Children's Books about Asia 

This is a selection of books, both fiction and non-fiction, which are either about various countries in Asia or have characters who come from Asia. The books listed are for both Elementary and Secondary levels. Please take the recommended age levels as a rough guide.  Recommended by Kate Shepherd and Mandy Clarke

Picture Books

The Quarreling Kites by Lin Acacio-Flores & Hermes Alegre (illus) pb 9789716301229 $26.95
This is a story from the Philippines about two kites and the father and son who fly and fix the kites with running repairs. The kites are at first quarrelsome but then love to fly together. (5 – 8 years)

The Mats by Francisco Arcellana & Hermes Alegre (illus) pb 9789716300406 $22.95
A beautiful story by a master storyteller from the Philippines about a father who brings back a special sleeping mat for each member of the family and he doesn’t forget the three sisters who died when very young. A wonderful book which makes us think about the joys and losses of family life.  (5 – 9 years)

Cleversticks by Bernard Ashley & Derek Brazell (illus) pb 9780517883327 $16.00
Ling Sung decides he doesn’t like school but all his problems disappear when he discovers there is something he can do that others can’t – he can use chopsticks.

The Last King of Angkor Wat by Graeme Base hb 9780670077151 $26.99
Tiger, Gibbon, Water Buffalo and Gecko are lounging in the ruins of one of the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. Inspired by the stone carvings of kings, each argues that he would have been a great ruler. An old statue of the Elephant King comes to life and sets them a challenge: they must journey to the temple on the top of the hill, proving along the way that they have strength, compassion, resilience and courage. Off they race but at the end the Elephant King points out that none of them has all of the qualities of a great king. They are humbled by their experience and strive for self-improvement. Gorgeous illustrations. (5/6 – 8 year olds). MC

Peeking Ducks by Krista Bell & Sally Rippin (illus) hb 9781921136450 $25.99
Three little ducks go off to explore the mighty Li River and on their way they manage to escape all sorts of dangers. (3 – 7 years)

Chinese Calendar series by Sarah Brennan & Harry Harrison (illus) 
The Chinese calendar is the oldest calendar in the world. Legend has it that Lord Buddha held a race to see which animals should represent the twelve years and there was a lot of mischief as the animals tried to cross the finishing line first. They won in the following order : Rat, Ox. Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey. Rooster, Dog and Pig. Sarah Brennan’s Chinese Calendar series of books tells very lively and amusing stories about each of these animals. The stories are in verse and have proved to be very popular with children. Harry Harrison’s funny carton style illustrations add even more life and humour to these stories. So far she has told the stories of:

The Tale of Run Run Rat pb 9789881888273 $14.95
Most rats are clever and quick but Run Run Rat is cleverer and faster than the others and determined to win. 

The Tale of Oswald Ox pb 9789881888280 $14.95
Oswald Ox is calm and nothing disturbs him but when he is accused of stealing the farm’s food he stirs himself enough to uncover the culprits.

The Tale of Temujin pb 9789881888297 $14.95
Temujin the Tiger is the terror of the East and so too is Her Royal Highness the Imperial Princess. Both were well known for their tantrums and temper.

The Tale of Rhonda Rabbit pb 9789881888259 $14.95
Rhonda Rabbit was exceptionally wily and had many annoying habits especially that of nibbling the Emperor’s much loved vegetables.

The Tale of Chester Choi pb 9789881888266 $14.95
Chester is a dragon who loved to eat children and then regretted it as he really yearned for a friend. Luckily little Jimmy Lee is very clever, an excellent fisherman and is also wanting a friend. 

 And also: 
The Tale of Pin Yin Panda pb 9789881888204 $14.95 
The Tale of Sybil Snake pb 9789881609816 $14.95
The Tale of Rodney Ram pb 9789881609854 $14.95
The Tale of the Dark Horse pb 9789881609830 $14.95 (6 – 10 years) KS

The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey & Anne Wilson (illus)
pb 9781846862021 $14.00
A lively retelling of the traditional story of how the calendar years came to be named after animals. There is also information on the Chinese calendar and on the characters of people born in particular animal years. ((6 – 10 years)

K is for Korea by Hyechong Cheung and Prodeepta Das pb 9781847801333 $16.95
A very informative, beautifully photographed alphabet book which gives readers an introduction to the cultural background and everyday life of Korea. 

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi pb 9780440417996 $14.00
A story about a young Korean girl who thinks she will choose an American name when she comes to live in America in order to fit in better. However in the end she decides that her name, Unhei meaning Grace, reflects herself and her culture. A lesson in cultural understanding in the classroom.

The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo & Ruth Heller (illus) hb 9780060204327 $32.00
pb 9780064433976 $13.00 
 A Korean version of this favourite fairy tale.

Crouching Tiger by Ying Chang Compestine & Yan Nascimbene (illus) hb 9780763646424 $27.95
When Vinson’s grandfather from China comes to stay with the family in the US, Vinson is intrigued by the slow Tai Chi movements which his grandfather practices each day. However he is also a little embarrassed by his grandfather’s emphasis on things Chinese. When Vinson realises that his grandfather has been training the Lion Dancers for the Parade he is most impressed and is delighted when he also gets to play an important part in the Lion Dance. Information about a number of Chinese customs and traditions are included and also small sketches of a child demonstrating various Tai Chi positions. (6 – 9 years) 

Ayu and the Perfect Moon by David Cox pb 9781921720222 $16.95
Wonderful to see this beautiful book back in print. Set in a village in Bali, an old woman tells three little girls of the time she dances for the whole village at a special ceremony when there was a full moon. The expressive and detailed illustrations show us aspects of life in the village and of the dancing and music. Interesting notes give more information about Balinese dance and about the author. (5 – 9 years) KS

I is for India by Prodeepta Das pb 9781845073206 $16.95
A very informative, beautifully photographed alphabet book which gives readers an introduction to the cultural background and everyday life of India.

Prita Goes to India by Prodeepta Das pb 9781845074302 $16.95
This is the diary of Prita’s trip to India to meet her father and mother’s family. She describes her excitement on visiting the Taj Mahal, New Delhi and her many relatives in villages in Orissa. Excellent photos. (6 – 10 years)

A Day I Remember: My Uncle’s Amazing Indian Wedding by Prodeepta Das hb 9781847804464 $27.95
pb 9781847806017 $16.95
Young Swayam’s uncle is getting married and Swayam has been chosen to be markundi, the bridegroom’s special companion at the wedding. As he takes us through the preparations, the journey from their village to the holy city of Puri where the wedding will take place, the arrival of the guests, the feast, music and then the wedding ceremony itself, we learn about the rituals surrounding this important day. The excitement, colours and atmosphere of a traditional Indian wedding are captured in the photos on every page. (6 – 9 years) MC

The Empty Pot by Demi pb 9780805049008 $14.00 big book 9780805082272 $47.00
When the Emperor of China gives all the children seeds to grow, Ping is dismayed that his pot is the only empty pot. All the other children have grown beautiful flowers. However the emperor is delighted with Ping since he is the only one honest enough to admit that his seed didn’t grow. (5 – 8 years)

One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi hb 9780590939980 $40.00
Beautifully illustrated in the style of Indian miniatures, this is the story of a young girl who requests, as a reward for a good deed, just one grain of rice at first and then double the amount of the day before over 30 days. To the greedy Raja’s astonishment, this grows to more than one billion grains of rice which she shares with the hungry people. (5 – 12)

Su Dongpo by Demi hb 9781584302568 $45.00
Su Dongpo lived in China in the eleventh century. He was a statesman, philosopher, poet, painter, scholar, architect and humanitarian. He is very highly regarded in China. This is the story of his life. It is beautifully illustrated with Chinese influenced paintings and contains many poems translated from the Chinese. (6 – 10 years) KS

The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna by Demi hb 9781937786052 $29.99
The wondrous story of how Vishnu, the greatest of all the Hindu Gods, was reborn on earth as the child Krishna to rid the earth of demon kings. Raised by cowherds Krishna was an adorable, strong and naughty child. The evil demon king sent many creatures to kill Krishna but he vanquished them all. Krishna is the principal figure in the Bhagavad Gita, Hindu sacred scripture. The beautiful illustrations have an Indian influence. (8 – 12 years) KS

The Legend of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching by Demi hb 9781416912064 $45.00
There is some debate as to whether Lao Tzu really did exist and whether he wrote the Tao Te Ching back in about the 6th century BC. Demi has described the legend of Lao Tzu’s life and follows this with some twenty of the eighty one passages of the Tao Te Ching. Beautiful illustrations accompany these enigmatic sayings which have been most important in Chinese philosophy and thought.  (10 – 15 years) KS

The Great Voyages of Zheng He by Demi hb 9781885008459 $36.00
This book is a beautifully written and illustrated telling of the story of the amazing voyages undertaken by Zheng He during the Ming dynasty in the fifteenth century in China. The illustrations depict vividly the Chinese court, the building of the boats, the journeys and some of the amazing places he visited.  (8 – 12 years) KS

Gandhi by Demi hb 9780689841491 $40.00
A beautifully illustrated and told retelling of Gandhi’s life. The author’s Note gives some additional information about Gandhi. (9 – 12 years) KS

Night/Raat by Junuka Deshpande pb 9788181464484 $12.00
The illustrations in the book are so striking, just in black and white and grey. The text is minimal with just a few words in English and also in Hindi. However the pictures tell the story of a bus that breaks down in the forest at night. Two children get out of the bus and they are suddenly aware of all the shadows, the sounds and creatures in the forest all around them. There is a strong sense of wonder at the natural world conveyed by these simple but compelling illustrations. (4 – 8 years) KS

Dia’s Story Cloth: The Hmong People’s Hourney of Freedom by Dia Cha stitched by Chue and Nhia Thao Cha pb 9781880000632 $18.00
The story cloth tells the story of the Hmong people from their journey long ago from China to the highlands of Laos. There they planted their crops and the women embroidered their clothes with the most intricate and colourful patterns and designs. However in 1975 they fled the fighting in Laos to the refugee camps in Thailand till they were repatriated to the US. This beautiful story cloth was made by the author’s aunt and uncle and tells in intricate detail their story which is also the author’s story. The cloth is the size of a double bed and shows the Hmong people making their long journey, planting their crops and tending their animals and also the fighting and killing during the war. It is a remarkable account of their journey and also of their skill as embroiderers and of their ability to make a new folk art from their old needlework traditions. (6 – 10 years) KS

The Little Refugee by Anh Do and Suzanne Do, illustrated by Bruce Whatley hb 9781742378329 $24.99
This is the picture book version of a very popular adult book, The Happiest Refugee, about Anh Do and his family's escape from war-torn Vietnam in an overcrowded boat, and their very dangerous journey to Australia. They survived a terrifying storm, which ruined their meagre food and water supplies, and an attack by pirates, before being rescued by a German cargo ship. The book also describes his childhood in Australia, and his family’s efforts to fit in and make a new life for themselves. When he is made class captain his parents are so proud, and Anh finally feels accepted by his fellow students. The power of optimism and hope is strong. Bruce Whatley uses a mixture of illustration styles, with sepia and grey-toned realistic sketches reflecting the trauma of the war and the boat journey, contrasting with simpler, comic-style coloured drawings once the family reaches the safety of Australia. (5 – 10 years) KS MC
The adult book is a best-selling memoir and is suitable for secondary students. The Happiest Refugee: My journey from tragedy to comedy pb 9781742372389 $32.99 Anh Do is now a very popular comedian.

