South Asian Kidlit Newsletter - Spring 2023

A belated Happy New Year! I wish you all a healthy, happy, and safe year ahead. Sorry for the lateness again. 

We had a number of South Asian creators whose books were honored.
  • Congratulations to Sabaa Tahir for winning the National Book Award, the Printz Medal, and the Walter Honor for ALL MY RAGE
  • Congrats to Vikram Madan for receiving the Geisel Honor for OWL AND PENGUIN. Read my interview with Vikram in the Fall 2022 newsletter.
  • Congrats to Nidhi Chanani for receiving the Stonewall Children's Honor for STRONG.
American Girl FINALLY has an Indian-American doll. Check out this year's Girl of the Year, Kavi Sharma! 

I'm excited to share the cover for my third picture book, BUILDING A DREAM: HOW THE BOYS OF KOH PANYEE BECAME CHAMPIONS. This is based on a true story. Dow's illustratrions are colorful and delightful. Coming September 12th!

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

Happy Reading!
Darshana Khiani

P.S. Feel free to share this newsletter with colleagues. Non-Members you can sign-up for the South Asian Kidlit Newsletter here:
Happy #1 Book Birthday Review!
My Thoughts
A quintessential middle-grade novel with gorgeous lyricism. The short verses create a fast-paced, engaging novel. I loved all the Pakistani details making Aafiyah and her world come alive.

Best Middle Grade Books of 2022 -- Bookpage

In Aafiyah, Faruqi creates a relatable but flawed protagonist whose road to redemption makes for an engaging, warmhearted story. Readers ... looking for nuanced portrayals of South Asian Muslim identity will enjoy this selection." -- Booklist
Spring 2023 List
Today's list covers books releasing in March through May of 2023. 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 Spring 2023 list at 
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: Quiet Time With My Seeya
Author/ Illustrator: Dinalie Dabarera
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: March 7, 2023
ISBN: 9781250824271
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Sri Lankan
A lush and endearing picture book about the special days a child spends with her Sinhalese grandfather, her Seeya, despite their language barrier.
Title: The Carpet: An Afghan Family
Author: Dezh Azaad
Illustrator: Nan Cao
Publisher: Abrams BFYR
Publication Date: April 4, 2023
ISBN: 9781419763618
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Afghani
The Carpet follows a day in the life of an Afghan refugee child, where every moment revolves around love, family, and the carpet that connects them to home. The carpet is the centerpiece of family life, where meals, stories, laughs, and memories are shared. This moving story, inspired by the author’s life, celebrates what makes a home—no matter where you are.
Title: A Dupatta Is ...
Author: Marzieh Abbas
Illustrator: Anu Chouhan
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: April 11, 2023
ISBN: 9781250820945
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: South Asian
A loving and lyrical ode to the dupatta. Dupattas are shawls traditionally worn by women in various cultures of South Asia―are beautiful and colorful of course, but they're also fun, functional, and carry the sounds and smells of family and identity.
Title: A Garden in My Hands
Author: Meera Sriram
Illustrator: Sandhya Prabhat
Publisher: Knopf BFYR
Publication Date: April 18, 2023
ISBN: 9780593427101
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian
There's a wedding tomorrow! And one little girl sits patiently while her mother tenderly applies intricate, delicate henna designs on her hands. As she does, she shares family stories--about weddings, monsoons, and ancestors long gone. The little girl must be careful to protect her hands as the henna dries--one smudge could ruin a story! After a whole night of anticipation, when the flakes are washed away, what will they reveal?
Lyrical text pairs with vibrant illustrations for this poignant picture book that blooms with heart, connects us to our roots, and sweetly reminds us of the the garden of love we curate with those closest to us.
Title: I'm an American
Author: Darshana Khiani
Illustrator: Laura Freeman
Publisher: Viking BFYR
Publication Date: May 2, 2023
ISBN: 9780593464724
Category-Genre: Picture Book - Social Justice
A breathtaking, eye-opening look at the patchwork of cultures that make up our nation and the many ways we define what it means to be an American.

