5 Picture Books touching on Biracial Asian Identity You Should Read to your Children

My blog is going to be pretty Equus-centric for the next few weeks, but for today we’re going to press pause on that so I can share this guest post from K. Bird Lincoln. I met her when she submitted a manuscript to WWP that I just had to have. I’d have never even thought to put ‘Urban fantasy that uses mythology beyond the usual vampire/werewolf variety’ on an editorial wish list but Dream Eater was all the things I wanted from an urban fantasy.

This post isn’t about her book, but the main character of Dream Eater is biracial so the connection is there 😉

5 Picture Books touching on Biracial Asian Identity You Should Read to your Children—and Make Me Cry

by K. Bird Lincoln

Ariana Miyamoto was crowned Miss Universe Japan in 2015. She’s biracial. This was a big deal—since for many Japanese folks, being Japanese encompasses both race and culture. Take the Zainichi Koreans, they’re still treated as non-Japanese by many although through my U.S. eyes and ears there’s no way for me to tell them apart.

It’s hard for many Americans to understand this view of nationality without a bit of extra thinking. I mean, imagine if Irish Americans, despite living in the U.S. almost their whole lives, were treated as second class citizens…oh wait, yeah that actually happened.

Anyway, back to Ms. Miyamoto. According to a New York times report, she frequently gets asked ‘What part of you is most like a Japanese?’

What kind of a question is that? How do you even answer that graciously? (Apparently Ms. Miyamoto says “I am Japanese”)

I mean all the erroneous and bigoted assumptions underlying that question! I’ll tell you what kind of question that is…it’s the kind of question that I worried about my own children encountering if Tokyo Boy and I decided to live in Japan. For economic/job-related ones we didn’t end up in Japan, but as an outsider/geek/nerd myself, I think I was hyper-sensitive to the possibility my daughters might have to deal daily with outsider status.

They still have to deal with being biracial here in the U.S., especially after moving from diverse Portland, OR to more or less whitebread Minnesota Prairie. But hopefully, the issues here are a bit easier to work through.  I recommend Half and Half as book with a variety of perspectives/races addressing this issue through personal experience. Or, if you’re like me and prefer narrative-driven treatments of major issues, I recommend Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet as a particularly telling tale about Asians and U.S. History.

When my first daughter was a baby (so live over a decade ago), I was teaching at an international university in Chiba Prefecture and taking an online course in multimedia. We had to design a website as part of our final for the class. I created a resource for multi-cultural U.S./Japanese families (somewhat outdated now) for baby’s bedtime.  Here are the children’s books that I found that touched on some of the experiences that I knew my daughter might encounter. But the books are great for children of any background or social class growing up in the states to have a wider appreciation for the world.

And great for grandparents for the same reason. And many of them I can’t read out loud because they will make me cry—both for the beauty of the tender diversity portrayed and for the sadness that there is a sense of otherness at all.

Two Mrs. Gibsons
Toyomi Igus and Daryl Wells
Children’s Book Press

This book portrays a Japanese mother living in the home of her African American mother-in-law. It compares cooking, clothes, and lifestyles from the perspective of the child. It never fails to make me cry when we get to the ending: “They were very different, but they had a lot in common. They both loved my father and they both loved me.”

 

How My Parents Learned to Eat
Ina R. Friedman and Allen Say
Houghton Mifflin

Okay, this book doesn’t have the most engaging illustrations. Also, it has a very simplistic view of some things (American sailor trying to eat sukiyaki with chopsticks without mention of the touchy cultural and political situation a relationship between an American G.I. and a Japanese woman would have had back then), but I like it because once again it’s a story told by a child who takes for granted that people are different and do things differently without making too big of a deal about it.

 

Bon Odori Dancer
Karen Kawamoto McCoy and Caroline Yao
Polychrome Publishing

The book has beautiful illustrations. The portrayal of a Japanese/American girl with a bunch of other ethnically varied (different colored hair abounds) girls learning a traditional Japanese Obon dance in the U.S. in a matter-of-fact way really appealed to me. It’s a story about a girl and her love of dance rather than a big deal about identity.

