Looking for books with Filipino characters? Learn about the Philippines with these Filipino American children’s books, including Tagalog words!
Mika Song and Isabel Roxas have teamed up to come up with Filipino and Filipino-American Children’s books which are few and far between.
I only know one picture book, Cora Makes Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, illustrated by Kristi Valiant.
How about you? Can you help us add to this list? Thanks!
60+ Filipino-American Children’s Books
Bahay Kubo illustrated by Pergylene Acuña
This was one of my daughter’s favorite board books- she loved the silly vegetable characters and it’s a fun folk song to belt out. – Mika Song [board book in Tagalog, ages 6 months and up]
A is for Adobo: ABCs of Filipino Culture by G. M. Reyes, illustrated by Twinkle A
This is a delightful alphabet picture book about Filipino culture, especially cuisine! For anyone interested in the Philippines, this is a fun way to learn about the country. The rhyming text gives context to each item. This is the perfect baby gift for a Filipino American family! [picture book, ages 2 and up]
Sari Sari Summers by Lynnor Bontigao
Nora loves spending her summers helping out her Lola at her sari-sari stores in the Philippines. Her grandmother’s convenience store has everything from hair clips to rice and detergent. When a heat wave hits, no one comes to the store. Nora is worried her grandmother will send her home. She gets the idea to use the ripe mangos in front of the store to make ice candy. Their popsicles are a big hit! A recipe is included in the back. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Is it a Mermaid? by Candy Gourlay, illustrated by Francesca Chessa
“When Benjie and Bel find a strange creature on a tropical beach they know it’s a dugong. But the dugong insists she is a beautiful mermaid and to prove it, she shows them her mermaid’s tail and sings them a mermaid song.
The children aren’t convinced but they play with their new friend all the same. When it’s time for her to go back to the sea, there is one surprise left – could she be a mermaid after all?” [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Mang Andoy’s Signs by Mailin Paterno, illustrated by Isabel Roxas
A neat picture book full of charming Manila street scenes (hand-painted signs, street food, and modes of transportation) that capture the ingenuity and nature of the people. – Mika Song [bilingual English and Tagalog picture book, ages 3 and up]
Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Krauss, illustrated by Jose Aruego
A heart-warming tale of the very special and talented Leo, who just needs a little more time and space to blossom. Boldly drawn and brightly colored by the great, Jose Aruego. – Isabel Roxas [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Grief is an Elephant by Tamara Ellis Smith, illustrated by Nancy Whitesides
Nancy Whitesides is an author and self-taught illustrator born in Manila and later moved to the US. Her illustrations for Grief is an Elephant were chosen for the prestigious Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators in New York. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Amina and the City of Flowers by Christina Newland, illustrated by Robbie Bautista
Amina is a young weaver and is homesick for Basilan, but she finds inspiration in her new home of Zamboanga City. [bilingual Tagalog/English picture book, ages 4 and up]
Melo the Umang-Boy: An Ivatan Tale by Alyssa Sarmiento-Co and Christina Newhard, illustrated by Jaypee Portez
Melo is a shy boy who goes fishing with his family and falls off the boat. At the bottom of the sea is a magical city filled with talking sea creatures. When disaster strikes, Melo must overcome his shyness to help them rebuild the city. [bilingual Tagalog/English picture book, ages 4 and up]
Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, illustrated by Kristi Valiant
Cora loves to cook but she only gets very simple jobs in the kitchen. When her older siblings head out, she gets to be mama’s assistant chef. She helps her mom make her favorite Filipino dish, pancit, a noodle dish! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
When Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling, illustrated by Aaron Asis
A Filipino-American girl looks forward to summer when Lola visits from the Philippines. Lola creates warm memories from the Filipino food she cooks, the songs she sings in Tagalog and Ilocano, and the time they spend together. When it is time for Lola to go home, it’s hard for the little girl. She misses her grandmother. Fortified with Lola’s homemade mango jam, the little girl bids farewell to summer. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Maribel’s Year by Michelle Sterling, illustrated by Sarah Gonzales
