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AUSTRAL ED Contact Details:
a division of gleebooks
PO Box 486
NSW 2037

Phone: 61 2 9660 2333
Fax: 61 2 9660 3597

ABN  87 000 357 317

February 2015

An updated version of this list, including covers and direct ordering, is now available on the new Gleebooks Education website


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. Titles newly included in this list are marked with     

All prices are in Australian dollars and include 10% GST tax. However this GST does not apply to exports from Australia.

If you would like to order any of the books on the list, send the orders to Austral Ed by post, fax or by email to   Payment can be made by direct bank transfer or bank cheques in Australian dollars or by Credit card especially for private purchases. Freight is sent by the most economical method within Australia or overseas, depending on urgency. 

                                                                                                Recommended by Kate Shepherd and Mandy Clarke


Picture Books

Lin Acacio-Flores

The Quarreling Kites illus by Hermes Alegre  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)

Francisco Arcellana

The Mats illustrated by Hermes Alegre  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.   

Bernard Ashley

Cleversticks illustrated by Derek Brazell  pb  9780517883327 $15.00   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.

Graeme Base

• The Last King of Angkor Wat  hardback 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

Krista Bell

Peeking Ducks  illustrated by Sally Rippin hardback 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)

Sarah Brennan

Chinese Calendar series by illustrated by Harry Harrison pb $14.95 each
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, Mondey. 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 9789881888259  $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.    

The Tale of Pin Yin Panda pb 9789881888204   $14.95
Pin Yin is a panda living in the misty Sichuan forests in China.  She’s got beauty, brains and a healthy ego to match and thinks that the next year should be called the year of the Panda.  The fact that no panda raced in the original story doesn’t deter Pin Yin!  This is a funny rhyming story about vanity and ambition.       (6 – 10 years)         

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


Dawn Casey

The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac  illus by Anne Wilson   pb  9781846862021  $12.99

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)

Hyechong Cheung and Prodeepta Das

K is for Korea  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. 

Yangsook Choi

The Name Jar 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.  

Shirley Climo

The Korean Cinderella illustrated by Ruth Heller   hardback 9780060204327  $31.00   pb   9780064433976 $12.00  A Korean version of this favourite fairy tale.

Ying Chang Compestine

Crouching Tiger illustrated by Yan Nascimbene hardback 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) 

David Cox

Ayu and the Perfect Moon pb 9781921720222   $16.95

Wonderful to see this beautiful book back n 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)

Prodeepta Das

I is for India  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 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  hardback 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 hardback 9780805012170  $31.00   pb  9780805049008  $14.00  Big Book 9780805082272 $45.00 (limited stock)

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   hardback 9780590939980  $37.00  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 hardback 9781584302568  $43.00  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 hardback 9781937786052  $29.95   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 hardback 9781416912064  $43.00

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  hardback 9781885008459  $34.00   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  hardback 97806898414914 $37.00  A beautifully illustrated and told retelling of Gandhi’s life.  The author’s Note gives some additional information about Gandhi.  (9 – 12 years)   KS

Junuka Deshpande

• Night  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 Cha

• Dia’s Story Cloth:  The Hmong People’s Hourney of Freedom  stitched by Chue and Nhia  Thao Cha  pb 9781880000632  $15.00    (published in 1996)

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

Anh Do and Suzanne Do 

The Little Refugee illustrated by Bruce Whatley  hardback 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.

Kylie Dunstan

The Red Bridge  hardback 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

Ina R Friedman

How My Parents Learned to Eat  illustrated by Allen Say 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

Catherine Gower

Long-Long’s New Year: A story about the Chinese Spring Festival   illustrated by He Zhihong   pb  9781845073992  $16.00    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

Joshua M Greene

Krishna and the Mystery of the Stolen Calves  illustrations by Dominique Amendola  hardback 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

Sally Heinrich

The Most Beautiful Lantern  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

Lisa Heydlauff

Going to School in India hardback  9781570916663  $43.00

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)   KS

There is also a fascinating DVD Going to School in India  DVD  9781888194906   $49.95 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)

Minfong Ho

Maples in the Mist illustrated by Jean & Mou-sien Tseng  hardback 9789812613455  $24.95

A beautifully illustrated collection of very short simple poems written for children from the Tang dynasty in China (618 – 907 AD).  It includes an introduction and brief notes and the poems in English and Chinese.