 

The Wakame Gatherers
Holly Thompson and Kazumi Wilds
Shen’s Books

I never fail to geta tight throat and wet eyes reading this booki. It’s the story of Nanami-chan, and the day she goes with her grandma and ba-chan to the beach to gather wakame. She has to translate, forgets to speak the right language to the right person sometimes, and also touches on feelings left over from World War II. Excellent, excellent book. This one is always especially meaningful to us because the father is Japanese!  (Check out author Holly Thompson’s excellent explorations of identity in her YA fiction as well like “The Language Inside”)

 

Yoko
Rosemary Wells
Hyperion Books

Rosemary Wells is beloved for Max and Ruby, but what a pleasant surprise for me to find this tale of a little girl (well, cat) who is ridiculed by her schoolmates when she brings sushi for lunch. Ouch. A little close to the bone, there? How many conversations have I had with other bicultural moms about this very topic? Either too American lunches at Japanese school, or too Japanese lunches at American school. I like this book because the mom is clueless, and while the teacher wants to help by starting an “international day”, there is no real solution to Yoko’s problem. She does make a friend, though, when one of the other students is hungry enough to try the sushi, and so things turn out okay.


K. Bird Lincoln is an ESL professional and writer living on the windswept Minnesota Prairie with family and a huge addiction to frou-frou coffee. Also dark chocolate– without which, the world is a howling void. Originally from Cleveland, she has spent more years living on the edges of the Pacific Ocean than in the Midwest. Her speculative short stories are published in various online & paper publications such as Strange Horizons. Her first novel, Tiger Lily, a medieval Japanese fantasy, is available from Amazon. She also writes tasty speculative and YA fiction reviews under the name K. Bird at Goodreads.com and maintains an author page on Facebook.

Her novel, Dream Eater, is about a half-Japanese college student discovering her mythological parentage:

Find it Online:
World Weaver Press
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes/Apple iBooks
Kobo

 

 

Dream Eater

Dream Eater Banner 1

Dream Eater is an urban fantasy with a difference — K. Bird Lincoln didn’t rely on vampires and werewolves for her mythical creatures. Nu-uh. She includes awesome Japanese, Middle Eastern and Native American mythological creatures. Love!

Koi Pierce dreams other peoples’ dreams.

Her whole life she’s avoided other people. Any skin-to-skin contact—a hug from her sister, the hand of a barista at Stumptown coffee—transfers flashes of that person’s most intense dreams. It’s enough to make anyone a hermit.

But Koi’s getting her act together. No matter what, this time she’s going to finish her degree at Portland Community College and get a real life. Of course it’s not going to be that easy. Her father, increasingly disturbed from Alzheimer’s disease, a dream fragment of a dead girl from the casual brush of a creepy PCC professor’s hand, and a mysterious stranger who speaks the same rare Northern Japanese dialect as Koi’s father will force Koi to learn to trust in the help of others, as well as face the truth about herself.

When Dream Eater came into the World Weaver Press slush pile there was more than one editor who was interested in it. I had to elbow and arm wrestle* ’em to be the one to acquire it. I’m forever grateful to be the one who got to edit it because I freaking love this book.

I love the concept.

Dream Eater Banner Baugh Quote

I love the characters.

Dream Eater Banner PW Quote

I love the setting.

Dream Eater Banner Cato Quote

Reading Dream Eater has made me want to visit Portland, Oregon so bad. You don’t even know–the struggle is real! I intend some day to go there and visit all the places from the book… okay, maybe I’ll skip the professor’s office (because trespassing) but all the other places. Yup, yup, yup!

And it’s out today! You can get your own copy right now!

Do it. Doooo eeet…

You won’t regret it.

Dream Eater Front

Find it Online:
World Weaver Press
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes/Apple iBooks
Kobo

 

*Not literally. Sheesh.

But really, aren’t we all winners?

Dream Eater Banner 1

Well, the rafflecopter has ended and a winner has been chosen from the over 200 entries.

Congratulations Patricia J.!

I have emailed you with the information I need in order to send your prize and I hope to hear from you soon.

Rafflecopter believes it has chosen our winner, and it has, but K. Bird Lincoln’s book Dream Eater is coming out tomorrow so really, aren’t we all winners?

Pre-order your copy here!

 

Dream Eater Banner PW Quote

 

T-Shirt Giveaway

Dream Eater is coming out soon. April 4th, as a matter-of-fact. In case you haven’t heard me rave about Dream Eater before, it’s a book by K. Bird Lincoln that I had the pleasure of editing. I love it.

Dream Eater Front

Koi Pierce dreams other peoples’ dreams.

Her whole life she’s avoided other people. Any skin-to-skin contact–a hug from her sister, the hand of a barista at Stumptown coffee–transfers flashes of that person’s most intense dreams. It’s enough to make anyone a hermit.