The Red Bridge by Kylie Dunstan hb 9781921136726 $27.95
Claire has left her home and friends and now lives with her mother and father in one of the very tall skinny houses in old Hanoi. “Everything was different, the smells, the sky, the sounds.” I love the way Kylie Dunstan uses collage to capture the movement of the bustling streets and also the many vibrant textures and patterns of the market stalls and buildings. About making friends in a very different country. (5 – 10 years) KS

How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R Friedman & Allen Say (illus) pb 9780395442357 $14.00
A charming and amusing story of a young girl recounting how her parents, one as a young Japanese school girl and the other a young US sailor, learned to master the difficult art of eating with the utensils of the other culture (chopsticks or knife, fork and spoon). (6 – 9 years) KS

Long-Long’s New Year: A story about the Chinese Spring Festival by Catherine Gower & He Zhihong (illus) pb 9781845073992 $19.00
Grandpa and Long-long go to sell the cabbages they have grown in order to get money to buy what the family needs to celebrate the spring festival at home. Beautiful illustrations of the bustling market. (6 – 9 years) KS

Krishna and the Mystery of the Stolen Calves by Joshua M Greene & Dominique Amendola (illus) hb 9781608871735 $18.99
The stories about Krishna, the dark and beautiful god, are among the best loved of all Hindu stories. The God Brahma decides to put to the test stories that he has heard about Krishna. Could Krishna really be an incarnation of Vishnu? Krishna is only five years old but proves himself to be very clever and caring of his playmates and their families and also of the calves in their care. The beautiful illustrations are painted in the style of traditional Indian miniature paintings. (6 – 8 years) KS

The Most Beautiful Lantern by Sally Heinrich pb 9780980759815 $18.95
All the children are to carry a lantern during the parade for the mid-autumn festival and Mei-Ling wants to carry the most beautiful lantern she can find. However she can't make up her mind which is best. As she searches with her grandfather or mother this becomes an opportunity for stories about the festival and the significance of some of the lanterns that she sees. This is a charming story with bright lively illustrations. (6 – 9 years) KS

Going to School in India by Lisa Heydlauff hb 9781570916663 $45.00
This is a remarkable book which describes the various ways in which children in India travel to school and also describes the types of school that they attend. Some walk up steep hills for several hours, some travel by boat, others by rickshaw, some go at night after working all day, some have huge classes but they also have their own Parliament or Development Group which make suggestions for improving the school. One school for homeless children is held in a bus. Vibrant photos and descriptive text make this an inspiring book. (7 years up)
There is also a fascinating DVD Going to School in India DVD 9781888194906 $54.95
which shows some of the same children and schools and also different ones. Wonderful to watch because of the photography and also the lively engaging music. (7 years up)

Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho & Holly Meade (illus) pb 9780531071663 $13.00
A mother tells all the creatures nearby, the mosquito, the lizard, the frog, the monkey and the elephant to hush and not to wake her baby. Illustrations beautifully capture the scene of Thai village life.  (4 – 7 years)

The Snake Goddess Colors the World: A Chinese Tale Told in English and Chinese by Li Jian translated by Yijin Wert hb 9781602209824 $19.99
According to this Chinese story, the world was originally grey. When the colourful Goddess Nuwa realized that a big hole in the earth had sucked the colour out of the earth, she went on a search for five magical colour stones to repair the hole. Engaging illustrations vividly show her quest for the magic stones and the creatures in the sea, sky and forest that were guarding them. (5 – 8 years) KS

The Horse and the Mysterious Drawing: A Story in English and Chinese by Li Jian hb 9781602209848 $19.99
This is a story about a small boy and a skinny white horse and how the white horse showed the boy the secret of how to farm and to plant crops in accordance with the rules of the seasons. (5 – 8 years)

Mulan: A Story in English and Chinese by Li Jian hb 9781602209862 $19.99
The legend of Mulan and her bravery and skill as a warrior is told in this beautifully illustrated picture book. (6 – 9 years)

The Little Monkey’s Journey by Li Jian, retold in English and Chinese hb 9781602209817 $19.99

The Water Dragon: A Chinese Legend by Li Jian, retold in English and Chinese hb 9781602209787 $19.99

Ming’s Adventure with the Terracotta Army by Li Jian (English only) translated by Yijin Wert hb 9781602209831 $19.99
When Ming dreams he visits the Terracotta Army he meets infantrymen, cavalry, and kneeling archers and even some of the dancers and farmers who all live in the huge underground palace of Qin Shihuang. In addition to the actual story on each page, there is additional factual information describing the different people of the Terracotta Army. (6 – 9 years) KS

Ming’s Adventure in the Forbidden City by Li Jian, retold in English and Chinese hb 9781602209855 $19.99
Ming and his father visit the Forbidden City in Beijing. When Ming passes through a mysterious gate he goes back in time to the ancient Forbidden City and finds himself being escorted by guards to the palace where the Emperor lives. The Emperor is just a young boy like himself and so Ming draws pictures of cars, planes and rockets as he describes his modern world, and the excited young Emperor takes Ming on a tour of his favourite places in the City. On the endpapers of the book is a plan of the Forbidden City, showing Ming’s route and the places mentioned in the book, and at the end is a Cultural Explanation of those places. (6-8 year olds) MC

One Step at a Time by Jane Jolly & Sally Heinrich hb 9780987380951 $27.99
Set in Thailand, this is the strikingly illustrated story of the love and friendship between the young boy Luk and his baby elephant Mali. It describes the shock and horror when Mali treads on a landmine and is injured. However Mali is fitted with a new leg and learns to walk again. At that time we learn that Luk too has a prosthetic leg, from a previous landmine accident. While the book shows clearly the deadly effects of landmines, it has a very positive outlook, so important for young children. At the end of the book, there is additional information about landmines, and still more information and teachers’ notes can be found on two websites. The vitality of the illustrations brings to life the story, with its lush jungle setting and beautiful Buddhist temples. (4 – 8 years) KS

Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw hb 9780805089462 $32.00
Two little boys, Elliot and Kailash, are pen-pals who live in very different worlds. Through their exchange of drawings and simple letters, they discover that they both catch the bus to school and love climbing trees; there’s too much traffic in both their cities – in one the streets are full of taxis, buses and cars, while the other has few cars, but you will find elephants, oxen, chickens, bicycles, carts and people carrying all manner of things on their heads. Same, same but different! The cultural differences in their everyday lives in America and India can be discovered in the details of the boys’ drawings. (4 - 7 years) MC

D is for Doufu: An Alphabet Book of Chinese Culture by Maywan Shen Krach & Hongbin Zhang pb 9781885008169 $20.00
An exceptional book which gives an insight into the pictographic nature of the Chinese language through 25 Chinese words and phrases. It gives a fascinating historical and cultural background through well known words such as kungfu, feng shui or more complex words like “ai” meaning “love” where the explanation shows some of the cultural differences between Chinese and western ways of thinking. Wonderful illustrations in the style of Chinese folk art. (9 years up)

Out of the Way! Out of the Way! By Uma Krishnaswami & Uma Krishnaswamy (illus) pb 9788181467928 $13.00
A simple lively story about a mango tree that grew in a small village and how people and animals made their way around it. As the tree grew bigger, birds nested in its branches as the road around the tree got busier with riders, wagons and cars. Riders called “Out of the Way Out of the way” as they rushed past. But as life rushed around the tree and the road got bigger so did the tree and it became a meeting place for people and animals under its spreading canopy. The bright illustrations show life in an Indian village and later, as there is more development, showing a busy road with cars, buses and trucks. The book can be read as an allegory on the environment and development; showing how even though development rushes by there is still room for the natural world, or the welcoming canopy of a mango tree. (5 – 8 years) KS

The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Jean and Mou-sien Tseng pb 9780590420570 $13.00
This marvellous Chinese traditional tale is told with much humour and vitality and beautifully illustrated in watercolours. The seven Chinese brothers show how they worked together and combined their unique powers to overcome the cruel Emperor.

The Two Bullies by Junko Morimoto, translated by Isao Morimoto pb 9780091834722 $16.99
Ni-ou was the strongest man in Japan and Dokkoi was the strongest in China but when they get within hearing distance of each other they show that bravery is not one of their strengths. Illustrated with great inventiveness, humour and beauty using both traditional and modern elements of style.

