Bringing Asha Home and Kimchi & Calamari

Two excellent new books about adoption

Uma Krishnaswami's picture book, Bringing Asha Home (Lee & Low, September 2006), illustrated by Jamel Akib, provides an alternative answer to the "where do babies come from?" question. Eight-year-old Arun longs to celebrate the wonderful brother-sister holiday of Rakhi, but must wait months before Asha arrives from India. A perfect choice for a parent who wants to introduce the process of adoption to an older sibling, this book will also spark a re-telling of a family's own impatient waiting for a child. Teachers can use it to explore the concept of waiting for good things in general -- like spring, festival days, and babies, adopted or biological. I especially appreciated that neither text nor pictures make a fuss about the fact that the family is interracial. This makes Bringing Asha Home a prototype of a new generation of picture books where multiculturalism is celebrated but not allowed to commandeer the plot. For more reviews, visit Big A little a, the Asian Reporter, PaperTigers, or Cynsations. (Note: this book was sent to me by the publisher.)

A forthcoming middle reader by a member of the Class of 2k7, Rose Kent, Kimchi & Calamari (HarperCollins, April 2007) also features a multiracial family as a secondary theme. This funny, touching story is a coming-of-age tale told in first person by a main character that boys -- and girls -- are going to love. I can already hear them clamoring for a sequel. A delightful supporting cast of characters, a strong voice, and an honest exploration of adoption and ethnic identity from a fourteen-year-old's perspective make this a five-star book for kids between cultures. My only fear is that the cover might serve as a roadblock instead of a lure, especially for young guy readers -- could somebody at HarperCollins please explain the reasoning behind it? For more, read Chicken Spaghetti's take or a review from A Year of Reading. (Note: this book was sent to me by the author's daughter, who is serving as her publicist.)