Selected East Asian Books For Juveniles (Grades 7-9)
Chinese Portraits: Images Across the Ages. Hoobler, Dorothy and Hoobler, Thomas. 96 pp. Raintree, 1993, $15.95
One of the first volume in a series, the collective biographies introduce famous men and women such as Confucius, poets Li Bo and Du Fu, Lin Xezu (who fought the opium traders) and the Soong family whose members played various political roles in t he twentieth century. Victoria Burck's engaging ink-and-watercolor paintings and portraits appear throughout the book adding color and setting to the tone.
Made in China: Ideas and Inventions from Ancient China. Williams, Suzanne 48 pp. Pacific View Press, 1997, $18.95, ISBN 1881896145.
This colorfully illustrated book foscuses on specific topics related to ancient Chinese culture, history, and invention. Topics include papermaking, agriculture, medicine, and astronomy. Related topics such as the Silk Road are discussed and the making of silk along with the Ming Dynasty and the producture of porcelain.
The Case of the Lion Dance. Yep, Lawrence. 214 pp. Harper, Collins, 1998, $14.95, ISBN 006024447X.
This is a lighthearted mystery set in San Francisco's Chinatown that deals with the festivities arranged for the opening of Lily's Aunt, Tiger Lil's restaurant. Auntie has invited students from two local martial-arts schools to compete in a Lion Dance contest. Kong, one of the competitors, is an angry native-born Chinese teen who has no patience with Lily, a U.S. born Chinese citizen. Barry Kong and his brother are injured at the conclusion of the competition in an explosion. In addition, $2,000 is stolen and Kong, the sore loser, is a suspect. Kong's teacher instructs him to assist Aunt Lil and Lily in finding the thief. The need for racial and ethnic tolerance as Lily and Kong work toge ther to solve the crime. Lily begins to understand Kong's anger and arrogance and Kong finds he has misjudged Lily.
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Little Sister Dalkey, Kara208pp. Puffin, 1998, ISBN 0140386319.
The Heavenward Path 230 pp. Harcourt, 1998, $17.00, ISBN 015201652X.
These two novels combined tell the story of a courageous teenager's escape from the limits and preconceptions forced upon her by a rigid and structured upbringing with a colorful series of encounters with powerful beings from Buddhist and Shinto lore.
Mitsuko as Little Sister grows up shielded from reality in the Japanese imperial court of the 1200s. When her brother-in-law is murdered and her family taken away by a warlord, she summons the courage to venture into the netherworld. The spirit o f her beloved sister is devastated by the loss of her husband and wanders between Life and Death, but Mitsuko faces the powers of heaven and hell to bring her back with the aid of Goranu, a flying tengu of Japanese folklore.
The sequel to Little Sister tells the story of how Mitsuko, two years after entering the land of the dead to find her sister's soul, is reminded of her vow to repair a small shrine in which she once took refuge. At the same time, her father announces that Mitsuko is to marry an 11 year old prince. She again calls on Goranu and under his tutelege learns how to use her wits. She engineers the marriage of her sister to the prince and meets Lord Emma-O in the Court of the Dead. A glossary of Japanese words and a historical postscript help the reader gain an under-standing of 12th century locales and social patterns.
Sword of the Samurai Kimmel, Eric A. 112pp. Harcourt Brace, 1999, $15.00. ISBN 0152019855.
The fiercely honorable "knights of old Japan" are brought to life in eleven vivid stories packed with action and humor. Those interested in martial arts and Japanese arts and legends will enjoy these stories.
A Fence Away from Freedom: Japanese Americans and World War II. Levine, Ellen. 260 pp. Putnam, 1995, $18.95, ISBN 0399226389.
This book details the chronology of events following the bombing of Pearl Harbor that lead to the internment of Japanese Americans. Interviews were conducted with thirty-Five Japanese Americans who were children or young adults at the time.
Asian-American Scientists Yount, Lisa., 103 pp., Facts on File, 1998, $19.95, ISBN 0816037566.
This is a biographical collection of twelve Asian-American scientists. Readers meet computer scientist Tsutomu Shimomura who hunts down lawbreakers on the information superhighway, David Ho, whose research on AIDS and new drug treatments seems to have eliminated HIV from the blood of infected patients; Paul Ching-wu Chu, "superconductivity's superstar" and Har Gobind Khorana who created the first artificial genes. The biographies are accompanied by a list of further reading and a chronology which offers glimpses of the career paths of these individuals and lucid descriptions of their fields of interest, research, and prospects for the future.
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Still Life with Rice. Lee, Helle. 320 pp. Scribner, 1996, ISBN 0684802708
A biography that reads like a novel, the author portrays the amazing life of her Korean grandmother who survives war, poverty, illness and social repression before emigrating to Los Angeles. Lee's maternal grandmother, born in 1912 into a well-to-do merchant family, has a traditional upbringing and is married to a charming feckless husband chosen for her. Baek finds her life disrupted by political events, and to escape Japanese
Echoes of the White Giraffe. Choi, Sook Nyul. 144 pp. Houghton Mifflin, 1993, $13.95. ISBN 0395647215.
This is a sequel to Choi's autobiographical novel, Year of Impossible Goodbyes (1991). Sookan, aged 15, has escaped with her mother and younger brother from the bombing of Seoul during the Korean War. They live in a refugee mountain community in Pusan, and when the war ends, return to rebuild their home in Seoul. The death of Sookan's father is another emotionally upsetting experience as she struggles for independence within the restrictions of her society. Readers will experience the joys and bittersweet emotions of her first love and learn that the Korean courtship ritual is very different from American dating customs.
Finding My Voice. Lee, Marie G. Houghton Mifflin 1992, $13.95. ISBN 0395621348.
Korean immigrant parents pressure high school senior Ellen sung to get into Harvard. The high school senior tries to find time for romance, friendship and fun in her small Minnesota town as she faces simmering racism from some of her classmates and even a teacher that becomes impossible to ignore.
Chi-Hoon: A Korean Girl. McMahon, Patricia. 48 p. Boyds Mills Press, $9.95. ISBN 1563977206
This book records a week in the daily life of Chi-hoon, an eight-year-old girl who lives in Seoul. Korean culture and values are portrayed and the reader is given a look at wha it means to grow up in a male dominated culture.
My Brother, My Sister and I. Watkins, Yoko Kawashima. 224 pp. Bradbury, 1994, $16.95 ISBN 0027925269.
In the fictionalized autobiography So Far from the Bamboo Grove (1986) Yoko tells the story of her family's escape from the Communist takeover in North Korea at the end of World War II and find themselves unwelcome in Japan. This sequel tells of a once secure middle class child whose mother is dead and her father a prisoner. She and her brother and sister are left homeless and hungry after being driven from their warehouse home by a fire. They are accused of arson and murder, but the loving b onds are strong in this family and Yoko attends school where rich students torment her as an outsider. She graduates with top honors although her classmates do not want her included in their class photo. The children are eventually reunited with their father.
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This bibliography is compiled by Mary Miller.