My Hiroshima by Junko Morimoto pb 9780734416025 $15.99
First published in 1987, this is a very moving book about Morimoto’s childhood in Japan. Her happy early childhood changed when the war started. Junko was 13 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on her home, Hiroshima. Morimoto describes the devastation through her straightforward and unsentimental text but also through her very confronting illustrations. Care should be taken to guide children through this powerful book. (8 – 11 years) MC

H is for Hong Kong: A Primer in Pictures by Tricia Morrissey & Elizabeth Briel (illus) hb 9781934159132 $23.00
English and Chinese. A cross between a small format picture book and a large format early reader, this lovely book describes elements of daily life in Hong Kong: skyscrapers, trams, ferries, fishermen, dim sum, eggballs, lions and dragons in the New Year parade…. On each page is an illustration with a couple of evocative, often playful, lines of text in English.
Bird cage
Songbirds in cages swaying overhead serenade the teahouse with warbling chatter.
Underneath is the Chinese translation using both characters and the romanised version. Wonderfully atmospheric illustrations perfectly compliment the imaginative language. (5-8 or 9 years) MC

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & Susan L Roth, Collages by Susan L Roth hb 9780803730588 $31.00
This picture book is written in the words of the children of the village of Korphe in Pakistan where Greg Mortenson was first nursed back to health and where he promised to return and build a school. The simply written but beautiful text describes how the children feel about their new school and how it was built. At the end of the book there are several pages with photos and more information describing the village and how the school was built. (5 – 10 years)

The Brothers Wu and the Good-Luck Eel by Fran Ng & Arnel Mirasol (illus) pb 9789716300963 $22.95
Vibrant illustrations give an insight into a bustling Filipino-Chinese district of Manila in this true family story which describes the reason why their family never eats eel.

Tari the Little Balinese Dancer by Pamela Noensie & Garretta Lamore (illus) hb 9780804843874 $14.99
This is the story of Tari, a village girl who is learning a traditional dance for young girls. Her Grandmother had given her a beautiful headdress with tiny flowers of beaten gold. When her Grandmother dies, Tari is chosen to be the lead dancer for a special village performance and decides to wear the beautiful headdress in honour of her Grandmother. Through the telling of this story we learn a little about the culture of Bali, rituals and daily life in a small village, the cremation ceremony, the Legong dance and the gamelan orchestra. (7-10 years) MC

The Last Dragon by Susan Miho Nunes & Chris K Soentpiet (illus) pb 9780395845172 $13.00
A young boy's determination and the help of the people in Chinatown bring to life the old dragon and the young Chinese boy discovers he has many friends in Chinatown.

Upside Down by T R Rajesh pb 9788181466723 $11.00 (Bilingual in English and Hindi)
The brightly coloured illustrations show lush trees, animals, water and the way of life in rural Kerala. The text is very simple and describes each illustration. “An elephant near the temple.” “A cow in the street.” “Children going to school.” However it is a little puzzling as each illustration is upside down. The reason is shown in the final illustration showing a small bat hanging upside down in a tree. This is how the bat sees the world. Lots to discuss about the different view of the world as well as the lush rural life of Kerala. (3 – 6 years) KS

My Mother’s Sari by Sandhya Rao & Nina Sabnani (illus) pb 9780735822337 $14.00
In this innovative picture book, children use the beautiful lengths of material of their mother’s saris to play games, to dream and to use their imaginations. The illustrations show through photographs of real saris and illustrations the beautiful textures and designs. The end pages give instructions on how to wear a sari. (4 – 6 years) KS

P is for Pakistan by Shazia Razzak and Prodeepta Das pb 9781847800893 $16.95
An informative, beautifully photographed alphabet book which gives readers an introduction to the cultural background and everyday life of Pakistan.

Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein & Ed Young (illus) hb 9780316118255 $28.99
This is a most unusual picture book in that it opens vertically. Wabi Sabi is a plain, brown cat who wants someone to explain the meaning of her name. No-one can really enlighten her, so she sets off to see a wise old monkey who lives on Mount Hiei. Through her journey, and the old monkey, she eventually comes to understand, and so do we, that wabi sabi is the concept of finding beauty in common, simple, ordinary, often imperfect things. The story is told in the tradition of haibun, where short prose passages set up the haiku that follows. At the end of the book there's a short history of the concept of wabi sabi, haiku and haibun, and translations of the decorative haiku that appear throughout the book in Japanese script. The wonderful collage illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to the story. (7-11 years) MC

Tokyo Friends - Tokyo no Tomodachi by Betty Reynolds hb 9784805310755 $27.00
This is an excellent introduction to Japanese language and culture and also some of the differences between Japanese and western customs. When Katie meets her two Japanese friends in Tokyo, they show us some of the everyday things that they do and the Japanese and English words for them. The words are written in English, in Japanese phonetically and also in the Japanese script and are accompanied by lively illustrations. (6 - 12 years)

Squeamish about Sushi and other food adventures in Japan by Betty Reynolds pb 9780804838351 $14.99
Written in a similar entertaining format, this is a more detailed exploration of the intricacies of eating sushi and other food in Japan. (12 years up)

Stitching Stories: The art of embroidery in Gujerat by Nina Sabnani pb 9788181469618 $22.00
This is the remarkable story of how two craftswomen have used their traditional needlework to tell stories about their lives while making beautiful narrative art. As Raniben says “Before I used to stitch just to make patterns. But now I think about what I want to say through my stitches.” Through photographs of her embroidered narrative panels, we can see the story of how she and her family left their village in Pakistan, crossing the harsh desert to live in the Kutch region in Gujerat. Meghiben describes how she and Raniben work together and exchange ideas while photographs show the beautiful work they make through embroidery and applique. The final four pages of the book describe through text and photographs many examples of embroidery work and some of the many styles from particular region. This is a beautiful book giving us an insight into a traditional art and the way it has been become narrative art and a new creative way to tell stories. (10 years up) KS

Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say hb 9780544050501 $24.99 pb 9780547076805 $12.99
Allen Say’s grandfather made the journey from Japan to the United States when he was a young man and this story beautifully describes through text and illustrations the love that he and his grandson feel for both countries. Caldecott Medal winner. (8 years up)

Tea with Milk by Allen Say pb 9780547237473 $9.99
is the story of his mother who was born in the US and felt ill at ease when she moved back to Japan. Both stories are beautifully illustrated.

Drawing from Memory by Allen Say hb 9780545176866 $32.00
Allen Say loved to draw from a very early age. His father didn’t approve but Say wanted to be a cartoonist and was fortunate to be accepted at the age of thirteen as an apprentice of Japan’s leading cartoonist Noro Shinpei. This sophisticated picture book is a tribute to this man who became Say’s spiritual father. It explores the master/disciple relationship between Say and his sensei, while being an absorbing account of how Say became a highly skilled cartoonist and artist. The story seems at times part memoir, part graphic novel and part narrative history. The range of different illustration styles adds much interest to the telling of the story. It is a beautiful book rich in its description of a young boy’s aspirations and hopes, the skill and kindliness of his sensei and beautiful in its range of illustrations and their use in telling this story. (9 years up) KS

C is for China by pb 9781845073183 $16.95
A very informative, beautifully photographed alphabet book which gives readers an introduction to the cultural background and everyday life of China.

Shanyi Goes to China by Sungwan So pb 9781845077051 $16.00
This is Shanyi’s diary of her trip back to China. She visits her relatives in Hong Kong and also on nearby mainland China. Interesting text and vivid photographs give us many different impressions of life in China. (6 – 9 years)

The Moon Lady by Amy Tan & Gretchen Schields (illus) pb 9780689806162 $14.00
A grandmother tells her grandchildren a story of her own childhood in China when she became lost at the Chinese Moon Festival. (5 – 8 years)

Ma-Me-Mi-MuMu! By Jomike Tejido, english translation by Fran Ng pb 9789716301755 $22.95
This picture book in Filipino and English gives us a glimpse into Filipino folk culture with its many scary monsters. A little girl imagining different monsters everywhere in her house is comforted by her grandfather who gives her funny rhymes about each monster to repeat, such as “If Bungisngis wanders in, let the kitchen solve your jitters. Feed him sweets like ice cream, yam and banana fritters!” At the end of the book a further description of the ten supernatural creatures is shown. Lively illustrations add to the vitality of the book. (4 – 7 years) KS

The Wakame Gatherers by Holly Thompson & Kazumi Wilds (illus) hb 9781885008336 $32.00
Nanami has two grandmothers: Baachan who lives in Japan with Nanami’s family and Gram from Maine in the US. When Gram comes to visit her granddaughter in Japan Nanami is the translator between the two grandmothers who discover they have much in common since they both live near the sea and have a love of sea life and things to do with the sea. They go gathering wakame, a type of seaweed which is dried and then eaten in a variety of recipes (some of these are given at the end of the book). (6 – 10 years)

Alphabetong Filipino by Nicanor G Tiongson & Crispin Dayao Junior (illus) pb 9789716301748 $26.95
A brief introduction explains the development of the Filipino alphabet. Since each object chosen to illustrate the letters of the alphabet represents something about the country’s past or present culture or everyday life, we gain an insight into Filipino life. There are also examples from city and provincial life. A short description accompanies each letter and provides more information. At the end of the book, there is more information about the development of the Filipino alphabet which has undergone many changes since the time of the indigenous alphabet, before the time of the Spaniards in the 1560s, to the present time. (6 – 9 years) KS

The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang, illustrated by Sally Rippin and Regine Abos hb 9781742031231 $24.99 pb 9781742032092 $16.95
Stunning illustrations and design make this retelling of the traditional story of how the calendar years came to be named after animals an exceptional book. Also adding to the interest are chops or stamps in Chinese calligraphy for each of the animals. (6 – 11 years)

Alone in the Forest by Gita Wolf & Andrea Anastasio, illustrated by Bhajju Shyam hb 9788192317151 $32.00
Feeling all grown up, young Musa sets off into the nearby forest to collect firewood for his mother. Terrified by a crashing noise, he leaps into the hollow of a large tree. Too afraid to move, he crouches in the dark waiting for something terrible to happen. Eventually his heart calms and after the longest time a curious squirrel pokes its head in, somehow breaking the spell and giving Musa the courage to emerge. He grabs the tail of a cow ambling by and is thus safely led home to his village. This is a familiar story arc about the psychology of fear but is made fresh by the wonderfully intricate and colourful artwork of Bhajju Shyam, a Gond tribal artist from Madhya Pradesh in central India. (5-8 years) MC