Minfong Ho

Hush! A Thai Lullaby illus by Holly Meade  pb  9780531071663  $11.00  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)  KS

Li Jian

The Snake Goddess Colors the World: A Chinese Tale Told in English and Chinese translated by Yijin Wert  hardback 9781602209824  $18.99

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 hardback 9781602209848  $18.99   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 hardback  9781602209862  $18.99 

The legend of Mulan and her bravery and skill as a warrior is told in this beautifully illustrated picture book.   (6 – 9 years)

Also by the same team:

• Ming’s Adventure in the Forbidden City: A Story in English and Chinese hardback 9781602209855  $18.99

• The Little Monkey’s Journey Retold in English and Chinese hardback 9781602209817  $19.99

• The Water Dragon: A Chinese Legend  Retold in English and Chinese hardback 9781602209787  $19.99

• Ming’s Adventure with the Terracotta Army  (English only) translated by Yijin Wert  hardback  9781602209831  $18.99  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

Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Same, Same but Different hardback 9780805089462 $31.00 

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

Maywan Shen Krach

D is for Doufu: An Alphabet Book of Chinese Culture  illus by 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)

Uma Krishnaswami

Out of the Way  pictures by Uma Krishnaswamy  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

Kath Lock

The Tiger, the Brahmin and the Jackal   illus by David Kennett   pb  9781863740784 $13.95   A beautifully illustrated story from India in which the quick witted jackal saves the trusting Brahmin from the treacherous tiger and holds the reader in suspense right to the clever conclusion. 

Also  The Sea of Gold, a traditional story from Japan   pb  9781863740807  $13.95 and Kuan Yin, a story about the Chinese Goddess of compassion   pb 9781863742153  $13.95      (7 – 10 years)

Margaret Mahy

The Seven Chinese Brothers  illustrated by Jean and Mou-sien Tseng pb 9780590420570  $12.00  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.

Sandra Moore & Kazumi Wilds (illus)

• The Peace Tree from Hiroshima: The Little Bonsai with a Big Story hardback 978805313473  $19.99

The story of a four hundred year bonsai pine tree and how it was cared for over the centuries by one family.  The tree even survived the bombing of Hiroshima.  In 1976 the family decided to give the ancient tree as part of a gift and the tree became an emblem of the peace between the United States and Japan. The story is told in the first person by the tree itself and the beautiful illustrations show us details of how the family cared for this tree over the centuries.   At the end of the book some facts about the art of bonsai and a glossary are included.   (5 – 9 years)  KS

Junko Morimoto

The Two Bullies 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 pb 9780734416025  $15.99

First published in 1987 and recently republished.   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

Tricia Morrissey

• H is for Hong Kong: A Primer in Pictures Elizabeth Briel (illus) hardback 9781934159132 $22.00  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


Greg Mortenson

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Susan L Roth,  Collages by Susan L Roth  hardback 9780803730588  $29.00  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)

Fran Ng

The Brothers Wu and the Good-Luck Eel  pictures by Arnel Mirasol  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.

Pamela Noensie

Tari the Little Balinese Dancer   Garretta Lamore (illus)  hardback 9780804843874 $16.99

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

Susan Miho Nunes

The Last Dragon  illus by Chris K Soentpiet  pb 9780395845172   $12.00    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.

T R Rajesh

Upside Down  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

Sandhya Rao

My Mother’s Sari illustrated by Nina Sabnani   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

Shazia Razzak and Prodeepta Das

P is for Pakistan  pb 9781847800893  $15.00  An informative, beautifully photographed alphabet book which gives readers an introduction to the cultural background and everyday life of Pakistan.

