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South Asian Kidlit Newsletter - Summer 2022


I hope you all are doing well. Our family just returned from our first international vacation in four years! Costa Rica was breathtaking. White water rafting, ziplining, hot springs. My favorite was the constant music morning to night from a variety of birds and insects.

Congratulations to the following Golden Kite Winners!

 
Get ready to see your first South Asian superhero on TV. Ms Marvel will launch on June 8th on Disney Plus. Check out the trailer! It looks SO GOOD!

You'll notice some change in the newsletter. I'm now spotlighting a South Asian Kidlit book from the past year that I Ioved by doing a mini-review. Since the list has been continuously growing (yay!) but making the newsletter quite long, I'm now highlighting 4-5 books in each category and listing the remaining titles at the end. 


If you would like to see back issues, you can find them on my South Asian Kidlit Page.

Happy Reading!
Author Spotlight
Growing up, Jyoti lived in Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, China and India. She finally settled in New York where she raised two daughters with her husband (who also grew up all over the world). As a child, she adored and devoured books but did not enjoy writing. At all. As a grown up, she is a forever kindergarten teacher and mom. She still adores and devours books. But now, she likes to write!   
Q: Writers take in their surroundings and experiences and sometimes put it into their writing. What aspects of South Asian culture have influenced your books?

Even though I grew up outside of India, my parents made every effort to keep us connected to our Indian roots, through language, music, traditions, food and community. I feel like my South Asian-ness, and even more specifically, being Tamil American is such an integral part of me. It’s the lens through which I write, whether it’s the topic I choose to write about, the language I use in my writing, or the rhythms and cadences of the vocabulary I choose.  Usually when I write, there’s music strumming and humming in my brain. Sometimes, it’s a Carnatic classical piece, sometimes, it’s a Bollywood beat, and sometimes it’s a fusion of Western and Indian tunes!
Q: In what ways do you hope readers will connect with AMERICAN DESI?

I’ve spent all my life straddling multiple cultures, and for much of my life trying to figure out where I fit. It took me a long while to appreciate that I didn’t have to choose. That I was more than simply one identity and to be truly comfortable with the notion that I was always going to feel a bit of an outsider everywhere. With AMERICAN DESI, even though I wrote it thinking about young American desis, like my daughters and the younger me, it's really for all children that straddle multiple identities, whatever those identities may be. I hope they connect with the feeling that it doesn’t have to be a “this OR that” choice, that it can be a “this AND that”.  I hope this book encourages them to embrace the gift of all that they are and find joy and possibilities in all of it.
You can find out more about Jyoti on her website, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Happy #1 Year Book Birthday Review!

My Thoughts
A bold, gripping story with multi-faceted characters. This is a book I wish I had during my teen and 20's. I am in awe of the author's courage to tackle such challenging topics of sex, drugs, interracial relationships within the South Asian community. She does it with thoughtfulness and care. A must read!

Praise
A YALSA nominee for Best Fiction for Young Adults

"A bold coming-of-age piece that a lot of us, who have had to seamlessly merge two separate identities, can relate to.” –Buzzfeed

"Laser-focused prose will resonate with any teen reader who has been harassed for their brown skin, struggled with first love or borne the pressure of family expectations... impossible to read without tightness in your chest and your heart in your throat." —BookPage
Summer 2022 List
Today's list covers books releasing in June thru August of 2022. The books listed below are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author or illustrator, contains a South Asian main character, or involve South Asian culture. 

For a list of today’s books, check out my South Asian Kidlit Summer 2022 list at Bookshop.org. 
Affiliate disclosure: If you order a book from Bookshop using links in this newsletter, I receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Picture Books
Title: Sunflower Sisters
Author: Monika Singh Gangotra
Illustrator: Michaela Dias-Hayes
Publisher: Owlet Press
Publication Date: June 7, 2022
ISBN: 9781728252315
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: South Asian & Nigerian
Synopsis:
In this heartwarming celebration of skin shades from sun-browned to autumn-leaf-gold, Amitra and Kiki get dressed for their siblings' weddings while enduring family nitpicks about lightening cream, sun rays, and the skin-darkening effects of the color yellow. Luckily, Amitra's mother has a lesson or two to teach about that! With the support and empowerment of their moms, the sunflower sisters are two strong, confident girls–one South Asian the other Nigerian–finding joy in their own skin.
Title: American Desi
Author: Jyoti Rajan Gopal
Illustrator: Supriya Kelkar
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 21, 2022
ISBN: 9780316705301
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian-American
Synopsis:
A young girl longs to know where she fits in: Is she American? Or is she Indian? Does she have to pick or can she be both? With bright, joyful rhyme, and paired with an immersive art style using American and Indian fabrics, American Desi celebrates the experiences of young children growing up first and second generation Indian American: straddling the two cultural worlds they belong to, embracing all they love of both worlds and refusing to be limited by either.
Title: A Mermaid Girl
Author: Sana Rafi
Illustrator: Olivia Aserr
Publisher: Viking Books
Publication Date: June 28, 2022
ISBN: 9780593327609
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Muslim-American
Synopsis:
Summer is here and Heba is so excited to wear her new, yellow burkini to the community pool for the first time! She can't wait to look like the other mermaid girls in her family and sparkle like the sun. But when Heba arrives at the pool and her friends start asking her questions about her new special swimsuit, she feels like she's standing out too much. Suddenly her burkini seems like a bad idea. Luckily Mama helps Heba to find strength in the mermaid girls who came before her. Feeling more connected to the women of her family, Heba is ready to show her friends that she can do all the same things that they can do—handstands, summersaults, and dives off the diving board—even while wearing her yellow burkini.
Additional Picture Books