Review from A Kids Book About:
“Maribel tells about her first year in the U.S. after moving from the Philippines with her mother. Papa is still back home, and Maribel misses both him and her home. English is confusing, and the cold, snowy weather feels unfamiliar. But as the year goes on, there’s the promise of a new friend and exciting new experiences like learning to ride a bike, swimming at the beach, and trick-or-treating. By the time the snow falls again, it’s time for Papa to join them, and the final pages see the family celebrating Christmas together.” [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Kalipay and the Tiniest Tiktik by Christina Newhard, illustrated by Happy Garaje
Daydreaming comes easily to Kalipay, but she doesn’t know how to make bullies leave her alone. One day, she makes an unusual new friend in Gamay, who tells the school bully, Juan, to stop teasing Kalipay. Other children are afraid of Gamay—her strange tongue, split body, and bat wings—but Kalipay is fascinated by the things that make her new friend different. Together they learn how friendship can overcome differences and create happiness for everyone. This book is in English and Cebuano. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Dancing the Tinikling by Bobbie Peyton, illustrated by Diobelle Cerna
Jojo dances between two cultures, being American and Filipino. His Lola does too. She teaches the national dance of the Philippines, the Tinikling, at the cultural center, and hip hop with her friends. The Tinikling is hard but Jojo gives it another go and he is jumping in between the bamboo poles to the beat of the music! This is a joyful celebration of Filipino-American culture. The Tinikling reminds me of double Dutch jump rope![picture book, ages 5 and up]
Hand Over Hand by Alma Fullerton, illustrated by Renné Benoit (Illustrator)
I discovered this through the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party.
Nina can’t convince her lolo to take her fishing on the old banca boat with him. Lolo’s reply is the same as always: “A boat is no place for a girl.” When Nina promises to bait her own hook and remove her own catch, her grandfather finally relents, “just for today.”
Much to the amusement of the other fishermen in their Filipino village, Lolo shows Nina how to jig the lines, set the hook, and pull in a fish hand over hand. But no one is laughing when Nina brings in the biggest fish of the day! [picture book, ages 5 and up]
The Angel of Santo Tomas: The Story of Fe del Mundo by Tammy Yee
Review by Field Library Book Reviews:
“This picture book biography of 20th century Filipina pediatrician Fe del Mundo tells an inspiring true story about a person young readers will be able to relate to, as opposed to a story about someone adults will recognize. Fe del Mundo begins the book as a young girl in mourning for an older sister, deciding to take her sister’s dream of becoming a doctor as her own, in memory of and honor of her sister. She excelled at her studies and later immigrated to the United States, becoming the first woman and first person of Asian descent to attend Harvard. She leaves the US during World War II to return to the Philippines, where she invents an incubator and convinces authorities to move orphan children out of a prison camp into a home where she can care for them. After the war, she opens the first pediatric hospital in the country.” [picture book biography, ages 5 and up]
Journey for Justice by Dawn Mabalon & Gayle Romasanta and illustrated by Andre Sibayan
This is the first book written about Larry Itliong and the first nonfiction illustrated Filipino American history book for children. It tells the story of labor leader and co-founder of the United Farm Workers Larry Itliong’s lifelong fight for a farmworkers union, and the birth of one of the most significant American social movements of all time, the farmworker’s struggle, and its most enduring union, the United Farm Workers. [nonfiction biography picture book, ages 5 and up]
The Curiosities by Zana Fraillon, illustrated by Phil Lesnie
Using the folklore of the Philippines, author Zana Fraillon draws parallels between the tricksters and ghouls from oral tradition with Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological condition that her son was born with. Miro, the little boy in the story, is pulled and affected by The Curiosities that show him things other people don’t notice but also make him act differently. Elders from his village guide him away from the noise and confusion caused by The Curiosities, and it is this bond with his community that sustains him. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Lynnor Bontigao is featured on KidLit 411. Her first illustrated picture book, JACK & AGYU, was released in 2019 with Sawaga River Press.
