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East & Southeast Asian Countries – Picture Books

November 16, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Picture books which take place in specific East & Southeast Asian nations.
Brunei ; Burma ; Cambodia ; China ; Hong Kong ; Indonesia ; Japan ; North Korea ; South Korea ; Laos ; Macau ; Malaysia ; Mongolia ; Papua New Guinea ; Paracel Islands ; Philippines ; Singapore ; Spratly Islands ; Taiwan ; Thailand ; Timor-Leste ; Vietnam


Silent Lotus by Jeanne M. Lee (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1991) *
Although she cannot speak or hear, Lotus trains as a Khmer court dancer and becomes eloquent in dancing out the legends of the gods.

The Caged Birds of Phnom Penh by Frederick Lipp (Holiday House, 2001) *
A young Cambodian girl saves her money to buy a bird on which to make a wish for her poor family’s future.

Running Shoes by Frederick Lipp (Charlesbridge, 2008)
Sophy, a determined young girl living in an impoverished Cambodian village, fulfills her dream of going to school–with the help of a pair of running shoes.

Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin by Michelle Lord (Lee & Low, 2006) *
In the early 1900s, little Sap, a young girl from the rice fields of Cambodia, wins a coveted place in the royal dance troupe and learns the steps so well that she is noticed by the famous artist Auguste Rodin, who rewards her with a special prize. A foreword and an author’s note give additional information about the history of Cambodia, Khmer dance, and Auguste Rodin.

Half Spoon of Rice: A Survival Story of the Cambodian Genocide by Icy Smith (East West, 2009)
Nine-year-old Nat and his family are forced from their home on April 17, 1975, marched for many days, separated from each other, and forced to work in the rice fields, where Nat concentrates on survival. Includes historical notes and photographs documenting the Cambodian holocaust.


Chopsticks by Jon Berkeley (Random House, 2005)
A small mouse named Chopsticks who lives on a floating restaurant in China becomes friends with a carved wooden dragon who wants to fly.

Jin Jin the Dragon by Grace Chang (Enchanted Lion, 2008)
Jin Jin the dragon does not know what kind of creature he is, so he embarks on a journey, assisted by other animals he meets along the way, to find Old Turtle and Crane, who will help him learn his identity. Includes information about Chinese writing and the place of the dragon in Chinese lore.

Boy Dumplings by Ying Chang Compestine (Holiday House, 2009) *
When a hungry ghost threatens to gobble up a plump little boy, the boy tricks the ghost by convincing him to prepare an elaborate recipe first.

The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine (Dutton, 2011)
On Chinese New Year’s Eve, a poor man who works for the richest businessman in Beijing sends his son to market to trade their last few eggs for a bag of rice, but instead he brings home an empty–but magic–wok that changes their fortunes forever. Includes information about Chinese New Year and a recipe for fried rice.

Paper Lanterns by Stefan Czernecki (Talewinds, 2001)
With the lantern festival close at hand, Old Chan, the master paper lantern maker, must find an apprentice with the talent to continue his work.

The Girl Who Drew a Phoenix by Demi (Margaret McElderry, 2008)*
A young girl acquires the qualities of the miraculous phoenix–wisdom, clear sight, generosity, and right judgment–by practicing drawing the mythical bird.

Long-Long’s New Year by Catherine Gower (Tuttle, 2005)*
Long-Long helps his Grandfather sell vegetables at the market so his family can make money for the Spring Festival celebration, but when he and Grandpa run into trouble, Long-Long wonders if they will sell enough to make do.

The Ghost of Shanghai by Claude Guillot (Abrams, 1999)
In Shanghai, Li has a bicycle accident, goes through a near-death experience, and meets the ghost of Master Chen, whom she decides to honor by performing an important task for him. 

To Grandmother’s House: A Visit to Old-Town Beijing by Douglas Keister (Gibbs Smith, 2008)*

Thanking the Moon by Grace Lin (Knopf, 2011)
Each member of a Chinese family contributes to the celebration of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Includes author’s note explaining this festival’s customs and traditions.

The Laziest Boy in the World by Lensey Namioka (Holiday House, 1998)
When Xiaolong devises a way to capture the thief who breaks into his family’s home, all the people in the Chinese village change their minds about the “lazy” boy.

Sparrow Girl by Sara Pennypacker (Hyperion, 2009)*
When China’s leader declares war on sparrows in 1958, everyone makes loud noise in hopes of chasing the hungry birds from their land except for Ming-Li, a young girl whose compassion and foresight prevent a disaster.

