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A is for Asian American for APIDA Heritage Month

 

A IS FOR ASIAN AMERICAN:
An Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Alphabet

Written by Virginia Loh-Hagan

Illustrated by Tracy Nishimura Bishop

(Sleeping Bear Press; $17.99, Ages 6-10)

 

 

A is for Asian American cover kids with famous apida figures.

 

Kids will learn what an important role the AIPDA community has played in our country’s history and continues to play today in America after reading A is for Asian American written by Virginia Loh-Hagan and illustrated by Tracy Nishimura Bishop. Also referred to as AAPI, APIDA Heritage Month was created to include Desi (South Asian) with both serving to honor and celebrate the contributions, culture, experiences, and traditions of the over “24 million people in the United States who fall under the umbrella of AAPI.”

 

A is for Asian American int1 family grandparents
Interior art from A is for Asian American written by Virginia Loh-Hagan and illustrated by Tracy Nishimura Bishop, Sleeping Bear Press ©2022.

 

This nonfiction picture book begins with a helpful time line of “Little-Known Milestones” and in 40 pages presents readers with an engaging format. It introduces a rhyme for each alphabet letter, appealing to the youngest of the target age range. “J is for Japanese Anime. There are all kinds of anime,/which started in Japan./All around the world,/you’ll find anime fans.” Alongside the expressive art and poem is an expository description of the topic, in this instance, anime. Since my whole family enjoys anime, I loved reading about its origins in the 1960s and how mainstream it’s become in America.

Some alphabet letters fill an entire spread (M is for Movements where social change is discussed; W is for Writers highlighting contributions made to all forms of literature and journalism), while others are divided (see art above for letters F and G). The S page focuses on Saturday schools where weekend classes offer “language classes and classes covering topics such as dance, music, art, crafts, and other cultural activities,” in order to connect children with the country of their heritage.

 

A is for Asian American int2 M is for Movements
Interior spread from A is for Asian American written by Virginia Loh-Hagan and illustrated by Tracy Nishimura Bishop, Sleeping Bear Press ©2022.

 

In addition to homing in on a variety of interesting subjects—Boba (Bubble) Tea and Korean Wave should resonate with a lot of young readers—A is for Asian American highlights accomplishments by APIDAs from the first Asian American woman to earn her pilot’s license in 1932 to the first Asian American to walk in space in 1985. The letter X details how Bruce Lee was a pioneer in promoting his mixed martial arts skills in films helping other martial arts grow in popularity. What a surprise to learn that President Theodore Roosevelt became America’s first brown belt taught by Japan’s judo master Yamashita Yoshitsugu!

And no book about Asian Americans would be complete without calling attention to the Chinese immigrants who worked on the Transcontinental Railroad under often harsh conditions yet ultimately refused citizenship; nor those of Japanese ancestry, about 120,000, who were unjustly sent to incarceration camps after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. Loh-Hagan’s writing is straightforward but topics are shared sensitively and are age appropriate.

At the start, an author’s note from Loh-Hagan states her goal of raising awareness of Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans. She also mentions the sad and alarming increase in anti-Asian hate since the pandemic and stresses the need to “learn more so we can do more.” Back matter features “definitions and words, and listing of important holidays with corresponding activities.” I hope this book helps children appreciate the myriad ways in which Asian Americans contribute to our country and make it a better place. Reading A is for Asian American provides kids with an important introduction to all aspects of Asian American life past and present and will no doubt prompt them to delve further into specific subjects. When teaching diversity-centered and cultural awareness curricula, teachers and librarians would benefit from all the information shared in this picture book as well.

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
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Blog Tour for My Pet Feet by Josh Funk

 

MY PET FEET

Written by Josh Funk

Illustrated by Billy Yong

(Simon and Schuster BYR; $18.99, Ages 4-8)

 

 

My Pet Feet cover

 

 

 

INTRO:

GoodReadsWithRonna.com has the pleasure of participating in the blog tour for My Pet Feet. I made sure not to read any advance buzz about the book (easy ‘coz I’ve been on vacation) so that I’d come to it with no expectations which, to be honest, is a hard feat (ha!) knowing how terrific all Josh’s previous picture books are.

REVIEW:

When the letter R disappears from the main character’s alphabet wall covering, chaos and hilarity ensue in My Pet Feet, the wacky, wonderful new picture book from Josh Funk with illustrations by Billy Yong.

It doesn’t take long for the little girl narrator of this zany 48-page tale to discover that her pet ferret, Doodles, has become her pet feet since all Rs have mysteriously gone missing in her town. Yong’s whimsical spreads where the main character first encounters the absence of Rs are (ha!) so funny and clever, that readers will have to slow down to study every delightful detail he has depicted. The images of a policewoman on the back of a galloping hose or the little girl’s pal Lucas behaving like a fiend and especially the flying cows are sure to make kids LOL. In fact, I actually noticed even more things on my second read (e.g. the man on the motorcycle with ties as tires) so I intend to go back a few more times to make sure I caught everything. Children will likely do the same. And, despite being a rollicking fast-paced read, the idea of taking time to appreciate all the clever wordplay and creativity of the story’s concept is recommended.