Japanese Nursery Rhymes: Carp Streamers, Falling Rain and other traditional favourites by Danielle Wright & Helen Acraman (illus) hb 9784805311882 $19.99 (includes an audio CD with songs in Japanese and in English)
These fifteen lively rhymes have an emphasis on the natural world. Danielle Wright includes short notes to explain particular words or events. Colourful illustrations. The verses are in Japanese script and show examples of Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana as well as in Romanised form and in English. The audio CD will bring the rhymes to life in the original language. (4 – 8 years) KS

Korean Nursery Rhymes: Wild Geese, Land of Goblins and Other favourite Songs and Rhymes by Danielle Wright & Helen Acraman (illus) hb 9780804842273 $19.99 (includes an audio CD with songs in Korean and in English)
These fourteen nursery songs are apparently much loved in Korea. Many of the rhymes are accompanied by play activities such as jump rope or hand clapping games. The audio CD will bring the rhymes to life in the original language. (4 – 8 years) KS

Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes by Faye-Lynn Wu & Kieren Dutcher (illus) hb + CD 9780804840941 $19.99
Favourite rhymes are grouped in pairs.; one in Chinese and the other in English. The rhymes have been carefully chosen and the English translations are lively and have a rhythm. Shows some similarities between the two cultures as so many of the rhymes are about similar subjects. The Chinese is in simplified Chinese characters as well as in pinyin and also in English. (3 – 6 years) KS

The Magic Brush: A Story of Love, Family and Chinese Characters by Kat Yeh & Huy Voun Lee (illus) hb 9780802721785 $31.00
Jasmine and her grandfather Agong tell stories together and create a magical world where there are flying fish, rivers, mountains and dragons. He adds to the magic of the stories by showing her how to paint the Chinese characters for the places and creatures in this world. The brightly coloured illustrations cleverly depict the story and also show how the Chinese characters often look very like the objects and creatures they depict. (5 – 10 years)

The Lost Horse: A Chinese Folk Tale by Ed Young pb 9780152050238 $13.00
This beautifully illustrated retelling shows how something that seems to be very good fortune can quickly change and similarly what seems to be bad fortune may not be such a good thing. The subtle elegant illustrations are reminiscent of traditional Chinese painting. The story is also narrated through beautiful Chinese calligraphy at the beginning of the book. (4 – 8 years) KS

The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in Shanghai by Ed Young hb 9780316076289 $24.99
This is the evocative story of the house that Ed Young’s father built in Shanghai as a refuge to protect his family of five children during the years of the second World War which he knew were coming. The house was large and it provided a happy and lively shelter for a number of other families as well during the long war years. The illustrations are extraordinarily innovative, using many different media including old photos, sketches of the layout of the house, collage, paintings and drawings. It is a wonderful memoir showing the closeness of the family and also the fun they had and the games they invented, making full us of the house while war raged outside this haven. (10 – 16 years) KS


Three Indian Goddesses: The Stories of Kali, Lakshmi & Durga by Jamila Gavin pb 9781406330953 $14.95 
 These are three contemporary stories but each story is inspired by one of these three Indian Goddesses so important in Hindu belief. In the first story Shanti is chosen to dance for the gods at the temple by the sea. It is a great honour but she is terrified because she believes that Kali has put a terrible curse on the temple and on the dancer who dances there. In the second story, a young girl Amrita is taken by Hanuman the Monkey King to witness Sita’s kidnapping and the battle to rescue her in the famous story of the Ramayana. Finally when their cousin Durga comes to stay, there are many pleasant surprises for Anil and Kiki. The stories are very well told and the book contains a Glossary. (8 – 12 years) KS

Three Indian Princesses: The Stories of Savithri, Damayanti & Sita by Jamila Gavin pb 9781406330960 $14.95 
 These three well known Hindu stories have been beautifully retold for a younger audience. There are background notes to the stories and also a Glossary. It is great to see these two books backing print again. (8 – 12 years) KS

School for Princes: Stories from the Panchatantra by Jamila Gavin & Bee Wiley (illus) hb 9781845079901 $40.00  
These are five ancient fables about five unruly badly behaved princes who are turned into responsible and caring future kings through the storytelling wisdom of their old teacher Sarma. Jamila Gavin also wrote five original stories about the Princes and the Fables and these are interspersed throughout the collection. These stories give us a much greater understanding of the fables and their significance to the Princes and they also give us information about the period of the Panchatantra. Charming illustrations add to the appeal of this lovely hardback book. ((9 – 14 years) KS

Malaysian Children’s Favourite Stories by Kay Lyons & Martin Loh (illus) hb 9780804835909 $19.99 pb 9780804844017 $14.99
A collection of nine simple stories set in Malaysia which give an insight into Malaysian culture and environment. (8 – 11 years)

Balinese Children’s Favorite Stories by Victor Mason & Gillian Beal illustrated by Trina Bohan-Tyrie pb 9780794607401 $16.99
This is a similar collection of eleven much loved stories that evoke the culture, beauty and sense of humour of Bali.

All About Japan by Willamarie Moore & Kazumi Wilds (illus) hb 9784805310779 $19.99
The book contains stories, songs, origami activities, recipes and games and these all contribute to a very helpful introduction to Japan. We also get to know two Japanese children, one who lives in the country and the other in the city. They describe where they live, their school and their activities each day and also festivals throughout the year. Lively illustrations add to our understanding of Japan. ((8 – 11 years)

See also:
All About Korea by Ann Martin Bowler & Soosoonam Barg hb 9780804840125 $19.99 
All About Indonesia by Linda Hibbs hb 9780804840859 $19.99 

Zen Shorts by Jon Muth hb 9780439339117 $32.00 pb (with audio) 9780545227506 $18.00
Don't be put off by the Zen! Addy, Michael and Karl meet Stillwater the Giant Panda. Over the next three days each child goes to visit Stillwater, and their actions give rise to what is essentially a morality tale, based on the philosophy of Japanese Zen Buddhism. These three wonderful stories deal with generosity, fate and anger. At the end of the book there is an author's note explaining a little about the concept of zen and zen shorts (short meditations or ideas to puzzle over and discuss, that "often challenge us to re-examine our habits, desires, concepts and fears"). The illustrations have a lovely serenity about them. (7-10 years) MC

Zen Ties hb 9780439634250 $24.99 
 When Stillwater's haiku-speaking nephew Koo comes to visit, Stillwater introduces him to Addy, Michael and Karl, and rounds them all up to visit a grouchy old neighbour who is alone and unwell. The children are reluctant, but over the next few days they learn that compassion has unexpected rewards. (7-10 years) MC

Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons by Jon Muth hb 9780545166683 $24.99
The delightful panda, Koo, takes us through the four seasons in 26 haiku poems. Some are funny, some wistful, some playful:
snowball hits the stop sign
Heart beats faster
are we in trouble?
Muth's charming illustrations add to the appeal of this book which is a great introduction to haiku for young readers, and would be lovely to read aloud. The Author's Note at the beginning gives a brief explanation about haiku. (5-8 years) MC

Indian Tales: A Barefoot Collection by Shenaaz Nanji and Christopher Corr pb 9781846864261 $19.99
The eight stories reflect very different regions of India: Gujarat, Punjab, Nagaland, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Kerala. The stories are well told and the illustrations add vitality and colour. There are stories about magical spirits, sneaky robbers and brave heroines. I especially liked the story of Five Men in a Cart from Andhra Pradesh. The five men slavishly follow their guru’s instruction to such an extent that they are completely unable to make any commonsense decisions and this makes for absurd situations and a very funny story. (7 – 12 years)

Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia by Amra Pajalic and Demet Divaroren pb 9781743312926 $18.99
These are twelve very interesting and often funny stories by known and unknown Australian Muslims about the challenges of growing up in multicultural Australia. It shows the diversity of the Muslim experience and the influence of culture, family and gender in shaping identity. (12 – 16 years) KS

Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade & Yoshisuke Kurosaki (illus) hb 9784805312605 $22.99
This is the third edition (2013) of this excellent collection, first published in 1959. There are twenty lively stories often containing magical characters and often very humorous. The whimsical illustrations add to the appeal of the collection. (5 – 11 years)

More Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade & Yoshisuke Kurosaki  (illus) hb 9784805312650 $22.99 (5 – 11 years)

Korean Children's Favourite Stories by Kim So-Un & Jeong Kyoung-Sim (illus) hb 9780804835916 $19.99 
 A beautifully illustrated collection of well-loved folk tales passed down over the ages. (5 – 10 years)

Land of Morning Calm: Korean Culture Then and Now by John Stickler & Soma Han hb 9781885008220 $32.00 
This excellent introduction to Korean culture also gives us historical background to events such as the creation of the Korean alphabet. (9 – 14 years)

Indonesian Children’s Favourite Stories by Joan Suyenaga & Salim Martowiredjo (illus) hb 9780794601713 $19.99 pb 9780804845113 $14.99 
 A collection of eight stories from the Indonesian archipelago. Simply told, these are appealing stories which have universal values. (8 – 11 years)

The Elephant’s Friend and Other tales from Ancient India by Marcia Williams hb 9781406335231 $29.95 pb 9781406344929 $16.95
From the wealth of traditional Indian folk tales and Marcia Williams has selected eight simple animal tales that she retells simply and illustrates with her idiosyncratic cartoon style illustrations. The text is pared down to its simplest but the meaning is expanded through the lively and colourful illustrations which bring much warmth, humour and vitality to these engaging animal stories. (5 -9 years)


The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander pb 9780142402252 $12.00
When Prince Jen sets out to discover the legendary court of T’ien-kuo he discovers much about the suffering and troubles of the people in the kingdom of China. This is a marvellous adventure written with humour and insight. The characters are vivid and Prince Jen learns much through his wanderings. (10 – 15 years)

The China Coin by Allan Baillie pb 9780140347531 $18.99
Leah and her parents are on a trek of discovery as they search out long lost relatives in China but their delight becomes anxiety as the events in Tianamen Square unfold. (11 up)