Bakit Matagal ang Sundo ko? by Kristine Canon illustrated by Mariano Ching
Mariano Chings’ fabulous drawings take us on a wild journey of the imagination as our protagonist thinks of all the wondrous things (turtles, giraffes, and eagles oh my!) that could be keeping her mother from picking her up on time. – Isabel Roxas [Bilingual Tagalog/English picture book, ages 5 and up]
Hating Kapatid by Raissa Rivera Falgui illustrated by Fran Alvarez
In the Philippines, “hating kapatid” refers to getting your “fair share” as you would when splitting things with your blood relations, specifically with your siblings. In this modern fable, an older brother and tries to bamboozle his little sibling of her fair share of things and comedy ensues.
Delightful watercolors of illustrator Fran Alvarez add much charm and hilarity to this tale of sibling rivalry. – Isabel Roxas [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
The Adventures of Team Pom: Squid Happens by Isabel Roxas
This is a farcical adventure that somehow manages to connect all the dots in a delightful and satisfying way. Agnes, Roberta, and Ruby are a synchronized swimming team made up of the kids who are picked on by their peers, especially the Brighton Beach Mermaids who always win the Junior Synchronized Swimming Interborough Conference. But there is something fishy about the Brighton Beach Mermaids … or should we say “squidy”? Agnes, Robert, and Ruby discover a mistreated giant squid whose ink is the basis for a youthful skin cream that works a little too well. Can they save their giant squid, evade the rats on the squid’s tail, win the competition, and reveal the Brighton Beach Mermaids’ dastardly secrets? [graphic novel, ages 6 and up]
Chenelyn! Chenelyn! by Rhandee Garlitos illustrated by Liza Flores
Oh no! The housemaid has fallen ill! What do we do now? A funny and touching tale about appreciating the hard work of household helpers everywhere. – Isabel Roxas [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
Kung Linggo by Virgilio Almario, illustrated by Abi Goy
is a beautiful and humorous book about what happens when you invite a Tiger into your home on a Sunday afternoon. It is only in Tagalog, but if you speak the language, it is such a joy to read. You can follow along without words and enjoy the silly scenes, lush colors, and wild imaginings of Abi Goy. – Isabel Roxas [Tagalog chapter book, ages 8 and up]
Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly
Review from Randomly Reading:
“This is Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut chapter book. Not only did she write it, but she also illustrated Marisol’s story with black and white spot illustrations throughout, and the result is just delightful. Told in the third person from Marisol’s perspective, the chapters are short, with lots of white space between sentences, perfect for older elementary and younger middle grade readers. And I suspect that readers will find Marisol’s worries, anxieties, and challenges completely relatable to their own. She also does have a nemesis of sorts, Evie Smythe, a girl who knows just how to put Marisol down and get under her skin to make her feel bad (and make herself feel superior). But lest you think Marisol is ALL worry and fear, Kelly endows her with a loving family, lots of interests, curiosity, empathy, and she’s really good at getting stuffies out of the claw machine.” [chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Mabuhay! by Zachary Sterling
Review by A Kid’s Book A Day:
“An excellent blend of middle school angst, Filipino culture, and magical battles against evil forces, with outstanding artwork and a memorable family.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Timeless series by Armando Baltazar
The first book in a cinematic-style middle-grade adventure series is about what happens when many different time periods collide and have to co-exist in the city of Chicago. You’ve never seen Earth like this before: continents reshaped, oceans re-formed, cities rebuilt, and mountains sculpted anew. Dinosaurs roam the plains alongside herds of buffalo, and giant robots navigate the same waters as steam-powered ships. This is the world Diego Ribera was born into. The past, present, and future coexist together. In New Chicago, Diego’s middle school hallways buzz with kids from all eras of history and from cultures all over the world. The pieces do not always fit together neatly, but this is the world he loves. There are those, however, who do not share his affection. On his thirteenth birthday, Diego learns of a special gift he has within, a secret that is part of something much bigger—something he cannot understand. When his father, New Chicago’s top engineer, is taken by the Aeternum, Diego must rescue him and prevent this evil group from disrupting the fragile peace humanity has forged. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio
The Tiny House movement, Filipino culture, and the need for a place to call home intersect in this pitch-perfect middle-grade chapter book. Lou Busolan-Nelson is a mixed-race Filipina character that will steal your heart.