The Pea Blossom by Amy Lowry Poole (Holiday House, 2005)*
In a garden near Beijing, five peas in a shell grow and wait to discover what fate has in store for them. Based on the Hans Christian Andersen story: Five peas in a pod.

Mei-Mei Loves the Morning by Margaret Tsubakiyama (Albert Whitman, 1999)
A young Chinese girl and her grandfather enjoy a typical morning riding on grandpa’s bicycle to do errands and meet friends in the park.

Lin Yi’s Lantern: A Moon Festival Tale by Brenda Williams (Barefoot Books, 2009)
When his mother sends him to the market to buy necessities for the upcoming festival, Lin Yi is certain his bargaining skills will get him the best prices and he will have money left over for his coveted red rabbit lantern.

The City of Dragons by Laurence Yep (Scholastic, 1995)*
A boy with a face so sad that nobody wants to look at him runs away with a caravan of giants to the city of dragons, where his sorrowful face is finally appreciated.



Go To Sleep, Gecko!: A Balinese Folktale by Margaret Read MacDonald (August House, 2006)
FOLKLORE.Retells the folktale of the gecko who complains to the village chief that the fireflies keep him awake at night but then learns that in nature all things are connected.


Dodsworth in Tokyo by Tim Egan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)*
Dodsworth’s duck companion is surprisingly well-behaved during a visit to Tokyo, although he does fall into the koi pond at the Imperial Palace and becomes the center of attention at a Sanja Festival.

Tsunami! by Kimiko Kajikawa (Phlomel, 2009)*
FOLKLORE. A wealthy man in a Japanese village, who everyone calls Ojiisan, which means grandfather, sets fire to his rice fields to warn the innocent people of an approaching tsunami.

The Girl Who Loved Caterpillars: A Twelfth-Century Tale from Japan by Jean Merrill (Philomel, 1992)*
In this retelling of an anonymous twelfth-century Japanese story, the young woman Izumi resists social and family pressures as she befriends caterpillars and other socially unacceptable creatures.

The Peace Tree from Hiroshima: A Little Bonsai with a Big Story by Sandra Moore (Tuttle, 2015)
A fictionalized account of a bonsai tree that lived with the Yamaki family in Hiroshima, Japan, for more than 300 years before being donated to the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., in 1976 as a gesture of friendship and peace to celebrate the American Bicentennial.

The Beckoning Cat: Based on a Japanese Folktale by Koko Nishizuka (Holiday House, 2009)*
FOLKLORE. A retelling of the traditional Japanese tale describing the origins of the beckoning cat and how it came to be a symbol of good luck.

Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village by Sunny Seki (Tuttle, 2012)
After the 1783 eruption of Japan’s Mount Asama destroys crops in nearby villages, a orphaned blind girl who lives at the Daruma Temple in Takasaki invents a doll representing a famed Buddhist monk and his teachings about resilience.

The Strongest Boy in the World by Jessica Souhami (Frances Lincoln, 2014)
FOLKLORE. Retells the traditional Japanese tale in which a boy, who has defeated all the other boys in his village in wrestling, travels to the city to test his skill at a sumo tournament, but along the way he meets a girl who is even stronger than he.


The Tigers of the Kumgang Mountains: a Korean Folktale by Kim So-un (Tuttle, 2005)
FOLKLORE. A young man practices for years to become a great marksman, and goes into the Kumgang mountains of Korea to hunt the tigers that killed his father.


Minji’s Salon by Eun-hee Choung (Kane/Miller, 2008)
While her mother is getting her hair done in a salon, Minji tries a new style on the dog at home.

Mermaids by Cynthia Heinrichs (Simply Read, 2011)
Jae Hyun dreams of being a haenyo like her mother and grandmother and collect seaweed and sea creatures to support her family one day, but, because her mother forbids it because it is dangerous, she must find a way to prove to her she can do it, and, when a tragedy strikes, she has the chance to do so.

Something For School by Hyun Young Lee (Kane Miller, 2008)
On the first day of kindergarten, Joon’s teacher mistakes Joon, who has short hair and is wearing trousers, for a boy, something she finds very upsetting until she figures out a way to let everyone know who she is.


Moon Bear by Gill Lewis (Atheneum, 2015)
In Laos, twelve-year-old Tam must work at a bear farm where bears are cruelly caged and milked for their bile, but when a familiar cub is brought to the farm, Tam will do anything to free both the cub, and himself.