But Koi’s getting her act together. No matter what, this time she’s going to finish her degree at Portland Community College and get a real life. Of course it’s not going to be that easy. Her father, increasingly disturbed from Altzheimer’s disease, a dream fragment of a dead girl from the casual brush of a creepy PCC professor’s hand, and a mysterious stranger who speaks the same rare Northern Japanese dialect as Koi’s father will force Koi to learn to trust in the help of others, as well as face the truth about herself.

Reviews have been coming in, and mostly people like it. People like Beth Cato, and Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Publisher’s Weekly!

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To celebrate, and to continue to raise awareness of Dream Eater‘s impending release, I wanted to have a giveaway but I wanted for the prize to be something a little different than normal. I couldn’t make it a handicraft — I’m still working on the blanket that was a prize for my Giftmas fundraiser — but I could make it something fun. A t-shirt from TeeTurtle.com! I’m not affiliated with Tee Turtle in any way, I just happen to love their shirts (and own several of them), so why not give one away?

The winner of this draw will receive one t-shirt of their choice — and trust me, they have some awesome designs to choose from 🙂

Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dream Eater Cover Reveal

Dream Eater Front

 

Koi Pierce dreams other peoples’ dreams.

Her whole life she’s avoided other people. Any skin-to-skin contact—a hug from her sister, the hand of a barista at Stumptown coffee—transfers flashes of that person’s most intense dreams. It’s enough to make anyone a hermit.

But Koi’s getting her act together. No matter what, this time she’s going to finish her degree at Portland Community College and get a real life. Of course it’s not going to be that easy. Her father, increasingly disturbed from Alzheimer’s disease, a dream fragment of a dead girl from the casual brush of a creepy PCC professor’s hand, and a mysterious stranger who speaks the same rare Northern Japanese dialect as Koi’s father will force Koi to learn to trust in the help of others, as well as face the truth about herself.

 

This book is fantastic. When it was submitted to World Weaver Press I whined, wheedled and made deals to ensure that I was the editor who got to work on it — and it was totally worth it. It’s got a likable, fallible main character in Koi, creepy antagonists and enigmatic supporting characters. It tangles together Japanese mythology with mythologies from other places in the world and left me desperately wanting to visit Portland.

At the very least you’re going to want to add it to your Goodreads shelves but I’d suggest going one step further…

Dream Eater will be available April 4, 2017 but you can (and should!) pre-order it now!

 

Amazon (US) (CA) (UK)

B&N

Kobo

 

K. Bird Lincoln is an ESL professional and writer living on the windswept Minnesota Prairie with family and a huge addiction to frou-frou coffee. Also dark chocolate–without which, the world is a howling void. Originally from Cleveland, she has spent more years living on the edges of the Pacific Ocean than in the Midwest. Her speculative short stories are published in various online & paper publications such as Strange Horizons. Her first novel, Tiger Lily, a medieval Japanese fantasy, is available from Amazon. She also writes tasty speculative and YA fiction reviews under the name K. Bird at Goodreads.com.

 

Dream Eater ARC Wrap

Dream Eater

KoiI’m not sure that I blogged about it when it happened, but a few months ago my role at World Weaver Press expanded from Anthologist to include a new spiffy Assistant Editor title, and today I get to announce the first book I have acquired for them in that role. You are going to love this book. No. Seriously. It’s amazing. It’s got–well, maybe before I tell you what its got, I should tell you what it’s called 🙂

Dream Eater, by K. Bird Lincoln is a Japanese-inspired urban fantasy novel with so. many. characters that you’re going to fall in love with. Trust me on this one.

Her whole life she’s avoided other people. Any skin-to-skin contact–a hug from her sister, the hand of a barista at Stumptown coffee–transfers flashes of that person’s most intense dreams. It’s enough to make anyone a hermit.

But Koi’s getting her act together. No matter what, this time she’s going to finish her degree at Portland Community College and get a real life. Of course it’s not going to be that easy. Her father, increasingly disturbed from Alzheimer’s disease, a dream fragment of a dead girl from the casual brush of a creepy PCC professor’s hand, and a mysterious stranger who speaks the same rare Northern Japanese dialect as Koi’s father will force Koi to learn to trust in the help of others, as well as face the truth about herself.

I don’t want to spoil any surprises but this story has got so many elements that made me love it that I know anyone reading this blog will love it too *cough*corvid*cough*.

We don’t have a cover yet, so I’m using an image of koi to accompany this blog post, because did you see what the main character’s name is? Koi!

Dream Eater is coming out next year but you can add it to your Goodreads ‘Want to Read’ shelf today. In fact, you should do that right now… go on. You know you wanna 😉

Dream Eater on Goodreads