Little Brother pb by Allan Baillie 9780143301745 $17.99 
 A story of courage and perseverance set in Cambodia during the traumatic times of the Vietnam war. (10 up)

Krakatoa Lighthouse by Allan Baillie pb 9780143303596 $17.95
This book describes the catastrophic event back in 1883 when the island of Krakatoa in Indonesia exploded in an enormous volcanic eruption. This story is told from the point of view of Kerta, a young boy from Java whose father works for the Dutch lighthouse keeper at one of the lighthouses on the mainland just opposite the island of Krakatoa. It is a fascinating account. (11 – 15 years)

Elephant Mountain by Janeen Brian & Sally Rippin (illus) pb 9780143303282 $12.95
One of the popular Aussie Bites series, this book is set in a village in a rainforest in Thailand. Kasem and Pravat are the sons of mahouts and Kasem is absolutely delighted at the chance to look after a baby elephant who has been injured but the task turns out to be more difficult than he had hoped. (7 – 9 years)

Only the Heart by Brian Caswell and David Phu An Chiem pb 9780702233760 $18.95
A most perceptive account of a perilous journey to escape Vietnam and the struggle while living as a refugee and trying to adapt to a new country, Australia. The personal insights and experiences of David Phu An Chiem and the writing skills of Brian Caswell make this an exceptional book. (12 years up)

My Australian Story: New Gold Mountain by Christopher Cheng pb 9781741698466 $16.99
A detailed description of the Chinese who came out to Australia to find their fortunes on the goldfields at Lambing Flat in the 1860s. When his father dies, Shu Cheong is looked after by another “uncle” who encourages him to practice his English and to keep a diary. There are disturbing descriptions of the increasing hatred, antagonism and brutality of the other miners towards the Chinese. (11 – 14 years) KS

My Australian Story: The Melting Pot by Christopher Cheng pb 9781741698114 $16.99
Edward Loh, Chek Chee lives with his parents above their store in Sydney’s Chinatown. His father is Chinese and his mother English and Edward is trying to work out just what he is since he is accused of being neither Chinese nor Australian. This is the time of increasing immigration restrictions for Chinese. It led in 1901 to what became known as the White Australia Policy. A very interesting account of the difficulties for Chinese living at that time. (11 – 14 years) KS

Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi pb 9780440407591 $11.00
A moving story set in Korea in 1945 during the time of the Japanese occupation. When the Japanese occupation is replaced by troops from Communist Russia, the family attempts to flee to South Korea. (11 – 15 years)

Sadako & the 1,000 Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr & M Yamaguchi (illus) pb 9780733617324 $12.99
The sad and moving story of 12 year old Sadako who suffered from leukemia as a result of the bomb falling on Hiroshima. (7 years up)

The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert Dejong pb 9780064402002 $11.00
Courageous story of Tien Pao who is separated from his family during the Japanese invasion of China during World War 2. (9 – 13 years)

Village by the Sea Anita Desai pb 9780141312712 $18.95
A moving story by this well known author showing some of the problems facing families trying to escape from the poverty of village life in India. (12 years up)

The Divine Wind by Garry Disher pb 9780733615900 $16.99
Set in Broome in the north west of Australia in the 1930s, this is the story of the growing love between Hartley, the son of a pearling master and Mitsy, daughter of a Japanese diver. Tensions between them grow as the Japanese advance through southeast Asia and finally bomb Broome itself. Excellent. (13 years up)

Sarindi and the Lucky Bird Janine Fraser & Kim Gamble (illus) pb 9780207199141 $12.95
A simply told and beautifully structured story of young Sarindi who lives in Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia. His father is a becak driver (a type of bicycle taxi) and his mother makes batik They live in just one room but Sarindi knows he is lucky. A vivid and warm portrait of a family who are struggling to make a living and perhaps from a western perspective have very little. An excellent book for discussion. (7 – 11 years)

Sarindi and the Lucky Buddha illustrated by Elise Hurst pb 9780732287757 $12.99
In this sequel, Sarindi’s mother is very sick and Sarindi and his father try all sorts of things to make her better but nothing seems to work. So Sarindi visits every sacred place he knows and pray there for his mother’s health. When she does get better they wonder if it is the medicine or the prayers or perhaps, as the western doctor suggests, it is the love of a small boy for his mother and his determination to help her get better. (7 – 10 years)

Sarindi’s Dragon Kite by Janine Fraser pb 9780732287764 $12.99
This is the third in the series about Sarindi and his family who live in Jogjakarta in Indonesia. Sarindi is looking forward to flying his wonderful new kite when their house is rocked by an earthquake. Sarindi and his family are lucky and are only slightly injured. However when they go to the nearby village where their relatives live, they discover to their horror that only little Agi, Sarindi’s cousin, is still alive. This is a moving and very believable story about the devastation caused by an earthquake. (8 – 11 years)

Samurai Kids 1: White Crane by Sandy Fussell pb 9781921150203 $15.95 
The kids in the series are training to be samurai but one has only one arm, one only one leg, one is blind, one is very big and strong but refuses to fight and a girl has white hair and 6 fingers and toes. Their sensei or teacher is old but very wise in the way of Zen and Zen sayings provide much of the humour of the book. The characters come to life and the story is exciting, lively and often very funny. We learn a lot about the way of Zen and Chi, Jin and Yu or Wisdom, Benevolence and Courage. Other titles in the series are: Book 2 Owl Ninja 9781921150371 Book 3 Shaolin Tiger 9781921150906 Book 4 Monkey Fist 9781921150913 Book 5 Fire Lizard 9781921529467 Book 6 Golden Bat 9781921529474 Book 7 Red Fox 9781922077509 Book 8 Black Tengu 9781922077622 $15.95 each (9 – 13 years)

Taj and the Great Camel Trek by Rosanne Hawke pb 9780702238772 $16.95
Told through the eyes of 12 year old Taj, this is the fascinating story of explorer Ernest Giles’ second attempt to cross the Australian desert to the coast of Western Australia. Taj is accompanying his Afghan father and helps to look after their camels which provide the key to their chances of surviving this very dangerous journey with its constant quest for water. A convincing and very interesting account of the dangers and also of the relationships between the explorers, Taj and his father and a young Aboriginal tracker. (9 – 12 years)

Shahana Through My Eyes series by Rosanne Hawke pb 9781743312469 $15.99
Shahana lives near the Line of Control, the border controlled by Pakistan and Indian soldiers that divide Kashmir in two. This is an area where there has been continual conflict since 1947. Fourteen years old Shahana and her younger brother Tanveer are trying to survive living in the forest after the death of their parents and older brother. Shahana earns a little through her embroidery and they have a goat. Islamic militants have a camp not so far away and there are soldiers on both sides of the Line of Control and there is often shelling or exchange of gun fire. Shahana is a vibrant, strong character who remembers the wise advice of both her parents and tries to do her best in extraordinarily difficult and dangerous circumstances. Her story shines though but Rosanne Hawke also succeeds in giving us some idea of the extraordinary complexities of the situation in Kashmir. There is an afterword by the author, a timeline, a glossary and suggestions for further reading and a series website. (11 – 14 years) KS

Naveed Through My Eyes Series John Heffernan 9781743312483 $15.99
A very moving story of a young boy’s struggle to provide for his widowed mother and little sister in war-torn Afghanistan. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog, this provides a link to an Australian soldier who works with dogs able to search out explosives. Nasera shows skills in this work and this gives Naveed hope that they will both be able to work together. This is a compelling novel giving us a glimpse into the complexities, difficulties and dangers of life in Afghanistan where there is an ever present threat of explosions. There is an afterword by the author, a timeline, a glossary and suggestions for further reading and a series website. (11 – 15 years)

Hungry Ghosts by Sally Heinrich pb 9780734409805 $15.99
Sarah has always been impatient with Chinese superstitions and newly arrived from Singapore and trying to fit into the Australian way of life, she has enough to worry about without being haunted by an angry ghost, Pei. But in endeavouring to help Pei and find out more about her story, Sarah finds close friendship with Michael and learns more about her own talents and also Chinese traditions and the history of the Chinese in Australia. (10 – 13 years)

Sing to the Dawn by Minfong Ho pb 9789812610010 $12.95
The frustrations and injustices of village life are revealed in this story of Dawan, a 12 year old girl who strives to continue her education at a city high school in Thailand in spite of competition from her brother and opposition from her father. (10 years up)

The Clay Marble by Minfong Ho pb 9780374412296 $14.00
Daru and her family face much danger and hardship as they flee their village in war-ravaged Cambodia and seek shelter in one of the refugee camps along the Thai-Cambodia border. (12 years up)
These books are excellent. Although they deal with some of the difficulties and hardships facing villagers, they are not depressing books. They are written with humour and compassion and although the future may appear bleak there is still hope and courage.

