Alia Jones: I Read Asian and Pacific Islander American Books

Milky Way by Mamta Nainy, illustrated by Siddhartha Tripathi. Yali Books, 2017.
Tashi is worried about his friend, the Moon. He seems thinner than usual. Maybe the Moon’s Amma-ley isn’t giving him enough to eat? Tashi decides to help his friend. And what does the Moon have to say? Well, he just smiles his special smile–eyes closed and no teeth showing.

Set in the remote mountains of Ladakh in India, Milky Way is a sweet tale of friendship between a boy and the moon. The story highlights the importance of the moon in Tibetan Buddhism and showcases elements of Himalayan cultures, including their delectable cuisine.

Hina by Gabrielle Ahuli‘i, illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong.  Beachhouse Publishing, 2016.
The sixth title in the Hawaiian Legends for Little Ones series, Hi’iaka Battles the Wind introduces kids ages 0-4 to one of Hawaii’s legends about Hi’iaka, Pele’s sister. A vicious, destructive wind has been wreaking havoc in Waipi’o Valley causing the people distress. Homes are being destroyed, crops are blowing away, and the people need help. Hiiaka and her lightning pau (skirt) rushes to the valley and confronts the wind. A raging battle ensues. Hi’iaka throws lightning bolts and rain. The wind eventually dies down and is cast into a small cave where he can be heard howling to this day. The people of Waipi’o Valley are once again safe and can live their lives in peace. In simple, poetic language, this origin story about day time, night time, and the seasons, gives small kids a taste of Hawai’i’s rich history of storytelling. The five other titles in the series are: Hina, Pele Finds a Home, Naupaka, and Maui Slows the Sun—all legends that will give kids a wider view of Hawaiian culture, history, and its natural world.

Alia Jones is a Library Assistant at The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. She blogs at Read It Real Good and served on the 2020 Caldecott Award Committee. Alia worked as a children’s bookseller and English  teacher in Daegu, South Korea. You can follow her on Twitter @readitrealgood

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