Tom is a young boy who is “ordinary most of the time”—that is, unless he’s visiting his grandmother Bea, an archaeologist whose artifacts have the power to transport Tom back into time.
There is an increasing number of young adult (YA) novels with an Asian focus—“Asian YA”, as fellow ARB reviewer Susan Blumberg-Kason recently wrote—and Wai Chim throws her hat into the ring, with The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling.
A hero in Japan, Beate Sirota is hardly a household name in her home country of the United States. Jeff Gottesfeld’s No Steps Behind: Beate Sirota Gordon’s Battle for Women’s Rights in Japan is a new picture book illustrated by Sheilla Witanto that tells Beate’s story and how she brought change to Japan after World War II.
While Asian protagonists are no longer rare in young adult fiction, some cultures seem more prevalent in the genre than others. Think Jenny Han’s books and the various K-Pop stories, as well as Taiwanese-American stories like Loveboat Taipei and Rent a Boyfriend. In an apparent first, Loan Le’s debut novel, A Pho Love Story, adds to this list with a rom-com featuring Vietnamese-American teens. Although the details of the Vietnamese refugee experience may not be familiar to all teens, the restaurant setting and accompanying food most likely will be.
A young girl follows her mother to work for the first time, climbing aboard a library bus in Kabul, Afghanistan to help on weekly visits to small villages and refugee camps. A group of young girls wait patiently for the bus to come. The door opens and the girls search for new books to borrow before sitting down for a lesson with the little girl’s mother.
As Chloe Wang prepares to leave her University of Chicago campus for a long Thanksgiving break back home in California, she packs a suitcase, turns in her assignments, and hires a fake boyfriend to join her family’s holiday celebration.
It may seem like a familiar fairy tale. A step-mother, two step-siblings, and a girl who isn’t glamorous. But instead of Prince Charming or a fairy godmother, the object of the girl’s interest is a ghost. Western ghosts (pace Casper, who had to be explicitly labelled “friendly”) are usually malevolent in some way; two new books—one from Danish writer HS Norup, who spent four years in Singapore, and the other from Malaysian writer Hanna Alkaf—feature Asian ghosts who are decidedly more sympathetic.