Rice Without Rain by Minfong Ho pb 9789812329400 $16.95
Set in the times of the student movement in Thailand in the 1970s, this is the story of Jinda, a young girl from an impoverished rural village, who discovers that any change is brought at great cost. (13 – 16 years)

Onion Tears Diana Kidd & D Huxley (illus) pb 9780207170287 $12.95
The moving story of a Vietnamese boat girl in Australia and how she is finally able to cry real tears, not just the tears that come when she is peeling onions. (7 - 14)

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin hb 9780316114271 $31.00 pb 9780316038638 $16.99  
Spirited young Minli lives with her family in a poor village and together they work hard in the fields all day. Minli buys a ‘lucky’ goldfish from a travelling salesman, only to set it free in the river as she feels so guilty about the few extra grains of rice needed to feed it. To her surprise and delight, the fish speaks, thanking her and encouraging her to pursue a quest. Inspired by the fish, she sets off to find the Old Man of the Moon hoping to turn her family’s fortune around. Along her journey, Minli learns about the nature of jealously, greed and anger, and the goodness that comes from friendship, honour, courage, loyalty, and respect. Her homecoming brings happiness and good fortune to the entire village, not just her overjoyed parents. This is an enchanting mix of fantasy and Chinese folklore. (9-12 years) MC

Year of the Tiger by Alison Lloyd pb 9780143303626 $16.99
Set in the time of the Han Empire the Great Wall of China was crumbling and China’s enemies were gaining strength, this is the story of the unlikely friendship between two boys, one of who is the son of the army Commander and the other the son of a peasant. There is much action and excitement with the threat of a barbarian invasion. (9 – 14 years)

Battle of the Jade Horse pb 9780143305774 $16.95 is the sequel. 
 In this book the two friends find themselves on opposing sides of a conflict between bandits and those supporting the Emperor. This historical adventure told from the point of view of both boys is exciting while providing much information about China during the Han dynasty. (8 – 13 years) KS

The Spare Room by Kathryn Lomer pb 9780702234774 $19.95
Written from the viewpoint of a Japanese student who is sent to Australia to learn English at college and to stay with an Australian family, Akira is bewildered by his Australian family and only gradually realises that the family has suffered a great loss and is not coping well. The contrasts between the two cultures add to the interest. (13 – 16 years)

Chinese Cinderella and the Secret Dragon Society by Adeline Yen Mah pb 9781865088655 $15.95 
Set in the time of the Japanese occupation of China, this is an exciting fantasy adventure based on the many stories that Adeline Yen Mah wrote as a school girl in Shanghai. When Chinese Cinderella takes refuge with Grandma Wu in her Marital Arts Academy she learns many skills and then is involved in a dangerous secret mission. (10 – 14 years)

Chinese Cinderella and the Mystery of the Song Dynasty Painting by Adeline Yen Mah pb 9781741146363 $15.99 
A famous painting inspires this historical mystery when Chinese Cinderella has dreams going back in time to the time of the Song dynasty. (10 – 14 years)

The Plum-Rain Scroll by Ruth Manley pb 9780702235054 $19.95
An exciting and amusing fantasy quest in which Tar,o an odd jobs boy, and a number of companions, including the ghostly Hiroshi , the blue Oni Tsuki and the Cherry-Blossom Princess, pledge themselves to finding the Plum-Rain Scroll which holds the secret to defeating the evil Lord Marishoten who seeks to overthrow the Mikado. Ruth Manley draws on her knowledge of Japanese folklore to create an inventive and delightfully witty story. (10 – 14 years) KS

Samurai Awakening by Benjamin Martin hb 9784805312285 $11.99
This is an absorbing fantasy which involves a family of sword-makers trying to protect modern Japan from Japanese mythical monsters. David Matthews, an exchange student, is staying with this family and he becomes involved in this fight acquiring new powers and skills. Contrasting with the strong fantasy and martial arts element is David’s desire to bridge the cultural gap and to understand the Japanese way of life. (12 – 16 years)

Indian Summer by Pratima Mitchell pb 9781406308174 $17.50
Sarla is a young Indian teenage girl who is Indian but lives in England with her single mother, a high achieving journalist. Sarla feels an outsider but when she goes to stay with her mother’s grandparents in India over the summer, she realises just how much more difficult other lives can be. This is an engaging and at times humourous novel with interesting and eccentric characters. The plot allows the introduction of many aspects of Indian society and culture. It touches on the position of women, the poverty of villagers, and the disparity of wealth. The book dramatises the predicament of many young girls in India and also shows how many girls are changing and demanding the right to make their own way. (11 – 16 years) KS

Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo Heritage Edition hb 9781405267373 $19.95 pb 9781405221740 $14.95 Special colour edition with illustrations by Michael Foreman pb 9781405248563 $22.50 
When Michael is washed up on an island he struggles to survive on his own. He is about to give up when food appears. He is not alone. This is a wonderful story of survival and of the secrets of Kensuke who lives on the island. (9 – 15 years).

Ties that Bind, Ties that Break by Lensey Namioka pb 9780141317151 $16.99 
Set in China in 1911, Ailin is a headstrong and determined child who rebels against the ancient habit of having binding girls’ feet. This shows the difficulties Ailin faces as she grows up in a very restrictive society. (9 – 14 years)

The Land I Lost: Adventures of a Boy in Vietnam by Huynh Quang Nhuong pb 9780064401838 $11.00
These are marvellously evocative stories of Nhuong’s village childhood in the Highland of Vietnam before the wars and the biggest dangers were from wild tiger, hog or snakes. (8 years up)

Water Buffalo Days: Growing Up in Vietnam by Huynh Quang Nhuong pb 9780064462112 $11.00 
 These stories describe the exploits of the particular much loved and respected family water buffalo called Tank. (8 years up)

My Awesome Japan Adventure: A Diary About the Best 4 Months Ever! by Rebecca Otowa hb 9784805312162 $19.99 
 Eleven year old Dan is part of an exchange program, spending four months with a Japanese family, the Muratas, who live in a small town outside Kyoto. Dan is excited and a little nervous about how different everything will be. His diary is presented in a format similar to a graphic novel, and through his experiences we learn much about Japanese culture and traditions, and how some things are the-same-but-different from his life at home in America. Dan writes about domestic activities such as bathing, sleeping on a futon and eating; martial arts and games, harvesting rice, the different forms of Japanese writing; the importance of showing respect by bowing, the tradition and intricacies of the tea ceremony; his visit to a Shinto shrine and a Ninja Village. (9-12 years) MC

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park pb 9780547534268 $14.00
Set in Korea in the twelfth century, this is a story about a young orphan boy who helps a master potter and grows to love this difficult craft. A beautifully written story with a wealth of information about Korean life and traditions of that period. (10 – 15 years)

When My Name was Keoko by Linda Sue Park pb 9780547722399 $13.00 
An absorbing and moving account of life in Korea under the Japanese occupation. Set in 1940, Sun-hee and her family are proud of their Korean heritage but are forced to take Japanese names and to learn and speak just Japanese. (10 – 15 years)

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus hb 9780810989818 $19.95 pb 9781419702006 $11.95
Well-written and absorbing story of the life of Manjiro, a fisher boy from Japan who was shipwrecked onto a rocky island outcrop and rescued by an American whaling boat. Manjiro takes the opportunity given to him by the kindly Captain and goes to America where he is educated. When he finally goes back to Japan he is temporarily imprisoned but later is appointed as a samurai, an amazing honour for anyone of such lowly birth. The story is based on fact but has been dramatised and a few characters added to provide more interest to younger readers. (10 – 14 years) See also in Non-fiction Shipwrecked! The true adventures of a Japanese boy by Rhoda Blumberg pb 9780688174859 $16.00 which tells the story of Manjiro’s life with many informative illustrations, photos and maps. KS

Laurinda by Alice Pung pb 9781863956925 $19.99
Lucy Lam has been awarded the inaugural Equal Access Scholarship (translate as ‘token minority student’) at Laurinda, an exclusive girls’ school, which means leaving her ethnically diverse friends to embark on her senior school life as an exceptional achiever. Acutely observant, Lucy soon realizes that the apex of power at Laurinda is held by the Cabinet, three merciless girls steeped in entitlement, The school year at Laurinda is revealed in Lucy’s letters to Linh, from her old life – all Lucy’s uncertainties, struggles and triumphs are disclosed in poignant detail and razor-sharp wit. Very highly recommended! (14+ year olds) LB

Guru and the King by Bali Rai & Victoria Maderna (illus) hb 9781408155745 $21.99 pb 9781408155752 $10.99 (White Wolves World religions series)
A young boy wants to know why Sikhs celebrate Diwali and so his mother tells him the story of a wicked king who imprisoned Guru Hargobind and 52 princes because they disagreed with some of the king’s actions. The story of how the Guru’s cleverness and patience ensured the release of all the princes and the way they made their way home by the light of the Diwali lamps is told with great liveliness. Brightly coloured cartoon style illustrations add to the vitality of the story and make it easier to read and understand for the beginner readers for whom it is intended. (5 – 7 years) KS

A Dinner of Smells by Humaira Rashid & Jamie Lenman (illus) hb 9781408155806 $21.99 pb 9781408156490 $10.99 (White Wolves World religions series)
This is a story about the wisdom of Nasaruddin. Tales of Nasruddin’s cleverness, wit and wisdom are known from Turkey and through the Middle East to Morocco. When a very poor old man and his wife smell delicious smells coming across the village, the old man stands outside the restaurant smelling the delicious odours. To his dismay the restaurant owner comes out and demands to be paid for the smells. When the old man goes to Nasruddin in despair, Nasruddin takes a bag of gold and lets the restaurant owner listen to the clink of the coins: the sound he says is the equivalent of the smells. (5 – 7 years) KS

Just One Wish by Sally Rippin pb 9780143304463 $12.95
When Little Pumpkin arrives in Australia from Shanghai, everything is so difficult. She has very little English and she has to share a room with her hateful cousin Betty. However she gradually discovers there are many kind people who help and decides, to her surprise, that she doesn’t need to use the one magic wish her grandmother gave to her. One of the Aussie Chomps. (7 - 10 years)

Chenxi and the Foreigner by Sally Rippin pb 9781921351358 $19.95
Anna is living in Shanghai eager to learn Chinese painting but she finds there are difficulties in living in a foreign city. When she meets Chenxi, a mysterious young artist she is convinced they are destined to be together but she has much to learn about Chenxi and about China. This is a vivid compelling story. This is a new adapted version of the novel which was originally published in 2003. (14 years up)

Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples pb 9780744590111 $17.50
Set in the Cholistan Desert in Pakistan, this is the story of the high-spirited Shabanu and her family and their love for the desert and camels. (Published as Shabanu in the USA.) (11 years up)

Nips X1 by Ruth Starke pb 9780734401137 $15.99
This is the very amusing story of Lan, who loves cricket and of his determination in getting together a cricket team of kids of many ethnic backgrounds. Very interesting in its crosscultural interactions between kids and adults. (9 – 12 years)

Noodle Pie by Ruth Starke pb 9781862917637 $17.99
When Andy and his father make a trip to Vietnam to visit relatives, it is for Andy’s father his first trip back since he escaped from the country in a rusty fishing boat when he was just 15 years old. For Andy who is 11 years old and was born in Australia, it is his first visit to Hanoi and the first time he has met any of his many relatives in Vietnam. The book is written mainly from Andy’s point of view and at first much seems very strange to him. Gradually as Andy comes to understand more about this family, we also understand so much more about Vietnam, its recent history and its people. A marvellous book written with humour and insight. (9 – 12 years)

Inside Out & Back Again by Lai Thanhha pb 9780702249419 $16.95
This engaging novel in verse is a work of fiction based on the author’s own experiences. Set towards the end of the Vietnam War, ten-year-old Ha lives with her mother and three older brothers in Saigon. When Saigon falls to the communists, the family manages to escape on a very crowded boat, and after a harrowing journey end up in Alabama in the United States. Ha tells of their struggles to adapt to life in a foreign country, her mother working long hours at a sewing factory, and the difficulties of learning a new language and fitting in at school. (10-13 years) MC

Chook Chook: Mei’s Secret Pets by Wai Chim 9780702249464 $14.95
Mei lives with her older brother Guo and her Ma on a farm in rural China. Since the death of Mei’s father, Ma has banned all animals from the farm – ‘we are rice farmers’ – and seems to have hardened her heart. When Mei finds two baby chickens, Little and Lo, she hides them from Ma and secretly cares for them. This is a gentle novel for young readers about grief and the importance of family. (7-10 years) MC

Chook Chook: Little and Lo In the City pb 9780702249754 $14.95 
Chook Chook: Saving the Farm pb 9780702253164 $14.95 are the sequels.