What does it mean to be American?
A classroom of children across many races, cultures, and origins explores the concept of Americanness as they each share bits of their family history and how their past has shaped their own personal American experience. Whether as new immigrants, or those whose family came to this country generations ago, or other scenarios, these children’s stories show some of the broad range of cultures and values that form the history and identity of our nation.
Title: Summer is for Cousins
Author: Rajani LaRocca
Illustrator: Abhi Alwar
Publisher: Abrams BYFR
Publication Date: May 16, 2023
ISBN: 9781419757334
Category-Genre: Picture Book
Community Represented: Indian-American
Ravi can’t wait to spend summer vacation at the lake house with his family—especially his cousins! Summer vacation is for days at the beach, long hikes, paddleboarding, and—of course—ice cream. Ravi and his oldest cousin, Dhruv, had the same favorite flavor last year, but everything feels different now.
Dhruv’s much taller and his voice is deeper. Ravi’s worried that Dhruv won’t be interested in spending time with him, the little cousin. The ice cream shop doesn’t even have their favorite flavor this year. But on the last night of vacation, the cousins decide to make dinner, and Ravi’s in charge of dessert. He only has one special thing in mind!
This picture book all about summertime fun celebrates the resilient bond between extended family members.
Additional Picture Books
March Releases
Title: Cooler than Lemonade
Author: Harshita Jerath
Illustrator: Chloe Burgett
ISBN: 978-1728254296
Comm Rep: Indian-American
April Releases
Title: Swaddled With Love
Author: Alessandra Preziosi
Illustrator: Anoosha Syed
ISBN: 9780358620334
Title: Plátanos Are Love
Author: Alyssa Reynoso-Morris
Illustrator: Mariyah Rahman
ISBN: 9781665902731
Comm Rep: LatinX
Title: The Forest Keeper: The True Story of Jadav Payeng
Author: Rina Singh
Illustrator: Ishita Jain
ISBN: 9780735845053
Comm Rep: Indian
Title: Our World: India
Author: Meera Sriram
Illustrator: Neethi
ISBN: 9781646866281
Comm Rep: Indian
May Releases
Title: The Together Tree
Author: Aisha Saeed
Illustrator: LeUyen Pham
ISBN: 9781534462960
Title: Rani's Remarkable Day
Author: Saadia Faruqi
Illustrator: Anoosha Syed
ISBN: 9780358536772
Early Reader & Early Chapter Books
Title: Sejal Sinha Battles Superstorms
Author: Maya Prasad
Illustrator: Abira Das
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication Date: May 2, 2023
ISBN: 9781665911771
Category-Genre: Early Chapter Books
Community Represented: Indian-American
Sejal Sinha is looking forward to celebrating Diwali with her family. But when a hurricane appears, Sejal and her cousin Mira learn that the house is in danger from the imminent storm. With the help of Sejal’s favorite stuffed animal, Professor Cheetah, the two girls use Cardboard Box Magic to build their own Hurricane Hunter and fly into the eye of the hurricane! They learn about a project from the 1960s called Project Stormfury, where a team actually tried to stop hurricanes. Can Sejal and Mira do what the previous Stormfury team couldn’t and battle the superstorm?
Title: Shark Party (Shark Princess #2)
Author/Illustrator: Nidhi Chanani
Publisher: Viking BYFR
Publication Date: May 2, 2023
ISBN: 9780593464649
Category-Genre: Early Chapter Book - Graphic Novel
Mack and all the other sharks are going to a party, but Kitana doesn't feel like shell-ebrating. Then she learns a mysterious shark in the deep ocean hasn't been invited. With Mack's sparkly sharkle lighting the way, the shark princesses set off on their newest adventure into the deep sea!
Additional Early Reader & Early Chapter Books
March Releases
Title: Marya Khan and the Fabulous Jasmine Garden (Marya Khan #2)
Author: Saadia Faruqi
Illustrator: Ani Bushry
ISBN: 9781419761188
Comm Rep: Pakistani-American
April Releases
Title: Starry Henna Night (The Party Diaries #2)
Author: Mitali Ruths
Illustrator: Aaliya Jaleel
ISBN: 9781338799811
Comm Rep: Indian-American
Middle Grade Books
Title: A Bit of Earth
Author: Karuna Riazi
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: March 14, 2023
ISBN: 9780063098664
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade
Community Represented: Pakistani-American
Maria Latif is used to not having a space of her own. But what happens when she feels the sudden urge to put down roots in the most unexpected of places? Karuna Riazi crafts a tender coming-of-age story about friendship, family, and new beginnings. A Bit of Earth is a reimagining of the classic The Secret Garden for readers of Other Words for Home and The Bridge Home. 
Title: Grounded
Authors: Aisha Saed,   Huda Al-Marashi, Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, and S.K. Ali
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: May 9, 2023
ISBN: 9781419761751
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade
Community Represented: Muslim-American
