It makes my heart so glad to see beautiful picture books by Asian authors. So many of these children’s books are brilliantly illustrated and highlight a wide variety of themes from culture to food to grandparent relationships and welcoming a new sibling. No matter what kind of stories you’re looking for, these authors have you covered!
In Not Your All-American Girl, Lauren is Jewish and Chinese. It’s the 1980s and Lauren and her best friend — who’s blonde with blue eyes — do everything together. So when they don’t have any sixth-grade classes together, they’re bummed! They decide that they will audition for their school’s musical so that they can at least have that time together. Lauren’s audition goes swimmingly, and she’s obviously the better singer than Tara (even better than any of the other kids), but when the cast list is released Lauren is only part of the ensemble and Tara is cast as lead. Upon confronting the director, she explains that Lauren’s half-Jewish, half-Chinese looks don’t match the role of “all-American girl” in the “all-American town” depicted in their musical.
This middle-grade book follows Lucy, a short Chinese-American girl caught between two cultures. Lucy plays basketball (very well) and would choose mac and cheese over most Chinese dishes. Her older siblings seem to fit the “perfect Chinese child” stereotype more than she does. Regina, her older sister started a Chinese club in high school and speaks flawless Chinese, while her brother Kenny, although a bookworm loves and eats all Chinese food and is a Math whiz. Still Lucy perseveres with interests, eagerly anticipating her sister’s move to college so she can have their room all to herself, but that is not to be.
Keep It Together, Keiko Carter is Debbi Michiko Florence’s middle-grade debut. Keiko is thrilled that her two BFFs, Jenna and Audrey, are reuniting with her after their first ever summer apart. But when Jenna returns from Texas, she’s doesn’t seem to fit back in seamlessly anymore — probably because they stopped texting each other after a while. It doesn’t help that Audrey seems boy-crazy and has never really gotten on too well with Jenna anyway.
Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business is the first book in the Mindy Kim series. Mindy and her father have recently moved from the city to a suburb in Florida where she is the only Asian girl in her school. On top of that, Mindy’s mom died shortly before their move and her dad is adjusting to being a single parent. Like any normal child, Mindy wants to be liked at her new school. She’s fortunate to meet a new friend on her first day, even though the kids complain about the way her Korean lunch smells.