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Between Two Worlds: Asian Pacific American Heritage

American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese

By: Gene Yang
Illustrated by: Lark Pien
Genre: Fairytales, Folk Tales, and Tall Tales, Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Three storylines — contemporary and mythic — intersect in this tale of a boy who is not comfortable with his culture or himself. This fresh, sometimes surprising, revealing novel is told in image and text. This graphic novel was the first of its format to win the Printz Award for best work of Young Adult Literature.

Apple Pie 4th of July

Apple Pie 4th of July

By: Janet Wong
Illustrated by: Margaret Chodos-Irvine
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

"No one wants to eat Chinese food on the Fourth of July," says a young girl to her parents who insist on keeping their Chinese restaurant open on Independence Day. An honest portrayal of the tug between traditions old and new, as well as what it really means to be American.

Crouching Tiger

Crouching Tiger

By: Ying Chang Compestine
Illustrated by: Yan Nascimbene
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When Vinson's grandfather visits from China, the boy has conflicting feelings about his grandfather's old ways. A visit to Chinatown to experience the lion dancers celebrate the Chinese New Year bring Ming Da (Vinson) and his grandfather closer. Watercolor and ink illustrations add power to the warm, plausible story.

Drawn Together

Drawn Together

By: Minh Lê
Illustrated by: Dan Santat
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A child visits his grandfather but has trouble communicating; they literally don’t speak the other’s language. That is until they find another way to share thoughts and feelings through art. As each of them expresses himself creating unique superheroes, two generations are drawn together. Universal emotions are placed in a specific but nonetheless moving context.

Going Home, Coming Home/ Ve Nha, Tham Que Huong

Going Home, Coming Home/ Ve Nha, Tham Que Huong

By: Truong Tran
Illustrated by: Ann Phong
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

American born Ami Chi is traveling to Vietnam, where the streets are crowded with scooters and the fruit are shaped like dragons and stars. Her parents still consider Vietnam home. But how can home be a place you’ve never been? She finds her answer in the green rice paddies that blanket the countryside, in the bustling Cho Lon market, and in the quiet rooms of her grandmother’s house. Vietnam may be nothing like America, but it feels strangely familiar. Before long, Ami Chi finds that you can travel very far and still find yourself at home.

How My Parents Learned to Eat

How My Parents Learned to Eat

By: Ina Friedman
Illustrated by: Allen Say
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When an American sailor meets a Japanese woman, they both try in secret to learn the other's way of eating. Their courtship and growing love culminates in marriage. This realistic family story explores cultural similarities and differences and is told with humor and honesty by the couple's daughter.

Measuring Up book cover

Measuring Up

By: Lily LaMotte
Illustrated by: Ann Xu
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Can winning a cooking contest allow 12-year-old Cici to bring her Taiwanese grandmother to the U.S. for her 70th birthday? Will it interfere with her parents’ inviolable motto of “good grades, good college, good job”? Readers are sure to see themselves and their families in this engaging graphic portrait of an immigrant family and an aspiring chef who is bridging two cultures.

Nadia’s Hands

Nadia’s Hands

By: Karen English
Illustrated by: Jonathan Weiner
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Nadia is thrilled to be the flower girl at her aunt's wedding, yet continues to worries her classmates will respond on Monday to the temporary henna tattoos (mehndi). The intricate hand decorations that wear off slowly are a tradition of the family's Pakistani background. Respect for tradition and the need to conform are at odds, but then resolved in this well-illustrated story.

Pashmina book cover

Pashmina

By: Nidhi Chanani
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Priyanka Das has so many unanswered questions: Why did her mother abandon her home in India years ago? Who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? For Pri, her mother’s homeland can only exist in her imagination. That is, until she find a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a place more vivid and colorful than any guidebook or Bollywood film. A tale about the hardship and self-discovery that is born from juggling two cultures and two worlds.

Stargazing

Stargazing

By: Jen Wang
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Can very different girls become best friends? Though both are Chinese-American, Moon and Christine are very different. Christine is cautious, serious, attends Chinese school, and follows rules. In spite of this, Christine and Moon become best friends. Christine wonders if she was a good enough friend when it is discovered that Moon’s celestial visions are caused by an all-too-real problem. Simple cartoon illustrations in full color are expressive and move this notable story to its gratifying conclusion. A note from the author/illustrator reveals the story’s genesis.

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

By: Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In this humorous and heartfelt story about a split cultural identity, nothing goes according to plan for sixth-grader Lucy Wu. She's ready to rule the school, go out for captain of the basketball team, and take over the bedroom she has always shared with her sister … until she finds out that Yi Po, her beloved grandmother's sister, is coming to visit and will be staying in Lucy's room. Lucy discovers that life often reveals silver linings in the most unexpected of clouds.

The Trip Back Home

The Trip Back Home

By: Janet Wong
Illustrated by: Bo Jia
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Based on the author's experience, a child visits the village in Korea where her mother lived before immigrating to America. The simplicity of the text provides rich details of everyday life in the small Korean village, enhanced by realistic illustrations.

The Ugly Vegetables

The Ugly Vegetables

By: Grace Lin
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In a neighborhood of flower gardens, a Chinese-American girl and her mother plant what the child considers to be ugly vegetables. The ugly vegetables, however, become attractive and help build community when made into a delicious soup! A recipe is included.

Two Lands, One Heart: An American Boy’s Journey to His Mother’s Vietnam

Two Lands, One Heart: An American Boy’s Journey to His Mother’s Vietnam

By: Ted Wood, Jeremy C. Schmidt
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In 1975 TJ's mother was only a chid when she escaped war-torn Vietnam and came to America. Almost 20 years later, she took her eldest son back to meet the family he had never known and to experence firsthand the country and the culture she left behind. A true-life story told in full-color photographs.

Watercress

Watercress

By: Andrea Wang
Illustrated by: Jason Chin
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A child is embarrassed when parents stop the car to harvest wild watercress. Illustrations in sepia, however, show why this is such an emotional moment for the Chinese American family as it recalls an earlier time. Inspired text and stunningly detailed watercolors provide insight into one family’s history and a glimpse of their life before coming to the United States.

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