When a thunderstorm grounds all flights following a huge Muslim convention, four unlikely kids are thrown together. Feek is stuck babysitting his younger sister, but he’d rather be writing a poem that’s good enough for his dad, a famous poet and rapper. Hanna is intent on finding a lost cat in the airport—and also on avoiding a conversation with her dad about him possibly remarrying. Sami is struggling with his anxiety and worried that he’ll miss the karate tournament that he’s trained so hard for. And Nora has to deal with the pressure of being the daughter of a prominent congresswoman, when all she really wants to do is make fun NokNok videos. These kids don’t seem to have much in common—yet.
Additional Middle-Grade Books
March Releases
Title: Mirror to Mirror
Author: Rajani LaRocca
ISBN: 9780063047471
Genre: Contemporary
Comm Rep: Indian-American
May Releases
Title: The Cobra's Song
Author: Supriya Kelkar
ISBN: 9781665911887
Comm Rep: Indian-American
Young Adult Books
Title: The Karma Map
Author: Nisha Sharma
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication Date: March 1, 2023
ISBN: 9781662500787
Category-Genre: Young Adult - Romance
Community Represented: Indian-American & Indian
Born and raised in the US, Tara Bajaj hides her family secrets. With beautiful clothes, a popular social media presence, and a spot on the Rutgers High Bollywood dance team, she does it well—until her carefully cultivated image shatters. Shut out by friends and with her future in flux, Tara accepts a guide position for a youth group’s temple tour through North India. Rediscovering the heart of her ancestry is as good a place as any to start over.
Silas D’Souza-Gupta is an aspiring photojournalist retracing the journey his two mothers took when they fell in love. The last thing he expects on this road trip through his roots is a girl with a history of her own. As Tara and Silas embark on the trip to remote pilgrimage sites from Punjab through the Himalayas, they each discover what it means to be a child in the Indian diaspora, the significance of karma, and the healing power of love.
Title: Midnight Strikes
Author: Zeba Shahnaz
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: March 14, 2023
ISBN: 9780593567555
Category-Genre: Young Adult - Fairytale Retelling
Seventeen-year-old Anaïs just wants tonight to end. As an outsider at the kingdom’s glittering anniversary ball, she has no desire to rub shoulders with the nation’s most eligible (and pompous) bachelors—especially not the notoriously roguish Prince Leo. But at the stroke of midnight, an explosion rips through the palace, killing everyone in its path. Including her. The last thing Anaïs sees is fire, smoke, chaos . . . and then she wakes up in her bedroom, hours before the ball. No one else remembers the deadly attack or believes her warnings of disaster. Not even when it happens again. And again. And again. If she’s going to escape this nightmarish time loop, Anaïs must take control of her own fate and stop the attack before it happens. But the court's gilded surface belies a rotten core, full of restless nobles grabbing at power, discontented commoners itching for revolution, and even royals who secretly dream of taking the throne. It's up to Anaïs to untangle these knots of deadly deceptions . . . if she can survive past midnight.
Title: I Kick and I Fly
Author: Ruchira Gupta
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: April 18, 2023
ISBN: 9781338825091
Category-Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Community Represented: Indian
On the outskirts of the Red Light District in Bihar, India, fourteen-year-old Heera is living on borrowed time until her father sells her into the sex trade to help feed their family and repay his loans. It is, as she's been told, the fate of the women in her community to end up here. But watching her cousin, Mira Di, live this life day in and day out is hard enough. To live it feels like the worst fate imaginable. And after a run-in with a bully leads to her expulsion from school, it feels closer than ever.But when a local hostel owner shows up at Heera's home with the money to repay her family's debt, Heera begins to learn that fate can change. Destiny can be disrupted. Heroics can be contagious.It's at the local hostel for at risk girls that Heera is given a transformative opportunity: learning kung fu with the other girls. Through the practice of martial arts, she starts to understand that her body isn't a an object to be commodified and preyed upon, but a vessel through which she can protect herself and those around her. And when Heera discovers the whereabouts of her missing friend, Rosy, through a kung fu pen pal in the US, she makes the decision to embark on a daring rescue mission to New York in an attempt to save her.
Additional Young Adult Books
March Releases
Title: Rosewood: A Midsummer Meet Cute
Author: Sayantani Das Gupta
ISBN: 9781338797725
Genre: Classic Retelling
Comm Rep: Indian-American
Title: While You Were Dreaming
Author: Alisha Rai
ISBN: 9780063083967
Genre: Romance
Comm Rep: Indian-American
Title: How to Win a Breakup
Author: Farah Heron
ISBN: 9781542036092
Genre: Rom-com
Comm Rep: South Asian-Canadian
May Releases
Title: Magic Has No Borders
Author: Collection of South Asian Authors
ISBN: 9780063208261
Genre: Fantasy & Sci-Fiction Anthology
Comm Rep: South Asian
Copyright © 2023 Darshana Khiani Author, All rights reserved.

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