May is the time to celebrate the wonderfully diverse cultures of the Asian Pacific. The term Asian Pacific includes over 25 different countries, including China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea and Thailand, to name a few.
Our book list spans many of the Asian Pacific countries, including stories about an unlikely friendship brought about by the tsunami, a Chinese wedding, a boat ride from Hong Kong and baseball therapy, and many more.
Hush! A Thai Lullaby
A loving mother asks animals from a water buffalo to a lizard to "hush" so her baby can sleep. Once the noises stop, the mother herself sleeps - and the baby is now awake! Textured illustrations evoke the Thai setting and convey the understated humor of this unique bedtime book.
All the Way to Lhasa: A Tale from Tibet
There's a saying that "slow but steady wins the race." In this richly illustrated book, the saying is recast as a Tibetan tale about a boy and his reliable yak and an impatient rider on a speedy horse, both on their way to the holy city of Lhasa.
Grandma Calls Me Beautiful
Beautiful asks Grandma to tell her their story, a story of bright eyes, swaying seaweed, and soft kapa cloth. No matter what, Grandma tells her granddaughter, she will be "Forever and for always, Beautiful." The lyrical text celebrates Hawaiian traditions and language, and watercolor illustrations evoke the lush hues of the Hawaiian islands.
In the Leaves
Xiao Ming and his friends are spending an autumn day on a farm, and it is the perfect place for him to show his friends how draw different Chinese characters for words such as "grain" and "fire." The colorful, gentle illustrations, created by cut-paper collages, will appeal to young children. This book is one of a four-part series by the author about Chinese characters related to the different seasons.
Peek!: A Thai Hide-and-Seek
The playful rhyming verses in this story from Thailand follow a game of hide-and-seek between a father and daughter as it moves from the house to the yard to the nearby streams and lush jungle. Vivid illustrations are done in watercolor and cut-paper collage.
Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes
A girl discovers things that are round, square, and rectangular in her urban neighborhood. A gently rhyming text and crisply lined illustrations reveal many things that are universally recognizable as well as others that come from the child's Chinese background.
A Place Where Sunflowers Grow
This book, based on experiences of the author's mother and grandparents, tells the story of a Japanese American family relocated to an internment camp in Utah. Even in the harsh landscape of the desert, a young girl is able to find beauty in unlikely places, and to re-establish her identity through art, by drawing what she remembers of her life before coming to the camp. Historical notes included. Bilingual English and Japanese.
Dragon of the Red Dawn (Magic Tree House #37)
Travel with Annie and Jack to the city of Edo in 17th century Japan on a Merlin Mission to find one of the secrets of happiness. The siblings spend an exciting day with the wise and respected teacher, Basho, using their research skills for a fast-paced, informative, and fantastic adventure.
This remarkable story is based on the life of Billy Wong, a Chinese-American who travels to Europe, becomes fascinated with bullfighting, and decides to become a matador. Eventually, Billy's determination and recognition of what makes him unique helps him realize his dream. Luminous watercolors illustrate this sensitive picture book biography.
When Sang-Hee's father cannot send the signal that no enemies are in sight, Sang-Hee must get the coals to light the fire on the mountaintop. Based on an actual signal system used in 19th century Korea, illustrations and fluid text create a riveting story that enlivens history. An author's note provides more detail.
Going Home, Coming Home/ Ve Nha, Tham Que Huong
American born Ami Chi travels to her parents' native Vietnam, to visit her grandmother. There she finds that some things don't change - like friendship - even in a strange, new land. Bilingually told and illustrated by richly colored paintings, Ami's story has resonance.
Helen has trouble communicating with her grandfather who has just moved to the United States from China. She speaks no Chinese, Gong Gong speaks no English. Nonetheless, they begin to learn from the other as they watch and count trains together.
As a child in India waits for the rains of the monsoon to begin, she watches the sky, the clouds, and the animals closely. She wonders what will happen if the rains bring floods, or if the rains do not come at all. This is a story of the seasons, and of people who have an intimate relationship with their natural surroundings. The colorful sketches will transport readers to another world, prompting them to wonder when the rains will begin.
My Name Is Yoon
Yoon narrates the difficulty she experiences when her family moves to the United States from Korea. Her imaginative voice is child-like and plausible, augmented by inventive illustrations.
New Clothes for New Year's Day
A little girl gets ready to celebrate the Lunar New Year in this gentle and stunningly illustrated book first published in South Korea. Excitement mounts as she details how she dresses for this engaging celebration with universal appeal.
Nim and the War Effort
Nim, a young girl living in San Francisco's Chinatown during World War II, is determined to collect the tallest stack of newspapers to support her school's newspaper drive and the national ongoing war effort. The story and its evocative illustrations depict the cultural traditions and quiet determination of a Chinese American family trying to embrace their American identity while the country is at war with Japan.
Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship
When a tsunami orphans a young hippopotamus, a group of concerned Malidi (on the east coast of Kenya) villagers figure out how to capture the 600 pound baby thus beginning his new life in an animal sanctuary with a new and unlikely companion - a 130 year old tortoise named Mzee. Full color photographs and straightforward text are used in this inspiring, appealing and true story told first by a young girl and her father.
Ruby Lu, Brave & True
Eight-year old Ruby experiences life with a contagious joie de vivre. However, she really hates Chinese school and worries about the new cousin from China along with other easily recognizable concerns in this episodic, engaging novel. Ruby's life continues in the equally engaging Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything (2006).
The White Elephant
Run Run is a young elephant handler - a mahout - who lives in old Siam with his beloved elephant, Walking Mountain. When the boy and his elephant accidentally insult a spiteful prince, Run Run turns the prince's "gift that is a curse" - a sacred white elephant - into a blessing. Their riveting story is told by a Newbery Medal-winning author.
Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding
Jenny's favorite uncle, Uncle Peter, is getting married. Now Jenny won't be his only "special girl" any longer; she'll have to share him with Stella! But Peter's bride is as happy to have a new niece as she is beautiful and wins Jenny over. Child-like illustrations reflect the traditions and warmth of this Chinese American family.
A Single Shard
Tree Ear, a homeless orphan, longs to work as a potter, a respected but competitive employment - especially for a boy who lives under a bridge. Set in 12th century Korea, this Newbery Medal winning novel is as relevant as if it were taking place today.
American Born Chinese
Three storylines - contemporary and mythic - intersect in this tale of a boy who is not comfortable with his culture or himself. This fresh, sometimes surprising, revealing novel is told in image and text. This graphic novel was the first of its format to win the Printz Award for best work of Young Adult Literature.
Chu-Mong, legendary leader of ancient Korea, suddenly appears - in the flesh! - in 12-year old Kevin's bedroom in his contemporary Dorcester, New York, home. Humor and tension build as ancient and modern come together in order to get Chu-Mong back to his own time and to take his rightful place in history.
Baseball Saved Us
During World War II, Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps. Isolated and bored, baseball became a life and soul-saving pastime which successfully brought very different people together. Darkly hued illustrations evoke the difficulty of the time, based on the author's family story.
Dia's Story Cloth: The Hmong People's Journey to Freedom
Through a quiet text and a series of stunning images created from embroidered cloth, the author relates her family's often harrowing journey from China to Laos to Thailand, ultimately settling in the United States. An afterward provides additional history and ethnology.
Moon Shadow joins his father, traveling from China to San Francisco in the early 20th century. Together father and son confront harsh prejudice as well as kindness, and ultimately follow a dream to build a flying machine in this Newbery Honor novel.
Forced to leave the turmoil and political unrest of their native Vietnam, 13-year old Mai and her family cram into a boat and make way for Hong Kong and ultimately to America. Mai's voice provides a necessary distance as she chronicles the journey and its horrors in with even tone.
Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku
"The Pacific Ocean was Duke's backyard." So begins the tale of Duke Kahanamoku, often considered the "Father of Modern Surfing." Duke won six Olympic medals as a swimmer, but surfing was his passion, and he traveled the world to introduce the sport to others. Duke, who encountered racism throughout his lifetime, was also a hero, saving eight people singlehandedly from a capsized boat in 1925, and eventually becoming Honolulu's sheriff. Readers who are new to Duke's story will enjoy learning about the legacy of this Hawaiian legend.
A Step from Heaven
Young Yu is only four years old when she takes an airplane from Korea to California, feeling she is only "a step from Heaven." Her narration subtly matures as she grows into a capable young woman, ready to go off to college in this sophisticated, moving first novel. Winner of the "Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature" in 2002.
The Aleuts were dramatically affected by both Japanese and the American forces during World War II. How they were relocated from their small island in the Pacific and relocated to the coast of Alaska is hauntingly told by Vera, a young Aleutian/Caucasian girl.
House of the Red Fish
Life for 14-year old Tomi Nakaji and other Japanese Americans living on the Hawaiian island of Oahu has changed radically since the bombing of Pearl Harbor the previous year. He confronts violence, despair but ultimately finds hope in this gripping sequel to Under the Blood-Red Sun (1994).
Rice Without Rain
When Jinda comes to trust the outsiders from Bangkok, her life in rural Thailand is changed forever. Poetically told and thematically sophisticated, this riveting novel provides a glimpse into the Thailand of the 1970s.
Wait for Me
The relationships, tensions and life of a hardworking Korean-American family are told from two perspectives, that of college bound Mina and her younger, hearing impaired sister. Readers will recognize the problems and issues that Mina and her family face.
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