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang pb 9780545162166 $9.99
Eleven-year-old American-Chinese Lucy Wu thinks she’s in for the best year of her life: she’s just starting sixth grade with hopes of becoming captain of the basketball team, and her older sister is moving away to go to college which means Lucy will finally have her own room. Lucy’s plans are crushed when she learns her beloved grandmother’s sister Yi-Po is visiting from China for a few months and will be sharing her room. Her life is ruined! But no-one is more surprised than Lucy when Yi-Po turns out to be her biggest supporter in her quest to pursue her passion for basketball. Themes of tolerance, communication, friendship and family (10-12 years) MC

The Garden of Empress Cassia by Gabrielle Wang pb 9780143300274 $17.99
Mimi is a Chinese Australian girl who becomes more enchanted by her Chinese background when she is given a box of magical pastels which enable her to draw a truly alive Garden of Empress Cassia. (8 – 10 years)

The Lion Drummer by Gabrielle Wang & Andrew McLean (illus)  pb 9780143303138 $12.95
One of the popular Aussie Bites series. Lulu has a growing passion for playing the drum to accompany the lion dance. Through perseverance she succeeds in having lessons from a master drummer which is quite an achievement because this is normally reserved only for boys. Her enthusiasm and dedication are also rewarded when she is able to play in the Easter dragon parade. This is a lively and entertaining story and also tells us a lot about the traditions of the lion dance and the accompanying lion drumming. (7 - 10 years)

A Ghost in my Suitcase by Gabrielle Wang pb 9780143303794 $16.95
This is a story about ghosts and the power to tame them. After the death of her mother, Celeste goes to China to visit her grandmother and learns of a family secret about ghosts and this brings danger and adventure. (11 – 14 years)

Japan Diary by Trudy White pb 9781863665940 $21.95 
 This book contains the two diaries of two exchange students, each of whom live for 6 months with the family of the other student. Amy Cameron goes to Japan to spend six months with the family of Taro Nakagawa, while he comes to Australia and lives with her family and attends the same school in Lower Secondary. The contrasting diaries make the cultural shocks fascinating. (11 – 15 years)

Dragonkeeper by Carole Wilkinson pb 9781742032450 $19.95
 An intriguing fantasy novel set in Ancient China where a slave girl saves the life of an aging dragon and together they make an epic journey across China.

Sequels are: 
The Garden of the Purple Dragon Book 2 pb 9781742032467 $19.95
Dragon Moon Book 3 pb 9781742032474 $19.95  
Blood Brothers Book 4 pb 9781922179210 $19.95 
Shadow Sister Book 5 hb 9781922179579 $24.99 pb 9781925126327 $19.99
 A prequel Dragon Dawn pb 9781742030623 $12.99 has also been published. This is the story of Danzi, Kai’s father and the first dragon that Ping cared for as a young girl. (8 – 14 years)


Mao’s Last Dancer (Young Readers Edition) by Li Cunxin pb 9780143301646 $19.95 
This is wonderful story about an eleven year old boy from rural China who was chosen to study ballets and Madame Mao’s dance Academy in Beijing. This is the very moving story of his struggle to overcome loneliness and hardship and how he became one of the top dancers in the USA and then in Australia. The adult edition hb 9780670029242 $49.95 pb 9780670040247 $32.95 has been an immensely popular and has been made into a film. The adaptation by Li Cunxin emphasises his childhood. (11 – 15 years) 
Also available as a picture book illustrated by Anne Spudvilas The Peasant Prince hb 9780670070541 $29.99 

Yoko’s Diary: The Life of A Young Girl in Hiroshima During WW2 by Paul Ham (editor) hb 9780733331176 $24.99
This book is a diary that 12 year old Yoko kept as part of a school project and is a very moving account of her experiences during World War 2; air raids, food shortages and hard manual labour. However, her love of family, learning, patriotism and positive attitude shine through and we learn about Japanese traditions and beliefs and the simple aspects of daily life. As well as Yoko’s diary entries, interspersed with interesting background information by the editor, there are photographs throughout and chapters written by her relatives and fellow students. This is a poignant story about the tragic effect of war on the lives of innocent people. (10-13 year olds) MC 

Red Scarf Girl A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji Li Jiang pb 9780064462082 $13.00 
A deeply moving story set during the Cultural Revolution in China. Ji Li Jiang describes her own experiences as a twelve year old girl puzzling to understand the strange and terrifying events that befell her family at that time. (11 years up)

Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah pb 9780141304878 $19.95 
This is the story of Adeline Yen Mah’s childhood up to the age of 14 years. The full story of her determination to overcome the pain of being an unwanted child and to make something of her life was told in the very popular adult novel Falling Leaves. This book has been well adapted for younger readers. (10 - 14 years)

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson pb 9780141034263 $26.95 
The remarkable story of a mountaineer who in 1993 after a disastrous attempt to climb K2 wandered exhausted and dehydrated into an impoverished village in Pakistan. There the villagers nursed Greg back to health and he was so moved by their kindness that he vowed to return and build a school for their children. That happened in 1993 and since then he has set up a fund and built over 60 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 
Three Cups of Tea (Young Reader’ Edition) pb 9780143304630 $19.95. This Young Reader’s edition has many photographs of children from the villages and also of his own family who have also become very involved with this endeavour. There are also maps and a question and answer section with Greg’s daughter Amira and a Timeline and a Glossary. (9 – 14 years) 

Stones into Schools pb 9780143118237 $29.00 
Follows chronologically from where the first book ended and so it goes from 2003 to the end of 2009. It is perhaps even more fascinating because of the descriptions of the group of Pakistani men and one Afghani man who work with Greg in Pakistan and Afghanistan and how by the end of 2009 they had managed to build 131 schools. The logistics of getting schools built and then staffed in remote areas of Pakistan is difficult enough but in remote areas of Afghanistan, the challenges are mind-boggling! KS

Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung pb 9781863951586 $26.95 
Alice Pung gives a wonderfully evocative and comic account of her family’s first responses as they arrived in Footscray in Melbourne as immigrants. They were of Chinese background who had lived first in Vietnam and then in Cambodia during very difficult times. This is the story of how her family adapts to their new life in Australia and the story of how their daughter Alice/Agheare grew up in both cultures, the old and the new. It is at times a hilarious account, richly comic in its descriptions but it also gives vivid and heartbreaking descriptions of the family’s previous life in Cambodia and also of the difficulties they encounter in adapting to their new life in Australia. 

Her Father’s Daughter by Alice Pung pb 9781863955423 $22.99 
looks further into the background of her family and also her relationship with her father. (12 years up) KS

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb pb 9781780226583 $19.99, Young Readers’ Edition pb 9781780622156 $19.99 
This is the absorbing story of Malala, the courageous young girl who was shot by the Taliban. In this book she describes her own life and also gives us a very clear and fascinating account of the history of the beautiful Swat Valley where her family lived and which changed so dramatically when the Taliban increasingly gained control. She describes in detail her family and how her father felt so strongly about education, especially for girls, that he set up schools in the Swat Valley. This of course strongly influenced Malala’s own outspoken support for girls’ education which her family supported even in the face of growing threats by the Taliban. This is a well-written and fascinating story of a remarkable girl and her close and loving family and their fight for education, especially for girls. (12 – 17 years)


China Land of Dragons and Emperors by Adeline Yen Mah pb 9781741754674 $15.95
A very readable introduction to the history of China, from the time just before the Beijing Olympics back 2,200 years to Ancient China. It is attractively presented with many maps, photos, drawings, and paintings giving us a greater understanding of the very different periods of Chinese history. (12 – 16 years)

Wicked Warriors & Evil Emperors: The True Story of the fight for Ancient China by Alison Lloyd & Terry Denton (illus) pb 9780143304340 $16.95 
 When King Zichu died unexpectedly in 246 BC, his twelve year old son Zheng became the King of Qin. This is the true story of Qinshi huangdi, the name he gave himself after he had brutally conquered every state of All-Under-Heaven, the land we now know as China. This is such an accessible account of this complex history with an abundance of Denton’s crazy drawings, and packed with information. (9 – 12 years). MC

The Life of Rice: From Seedling to Supper by Richard Sobol hb 9780763632526 $32.00 
 Photographer Richard Sobol shows how important rice is to Thais and how the planting of harvesting of rice forms the basis of their calendar and their culture. He is invited to the Royal Plowing Ceremony for the Thai National Celebration of Rice held in May and from then on he describes through text and photos over one year how the rice is planted, cared for and finally harvested. He describes its importance as a crop, as a food and as an important part of Thai culture. (9 – 12 years)

