Jane Austen can take a rest. It’s Tolstoy’s turn.
At the start of Kelly Yang’s debut YA novel, Parachutes, she notes the story includes incidents of sexual harassment and rape. Although Yang has been wanting to write this story for almost two decades, this novel about high school students who move alone to the US while their parents stay back in China couldn’t be better timed. While the concept of parachute students isn’t new—it was pioneered by Hong Kong students in the 1990s—mainland Chinese families have adopted the custom and students from China account for the largest group of international high school students in the US (and, indeed, other countries from Australia to Britain).
Samira Ahmed is a force in young adult literature, bringing voice to Muslim American teens and calling out increasingly rampant Islamophobia. In her latest novel, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know, she combines a contemporary story with historical fiction that reaches back to Lord Byron (who bore the sobriquet that also titles the novel), Alexandre Dumas and Eugene Delacroix. Two young women are at the centers of these stories, thereby telling history from women’s perspectives.
Twins Chirri & Chirra are pedalling on their bicycles when they find a cave:
“Let’s take a look, Chirri.”
“Yes let’s go, Chirra.”
With those opening words, the twins in their matching white dresses (only a blue pocket differentiates Chirra from Chirri’s red pocket) ride their bikes into a tunnel, headlights illuminating the path ahead. They arrive under the sea. “Oh,” the rosy-cheeked twins say as they pedal in the water, surrounded by fish, coral and algae.
Despite the rise in diversity in Young Adult literature, not least stories by Asian writers, there’s still a dearth of stories starring strong Asian males, perhaps due to the fact that most YA authors are women.
In China Through Time: A 2,500 year journey along the world’s greatest canal, young readers are invited to explore the people, the stories and the fortunes of the canal throughout history. With illustrations by Du Fei, the book is very much a journey, taking readers through key moments in the canal’s history.
As a child growing up in Atlanta, author Julie Leung didn’t have the opportunity to read about inspiring Chinese-Americans and, specifically, Chinese-American artists. When she learned about Tyrus Wong, the artist who created the style in the Walt Disney film Bambi, through his New York Times obituary, Leung decided to write his story in the picture-book biography Paper Son: The inspiring story of Tyrus Wong, immigrant and artist.