The Bee Tree by Stephen Buchmann and Diana Cohn (Cinco Puntos, 2007)*
In the rain forests of Malaysia, Nazam waits anxiously to climb the bee tree, proving that he is capable of succeeding his grandfather as leader of the traditional honey-hunting clan.


My Little Round House by Balormaa Baasansuren (Groundwood, 2009)
A Mongolian baby describes his first year of life in a nomadic community, from the smells of food cooking to the people he met.

Horse Song: The Naadam of Mongolia by Ted and Betsy Lewin (Lee & Low, 2008)*
Ted and Betsy Lewin describe the landscapes, people, and activities they encounter during a trip to Mongolia for Naadam, the annual summer festival where child jockeys ride half-wild horses for miles across the Mongolian steppe.

The Khan’s Daughter: A Mongolian Folktale by Laurence Yep (Scholastic, 1997)*
FOLKLORE. In this retelling of a Mongolian folktale a simple shepherd must pass three tests in order to marry the Khan’s beautiful daughter.






Tuko and the Birds by Shirley Climo (Henry Holt, 2008)
When Tuko the gecko cries so loudly that the birds stop singing and cannot sleep, they try to trick him into moving from their home on the Philippine island of Luzon.

Pedro and the Monkey by Robert D. San Souci (Morrow Junior, 1996)
FOLKLORE. A Filipino monkey secures the fortune of his rather dimwitted young owner in this variation of a traditional tale.






On My Way to Buy Eggs by Shih-Yuan Chen (Kane Miller, 2003)
When her father sends her out for eggs before she can go out to play, Shau-yu finds plenty of excitement while walking to the store.

Dragon Kite of the Autumn Moon by Valerie Reddix (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1991)
When his grandfather is sick, Tad-Tin goes out to fly his special dragon kite, so that it can take all their troubles away with it.


The Umbrella Queen by Shirin Yim Bridges (Greenwillow, 2008) *
In a village in Thailand where everyone makes umbrellas, young Noot dreams of painting the most beautiful one and leading the annual parade as Umbrella Queen, but her unconventional designs displease her parents.

The Girl Who Wore Too Much: A Folktale from Thailand by Margaret Read MacDonald (August House, 1998)*
FOLKLORE. Spoiled and vain, Aree cannot decide which of her many silken dresses and lavish jewels to wear to the dance, so she wears them all.

The Whispering Cloth: A Refugee’s Story by Pegi Deitz Shea (Boyds Mill, 1995)*
A young girl in a Thai refugee camp finds the story within herself to create her own pa’ndau.




My Father’s Boat by Sherry Garland (Scholastic, 1998) *
A Vietnamese-American boy spends a day with his father on his shrimp boat, listening as he describes how his own father fishes on the South China Sea.

The Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland (Harcourt, 1993) *
A young Vietnamese girl saves a lotus seed and carries it with her everywhere to remember a brave emperor and the homeland that she has to flee.

Grandfather’s Dream by Holly Keller (Greenwillow, 1994) *
After the end of the war in Vietnam, a young boy’s grandfather dreams of restoring the wetlands of the Mekong delta, hoping that the large cranes that once lived there will return.

Bà-Nam by Jeanne M. Lee (Henry Holt, 1987)
A young Vietnamese girl visiting the graves of her ancestors finds the old gravekeeper frightening until a severe storm reveals to her the old woman’s kindness.

The Hermit and the Well by Thích Nh´ât Hanh (Plum Blossom, 2003)
While on a school field trip in Vietnam, a young boy climbs a mountain without finding the Buddhist hermit he is expecting to see, but later realizes that he has found much more.

Fly Free! by Roseanne Thong (Boyds Mills, 2010)
When Mai feeds the caged birds at a Buddhist temple in Vietnam, her simple act of kindness starts a chain of thoughtful acts that ultimately comes back to her. Includes author’s note explaining the Buddhist concepts of karma and samsara, or the wheel of life.

Going Home, Coming Home=V’ê nhà, Tham Quê Hu´o´ng by Truong Tran (Children’s Press, 2003) *
A young girl visits her grandmother in Vietnam where her parents were born and learns that she can call two places home.

In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van (Creston Books, 2015)*
Moving from the wide world to the snugness of home and back out again, Village by the Sea tells the story of longing for the comforts of home”– Provided by publisher. It is written in a spare, lyrical style with illustrations showing a dog and a cricket at a fishing village home and back out to sea where a fisherman longs to return to the woman and child in his hillside home.


NOTE: A red asterisk means that the book is available at the State Library Service Centers.

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