The House That Sonabai Built by Vishakha Chanchani & Stephen P Huyler (photographer) pb 9789350466278 $22.00 
This picture book tells the true story of Sonabai, married at a young age and living in a small village in India. Forbidden by her husband to go to the markets or socialise with neighbours, she was very lonely and started making animals, birds and people from clay for her young son. She used ground spices, leaves and vegetables to colour her creations and started decorating the walls of the house; her home became her sculpture studio and, then, an art gallery. She created a lattice framework from bamboo sticks, then coated the bamboo with a thin layer of clay. She installed the lattice between the pillars of her verandah, then painted it and decorated it with birds and figures. The light filtering through into the house was now soft and dappled and transformed the house into a magical place. When four people from the centre for arts in Bhopal stumbled upon this wonderland, shy Sonabai became famous and travelled all over India exhibiting her work, conducting workshops and inspiring others to experiment and create. (9-12 years) MC

Kubla Khan The Emperor of Everything by Kathleen Krull illustrated by Robert Byrd hb 9780670011148 $32.00 
This is a vivid description of Kubla Khan’s life as well as background to the Mughal Empire. Kubla Khan’s empire stretched through Russia, Korea, Tibet, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and much of Turkey and he also extended his territory into China and managed to hold this enormous empire together for 34 years. Once the bulk of the fighting was out of the way, Kubla Khan improved agriculture and education and also encouraged trade and welcomed foreigners (including Marco Polo) to court. Kubla Khan could read and write and was interested in new inventions, medicine and also theatre and art. Robert Byrd’s beautifully detailed illustrations show many aspects of the culture and events and the life of this man and his people. (9 – 14 years) KS

Our World Divided series by Cath Senker and Philip Steele
Published in 2011, this series provides an introduction to the very many complex relations between a number of countries at present in conflict. The books discuss the many contentious issues affecting these areas and try to examine the political, social and economic divisions between the countries as well as the military tensions often threatening the stability of the whole region. They try to present differing views through short extracts from articles or letters or speeches. Case studies give examples of real-life experiences from a variety of sources. Timelines, fact boxes and maps help to put the complex events into context. 

Afghanistan: From War to Peace? by Philip Steele pb 9780750278690 $27.00 
Iran and the West by Philip Steele hb 9780750265720 $41.00
North and South Korea by Cath Senker pb 9780750282086 $19.99 (10 – 14 years) KS

Shipwrecked! The true adventures of a Japanese Boy by Rhoda Blumberg pb 9780688174859 $16.00 
The amazing story of Manjiro, a 14 year old boy who was working as a fisherman when the boat he was on was shipwrecked in the early 1800s. At that time of Japanese isolation, any person who left Japan was threatened with execution if they returned to Japan. He was picked up by an American whaler and ended up in America where he received an education.. After working on another whaler and then in the Californian goldfields, he decided to risk returning to Japan. He was imprisoned but when later released his knowledge played an important part in negotiations with Commodore Perry who at that time was forcing Japan to open its ports. Manjiro was awarded samurai status, something unheard of for anyone from such an impoverished and lowly background The story is all the more fascinating because of the use of beautiful Japanese woodblocks depicting Japanese life at that time, and detailed illustrations showing life on board an American whaler, and also illustrations by Manjiro himself, or by Japanese artists following his descriptions, of a train, of telegraph wires and other technical advancements quite unheard of at that time in Japan. This is a fascinating story, giving us insight into a period of Japanese history and also into whaling in the early 1800s. (9 – 16 years). KS
A novel of Manjiro’s life is called Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus hb 9780810989818 $19.95 pb 9781419702006 $11.95
Rhoda Blumberg has also written Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun pb 9780060086251 $19.00 which describes how Commodore Perry forced the Japanese to open up their ports to American ships thus bringing huge changes to the Japanese way of life. (9 – 16 years). KS

Japanese Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns and Stars! By Betty Reynolds hb 9780804836586 $19.99
This book takes us though a year of holiday celebrations in Japan. Each celebration is vividly illustrated and described so that we gain an insight into the decorations, foods, dress, gifts and activities for each festival. The words are written in English, in Japanese phonetically and also in the Japanese script and are accompanied by lively illustrations. (6 - 12 years)

Mooncakes and Hungry Ghosts: Festivals of China by Carol Stepanchuk and Charles Wong pb 9780835124812 $24.95 
 A detailed look at festivals of China (12 - 16 years)

Families and Their Faiths series pb $13.00 each
This is an engaging series of books about the religious beliefs of young children. The books are narrated by the grandparents. In Hinduism in Bali Yoni’s grandmother describes how Yoni goes to school and how they make offerings together to their gods every day and larger offerings for special ceremonies. The large photographs are very appealing and add to the text by showing the relationship between Yoni and her family and the clothes and customs of the village in which they live. Two pages of Notes for Parents and Teachers at the end of the book give additional background information about Hinduism in Bali.

Titles in the series Families and Their Faiths are:
Hinduism in Bali 9780778750253
Islam in Turkey 9780778750260
Buddhism in Thailand 9780778750239
Sikhism in India 9780778750284  (7 – 10 years)

Introductions to Chinese Culture series pb $45.00 each
This is a very informative series which will eventually have 37 volumes featuring various aspects of Chinese culture. The series is well designed and is well illustrated by many beautiful paintings, illustrations and photos. Each book is written by an expert in the particular field.
Chinese Calligraphy by Tingyou Chen 9780521186452 is an excellent introduction to the history of calligraphy from the beginning of the Chinese written language. It describes various methods and styles used by different calligraphers through the ages and the influence that calligraphy has had on modern art round the world. (14 years up)

Other titles in the series are:
Chinese Architecture 9780521186445
Chinese Calligraphy 9780521186452
Chinese Clothing 9780521186896
Chinese Furniture 9780521186469
Chinese Bronze Ware 9780521186858
Chinese Ceramics 9780521186483
Ancient Chinese Inventions 9780521186926
China’s Museums 9780521186902
Chinese Music 9780521186919
Chinese Wine 9780521186506
Chinese Philosophy 9780521186766
Chinese Food 9780521186742
Chinese Tea 9780521186803
Chinese Jade 9780521186841
Peking Opera 9780521188210
Chinese Arts & Crafts 9780521186551
China's Cultural Relics 9780521186568
Chinese Folk Arts 9780521186582
Chinese Festivals 97805211186599
Chinese Characters 9780521186605
Chinese Gardens 9780521186612
Chinese Painting 9780521186636
Chinese Kung Fu 9780521186643
Chinese Theatre 9780521186667
Chinese Vernacular Dwellings 9780521186674
Traditional Chinese Medicine 9780521186728
Chinese Publishing 9780521186759
Chinese Sculpture 9780521186773
Chinese Literature 9780521186780
Chinese Myths & Legends 9780521186797
This series is highly recommended as it provides detailed information in a very interesting and accessible format. (14 years up)

The Really Big Food Project by Emma Barnard and Thomas Cho, with help from Sally Rippin hb 9781863665827 $42.95 
 This excellent title is a large book written in the form of a special project on rice which school students, Emma and Thomas worked on together as a project. They decided to look at how people eat rice in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. In their description of the many different types of rice and its uses, they use Fact Bites, photos, illustrations and either a recipe or a traditional story about some aspect of rice in each country. The book demonstrates for students how a project can be set out and the use of a variety of research methods including interviews, Internet, email and books. There is also a large map of the region. An extremely useful resource. (8 – 14 years)

The Really Big Beliefs Project by Emma Barnard and Thomas Cho with help from Meredith Costain hb 9781863665988 $42.95 
 This time Emma and Thomas decide to do a project on beliefs and work out the best way is to interview lots of people. Their descriptions of these interviews are fascinating and give descriptions of the way their religion affects the daily lives of people who are Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Shinto and Taoist. They also interview the school cleaner who is secular. They also go to a number of ceremonies. Both Tom and Emma write project Diaries in which they give their thoughts and questions as a result of their interviews and visits. They are surprised by the many similarities of the various religions. (9 – 15 years)

Inside King Sejong’s Gate - Our Time in Korea by Laura and Alex with help from Geoff Ainsworth and Julia Fraser pb 9781863664455 $21.95 
 A detailed account of Laura and Alex’s trip to Korea with their year 6 class mates. They describe their stay with a Korean family, the school they attend and sightseeing trips.

Inspirations: Art Ideas for Primary and Middle Years by Ann MacArthur pack 9781863665865 $62.95
This pack contains a range of images of contemporary, modern and traditional artworks from Asia. On the back of each image there is background information as well as suggestions for making activities for students, for discussion and for cross-curricular activities. Images include works from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Persia, Philippines and Vietnam. (11 years up)

Chineasy : The New Way to Read Chinese by Sholan pb 9780500650288 $24.95
This is a fascinating book. Shaolan could see that her two children living in the UK were having a lot of difficulty in learning to read Chinese characters. She thought that she could make it easier by helping them learn the most commonly occurring characters through simple illustrations around each character. She refers to these as building blocks and intends for them to be the base for understanding many more characters. Through the illustrations, students also gain a deeper understanding of the historical and cultural references of the vocabulary. I think that this method would be very helpful as an aid for teachers of Mandarin or for those with a good understanding of the language. However for someone like myself, Chinese still appears to be a very complicated and daunting language with so many characters and variations to remember. The book is extremely well set out and the illustrations are fascinating and short descriptions under each building block or character are clearly described and always interesting. This would be a very helpful reference book for those schools teaching Mandarin. (16 years up) KS


Going to School in India DVD 9781888194906 $54.95 nett
This is a very enjoyable and entertaining film showing children going to school in so many different ways and in so many different places. It shows a 12 year old girl in Kashmir going to school across a lake by boat, a homeless boy in Mumbai goes to school in a bus and in fact the school is the bus, another girl goes to school in the dark (since she works to help her mother during the day she goes to school at night), another boy goes to school in a wheel chair and there are children who walk to school across the mountains and others who walk across the desert to a padlocked box which contains the chalk and slates which is basically their school! The settings are often exotic and the photography is beautiful with an emphasis on music and movement. There are 9 segments each showing a different school and each segment can be watched individually. The whole film lasts for approx 75 minutes. There is also a book called Going to School in India by Lisa Heydlauff hardback 9781570916663 $43.00 which complements this DVD beautifully. (7 years up)