April 21, 2021
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Here are three recent books with AAPI themes or characters. Which one would you like to read?
The Last Fallen Star
In The Last Fallen Star, 12-year-old Korean-American Riley Oh wants to become a healing witch like her sister, Hattie. Hattie creates a spell so she can share her magic with Riley. But the spell goes wrong. To fix everything, Riley must find the last fallen star. Author Graci Kim told TIME for Kids that she hopes readers know it’s okay to feel like an outsider, as Riley does. “True acceptance and true belonging start within ourselves,” she says. —By Karena Phan
Three Keys follows an 11-year-old girl named Mia Tang. Mia and her family have emigrated from China to the United States. Now, they own and operate a motel. As immigrants, the Tangs are forced to deal with prejudice. Kelly Yang wrote Three Keys. Her experiences as an Asian American inspired Mia’s character. Yang says representation in books is important. “Growing up, I never saw an Asian-American girl on the cover of a book,” she told TFK. “It’s really important for kids . . . to see that there isn’t just one American narrative.” —By Ellen Nam
Sugar and Spite
Sugar and Spite, by Gail D. Villanueva, finds 12-year-old Jolina newly arrived on an island in the Philippines. It’s there that she learns how to make magic and potions. Jolina uses that magic to take revenge on a bully named Claudine. But revenge comes at a price. Filipino history and culture are woven into the book. Villanueva told TFK that kids should read about places and cultures different from their own, “because doing so helps build empathy.” —By Rebecca Mordechai