There is no shortage of books to learn one’s ABCs and readers (and their parents) are spoiled for choice when it comes to thematic books from A-Z. But readers in Southeast Asia (or those with interest in the region) might wish to consider Marvellous Mammals: A Wild A to Z of Southeast Asia by Debby Ng and illustrated by Darel Seow as a top pick. Where else, for example, will “A” stand for the annamite striped rabbit?
At a time when many classics are being rewritten with Asian characters in Asian settings, it was perhaps inevitable that Treasure Island would be recast as a Qing dynasty tale involving two notorious pirates, Zheng Yi Sao and Cheung Po Tsai, set in the South China Sea and Ha Long Bay. CB Lee’s A Clash of Steel is a young adult novel that does just that.
How Do You Live?, written by Genzaburo Yoshino, is a Japanese classic first published in 1937. On its face, it is a coming-of-age story about fifteen-year-old Copper, a talented Tokyo schoolboy under the looming shadow of World War Two. Together with a close-knit group of friends, he faces the timeless challenges of growing up.
To his California high school classmates, Arsalan Nizami seems like an eighty year-old trapped in a seventeen year-old’s body and it’s not without reason. His mother died in a car accident some years back, his grandparents are no longer living, and his alcoholic father has moved to another state. Yet Arsalan has one living relative who is more than capable of taking care of him: his one hundred year-old great-grandfather, Nana. In Sway With Me, Syed M Masood’s new young adult novel, Arsalan is worried about his future after Nana is no longer around and takes his mother’s dying wish literally: to find love before Nana passes away.
In the opening scene of Sarah Brennan’s The Marvellous Adventures of Maggie and Methuselah, Maggie is arguing with her mother about having to attend a “silly reception” at Government House. But her mother, an Australian lawyer at one of Hong Kong’s top firms, is determined that Maggie will go to Family Fun Day and with the chapter titled “In which Maggie and Mum clash and Mum wins (as usual)”, the reader quickly realizes what the end result might be.
From her bed, a young girl gazes up at a mobile of seven spinning horses.
It’s Livy’s first day of sixth grade at her new school and Livy is understandably apprehensive. There are worries about new friends, about fitting in, about making her parents (who have sacrificed to send their only daughter to a school in a better district) proud. But Livy has more than nerves; following Livy to school is Viola, Livy’s anxiety brought to life as a violet-hued shadow that constantly rattles and second-guesses Livy’s thoughts and actions.