Mark Reibstein

Wabi Sabi  illustrated by Ed Young hardback 9780316118255  $28.99 

As soon as you discover this book opens vertically, you sense that it is a most unusual picture book. 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

Betty Reynolds

Tokyo Friends  - Tokyo no Tomodachi    hardback 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   hardback  9780804833011  $32.00  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) 

Nina Sabnani

Stitching Stories: The art of embroidery in Gujerat  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

Allen Say

Grandfather’s Journey  hardback 9780395570357  $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   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 hardback 9780545176866  $31.00

Allen Say loved to draw from a very young 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  

Jessica Souhami

Rama and the Demon King.  An ancient Tale from India   Big Book  9780711214484 $44.95   The illustrations for this retelling of the story of Rama have been adapted from Souhani’s own shadow puppets and the retelling is dramatic and exciting.   Elementary.

Sungwan So

C is for China   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.

Yikang’s Day: From Dawn to Dusk in a Chinese City   pb  9781847801999  $16.00  A simply written description, illustrated with photographs, of an ordinary school day in the life of a seven year old girl in Changxi in northern China.   

Shanyi Goes to China  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)

Amy Tan

The Moon Lady illustrated by Gretchen Schields  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)  KS

Jomike Tejido  

• Ma-Me-Mi-MuMu!  (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

Holly Thompson

The Wakame Gatherers  illustrated by Kazumi Wilds  hardback 9781885008336  $29.00

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)

Nicanor G Tiongson

• Alphabetong Filipino illustrated by Crispin Dayao Junior  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

Gabrielle Wang

The Race for the Chinese Zodiac  illustrated by Sally Rippin and Regine Abos  hardback 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)

Gita Wolf & Andrea Anastasio

Alone in the Forest   Bhajju Shyam (illus)  Hardback 9788192317151  $25.00

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  

Danielle Wright

Japanese Nursery Rhymes: Carp Streamers, Falling Rain and other traditional favourites  illustrated by Helen Acraman  hardback 9784805311882 $18.99  (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 illustrated by Helen Acraman  hardback 9780804842273 $18.99  (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

Faye-Lynn Wu & Kieren Dutcher (illus.)
Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes hardback + 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

Kat Yeh

The Magic Brush: A Story of Love, Family and Chinese Characters  illus by Huy Voun Lee  hardback  9780802721785   $29.00   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)  KS

Ed Young

The Lost Horse: A Chinese Folk Take  pb 9780152050238   $12.00

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  hardback  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


Jamila Gavin

Three Indian Goddesses: The Stories of Kali, Lakshmi & Durga  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  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  illustrated by Bee Wiley hardback  9781845079901 $32.95  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 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

Kay Lions

Malaysian Children’s Favourite Stories illustrated by Martin Loh  hardback  9780804835909  $21.99

A collection of nine simple stories set in Malaysia which give an insight into Malaysian culture and environment.   (8 – 11 years)

Victor Mason & Gillian Beal

Balinese Children’s Favorite Stories  illustrated by Trina Bohan-Tyrie hardback 9789625934402  $21.99 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.  (8 - 11 years)

Willamarie Moore

All About Japan  illustrated by Kazumi Wilds  hardback 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  hardback 9780804840125  $19.99   (2011)

All About Indonesia by Linda Hibbs  hardback 9780804840859  $19.99  (2013)

Jon Muth

Zen Shorts  hardback  9780439339117  $31.00 pb (with audio) 9780545227506 $17.00   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

Also Zen Ties  hardback 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 hardback 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 

Shenaaz Nnanji and Christopher Corr

Indian Tales: A Barefoot Collection  pb  9781846864261  $19.99  has a similar format.  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 vitiality 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)  KS

Amra Pajalic and Demet Divaroren

Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia 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

Michael Rosen

South & North, East & West  pb 9781406309188  $27.95  A most entertaining collection of stories from around the world, including Asia, illustrated by a variety of artists.  (7 – 13 years)

Florence Sakade

Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories  illustrated by Yoshisuke Kurosaki  hardback9784805312605  $19.99  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)

Kim So-Un

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

John Stickler

Land of Morning Calm: Korean Culture Then and Now illustrations by Soma Han  hardback 9781885008220  $29.00  This excellent introduction to Korean culture also gives us historical background to events such as the creation of the Korean alphabet.   (9 – 14 years)

Joan Suyenaga 

Indonesian Children’s Favourite Stories   illustrated by Salim Martowiredjo  hardback  9780794601713   $21.99   A collection of eight stories from the Indonesian archipelago.  Simply told, these are appealing stories which have universal values.     (8 – 11 years)

