mack happy, she attends the party, but she’s overwhelmed by all the sharks. When one of the sharks mentions that a deep ocean shark wasn’t invited, Kitani jumps at the chance to escape from the crowd and find the lone shark with Mack. Yay for an adventure! I love how Mack and Kitani’s personalities are balanced, and I also enjoyed the numerous types of sharks presented.
Lo and Behold by Wendy Mass, illustrated by Gabi Mendez (middle grade graphic novel)
Addie is reluctant to travel with her dad to a college campus for the summer, where he will be helping develop virtual reality tech with a team in hopes of snagging a grant. Addie’s mother has recently disappeared from her life after a struggle with an opioid addiction following a bicycling accident. On campus Addie makes friends with the only other kid there and becomes enamored with some of the virtual reality programs being developed. But she still feels depressed and confused about her mother. This is a thoughtful and imaginative new graphic novel.
For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage and History Month, and I wanted to highlight these four recently released children’s books about Asian American and Pacific Islanders. If you want to support AAPI authors this month, the first two books in my new release list above are also by AAPI authors and illustrators!
The Girl Who Heard the Music by Mahani Teave and Marni Fogelson, illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns (picture book)
This picture book biography explores the life of pianist and environmental activist Mahani Teave. As a child, Mahani learned to play piano on Rapa Nui’s only piano, and she loved it. She had to leave her beloved island to learn more about piano and to become a classical musician, but when she returned, she realized the island had a big problem: litter. The island’s beaches were awash with litter. She decided to build a music school by recycling the litter found on Rapa Nui’s beaches. This is a really fantastic and beautifully illustrated picture book.
The ABCs of Asian American History by Renee Macalino Rutledge, illustrated by Lauren Akazawa Mendez (picture book)
This rhyming alphabetical picture book takes readers through a whirlwind of Asian American history and culture. From the transcontinental railroad to water festivals and hip-hop, this book covers a wide range of topics. It also mentions many important AAPI figures that would be a great jumping off point for further research, like comedian Jo Koy, children’s book author Grace Lin, violinist Sarah Chang, and astronaut Kalpana Chawla. There’s a glossary in the back with more information.
We Are Here by Naomi Hirahara, illustrated by Illianette Ferandez (middle grade)
This is a phenomenal anthology of mini-biographies about a range of important figures in the AAPI community. From painter Etel Adnan to ‘ukulele musician Taimane Gardner and actor and wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the biographies cover many fascinating people. Each biography is accompanied by an illustration, and there’s a reflective guide in the back with questions, further reading, and a glossary.
The Snail by Emily Hughes (picture book)
This innovative and stunningly illustrated picture book biography of Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi is longer than most picture books, and told in three parts. It opens with Isamu being asked to represent America in an exhibit, then what follows is all the ways Isamu has felt separate from his dual identities as a Japanese American, from being put in an American concentration camp during WWII, to simplifying his name to Sam. Art became his protective shell and escape, and he came to call himself a snail.
We spent a beautiful day at the park over the weekend, where my daughter far outpaced me. This girl can run! And run and run and run.
If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next Tuesday!