She thinks that if she can use her woodshop skills to build a tiny house on the tiny piece of land in San Francisco that she inherited from her father, it will keep her mother from moving them to Seattle.
Infused with Filipino culture including food and dance, this book will leave you hungry for more (and pancit and adobo.) [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz
This beautiful book centers on Nora, who lives in the real-life shantytown inside the Philippines’ Manila North Cemetery. When a family tragedy results in the loss of her dad and home, Nora discovers compassion, community, and unrelenting hope in the most unexpected places. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Freddie vs. the Family Curse by Tracy Badua
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“This was the perfect balance of a lot of things. It had some social issues since Freddie has some anxiety about his constant embarrassment. There’s a cultural connection with a rich background of Filipino history and family traditions. There’s even a little WWII history with the Bataan Death March. The inclusion of breakdancing was absolutely perfect since breakdancing is going to be included as a sport in the 2024 Olympics. Combine all of these things with funny scenes, a road trip, and a thread of self-acceptance and personal growth, and this is an absolute winner.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Any Day With You by Mae Respicio
“The story revolves around twelve-year-old Kaia, who loves the beach, making movies, and creating effects make-up. When Kaia’s ninety-year-old great-grandpa, Tatang, decides to return to his homeland of the Philippines, she doesn’t want him to go.
Kaia and her best friends make a movie about the Filipino folklore Tatang loves to tell, and they enter it into a summer film contest thinking that if they win, it’ll stop him from saying goodbye.
The book is all about family, friendship, and how we navigate change… an early reader told me she thought it was the warm hug we could all use right now and I love that—it’s a feel-good book for these times.” From Mae Respicio on From the Mixed Up Files blog [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Bone Talk by Candy Gourlay
Amnesty International endorses Bone Talk because it upholds many human rights, including our rights to life, equality, having a religion, and enjoying our own culture. It also shows us what can happen when these are taken away from us.
“It is 1899. Ten-year-old Samkad thinks he knows everything about the world. He knows that home is in the mountains. He knows who his friends and his enemies are. And he knows that he will grow up to become a warrior like his dad, with his own shield, spear, and ax.
His best friend is Little Luki and she too wants to become a warrior – though there’s little chance of that because she is just a girl.
Then strangers arrive … a boy with many languages in his throat … and weird-looking men called Americans who bring war and death.
Set during the U.S. invasion of the Philippines.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
The Wild Side by Tanya Guerrero
Joy Peskin at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux has acquired Tanya Guerrero‘s debut middle-grade novel, The Wild Side, inspired by the author’s multicultural background (Filipino and Spanish).
The contemporary story follows a 12-year-old boy named Pablo whose anxiety issues are exacerbated both by his mother’s decision to move with him to the Philippines, where she works as a zoologist, and to take in a foster child with an as-of-yet-unrepaired craniofacial anomaly.
Sugar and Spite by Gail D. Villanueva
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Jolina and her family have moved from Manila to the small island of Isla Pag-Ibig. After the death of her Lola Toyang and a stroke suffered by Lolo Sebyo, her father has taken over the family Bagayan Food Haus, and her mother is a receptionist trainee at a fancy resort in the area. This resort is run by the mother of a girl in Jolina’s Bible study class, Claudine. Claudine is very snooty and mean, and Jolina would rather avoid her. When she can’t, she decides to try to concoct a potion as her Lolo does. He’s a faith healer and has a vast library and workshop full of spells and supplies. She attempts a love potion that results in yema balls, a type of candy made out of egg yolks and condensed milk. These actually work, and Claudine suddenly wants to be her friend. Soon, Jolina, as well as her Jack Russell terrier, Kidlat, are hanging out at Claudine’s fancy house, and being asked to her birthday party, where there is a buffet, magician, and petting zoo! As she begins to enjoy Claudine’s company, Jolina feels bad about the spell and asks her grandfather about it. When a typhoon hits the area and everyone must evacuate, Jolina and Claudine have a falling out that has disastrous consequences. Will the two remain friends when the magic no longer holds?” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva
Review from Children’s Books Heal:
“My Fate According to the Butterfly is a compelling and mesmerizing story about culture, superstition, family secrets, substance abuse, and forgiveness. This is the first novel I have reviewed about this beautiful country.