Elspeth Tavaci

The Stone of Destiny: Tales from Turkey pb 9781847802798 $13.95

Elspeth Tavaci skilfully tells a story about a stonecutter who discovers a wondrous red stone and takes it to a jeweller in Istanbul.  As he stops at various caravanerasi along the way, the stonecutter tells traditional tales to the other travellers, always to great acclaim.  The weaving of these traditional tales within the main story opens up a fascinating world of travellers and stories along the ancient Silk Road in Turkey.   Charming black and white illustrations by Paul Hess give additional insight into this world.  (8 – 11 years)  KS

Marcia Williams

The Elephant’s Friend and Other tales from Ancient India  hardback 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)


Fiction and Autobiography

Lloyd Alexander

The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen  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)

Allan Baillie                           

The China Coin  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. (10 - 14 years)

Little Brother   pb 9780143301745  $17.99    A story of courage and perseverance set in Cambodia during the traumatic times of the Vietnam war.          (10 - 14 years)

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)

Janeen Brian

Elephant Mountain  illustrated by Sally Rippin  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)

Brian Caswell and David Phu An Chiem

Only the Heart  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)

Christopher Cheng

My Australian Story: New Gold Mountain 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 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

Sook Nyul Choi

Year of Impossible Goodbyes  pb 9780440407591  $10.00   A moving story set in Korea in 1945 during the time of the Japanese occupation.  When the Japanese occupation is replaced by the Communist Russian troops, the family attempts to flee to South Korea.    (11 – 15 years)

Eleanor Coerr

Sadako & the 1,000 paper cranes  illus by M Yamaguchi  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)  

Meindert Dejong

The House of Sixty Fathers   pb 9780064402002   $10.00   Courageous story of Tien Pao who is separated from his family during the Japanese invasion of China during World War 2.    (9 – 13 years)

Anita Desai             

Village by the Sea  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)

Garry Disher

The Divine Wind  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)

Janine Fraser

Sarindi and the Lucky Bird illustrated by Kim Gamble 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)

Sandy Fussell

Samurai Kids 1: White Crane  pb  9781921150203 $15.95    I am surprised that this series works so well.  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 and 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)   KS

Paul Ham (editor)

• Yoko’s Diary: The Life of A Young Girl in Hiroshima During WW2 hardback 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

Rosanne Hawke

Taj and the Great Camel Trek 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 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

Lian Hearn

Across the Nightingale Floor   pb  9780733623370 $22.99 written under the name of Lian Hearn  Set in feudal Japan it has many of the traditions and customs of that period but there is also a fantasy element which adds surprise and charm to this story of intrigue, courage, danger and beauty.   Also Grass for His Pillow 9780733623387 and Brilliance of the Moon pb  9780733623394  $22.99 each   Harsh Cry of the Heron 9780733623400  is the final sequel pb $22.99   (13 years up)

Heaven’s Net is Wide by Lian Hearn pb  9780733622847 $22.99 is the fascinating prequel.

John Heffernan

Naveed   Through My Series   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) 

Sally Heinrich

Hungry Ghosts  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)

Minfong Ho

Sing to the Dawn   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    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  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)

Ji Li Jiang 

Red Scarf Girl  A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution  pb 9780064462082 $12.00   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)

Diana Kidd             

Onion Tears    illus by D Huxley    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)

Li Cunxin

Mao’s Last Dancer  (Young Readers Edition)  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 (hardback 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  hardback 9780670070541  $29.95  

Grace Lin

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon  hardback 9780316114271  $28.99  pb 9780316122696  $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

Alison Lloyd

Year of the Tiger  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

Kathryn Lomer

The Spare Room  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) 

Adeline Yen Mah

Chinese Cinderella  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)

Chinese Cinderella and the Secret Dragon Society  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  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)

Ruth Manley

The Plum-Rain Scroll 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

Benjamin Martin

Samurai Awakening  hardback 9784805312285  $19.99

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)

Pratima Mitchell

Indian Summer  pb 9781406308174  $16.95

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

Michael Morpurgo

Kensuke’s Kingdom  Heritage Edition hardback 9781405267373 $19.95  pb 9781405221740  $14.95  Special colour edition with illustrations by Michael Foreman  pb 9781405248563  $16.95   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).