My Pet Feet int1 missing R
Interior spread from My Pet Feet written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Billy Yong, Simon and Schuster BYR © 2022.

 

As the search to find the reason behind the missing letter R continues, the girl accidentally hurts the feelings of Doodles who runs away. She looks low and eventually high—way, way, way up high—where a subtle clue for the savvy reader can be spotted anchored out at sea. But still no sign of the 18th letter of the alphabet and now Doodles. Could the pet actually know the Rs’ whereabouts?  Will this determined child ever find her beloved pet? And will he forgive her? I wanted to find out, but yet I didn’t want the story to end.

 

My Pet Feet int2 disaster
Interior art from My Pet Feet written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Billy Yong, Simon and Schuster BYR © 2022.

 

In Funk’s satisfying and humorous resolution, the main character’s luck and mood change. She locates her pet feet which leads her to the culprits behind the stolen letter R.  Young readers will love seeing ferret and owner reunited while getting the chance to pronounce a plethora of words incorporating Rs that Funk has mustered up. But just when this happy child thinks she can relax and catch some zzzzs, an oh-so-unexpected alphabet ending presents a potential new dilemma or possible premise for a second book.

There are myriad ways to enjoy this entertaining picture book: from the mystery of the missing Rs, to the superb silliness of the pet feet, from the zaniness of the town inhabitants oblivious to the absent Rs to the engaging art that keeps us glued to the page. I’m thrilled I had this opportunity to read and review My Pet Feet and help spread the word about this fun new story. And while a pet ferret is probably pleasing, I think there are times when having pet feet could come in handy (pun intended) too!

 

  •  Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
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Never be Bored with These Board Books

978192171420720130731-11413-1kzandiThere’s something extra special about a boxed set of books, especially when they’re beautiful and sturdy and made to last. You just know they’re for keeps. Bronwyn Bancroft’s 1, 2, 3 and abc ($17.99, Trafalgar Square Publishing, Ages 1-4) includes two titles in a compact set:  An Australian 1, 2, 3 of Animals and An Australian abc of Animals. If the only Australian artist you know is Ken Done, take a look at the talent that is  Bancroft.

In the vast sea of counting and alphabet books, it never ceases to amaze me when I discover new ones that are creative and original. Author Bronwyn Bancroft is an Aboriginal artist who uses her talents to entertain the littlest readers with vivid multi-media illustrations filled with dotted, striped and geometric designs.

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An Australian 1, 2, 3 of Animals counts from one to twelve and features animals of Australia like koalas, kookaburras, and geckos, while An Australian abc of Animals takes readers through the alphabet with additional animals of Australia such as a dingo, honeyeater and a wombat. The illustrations are so pleasing to the eye that they will keep a toddler’s attention as you recite the numbers or letters.

Bronwyn Bancroft’s 1, 2, 3 and abc would make a wonderful addition to your toddler’s library, and with the thick board book pages, you can enjoy reading these books over and over again. Then, if you can bear to part with them, you can pass them on to another child who will enjoy them as much as you and your child did.

– Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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A Fresh Approach to Learning Your ABCs

Today Debbie Glade reviews two totally different alphabet books, written by two authors from England. Both will please the little ones in your life and yourself, too.

Operation Alphabet ($19.95, Thames & Hudson, ages 3 and up), written by Al MacCuish is a most creative story about a boy named, Charlie, who does not pay attention in class, and then experiences the dreaded “Alphabet-Heebiegeebies.” He so desperately needs to learn his alphabet to pass a test and tries hard to study. But it’s no use. The mysterious “Ministry of Letters,” which is housed inside a red post box next to London’s Big Ben, quickly comes to his aid.  The Ministry works hard to rush a top-secret delivery to Charlie’s house that just might help him learn what he needs to know. In addition to its very original storyline, this book is wonderfully designed by Jim Bletas and marvelously illustrated by self-taught artist, Luciano Lozano. He has a style that is most whimsical and fun.  To top it all off, this is one of the sturdiest and most high-quality-produced books I’ve ever read. The book’s jacket can be reversed and used as an alphabet poster.


A slick and colorful book, Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet ($16.99, Thames & Hudson, ages 3 and up ) is a visual wonderland of letters. Written and illustrated, of course, by Paul Thurlby, this simple book teaches young readers the alphabet through pictures. What I like about the book, is that the words printed – and the illustrations depicted of those words – are not the usual words you see in most alphabet books.  Some of the words are adjectives while others are nouns. But no matter what the word may be, the appealing illustrations make you linger on each page. Like Operation Alphabet, this book also has a book jacket that can be reversed and opened to reveal a colorful alphabet poster. This hardcover book, too, is made from the highest quality materials and is made to last.

You really can’t go wrong with either of these great alphabet books. Why not read them both?!

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