The author bases her story on many of her own real-life experiences as a girl growing up in the Philippines. Readers will learn a lot about its rich culture, superstitions, traditions, subway systems, and cuisine — especially the mouthwatering descriptions that will tempt their senses.
Readers will learn about the colonial mentality in the Philippines that is a result of colonization by Spain. Sab is brown and flat-nosed, something she is very conscious of, as opposed to her friend, Pepper, who is light-skinned, has blue eyes and has a bridge to her nose. It is a stigma of sorts for Sab and she doesn’t feel beautiful. And Sab is very aware of how differently she’s treated in public — “white is beautiful, brown is not.”
When a giant black butterfly crosses Sab’s path, she sets out to get her father and older sister, Ate Nadine, to fix their relationship in case her time is running out. It is interesting to watch this wonderfully real protagonist work through this long-held superstition and come to her own conclusions.
Sab is planning her eleventh birthday but ends up uncovering secrets about her father’s substance abuse. Many readers will identify with an addictive parent, which is a problem for Filipino families, both rich and poor, as it is worldwide. It has spit Sab’s family, but it is also an opportunity for the family to heal.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
The Land of the Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Sol has had a very difficult life. In the Philippines, her younger sister drowns, her mother dies of cancer, and her father marries a woman who just wants to go to the US. Once in the US, her father leaves the family, and Sol and her sister Ming are left with Vea, who struggles to keep the girls fed and housed in a difficult part of town. Sol has a good friend, Manny, but the two make a bad choice to throw things at students from a nearby private school, and Sol injures Caroline, a girl she has made fun of because she is an albino. Vea yells a lot and is borderline abusive, so Sol is glad to meet a neighbor, Mrs. Yeung, who takes an interest in her, even if she doesn’t speak very much. Ming is obsessed with the mythical Auntie Jove, who isn’t real but about whom Sol’s mother told her many stories. Ming is sure that this aunt will come and take her and Sol back to the Philippines. Sol occasionally “hears” her sister Amelia talking to her in times of stress, but I would not consider the book a ghost story. Eventually, both sisters must find a way to make their lives better despite their difficult circumstances… This has a lot of depressing incidents, and even the end didn’t seem very hopeful. I just wanted to call Children’s Services. ” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Lola: A Ghost Story by J. Torres
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Jesse has to go to the Philippines for his grandmother’s funeral. He doesn’t like being there– he’s not used to the crowd of relatives, the heat, the bugs, or the horrible feeling that his cousin and former playmate are haunting him from beyond the grave. Jesse is afraid that he has inherited his grandmother’s ability to see ghosts, which is especially frightening when he thinks about all of the scary stories that she told him. His aunt and uncle are not doing well after the death of their son, and Jesse being there upsets them further until he is able to find a toy that his cousin lost before his death, and put his cousin’s ghost to rest.
How To Make Friends with the Sea by Tanya Guerrero
Review by Ms. Yingling Reads:
“This has some fascinating glimpses into life in the Philippines– sari sari stores, Jollibee restaurants and food (ube!), tricycles for getting around town, and beach resorts. The inclusion of words and phrases in Tagalog (and the glossary at the back) was a nice touch. Pablo’s OCD-like difficulties (which are not given a medical label) are nicely offset by his relationship with Chiqui, and it’s good to see parents who are complex and problematic and not just deceased. Other topics, like moving frequently, trying to make friends, and dealing with a parent dating will make this a book to which many students can relate.” [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
I recently read See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng with my son. This required rising 7th-grade fiction middle-grade chapter book subtly includes the reference that the main character, 11-year-old Alex Petroski, is half Filipino by way of his mother.