Greg Mortenson

Three Cups of Tea pb  9780141034263  $26.95  This is 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.  (13 years up)

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  9780141047140  $26.95, 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!  (13 years up) KS

Lensey Namioka

Ties that Bind, Ties that Break  pb  9780141317151  $14.95   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) 

Huynh Quang Nhuong

The Land I Lost: Adventures of a Boy in Vietnam  pb 9780064401838  $10.00   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 - 12 years))

Water Buffalo Days:  Growing Up in Vietnam pb 9780064462112  $10.00  These stories describe the exploits of the particular much loved and respected family water buffalo called Tank.   (8 - 12 years))

Rebecca Otowa

• My Awesome Japan Adventure: A Diary About the Best 4 Months Ever!  hardback  9784805312162  $16.99   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

Linda Sue Park 

A Single Shard  pb  9780547534268  $12.00    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  pb  9780547722399   $12.00  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)

Margi Preus

Heart of a Samurai hardback 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 Japa,n 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 $15.00  which tells the story of Manjiro’s life with many informative illustrations, photos and maps.  KS

Alice Pung

Unpolished Gem 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 pb 9781863955423 $22.99 looks further into the background of her family and also her relationship with her father.   (12 years up)

• Laurinda 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

Bali Rai

The Guru and the King illustrated by Victoria Maderna  hardback 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

Humaira Rashid

A Dinner of Smells illustrated by Jamie Lenman hardback 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

Sally Rippin

Just One Wish  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 even 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  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)

Suzanne Fisher Staples

Daughter of the Wind  pb  9780744590111 $16.95  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)

Ruth Starke

Nips X1   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 – 13 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)  KS

Lai Thanhha

Inside Out & Back Again  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

Holly Thompson  (edited and wrote the Foreword)

Tomo:  Friendship Through Fiction – An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories pb  9781611720068  $26.00  This collection of short fiction came about after the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan of March 2011.  Holly Thompson has lived for many years with her family in Japan and she wanted to bring teenagers round the world closer to Japan.  This collection contains fiction in verse, prose and also graphic art created by authors and artists from round the world but all have a deep connection to Japan.  It introduces the reader to different aspects of Japanese life, culture, of its young people, of gaijin (or foreigners in Japan) and perhaps in particular of children who are half Japanese (with a Japanese and a foreign parent.)  Some stories are translated from Japanese, some are about Japanese communities in distant countries.  There are stories about family, war, science fiction, mystery and ghosts as well as earthquakes and tsunamis.  Teachers will find a wealth of stories here which help students to better understand Japan.  Proceeds from sales will go to earthquake recovery efforts.  (11 – 16 years)   KS

Wai Chim

Chook Chook: Mei’s Secret Pets  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  is the sequel.

Wendy Wan-Long Shang

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by hardback 9780545162159 $26.99 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

Gabrielle Wang 

The Garden of Empress Cassia  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 illustrated by Andrew McLean  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   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)

Trudy White

Japan Diary 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)

Carole Wilkinson

Dragonkeeper  pb  9781742030593 $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 978174203246  and Dragon Moon  Book 3  pb 9781742032474  $19.95 each

•  Blood Brothers  Book 4 hardback 9781742031897  $24.95 pb 9781922179210 $19.95 A prequel Dragon Dawn 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.  pb  9781742030623  $12.99     (8 – 14 years)

Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban 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, illus by Terry Denton  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

True Stories from Ancient China series by Zhu Kang Illustrated by Hong Tao and Feng Congying  hardback $20.00 each 

Distinguished Doctors and Miraculous Remedies    9781592650361

Engineers and Architects              9781592650378

Science and Scientist  9781592650385              

Told in cartoon format, these stories describe the lives, often from childhood of famous scientists, doctors, architects and inventors and of their inventions and their work.  The stories are extremely interesting, the illustrations charming and the stories are told with humour and irony.  In addition there are diagrams of many of their inventions, observations and constructions.  (9 – 16 years)

The Life of Rice: From Seedling to Supper by Richard Sobol  hardback  9780763632526  $31,00

