Happy Birthday United States on this 4th of July! To celebrate with picture books, I hope you enjoy two picks with an Asian twist. Both families are immigrants from China. The children in each book , like all children of immigrants, straddle between two worlds trying to be “more-American-like-their-friends” while immersed in the culture and traditions from their home country. But what is lovely in both these books is an acceptance that there is no one correct way to celebrate being an American. This is a homage to the United States of America, the great melting pot nation. Happy Birthday!
Julie Black Belt, The Kung Fu Chronicles by Oliver Chin is the kind of picture book I wished we read as we were taking karate. I really like that the main character is a girl who has dreamy notions of becoming a black belt like her favorite movie star but gets daunted by the actual training. This is the reality of karate — it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Lloyd Alexander’s The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen reminds me of Percy Jackson but the zen version or even a more swashbuckling version of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. For ages 8-14.
Round is a Mooncake written by Roseanne Thong and illustrated by Grace Lin, is an ebook for the iPhone or iPad about shapes with an Asian American Children’s Literature twist.
Journey Home is an important Japanese American story about what happened after the Japanese Americans were released from internment camp and this is also Yoshiko Uchida’s own family story about overcoming barriers, perseverance, and ultimately, of forgiveness.
Rose Kent writes Kimchi and Calamari with a clear eye and a loving heart much like the hero in her story. She is an expert on this topic of overseas adoption from Asia as she herself has four children of Korean descent, two of which are adopted.
This novel plays on theme of the stereotypical Asian geek/genius and Lisa Yee captures the voice of the Millicent Min, Girl Genius so perfectly that you cringe for her as much as you root for her.