This is a road trip coming-of-age story of a boy in search of many different kinds of truths and finds unlikely friendships along the way. I like how the story isn’t about being Filipino but is another dimension of the story. [middle grade, ages 10 and up]
What Kids should know about Filipino Food by Felice Prudente St. Maria, illustrated by Mika Bacani
An excellent primer on Filipino food that begins with staples (rice, coconuts, and seafood), then moves briskly onto various snacks, and different cooking methods and explores the differences in regional cuisine.
Gorgeously illustrated by Mika Bacani and written in an easy, conversational tone by Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, this book is chock-full of facts, drool-inducing descriptions of meals and funny anecdotes on food and Filipino culture. – Isabel Roxas [middle-grade nonfiction, ages 10 and up]
Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
A Beatles-loving, Filipino-American girl finds herself abandoned by her friends for being different. I wish I had this book in my hands in middle school, it would have been a comfort to read. – Mika Song [middle grade, ages 11 and up]
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
A shy boy, a deaf girl, and an 11-year-old fortune-teller find each other in this touching, funny, and accurate middle-grade adventure. I love all the characters in this great book. – Mika Song [middle grade, ages 11 and up]
Tall Story by Candy Gourlay
A young adult book about a spectacularly tall boy who moves to London from a small town in the Philippines to be reunited with his mother and step-family. It weaves magical realism, folk tales, and basketball, and captures the heartache of belonging to two worlds. – Mika Song [young adult, ages 13 and up]
The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Review from Ms. Yingling Reads:
“In 1906, Amihan is quite happy living with her mother (Nanay) on a colony for those touched by leprosy on Culion Island in the Philippines. It’s just the two of them, but there is a strong and supportive community including brothers Bondoc and Capuno and Sister Margaritte, who is Ami’s teacher. When Dr. Zamora takes over as the administrator of the program on the island, he makes big changes. The island will have segregated areas for those who are sick and those who are well, and the children who are well will be sent to an orphanage on a nearby island. Dr. Zamora is rather unhinged both about the possibility of catching leprosy and also about his butterfly research and collection. He accompanies the children to the orphanage where he frequently butts heads with Sister Theresa, who is not happy he separated the children from their parents. Ami misses her mother terribly but does make a new friend in Mari. When she finds out that Dr. Zamora has hidden incoming mail and that her mother is ailing, Ami decides to run away and get back home to see her mother. Mari comes with her, as does a young boy also taken from his family. The journey does not go well, but Ami does get back to see her mother. An epilogue shows us what Ami’s life is like 30 years later.” [middle grade, ages 10 and up]
We Belong by Cookie Hiponia Everman
From Camp Read-a-Rama @campreadarama on Twitter:
We’re nearing the end of #NationalPoetryMonth but you can keep reading poetry! Why not try a #VerseNovel? WE BELONG by @titacookie1974 is a moving story of immigrant life infused with the magic of Tagalog tales. @penguinkids #MiddleGrade
An extraordinarily beautiful novel-in-verse, this important debut weaves a dramatic immigrant story together with Pilipino mythology to create something wholly new.
Stella and Luna know that their mama, Elsie, came from the Philippines when she was a child, but they don’t know much else. So one night they ask her to tell them her story. As they get ready for bed, their mama spins two tales: that of her youth as a strong-willed middle child and immigrant; and that of the young life of Mayari, the mythical daughter of a god. Both are tales of sisterhood and motherhood, and of the difficult experience of trying to fit into a new culture and having to fight for home and acceptance. Glorious and layered, this is a portrait of family and strength for the ages. [middle grade, ages 10 and up]
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
Patron Saints of Nothing is a powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder. It has received five starred reviews and was selected for the National Book Award Longlist. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz
This thought-provoking and timely new novel from Melissa de la Cruz, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Alex & Eliza: A Love Story, will have you crying with Jasmine as she finds out she’s undocumented – then cheering her on as she fights to stay in the country she loves. [young adult, ages 14 and up]
500 Words or Less by Juleah del Rosario
Nic Chen refuses to spend her senior year branded as the girl who cheated on her charismatic and lovable boyfriend. To redefine her reputation among her Ivy League–obsessed classmates, Nic begins writing their college admissions essays.