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: Looking at Art series  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 hardback 9780670011148  $31.00  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

Developing World series 

India and Mumbai  hardback 9781445123608  $39.00

It is so difficult to keep up to date with new books on countries in the Developing World, especially since these developing countries change so rapidly.  This new series was recently published in 2013 and some have just come out in 2014.  The books provide a good introduction to the country, people, culture, education and living standards as well as industry, environment and agriculture.  Details are given on each country as a whole and also on the particular city. The excellent photos give us a greater insight into the country.  There is an index and also a glossary.   Others in the series are:

China and Beijing  9781445123592    (2013)

India and Mumbai  9781445123608  (2013)

Indonesia and Jakarta 9781445123646  (2014)

Turkey and Istanbul  9781445123639              hardback $39.00 each  (9 – 15 years)  KS

Cath Senker and Philip Steele

Our World Divided series 

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 $19.99   

Iran and the West by Philip Steele  hardback 9780750265720  $35.99

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 $15.00

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 hardback 9780810989818   $19.95   pb 9781419702006  $11.95

Rhoda Blumberg has also written Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogu  pb 9780060086251  $17.00  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  hardback 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)

Carol Stepanchuk

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

Sikhism in India   9780778750284 (7 – 10 years)

Introductions to Chinese Culture series  pb $38.95 each

This is a very informative and exciting series which has 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

• The following titles are all recent additions to this series

Chinese Philosophy 9780521186766
Chinese Food
Chinese Tea
Chinese Jade
Peking Opera 9780521188210
Chinese Arts & Crafts
China's Cultural Relics
Chinese Folk Arts 9780521186582
Chinese Festivals
Chinese Characters 9780521186605
Chinese Gardens
Chinese Painting
Chinese Kung Fu
Chinese Theatre 9780521186667
Chinese Vernacular Dwellings
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Chinese Publishing
Chinese Sculpture
Chinese Literature 9780521186780
Chinese Myths & Legends

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 hardback 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 hardback   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. This again is an extremely useful resource demonstrating as it does a variety of research methods. (9 – 15 years)

Snapshots of Asia  by Sue Ledger and Richard Ledger 

Three Big Book titles India, Malaysia and Philippines and the Teachers’ Guide are available in a pack.  9781863665797   Cost is   $109.95  net.  Each country is introduced through a family and stories of daily life and fact files on environment, school, getting about etc help capture various physical and cultural aspects of life in each country.  Bright coloured photos are contrasted with appealing cartoon style drawings and each book also contains a map, a board game, shopping lists, a cooking recipe and instructions.  The books aim to help develop literacy while introducing Asian content.   For the lower and middle primary classroom, it would also be very effective with ESL students.  

Also available as a set of 4 Big Books Japan, India, Malaysia and Philippines KIT000182    $142.95

Japan 186366413J, India 9781863665681, Malaysia 9781863665698 and Philippines 9781863665704 can also be purchased individually $45.95 each Big Book. 

Images of Asia series   $49.95 each big card set

Beliefs   9781863665711

Environment  9781863665728                                         

Innovations                9781863665735                                                       

Symbols, Patterns and Designs 9 781863665742
These sets of eight large cards and a Teacher Guide explores eight countries of Asia through the above four themes. The countries are China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Each card features an illustrated map of each country and the reverse side has photographs chosen to promote discussion. The maps are helpful since they have small illustrations showing various aspects of life in that country. The Teacher Guide has many ideas for further activities and research. The complete set is $149.95  KIT00085 or each of the four themes can be purchased individually with a Teacher Guide $49.95 each. (Upper elementary)        

Inside King Sejong's Gate - Our Time in Korea by Laura and Alex with helpfrom Geoff Ainsworth and Julia Fraser pb 1863664459   $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. Exploring Korea is the accompanying teacher resource which enables the story to be extended into comprehensive units of work. pb $32.95

Key into Indonesia by Sally Heinrich pb 9781863667715   $40.95 This very useful teacher resource has background information on a wide range of topics about Indonesia as well as detailed suggestions for activities which will allow students to discover more about Indonesian geography, culture, environment, traditions and language. (Elementary and Middle)

