Eleven-year-old Samira wants to show her family and the world what she can do: she can learn to read English, she can contribute to her family’s earnings and she can learn to surf. Forced to flee their village in Burma, Samira, her father, mother and older brother are Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar. Rukhsanna Guidroz’s Samira Surfs tells Samira’s story as the family rebuilds their lives in Bangladesh. 

In the mid-1950s, strange symptoms swept through Minamata in Kyushu, the southernmost island in Japan. Fish died, cats became manic, and children started developing neurological issues like trouble speaking and walking. It all originated with the Chissa chemical factory and its waste disposal into the surrounding waters. Sean Michael Wilson and Akiko Shimojima’s comic, The Minamata Story: An EcoTragedy, tells the story of this disease, the stigma surrounding it, and the survivors who are still alive today.

South Korea’s Jeju Island has in recent years become almost as popular a backdrop for novels as tourism photos. This is in part due to its evocative female divers and the role the islands played during Japanese occupation, WW2 and the aftermath, in particular the girls who were abducted and sent far away to become so-called “comfort girls” for Japanese soldiers. June Hur’s new young adult novel, The Forest of Stolen Girls, is also set on Jeju and involves abducted girls, except the story takes place some five hundred years earlier in 1426.

Izumi Tanaka is a normal, Northern California teenager. She’s an average student and spends much of her free time at the local diner with her friends, a quartet they’ve dubbed the Asian Girl Gang, or AGG. In her final semester of high school, life as she knows it suddenly comes to a halt when she discovers that her long lost father—a man she has never met—is the Crown Prince of Japan.

In children’s literature and in young adult fiction, food is often used to bridge cultures—“dumplings are the great social equaliser” says the protagonist in the YA novel The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling as an example. And while food might be one of the easier entries into a culture, there are other ways too. Art, for example, which Singapore’s National Gallery does with success in its “Awesome Art” series. 

Shaw Kuzki’s middle-grade novel Soul Lanterns begins in August 1970. A generation earlier, an atomic bomb leveled Hiroshima. Nozomi and her friends have grown up attending yearly memorials and learning about “the flash” in their peace studies class. When a much-loved art teacher takes an unexpected leave of absence, Nozomi begins to wonder about how the war really affected the adults in her life.