But the more essays Nic writes for other people, the less sure she becomes of herself, the kind of person she is, and whether her moral compass even points north anymore. [young adult, ages 14 and up]
The Boyfriend Bracket by Kate Evangelista
Stella has had a hopeless crush on Will, her older brother’s best friend FOREVER, but now that Cam and Will have graduated and are going off to college, this year is her chance to really strike out on her own. Without her overprotective brother and his sidekick around to distract her, she can focus on having all the typical high school experiences that she’s always dreamed of―starting with finding a boyfriend! With the help of her best friend, Franklin, she comes up with the perfect plan to have a boyfriend by Christmas: The Boyfriend Bracket. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart by R. Zamora Linmark
Words have always been more than enough for Ken Z, but when he meets Ran at the mall food court, everything changes. Beautiful, mysterious Ran opens the door to a number of firsts for Ken: first kiss, first love. But as quickly as he enters Ken’s life, Ran disappears, and Ken Z is left wondering: Why love at all if this is where it leads?
Letting it end there would be tragic. So, with the help of his best friends, the comfort of his haikus and lists, and even strange, surreal appearances by his hero, Oscar Wilde, Ken will find that love is worth more than the price of heartbreak. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
All of this is True by Lygia Peñaflor
In this genre-defying page-turner from Lygia Day Peñaflor, four teens befriend their favorite novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book—with devastating consequences.
Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to hear the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her.
Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too.
Penny Panzarella was more than the materialist party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was—and she was willing to share all her secrets with Fatima Ro to prove it.
Jonah Nicholls had more to hide than any of them. And now that Fatima’s next book is out in the world, he’s the one who is paying the price…
Perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying—and told as a series of interviews, journal entries, and even pages from the book within the book—this gripping story of a fictional scandal will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. [young adult, ages 14 and up]
A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price
Valerie Simons knows the Wars are dangerous―her little brother was killed by the Boars two years ago. But nothing will sway Valerie from joining the elite and beautiful Herons with her boyfriend Matthew to avenge her brother. But when Jax, the volatile and beyond-charismatic leader of the Stags, promises her revenge, Valerie is torn between old love and new loyalty. [young adult, ages 14 and up]
Gilded Wolves series by Roshani Chokshi
It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.
Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
Bathala series by Reno Ursal
2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist in the Paranormal category!
When Dorothy Dizon meets the mysterious Adrian Rosario and his alluring knowledge of Filipino history, her life takes an unchartered detour. Dorothy’s true calling is connected to the hidden history of the Philippines, but Adrian reveals little to keep her safe from enemies of his blood-eating secret society.
Together, they experience a paranormal journey that brings them to the brink of a new kind of enlightenment.
Enlightenment, Book One of The Bathala Series explores the forgotten history of the Philippines through the first-person perspectives of Filipino characters who live on opposite sides of the truth. [young adult, ages 14 and up]
The Bone Witch series by Rin Chupeco
Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price…
When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother, Fox, from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.
In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha―one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
Readers Suggest More Filipino American Children’s Books
From @mskendra6 on Twitter:
The pleasure is all mine! I personally am not familiar with these Filipino-American voices, and I feel like it’s important. It was also cool to discover that a classic, Leo the Late Bloomer, was illustrated by a Filipino man, wow! I feel like that is important to know.
I found this on The Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors blog:
Son Who Returns by Gary Robinson (Choctaw/Cherokee)
Fifteen-year-old Mark Centeno is of Chumash, Crow, Mexican, and Filipino ancestry–he calls himself “four kinds of brown.” When Mark goes to live with his Chumash grandmother on the reservation in central California, he discovers a rich world of family history and culture that he knows very little about.