June Releases
Title: 
I Love My Body Because
Author: Shelly Anand & Naomi Ellenson
Illustrator: Erika Rodriquez Medina
ISBN: 9781534494954

July Releases
Title:
Basking in My Brown
Author: Fatima Faisal
Illustrator: Anain Shaikh
ISBN: 9781735031958

August Releases
Title: This is Music: Drums
Author: Rekha S. Rajan
Illustrator: Tania Yakunova
ISBN: 9780593387009
 
Early Chapter Books
Title: Yasmin the Doctor / Farmer / Ice Skater / Detective
Author: Saadia Faruqi
Illustrator: Hatem Aly
Publisher: Picture Book Windows
Publication Date: July 31, 2022
ISBNs:
Doctor: 9781663959300
Farmer: 9781663959317
Ice Skater: 9781663959324
Detective: 9781663959294
Category-Genre: Early Chapter Books
Community Represented: Pakistani-American
Synopsis:
Doctor: Baba's not feeling well, and Doctor Yasmin is determined to find out why. After giving Baba a checkup, Yasmin is stumped. But when she sits down to work on Baba's puzzle, inspiration strikes. Doctor Yasmin to the rescue!

Farmer: Yasmin and her family are going to the farm! When Farmer Tomás puts her in charge of the baby chicks, Yasmin is thrilled! But then a baby chick goes missing. Can Farmer Yasmin bring the flock back together?

Ice Skater: Yasmin and her friend Emma are heading to the ice rink. But Yasmin has never skated before, and she's nervous! After a series of excuses, will Yasmin hang up her skates or find the courage to step onto the ice?

