Rabbit, Read

Happy New Year, to everyone who celebrates the lunar new year! It began last week, on February 3, and continues for 15 days. That’s 15 days of festivities, food, and family. I was hoping it would also be 15 days of delightful children’s books but I’m coming up a bit short, here.

My local library has a good selection of round-the-world folk tales for older children and a couple of books that explore Chinese New Year customs. (I’m not being exclusive, here – the books I found are specifically about Chinese practices, not other Asian traditions). And they’re… pleasant. Beautifully illustrated, in some cases.

Charmingly told, in others.

But they’re all very Serious. They have Morals. They are – gasp! – deeply Earnest. This isn’t terrible, of course. Morals are useful and earnestness is our national characteristic, here in Canada.

But this week, my plea to you is: could you suggest some beautiful, charming, light-hearted, Asian-inspired books for young people? Books about the New Year would be fantastic, but I’m also interested in all-year-rounders, at all reading levels, fiction or non-fiction, illustrated or not.

And at the moment, we’re loving Rachel Isadora’s Happy Belly, Happy Smile.

Thank you, friends!

P.S. This week, A Spy in the House was released in paperback! That was fast.

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9 Responses to “Rabbit, Read”

  1. My 8yo loves Grace Lin’s “Year of the Rabbit” and “Year of the Dog” and also Lenore Look’s “Alvin Ho” and “Ruby Lu Brave and True” books (which are very very funny)
    I also go to Mantralingua.com and Asiaforkids.com for a lot of great bilingual/Asian inspired books for my kids!

  2. Deva Fagan says:

    If you’re including books that are primarily (imo) stories about cool characters with a sense of humor who happen to be Chinese-American, Cynthea Liu’s PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE and Lisa Yee’s MILLICENT MIN, GIRL GENIUS by Lisa Yee are very, very funny.

    There’s a bunch of stuff by Grace Lin that is delightful. I really enjoyed YEAR OF THE DOG, which is low middle grade (I think? Never been good at age identification) and she has several picture books as well.

    Happy Lunar New Year! And congrats on paperback release!

  3. Another great resource is Mitali Perkins – a while ago she wrote a blog on funny books with POC protagonists: http://www.mitaliblog.com/2010/08/funny-books-featuring-multicultural.html

  4. SarahP says:

    I tweeted these to Steph, but here they are again. My son is a big reader of Asian-inspired fiction, plus he’s a HUGE fan of the Usagi Yojimbo comics written by Stan Sakai–they’re set in feudal era Japan, and seem to be pretty historically accurate. The main character is a rabbit, incidentally.

    Anyway, some of Theo’s recent reads include:

    WHITE CRANE by Sandy Fussell (about kids with disabilities training to be warriors, with a sort of Karate Kid ending)

    MOONSHADOW: RISE OF THE NINJA by Simon Higgins (boy ninja, etc)


    the YOUNG SAMURAI series by Chris Bradford (about a white English boy who is shipwrecked in Japan and joins a warrior school. A ninja is after him, plus he’s got father issues with the head of the family that takes him in).


  5. margaret says:

    Not necessarily about Asian cultures, but Taro Yashima’s picture book Umbrella is about a Japanese family, and is totally charming to boot. There must be others as well, though.


  6. Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee. My 3-yr-old loves to chant the refrain as he jumps about in the snow.
    Btw, I know of a number of books from India, if you’re looking to broaden your search to Asia.

  7. Ying says:

    This is WONDERFUL – thank you, everyone! I’ll compile all your recs and post a list. And Nina, I’d love to hear about books from India; let’s talk about Asia in the broadest sense.

  8. I’d recommend anything by Uma Krishnaswamy, esp. her last book Out of the way! The Indian publisher Tulika Books has a great line of kids books featuring fun stuff, with no sign of a moral–many of their books are based on folktales, which are often quite subversive.
    Papertigers regularly posts reviews of Asian-themed books for little ones.
    Here’s a blog link you might find handy: http://niranjana.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/multicultural-kidlit-goodness/

  9. ellenceleste says:

    Linda Sue Park’s book “A Single Shard” which one the Newbery several years ago is as exquisite as the pottery described in the book. My other favorites by Park include “When My Name was Keoko” about WWII, and “Kite Fighters”, all of these take place in Korea. “Archer’s Quest” and “Project Mulberry” are about American children of Korean descent learning about their roots. “Archer’s Quest” has a superhero flair.

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