He also finds a pathway to understanding better a part of his own identity: powwow dancing. Riveted by the traditional dancers and feeling the magnetic pull of the drums, Mark begins the training and other preparations necessary for him to compete as a dancer in one of America’s largest powwows. [middle grade, ages 12 and up]
Mika has a new book out from Charlesbridge Publishing and we are giving away a copy! We are also giving away two bilingual picture books illustrated by Isabel Roxas: Mang Andoy’s Signs and Araw Sa Palengke. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter. There will be three winners, one for each book.
A New School Year: Six Stories in Six Voices by Sally Derby, illustrated by Mika Song
Meet six diverse kids from grades Kindergarten through fifth grade who are entering a new school year. They are both nervous and excited about what the first day will bring. Mika Song captures their hopes, dreams, and fears with simple and engaging illustrations. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Mang Andoy’s Signs by Mailin Paterno, illustrated by Isabel Roxas
A Philippine Children’s Book with dual language: Tagalog and English. The art of persuasion is delightfully revealed in Mailin Paterno’s richly nuanced urban tale, illustrated with the charm and zest of Isabel Roxas. Children will be all wiser to learn how you ask is just as important as what you ask for. [bilingual Tagalog/English picture book, ages 4 and up]
I’m coming with Nanay! We’re going to the market. What would we see there? Who would I meet? Come, join us! Today is market day! Sasama ako kay Nanay! [bilingual Tagalog/English picture book, ages 4 and up]
From @MarilouReeder on Twitter: “My picture book, Willow the Armadillo, comes out next week and was written by a Filipino-American.”
Willow the Armadillo by Marilou Reeder, illustrated by Dave Mottram
Willow the Armadillo loves picture books. More than anything, she wants to be the hero in a picture book of her very own. She knows that achieving her dream will take a lot of work, so she studies hard at Picture Book Academy and signs up for many auditions. But she just can’t seem to land a leading role!
After one last heartbreaking rejection, she heads to the library for some peace and quiet, and instead finds . . . chaos! And that’s when Willow discovers something even better than being a hero in a book. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
An Eagle’s Feather by Minfong Ho
An Eagle’s Feather is based on a story of hope written by the Philippine Eagle Foundation to raise awareness and care for the critically endangered, majestic Philippine Eagle, the national bird of the Philippines.
A joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Philippine Eagle Foundation, this story was written into this book by Minfong Ho, award-winning author of Hush! A Thai Lullaby.
Illustrator Frances Alvarez beautifully captures rural Philippine culture and the powerful spirit of this powerful bird with powerful, evocative art in this very special book designed to capture attention for the plight of this incredible creature both in the Philippines, as well as on the world stage. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
A New School Year: Six Stories in Six Voices GIVEAWAY
To win a copy of the picture book A New School Year, Mang Andoy’s Signs, and Araw Sa Palengke, please fill out the Rafflecopter below. I can only ship to US addresses due to the high cost of mailing.
Mika Song is a children’s author/ illustrator who makes stories about sweetly silly outsiders. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines and Honolulu, Hawaii, she eventually moved to New York to study animation at Pratt Institute. She was an animator and other things for many years before she became a children’s illustrator. In 2015, she received the Portfolio Award at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Winter Conference in NYC. Her first picture book, Tea with Oliver (HarperCollins) comes out this August.
Isabel Roxas is an illustrator, designer, aspiring ceramicist, and avid reader.
She was born in Manila, Philippines, and was raised on luscious mangoes, old wives’ tales, and monsoon moons. She now works in a former pencil factory in Brooklyn where she writes and illustrates stories, designs books and creates small objects in clay and resin.
She has illustrated several books for young readers, including Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise Brown (Sterling Books, 2014), and Day at the Market by May Tobias-Papa (Adarna House, 2008), winner of the Philippine National Book Award.
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p.s. Related posts:
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- Starred review from School Library Journal
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