Detective: Yasmin has a mystery on her hands! Nani's things keep disappearing, and no one seems to know where they've gone. Then a science lesson provides a clue. Can Detective Yasmin solve the case?
Middle Grade Books
Title: Nura and the Immortal Palace
Author: M.T. Khan
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Publication Date: July 5, 2022
ISBN: 9780759557956
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade - Fantasy
Community Represented: Pakistani - Muslim
Synopsis:
Nura longs for the simple pleasure of many things—to wear a beautiful red dupatta or to bite into a sweet gulab. But with her mom hard at work in a run-down sweatshop and three younger siblings to feed, Nura must spend her days earning money by mica mining. But it’s not just the extra rupees in her pocket Nura is after. Local rumor says there’s buried treasure in the mine, and Nura knows that finding it could change the course of her family’s life forever. Her plan backfires when the mines collapse and four kids, including her best friend, Faisal, are claimed dead. Nura refuses to believe it and shovels her way through the dirt hoping to find him. Instead, she finds herself at the entrance to a strange world of purple skies and pink seas—a portal to the opulent realm of jinn, inhabited by the trickster creatures from her mother’s cautionary tales. Yet they aren’t nearly as treacherous as her mother made them out to be, because Nura is invited to a luxury jinn hotel, where she’s given everything she could ever imagine and more. But there’s a dark truth lurking beneath all that glitter and gold, and when Nura crosses the owner’s son and is banished to the working quarters, she realizes she isn’t the only human who’s ended up in the hotel’s clutches. Faisal and the other missing children are there, too, and if Nura can’t find a way to help them all escape, they’ll be bound to work for the hotel forever.
Title: Thirst
Author: Varsha Bajaj
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication Date: July 19, 2022
ISBN: 9780593354391
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade
Community Represented: Indian - Contemporary
Synopsis:
Minni lives in the poorest part of Mumbai, where access to water is limited to a few hours a day and the communal taps have long lines. Lately, though, even that access is threatened by severe water shortages and thieves who are stealing this precious commodity—an act that Minni accidentally witnesses one night. Meanwhile, in the high-rise building where she just started to work, she discovers that water streams out of every faucet and there’s even a rooftop swimming pool. What Minni also discovers there is one of the water mafia bosses. Now she must decide whether to expose him and risk her job and maybe her life. How did something as simple as access to water get so complicated?
Young Adult Books
Title: TJ Powar Has Something to Prove
Author: Jesmeen Kaur Deo
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 7, 2022
ISBN: 9780593403396
Category-Genre: Young Adult - Rom-com
Community Represented: Indian American - Sikh
Synopsis:
When TJ Powar—a pretty, popular debater—and her cousin Simran become the subject of a meme: with TJ being the “expectation” of dating an Indian girl and her Sikh cousin who does not remove her body hair being the “reality”—TJ decides to take a stand. She ditches her razors, cancels her waxing appointments, and sets a debate resolution for herself: “This House Believes That TJ Powar can be her hairy self, and still be beautiful.” Only, as she sets about proving her point, she starts to seriously doubt anyone could care about her just the way she is—even when the infuriating boy from a rival debate team seems determined to prove otherwise. As her carefully crafted sense of self begins to crumble, TJ realizes that winning this debate may cost her far more than the space between her eyebrows. And that the hardest judge to convince of her arguments might just be herself. 
Title: The Loophole
Author: Naz Kutub
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: June 21, 2022
ISBN: 9781547609178
Category-Genre: Young Adult
Community Represented: Indian American - Muslim
Synopsis:
Sy placed all his bets for happiness on his boyfriend, Farouk . . . who then left him to try and “fix the world.” Now, the timid seventeen-year-old Indian Muslim boy is stuck in a dead-end coffee shop job and all he can do is wish for one more chance . . . Sy never expects his wish to be granted. But when a mysterious girl offers him three wishes in exchange for his help and proves she can grant at least one wish with an instant million-dollar deposit into Sy's struggling bank account, a whole new world of possibility opens up. Is she magic? Or just rich? And can Sy find the courage to leave Los Angeles and cross the Atlantic Ocean to lands he'd never even dreamed he could visit, all to track down his missing ex? With help from his potentially otherworldly new friend, will Sy go all the way for one last, desperate chance at rebuilding his life and refinding love?
Title: What Souls Are Made Of: A Wuthering Heights Remix
Author: Tasha Suri
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: July 5, 2022
ISBN: 9781250773500
Category-Genre: Young Adult - Classic Remix
Synopsis:
Yorkshire, North of England, 1786. As the abandoned son of a lascar―a sailor from India―Heathcliff has spent most of his young life maligned as an "outsider." Now he's been flung into an alien life in the Yorkshire moors, where he clings to his birth father's language even though it makes the children of the house call him an animal, and the maids claim he speaks gibberish. Catherine is the younger child of the estate's owner, a daughter with light skin and brown curls and a mother that nobody talks about. Her father is grooming her for a place in proper society, and that's all that matters. Catherine knows she must mold herself into someone pretty and good and marriageable, even though it might destroy her spirit. As they occasionally flee into the moors to escape judgment and share the half-remembered language of their unknown kin, Catherine and Heathcliff come to find solace in each other. Deep down in their souls, they can feel they are the same. But when Catherine's father dies and the household's treatment of Heathcliff only grows more cruel, their relationship becomes strained and threatens to unravel. For how can they ever be together, when loving each other―and indeed, loving themselves―is as good as throwing themselves into poverty and death?
 
Title: Meet Me in Mumbai
Author: Sabina Khan
Publisher: PUSH
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
ISBN: 9781338749281
Category-Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Community Represented: Indian / Indian-American
Synopsis:
Two generations, eighteen years apart. Ayesha is a world away from home when she meets the boy of her dreams. Like her, Suresh is from India but going to high school in Illinois. Once they get together, they are inseparable... until a twist of fate takes Suresh back to India right when Ayesha discovers she's pregnant. Suddenly she feels she's on her own, navigating the biggest decision she'll ever make. Seventeen years later, Ayesha's daughter Mira finds an old box with letters addressed to her from her birth mother. Although Mira loves the moms who adopted her, she's intrigued to discover something more about her history. In one letter, Ayesha writes that if Mira can forgive her for what she had to do, she should find a way to travel to India for her eighteenth birthday and meet her. Mira knows she'll always regret it if she doesn't go. But is she actually ready for what she will learn?
Additional Young Adult Books

June Releases
Title:
Slip
Author: Marika McCoola
Illustrator: Aatmaja Pandya
ISBN: 9781643752495
Genre: Contemporary - Graphic Novel

July Releases
Title: The Darkening 
Author: Sunya Mara
ISBN: 9780358561989
Genre: Fantasy

August Releases
Title: Three Kisses, One Midnight
Authors: Roshani Choksi, Sandhya Menon, Evelyn Skye
ISBN: 9781250797230
Genre: Fantasy










Title: How Maya Got Fierce
Author: Sona Charaipotra
ISBN: 9781250762139
Genre: Contemporary
Comm Rep: Indian - American
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