Key into Japan 9781863667722  and  Key into China 9781863666978  also by Sally Heinrich are similar combining factual information and helpful activity ideas.   pb $40.95 each

India Kaleidoscope by Sally Heinrich  pb 9781742003122  $43.95

Published in 2010 this book contains a wealth of information that will be helpful for students and teachers wanting to learn more about India.  Jack is an Australian boy who goes on a journey across India over a year with his parents.   His narrative about his experiences provides the basis for the book and to this is added many fact files providing interesting background information about the culture, the geography, the government, flora and fauna, the many languages of India.  There are many activities suggested.  This is an extremely helpful book which will provide much information about India as well as being a helpful guide to lesson formation. 

Asia Counts Secondary: Numeracy and Studies of Asia pb 9781863664875 $35.95  by Jan Kiernan and Howard Reeves

This is a unique concept in that it contains a wide ranging selection of units of work for teachers that can be used to improve students' numeracy skills while enhancing their understanding of Asian countries and ways of life. There are lesson plans, student work sheets and extension activities.

Inspirations: Art Ideas for Primary and Middle Years by Ann MacArthur pack  9781863665865 $62.95
This pack contains a marvellous 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 looking and 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

Videos and DVDs

Families of the World series:  available in DVD    $54.95 each

There are  DVDs on the following countries – Afghanistan 5060094290287,  China 1888194316, India 188819426X , Japan 1888194294 , Korea 1888194375 , Philippines 9781604801125, Thailand 1888194278 and Vietnam 1888194456. 

I have only viewed the video on China which, like all the other videos, has two separate segments on the lives of two children and their families.  In this video on China, we are introduced to the daily life of the children at home with their families and also at school from the time they wake up in the morning till they go to bed at night.  The children are delightful and describe their activities, the food they eat, where they live and their families and schools.  There are many interesting insights into their lives. The little boy takes rice in a metal container to school and then all the children add water and this is cooked slowly at the school over a hot stove so that all the rice will be ready at the same time at lunchtime.  The girl is older (9 years old) and her school is much larger.  All the children salute as they enter the schoolyard.  There are 58 students in her class and the whole class performs daily exercises.  There is much to discuss and children will be able to compare their lives with those of these children from many different countries and cultures. Running time is approx 30 minutes. 

There is also a Teacher’s Guide for each country.  These contain the script and additional information on each country and also ideas for discussion.  pb $12.95 each       (6 - 10 years)

A Child’s Eye View of Festivals

1. Chinese New Year, Divali, Eid-ul-Fitr and Hanukkah  DVD 5060094290270 $52.95

2. Easter, Vaisakhi, Wesak and Christmas    DVD 5060094290287  $52.95

For each festival we follow the celebrations both with the family and at school of a young child.  Ian is 5 years old and shows with delight the presents he receives for Chinese New Year, the celebrations with his family at home and also when they go out to see the festivities in Chinatown.  The next day we see the activities that the school has organised, including writing Chinese characters and storytelling and a song about Chinese New Year.  The same format is followed for each of the festivals.  The series is set in the United Kingdom and the children and their families seem to come mainly from Manchester or Leicester.  This series is an excellent introduction to a variety of festivals for 3 to six year olds.  A booklet containing background notes, stories, songs and activities is also included with the video.  The overall running time is approx 55 minutes and each new festival has its own beginning.          (3 - 6 years)

Land of the Dragon:  A Documentary of China   DVD  DVD  837101254366  $49.95

With a young woman Liu Hui Ping as a guide, we are introduced to many different aspects of China.  We see both modern and older parts of Beijing and learn a little of the history of China as we visit the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China.  We are also shown the southern province of Anhui as well as the Yangtze River and  the Yellow Mountains.  The narration is mainly in English but Liu Hui Ping also speaks in Mandarin with English sub-titles.  We are introduced to many Chinese fruits and vegetables and Liu Hui Ping gives  their Chinese names.  She also takes us to visit her family.   The DVD is recent, 2006.  Running time is 30 minutes.    (7 years up)

Going to School in India  DVD  9781888194906     $54.95

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)

All prices are in Australian dollars.

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© Kate Shepherd 2010.